Alumni Then & Now - Megan Stoyles

Megan Stoyles, BA (Hons) '68

Pete Hamill wrote for the New York Post: "The girl's name was Megan Stoyles and she had a marvellous chest bouncing beneath a white tee-shirt with the words Make Love Not War stencilled across the front. In about 13 seconds she had attracted half the press corps below the equator.

Television cameras whirred into action. Flash bulbs exploded and the writing press asked such adept questions as 'What on earth do you people eat here?' Megan Stoyles breathed and we went all the way, convinced no matter where else we would go on this mad journey, Australia was a bloody marvel."

The now iconic image of Megan Stoyles, seemingly mid-bounce at a demonstration, has stuck in the minds of many. Not least of all because the image was printed in Time magazine in America.

She simply looks so young. The expression on her face is one of excitement, of electricity, of being crammed together with other protestors, of laughter and adrenalin.

By the year that this was taken (1966), the then 19-year-old Stoyles had already been involved in political action for some time.

On 10 October of the same year, Stoyles delivered an open letter with 306 signatures protesting conscription to the Prime Minister's private secretary.

And even before that, in 1965, she and some friends (including Helen Jarvis and Liz McNamara) chained themselves to Hotel Civic's bar.

Stoyles came to ANU because of the study options, and took politics and history as majors. But it soon became obvious that her organising abilities, political consciousness and theatre activities were being put ahead of her studies.

Political activity was not uncommon in the faculty either, and Stoyles remembers that many of the academics would join the students for discussion, protest and drinking.

Despite this, Stoyles still managed to pass. She went on to become the first woman to work with the Whitlam Government as a press secretary.

This photo holds good memories for Stoyles, who remembers this protest as being good natured, of having a beer with fellow students and a chat with the police.

It was taken outside the Canberra Rex Hotel when US President Lyndon Johnson visited in 1966.

Pete Hamill wrote that "young Miss Stoyles was one of about 3,000 anti-war pickets who had assembled outside the Rex Hold here waiting in the chill 47 degree weather for LBJ. They were drinking beer and singing songs and exchanging good natured banter with cops and asking smiling reporters what the hell had happened to the bloody cowboy."

By Ann Jones.

If you'd like to tell your story, email reporter@anu.edu.au

This article appeared in ANU Reporter magazine Autumn 2014. Subscribe for free now.