Home Decades 1980s 1986



01 – Spain and Portugal join the European Economic Community (EEC).

04 – Thin Lizzy bass player and vocalist, Phil Lynott dies of heart failure after laying in a coma for a week following a drug overdose. He is 34 years old (b. 20 August 1951).

07 – President Reagan announces economic sanctions against Libya, in response to their involvement in terrorist attacks on the Rome and Vienna airports last month.

09 – British Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine resigns after a Cabinet row about the procurement of helicopters in the “Westland Affair”.

20 – Britain and France agree (again) to construct a tunnel beneath the English Channel linking the two countries.

24 – Voyager 2 space probe flies past the planet Uranus.

28 – The American space shuttle Challenger explodes seconds after lift-off, killing its crew of seven. Among them is Christa McAuliffe, a school teacher selected as the first to fly in the “citizen in space” programme. Her husband and children, along with the families of other astronauts, witness the disaster.


02 – Nurse Anita Cobby is raped and murdered in Sydney, Australia.

04 – Electrification of the Illawarra railway line in NSW, Australia.

06 – The mother and sister of The Undertones‘ vocalist Feargal Sharkey are held at gunpoint by terrorists in Londonderry.

07 – Lindy Chamberlain is released from jail in Darwin (Australia) today, three years and three months after being jailed for life for the murder of her baby daughter, Azaria. She has been given an unconditional release by the Northern Territory Government following the discovery of further evidence at the alleged murder scene at Ayers Rock. Mrs Chamberlain has always maintained a dingo took her baby.

07 – Haitian president-for-life Baby Doc Duvalier flees to France after demonstrations against his regime.

15 – President Marcos flees the Philippines to the USA. Mrs Corazon Aquino is sworn in as president.

16 – 700 rescued from sinking Russian cruise ship in New Zealand.

25 – Aquino forces Marcos to flee Manila.

28 – Swedish PM Olof Palme is assassinated in a Stockholm street. He is gunned down by a lone sniper as he and his wife walk home from a night out at the cinema.


02 – “The Australia Bill” becomes law, cutting Australia’s legal ties with Britain.

07 – The state of emergency imposed in South Africa in 1985 is lifted.

20 – Jacques Chirac becomes Prime Minister of France.

24 – Libya launches a missile attack on US Navy vessels in the Gulf of Sidra. The US fleet responds with missile attacks that damage a Libyan missile site and destroy two Libyan patrol boats.

25 – US Congress approves $20 million in military aid to Honduras, where Nicaraguan Contra rebels have set up bases just inside the country’s border.

27 – Police HQ in Melbourne, Australia, is bombed.

30 – Actor James Cagney dies in New York.


02 – A bomb explodes in mid-air on board a TWA Boeing 727 and sucks four people to their deaths while on a flight from Rome to Athens. A shepherd reports seeing bodies tumbling from the sky and Greek police later find three bodies and an aircraft seat near the town of Argos. A fourth body is recovered from the sea. The victims are a man, a grandmother and her daughter and child. Nine others are injured. The plane lands safely.

04 – Film star Clint Eastwood is elected mayor of Carmel, California, with 72% of the vote.

05 – 60 Americans die as a bomb explodes in a West Berlin discothèque. US officials blame Libya for the bombing.

14 – US launches an air strike from British bases against targets in Tripoli and Benghazi, Libya, in retaliation for the April 5 bombings in West Germany. 39 people are killed, including Colonel Gadaffi’s baby daughter.

24 – Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, dies in Paris.

26 – Soviet nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, Ukraine, explodes releasing dangerous radiation into the air across Europe.


03 – Castleford RLFC wins the Rugby League Challenge Cup for the fourth time.

06 – Michael Jackson is paid $15 million to become a sponsor for Pepsi, the biggest sponsorship deal of its kind to date.

13 – A US Justice Department commission on pornography, headed by Attorney General Edwin Meese, rules that such material is potentially harmful and can lead to violent behaviour against women and children.

16 – Elvis Costello marries Cait O’Riordan of The Pogues.

25 – To raise money for the homeless, six million Americans form a ‘Hands Across America‘ human chain across the continent.


04 – Ex-US Navy analyst, Jonathan Jay Pollard, 31, found guilty as spy for Israel.

08 – Kurt Waldheim elected Austrian President, despite allegations of wartime Nazi involvement.

12 – British government dissolves the Northern Ireland Assembly set up in 1982.

