Timeline of Australian history


Timeline of Australian history

This is a timeline of Australian history.

BC

*c. 68,000 BC-40,000 BC: Aboriginal tribes thought to have arrived in Australia.

1600s

*1606 (March): The Duke of York's ship "Duyfken", under Captain Willem Janszoon, explores the western coast of Cape York Peninsula. The first recorded landfall by a European on Australian soil.
*1606 (May) Australia is named by Quirós who believed he had found the southern continent, and named it "La Austrialia del Espiritu Santo" (The Austrian Land of the Holy Spirit).
*1606 (August): Portuguese seaman Luis Vaez de Torres sails through the Torres Strait, between Australia and New Guinea, along the latter's southern coast. He may well have sighted the northernmost extremity of Australia, although this is not recorded. Torres reported 'shoals', some of which may have been the northernmost atolls of the Great Barrier Reef. The name 'Coste Dangereuse', for the tropical Queensland coast, appears on French charts.
*1616: Dutch captain Dirk Hartog in the "Eendracht" makes the second recorded landfall by a European, at Dirk Hartog Island on the western coast of Australia. Leaves behind the Hartog plate.
*1623: Dutch captain Jan Carstensz navigates the Gulf of Carpentaria aboard the "Pera" and "Arnhem". The "Arnhem" crosses the Gulf to reach and name Groote Eylandt.
*1642: Dutch explorer Abel Tasman explores the west coast of Tasmania, lands on its east coast and names the island Anthoonij van Diemenslandt.
*1688: English explorer William Dampier explores the west coasts of Australia.
*1696: Flemish explorer Willem de Vlamingh charts the southwestern coast of Australia, making landfall at Rottnest Island and the site of the present-day city of Perth.

1700s

*1770: English Lieutenant James Cook's expedition in HM Bark "Endeavour" charts the eastern coast, and claims it for the British Crown. Australia dubbed "terra nullius" because there was no trace of inhabitants.
*1788: The First Fleet from England under Arthur Phillip arrives in Australia and founds first European settlement and penal colony at Sydney Cove (Sydney). New South Wales, according to Arthur Phillip's amended Commission dated 25 April 1787, includes "all the islands adjacent in the Pacific Ocean" and running westward to the 135th meridian. These islands included the current islands of New Zealand, which was administered as part of New South Wales.
*1788: An English settlement is founded at Norfolk Island.
*1792: Two French ships, "La Recherche" and "L'Espérance", anchor in what was named Recherche Bay, near the southernmost point of Tasmania at a time when England and France were racing around the globe to be the first to discover and colonise Australia.
*1797: "Sydney Cove" wrecked and some survivors travelled from Bass Strait to Port Jackson allowing for the rescue of others but also furthering knowledge of the geography of Australia

