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SubSection MarkerAustralian 20th Century Timeline

The ‘Australian 20th century’ timeline follows events and developments in Australia from Federation through to the year 2000.

This collection of events provides another means of investigating Australia's past and trying to identify what we mean by 'Our Heritage'.


1900s overview

The first decade of this century brought many changes. Federation occurred in 1901 and Australia became a nation. The flag we have today was chosen, all men and women could vote except for Aboriginal people. The streets were lit by electricity, surf bathing in the daytime was no longer considered illegal and Australia won Wimbledon for the first time.

The first lifesaving club in the world was founded at Bondi Beach in Sydney. Peters Icecream company began and, appropriately, the automatic totalisator for betting on horse-races was invented by an Australian.

The 'White Australia' Policy was established, the Australian Labor Party was formed, Empire Day was inaugurated and the High Court was set up. The two-party political system began in Australia. The New South Wales Aboriginal Protection Board was established and Canberra was chosen as a site for the federal capital.

Questions for research and discussion:

  • Choose three of the events listed in this decade and write a paragraph on each event arguing why it should be considered a major influence on how Australians regard themselves.
  • What was the the 'White Australia' Policy? Why did it have an enormous influence on Australian society and culture?
  • What did the 'Protectionists' believe in? What did the 'Free traders' believe in?
  • Investigate one of the ship wrecks of this decade.
  • Why do Australians celebrate Australia Day on 25 January? Why don't they celebrate 'Federation Day' - the day Australia became a nation on 1 January 1901?


  • An outbreak of bubonic plague in Sydney's Rocks area leads to a massive clean-up.
  • First discovery of natural gas in Australia.
  • Soldiers from the Australian states depart for China's Boxer War.
  • Lord Hopetoun arrives in Sydney (19 December) and invites NSW Premier Sir William Lyne to form a federal ministry, but Lyne, an anti-federalist, is unable to gain support. 24 December, Edmund Barton is commissioned.
  • Intercolonial conference held at the Sydney Trades Hall to consider forming a Federal Labour Party.
  • Whaling operations from Hobart end.
  • Detachments of Citizen's Bushmen's Corps from New South Wales and South Australia leave for South Africa to fight in the Anglo-Boer War. (Detachments from Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia leave during March).
  • SS 'Glenelg' wrecked off Victorian coast; 31 lives lost.
  • Contingents of Imperial Bushmen begin leaving for South Africa.
  • Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act passed by the British Parliament, receives Royal assent.
  • At the Paris Olympics, F C V Lane wins the 200 metres freestyle swimming event.
  • Film: Joseph Perry and the Salvation Army make 'Soldiers of the Cross'.
  • Books: 'On the Track', 'Verses, Popular and Humorous' by Henry Lawson are published.
  • The estimated population of Australia is 3,765,300.

    (New SouthWales, 1,360,305; Tasmania,172,900; WA,179,967; South Australia, 357,250; Victoria,1196,213; Queensland, 493,847; Northern Territory, 4,857.)


  • The Commonwealth of Australia is proclaimed at a ceremony in Centennial Park, Sydney. Lord Hopetoun assumes office as Governor-General, and Prime Minister Edmund Barton and his cabinet ministers (Executive Council) are sworn in.
  • Baldwin Spencer and F J Gillen make a year-long investigation of the Aborigines of northern Central Australia.
  • William Farrar releases his early-maturing, drought-resistant 'Federation' wheat.
  • First wireless message between ship and shore in Australia exchanged between H W Jenvey in Queenscliff, Victoria, and the Royal Yacht carrying the Duke and Duchess of York when it enters Port Phillip.
  • Tarrant Motor and Engineering Company of Melbourne, manufactures the first successful Australian petrol-driven car.
  • First federal elections held. Supporters of Barton's Protectionist government win most seats in the House of Representatives.
  • Free Traders dominate in the Senate. Labour wins enough seats in both houses to hold the balance of power.
  • Federal Immigration Restriction Act establishes White Australia Policy by giving the government power to exclude immigrants by means of a dictation test (repealed 1958).
  • Naval and military forces and establishments of the states are transferred to the Commonwealth, which also assumes control of all postal and telegraphic services.
  • SS 'Federal' sinks in Bass Strait with the loss of 21 lives.
  • Anthony Hordern's department store in Sydney almost destroyed by fire; five shop assistants die.
  • Presbyterian Church of Australia formed out of the federal union of state churches.
  • Australian flag chosen by competition from 30,000 designs displayed at the Exhibition Building in Melbourne.
  • Federal parliamentary Labour Party formed, with J C Watson as leader. (Spelling changed to Labor Party in 1918).
  • Duke of Cornwall and York (later King George V) opens the first Commonwealth Parliament in Exhibition Building, Melbourne.
  • Parliament then meets in the Victorian Legislative Assembly building (and continues to do so until 1927)..
  • Federal Parliament legislates to end recruitment of Kanakas (Pacific Islanders) by 31 March, 1904 and to deport any found in Australia after 1906.
  • 'Ping Pong' (table tennis) becomes very popular in Australia.
  • Books published this year:
    Miles Franklin, 'My Brilliant Career'
    Henry Lawson, 'Joe Wilson and his Mates'
    John Quick and Robert Garran, 'Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth' .


  • The first battalion of Commonwealth troops (wearing the forerunner of the 'rising sun' badge) embark for South Africa. Lieutenant Harry 'Breaker' Morant and Lieutenant P J Handcock executed by firing squad outside Pretoria in the Transvaal, for shooting Boer prisoners.
  • The drought begins to break after eight terrible years.
  • W H Gocher, owner and editor of a Manly (New South Wales) newspaper, breaks the law forbidding sea bathing between 6 am and 8 pm by entering the water at noon.
  • Her Majesty's Theatre, Sydney, is destroyed by fire.
  • Commonwealth Public Service Act establishes Australia's civil service.
  • Boer War ends with a peace treaty signed in Pretoria.
  • The Commonwealth Franchise Act grants the vote to all British subjects of six months residence aged 21 and over. (Asians, Africans, and Australian Aborigines are excluded).
  • Ada Evans becomes the first woman law graduate but she is not allowed to practise.
  • Australian women receive the right to vote in Federal elections.
  • The world's first documentary film with sound (of a didgeridoo), is made by W B Spencer, of an Aboriginal ceremony at Charlotte Waters.


  • J C Williamson's new Her Majesty's Theatre opens in Sydney.
  • Alfred Deakin becomes Prime Minister on the resignation of Sir Edmund Barton, who becomes a judge of the High Court.
  • Vida Goldstein stands as a candidate for the Senate, becoming the first woman in the British Empire to contest an election to a national parliament.
  • Commonwealth Judiciary Act assented to, providing for the establishment of the High Court of Australia.
  • There is an election for the House of Representatives and half Senate in which women vote for the first time.
  • Deakin retains office with the support of the 25 Labour members elected. Vida Goldstein and the other three women candidates for Parliament fail to win seats.
  • Seventh Day Adventists set up a sanitarium.
  • Australia's first crematorium is established, at West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide.
  • SS 'Oakland' is wrecked near Port Stephens, New South Wales, with the loss of 11 lives.
  • First Australia vs New Zealand Rugby Union Test match is played. Australia wins 22-3.
  • Joseph Furphy, under the pen name 'Tom Collins' publishes 'Such Is Life'.


  • Iron barque 'Brier Holme' is wrecked on the south-west coast of Tasmania. There is only one survivor out of the crew of 20. He is not rescued until February1905.
  • The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act is finally passed, setting up the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.
  • The First Australian Rhodes Scholars are selected.
  • The Deakin Government is defeated in the House of Representatives on an amendment to the Arbitration Bill.
  • Deakin resigns. J C Watson forms a minority Labour government (the first federal Labour ministry).
  • Five miners die in a mineshaft fall at the Great Boulder gold mine, East Coolgardie, Western Australia.
  • Sydney streets are lit by electricity when the Pyrmont Power Station is officially switched on.
  • SS 'Nemesis' founders off the coast of New South Wales during a storm, with the loss of all 21 aboard.
  • P&O liner 'Australia' runs aground on a reef at the entrance to Port Phillip. No lives are lost but ship is a total lossa.
  • The Commonwealth Defence Act (1903) comes into force, providing for conscription of men between 18 and 60 in time of war for service within the Commonwealth or territory controlled by the Commonwealth.
  • Recruiting of Pacific Island labour ceases.
  • George Reid becomes prime minister, forming a composite ministry coalition with Protectionist Allan McLean.
  • First Australian Open Golf Championship is held. It is won by the Hon. Michael Scott.
  • The Lawn Tennis Association of Australasia (later Australia) is formed.
  • Melbourne businessman Alfred Felton leaves a large bequest to the Art Gallery of Victoria.
  • Art: Norman Lindsay paints 'Police Verso', which caused a public outcry in Melbourne. Hans Heysen paints 'Mystic Morn' and is awarded the Wynne Prize. Hugh Ramsey paints 'The Sisters' .


  • Board of Administration of Naval Forces (Naval Board) established, with Capt. W. R. Creswell as director. (Also set up under the Defence Act are a Council of Defence and a Military Board.)
  • Peter Board appointed first Director of Education in NSW. (New Syllabus subsequently introduced.)
  • Full adult franchise (subject to racial exclusions) granted in Qld, and plural voting abolished.
  • Justice R. E. O'Connor appointed first president of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.
  • First state secondary school in Vic., the Continuation School (later Melbourne High School), opens in Melbourne.
  • Richard Butler succeeds J. G. Jenkins as Premier of SA.
  • Empire Day inaugurated (on the late Queen Victoria's birthday).
  • (Royal) Automobile Club of Queensland formed in Brisbane.
  • George Reid resigns as Prime Minister after a defeat in the House and the refusal of his request for a dissolution of parliament.
  • Alfred Deakin forms a government with Labour support.
  • Labour leader Thomas Price replaces Jenkins as Premier of SA, leading a coalition government with a Labour majority.
  • C. H. Rason forms a Liberal ministry in W A following the resignation of Henry Daglish.
  • Vic. Socialist Party founded in Melbourne by English trade union leader Tom Mann.
  • Hobart GPO opened.
  • Australian National Defence League formed in NSW to press for compulsory military training.
  • Iron clipper Loch Vennachar lost off Kangaroo Is., SA, with the loss of all 26 hands.
  • Wireless Telegraphy Act gives the Postmaster-General control of the operation of wireless stations.
  • Electric tramway service begins in Fremantle, WA. (Closed Nov. 1952.) Dec I Steam bus begins operating in Melbourne between Prahran and Malvern.
  • Immigration Registration Act amended to allow for the dictation test to be applied in "any prescribed language" rather than in a European language.
  • Motor bus service begins in Sydney.
  • Flinders Street Station, Melbourne (-1910).
  • T. L. Bancroft demonstrates that mosquitoes carry the dengue fever pathogen.
  • A. G. Michell of Vic. patents his thrust bearing, which eliminates metallic contact of moving surfaces by oil lubrication.
  • Cosens Spencer arrives in Sydney and begins exhibiting films at the Lyceum Theatre.
  • Mrs Aeneas Gunn, The Little Black Princess.
  • Henry Lawson, When I Was King and Other Verses.
  • A. B. Paterson, ed., The Old Bush Songs.
  • Joseph Furphy's Rigby's Romance begins serialization in the Barrier Track (Published as a book in 1921.)
  • Barney Kieran establishes eight world swimming records in England over distances from 200 yards to I mile.
  • Harley Tarrant in an Argyll car wins the first reliability trial in Australia, between Sydney and Melbourne (Feb.-MaL).
  • Blue Spec wins the Melbourne Cup.
  • Population of Australia reaches four million.
  • Typhoid fever causes 630 deaths in Australia.
  • Women given the vote and admitted to the practice of law in Qld.
  • Wilsons Promontory National Park officially reserved. (Coastal strip added in 1908.)


  • The Australian Industries Preservation Act provides protection against the dumping of foreign goods on the Australian market.
  • Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children opens in Camperdown, Sydney.
  • Legislation enacted authorising the construction of the Barren Jack (now Burrinjuck) Dam and the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Scheme.
  • New South Wales resumes assisted migration.
  • Unregistered bookmaker Donald McLeod unable to meet his financial commitments, is killed by an angry mob at Flemington.
  • Methodist minister Henry Worrall is summoned before the Bar of the Victorian Legislative Assembly for impeaching the Chief Secretary (accusing him of being responsible for McLeod's death by not legislating to stop gambling).
  • More than 4 million Australian possum skins are marketed in London and New York.
  • Western Australian Parliament proposes holding a referendum to withdraw from the Commonwealth. (No action is taken until 1933).
  • South African Preference Act introduces the first Commonwealth preferential tariff.
  • Free Education Act assented to in New South Wales making primary education free in the state.
  • Issac Isaacs and H B Higgins are sworn in as Justices of the High Court.
  • Australia assumes responsibility for the administration of British New Guinea, renaming it Papua (by the Papua Act of 1905).
  • Kiwi boot polish is put on the market by McKellow & Ramsay.
  • Bathing in the surf in the daytime on Sydney beaches becomes legal.
  • Lyster Ormsby devises the surf lifesaving reel. It is demonstrated 23 December.
  • Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club, which is Australia's (and the world's) first surf lifesaving club, is founded in Sydney.
  • Election for House of Representatives and half Senate is held. Deakin government retains office with Labour support.
  • Poseidon wins the AJC Derby, Caulfield Cup, Victoria Derby, and Melbourne Cup.
  • The Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales is completed in 1910.


  • The Commonwealth basic wage (set by the Harvester Judgement) is 2 pounds, 2 shillings per six-day week.
  • Carlton and United Breweries established in Melbourne by the amalgamation of six breweries.
  • The first telephone trunk line opens between Sydney and Melbourne.
  • Italian barque 'Ingeborg' sinks after a collision with SS 'Arawatta' off Port Stephens, New South Wales; seven lives are lost.
  • Members of Federal Parliament vote themselves their first pay increase of 50%.
  • Frederick Peters establishes Peters' American Delicacy Company Ltd in Sydney to make ice-cream.
  • Tennis-players Norman Brookes (Australia) and Anthony Wilding (New Zealand), playing as the Australasian team, win the Davis Cup.
  • Brookes also wins the Wimbledon singles, doubles (with Wilding) and mixed doubles.
  • New South Wales Rugby Football League formed as a breakaway professional code.
  • Florence Parsons (later Taylor) establishes herself as the first woman architect in Australia (later as a structural and civil engineer).
  • Frank Bottrill patents his 'pedorail', a caterpillar-type road wheel used on many tractors in Australia.
  • George Julius invents the automatic totaliser for racecourses, which was to be used throughout the world.
  • Artist Arthur Streeton paints 'Sydney Harbour'.
  • Films made: Charles McMahon, 'Robbery Under Arms' , George and Arthur Cornwall, 'Eureka Stockade' .
  • United States fleet of 16 war ships and 5 support vessels visit Australia.
  • Federal Labour conference adopts the name 'Australian Labor Party' (ALP).
  • First surf carnival held at Manly in Sydney.
  • Cantilevered awnings first appear on buildings in Australia.
  • Boy Scout movement begins in Australia: groups formed in all states.
  • Coat of arms granted to the Commonwealth. (The design is amended in 1912).
  • A Commonwealth Literary Fund is established to assist needy authors.
  • The ship 'Orion' disappears between Smithton and Melbourne; 27 lives are lost.
  • The Tariff Act increases the duty on imported goods and the number of items liable for duty, but allows a 5% rebate on goods from the United Kingdom.
  • The Deakin Government is defeated in the House of Representatives when Labor withdraws its support; Deakin resigns (11 November) and Labor leader Andrew Fisher becomes Prime Minister (13 November).
  • Yass-Canberra chosen by Federal Parliament as the site for the federal capital.
  • Australians T W Edgeworth David and Douglas Mawson, of Sir Ernest Shackelton's British Antarctic expedition, ascend Mount Erebus in Antarctica .
  • Wallabies Rugby Union and Kangaroos Rugby League teams both make their first tours of Britain. The Wallabies win gold medals at the London Olympic Games.
  • The painting 'Chloe' goes on display in Young and Jackson's Hotel in Melbourne. There is some protest.
  • Anneas Gunn's 'We of the Never Never' is published.
  • The first 'Official Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia' is issued.
  • Dorothy Mackellar's poem 'My Country' appears in the London Spectator magazine.


