This article challenges the position that genuine and substantive Australian engagement with Asia began only in the 1980s during the final phase of the Cold War. In reality, the deepest points of Australia's political and security engagement occurred much earlier, from 1950 to 1971, with the most intense phase from 1966 to 1968. The Cold War instilled a sense of solidarity with the non-Communist states of East Asia, with which Australia fostered and mostly enjoyed close relationships. These relationships were grounded in shared values and a non-Communist identity that transcended the narrow security interest of Australia's “forward defence” strategy. The conditions for this solidarity were eroded from 1967 to 1972 by a series of compounding factors that transformed Cold War geopolitics in East Asia. By 1974, Australia had been politically distanced from the region with its engagement premised on a broadening but shallower transactional basis.