- Timeline of Australian history
This is a timeline of
*c. 68,000 BC-40,000 BC: Aboriginal tribes thought to have arrived in Australia.
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 Torressails 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 Hartogin the "Eendracht" makes the second recorded landfall by a European, at Dirk Hartog Islandon the western coast of Australia. Leaves behind the Hartog plate.
1623: Dutch captain Jan Carstensz navigates the Gulf of Carpentariaaboard the "Pera" and "Arnhem". The "Arnhem" crosses the Gulf to reach and name Groote Eylandt.
1642: Dutch explorer Abel Tasmanexplores the west coast of Tasmania, lands on its east coast and names the island Anthoonij van Diemenslandt.
1688: English explorer William Dampierexplores the west coasts of Australia.
1696: Flemish explorer Willem de Vlaminghcharts the southwestern coast of Australia, making landfall at Rottnest Islandand the site of the present-day city of Perth.
*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.
First Fleetfrom England under Arthur Philliparrives in Australia and founds first European settlement and penal colonyat Sydney Cove( Sydney). New South Wales, according to Arthur Phillip's amended Commission dated 25 April1787, 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
*1792: Two French ships, "La Recherche" and "L'Espérance", anchor in what was named Recherche Bay, near the southernmost point of
Tasmaniaat 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
Matthew Flinderscompletes the first circumnavigationof the continent.
*1804: A settlement is founded at Risdon on the Derwent River in Australia by Lieutenant Bowen.
Castle Hill convict rebellionalso known as the second Battle of Vinegar Hill
*1804: The settlement is moved to Sullivan's Cove in Van Diemen's Land (now
Hobartin Tasmania) by Colonel David Collins.
*1813: Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth cross the Blue Mountains.
*Matthew Flinders calls New South Wales (Australia's old name) Australia
John Oxleycharts the Lachlan River.
*1817: Australia's first bank the Bank of New South Wales opens in Macquarie Place, Sydney. (Became
*1818: Oxley charts the
*1824: A penal colony is founded at
Moreton Bay, now the city of Brisbane.
*1824: Bathurst and Melville Islands are annexed.
New South Waleswestern border is extended to 129° E. Van Diemen's Landis proclaimed.
Charles Sturtcharts the Darling River.
*1829: The whole of Australia is claimed as British territory. The settlement of Perth is founded.
Swan River Colonyis declared by Charles Fremantlefor Britain.
*1830: Sturt arrives at
Goolwa, having charted the Murray River.
*1831: Sydney Herald (later to become
The Sydney Morning Herald) first published.
Swan River Colonyhas its name changed to Western Australia.
*1833: The penal settlement of Port Arthur is founded in Van Dieman's Land.
John Batmanand John Pascoe Fawknerestablish a settlement at Port Phillip, now the city of Melbourne.
*1836: Province of
South Australiaproclaimed with its western border at 132° E.
New Zealandis proclaimed and is no longer under New South Wales.
Copperis discovered at Kapunda in South Australia.
*1845: The ship "
Cataraqui" is wrecked off King Islandin Bass Strait. It is Australia's worst civil maritime disaster with 406 lives lost.
Copperis discovered at Burra in South Australia.
Western Australiabecomes a penal colony.
*1850: Australia's first university, the
University of Sydney, is founded.
*1851: Victoria separates from
New South Wales.
Victorian gold rushstarts when gold is found at Summerhill Creek and Ballarat.
Forest Creek Monster Meetingof miners at Chewton near Castlemaine
Bendigo Petitionand Red Ribbon Rebellionat Bendigo
*1855: The transportation of convicts to
Van Diemen's Landname 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
SS Admella" wrecked off south-east coast of South Australiawith the loss of 89 lives.
*1859: Australian football rules codified, Melbourne Football Club founded
Queenslandseparates from New South Waleswith its western border at 141° E.
John McDouall Stuartreaches the centre of the continent. South Australianborder changed from 132° E to 129° E.
*1861: The ill-fated
Burke and Willsexpedition occurs.
*1862: Stuart reaches Port Darwin, founding a settlement there.
Queensland's western border is moved to 139° E.
South Australiatakes control of the Northern Territorywhich was part of the colony of New South Wales.
*1867: Gold is discovered at
*1868: The transportation of convicts to
*1872: Overland Telegraph Line linking Darwin and
Uluruis first sighted by Europeans, and named Ayers Rock.
SS Gothenburg" strikes Old Reef off North Queenslandand sinks with the loss of approximately 102 lives.
*1879: The first congress of trade unions is held.
bushranger Ned Kellyis hanged.