  • First flight in an unpowered heavier-than-air machine is made by G A Taylor at Narrabeen Beach in Sydney.
  • Lady Dudley calls a meeting at Government House, Melbourne, which leads to the foundation of the Bush Nursing Service.
  • The University of Queensland is founded. (It opens in the former Government House on March 14, 1911).
  • The Defence Act provides for the introduction of compulsory military training.
  • The two-party political system begins in Australia.
  • The New South Wales Aboriginal Protection Board established.
  • Legislation is passed in New South Wales providing harsh penalties for instigating or aiding a strike.
  • Lord Kitchener visits Australia to advise on Australia's military defence.
  • SS 'Waratah' bound for London from Adelaide with 211 passengers, mostly Australians, disappears mysteriously between Durban and Cape Town, leaving no trace.
  • Pinnace HMS 'Encounter' sinks in Sydney Harbour after being struck by the collier 'Dunmore'; 15 sailors drown.
  • Alfred Deakin becomes Prime Minister (with Cook his deputy). Andrew Fisher having been forced to resign on the resumption of Parliament.
  • Deakin orders the building of the battle-cruiser 'Australia'.
  • Deakin makes a financial agreement with the states under which the Commonwealth pays 25 shillings per capita per year to the states.
  • Long Bay Jail opens in Sydney, as a woman's reformatory. Men are transferred from Darlinghurst Jail in 1912.
  • New South Wales agrees to surrender approximately 2,400 square kilometres of the state to the Commonwealth as a seat for the federal government.
  • Commonwealth old-age pensions come into operation for men over 65 and women over 60. They are subject to a means test.
  • Commonwealth Quarantine Service begins for the purposes of preventing the introduction of human, animal and plant diseases.
  • Motor taxis are first used in Sydney.
  • Tennis-players Norman Brookes and A F Wilding win the Davis Cup for Australasia for the third time.
  • Exhibition matches are held between the Kangaroos (Rugby League) and the Wallabies (Rugby Union) touring teams; Wallabies defect to League.
  • E A Petherick's collection of Australiana becomes the basis of the National Library of Australia.
  • Harold Cazneaux holds a one-man show of 'pictorial' photography.
  • Nellie Melba makes her third concert tour.
  • Dr Arthur Russell begins exhibiting films in Melbourne, using the name Hoyts.
  • Books published: Hugh McCrae's 'Satyrs and Sunlight'., Bernard O'Dowd's 'Poetry Militant'. , B R Wise's 'The Commonwealth of Australia' .


1910s overview

It was a time of change. The Australian population at the beginning of the decade was over 4 million but was sadly depleted by the end of the decade by the Great War. The Aboriginal population had already been reduced, but those left were still not counted in the census.

  • The first Commonwealth silver coins, the first Commonwealth treasury bank notes and the first Commonwealth postage stamps were all issued.
  • The first Australian plane was built, the Mitchell Library opened in Sydney and the Australian capital was named Canberra.
  • The first world war broke out and 25 April, Anzac Day, became part of Australian history. Conscription was rejected twice and the RSL was formed.
  • It was the time of Douglas Mawson and May Gibbs. It was the time of the picture-show men as Australians wanted to be entertained and informed about the world outside their shores.
  • Films were made, stores were opened, heroes were created and Australians felt their country was progressing.

Questions for research and discussion:

  • Choose two individuals mentioned in this decade - go to the 'People' section of this disc for more information about them and look in your local or school library. How might the people you have chosen have been a major influence on how Australians regard themselves?
  • Investigate the two conscription debates of 1916 and 1917. Look at the arguments for and against. How would you have voted? Why?
  • Try writing a letter to the editor of one of the newspapers of that time outlining your argument?
  • 1911
    • The Commonwealth Government was given control of the Australian Capital Territory.
    • The Commonwealth formally takes over from South Australia the administration of the Northern Territory. (The town of Palmerston is renamed Darwin).
    • Legislation is introduced for the compulsory military training of all males aged from 12 to 25.
    • A Military College is founded at Duntroon, ACT.
    • The first British boy settlers under the 'Dreadnought' scheme arrive in Australia.
    • The passenger steamer 'Yongala' founders in a cyclone off Cape Bowling Green, Queensland, with the loss of 120. (The wreck is discovered in 1958).
    • The University of Western Australia is established by an Act of Parliament.
    • A cyclone severely damages Cairns, Innisfail and Port Douglas. Two people are killed.
    • Enrolment for federal elections is made compulsory.
    • SS 'Macleay' founders near Port Stephens, New South Wales. 15 lives are lost and 2 saved.
    • Lord Denman becomes Governor-General.
    • 6 o'clock closing for hotels is enforced.(It is not introduced in South Australia until 1915).
    • 'Land' newspaper launched by the New South Wales Farmers' and Settlers' Association.
    • Uniform penny postage comes into operation.
    • Sidney Myer opens a drapery business in Bourke Street, Melbourne.
    • The first national census was conducted. There were 4,455,000 persons in Australia.


    • Commonwealth Bank of Australia opens for business as a savings bank.
    • The Commonwealth introduces worker's compensation and maternity allowance.
    • The Commonwealth Small Arms Factory opens in Lithgow, New South Wales.
    • Douglas Mawson sets up a base at Commonwealth Bay, King George V Land.
    • A general strike begins in Brisbane following the suspension of tramway employees for wearing union badges.
    • 46,712 migrants arrive in Australia during the year.
    • Walter Burley Griffin wins the competition for a design for Canberra.
    • The high-rise era begins in Australia with the erection by Spain and Cosh of the one-storey, 52-metre high Culwulla Chambers in Sydney.
    • Construction of a new zoological gardens in Sydney begun at Taronga Park. The animals from the old Moore Park zoo are moved in 1915-16.
    • L E de Mole invents a tracked, armoured vehicle, the predecessor of the battle tank.
    • Maternity allowance is introduced but no allowance is payable to Aboriginal people.
    • C P Paterson brings the first surfboard to Sydney from Hawaii.
    • At the Stockholm Olympics, Australian Fanny Durack wins the 100 metres freestyle swimming event.
    • The Australasian men's team wins the 800 metres relay swimming event.
    • Charles Cozens Spencer establishes a film studio at White City, Sydney.
    • Bernard O'Dowd's book, 'The Bush' is published.


    • The first Commonwealth postage stamp is issued. It is one penny, showing a kangaroo on an outline map of Australia.
    • The Farmers' and Settlers' Association in Western Australia resolves to form a political party known as the Country Party.
    • Daniel Mannix arrives in Melbourne as Catholic Coadjutor Archbishop of Melbourne.
    • The first Commonwealth Treasury banknotes are issued.
    • Lady Denman, wife of the Governor-General, names the federal capital 'Canberra' at the official ceremony to mark the start of building.
    • Referendums on proposals to give the Commonwealth power to legislate on trade and commerce corporations, industrial matters, trusts, nationalisation of monopolies, and railway disputes are all rejected.
    • Joseph Cook replaces Andrew Fisher as Prime Minister.
    • Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd- AWA - is founded, with Ernest Fisk as managing director.
    • The Australian Red Cross is founded.
    • H S Taylor patents a new type of header-harvester.
    • Films made: Raymond Longford releases 'Australia Calls'. , Frank Hurley makes 'Home of the Blizzard', a documentary about Mawson's expedition to Antarctica.


    • Severe and protracted drought affects most of Australia.
    • Trains collide at Exeter, NSW; 14 are killed and 32 injured.
    • The Victorian Farmers' Union is formed. It later becomes part of the Country Party, now known as the National Party.
    • News of Britain's declaration of war on Germany reaches Australia.
    • Leaders of both political parties, while electioneering, pledge Australian support of the Empire in the event of war- in Andrew Fisher's words, 'to our last man and our last shilling'.
    • In the election for Federal parliament, Labor gains a clear majority in both houses, Fisher becomes Prime Minister for the third time.
    • Cook offers an expeditionary force of 20,000 troops to the Imperial government.
    • The first Allied shot in the war is fired at midday by Australian artillery at Fort Nepean, Port Phillip, when the German ship 'Pfalz' attempts to leave.
    • Recruiting begins for the Australian Imperial Force (AIF).
    • The Australian Red Cross Society is expanded.
    • Australia loses its first naval vessel, the submarine 'AEI', off the coast of New Britain.
    • HMAS 'Sydney' sinks the German raider 'Emden' off the Cocos Islands.
    • The AIF troops reach Egypt.
    • The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) is formed.
    • Sir Ronald Munro-Ferguson becomes Governor-General.
    • The New South Wales basic wage is 2 pounds and 8 shillings a week.
    • W W Francis first publicly sings his song 'Australia Will Be There' at the Gaiety Theatre Melbourne. It was to become a very popular wartime song.
    • G J Coles opens a 'nothing over a shilling' store in Collingwood, Melbourne.


    • The War Census Act is passed in which a census of all males from 18 to 60 is taken.
    • An area of 73 square kilometres at Jervis Bay is transferred from New South Wales to the Commonwealth for use as a port.
    • An income tax is imposed by the Commonwealth to help pay for the war.
    • Voting in federal referendums is made compulsory.
    • ANZAC forces land on the Gallipoli Peninsula, in Turkey. 8,500 soldiers are lost before evacuations begin. 3000 Turks are killed.
    • Tom Barker, editor of the journal 'Direct Action' is jailed for publishing material likely to prejudice recruiting.
    • Journalist Keith Murdoch, after visiting Gallipoli, writes to Prime Minister Andrew Fisher criticising the conduct and prospects of the Dardanelles campaign.
    • HMAS 'Brisbane', the first cruiser built in Australia, is launched in Port Jackson.
    • BHP's steelworks at Newcastle is officially opened.
    • Fisher resigns because of ill health. He becomes High Commissioner in London, 1916. W M Hughes succeeds him as Prime Minister.
    • John Simpson (Kirkpatrick), 'the man with the donkey', killed.
    • Lance-Corporal Albert Jacka wins the first Victoria Cross awarded to an Australian in the first world war.
    • Compulsory voting is first adopted by Queensland.
    • Australians W H and W L Bragg share the Nobel Prize for their work in X-ray crystallography.
    • Melbourne chemists George Nicholas and H W Smith discover how to make aspirin after there is a lack of supplies from Germany. Their trade name 'Aspro' comes from NicholAS PROducts.
    • Duke Kahanamoku visits Australia from Hawaii and popularises the surfboard.
    • Australian boxer Les Darcy knocks out American Eddie McGoorty, contender for the world middleweight championship.
    • The first state surf lifesaving championships are held at Bondi.
    • Patrobus wins the Melbourne Cup.
    • C J Dennis publishes 'The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke'.


    • The first Anzac Day is celebrated on 25 April.
    • News of the Easter rebellion in Dublin reaches Australia, leading to a wave of anti-British and anti-war feeling among Irish-Australians and Catholics.
    • Australian troops attack Fromelles in the Battle of the Somme with enormous casualties.
    • Australian troops capture Pozieres, winning four Victoria Crosses.
    • Daniel Mannix, Catholic Coadjutor Archbishop of Melbourne, begins publicly expressing his opposition to conscription and the war.
    • Referendum on conscription results in a 'No' vote by a narrow margin.
    • W M Hughes walks out of Federal Labor Caucus taking three supporters with him.
    • Expelled from the ALP leadership, Hughes forms the National Labor Party and a new ministry with the support of the Liberal Party.
    • Boxer Les Darcy stows away on a freighter to America against war regulations, preventing able-bodied men from leaving the country.
    • John Wren gains control of Stadiums Ltd and thus virtual control of boxing and wrestling in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.
    • Returned Sailors' and Soldiers' Imperial League of Australia founded (now the Returned Services League of Australia, or RSL).
    • British government agrees to buy the entire Australian wool clip for the duration of the war.
    • The eight hour working day introduced in Queensland.


    • The second conscription referendum is held. Australians reject conscription to send Australians to fight overseas for the second time.
    • Holden's Motor Body Builders establishes a factory in Adelaide.
    • A pearl, named 'Star of the West is found at Broome, Western Australia. It is more than l00 grains.
    • ANZAC forces in Gaza 'souvenir' the Shellal Mosaic, formerly the floor of a Byzantine church of 561-62 AD. It is now in the War Memorial, Canberra.
    • W M Hughes's National Labor group merges with the Liberal Party to form the Nationalist Party.
    • Edith Walker establishes a convalescent home for soldiers in the grounds of her home, Yaralla, in Sydney.
    • Daylight saving is introduced throughout Australia, from 1 January to March.
    • First drawing of Queensland's Golden Casket lottery in aid of patriotic war funds. It was opened in December 1916.
    • Many German place names in South Australia are changed by an Act of Parliament.
    • An automatic totaliser is first used in Australia at the Randwick racecourse.
    • Boxer Les Darcy dies of pneumonia in Memphis, Tennessee.
    • All Lutheran day schools in South Australia are closed by an Act of Parliament as a result of wartime anti-German hatreds.
    • The word 'digger' comes into use among the AIF.
    • Max Meldrum founds a school of painting in Melbourne.
    • Pat Sullivan creates the animated cartoon 'Felix the Cat'.
    • Henry Handel Richardson's 'Australia Felix', the first volume of trilogy 'The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney' is published.


    • Australian troops in France recapture Villers-Bretonneux.
    • The Repatriation Commission is set up.
    • SS 'Undola' sinks with all hands off Wollongong, New SouthWales after apparently striking mines laid by a German raider.
    • Lieutenant-General John Monash takes command of the Australian Corps in France with Brigadier-General T A Blamey as Chief of Staff.
    • The first world war officially ends at 11 am on the 11 November.
    • The first world war ends with Australian casualties totalling 59,330 killed and 152,171 wounded, out of a total 329,000 Australians who served overseas.
    • Hughes attends the second session of the Imperial War Cabinet in London.
    • The first direct radio call from Britain, is taken in Sydney by Ernest Fisk.
    • The Aboriginal Ordinance Act in the Northern Territory forbids mining on Aboriginal Reserve Land.
    • Leslie Wilkinson takes up the first Chair of Architecture at the University of Sydney.
    • John McGarvie Smith discloses the formula of his vaccine for anthrax in sheep and cattle.
    • May Gibbs writes 'Snugglepot and Cuddlepie'.
    • Mary Gilmore writes 'The Passionate Heart'.
    • Norman Lindsay writes 'The Magic Pudding'.


    • Hughes and Cook, representing Australia, sign the Peace Treaty in Versailles.
    • A seamen's strike from May to August halts most shipping around Australia.
    • Electric trains begin running in Melbourne. They run from Sandringham to Essendon.
    • Striking meatworkers in Townsville clash with police; nine are wounded by gunfire.
    • Peace Day processions are held throughout Australia, followed in Melbourne by riots and clashes between returned soldiers and police.
    • An influenza epidemic causes nearly 12,000 deaths in Australia.
    • There is severe and widespread drought throughout Australia.
    • Daisy Bates sets up a tent camp in Ooldea, South Australia, and begins caring for the Aborigines there until 1935.
    • Hudson Fysh and P J McGinness leave Longreach, Queensland, in a Model T Ford to survey an air route to Darwin.
    • Ross and Keith Smith make the first aeroplane flight from England to Australia, in 27 days 20 hours.
    • Mascot is chosen as the site for Sydney's airport.
    • The first reinforced concrete building is erected in Sydney. It was the Angus and Coote building in George Street.
    • An AIF cricket team tours England and South Africa.
    • 'Smith's Weekly', founded by Joynton Smith, Claude McKay and R C Packer, begins publication in Sydney. It ceased publication in 1950.
    • Roland Wakelin and Roy de Maistre hold an influential art exhibition in Sydney.
    • J F Archibald leaves part of his estate to found an annual prize for portrait painting. It came to be called the 'Archibald Prize'.
    • Artist Elioth Gruner paints 'Spring Frost' and is awarded the Wynne Art Prize.
    • Australian director, Raymond Longford films 'The Sentimental Bloke'.
    • 'The average weekly wage for men is 3 pounds, 14 shillings, 11 pence. ($7.49) and for women is 1 pound, 17 shillings, 1 penny.
  • 1920s

    1920s overview

    The nation building of the 1920s continued with the formation of QANTAS (Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services), the growth of the commercial food supply, C E W Bean's official history of the 1914-18 war and the opening of palatial cinemas in the capital cities.

    Australia became a member of the League of Nations, the Country Party and the Communist Party were formed and the first woman was elected to an Australian Parliament.

    Compulsory school attendance was introduced but not for Aboriginal children who were encouraged to assimilate into the white culture but were not given rights.

    The Archibald Prize was awarded for the first time; the 'Road to Gundagai' hit the top ten (or would have if there had been one!); and Kelloggs Cornflakes, Cadbury's chocolate and Vegemite were fast becoming part of the national diet.

    Questions for research and discussion:

    • Investigate the history of one of the 'new' Australian foods that were invented during the 1920s.
    • In 1923 the Postmaster-General approved a sealed-set broadcasting system. The radio was tuned only to the station that the buyer subscribed to. Can you find out what each of the initials of the AM radio stations stand for? For example: 2 BL stands for 'Broadcasting Limited'.


    • Walter Burley Griffin's appointment as designer of Canberra is not renewed.
    • Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry (predecessor of the CSIRO) established by an Act of Parliament.
    • Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) tours all Australian states.
    • Lord Forster becomes Governor-General.
    • Australian airline, Qantas (Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd) is formed by Hudson Fysh, P J McGinness and Fergus McMaster.
    • The Commonwealth Prickly Pear Board is established to combat the pest which covered 9.3 million hectares of land in Queensland and northern New South Wales.
    • The League of Nations comes into force, with Australia an original founding member.
    • The Australian Country Party is founded at a meeting of country members of parliament in Melbourne.
    • The Communist Party of Australia is founded at a meeting in Sydney.
    • One million koalas and over 5 million possums are killed in Queensland in the 1919-1920 trapping season.
    • Bert Hinkler flies non-stop from London to Turin, setting a long-distance record.
    • Film director, Raymond Longford and producer Ken Hall make 'On Our Selection'.
    • Harry Southwell makes 'The Kelly Gang'.
    • Frank Hurley makes the Antarctic documentary 'In the Grip of Polar Ice'.
    • The estimated population of Australia is 5,411,297.