1800s

*1803: Matthew Flinders completes the first circumnavigation of the continent.
*1804: A settlement is founded at Risdon on the Derwent River in Australia by Lieutenant Bowen.
*1804: Castle Hill convict rebellion also known as the second Battle of Vinegar Hill
*1804: The settlement is moved to Sullivan's Cove in Van Diemen's Land (now Hobart in Tasmania) by Colonel David Collins.
*1808: The Rum Rebellion
*1813: Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth cross the Blue Mountains.
*Matthew Flinders calls New South Wales (Australia's old name) Australia
*1817: John Oxley charts the Lachlan River.
*1817: Australia's first bank the Bank of New South Wales opens in Macquarie Place, Sydney. (Became Westpac in 1982)
*1818: Oxley charts the Macquarie River.
*1824: A penal colony is founded at Moreton Bay, now the city of Brisbane.
*1824: Bathurst and Melville Islands are annexed.
*1825 New South Wales western border is extended to 129° E. Van Diemen's Land is proclaimed.
*1828: Charles Sturt charts the Darling River.
*1829: The whole of Australia is claimed as British territory. The settlement of Perth is founded. Swan River Colony is declared by Charles Fremantle for Britain.
*1830: Sturt arrives at Goolwa, having charted the Murray River.
*1831: Sydney Herald (later to become The Sydney Morning Herald) first published.
*1832 Swan River Colony has its name changed to Western Australia.
*1833: The penal settlement of Port Arthur is founded in Van Dieman's Land.
*1835: John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner establish a settlement at Port Phillip, now the city of Melbourne.
*1836: Province of South Australia proclaimed with its western border at 132° E.
*1841 New Zealand is proclaimed and is no longer under New South Wales.
*1842: Copper is discovered at Kapunda in South Australia.
*1845: The ship "Cataraqui" is wrecked off King Island in Bass Strait. It is Australia's worst civil maritime disaster with 406 lives lost.
*1845: Copper is discovered at Burra in South Australia.
*1850: Western Australia becomes a penal colony.
*1850: Australia's first university, the University of Sydney, is founded.
*1851: Victoria separates from New South Wales.
*1851: The Victorian gold rush starts when gold is found at Summerhill Creek and Ballarat.
*1851: Forest Creek Monster Meeting of miners at Chewton near Castlemaine
*1853: Bendigo Petition and Red Ribbon Rebellion at Bendigo
*1854: The Eureka Stockade
*1855: The transportation of convicts to Norfolk Island ceases.
*1856 Van Diemen's Land name changed to Tasmania.
*1857:Victorian Committee reported that a 'federal union' would be in the interests of all the growing colonies. However, there was not enough interest in or enthusiasm for taking positive steps towards bringing the colonies together.
*1858: Sydney and Melbourne linked by Electric Telegraph.
*1859: "SS Admella" wrecked off south-east coast of South Australia with the loss of 89 lives.
*1859: Australian football rules codified, Melbourne Football Club founded
*1859: Queensland separates from New South Wales with its western border at 141° E.
*1860: John McDouall Stuart reaches the centre of the continent. South Australian border changed from 132° E to 129° E.
*1861: The ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition occurs.
*1862: Stuart reaches Port Darwin, founding a settlement there. Queensland's western border is moved to 139° E.
*1863: South Australia takes control of the Northern Territory which was part of the colony of New South Wales.
*1867: Gold is discovered at Gympie, Queensland.
*1868: The transportation of convicts to Western Australia ceases.
*1872: Overland Telegraph Line linking Darwin and Adelaide opens.
*1873: Uluru is first sighted by Europeans, and named Ayers Rock.
*1875: "SS Gothenburg" strikes Old Reef off North Queensland and sinks with the loss of approximately 102 lives.
*1879: The first congress of trade unions is held.
*1880: The bushranger Ned Kelly is hanged.
*1880: Parliamentarians in Victoria become the first in Australia to be paid for their work.
*1883: The opening of the Sydney-Melbourne railway
*1883: Silver is discovered at Broken Hill
*1887: An Australian cricket team is established, defeating Britain in the first Ashes series.
*1889: The completion of the railway network between Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
*1889: Sir Henry Parkes delivers the Tenterfield Oration.
*1890: The Australian Federation Conference calls a constitutional convention.
*1891: A National Australasian Convention meets, agrees on adopting the name "the Commonwealth of Australia" and drafting a constitution.
*1891: The first attempt at a federal constitution is drafted.
*1891: The Convention adopts the constitution, although it has no legal status
*1891: A severe depression hits Australia
*1892: Gold is discovered at Coolgardie, Western Australia.
*1893: The Corowa Conference (the "people's convention") calls on the colonial parliaments to pass enabling acts, allowing the election of delegates to a new constitutional convention aimed at drafting a proposal and putting it to a referendum in each colony.
*1895: The premiers, except for those of Queensland and Western Australia, agree to implement the Corowa proposals.
*1895: "Waltzing Matilda" is first sung in public, in Winton, Queensland
*1895: Banjo Paterson publishes "The Man from Snowy River"
*1896: The Bathurst Conference (the second "people's convention") meets to discuss the 1891 draft constitution
*1897: In two sessions, the Second National Australasian Convention meets (with representatives from all colonies except Queensland present). They agree to adopt a constitution based on the 1891 draft, and then revise and amend it later that year.
*1898: The Convention agrees on a final draft to be put to the people.
*1898: After much public debate, the Victorian, South Australian and Tasmanian referendums are successful; the New South Wales referendum narrowly fails. Later New South Wales votes "yes" in a second referendum, and Queensland and Western Australia also vote to join.
*1899: The decision is made to site the national capital in New South Wales, but not within 100 miles of Sydney.
*1899: The Australian Labor Party holds office for a few days in Queensland, becoming the first trade union party to do so anywhere in the world.