13 – Jazz clarinet legend Benny Goodman dies.

16 – Millions of South African blacks refuse to go to work following the government’s declaration of a state of emergency and the arrest of over 1,000 black activists.

17 – Chief Justice Warren Burger retires from the US Supreme Court. Reagan names the more conservative William Rehnquist as his successor and also names Antonin Scalia to the court.

22 – Maradona knocks England out of the soccer World Cup with “the hand of God”.

27 – The International Court of Justice in The Hague rules that US aid to Contra rebels in Nicaragua is illegal.

27 – After New Zealand bans US nuclear-armed warships in its waters, the US declares it cannot be bound by the 1951 ANZUS pact on NZ defence.

29 – Argentina wins the soccer World Cup in Mexico, beating West Germany 3-2.

30 – US Supreme Court rules 5-4 that homosexual activity between consenting adults in the privacy of the home is not protected by the Constitution.


04 – The Statue of Liberty celebrates her 100th birthday by reopening her newly-refurbished doors to visitors. America’s great symbol of hope is now restored to full health. The first visitor on Independence Day is, perhaps appropriately, an English tourist.

04 – In Australia, Neville Wran retires. Barrie Unsworth is new NSW Premier.

07 – Australians Barlow and Chambers are hanged in Malaysia for drug trafficking.

08 – ‘Classic’ Coke is reintroduced after New Coke’s failed ten week run on the market.

23 – Prince Andrew marries Sarah Ferguson.

27 – The International Court of Justice orders the US to stop training and arming Nicaragua’s Contra rebels, and to pay restitution to Nicaragua.

30 – Boy George of Culture Club is fined £250 for possession of heroin.


30 – American journalist Nicholas Daniloff is seized by Soviet authorities and accused of being a spy, seven days after the FBI arrest a Soviet diplomat to the UN on charges of espionage. In September Daniloff will be exchanged for the diplomat, though the White House denies it negotiated a swap.

31 – Former Boomtown Rats vocalist Bob Geldof marries Paula Yates in Las Vegas.

31 – Sculptor Henry Moore dies.


07 – Restrictions on civil liberties are imposed in Chile following an assassination attempt on General Pinochet and his wife while travelling in their presidential car.

07 – Desmond Tutu is enthroned as South Africa’s first black archbishop.

28 – Sir Robert Helpmann dies, aged 77.


02 – USA imposes sanctions on South Africa.

05 – Pilot Eugene Hasenfus is captured by the Nicaraguan Sandinistas and admits that the CIA has been involved in privately arming the Contra rebels. Hasenfus is tried in Managua and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

20 – Yitzhak Shamir takes over from Shimon Peres as prime minister of Israel.

21 – Aussie Labor Party icon Justice Lionel Murphy dies of cancer.

22 – Reagan signs a revised federal income tax law, lowering taxes for everyone, especially those in the highest tax brackets.


02 – Billy Bragg is arrested for cutting through wire fences surrounding a US Air Force base in Norfolk.

13 – President Reagan admits a secret arms deal with Iran, in the so-called Iran-Contra scandal.

14 – Financier Ivan Boesky agrees to pay the US government $100 million as a penalty for illegal insider trading on the security exchange. The Securities and Exchange Commission bars Boesky from participating in the securities business for the rest of his life. He is also sentenced to three years in prison.

22 – 20-year-old boxer Mike Tyson becomes youngest ever world heavyweight champion, beating Canadian Trevor Berbick in two rounds.

24 – Pope John Paul II begins tour of Australia.

25 – Vice Admiral Poindexter and Colonel Oliver North are dismissed from the National Security Council after it is revealed that money from arms sales in Iran funded Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

29 – British-born actor Cary Grant dies in Iowa.

30 – “Irangate” row over hostage release.


19 – Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov and his wife are permitted to return to Moscow after seven years internal exile.

23 – The Voyager, a two manned super-light aeroplane, circles the globe in nine days and requires only one tank of gas.

29 – Former British PM Harold Macmillan dies.

Also This Year . . .

  • Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev institutes a policy of glasnost (openness) in the arts and literature, allowing many previously banned works to be published.
  • Halley’s Comet passes the Earth – An event that only occurs every 76 years.
  • Edinburgh Commonwealth Games opens (minus 23 nations).
  • Launch of NICAM digital stereo sound on television.
  • ‘At Talaq’ wins Melbourne Cup.