    • The SS 'Our Jack' sinks in a gale off Cape Hawke, New South Wales, with the loss of five lives. The next day, SS 'Fitzroy' goes down in the same area; 31 are drowned.
    • Sir George Fuller becomes Premier of NSW for one day when the Dooley Labor Government is temporarily unseated over tax proposals.
    • Underprivileged British children begin coming to live in Australia under the Barnardo's Homes scheme.
    • Edith Cowan is the first woman to become a member of any parliament in Australia. (Western Australia).
    • Australian aviator Bert Hinkler flies non-stop from Sydney to Bundaberg, Queensland in 8 and a half hours, breaking his own long-distance flying record.
    • Keith Murdoch, war correspondent, becomes editor-in-chief of the 'Melbourne Herald'.
    • The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is formed.
    • John Lysaght begins producing galvanised sheet steel at Newcastle.
    • Earle Page is elected permanent leader of the Country Party.
    • Roy Cazaly, after 12 years with St Kilda Australian Rules football team, begins playing for South Melbourne and gives rise to the cry 'Up there, Cazaly'.
    • The Archibald Prize is awarded for the first time. It is won by W B Mcinnes for his portrait of Desbrowe Annear.
    • The Ginger Meggs comic strip character is created by Australian cartoonist Jimmy Bancks.
    • Charles Bean's 'The Story of Anzac', volume 1 of 'The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918' is published. The last volume is finally published in 1943.
    • C.J. Dennis writes 'A Book for Kids'.


    • The Country Women's Association (CWA) is formed in Sydney on the initiative of the 'Stock and Station Journal'.
    • Qantas begins its first regular air service, between Charleville and Cloncurry, Queensland.
    • The Empire Settlement Act comes into force, with the object of establishing British settlers on the land in Australia.
    • The 'Daily Mail' begins publication in Sydney. It becomes the 'Labor Daily' in 1924, the 'Daily News' in 1937, and is incorporated into the 'Daily Telegraph' in 1940.
    • The Smith Family welfare organisation is founded in Sydney.
    • The first Legacy club is founded in Hobart.
    • Queensland abolishes the death penalty.
    • Six days a year of sick leave is awarded by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court.
    • A shark fatally attacks Milton Coughlan at Coogee Beach, Sydney. Olympic swimmer Frank Beaurepaire goes to the boy's aid.
    • Gerald Patterson wins the men's singles at Wimbledon for the second time.
    • Henry Lawson receives a state funeral.
    • Jack O'Hagan composes the song 'Along the Road to Gundagai', which sells 97,000 copies of the sheet music within two years.
    • 'Who's Who in Australia' is first published under that title It was formerly called 'Johns's Notable Australians'.


    • Billy Hughes resigns. Stanley Bruce forms a Nationalist/Country Party coalition government and Dr Earle Page is appointed as Deputy Prime Minister.
    • Postmaster-General approves a sealed-set broadcasting system, under which radio receivers would be tuned only to the station to which the listener paid a subscription.
    • SS 'Sumatra' founders in a storm off Port Macquarie NSW; 46 lives lost.
    • Commonwealth financial aid for main roads introduced.
    • The 'Sunday Mail' is first published in Brisbane.
    • The 'Daily Guardian' begins publication in Sydney. It closed in 1931.
    • Adelaide evening newspaper, 'The News' is first published.
    • Work begins on Sydney Harbour Bridge.
    • Work begins on the temporary Parliament House at the foot of Camp Hill in Canberra.
    • Frederick Walker begins production of Vegemite.
    • Hoadley's Chocolates first produces the Violet Crumble Bar.


    • The Big Brother Movement, under which British migrant youths are sponsored by Australians, is officially launched in Melbourne by Richard Linton.
    • Federal government restricts entry of immigrants from Southern European countries.
    • Voting in federal elections made compulsory.
    • Cobb & Co make their last coach run, from Surat to Yeulba in Queensland.
    • The Greek Orthodox Holy Metropolis of Australia and New Zealand is established with Christopher Knites as the first Metropolitan.
    • H P Christmas opens Australia's first Woolworths store, in the Imperial Arcade, Sydney.
    • About 2 million koala pelts exported from eastern Australia, almost exterminating koalas in New SouthWales and Victoria.
    • The first oil is discovered in Australia at Lake Bunga in Victoria.
    • National Museum of Australian Zoology (later the Australian Institute of Anatomy) is established to house Sir Colin Mackenzie's collection of preserved Australian fauna.
    • Palatial cinemas open in Brisbane (the Wintergarden), Sydney (the Prince Edward), and Melbourne (the Capitol).
    • William Dixon offers his collection of Australiana to the Public Library of NSW.
    • At the Olympic Games in Paris, 'Boy' Charlton wins the 1,500 metre freestyle swimming event, R C Eve wins the plain high-tower dive, and Nick Winter wins the hop, step, and jump.
    • Hubert Opperman becomes Australian road cycling champion and wins a series of road events in Europe.
    • W B McInnes wins the Archibald Prize for the fourth consecutive time.
    • Dame Nellie Melba gives her first 'farewell performance' in Australia in La Boheme at His Majesty's Theatre in Melbourne on 13 October. It is broadcast over the new station 3LO.


    • The export of Australian sugar begins.
    • May Holman wins a by-election for the state seat of Forrest, WA, and becomes the first Labor woman to sit in an Australian parliament.
    • Lord Stonehaven becomes Governor-General.
    • An ancient Aboriginal skull is discovered at Cohuna, Victoria.
    • A H Apperoth and Albert Lenertz found the Clarence Manufacturing Co (later Traders Ltd) in Sydney to make Aeroplane Jelly.
    • The Australian War Memorial is founded in Canberra. The building is not completed and open to the public until 1941.
    • A banked concrete motor speedway opens at Maroubra, Sydney. It is demolished in 1934.
    • Windbag wins the Melbourne Cup, which is broadcast on radio for the first time.
    • The 'Australian Encyclopaedia' in 2 volumes is published.
    • Henry Handel Richardson's 'The Way Home', the second volume of 'The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney' is published.


    • At Imperial Conference, Balfour Committee declares that the United Kingdom and Dominions are autonomous members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
    • SS 'Dorrigo' sinks off Double Island Point, Queensland with 22 lives lost. The Captain and his son are rescued after 34 hours on a raft.
    • The Development and Migration Commission is established.
    • New South Wales' first electric train service begins between Sydney's Central Station and Oatley.
    • The Commonwealth Crimes Act is amended to give the government power to deal with Communists and political agitators.
    • The eggs of the caterpiller 'Cactoblastis cactorum' is released in Queensland and New South Wales to control the prickly pear.
    • Anna Pavlova tours Australia with a company of dancers.
    • The St James Theatre opens in Sydney. It later becomes a cinema and is demolished in 1971.
    • Hoyts Theatres cinema chain is formed with F W Thring as managing director.


    • A newspaper tax of one halfpenny a copy is imposed by the Lang government in New South Wales. It is declared invalid by the High Court.
    • The Sydney Mint closes.
    • An ACT Police Force is established.
    • Commonwealth Parliament begins sitting in Canberra for the first time.
    • An All-Australian Trade Union Congress in Melbourne forms the All-Australian (later Australian) Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), to act as a federal executive for the trade union movement. State Labor Councils are reorganised as branches of the ACTU.
    • Margaret Preston draws attention to Aboriginal art in an article in 'Art in Australia'.
    • Artist George W Lambert's painting of Mrs Murdoch wins the Archibald Prize.
    • Tom Roberts finishes his painting 'Bailed Up', which he began in 1895.


    • The first traffic lights are installed in Melbourne, at the corner of Collins and Swanston streets.
    • A liquor referendum in New South Wales and the Australian Capitol Territory results in a vote against prohibition.
    • Liquor is first sold in the Australian Capital Territory. The territory had been previously 'dry'.
    • The Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia is established as a separate entity.
    • Charles Kingsford Smith makes first Pacific crossing and the first Australia-New Zealand flight.
    • Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate is first produced at Claremont, Tasmania.
    • Speedo swimsuits are first produced.
    • An Australian Grand Prix motor race is first held on Phillip Island, Victoria.
    • Statesman wins the Melbourne Cup.
    • Melba makes her last appearance in opera in Australia at a matinee in Melbourne on 27 September, and her final Australian appearance at a concert in Geelong, Victoria, in November.
    • Talking films are first screened at the Regent and Lyceum cinemas in Sydney.
    • John Longstaff's painting of Dr Alexander Leeper wins the Archibald Prize.
    • Arthur Streeton's 'Afternoon Light, Goulburn Valley' is awarded the Wynne Art Prize.
    • Miles Franklin's 'Brent of Bin Bin' is published.


    • The Labor party wins the elections and James Scullin becomes Prime Minister.
    • The Commonwealth basic wage is 4 pounds, 10 shillings and 6 pence.
    • Gilbert Miles makes Australia's first television broadcasts in Melbourne, using a mechanical scanning system.
    • Fox Movietone News records the first talking film in Australia. It is an interview.
    • Sydney's Empire Theatre converts to a cinema.
    • The State Theatre (cinema) opens in Sydney.
    • The State and Regent Theatres (cinemas) open in Melbourne.
    • Jockey, W Thomas rides the winner of all seven races at a meeting in Townsville, Queensland on 29 July.
    • Books published:
      M Barnard Eldershaw, 'A House is Built'.
      Robert D FitzGerald, 'To Meet the Sun'.
      Katharine Susannah Prichard, 'Coonardoo'.
      Henry Handel Richardson, 'Ultima Thule' (volume 3 of 'The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney') .


    1930s overview

    The 1930s were turbulent times -- the decade began with a depression and ended with a war.

    National heroes such as Bradman and Phar Lap became Australian legends. The dog sat on the tucker box, the `coathanger' harbour bridge joined the north and south of Sydney and Cinesound filmed it all.

    The cane toad was introduced into Queensland, the first milkbar in the world opened in Sydney and, just for fun, you could visit Luna Park or listen to 'Dad and Dave' on the radio.

    In 1938, the sesquicentenary of the landing of Arthur Phillip was celebrated while the protests of the Aboriginal people were largely ignored. When war was declared in 1939, Australia went willingly to Britain's aid. Australia still looked to the Empire.

    Questions for research and discussion:

  • What was the `bodyline' controversy? There will also be many books in the library on this.
  • Did you know that in 1992 the State Library of New South Wales bought some letters written by a member of the English Cricket team talking about the Test series? Why are letters by people who were there at the time important to historians?
  • In 1931 the 'All for Australia League' was formed. Can you find out what this League believed it was fighting for?
  • Who was Premier of New South Wales in 1931? Find out more about this person?
  • How many years are there before a 'Sesquicentenary' celebration can be held? Find out about the 1938 sesquicentenary celebrations.
  • 1930

    • The Great Depression is felt by many right across Australia.
    • State governments pay a 'dole' to the deserving poor and issue sustenance rations free of charge.
    • A sales tax is imposed for the first time by the federal government.
    • Sir Otto Niemeyer, the Bank of England representative, addresses the Premiers' Conference and advises a heavy deflationary program.
    • Commonwealth and State governments agree to balance their budgets, raise no more overseas loans and undertake only productive works.
    • Don Bradman scores a record 452 not out for New South Wales against Queensland and 334 in a Test match against England at Leeds.
    • Bobby Pearce wins the single sculls and Noel Ryan wins the 440 and 1500 yards freestyle swimming events at the first Empire Games held at Hamilton, Canada.
    • A West Indian cricket team visits Australia for the first time.
    • Phar Lap wins the Melbourne Cup.
    • The estimated population of Australia is 6,500,751.


    • First NSW State Lottery drawn.
    • Sir Isaac Isaacs, the first Australian-born Governor-General, is sworn in. Sir Frank Gavan Duffy succeeds him as Chief Justice.
    • Australian pound is devalued.
    • Joseph Lyons and others leave Labor Party and join with Liberals to form United Australia Party (UAP).
    • The 'All for Australia League' is launched at a meeting in Sydney.
    • All wages controlled by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court are reduced by 10%.
    • The 'Daily Guardian', a Sydney newspaper, is incorporated into the Daily Telegraph.
    • Sir Douglas Mawson takes possession of MacRobertson Land, Antarctica.
    • Holden's Motor Body Builders merges with the United States firm General Motors to form General Motors-Holden Ltd.
    • Burn's Philp ship 'Malabar' is wrecked at Long Bay, Sydney.
    • The Government Savings Bank of NSW ceases operations following heavy withdrawals by depositors fearing reduction of interest or repudiation. It is absorbed by the Commonwealth Savings Bank in December.
    • The first experimental Australia to England airmail flight leaves Melbourne.
    • The Federal government begins legal action in the High Court to recover money due from New SouthWales for interest payments paid by the Loan Council on New SouthWales' behalf.
    • Arthur Carrington Smith develops a system of recording sound on film which is subsequently used by Cinesound Productions.
    • The first Australian Ballet is founded in Sydney.


    • UAP (United Australia Party) government under Joseph Lyons takes office.
    • New South Wales' Premier Jack Lang chooses not to pay interest payments on overseas loans and is dismissed by the N.S.W. Governor, Sir Philip Game.
    • The 'Dog on the Tuckerbox' pioneer memorial is unveiled by Prime Minister J A Lyons.
    • E G Theodore and Frank Packer form Sydney Newspapers Ltd and take over the Sydney evening daily 'The World'.
    • The Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) is established.
    • Cinesound Productions Ltd. is formed.
    • Racehorse Phar Lap dies in California.
    • At the Los Angeles Olympics, Clare Dennis wins the 200 metres breaststroke, a world record. Bobby Pearce wins the single sculls for the second time, and E L (Duncan) Gray wins the 1000 metres cycling time trial.
    • Peter Pan wins the Melbourne Cup.
    • Stan McCabe scores 187 not out in the First Test of the 'Bodyline' series.
    • Ken G. Hall remakes the movie 'On Our Selection' as a talking film, with Bert Bailey.


    • Australian aviator Bert Hinkler dies in a plane crash in Italy on a flight from England to Australia..
    • Australian Cricket Board of Control cables the MCC protesting against 'unsportsmanlike' bodyline bowling 'likely to upset friendly relations existing between Australia and England'.
    • MCC replies, deploring the Australian cable and expressing full confidence in the English team and captain Douglas Jardine.
    • Britain's Antarctic claims between 45 and 160 east longitude are ceded to Australia. The area formally becomes Australian Antarctic Territory in 1936.
    • SS 'Kinsen Maru' founders in a cyclone off Sandy Cape, Queensland. 25 lives are lost;13 are saved from a raft.
    • E G Theodore and Frank Packer (Sydney Newspaper Ltd), having agreed not to publish a Sydney evening daily, launch the 'Australian Women's Weekly'.
    • The Rural Bank of NSW (now the State Bank) begins operations in Sydney.
    • Sister Elizabeth Kenny opens her first infantile paralysis (poliomyelitis) clinic in Townsville, Queensland.
    • The Bodyline controversy comes to a head in the Third Test in Adelaide. MCC team wins the series.
    • Francois Sicard's Archibald Memorial fountain in Sydney's Hyde Park is completed and handed over to the citizens of Sydney.
    • A B Paterson's 'The Animals Noah Forgot' is published.
    • Dorothy Wall writes 'Blinky Bill'.
    • Aboriginal population is at its lowest - an estimated 67,000.


    • Joseph Lyons and Earle Page form a United Australia/Country Party Coalition Cabinet.
    • Czech journalist Egon Kisch jumps off the 'Strathaird' in Melbourne after being refused admission. He is taken back on board with broken leg. Kisch is given a dictation test in Gaelic and jailed as a prohibited immigrant. The conviction is quashed on grounds that Gaelic is not a European language. Kisch stays in Australia until March 1935.
    • There are record floods in the Yarra, eastern Port Phillip streams, and central and south Gippsland; 35 lives are lost.
    • SS 'Coramba' is wrecked on Seal Rocks, New South Wales; all 17 hands are lost.
    • Aircraft 'Stella Australis' is lost off Hawaii on a flight from USA to Australia. Australian pioneer aviator Charles Ulm is one of three crew killed.
    • An inaugural flight of QEA-Imperial Airways airmail service between Australia and England leaves Brisbane.
    • Hollow plywood surfboards begin to displace solid wooden boards.
    • An English women's cricket team captained by Betty Archdale visits Australia for a series of matches in which they are unbeaten.
    • Peter Pan wins the Melbourne Cup for the second time.
    • Christina Stead's 'The Salzburg Tales' and 'Seven Poor Men of Sydney' are published.
    • P L Travers writes 'Mary Poppins'.