1900s

*1900 - Several delegates visit London to resist proposed changes to the agreed-upon constitution.
*1900 - The constitution is passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom as a schedule to the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, and is given royal assent
*1901 - Australia becomes a federation on January 1. Edmund Barton becomes Prime Minister; Lord Hopetoun becomes Governor-General
*1901 - The first parliament meets in Parliament House, Melbourne
*1901- Immigration Restriction act was introduced- The White Australian Policy
*1902 - The "Franchise Act" guarantees women the right to vote in federal elections (by this stage, most states had already done this). However, it excludes most non-European ethnic groups, including Aboriginal people.
*1902 - Breaker Morant is executed for having shot Boers who had surrendered
*1903 - The High Court of Australia is established with Samuel Griffith as the first Chief Justice.
*1903 - The "Defence Act" gives the federal government full control over the Australian Army
*1903 - Alfred Deakin elected Prime Minister
*1904 - A site at Dalgety, New South Wales chosen for the new national capital
*1904 - Chris Watson forms the first federal Labor (minority) government
*1906 - Australia takes control of south-eastern New Guinea
*1908 - Dorothea Mackellar publishes "My Country"
*1908 - The Dalgety proposal for the national capital is revoked, and Canberra is chosen instead
*1909 - The first powered aeroplane flight in Australia is made.

1910s

*1910 - Andrew Fisher forms the first federal majority Labor government.
*1911 - The Royal Australian Navy is founded
*1911 - The Northern Territory comes under Commonwealth control, being split off from South Australia
*1911 - The first national census is conducted.
*1911 – Australian Capital Territory proclaimed.
*1912 - Australia sends women to the Olympic Games for the first time
*1912 - Walter Burley Griffin wins a design competition for the new city of Canberra
*1913 - The foundation stone for the city of Canberra is put in place
*1914 - Australian soldiers are sent to the First World War. This was first time Australians had fought under the Australian flag, as opposed to that of Britain's.
*1915 - Australian soldiers land at Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey
*1915 - Jervis Bay Territory comprising 6,677 hectares surrendered and becomes part of the Australia Capital Territory.
*1915 - Surfing is first introduced to Australia
*1916 - Hotels are forced to close at 6 p.m., leading to the beginning of the "six o'clock swill"
*1916 - The Returned Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia, the forerunner to the Returned and Services League of Australia is founded
*1916 - The Labor government under Billy Hughes splits over conscription. First referendum on conscription is rejected
*1917 - Second referendum on conscription is rejected
*1918 - First World War ends

1920s

*1920 - The airline Qantas is founded
*1921 - Edith Cowan becomes the first woman elected to an Australian parliament
*1922 - The Smith Family charity is founded in Sydney
*1923 - "Vegemite" is first produced
*1926 - The first Miss Australia contest is held
*1927 - The tenth parliament is formally opened in Canberra, finalising the move to the new capital
*1928 - Bert Hinkler makes the first successful flight from Britain to Australia, and Charles Kingsford Smith makes the first flight from the United States to Australia
*1929 - Western Australia celebrates its centenary
*1929 - Labor returns to office under James Scullin. The Great Depression hits Australia.

1930s

*1930 - Don Bradman scores a record 452 not out in one cricket innings
*1930 - Phar Lap wins his first Melbourne Cup
*1931 - Sir Douglas Mawson charts 4,000 miles of Antarctic coastline and claims 42% of the icy mass for Australia
*1932 - The Sydney Harbour Bridge opens
*1932 - the Labor government falls and Joseph Lyons becomes Prime Minister
*1933 - Western Australia votes at a rerefendum to secede from the Commonwealth, but the vote is ignored by both the Commonwealth and British governments
*1936 - The last Thylacine dies
*1937 - The radio series "Dad and Dave" begins
*1938 - Sydney hosts the Empire Games, the forerunner to the Commonwealth Games
*1939 - Australia enters the Second World War
*1939 - The first flight is made by an Australian-made warplane, the Wirraway
*1939 - Victoria is devastated by the Black Friday bushfires
*1939 - Lyons dies in office and is succeeded by Robert Menzies

