SUNDAY MAIL MAG july 23 PAGE 10 Tough to stay alive 1979 IN 1979, the world caught Saturday Night Fever. Proudly, we noted that the Bee Gees, from Brisbane, had dominated Hollywood's 21st Grammy Awards.
Their hit Stayin' Alive seemed as good an anthem as any for the final year of the Seventies.
The energy crisis hit home. Queensland motorists were paying 31.76 cents a litre for petrol, compared with 13.2 cents a litre in 1974.
How we grumbled. Globally, the energy crisis was turning nasty.
Fears that Middle East producers might turn off the tap inspired a United States strategy to seize the oilfields.
Meanwhile, fanatical followers of Muslim leader Ayatollah Kohmeini held Americans hostage in Teheran.
The Muslims wanted the blood of Iran's deposed Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi who, with Empress Farah, had found sanctuary in the United States.
An eye for an eye . . . Modern day soothsayers repeated Nostradamus's predictions that a catastrophic World War III would begin in Persia (modern Iran).
US warships moved into the Gulf, but held back from invasion.
And the world held its breath . . . as did 18-year-old Soviet defector Lillian Gasinskayoy who, wearing a red bikini, squeezed through the porthole of a Russian ship, into Sydney Harbor and a new life.
Photogenic from the outset, the future centrefold was rescued by a passing lensman, who described their encounter on Pyrmont Wharf: ""She ran her hands up and down her body and said in broken English: "Do you have any clothes?'."
Not to be upstaged, Queensland's Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen launched a line in grazier-style headgear _ the Joh hat _ adding to the growing list of items named in his honor (among them a nutty cheese and a collar-less shirt).
Opposition Lands spokesman Tom Burns waggled his finger over alleged government finagling in the Russell Island land scandal.
Remember Russell Island? Land described as ""excellent building blocks" turned out to be swamp, mainly visible at high tide.
In South Australia, Don Dunstan threw in the towel.
He wore a shaving coat and pyjamas to his final press conference and walked with a cane.
Rudderless, South Australian Labor was swept out of office by the Liberals' David Tonkin.
In Brisbane, Labor Mayor Frank Sleeman romped in for the last time.
In Britain, Maggie Thatcher led the British Conservatives to victory, thus becoming Europe's first woman leader.
Unlike Don Dunstan, Premier Joh was at pains to stress his fitness, despite unkind talk that, at 68, health and judgment might be on the wane.
Joh countered by saying that people only said that sort of thing out of jealousy.
Meanwhile, at Yeppoon, billionaire Japanese developer Mr Yohachiro Iwasaki turned the first sod for his controversial new resort. Through an interpreter, he described Queensland as ""the land of the rising sun".
Later in the year, a disgruntled Yeppoon resident would plant a bomb in the new resort.
Further debate on the future of Brisbane's historic Bellevue Hotel was rendered redundant by the Queensland Government's favorite demolition crew, the Deen Brothers.
The Deens (""all we leave are the memories") razed the contentious landmark in short order, starting at midnight and continuing into the morning.
Violence and tragedy abounded.
In May, an American Airlines DC10 lost an engine and crashed after takeoff in Chicago, killing 271.
In June, six children and an adult died when fire broke out in the Ghost Train at Sydney's Luna Park .
In August, 15 drowned in storms during the Fastnet yacht race off Southern England. The same month, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, the last Viceroy of India, was killed in a boat explosion off the Irish coast.
Phnom Penh, capital of Kampuchea, fell to Vietnamese troops in January; rebel forces took Kampala, the Ugandan capital, on April 10, ending Idi Amin's eight-year reign of terror; on March 28, Egypt's President Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel.
The world saw Sadat's olive branch as a glimmer of hope. Muslim fundamentalists saw it as betrayal.
Two years on, extremists would assassinate Sadat while he reviewed an army parade in Cairo.
Staying alive wasn't getting any easier.
1980 The Eighties began, literally, with a bang _ or, rather, many bangs _ as Soviet forces overran Afghanistan, the first step in a long and harrowing occupation.
Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser described the action as ""morally wrong and totally contrary to the accepted norm of international society". The Soviets, for their part, claimed they had responded to an appeal for help.
Fraser promised retaliatory action. He would oppose Australian participation in the Moscow Olympic Games. Wheat sales, scientific exchanges and cutural programs would end.
Despite everything, the Australian Olympic Federation defiantly voted 6-5 to send a team.
In June, Vietnamese troops slammed across the border into Thailand.
They caused heavy casualties among the 200,000 Kampuchean refugees camped along the frontier. Thai troops barred civilians from roads heading north.
In London, SAS commandos staged a dramatic rescue at the Iranian Embassy. Fanatical armed men threatened to kill 23 hostages and blow up the building.
When the smoke cleared, four terrorists were dead and a fifth in custody, but not before two hostages had been executed, the body of one hurled into the street.
Hostages were all the rage in Iran that year. In Tehran, the Iranian Government held more than 50 Americans against the return of the deposed Shah, whom they wished to execute.
When the Shah died of natural causes in July, it was hoped the Iranians might relent. But they did not.
Meanwhile, the US attempted an Entebbe-style rescue, which went horribly wrong. Eight American servicemen were killed when two resue aircraft collided on a remote desert strip in Iran.
At Alice Springs on August 18, one of Australia's most controversial legal cases had its beginning, with disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain from a camping ground at Ayers Rock.