    • On an airmail flight to New Zealand, the 'Southern Cross' piloted by Kingsford Smith develops engine trouble and P G Taylor climbs out under the wing to transfer oil from one engine to the other. He is awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal (later the George Cross) for this act.
    • Australian Associated Press (AAP) established by newspaper proprietors as a cooperative body to collect world news.
    • Goldsbrough Mort's nine-storey wool store in Pyrmont, Sydney, is burnt out with the loss of 30,000 bales of wool.
    • J H Scullin resigns as federal Labor leader and is succeeded by John Curtin.
    • Sir John Latham succeeds Sir Frank Gavan Duffy as Chief Justice of the High Court.
    • BHP and Australian Iron and Steel merge to become an industrial monopoly.
    • Australia imposes trade sanctions against Italy in response to Italy's invasion of Abyssinia (Ethiopia).
    • Australian Consolidated Press Ltd is formed by the merger of Associated Newspapers and Sydney Newspapers, bringing together the 'Daily Telegraph' and the 'Australian Women's Weekly'.
    • A recently captured shark on exhibition at Coogee Aquarium in Sydney disgorges the arm of a man. The arm, identified by tattoos, is found to be that of missing ex-boxer James Smith. A criminal associate suspected of murdering Smith implicates Smith's former employer, Reginald Holmes. Holmes is shot dead the day before Smith's inquest. Neither murder is ever solved.
    • Reginald Ansett begins operating Ansett Airways.
    • Charles Moses becomes general manager of the ABC until 1965.
    • Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, on a flight from England to Australia in the 'Lady Southern Cross' disappears in the Bay of Bengal.
    • Luna Park opens in Sydney.
    • The Cane toad is introduced into Queensland.
    • R G Whitehead develops Tarzan's Grip glue.
    • Herbert Sachse of the Perth Esplanade Hotel creates the pavlova. It has since become a 'national dessert' for many Australians.
    • Patrick White's 'The Ploughman and Other Poems' is published.
    • Filmmaker Charles Chauvel directs 'Heritage'.


    • Lord Gowrie becomes Governor-General.
    • A service pension is brought in for ex-servicemen at age 60 or if permanently unemployable.
    • Federal Government announces its trade diversion policy, prohibiting or restricting certain imports from countries outside the Empire.
    • Japan retaliates by banning imports of Australian wool, wheat and flour.
    • In response to Australia's trade diversion policy, America withdraws Australia's most favoured nation concessions. They are restored in February 1938.
    • Ampol Petroleum Ltd established.
    • Mrs Mary Freer, a British subject travelling to Australia, is given a dictation test in Italian to prevent her admission. The case attracts much attention. After a High Court challenge, Mrs Freer is allowed to enter Australia.
    • The 'Catholic Worker' edited by B A Santamaria, begins publication in Melbourne.
    • The Sir John Sulman Art Prize is awarded for the first time to Henry Hanke.
    • The ABC sets up orchestras in each state.


    • The Commonwealth Arbitration Court adds 'prosperity loadings' to the basic wage.
    • Australia's first diplomatic representative in a foreign country, F K Officer, takes up duty as Australian counsellor at the British Embassy in Washington.
    • Poliomyelitis epidemic results in 2000 cases in Melbourne alone by mid 1938.
    • Japan's invasion of China causes ACTU to call for a boycott of trade with Japan (especially in pig iron).
    • The assimilation of some Aborigines into the white community is adopted as Federal Government policy.
    • The Trump wins the Melbourne Cup and the Caulfield Cup.
    • The 'Dad and Dave' radio serial begins, and continues until 1953.
    • Eleanor Dark's 'Sun across the Sky' is published.
    • Ernestine Hill writes 'The Great Australian Loneliness'.
    • Frank Hurley makes the documentary film, 'A Nation is Built'.


    • Almost 200 bathers are swept out to sea at Bondi, Sydney, by the backwash of three huge waves. Five drown, and 180 have to be rescued by lifesavers.
    • Assisted immigration from Britain resumes.
    • At a meeting of 31 nations at Evian, France, Australia agrees to accept 15,000 political refugees from Europe.
    • Federal Government announces it would welcome refugees from Nazi Germany.
    • The Australian Red Cross Society starts its Blood Transfusion Service.
    • The newspaper 'Sydney Mail' ceases publication.
    • The Empire Games are held in Sydney.
    • Men are officially allowed to wear swimming trunks on Melbourne beaches.
    • An Australian Grand Prix is held at Mount Panorama, Bathurst, NSW.
    • The US drink, Coca-Cola, is first made in Australia.
    • Joy King (5 years old) records the 'Aeroplane Jelly Song'.
    • The Contemporary Art Society is formed in Melbourne.
    • Painter Albert Namatjira's first art exhibition is held in Melbourne.
    • Books published:
      Daisy Bates, 'The Passing of the Aborigines'.
      H V Evatt, 'The Rum Rebellion'.
      Xavier Herbert, 'Capricornia', which is the winner of the Commonwealth government's sesquicentenary prize .


    • Prime Minister Lyons dies.
    • Robert G. Menzies becomes Prime minister and accepts Britain's declaration of war on Germany as binding on Australia.
    • Menzies forms a war cabinet meeting and announces that a volunteer division would be formed for service at home or abroad.
    • The Commonwealth basic wage is 3 pounds, 18 shillings.
    • An Empire Air Training Scheme is inaugurated.
    • The reintroduction of compulsory service in the militia is announced. Unmarried men aged 21 were to undergo three months training.
    • The Defence Act is extended to cover Papua and New Guinea as territories to which conscripts could be sent.
    • A national register of manpower is taken.
    • Waterside workers at Port Kembla, under government pressure, agree to load pig-iron for Japan.
    • The 'Sunday Telegraph' newspaper begins publication in Sydney.
    • The temperature in Adelaide reaches 117.7F (47.6C) which is the highest recorded in an Australian capital city.
    • 'Black Friday' in Victoria - the culmination of days of disastrous bushfires. 71 lives are lost and more than a thousand houses and millions of hectares of forest are destroyed. The temperature in Melbourne reaches 114.1 F (45.6 C).
    • There are bushfires in many parts of NSW; eight lives are lost. The temperature in Sydney reaches 113.6F (45.3C).
    • Ready Mixed Concrete Company, the first of its kind in the world, is formed in Sydney.
    • Sliced bread is introduced to Australia by Sunshine Bakeries, of Newtown, Sydney.
    • Lux Radio Theatre is launched.
    • Australian tennis players John Bromwich and Adrian Quist win the Davis Cup for the first time. It had previously won by Australasia (Australia and New Zealand).
    • Golfer Jim Ferrier wins both the Australian Open and the Australian Amateur golf championships for the second year running.
    • Kenneth Slessor's poem 'Five Bells' is published.
    • The Contemporary Art Society holds its first exhibition which includes the early works of Nolan, Drysdale and Tucker.


    1940s overview

    The decade of the Forties was clouded by war and had an impact of everything and everyone. The course of world history was changed forever. Australia's future would also be different, as there was a shifting of alliance from Britain to the United States.

    The American influence on Australians was further enhanced by the presence of American servicemen on leave. Women were seen in a different light when the Australian Women's Land Army was established. By the end of the decade the vote was extended to Aboriginal ex-servicemen.

    A massive immigration program commenced, the Snowy Mountains Scheme began and the Holden became Australia's very own car.

    Robert Menzies reformed the UAP and the party altered its name to the Liberal Party. For the next 16 years, Menzies dominated Australia's political stage.

    Questions for research and discussion:

  • What made this decade particularly memorable for many Australians?
  • Choose two events from this decade that you think have influenced the Australian outlook. Why do you think they are important?
  • How did Australian involvement in the second world war change Anzac Day and the RSL?
  • 1940

    • Severe drought conditions over most of the country.
    • The prison ship 'Dunera' arrives in Sydney with over 2,000 German and Austrian internees from Britain.
    • An election for the House of Representatives and half Senate is held. The Menzies Government remains in office with the support of two independents. New members include Arthur A Calwell and Herbert V Evatt.
    • Petrol rationing begins.
    • A G Cameron resigns as Country Party leader; A W Fadden becomes acting leader.
    • An Advisory War Council is formed, with Labor Party participation.
    • Coalminers go on strike for better wages, conditions and hours.
    • Country Party members are included in Federal Cabinet once again.
    • Australia declares war on Italy, following Italy's declaration of war against Britain and France.
    • The Communist Party and Fascist parties in Australia are declared illegal under the National Security Act.
    • Call-up is extended to age 33 for single men.
    • Essington Lewis is appointed Director-General of Munitions.
    • Editions of nine newspapers are banned for refusing to abide by censorship regulations.
    • Sir Keith Murdoch is appointed Director-General of the newly formed Department of Information.
    • The Commonwealth Government is given increased powers to control Australia's resources, production, manpower, and people.
    • The ABC appoints its first female announcer (Margaret Doyle).
    • War Savings Certificates go on sale.
    • The last cable tram runs in Melbourne.
    • Old Rowley wins the Melbourne Cup.


    • Australian forces are engaged in North Africa, Greece, Crete and Syria.
    • Australian forces capture Tobruk and Derna in North Africa.
    • Robert Menzies resigns as Prime Minister: Arthur Faddon (Country Party) becomes Prime Minister for six weeks.
    • John Curtin, leader of the Labor Party becomes Prime Minister.
    • Japan launches war in the Pacific.
    • Curtin, in a New Year message to the Australian people, states: 'Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom'.
    • The first American servicemen arrive in Australia, disembarking at Brisbane.
    • Air-raid precautions are instituted in Sydney. The construction of shelters begins, and many people move to the Blue Mountains.
    • Single men 18 to 45 and married men 18 to 35 are called up for full-time duty.
    • The Catholic Social Studies Movement ('The Movement'), is founded by B A Santamaria.
    • A Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAF) is authorised.
    • The Women's Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) is formed.
    • The Australian War Memorial, Canberra, is opened to the public on l1 November.
    • Norman Gregg links defects in new-born babies with rubella infection in their mothers during pregnancy.
    • Child endowment is introduced by the Commonwealth - 10 shillings a fortnight after the first child.
    • No endowment is to be paid to nomadic or dependent natives.
    • The 'Argonauts' Club' children's program begins on ABC radio.
    • Books published:
      Eleanor Dark, 'The Timeless Land'.
      Kylie Tennant, 'The Battlers'.
      Patrick White, 'The Living and the Dead' .


    • Singapore falls to the Japanese; more than 15,000 Australians, mainly of the 8th Division, are imprisoned; General Gordon Bennett escapes.
    • Curtin cables London demanding the return of the AIF 6th and 7th Divisions from the Middle East to Australia. Federal Cabinet orders the complete mobilisation of Australia's human and material resources.
    • Darwin is bombed by a japanese force. It is the first of more than 60 air attacks. Eight ships are sunk in the harbour and some 240 people are killed.
    • The main Australian force on Timor surrenders to the Japanese.
    • Cruiser HMAS 'Perth' is sunk in the Sunda Strait; 357 lives are lost and 106 survivors later die in prison camps.
    • Japanese aircraft attack Broome, Western Australia, destroying several flying-boats and other aircraft and causing some 70 deaths. Wyndham is also attacked.
    • Sixteen members of the Australia First movement are arrested in Sydney and imprisoned without trial. P R Stephensen is held until September 1945.
    • Registration of all persons over 16 is required and the carrying of identity cards is made compulsory.
    • General Douglas MacArthur arrives in Australia from the Philippines.
    • Sydney receives its first shipload of 8,398 United States servicemen.
    • The northern part of the Northern Territory is placed under military control.
    • The Destroyer HMAS 'Vampire' is sunk off Ceylon.
    • MacArthur takes up his post as Supreme Commander, South-West Pacific Area, with his headquarters in Melbourne.
    • General Sir Thomas Blamey in placed in command of Allied land forces.
    • The Battle of the Coral Sea forces a Japanese invasion fleet to turn back and abandon its attempt to capture Port Moresby.
    • Three Japanese midget submarines enter Sydney Harbour; one is sunk by depth charges; one tangles in boom nets and is blown up by its crew. The third apparently escapes after torpedoing a naval depot ship (the ferry 'Kuttabul'). It sinks with the loss of 19 lives.
    • SS 'Iron Chieftain' is torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine off Sydney with the loss of 12 lives. Next day, SS 'Iron Crown' is torpedoed and sunk near Gabo Island, 37 lives are lost.
    • Japanese submarines shell Sydney and Newcastle.
    • Ration books are issued. Clothes rationing begins on 15 June, tea on 6 July, sugar on 31 August.
    • Australian Destroyer HMAS 'Nestor' is sunk in the Mediterranean.
    • The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation produces the Boomerang, the only fighter aircraft designed and built in Australia during World War II.
    • Women aged 18 to 30 are called up for war work.
    • Victory suits and other simple styles of clothing enforced by regulation to save materials, and 'austerity' meals are served in cafes and restaurants.
    • The Sydney General Post Office tower and clock are removed as a safety measure. It is restored in 1964.
    • The ban on the Communist Party of Australia is lifted.
    • The Australian Women's Land Army is established.
    • Horseracing is banned in South Australia as a wartime measure. The ban is lifted in1943.
    • Douglas Stewart's verse drama 'Ned Kelly' is first broadcast by the ABC.
    • ABC Radio's 'The Village Glee Club' is launched. It runs until March 1971.
    • The magazine 'Art in Australia' ceases publication.
    • William Dargie's painting of Corporal Jim Gordon VC wins the Archibald Prize.
    • The film 'Kokoda Front Line', a Cinesound Review documentary with cinematography by Damien Parer wins Australia's first US Academy Award.


    • Singapore falls to the Japanese; more than 15,000 Australians, mainly of the 8th Division, are imprisoned; General Gordon Bennett escapes.
    • Curtin cables London demanding the return of the AIF 6th and 7th Divisions from the Middle East to Australia. Federal Cabinet orders the complete mobilisation of Australia's human and material resources.
    • Darwin is bombed by a japanese force. It is the first of more than 60 air attacks. Eight ships are sunk in the harbour and some 240 people are killed.
    • The main Australian force on Timor surrenders to the Japanese.
    • Cruiser HMAS 'Perth' is sunk in the Sunda Strait; 357 lives are lost and 106 survivors later die in prison camps.
    • Japanese aircraft attack Broome, Western Australia, destroying several flying-boats and other aircraft and causing some 70 deaths. Wyndham is also attacked.
    • Sixteen members of the Australia First movement are arrested in Sydney and imprisoned without trial. P R Stephensen is held until September 1945.
    • Registration of all persons over 16 is required and the carrying of identity cards is made compulsory.
    • General Douglas MacArthur arrives in Australia from the Philippines.
    • Sydney receives its first shipload of 8,398 United States servicemen.
    • The northern part of the Northern Territory is placed under military control.
    • The Destroyer HMAS 'Vampire' is sunk off Ceylon.
    • MacArthur takes up his post as Supreme Commander, South-West Pacific Area, with his headquarters in Melbourne.
    • General Sir Thomas Blamey in placed in command of Allied land forces.
    • The Battle of the Coral Sea forces a Japanese invasion fleet to turn back and abandon its attempt to capture Port Moresby.
    • Three Japanese midget submarines enter Sydney Harbour; one is sunk by depth charges; one tangles in boom nets and is blown up by its crew. The third apparently escapes after torpedoing a naval depot ship (the ferry 'Kuttabul'). It sinks with the loss of 19 lives.
    • SS 'Iron Chieftain' is torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine off Sydney with the loss of 12 lives. Next day, SS 'Iron Crown' is torpedoed and sunk near Gabo Island, 37 lives are lost.
    • Japanese submarines shell Sydney and Newcastle.
    • Ration books are issued. Clothes rationing begins on 15 June, tea on 6 July, sugar on 31 August.
    • Australian Destroyer HMAS 'Nestor' is sunk in the Mediterranean.
    • The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation produces the Boomerang, the only fighter aircraft designed and built in Australia during World War II.
    • Women aged 18 to 30 are called up for war work.
    • Victory suits and other simple styles of clothing enforced by regulation to save materials, and 'austerity' meals are served in cafes and restaurants.
    • The Sydney General Post Office tower and clock are removed as a safety measure. It is restored in 1964.
    • The ban on the Communist Party of Australia is lifted.
    • The Australian Women's Land Army is established.
    • Horseracing is banned in South Australia as a wartime measure. The ban is lifted in1943.
    • Douglas Stewart's verse drama 'Ned Kelly' is first broadcast by the ABC.
    • ABC Radio's 'The Village Glee Club' is launched. It runs until March 1971.
    • The magazine 'Art in Australia' ceases publication.
    • William Dargie's painting of Corporal Jim Gordon VC wins the Archibald Prize.
    • The film 'Kokoda Front Line', a Cinesound Review documentary with cinematography by Damien Parer wins Australia's first US Academy Award.


    • The Australia-New Zealand Agreement (Anzac Pact) is signed in Canberra.
    • The Commonwealth basic wage is 4 pounds,16 shillings.
    • Reginald Saunders becomes the first Aboriginal officer in the Australian army.
    • Free public hospital service begins in Queensland.
    • The Liberal Party is formed.
    • Kosciusko State (later National) Park is established.
    • PAYE (Pay As You Earn) tax is introduced.
    • Fred Paterson, the only Communist to be elected to an Australian parliament, wins the seat of Bowen in the Queensland state election.
    • News appears on the front page of the 'Sydney Morning Herald' for the first time (in place of advertisements).
    • Editions od all Sydney daily newspapers (and the Melbourne Herald and Adelaide News) are suppressed by the censor for defying censorship regulations. Censorship is relaxed on 19 May after a High Court injunction and a conference of the parties.
    • Meat rationing begins.
    • The Kempsey mail train strikes a bus at a level crossing near the Hawkesbury River, New South Wales: 17 are killed.
    • Japanese prisoners of war at Cowra, New South Wales stage a mass escape attempt. 234 prisoners and 4 guards are killed.
    • Aerograms are first issued in Australia.
    • Sydney waiter Antonio Agostini who was charged with the murder in 1934 of his wife Linda, the 'pyjama girl' is tried in June and sentenced to six years jail for manslaughter. He is deported to Italy in 1949.
    • Cruising Yacht Club of Australia is formed in Sydney.
    • Sirius wins the Melbourne Cup.
    • Gwen Meredith's radio serial 'The Lawsons' (later called 'Blue Hills') begins its 32 year run on ABC radio.
    • Filmmaker Charles Chauvel makes 'The Rats of Tobruk'.
    • The literary magazine 'Angry Penguins' publishes the Ern Malley hoax poems. (James McAuley and Harold Stewart later reveal their responsibility for the joke).