1940s

*1940 - A team of scientists, under Howard Florey, develops penicillin
*1941 - Labor comes to power under John Curtin
*1942-43 - Japanese planes make almost 100 attacks against sites in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland. (See also: Japanese air attacks on Australia, 1942-43)
*1942 - National daylight saving is introduced as a war time measure.
*1942 - The UK "Statute of Westminster" is formally adopted by Australia. The Statute formally grants Australia (along with New Zealand, South Africa, and the Irish Free State) the right to pass laws that conflict with UK laws.
*1943 - Australia wins its first Oscar, with cinematographer Damien Parer being honoured for his coverage of the war
*1944 - The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is introduced, providing subsidised medicine to all Australians
*1945 - Australia becomes a founding member of the United Nations
*1945 - The Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race is held for the first time
*1945 - Curtin dies in office and is succeeded by Ben Chifley
*1946 - Minister for Immigration Arthur Calwell introduces the major post-war immigration scheme
*1946 - An Australian, Norman Makin, is voted in as the first President of the United Nations Security Council.
*1948 - Australian Minister for External Affairs, Dr. H.V. Evatt is elected President of the United Nations General Assembly.
*1948 - Australia becomes a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
*1949 - Construction of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme begins
*1949 - Indigenous Australians who are eligible to vote in State Elections in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania are also given the right to vote in Federal Elections.
*1949 - The Nationality and Citizenship Act is passed. Rather than being identified as subjects of Britain, the Act established Australian citizenship for people who met eligibility requirements.
*1949 - Menzies returns to power as leader of the new Liberal Party

1950s

*1950 - Australian troops are sent to the Korean War, as well as to fight a communist insurgency in Malaya
*1951 - Australia signs the ANZUS treaty with the United States and New Zealand
*1951 - Voters reject a referendum to change the Constitution to allow the Menzies Government to ban the Communist Party
*1952 - First nuclear test conducted in Australian territory by the United Kingdom off the coast of Western Australia.
*1954 - Elizabeth II and Prince Philip make a royal visit; the Soviet diplomat Vladimir Petrov defects, leading to the Petrov Affair and another split in the Labor Party
*1955 - Hotels in New South Wales no longer have to close at 6 p.m., ending the "six o'clock swill"
*1956 - Melbourne holds the Summer Olympics

1960s

*1962 - Indigenous Australians gain the right to vote in all states except Queensland; Australia enters the Vietnam War

*1963 - Indigenous Australians are given full rights as citizens.

* 1964 - The Beatles tour Australia; 82 sailors die when HMAS Voyager sinks after being rammed by HMAS Melbourne; the editors of "Oz" magazine are charged with obscenity; PM Robert Menzies announces the reintroduction of compulsory military service for men aged from 18-25 years old.

* 1965 - Indigenous Australians gain right to vote in state of Queensland

*1966 - The ban on the employment of married women in the Commonwealth Public Service is lifted; Menzies retires as Australia's longest-serving Prime Minister and is succeeded by Harold Holt.

*1966 - Decimalisation; on *14 February the Australian currency is changed to dollars and cents, with the Australian Dollar replacing the Australian pound.

*1967 - large areas of Hobart and south-eastern Tasmania are devastated by bushfires on 7 February that kill 62 people; Prime Minister Holt drowns and is succeeded by John Gorton; Aboriginal Australians gain the right to citizenship after a referendum to allow the federal government to legislate for them is supported by over 90% of the population; Sydney is rocked by a series of brutal underworld killings; talkback radio is introduced; British comedian Tony Hancock commits suicide in Sydney; Gough Whitlam becomes leader of the Labor Party

*1968 - Australia signs the nuclear non-proliferation treaty; Aboriginal boxing champion Lionel Rose defeats Masahiko "Fighting" Harada in Japan to become the world bantamweight champion; Australia's first liver transplant operation is performed in Sydney;