*1880: Parliamentarians in Victoria become the first in Australia to be paid for their work.
*1883: The opening of the
*1883: Silver is discovered at Broken Hill
*1887: An Australian
cricketteam is established, defeating Britain in the first Ashes series.
*1889: The completion of the railway network between
Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourneand Sydney.
*1889: Sir Henry Parkes delivers the
*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.
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
Queenslandand Western Australia, agree to implement the Corowa proposals.
Waltzing Matilda" is first sung in public, in Winton, Queensland
Banjo Patersonpublishes "The Man from Snowy River"
Bathurst Conference(the second "people's convention") meets to discuss the 1891draft constitution
*1897: In two sessions, the Second National Australasian Convention meets (with representatives from all colonies except
Queenslandpresent). 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.
Australian Labor Partyholds office for a few days in Queensland, becoming the first trade union party to do so anywhere in the world.
*1900 - Several delegates visit
Londonto resist proposed changes to the agreed-upon constitution.
*1900 - The constitution is passed by the
Parliament of the United Kingdomas a schedule to the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, and is given royal assent
*1901 - Australia becomes a federation on
January 1. Edmund Bartonbecomes 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.
Breaker Morantis executed for having shot Boers who had surrendered
*1903 - The
High Court of Australiais established with Samuel Griffithas the first Chief Justice.
*1903 - The "Defence Act" gives the federal government full control over the
Alfred Deakinelected Prime Minister
*1904 - A site at
Dalgety, New South Waleschosen for the new national capital
Chris Watsonforms the first federal Labor (minority) government
*1906 - Australia takes control of south-eastern
Dorothea Mackellarpublishes "My Country"
*1908 - The Dalgety proposal for the national capital is revoked, and
Canberrais chosen instead
*1909 - The first powered aeroplane flight in Australia is made.
*1910 - Andrew Fisher forms the first federal majority Labor government.
*1911 - The
Royal Australian Navyis founded
*1911 - The
Northern Territorycomes under Commonwealth control, being split off from South Australia
*1911 - The first national census is conducted.
Australian Capital Territoryproclaimed.
*1912 - Australia sends women to the
Olympic Gamesfor the first time
Walter Burley Griffinwins 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
GallipoliPeninsula in Turkey
*1915 - Jervis Bay Territory comprising 6,677 hectares surrendered and becomes part of the Australia Capital Territory.
Surfingis 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 Australiais founded
*1916 - The Labor government under
Billy Hughessplits over conscription. First referendum on conscription is rejected
*1917 - Second referendum on conscription is rejected
*1918 - First World War ends
*1920 - The airline
Edith Cowanbecomes the first woman elected to an Australian parliament
The Smith Familycharity is founded in Sydney
*1923 - "
Vegemite" is first produced
*1926 - The first
Miss Australiacontest is held
*1927 - The tenth parliament is formally opened in
Canberra, finalising the move to the new capital
Bert Hinklermakes the first successful flight from Britain to Australia, and Charles Kingsford Smithmakes the first flight from the United Statesto Australia
*1929 - Western Australia celebrates its centenary
*1929 - Labor returns to office under
James Scullin. The Great Depression hits Australia.
Don Bradmanscores a record 452 not out in one cricketinnings
Phar Lapwins 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 Bridgeopens
*1932 - the Labor government falls and
Joseph Lyonsbecomes Prime Minister
Western Australiavotes at a rerefendum to secede from the Commonwealth, but the vote is ignored by both the Commonwealth and British governments
*1936 - The last
*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
*1939 - Victoria is devastated by the Black Friday bushfires
*1939 - Lyons dies in office and is succeeded by
*1940 - A team of scientists, under
Howard Florey, develops penicillin
*1941 - Labor comes to power under
*1942-43 - Japanese planes make almost 100 attacks against sites in the
Northern Territory, Western Australiaand Queensland. (See also: Japanese air attacks on Australia, 1942-43)
*1942 - National
daylight savingis 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 Parerbeing honoured for his coverage of the war
*1944 - The
Pharmaceutical Benefits Schemeis introduced, providing subsidised medicine to all Australians
*1945 - Australia becomes a founding member of the United Nations
*1945 - The
Sydney-Hobart Yacht Raceis held for the first time
*1945 - Curtin dies in office and is succeeded by
*1946 - Minister for Immigration
Arthur Calwellintroduces 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. Evattis 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 Schemebegins
*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
*1950 - Australian troops are sent to the
Korean War, as well as to fight a communist insurgency in Malaya
*1951 - Australia signs the
ANZUStreaty with the United Statesand New Zealand
*1951 - Voters reject a referendum to change the Constitution to allow the Menzies Government to ban the Communist Party
*1952 - First
nuclear testconducted 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 Affairand 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"
Melbourneholds the Summer Olympics
*1962 - Indigenous Australians gain the right to vote in all states except Queensland; Australia enters the
*1963 - Indigenous Australians are given full rights as citizens.
