Flashback Friday photos | 'Odds and evens' was the game played during petrol strikes in the '60s, '70s and '80s

“Odds and evens” was the not-much-fun game played during regular petrol strikes from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Under government rules, motorists with number pates starting with an odd number were allowed to fill up one day, and even numbers the next.

Queues often extended hundreds of metres and, sometimes petrol would run out before motorists could get to the pump.

One of many fantastic photos from petrol strike days in the Leader archives shows a motorist in 1976 pushing his car to the pump while remaining in the queue.

Another photo, in 1973, shows more than 70 cars in a sweeping line waiting to get petrol from the XL service station at Earlwood.

The bonnets of two of the cars are lifted – they were also the days of radiators overheating.

Queues were also photographed at Brighton-Le-Sands, Caringbah, Rockdale and Arncliffe during various strikes.

A classic shot taken at Kurnell’s only petrol station (since closed), outside the oil refinery where operators were on strike, is of horse rider Maxine Goldthorpe looking as though she hasn’t a worry in the world, while motorists wait for their turn at the pump.

One of the longest strikes, lasting 21 days, occurred in 1982 and involved operators at the Kurnell refinery, with a separate dispute at Shell’s Clyde refinery.

The strike ended only after the Wran government invoked emergency powers and ordered refinery workers back to work.

Workers were to be served individual orders, with a fine of up to $1000 under provisions of the State Energy Authority Act if they failed to report for work

Union officials accused Mr Wran of “jackboot” tactics.

At a meeting at Gunnamatta Park, Cronulla, operators voted 224-135 to remain on strike.

However, a “rethink” followed, and fuel was soon flowing again.


Every Friday we delve into the Leader archives to embark on some time travel.

We will bring you photographs of a news event from 57 years of Leader news coverage that you may or may not recall.

Flashback Friday submissions are also welcomed.

Feel free to share your recollections with us on our Facebook page @SutherlandShireStGeorgeNews or email leaderletters@fairfaxmedia.com.au