*1969 - French conceptual artist Christo 'wraps' Little Bay in Sydney; renowned author-artists Norman Lindsay and May Gibbs die; the Australian production of the rock musical "Hair" premieres in Sydney; top pop groups The Easybeats and The Twilights break up; Tim Burstall directs"2000 Weeks", the first all-Australian feature released since Charles Chauvel's "Jedda" in 1958

1970s

*1970 - More than 200,000 people participate in the largest demonstrations in Australian history, against the Vietnam War
*1971 - Neville Bonner becomes the first Aboriginal to become an Australian Member of Parliament; John Gorton resigns and is succeeded by William McMahon
* 1971 - The 1971 Springbok tour sparks protest all throughout Australia. Premier of Queensland Joh Bjelke-Petersen declares a state of emergency in QLD in response to escalating protest.
*1972 - The Commonwealth Arbitration Commission rules that women doing the same job as men have the right to be paid the same wage.
*1972 - Aboriginal Tent Embassy erected in response to the Coalition government's approval of exploration licences and mining tenements on reserves
*1972 - The first Labor government since 1949 is elected under the leadership of Gough Whitlam
*1972 - Australia recognises the People's Republic of China
*1973 - The Sydney Opera House is opened
*1973 - The White Australian Policy (established 1901) is officially dismantled
*1973 - The federal voting age is dropped from 21 to 18
*1973 - Unionists save the historic "The Rocks" area of Sydney from demolition by introducing "Green Bans"
*1973 - Patrick White becomes the first Australian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature
*1974 - Darwin is devastated by Cyclone Tracy
*1975 - A constitutional crisis occurs when Malcolm Fraser blocks supply, bringing the nation to a standstill until Governor-General John Kerr dismisses Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. Fraser wins elections and becomes Prime Minister
* 1975 - The 'Privy Council (Appeals from the High Court) Act" removes the right to appeal High Court decisions to the British Privy Council. Appeals to the Privy Council direct from State Supreme Courts remain until 1988.
*1975 - South Australia becomes the first state in Australia to legalise homosexuality between consenting adults in private.
*1975 - Whitlam government introduced the Aboriginal Land (NT) Bill into Parliament. The bill proposed land rights in the Northern Territory based on land claimed on grounds of need as well as traditional affiliation and traditional landowners maintaining control over mining and development.
*1976 - The Australian Capital Territory legalises homosexuality between consenting adults in private.
*1977 - "Advance Australia Fair" becomes Australia's official national anthem
*1978 - The First Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras kicks off in Sydney - People were arrested.
*1979 - Australian women win the right to maternity leave
*1979 - Kakadu National Park and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park are both proclaimed.

1980s

*1980 - Baby Azaria Chamberlain disappears from a campsite at Ayers Rock (Uluru), reportedly taken by a dingo. The Coalition wins the 1980 Australian federal election.
*1981 - A referendum is held in Tasmania to vote for whether or not the Franklin Dam should be built.
*1982 - Commonwealth Games held in Brisbane. The National Gallery of Australia is opened.
*1983 - Australia wins the America's Cup; Bob Hawke defeats Fraser and leads Labor back to government. The Australian Dollar is floated. The Ash Wednesday fires kill 71 people.
*1984 - "Advance Australia Fair" is proclaimed as Australia's national anthem. The one dollar coin is introduced. Labor wins the 1984 Australian federal election. Medicare is established.
*1985 - The government grants the freehold title of a large area of land in central Australia, including prominent landmarks Uluru and Kata Tjuta, to the Mutitjulu people, who in turn give them a 99-year lease. The last state to do so (New South Wales) abolishes capital punishment.
*1986 - The "Australia Act" removes the right of appeal from State courts to the British Privy Council, making the High Court the final court of appeal in Australia. The Act also removes all remaining rights of the UK parliament to pass law for Australia. Anita Cobby murder in Sydney. Russell Street Bombing in Melbourne. "Crocodile Dundee" is released in Australia.
*1987 - Hoddle Street Massacre kills 7 victims and injures 19, Queen Street Massacre kills 8 victims and injures 5. Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen resigns as Premier of Queensland after 19 years at the top.
*1988 - Australia celebrates its bicentenary, with large celebrations and major funding for capital works projects. The new Parliament House opens. Federal referendums on 4-year parliamentary terms, recognition of local government and other issues are defeated. Brisbane hosts World Expo '88.
*1989 - Newcastle Earthquake kills 13 people. ACT gains self-Government. The Kempsey bus crash and Grafton bus crash kill a total of 56 people.