    • The Duke of Gloucester replaces Lord Gowrie as Governor-General.
    • The UAP officially changes its name to the Liberal Party of Australia.
    • Herbert V Evatt and F M Forde represent Australia at the 50-nation United Nations Conference on International Organisation in San Francisco.
    • Prime Minister John Curtin dies suddenly. F M Forde is sworn in the next day as Prime Minister. J B Chifley is elected leader of the Labor Party and replaces Forde as Prime Minister eight days later.
    • Department of Immigration created, with A A Calwell as minister.
    • Atomic bombs are dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
    • VJ Day - Japan surrenders, ending the war in the Pacific.
    • General MacArthur accepts the Japanese surrender on board USS 'Missouri' in Tokyo Bay with Australian representatives in attendance.
    • Australian casualties in World War II: 33,826 killed, 180,864 wounded.
    • ALP Industrial Groups are formed in New South Wales to counter what they believe is Communist influence in trade unions.
    • Commonwealth unemployment and sickness benefits are introduced.
    • The lowest temperature ever recorded in Australia is 8F (-22C) at Charlotte Pass, Mount Kosciusko, on 14 July. This temperature is again recorded on 22 August 1947.
    • Howard Florey shares the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work in developing penicillin.
    • Alcoholics Anonymous is established in Australia.
    • The National Trust of Australia is formed in New South Wales to protect heritage sites.
    • A 'magic eye' camera is first tested at the Canterbury Racecourse in Sydney.
    • The racehorse Bernborough wins the Villiers Stakes, the first of 15 successive race wins.
    • Rainbird wins the Melbourne Cup.
    • The Sydney-Hobart yacht race is held for the first time. The winner is 'Rani'.
    • Aboriginal painter Albert Namatjira's first Sydney art exhibition sells out within minutes.
    • An Australian National Film Board is established.
    • Artist Russell Drysdale paints 'The Drover's Wife'.


    • Australia and United Kingdom sign the assisted passage immigration scheme.
    • British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF), under an Australian commander-in-chief begins duty in Japan. The first Australian commander-in-chief is Lieutenant-General John Northcott.
    • Archbishop Gilroy of Sydney becomes the first Australian-born cardinal.
    • The Australian Council of the World Council of Churches is formed.
    • Federal government approves a proposal to set up a guided-missile range in Australia as a joint venture with the United Kingdom.
    • Wool auctions resume in Sydney, after seven years of government purchase of the whole clip. Prices rise significantly.
    • Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) begins operations with a daily service between Melbourne and Sydney.
    • Aboriginal people in the Pilbara region of Western Australia form cooperative settlements.
    • Lance Hill of Adelaide begins producing the Hills Hoist rotary clothesline which was to become an Australian sunburban icon.
    • Broadcasts of the proceedings of Federal Parliament begin.
    • The Commonwealth Employment Service (CES) begins.
    • Martin Boyd's 'Lucinda Brayford' is published.
    • Judith Wright's 'The Moving Image' is published.
    • Sidney Nolan begins the first of his Ned Kelly series of paintings.


    • The Assisted migration scheme is reintroduced for British migrants to Australia, with free passages for ex-servicemen.
    • Immigration Minister A A Calwell signs an agreement with the International Refugee Organisation for Australia to accept displaced person from Europe. The first batch arrive in November. They are mainly Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians.
    • Sir William McKell becomes Governor-General.
    • Aerial crop spraying is first used in Australia, near Narrabri, New South Wales.
    • The ABC begins an independent radio news service.
    • The Northern Territory is granted a Legislative Council, comprising the Administrator, seven official members and six elected members.
    • Australia joins the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank).
    • Prime Minster Chifley announces his intention to nationalise private banks.
    • A Bill to nationalise banking is introduced into Federal Parliament.
    • The High Court declares parts of the 1945 Banking Act invalid.
    • Qantas Empire Airways is taken over by the Commonwealth.
    • A referendum is held in New South Wales on hotel closing hours. A majority are in favour of 6 pm closing.
    • An Indian cricket team visits Australia for the first time.
    • Graeme Bell's jazz band makes a European tour.
    • 'McCackie Mansions', with vaudeville comedian Roy Rene ('Mo'), begins on radio.


    • The Nationality and Citizenship Act is passed to create the status of 'Australian Citizen'. It comes into force on 26 January 1949.
    • Price control is transferred from the Commonwealth to the states.
    • H V Evatt is elected president of the United Nations General Assembly.
    • Immigration Minister A A Calwell announces that all coloured people who found refuge in Australia during the war must leave the country.
    • The migrant intake reaches 20,000 a year.
    • The Australian High Court declares that much of the Bank Nationalization Act is invalid.
    • A referendum seeking permanent Commonwealth power to control rents and prices is defeated.
    • Rationing of meat and clothing ends.
    • The first Holden motor car comes off the assembly line. It is publicly displayed and named on 29 November.
    • The cost of a Holden sedan is 760 pounds.
    • The Commonwealth basic wage is 5 pounds 19 shillings.
    • Bob Dyer's quiz show 'Pick a Box' begins on radio.
    • Sumner Locke Elliott's play 'Rusty Bugles' is banned in New South Wales until the language is altered.
    • The importation of horror films is banned.
    • At the London Olympic Games, John Winter wins the high jump and Merv Wood the single sculls.
    • Golfer Ossie Pickworth wins the Australian Open Golf championship for the third time running.
    • Don Bradman retires from Test cricket.
    • Artist William Dobell wins both the Archibald Prize (with his portrait of Margaret Olley) and the Wynne Prize (with 'Storm Approaching Wangi').
    • Russell Drysdale paints 'The Cricketers'.
    • Sidney Nolan paints 'Pretty Polly Mine'.
    • Books published:
      Ruth Park, 'The Harp in the South'.
      Francis Webb, 'A Drum for Ben Boyd'.
      Patrick White, 'The Aunt's Story' .


    • The Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority is established by an Act of Parliament.
    • The Privy Council upholds the Australian High Court decision that bank nationalisation was beyond the Commonwealth Government's powers.
    • Coalminers strike nation-wide.
    • Federal government freezes union funds and orders troops to begin operating open-cut mines.
    • The coal strike collapses and miners resume work.
    • J M White finds uranium ore at Rum Jungle, Northern Territory.
    • The population of Australia reaches eight million.
    • During the year the 100,000th British migrant and the 50,000th European displaced person since the end of the war arrive in Australia.
    • A A Calwell calls for the use of the term 'New Australian' for migrants.
    • The High Court rules that Mrs O'Keefe, an Indonesian married to an Australian and her eight children should not be deported.
    • Federal franchise is extended to certain Aborigines: (a) those entitled to vote in their own state; (b) members or former members of the armed services.
    • The new Menzies Government is sworn in with A W Fadden as Deputy Prime Minister. Enid Lyons becomes the first woman to serve in a Commonwealth ministry.
    • Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) is established.
    • There is a Poliomyelitis epidemic in most states.
    • The Australian Broadcasting Control Board comes into being.
    • Opera singer Joan Sutherland wins the Sydney Sun Aria competition.
    • Filmmaker Charles Chauvel releases 'Sons of Matthew'.
    • Ruth Park's 'Poor Man's Orange' is published.
    • Percival Serle releases 'The Dictionary of Biography'.


    1950s overview

    The 1950s were a time of great optimism. The war was over but some people saw a new threat -- communism. The government was only narrowly defeated in its referendum to ban the Communist Party in Australia. The Australian Labor Party split and the DLP (Democratic Labor party) was formed.

    Australia was 'riding on the sheep's back', bikinis were banned on some of Sydney's beaches, television came to Australia and the invention of the Victa lawnmower and the Hills Hoist helped to create the Australian dream. The Australian armed forces were sent to Malaya during the 'Emergency' and to Korea to fight against communism.

    By the end of the decade, post-war immigration had changed the country forever and, at the same time, the way Australians looked at themselves. The ANZUS Treaty was signed, a cure for polio was found and the White Australia Policy ended. New literature was being written, the Olympic Games were held in Melbourne and sporting heroes continued to be important to the Australian image. The population reached ten milion, however Aborigines were still not included in the census.

    Questions for research and discussion:

  • Find out about the Malayan Emergency and the Korean War. Why were Australian soldiers sent so far from home to fight?
  • In 1951 the price of wool reached 375 pence per pound. Why was this so high? Can you find out what the price of wool is today?
  • In the timeline, you will notice that in 1953 Japan appointed an Ambassador to Australia. Why do you think there had not been an Ambassador since the second world war? Why was this a significant event for many Australians?
  • 1950

    • The Communist Party Dissolution Bill is introduced into Federal Parliament. It is passed by both houses.
    • The High Court hears a challenge to the validity of the Communist Party Dissolution Act. The challenge is made by the Parties and 10 unions. H V Evatt, the ALP deputy leader, appears for the Waterside Workers' Federation.
    • Australia plays a leading role in establishing Colombo Plan to aid the development of Asian nations.
    • Australian forces are sent to Korean War.
    • Military conscription is reintroduced.
    • RAAF units are sent to help in the Malayan 'emergency'.
    • Child endowment is extended to cover the first child.
    • Butter rationing ends.
    • The Commonwealth introduces a free milk scheme for schoolchildren.
    • The Australian teenage subculture of 'Bodgies' and 'Widgies' is first noted in newspapers.
    • Sydney has a record-breaking 2,193 mm of rain during the year.
    • Lake Eyre fills with water- the first time to be observed by Europeans.
    • Australian writer Frank Hardy publishes 'Power without Glory'. The book became the subject of a criminal libel action brought by Mrs John Wren. The author was eventually found not guilty.
    • Female basic wage is set at 75% of the male wage.
    • The estimated population of Australia is 8,307,481.


    • The High Court declares the Communist Party Dissolution Act to be invalid.
    • The price of wool reaches a record 375 pence per pound (the average was 144 pence). This is to be compared with 10 pence per pound in 1939.
    • More than 1,500 cases and 121 deaths from poliomyelitis are reported in New South Wales.
    • The Commonwealth and State governments agree to implement a policy of assimilation of Aborigines.
    • Paid sick leave and paid long-service leave are introduced in New SouthWales.
    • Waverley Council in Sydney bans the bikini swimsuit on its beaches.
    • A security treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States - the ANZUS Treaty - is signed at San Francisco. (It is ratified on 29 April,1952).
    • The Treaty of Peace between Allied Powers and Japan is signed in San Francisco and comes into force on 28 April 1952. Australia's occupation force in Japan ceases operations.
    • A referendum to give the Commonwealth Government power to ban the Communist Party is defeated by a narrow margin: 2,317,927 in favour; 2,370,009 against.
    • The 'Australian Financial Review' begins publication in Sydney, as a weekly newspaper.
    • Melbourne prostitute Jean Lee and her two pimps are hanged in Melbourne for the torture and murder of a 73-year-old bookmaker.
    • A Pensioner Medical Service begins, providing all pensioners with free medical care.
    • 'School of the Air' begins, broadcasting from the Flying Doctor base at Alice Springs.
    • J B Chifley dies. H V Evatt replaces him as Leader of the Opposition on 20 June.
    • A Commonwealth Scholarship scheme for university students is introduced.
    • Aboriginal tenor Harold Blair makes an Australian tour for the ABC.
    • F G McEncroe of Bendigo, Victoria creates the Chiko Roll.
    • The Blake Prize for religious art is awarded for the first time. It goes to artist Justin O' Brien.
    • Alan Yates begins publication of his Carter Brown crime stories.
    • Dymphna Cusack and Florence James write 'Come in Spinner'.
    • The estimated population of Australia is 8,527,907.


    • An Australian Army Observer Unit is sent to Malaya during the 'emergency'.
    • Inflation rate rises to 21%.
    • The Commonwealth basic wage is 11 pounds and 11 shillings.
    • Britain explodes its first atomic bomb in the Monte Bello Islands, Western Australia. It is called 'Operation Hurricane'.
    • Sir Owen Dixon succeeds Sir John Latham as Chief Justice of the High Court.
    • Severe drought continues in Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.
    • Lang Hancock discovers the Hamersley, West Australian iron-ore deposits.
    • Gough Whitlam enters Parliament, winning a by-election for the seat of Werriwa, New South Wales.
    • Mervyn Victor Richardson invents the Victa rotary lawnmower, later to become an Australian suburban icon.
    • The Buddhist Society of New South Wales holds its first meeting in Sydney.
    • At the Helsinki Olympics, Marjorie Jackson wins the 100 metres and 200 metres track events, Shirley Strickland wins the 80 metres hurdles, John Davis wins the 200 metres breastroke swimming and Russel Mockridge wins the 1000 metres cycling time trial and (with L Cox) the 2000 metres tandem race.
    • Tennis player Frank Sedgmen wins the men's singles at Wimbledon.
    • Sedgman and McGregor win the Davis Cup for Australia.
    • Boxer Jimmy Carruthers beats Vic Toweel in Johannesburg to take the world bantamweight boxing title.
    • Horace Lindrum becomes the world professional snooker champion.
    • Dalray wins the Melbourne Cup.
    • Joan Sutherland makes her debut at Covent Garden in 'The Magic Flute'.
    • Artist William Dargie's portrait of Mr Essington Lewis wins the Archibald Prize.
    • Books published:
      Judah Waten, 'Alien Son'.
      Chester Wilmot, 'The Struggle for Europe'.
      Martin Boyd, 'The Cardboard Crown' .


    • Sir William Slim succeeds Sir William McKell as Governor-General.
    • Total Australian army casualties in Korean War: 1,538 including 281 killed.
    • Compulsory unionism legislation is passed in New South Wales (though never enforced).
    • Australia proclaims sovereignty over the resources of its continental shelf.
    • Fluoridation of water supply is first introduced in Australia at Beaconsfield, Tasmania.
    • Sydney's 'Sunday Herald' and 'Sunday Sun' merge to form the 'Sun-Herald' following the purchase by the Fairfax organisation of a controlling interest in Associated Newspapers.
    • Britain explodes the first of two nuclear devices at Emu Field, Woomera, South Australia. The program is called 'Operation Totem'.
    • Japan's first post-war ambassador to Australia arrives in Sydney.
    • The Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia is established as a separate body.
    • A Royal commission is appointed to inquire into the proposed establishment of television.
    • Tennis players Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall and Rex Hartwig beat Tony Trabert and Vic Seixas of the United States to win the Davis Cup.
    • Hoad and Rosewall win the Wimbledon doubles.
    • Cyclist Sid Patterson wins the world professional pursuit title for the second year in a row.
    • The first Redex round-Australia car trial is held.
    • Novelist Nevil Shute writes 'In the Wet'.


    • A Uranium processing treatment plant opens at Rum Jungle, Northern Territory.
    • Evatt publicly attacks Victorian right wing members of the ALP, accusing them of disloyal and subversive actions directed from outside the party. He was referring to the Industrial Groups, organised by the Catholic Social Studies Movement.
    • Legislation is introduced in Western Australia to legalise off-course betting.
    • Australia's first automatic telephone time service begins operating in Sydney.
    • A referendum is held in New South Wales on hotel closing hours. The majority are in favour of 10 pm.
    • Queen Elizabeth II, the first reigning monarch to visit Australia, arrives with Prince Philip for a visit to all states.
    • New South Wales experiences its worst cyclone which causes disastrous flooding of northern rivers and the deaths of 26 people.
    • Sustained and widespread flooding occurs in Queensland where at least 10 lives are lost and Rockhampton is cut off.
    • An earthquake (5.4 on the Richter scale) causes extensive damage in the Adelaide area.
    • Vladimir Petrov defects from the Soviet Embassy in Canberra and seeks political asylum in Australia.
    • Prime Minister Menzies informs Parliament of Petrov's defection and announces that a Royal Commission will be held into Soviet espionage in Australia.
    • Mrs Evdokia Petrov leaves the aircraft taking her back to the Soviet Union at Darwin and seeks political asylum in Australia with her husband.
    • The Soviet Union withdraws its diplomatic representatives from Australia.
    • The Australian-American War Memorial in Canberra is unveiled by the Queen.
    • A Telex (teleprinter exchange) service is introduced in Sydney and Melbourne.
    • The South-East Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO) is set up.
    • 62%. of Australia's workforce belong to unions.
    • John Landy breaks two world records, running a mile in 3 minutes, 58 seconds and 1500 metres in 3 minutes, 41.8 seconds.
    • Hector Hogan runs 100 yards in 9.3 seconds, equalling the world record.
    • US Film star Peter Lawford introduces the Malibu surfboard to Australia.
    • Vance Palmer writes 'The Legend of the Nineties'.
    • The new literary quarterly 'Overland' is launched by Stephen Murray-Smith.