* 1964 -
The Beatlestour 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
Decimalisation; on * 14 Februarythe Australian currency is changed to dollars and cents, with the Australian Dollarreplacing the Australian pound.
*1967 - large areas of
Hobartand south-eastern Tasmaniaare devastated by bushfires on 7 Februarythat 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; Sydneyis rocked by a series of brutal underworld killings; talkback radiois introduced; British comedian Tony Hancockcommits suicidein Sydney; Gough Whitlambecomes leader of the Labor Party
*1968 - Australia signs the nuclear non-proliferation treaty; Aboriginal boxing champion
Lionel Rosedefeats Masahiko "Fighting" Harada in Japan to become the world bantamweight champion; Australia's first livertransplant operation is performed in Sydney;
*1969 - French conceptual artist
Christo'wraps' Little Bayin Sydney; renowned author-artists Norman Lindsayand May Gibbsdie; the Australian production of the rock musical "Hair" premieres in Sydney; top pop groups The Easybeatsand The Twilightsbreak up; Tim Burstalldirects" 2000 Weeks", the first all-Australian feature released since Charles Chauvel's " Jedda" in 1958
*1970 - More than 200,000 people participate in the largest demonstrations in Australian history, against the
Neville Bonnerbecomes the first Aboriginal to become an Australian Member of Parliament; John Gortonresigns and is succeeded by William McMahon
* 1971 - The
1971 Springbok toursparks protest all throughout Australia. Premier of Queensland Joh Bjelke-Petersendeclares a state of emergencyin QLD in response to escalating protest.
*1972 - The
Commonwealth Arbitration Commissionrules 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
*1972 - Australia recognises the
People's Republic of China
*1973 - The
Sydney Opera Houseis 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 Sydneyfrom demolition by introducing " Green Bans"
Patrick Whitebecomes the first Australian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature
*1974 - Darwin is devastated by
*1975 - A constitutional crisis occurs when
Malcolm Fraserblocks 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 Territorylegalises 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
Kakadu National Parkand the Great Barrier Reef Marine Parkare both proclaimed.
*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 Australiais opened.
*1983 - Australia wins the
America's Cup; Bob Hawkedefeats Fraser and leads Labor back to government. The Australian Dollaris floated. The Ash Wednesday fireskill 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
Uluruand 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 murderin Sydney. Russell Street Bombingin Melbourne. " Crocodile Dundee" is released in Australia.
Hoddle Street Massacrekills 7 victims and injures 19, Queen Street Massacrekills 8 victims and injures 5. Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersenresigns 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
*1989 - Newcastle Earthquake kills 13 people. ACT gains self-Government. The
Kempsey bus crashand Grafton bus crashkill a total of 56 people.
Royal Australian Navydeployed in preparation for the First Gulf War. Carmen Lawrencebecomes 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 Changis gunned down. The Coode Islandchemical storage facility in Melbourneexplodes, 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 Greinerresigns.
*1993 - Keating defeats
John Hewsonin the 1993 federal election; the Australian Greensstand candidates for the first time.
*1995 - The
Northern Territorylegalises 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 Howardbecomes Prime Minister, defeating Paul Keatingafter 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 Hansonforms the One Nation Party
*1997 - On the
1 May1997 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
ThredboAlpine 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 Exchangeis 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 Timoras part of the INTERFETpeacekeeping force
Sydneyholds the Summer Olympics.
*2001 - John Howard is re-elected after the Tampa affair and
Children overboard affairoccur 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, 2002bombs explode in a Balinightclub and bar killing 202 people, including 88 Australians.
*2003 - Australian military deployed to participate in the
*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 Howardled conservative Liberal and National Party coalition wins its fourth term in office after defeating the Mark Lathamled Australian Labor Partyat 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
Cronullasees racially charged riots.
*2006 - The
Commonwealth Gamesare held in Melbourne.
*2006 - Australian Forces are again deployed to
East Timorto help stabilize the country.
*2007 - Australians Forces are brought home from
Sydneyhosted the APECsummit meeting.
*2007 - Australian Labor Party is elected;
Kevin Ruddbecomes Prime Minister.
Kevin Ruddofficially apologises to the Stolen Generation. The Olympics are held in Beijing,China.
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