1990s

*1990 - Royal Australian Navy deployed in preparation for the First Gulf War. Carmen Lawrence becomes the first female premier of an Australian state. Labour wins the 1990 federal election.
*1991 - Prime Minister Bob Hawke is replaced by Paul Keating. Seven people die in the Strathfield massacre. Prominent heart surgeon Victor Chang is gunned down. The Coode Island chemical storage facility in Melbourne explodes, leaving a toxic cloud hanging over the city for days.
*1992 - The High Court delivers the Mabo Decision, which rules that indigenous native title does exist. This effectively extinguishes the concept of "terra nullius". New South Wales Premier Nick Greiner resigns.
*1993 - Keating defeats John Hewson in the 1993 federal election; the Australian Greens stand candidates for the first time.
*1994 -
*1995 - The Northern Territory legalises voluntary euthanasia, but it is overruled by the federal government when Liberal MP Kevin Andrews proposes the Euthanasia Laws Bill 1996
*1996 - The High Court hands down the Wik Decision, which holds that indigenous native title can survive the granting of pastoral leases.
*1996 - Liberal John Howard becomes Prime Minister, defeating Paul Keating after a record 13 years of Labor government
*1996 - All Australian states and territories agree to introduce uniform gun laws following the deaths of 35 people in the Port Arthur massacre
*1997 - Expelled Liberal MP Pauline Hanson forms the One Nation Party
*1997 - On the 1 May 1997 Tasmania finally legalises homosexuality between consenting adults in private after a nine-year battle, the last Australian state to do so, also maintaining a law so there is 'constituting no defence' for any person who practices anal sex with another person under 17 (12 with a two year gap and 15 with a three year gap).
*1997 - Eighteen people die when the Bimbadene and Carinya Lodges collapse at Thredbo Alpine Village at 11.30 p.m. on 30 July
*1998 - A major strike results when Patrick Stevedores attempt to introduce non-union labour to reduce the influence of the Maritime Union of Australia
*1998 - The Australian Stock Exchange is demutualized and floated as a public company, becoming the world’s first stock exchange to be listed on an exchange.
*1999 - Both houses of the federal parliament pass a motion signifying both recognition of and regret at past treatment of indigenous Australians.
*1999 - A referendum on changing to a republic is unsuccessful
*1999 - Australian soldiers are deployed to East Timor as part of the INTERFET peacekeeping force

2000s

*2000 - Sydney holds the Summer Olympics.
*2001 - John Howard is re-elected after the Tampa affair and Children overboard affair occur as part of a crackdown on illegal immigration
*2001 - Western Australia now has a Uniform Age Of Consent at 16 for Everyone.
*2002 - On 12 October, 2002 bombs explode in a Bali nightclub and bar killing 202 people, including 88 Australians.
*2003 - Australian military deployed to participate in the Iraq War.
*2003 - The Northern Territory now has a uniform Age Of Consent set at 16 for everyone.
*2003 - New South Wales becomes the last State to have a Uniform Age of Consent at 16 for Everyone.
*2004 - A bomb explodes outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, Asia.
*2004 - The John Howard led conservative Liberal and National Party coalition wins its fourth term in office after defeating the Mark Latham led Australian Labor Party at the federal election. Olympics are held in Athens,Greece.
*2005 - Sixteen people are charged with planning terrorist attacks in Sydney and Melbourne
*2005 - Sydney beachside suburb of Cronulla sees racially charged riots.
*2006 - The Commonwealth Games are held in Melbourne.
*2006 - Australian Forces are again deployed to East Timor to help stabilize the country.
*2007 - Australians Forces are brought home from East Timor.
*2007 - Sydney hosted the APEC summit meeting.
*2007 - Australian Labor Party is elected; Kevin Rudd becomes Prime Minister.
*2008 - Kevin Rudd officially apologises to the Stolen Generation. The Olympics are held in Beijing,China.


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