    • Six o'clock closing of hotels in NSW ends. Bars are allowed to open till 10 pm with, for some time, a break from 6.30 pm to 7.30 pm.
    • A referendum in the ACT on hotel closing hours also results in a majority in favour of remaining open until10 pm.
    • The first power generated by the Snowy Mountains scheme from the Guthega power station is fed into the New South Wales electricity system.
    • A split in the Labor Party over the activities of the Industrial Groups (or 'Groupers') comes to a head at the ALP federal conference in Hobart.
    • The ALP Victorian Executive expels 104 Industrial Group members of the party including 18 members of the Victorian Parliament and six members of the House of Representatives, who subsequently form the Australian Labor Party (Anti-Communist), later the Democratic Labor Party or DLP.
    • Catholic bishops and archbishops issue a joint pastoral attacking communism in unions and criticising the withdrawal by the ALP of official recognition of the Industrial Groups.
    • First meeting of SEATO Council is held in Bangkok, Thailand.
    • Disastrous floods sweep through northern New South Wales; more than 2,000 homes are flooded in Maitland and about 100 houses are swept away. At least 22 people drown.
    • Federal Cabinet agrees to send ground troops to Malaya.
    • 'Black Sunday' in Adelaide, with bushfires, gale-force winds, and temperature of 40ÁC. Two firefighters die and the vice-regal residence at Marble Hill is destroyed.
    • Elections are held for the House of Representatives and half Senate; Menzies Government is returned with an increased majority. Anti-Communist Labor members lose their seats in the House of Representatives (but have two seats in the Senate).
    • New members include J F Cairns, Malcolm Fraser and B M Snedden.
    • The Petrov Royal Commission final report is tabled in Federal Parliament. There are no grounds for any prosecutions.
    • Adelaide's 'Sunday' Advertiser merges with the 'Mail' to become the 'Sunday Mail'.
    • The millionth post-war migrant arrives in November.
    • The death penalty is abolished in New South Wales.
    • Barry Humphries' character Edna Everage makes her stage debut.
    • The Elizabethan Theatre opens in Newtown, Sydney.
    • Melbourne's Moomba Festival is inaugurated.
    • Ray Lawler's play 'The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll' is produced for the first time.
    • Filmmaker Charles Chauvel releases 'Jedda'.
    • Books published:
      Martin Boyd, 'A Difficult Young Man'.
      A D Hope, 'The Wandering Islands'.
      Alan Marshall, 'I Can Jump Puddles'.
      D'Arcy Niland, 'The Shiralee'. Patrick White, 'The Tree of Man' .


    • Britain explodes two more nuclear bombs in the Monte Bello Islands, Western Australia and four at Maralinga, South Australia.
    • Two new savings banks are opened (by Bank of NSW and ANZ Bank), ending the virtual monopoly of the Commonwealth Savings Bank.
    • Australian troops take part in their first action in Malaya against Communist terrorists in Kedah state.
    • Poker machines are legalised in New South Wales clubs.
    • An immunisation campaign against poliomyelitis using Jonas Salk's vaccine begins.
    • Prime Minister Menzies leads an unsuccessful five-nation delegation to Cairo to try to settle the Suez Canal nationalisation dispute.
    • Channel TCN-9 in Sydney launches Australia's first regular television service. GTV-9 in Melbourne begins transmission on 27 September, ABC on 5 November.
    • The New South Wales Democratic Labor Party (DLP) is formed in Sydney by the expelled ALP executive members.
    • The Federal government announces its decision to subsidise Church schools in the Australian Capital Territory by paying the interest on loans for new school buildings.
    • Australia agrees to provide sanctuary for up to 10,000 refugees from Hungary following the Soviet invasion to quell uprisings.
    • Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) services are first introduced in Sydney and Melbourne.
    • Sydney's first drive-in cinemas open at Frenchs Forest and Chullora.
    • 'Woman's Day' magazine is formed by the amalgamation of 'Woman' and 'Woman's Day' and 'Home' magazines.
    • Australian winners at Melbourne's Olympic Games:
      • Athletics: Betty Cuthbert (100 metres and 200 metres), Shirley Strickland (80 metres hurdles), women's team (4 x 100 metre relay).
      • Swimming: Dawn Fraser (100 metre freestyle), Lorraine Crapp 400 metre freestyle), women's team (4 x 100 metre relay), Jon Hendricks (100 metre freestyle),
        Murray Rose (400 metre and 1,500 metre freestyle), David Theile (100 metre backstroke), men's team (4 x 200 metres relay).
      • Cycling: Browne and A Marchant, (200 metre tandem).
      • Lorraine Crapp breaks 18 world records while training for the Olympics.
    • Tennis player Lew Hoad wins the men's singles at Wimbledon.
    • Hoad and Rosewall retain the Davis Cup for Australia.
    • Golfer Peter Thomson wins the British Open Golf Championship for the third year in a row.
    • Richard Beynon's play, 'The Shifting Heart' is produced.
    • Alan Moorehead's book 'Gallipoli' is published.
    • Randolph Stow writes 'A Haunted Land'.


    • Labor loses office in Queensland after 25 years in power; G F R Nicklin becomes Premier.
    • State Anti-Communist Labor breakaway groups form the National Democratic Labor Party, with Senator George Cole as parliamentary leader.
    • The Commonwealth basic wage is 12 pounds, 16 shillings.
    • Ansett Transport Industries takes over Australian National Airways, becoming Ansett ANA.
    • Special Christmas postage stamps are issued for the first time.
    • The Wyndham Committee reports on secondary education in New South Wales. The Wyndham Scheme is not introduced until 1962.
    • Australia and Japan sign a trade agreement on most-favoured-nation terms.
    • Australia and the United States conclude an agreement concerning atomic information, for mutual defence purposes.
    • An Asian flu epidemic breaks out.
    • The 'Melbourne Argus' ceases publication.
    • The Commonwealth Arbitration Commission increases the basic wage by ten shillings a week and decides to institute an annual review.
    • The Federal government announces amendments to the National Service system: the number of trainees is to be reduced; training in the navy and air force to be discontinued; registration is to remain compulsory but the intake is to be determined by a ballot based on the date of birth.
    • 'Operation Antler': Atomic testing continues at Maralinga, South Australia.
    • A Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders is established.
    • Joern Utzon of Denmark wins the competition for a design of Sydney Opera House.
    • Slim Dusty's 'A Pub With No Beer' is awarded Australia's first gold record.
    • Bob Dyer's radio quiz show 'Pick a Box' begins on television.
    • Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira is granted full Australian citizenship.
    • William Dobell paints his portrait of Dame Mary Gilmore.
    • Arthur Boyd begins his 'Love, Marriage and Death of a Half-Caste' series of paintings.
    • 'The Shiralee' is made into a film starring Peter Finch.
    • Books published:
      Martin Boyd, 'Outbreak of Love'.
      John O'Grady under the pen name of 'Nino Culotta', 'They're a Weird Mob'.
      Vance Palmer, 'Seedtime'.
      Nevil Shute, 'On the Beach'.
      Patrick White, 'Voss' (The winner of the inaugural Miles Franklin Award).


    • The Commonwealth Migration Act abolishes the dictation test.
    • The first Opera House Lottery is drawn in New South Wales.
    • Qantas inaugurates a round-the-world air service.
    • John McEwan succeeds Sir Arthur Fadden as Federal Country Party leader.
    • An election for the House of Representatives and half Senate is held; the Menzies Government is returned with a substantial majority, helped by Democratic Labor Party (DLP) preferences.
    • Three weeks annual leave is granted to all employees under New South Wales awards (effective from 1 January 1959).
    • Legislation is enacted in New South Wales to provide for equal pay for 'work of the same or like nature and of equal value' performed by men and women. The female wage was to be increased progressively.
    • The Clean Air Act is passed in Victoria, the first state to legislate to control air pollution.
    • Uluru National Park (Ayers Rock- Mount Olga), Northern Territory, is proclaimed.
    • Agreement is reached in Canberra between Australia and the Netherlands on administrative problems of New Guinea.
    • Legislation is enacted in New South Wales to prevent the defamation of dead as well as living persons.
    • Aboriginal itinerant worker Rupert Max Stuart murders nine-year-old Mary Hattam at Ceduna, South Australia. Stuart is subsequently sentenced to death, but after a series of appeals, a Royal Commission, and much public controversy, his sentence is commuted to life imprisonment.
    • Sydney's Cahill Expressway is opened. It is completed to Woolloomooloo by 1962.
    • Monash University, Melbourne, is established by an Act of Parliament.
    • The administration of Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean is transferred from British-ruled Singapore to Australia.
    • The first Australian canned beer is sold.
    • Albert Namatjira is sentenced to six months jail for supplying liquor to another Aboriginal. It is reduced on appeal to three months.
    • A National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) is established at the University of New SouthWales.
    • 'Bandstand', hosted by Brian Henderson, begins on television.
    • Herb Elliott runs a world record 3 minutes, 54.5 seconds for the mile.
    • 10 volumes of the 'Australian Encyclopedia' are publised
    • Russel Ward writes 'The Australian Legend'.
    • W. E. Pidgeon's portrait of Mr Ray Walker wins the Archibald Prize.


    • An Immigration Reform Group is founded in Melbourne, to work on ending the White Australia Policy.
    • Australia receives its 1,500,000th migrant since 1945.
    • Working hours in state-owned coalmines in New South Wales are reduced to 37 and a half hours per week.
    • Legislation is introduced into Federal Parliament to provide for a uniform code of divorce law throughout Australia.
    • The first major power station of the Snowy Mountains Scheme begins operating.
    • Legislation is enacted establishing a permanent Australian Universities Commission.
    • The National Service training scheme is suspended.
    • Australia and eleven other nations sign a thirty-year treaty in Washington to preserve Antarctica for peaceful scientific research and to retain the status quo of sovereignty.
    • Australia and the Soviet Union resume diplomatic relations.
    • Darwin becomes a city.
    • Work begins on the Sydney Opera House. The plaque is laid by J J Cahill on 2 March.
    • The population of Australia reaches ten million.


    1960s overview

    The 1960s was the decade in which many Australians began to change old ideas and values. Aborigines were included in the census and given the vote. Television brought the Vietnam War into people's living-rooms and many teenagers questioned their parents' values - and began to ignore them! The term, the 'Generation Gap' was used frequently when despairing parents failed to understand what their sons and daughters were doing.

    The Beatles visited Australia, the Twist and long hair for men became popular, people began carrying 'eskys' to the football and Dawn Fraser set five world records.

    Menzies was returned to government with a majority of one. He retired in the mid-sixties and Harold Holt took over. Holt's slogan of 'All the Way with LBJ' was not fully supported and the conscription issue over troops being sent to the Vietnam War divided many Australians.

    The times were changing, Armstrong had landed on the moon and young Australians were looking for new and exciting ideas, art, music and clothes.

    Questions for research and discussion:

    • What is Alan Seymour's play 'One Day of the Year' about?
    • What were the 'freedom rides'?
    • Why is it that we often know more about what happened in the 1960s in the United States and Britain than we do about Australia? Are most of our understandings of recent history formed by television and movies?
    • Why was music such an important part of the society of the 1960s?


    • Aborigines become Australian citizens and are eligible for social welfare benefits.
    • Three federal banking bodies are established in 1959 - the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Commonwealth Development Bank, and the Commonwealth Banking Corporation - begin operations.
    • Australian Council of Churches holds its first national conference.
    • Viscount Dunrossil succeeds Lord Slim as Governor-General.
    • H V Evatt resigns as leader of the federal opposition and becomes Chief Justice of the New South Wales Supreme Court.
    • Import licensing removed from 90% of all imported goods.
    • Arthur Calwell is elected federal ALP leader to replace Evatt.
    • National Service training officially ends; the remaining trainees are discharged.
    • All capital cities now have ABC and commercial television stations.
    • Eight-year-old Graeme Thorne, son of an Opera House lottery winner, is kidnapped on his way home from school in Sydney; the kidnapper demands £25,000 ransom.
    • The body of Graeme Thorne is found at Seaforth. Police arrest the killer Stephen Bradley at Colombo on his way to England on 10 October.
    • Sir Macfarlane Burnet shares the Nobel Prize for medicine with Sir Peter Medawar for their work on acquired immunological tolerance.
    • Australian winners at the Rome Olympic Games:
      • Athletics: Herb Elliott (1,500 metres)
      • Swimming: Dawn Fraser (100 metres freestyle), John Devitt (100 metres freestyle), Murray Rose (400 metres freestyle), John Konrads (1,500 metres freestyle), David Theile (100 metres backstroke)
      • Equestrian: Laurie Morgan (individual event), Australian team (3-day trial) .
    • Dawn Fraser sets five world records at the Australian swimming championships.
    • Tennis player Neale Fraser wins the men's singles at Wimbledon.
    • Fraser, Emerson and Laver retains the Davis Cup for Australia.
    • Hi-Jinx wins the Centenery Melbourne Cup.
    • The estimated population of Australia is 10,391,920.


    • Myer Emporium Ltd takes over Farmer & Co of Sydney.
    • The Commonwealth Matrimonial Causes Act of 1959 comes into operation unifying state divorce laws.
    • The last trams run in Sydney.
    • Viscount De L'Isle becomes Governor-General following the death of Lord Dunrossil.
    • An election for the House of Representatives and half Senate is held. The Menzies Government is returned (as a result of DLP preferences). After electing a Speaker they only have a majority of one in the House of Representatives.
    • New members include Bill Hayden and Senator Lionel Murphy.
    • A moving footway from Sydney's Domain parking station to College Street opens.
    • Malley's registers the trade name 'Esky' for its insulated metal food container. Soon, almost every family in Australia seemed to have an esky for drinks and food at picnics and sports events.
    • Totalizer Agency Boards (TAB) were established in Victoria and Western Australia. (New South Wales in 1964).
    • China buys more than a million tonnes of wheat from Australia.
    • The contraceptive pill is introduced in Australia.
    • Tennis player Rod Laver wins the men's singles at Wimbledon.
    • Igor Stravinsky conducts performances of his own works in Australia.
    • A Bahai Temple is built in Sydney.
    • A Muslim Mosque is built in Canberra.
    • ABC's current affairs television program 'Four Corners' is launched.
    • The Australian National Bibliography begins publication.
    • Alan Seymour's play, 'The One Day of the Year' and Patrick White's 'The Ham Funeral' are first produced.
    • Books published:
      H M Green, 'A History of Australian Literature'.
      Hal Porter, 'The Titled Cross'.
      Patrick White, 'Riders in the Chariot' (Miles Franklin Award winner).


    • Federal voting rights are extended to include all Aborigines.
    • US Secretary of State Dean Rusk arrives in Canberra for a two-day session of the ANZUS Council.
    • Australian army advisers leave for Vietnam, and arrive in Saigon on 3 August.
    • Roma Mitchell becomes Australia's first female Queens Counsel (QC).
    • The Australian Ballet is established, with Peggy Van Praagh as artistic director.
    • Frank Ifield's record of 'I Remember You' becomes the first Australian record to appear in US charts.
    • Artist Ian Fairweather paints 'Epiphany'.
    • Artist Louis Kahan's portrait of Patrick White wins the Archibald Prize.
    • Patrick White's play, 'The Season at Sarsaparilla' is produced.
    • Barry Humphries performs 'A Nice Night's Entertainment'.
    • Books published:
      John Anderson, 'Studies in Empirical Philosophy'.
      Thea Astley, 'The Well-Dressed Explorer' (co-winner of the Miles Franklin Award with George Turner, 'The Cupboard under the Stairs').
      Martin Boyd: When Blackbirds Sing'.
      C. M. H. Clark, 'A History of Australia', volume 1.


    • CSIRO physicist Gilbert Bogle and Mrs Margaret Chandler are found dead in bushland beside the Lane Cove River near Fullers Bridge, Sydney. The suspicious circumstances of their deaths remains unexplained.
    • A shark fatally attacks actress Marcia Hathaway in shallow water at Sugarloaf Bay in Sydney's Middle Harbour.
    • Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrive in Australia for a visit to all states and to attend Canberra's jubilee celebrations.
    • The satirical monthly magazine 'Oz' begins publication in Sydney.
    • The wreckage of the Dutch ship 'Vergulde Draek', lost in 1656, is found by skindivers about 95 km north of Perth.
    • Comalco begins full-scale mining of bauxite at Weipa on the Cape York Peninsula.
    • Charles Perkins leads a group of university students on a 'freedom ride' through New South Wales in an attempt to end segregation in places such as cinemas and swimming pools.
    • Australia and the United States sign an agreement allowing the United States to establish and operate a naval communications station at North-West Cape, Western Australia.
    • Margaret Smith (Court) wins the Wimbledon singles tennis championship.
    • Bernard 'Midget' Farrelly wins the Makaha (Hawaii) International Surfboard-riding Competition.
    • The Old Tote Theatre opens on the campus of the University of New South Wales.
    • Patrick White's play, 'A Cheery Soul' is produced.
    • The Australian Society of Authors is founded.
    • Books published:
      Sumner Locke Elliott, 'Careful, He Might Hear You' (Miles Franklin Award winner).
      Alan Moorehead, 'Cooper's Creek'.
      Hal Porter, 'The Watcher on the Cast-Iron Balcony'.
      Randolph Stow, 'Tourmaline'.
      Morris West, 'The Shoes of the Fisherman'.


    • The Commonwealth begins giving help to both state and private schools for science education.
    • National service is reintroduced; a lottery procedure is used to select 20 year olds.
    • RAAF receives its first two Mirage jet fighters.
    • Double-deck carriages begin trial runs on Sydney's suburban railway.
    • Destroyer HMAS 'Voyager' sinks after being cut in two by the aircraft carrier HMAS 'Melbourne' in a collision off Jervis Bay; 82 lives are lost.
    • The Woodward Royal Commission into Land Rights is established.
    • Fire destroys Sydney's Lyceum Theatre.
    • Sir Percy Spender becomes president of the International Court of Justice until 1967.
    • A split in the Communist Party of Australia results in the founding of the pro-Chinese Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)..
    • Sir Garfield Barwick resigns from Parliament to become Chief Justice of the High Court. Paul Hasluck replaces him as foreign Minister.
    • Australia's first national daily newspaper, 'The Australian', begins publication in Canberra..
    • Thirty-four RAAF personnel leave Sydney for South Vietnam to fly and maintain Caribou transport aircraft.
    • AWU members begin industrial action at Mount Isa over dissatisfaction with a wage increase.
    • 'Oz' magazine is judged to be obscene by a magistrate; publishers Richard Walsh, Richard Neville, and Martin Sharp are sentenced to terms of imprisonment. Their convictions are quashed in February 1965 after an appeal.
    • Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, visits Australia for the British Exhibition and the opening of Sydney's Gladesville Bridge.
    • Australian winners at the Tokyo Olympic Games:
      • Athletics: Betty Cuthbert (400 metres)
      • Swimming: Dawn Fraser (100 metres freestyle - for the third time), Bob Windle (1,500 metres freestyle), Kevin Berry (200 metres butterfly), Ian O'Brien (200 metres breaststroke)
      • Yachting: 5.5 m race. (Bill Northam becomes the oldest competitor to win an Olympic gold medal .
    • Roy Emerson wins the tennis singles at Wimbledon.
    • Emerson and Fred Stolle win the Davis Cup for Australia.
    • Bernard 'Midget' Farrelly wins the World surfing championship in Sydney.
    • Donald Campbell sets a new world land speed record on Lake Eyr.
    • The Beatles tour Australia.
    • The Archibald Prize is not awarded this year.
    • 'The Mavis Bramston Show' begins on television.
    • Artist Sidney Nolan paints 'Riverbend'.
    • Patrick White's play 'Night on Bald Mountain' is produced.
    • Books published:
      Donald Horne, 'The Lucky Country'.
      George Johnston, 'My Brother Jack' (Miles Franklin Award winner).
      Kath Walker (Oodgeroo Noonuccal), 'We Are Going'.


    • Lord Casey becomes Governor-General.
    • The Royal Australian Mint is opened in Canberra by Prince Philip. It begins producing the first Australian-made decimal coins.
    • Australian combat troops are sent to Vietnam.
    • The first drawing of the birthday lottery to determine those eligible for National Service training is conducted.
    • The ALP removes the White Australia Policy from its policy agenda.
    • Provisional drivers' licences are introduced in Tasmania.
    • Gas and oil are discovered in Bass Strait.
    • Long hair becomes fashionable, especially for young men.
    • The Australian Conservation Foundation is established in Melbourne.
    • The Australian Council of National Trusts is set up in Canberra.
    • Joan Sutherland returns to Australia for the opera season, after 14 years abroad.
    • Roma Mitchell becomes Australia's first female judge when she is appointed to the South Australian Supreme Court.
    • The Seekers' record 'I'll Never Find Another You' becomes the first Australian record to sell a million copies.
    • £737 million ($1,474 million) is spent by Australians on gambling.
    • Dawn Fraser, 27 years old, is named Australian of the year.
    • Tennis player Roy Emerson wins the Wimbledon singles for the second year in a row.
    • Roy Emerson, Fred Stolle, John Newcombe, and Tony Roche win the Davis Cup for Australia.
    • Margaret Smith (Court) wins the Wimbledon singles for the second time.
    • Linda McGill becomes the first Australian to swim the English Channel.
    • Dawn Fraser is suspended for ten years by the Amateur Swimming Union.
    • Ron Clarke becomes the first person to run 3 miles in less than 13 minutes and sets 6 world records in 17 races.
    • .Golfer Peter Thomson wins the British Open golf championship for the fifth time
    • Light Fingers wins the Melbourne Cup.
    • Books published:
      Thea Astley, 'The Slow Natives' (Miles Franklin Award winner).
      Hal Porter, 'The Cats of Venice'.
      Randolph Stow, 'The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea'.
      Morris West, 'The Ambassador' .


    • Sir Robert Menzies retires after a record 16 successive years as Prime Minister; Harold Holt replaces him.
    • Decimal currency is introduced.
    • Dame Annabelle Rankin, appointed to Holt's new ministry, becomes the first woman to hold a federal portfolio.
    • The White Australia immigration policy is further relaxed.
    • Japan replaces Britain as Australia's best customer for Australian-produced exports.
    • Married women's right to permanent employment is proclaimed.
    • The Gurindji tribe at Daguragu, Northern Territory, walk off cattle stations; this begins a seven-year fight to obtain title to their land.
    • The three Beaumont children who disappear on their way to Glenelg beach, Adelaide, are never seen again.
    • Rich nickel-ore deposits found at Kambalda, Western Australia, by Western Mining Corporation.
    • Prince Charles arrives in Australia to attend Geelong Grammar's Timbertop school.
    • Margaret Valadian and Charles Perkins are the first Aboriginal university graduates.
    • Harry Chan, MLC, becomes Mayor of Darwin, the first of Asian ancestry to hold this type of position.
    • Australia and eight other countries form the Asian and Pacific Council.
    • Opposition leader Arthur Calwell is injured when shot after attending a political meeting in Mosman.
    • Australia's commitment to South Vietnam is trebled. Holt says 'All the way with LBJ.', referring to US President Lyndon Johnson's policies in Vietnam.
    • Agreement is negotiated for an American satellite base at Pine Gap, Northern Territory.
    • Severe and widespread drought finally eases. The drought began in 1957 and affected the whole country, especially New South Wales and Queensland.
    • Joern Utzon resigns as designer of the Sydney Opera House after much controversy and antagonism.
    • The first live television program is transmitted from England via Pacific satellite.
    • Galilee wins the Melbourne Cup.
    • Australia wins the Davis Cup for the third year running beating India in Sydney.
    • Geoffrey Blainey's 'The Tyranny of Distance' is published.
    • Patrick White's 'The Solid Mandala' is published.


    • Prime Minister Harold Holt disappears while swimming in the surf at Portsea.
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are allowed to be counted in the census for the first time.
    • Marshal Ky, Premier of South Vietnam, visits Australia setting off protest demonstrations by opponents of the Vietnam War.
    • Ronald Ryan, the last person sentenced to be executed in Australia, is hanged in Melbourne for killing a warder while escaping from Pentridge jail on 9 December, 1965.
    • E G Whitlam replaces Arthur Calwell as leader of the federal ALP.
    • The first Year 12 students to study under the Wyndham Scheme.
    • The five-dollar banknote goes into circulation.
    • The postcode system is introduced.
    • The National Parks and Wildlife Service is set up in New South Wales.
    • Australia's first satellite, 'WRESAT 1', is successfully launched from the Woomera Rocket Range.
    • A Joint Defence Space Research Facility is established at Pine Gap, near Alice Springs. It becomes operational in 1969.
    • Melbourne's 'La Mama' theatre opens.
    • Current affairs program 'This Day Tonight' begins on ABC Television.
    • Talkback radio begins.
    • The first Office of Aboriginal Affairs is set up.
    • The Federal Government announces that it intends to change the law to limit appeals from the High Court to the Privy Council.
    • Unemployment rises to 1.9%, the highest since 1963.
    • John Newcombe wins the men's singles at Wimbledon.
    • Australia (John Newcombe and Roy Emerson) wins the Davis Cup.
    • Australia challenges for the America's Cup ('Dame Pattie' is beaten by 'Intrepid').
    • A record 200,000 pack Melbourne's Myer Music Bowl to see the Seekers.
    • Galilee becomes the first horse to win the Sydney cup, the Caulfield and the Melbourne cup in one season.
    • Red Handed wins the Melbourne Cup.
    • Plays:
      Dorothy Hewett, 'This Old Man Comes Rolling Home'.
      Jack Hibberd, White with Wire Wheels'.
    • Books published:
      Donald Horne, 'The Education of Young Donald'.
      Thomas Keneally, 'Bring Larks and Heroes' (Miles Franklin Award winner).
      Joan Lindsay, 'Picnic at Hanging Rock'.
      R. G. Menzies, 'Afternoon Light' .


    • Important Aboriginal remains (including the world's earliest known cremation burial) are discovered at Lake Mungo, New South Wales.
    • Radio telescope at Parkes Observatory, New South Wales, relays pictures of the first man landing on the moon.
    • The twelve-mile fishing limit around Australia comes into force.
    • The woodchip industry begins with a clear-felling project at Eden, New South Wales.
    • Fluoridation of Sydney's water supply begins.
    • Senator John Gorton is sworn in as Prime Minister after defeating Paul Hasluck for the leadership of the Liberal Party. William McMahon declined to stand because of Country Party opposition.
    • The report of the second 'Voyager' Royal Commission clears the 'Melbourne''s commanding officer (Captain R J Robertson) of any blame and places responsibility for the disaster on the 'Voyager'.
    • Twenty Australian soldiers are killed and 80 wounded in Operation Coburg following the Tet offensive in Vietnam.
    • Prime minister John Gorton announces no more troops will be sent to Vietnam.
    • Northern Territory member in the House of Representatives is granted full voting rights.
    • Breathalysers are introduced.
    • Sydney vice king, Joe Borg, dies when a bomb explodes in his car at Bondi. He leaves $250,000 to the RSPCA.
    • A mineral boom begins on Australian Stock Exchanges.
    • The National Service Act increases penalties for evasion of National Service.
    • Students demonstrating against conscription clash with police in Sydney; 30 are arrested.
    • Mounted police charge a crowd of about 1,500 anti-Vietnam War demonstrators outside the United States Consulate in Melbourne; more than 45 are arrested.
    • Johannes Bjelke-Petersen becomes Queesland Premier.
    • Australia's first heart-transplant operation is performed by Dr Harry Windsor at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney.
    • Postal deliveries in suburbs are reduced from two to one a day.
    • Three firefighters die and over 100 houses are destroyed in disastrous bushfires in New South Wales, around Wollongong and in the Blue Mountains.
    • A referendum in Tasmania approves a proposal for the Wrest Point Casino.
    • Bill Emmerton of Tasmania becomes the first man to run through Death Valley, California. He covers the 200 km distance in 3 days 3 hours 23 minutes.
    • Tennis player Rod Laver wins the first Wimbledon Open men's singles.
    • Rain Lover wins the Melbourne Cup.
    • Australian winners at the Mexico City Olympic Games:
      • Athletics: Maureen Caird (80 metres hurdles), Ralph Doubell (800 metres)
      • Swimming: Lynn McClements (100 metres butterfly), Michael Wenden (100 metres and 200 metres freestyle .
    • Lionel Rose becomes the first Aborigine to hold a world boxing title.
    • An Australian Council for the Arts is established. Later, it is called the Australia Council.
    • The first Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) store opens in Guildford in Sydney.
    • The new National Gallery of Victoria opens.
    • Poet Dorothea Mackeller dies at 82.
    • William Pidgeon's portrait of Lloyd Rees wins the Archibald Prize.
    • Alexander Buzo writes his play, 'Norm and Ahmed'.


    • Cannons from Captain Cook's ship the 'Endeavour' are recovered from Endeavour Reef, off Cooktown, North Queensland.
    • Sir Paul Hasluck succeeds Lord Casey as Governor-General.
    • The Labor Party is defeated in Tasmania after 35 years in office. W.A. Bethune, leader of the Liberal-Centre Party coalition, becomes Premier. For the first time since 1910, no Labor Government holds office in Australia.
    • A twelve-sided cupro-nickel 50-cent piece replaces the round silver coin.
    • HMAS 'Melbourne' collides with USS 'Frank E Evans' during SEATO naval excercises in the South China Sea, cutting the American ship in two; 73 American lives are lost.
    • Thousands demonstrate in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, and Adelaide against American anfd Australian involvement in the war in Vietnam.
    • 'Poseidon' Mining Company announces the discovery of a massive lode of nickel at Windarra, Western Australia, setting off a share boom. ($1 shares peak at $280 in February 1970 - the company is in receivership in 1977).
    • 'Oz' magazine ceases publication in Australia.
    • Australia's steam train era ends with the last journey of locomotive 3801 between Sydney and Goulburn.
    • An election is held for the House of Representatives. The Gorton Government is returned with its majority reduced to seven (DLP preferences keeping Labor out of office).
    • New members include Lionel Bowen and Paul Keating.
    • The first women's liberation groups are formed in Sydney and Adelaide.
    • Avant garde artist Christo Javacheff wraps up Little Bay (Sydney) in plastic sheeting.
    • Victor Browne cycles from Perth to Sydney in 11 days 6 hours 47 minutes, breaking Hubert Opperman's 32-year-old record.
    • Rod Laver wins the tennis Grand Slam for the second time.
    • Rain Lover wins the Melbourne Cup for the second year in a row.
    • Artist and author Norman Lindsay dies at 90.
    • Alexander Buzo's play 'Rooted' and Jack Hibberd's 'Dimboola' are first produced.
    • The Rock musical 'Hair' is presented in Sydney.


    1970s overview

    The decade began with a Liberal-Country Party government and ended with the Coalition again in power. In 1972 the Australian Labor Party won the Federal election after 23 years in opposition. Gough Whitlam became Prime Minister and immediately ended the National Service call-up. The voting age was reduced to 18 years old and university fees were abolished.

    Germaine Greer wrote `The Female Eunuch' which became a bible for the rising feminist movement. Green bans caused massive debates over heritage and what was or was not worth saving. Aboriginal Land Rights became part of the political agenda and the Aboriginal flag was designed.

    In 1973, Australia had a new icon -- the Sydney Opera House. This landmark was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II who was now known as the Queen of Australia. The following year the government announced that `Advance Australia Fair' would supercede `God Save the Queen' as Australia's national anthem. The debate over the anthem went on for years until a national poll on the question was held in 1977.

    In 1975, a constitutional crisis occurred when the Governor-General dismissed the Whitlam Government and appointed Malcolm Fraser, the leader of the Liberal Party, as caretaker Prime Minister. Labor lost the ensuing election and Malcolm Fraser became the new Prime Minister.

    The seventies brought about many changes that had been talked about in the sixties.

    Questions for research and discussion:

    • In 1972 diplomatic relations were established with China and the Federal Republic of Germany. Why had they not been established before?
    • In 1973, John Olsen painted the mural `Salute to Five Bells'. Find out the name of the poet who wrote the poem `Five Bells'.
    • What is a double dissolution?
    • Look at the year 1976 -- what two changes to law could have caused controversy?


    • R J Hawke succeeds Albert Monk as president of the ACTU.
    • Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Princess Anne and Prince Charles visit Australia for the Captain Cook Bicentenary.
    • A record 185,325 migrants arrive in Australia.
    • The Gibb Inquiry looks into the situation of Aboriginal people on pastoral properties.
    • More than 70,000 people, led by federal MP Jim Cairns, march through Melbourne in protest against Australian participation in the Vietnam War; similar 'moratorium' rallies held in other capital cities.
    • Prime minister John Gorton announces Australia will convert its system of weights and measures to metrics over the next ten years.
    • Melbourne's West Gate Bridge collapses, killing 35 bridge workers.
    • The Indian Pacific train makes its first journey from Sydney to Perth, taking three days.
    • Ralph Sarich of Perth begins developing his orbital combustion engine.
    • Elizabethan Theatre Trust Opera Company becomes the Australian Opera.
    • The Nimrod Theatre opens in Sydney.
    • The Palace Theatre is demolished to make way for the Hilton Hotel.
    • Australia's withdrawal of troops from Vietnam begins with the return of the 8th Battalion, which is not replaced.
    • Pope Paul VI, the first pope to visit Australia, arrives in Sydney.
    • Margaret Sleeman becomes Australia's first female magistrate.
    • Eighteen-year-olds get the vote in Western Australia This also occurs in South Australia and New South Wales in 1971, Queensland and Victoria in 1973.
    • A gradual drift by Aboriginal people to cities away from fringe reserves and country towns occurs, especially in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia with urban strongholds being established in areas such as Redfern, in Sydney.
    • Sheep numbers in Australia peak at 180 million.
    • The Federal Government refuses to recognise Aboriginal land claims at Wave Hill in the Northern Territory.
    • Margaret Court wins the tennis Grand Slam (Australian, French, Wimbledon, and US singles).
    • John Newcombe wins the Wimbledon singles and doubles.
    • Shane Gould breaks world swimming records for the 200 metres, 800 metres, and 1,500 metres.
    • Raelene Boyle wins gold in the 200 metres at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games.
    • Michael Boddy and Bob Ellis' play, 'The Legend of King O'Malley' is produced.
    • The film 'Ned Kelly' is made, starring Mick Jagger.
    • Books published:
      Germaine Greer, 'The Female Eunuch'.
      Shirley Hazzard, 'The Bay of Noon'.
      Humphrey McQueen, 'A New Britannia'.
      Barry Oakley, 'A Salute to the Great McCarthy'.
      Dal Stivens, 'A Horse of Air (Miles Franklin Award winner).
      Patrick White, 'The Vivisector'.
    • The estimated population of Australia is 12,663,469.


    • The wearing of seat belts in cars is made compulsory in Victoria. Seat belts are made compulsory in New South Wales on 1 August, and throughout Australia in 1972.
    • William McMahon replaces John Gorton as Prime Minister (Gorton having made a casting vote against himself in a divided vote of confidence).
    • Doug Anthony succeeds Sir John McEwen as County Party leader.
    • Yirrkala Aborigines lose their two-year legal battle for land rights at Gove, Northern Territory, site of Nabalco's bauxite mining project.
    • The Five Power Defence Arrangements are concluded by Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and Britain.
    • Australia and Indonesia sign a Seabed Agreement in Canberra.
    • Australia becomes a full member of the OECD.
    • Gough Whitlam, federal Opposition Leader, visits the People's Republic of China.
    • Neville Bonner, chosen by the Liberal Party to fill a casual Senate vacancy, becomes the first Aboriginal member of any Australian parliament.
    • Green bans (a term applied by Jack Mundey of the Builders' Labourers Federation) are first imposed on building development in Sydney to protect heritage buildings.
    • Australia ends its combat role in Vietnam and withdraws from its base at Nui Dat after a five year period. Over 60,000 troops took part.
    • An Environmental Protection Authority is set up in Victoria.
    • A Fraser Island Defence Organisation is formed to oppose sand mining on the island.
    • Daylight saving is given a trial run in all States except WA and the Northern Territory.
    • Victoria and NSW introduce late night shopping.
    • The first McDonald's fast food store opens in Yagoona in Sydney.
    • An inaugural one-day international cricket match is held in Melbourne.
    • Evonne Goolagong and John Newcombe win the Wimbledon singles titles.
    • Sydney's City to Surf race is held for the first time.
    • A Springbok Rugby tour sparks off anti-apartheid demonstrations.
    • David Williamson establishes his reputation as a major playwright with the plays 'Don's Party' and 'The Removalists'.


    • The General Conference of UNESCO recognises the imperative of protecting outstanding world heritage sites.
    • Commonwealth of Australia Government's Committee of Inquiry into the National Estate established under Justice Hope.
    • The Australian Labor Party wins the Federal elections for the first time in 23 years; a Labor government is formed by Gough Whitlam.
    • Call-up of National Servicemen ends.
    • A Commission is appointed to investigate Aboriginal land rights.
    • Diplomatic relations are established with the People's Republic of China and the German Democratic Republic.
    • The Aboriginal Heritage Act is proclaimed in Western Australia.
    • Harold Thomas and Gary Foley design the Aboriginal flag.
    • An 'Aboriginal Tent Embassy' is set up outside Parliament House, Canberra, in a demonstration for land rights. It is removed by police in July.
    • The first community-controlled Aboriginal medical service in Australia is established in Redfern, Sydney.
    • Woolprices hit a 20 year high. A wool bale at the Albury sales fetches 720 cents a kilo.
    • General Motors-Holden dismisses 1,240 employees in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.
    • A Women's Electoral Lobby is formed.
    • Pastor Sir Douglas Nicholls becomes the first Aboriginal Knight.
    • The ACTU places a black ban on all French ships and aircraft as a protest against the continuation of French nuclear tests in the Pacific.
    • Three metal trades unions merge to form Australia's largest union, the Amalgamated Metal Workers' Union.
    • The Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme is officially completed.
    • The Celsius temperature scale is officially adopted in place of Fahrenheit.
    • The Federal Government excludes all racially selected sporting teams from Australia.
    • Australian winners at the Munich Olympic Games:
      • Swimming: Shane Gould (200 metres and 400 metres freestye, 200 metres individual medley), Gail Neall (400 metres individual medley), Beverley Whitfield (200 metres breastroke), Brad Cooper (400 metres freestyle)
      • Yachting: the Dragon and Star class crews.
    • Boxer Tony Mundine wins the Commonwealth middleweight boxing championship.
    • Piping Lane wins the Melbourne Cup.
    • Clifton Pugh;s portrait of the Hon. E.G. Whitlam wins the Archibald Prize.
    • Number 96, a 'soap', becomes a very popular television show.
    • The 'La Boite' Theatre opens in Brisbane.
    • The National Black Theatre presents 'Basically Black'.
    • Jack Hibberd,s play, 'A Stretch of the Imagination' is produced.
    • Bruce Beresford directs the film, 'The Adventures of Barry McKenzie'.
    • 'The Little Red Schoolbook' is released in Australia causing great debate.
    • Books published:
      Thea Astley, 'The Acolyte' (Miles Franklin Award winner).
      Thomas Keneally, 'The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith'.
      Frank Moorhouse, 'The Americans, Baby' .


    • The voting age is lowered to 18 years of age for Federal elections.
    • A National Wage Case decision increases the minimum wage by 9 dollars a week.
    • Queen Elizabeth II became known as the Queen of Australia.
    • Queen Elizabeth II opens the Sydney Opera House.
    • Australia signs a 3 year trade agreement with China.
    • Wrest Point Casino opens in Hobart, as Australia's first legal casino.
    • Gough Whitlam makes the first visit to China by a Prime Minister.
    • Francis James, journalist, is released from detention in China.
    • The Karmel Report for the Australian Schools Commission recommends a big increase in spending on education.
    • Fifty-dollar note goes into circulation.
    • RAAF takes delivery of the first six of its 24 F-111A aircraft.
    • Coastal freighter 'Blythe Star' capsizes and sinks off South West Cape, Tasmania.
    • Aborigines throughout Australia vote to elect a National Aboriginal Consultative Committee of 41 members to advise the government on Aboriginal needs.
    • Mr Justice Woodward of the Aboriginal Land Commission delivers his first report, pointing the way towards a new approach to Aboriginal Land Rights.
    • Police arrest 77 green-ban demonstrators preventing the demoliton of a building in the Rocks, Sydney. The next day 21 more people were arrested.
    • The Means test is abolished on old-age pensions for persons aged 75 or over.
    • Maternity leave is granted to Commonwealth Public Service employees.
    • The Federal government appoints an adviser on women's affairs (Elizabeth Reid).
    • An export ban is placed on kangaroo products.
    • Environmental impact statements are required for all federal developmental projects having significant environmental consequences.
    • The inflation rate is 13.2%.
    • A supporting mother's benefit comes into operation.
    • Jenny Turrall breaks the world record for 1,500 metres freestyle swimming and at 13 becomes the youngest world record holder.
    • Stephen Holland sets a world record for the men's 1,500 metre freestyle.
    • Australia (John Newcombe, Rod Laver) wins the Davis Cup.
    • Jackson Pollock's painting 'Blue Poles' is bought by the Australian government for $1.3 million. There is great public debate.
    • John Olsen's 'Salute to Five Bells' mural is displayed in the Sydney Opera House.
    • The tapestry curtains designed by John Coburn are hung in the Sydney Opera House.
    • Patrick White's 'The Eye of the Storm' is published. White wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. With the prize money, he sets up the Patrick White Literary Award. The first winner is Christina Stead.


    • The Federal Government takes over financial responsibility for tertiary education from the states; fees are abolished.
    • Saturday mail deliveries cease.
    • Australian Country Party (federal) changes its name to the National Country Party of Australia.
    • Prime Minister Whitlam announces the appointment of DLP senator V C Gair as Ambassador to Ireland. Struggles in the Senate follow.
    • Country Party in Queensland becomes the National Party of Australia.
    • The Federal Government announces that 'Advance Australia Fair' would supersede 'God Save the Queen' as Australia's national anthem.
    • Whitlam obtains a double dissolution after the Opposition moves to defer appropriation bills in the Senate.
    • The first Federal elections are held with a voting age of 18.
    • In the election for Federal Parliament, the Labor government is re-elected with a reduced majority in the House of Representatives and still without control of the Senate.
    • The Builders' Labourers Federation deregistered.
    • In his second report, Justice Woodward says 'to deny Aborigines the right to prevent mining on their land is to deny the reality of their land rights'.
    • Sir John Kerr succeeds Sir Paul Hasluck as Governor-General.
    • A Bjelke-Petersen government is re-elected in Queensland with an increased majority.
    • Minerals and Energy Minister Rex Connor is given Executive Council authority to raise an overseas loan of $US4,000 million.
    • Regular FM broadcasting in Australia begins, from 2MBS in Sydney.
    • Cyclone Tracy devastates Darwin; 62 people are killed, some 1,000 seriously injured, and 45,000 rendered homeless. Nine out of ten homes are destroyed.
    • Radio and television licences are abolished.
    • The Australian dollar is devalued by 12% and no longer linked to the US dollar but to an average of foreign currencies.
    • Bankcard is introduced.
    • Australian beer consumption peaks at 140.3 litres per head before beginning to fall as wine consumption increases.
    • The Arbitration Commission grants four weeks' paid annual leave to the Metal Industry Award, subsequently extended to other federal awards.
    • Media magnate Sir Frank Packer dies.
    • Eddie Charlton wins the World's Masters snooker championship.
    • Think Big wins the Melbourne Cup.
    • Sam Fullbrook's portrait of jockey Norman Stephens wins the Archibald Prize.
    • Peter Sculthorpe's opera, 'Rites of Passage' is performed.
    • Sister Janet Mead's record of 'The Lord's Prayer' sells over two million copies.
    • Ron Blair's play, 'The Christian Brothers' is first produced.
    • 'Countdown', hosted by Ian 'Molly' Meldrum begins on television, continuing until 1987.
    • Village Theatres open a three-screen cinema in George Street, Sydney.
    • Ronald McKie's book, 'The Mango Tree' wins the Miles Franklin Award. Frank Moorhouse writes, 'The Electrical Experience' .


    • The Federal Government takes over financial responsibility for tertiary education from the states; fees are abolished.
    • Saturday mail deliveries cease.
    • Australian Country Party (federal) changes its name to the National Country Party of Australia.
    • Prime Minister Whitlam announces the appointment of DLP senator V C Gair as Ambassador to Ireland. Struggles in the Senate follow.
    • Country Party in Queensland becomes the National Party of Australia.
    • The Federal Government announces that 'Advance Australia Fair' would supersede 'God Save the Queen' as Australia's national anthem.
    • Whitlam obtains a double dissolution after the Opposition moves to defer appropriation bills in the Senate.
    • The first Federal elections are held with a voting age of 18.
    • In the election for Federal Parliament, the Labor government is re-elected with a reduced majority in the House of Representatives and still without control of the Senate.
    • The Builders' Labourers Federation deregistered.
    • In his second report, Justice Woodward says 'to deny Aborigines the right to prevent mining on their land is to deny the reality of their land rights'.
    • Sir John Kerr succeeds Sir Paul Hasluck as Governor-General.
    • A Bjelke-Petersen government is re-elected in Queensland with an increased majority.
    • Minerals and Energy Minister Rex Connor is given Executive Council authority to raise an overseas loan of $US4,000 million.
    • Regular FM broadcasting in Australia begins, from 2MBS in Sydney.
    • Cyclone Tracy devastates Darwin; 62 people are killed, some 1,000 seriously injured, and 45,000 rendered homeless. Nine out of ten homes are destroyed.
    • Radio and television licences are abolished.
    • The Australian dollar is devalued by 12% and no longer linked to the US dollar but to an average of foreign currencies.
    • Bankcard is introduced.
    • Australian beer consumption peaks at 140.3 litres per head before beginning to fall as wine consumption increases.
    • The Arbitration Commission grants four weeks' paid annual leave to the Metal Industry Award, subsequently extended to other federal awards.
    • Media magnate Sir Frank Packer dies.
    • Eddie Charlton wins the World's Masters snooker championship.
    • Think Big wins the Melbourne Cup.
    • Sam Fullbrook's portrait of jockey Norman Stephens wins the Archibald Prize.
    • Peter Sculthorpe's opera, 'Rites of Passage' is performed.
    • Sister Janet Mead's record of 'The Lord's Prayer' sells over two million copies.
    • Ron Blair's play, 'The Christian Brothers' is first produced.
    • 'Countdown', hosted by Ian 'Molly' Meldrum begins on television, continuing until 1987.
    • Village Theatres open a three-screen cinema in George Street, Sydney.
    • Ronald McKie's book, 'The Mango Tree' wins the Miles Franklin Award. Frank Moorhouse writes, 'The Electrical Experience' .


    • Australia's first national strike occurred as a one-day protest against Medibank changes.
    • Sir Douglas Nicholls becomes the Governor of South Australia, the first Aboriginal to fill a vice-regal position.
    • The Family Law Act comes into operation; Elizabeth Evatt is sworn in as Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia.
    • Prime Minister Fraser reinstates 'God Save the Queen' as Australia's official anthem.
    • ISD telephone service is introduced in Sydney, with direct dialling to 13 countries.
    • The Aboriginal Land Rights Act is passed by the Federal Government.
    • The Pitjantjatjara Council is formed.
    • Neville Wran leads the ALP to victory in NSW elections.
    • Bandits steal $1.4 million in bookmakers' settlements from the Victorian Club in Melbourne.
    • First of the Vietnamese 'boat people' refugees arrive in Darwin seeking asylum.
    • The skeleton of Truganini is cremated and her ashes are scattered on the waters of D'Entrecasteaux Channel, Tasmania.
    • Australia and Japan sign the Basic Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation.
    • The Press Council is established to consider complaints about the conduct of the press.
    • Cigarette and tobacco advertising is banned on radio and television.
    • Cattle numbers in Australia peak at 33.4 million.
    • A large 'Kerr and the Consequences' rally is held in the Sydney Town Hall calling for Australia to become a republic.
    • There is a total eclipse of the sun in south-east Australia.
    • The report of the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry (Fox Commission) gives qualified approval to the development of Australia's uranium reserves.
    • The Henderson Inquiry into Povery reports that 10.2% of households in Australia are 'very poor' and a further 7.7% 'rather poor' - amounting to about two million people.
    • The family allowance scheme is introduced.
    • Patricia O'Shane becomes Australia's first Aboriginal barrister.
    • Nude bathing is allowed on two Sydney beaches.
    • Sand mining on Fraser Island stops after the Federal Government refuses export licences for its mineral sands.
    • The Australian Chamber Orchestra is established.
    • Sydney's new Theatre Royal opens, replacing the old theatre which was demolished to make way for the MLC Centre.
    • The ABC Radio serial 'Blue Hills' ends its record 32-year run.
    • The first Festival of Sydney is held, from New Year's Eve through January 1977.
    • The NSW Film Corporation is established.
    • Van Der Hum wins a very wet Melbourne Cup.
    • Artist Brett Whiteley's 'Self Portrait in the Studio' wins the Archibald Prize.
    • Steve J Spears' play 'The Elocution of Benjamin Franklin' is produced.
    • Films:
      Bruce Beresford, 'Don's Party'.
      Donald Crombie, 'Caddie'.
      Henry Safran, 'Storm Boy'.
      Fred Schepisi, 'The Devil's Playground'.
    • The population of Australia reaches 14 million. (Commonwealth census, 30 June: 13,548,467, including 160,915 Aboriginies and Torres Strait Islanders).
    • The number of registered unemployed reaches 327,334 (5.45% of the workforce).


    • The NSW Parliament introduces the Heritage Act. This Act legally protects building structures and relics existing prior to 1900. It is administered by the Heritage Council of New South Wales.
    • Australia's worst railway disaster occurs when a commuter train from the Blue Mountains crashes into a concrete bridge at Granville, Sydney; 83 people are killed and many injured by the falling bridge.
    • Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visit all states and territories during the Queen's Silver Jubilee year.
    • Robyn Davidson sets out from Alice Springs with four camels to travel overland to the west coast. She arrives at Hamelin Pool, south of Carnarvon, Western Australia, eight months later.
    • The Australian Democrats Party is launched by former Liberal MP Don Chipp.
    • The Australian Wheat Board announces a record 3 million tonne sale worth $280 million, to China.
    • Referendums are held on proposals to fill casual Senate vacancies with members of the same party, to allow territorial electors to vote in referendums, and to set a retiring age for judges (carried); proposal to hold simultaneous House of Representatives and Senate elections (rejected).
    • National poll is held to determine the public choice of a national song.The results were 'Advance Australia Fair' 2,940,854; 'Waltzing Matilda' 1,918,206; 'God Save the Queen' 1,257,341; and 'Song of Australia' 652,858.
    • Most Methodist and Presbyterian churches combined as the Uniting church.
    • SEATO is disbanded.
    • Anti-drugs campaigner Donald Mackay disappears, presumed murdered, from Griffith, NSW.
    • A Royal Commission headed by Justice P. M. Woodward begins its inquiries into drug trafficking in New South Wales.
    • The Commonwealth Government announces its intention to allow uranium mining to proceed. (Legislation is passed 31 May 1978).
    • The first land claim hearing, involving crown land at Borroloola, commences.
    • The National Trachoma and Eye Health program finds that of 60,000 Aboriginal people studied, more than half have trachoma. The infection rate is as high as 80 per cent in some areas.
    • Sir Zelman Cowen becomes Governor-General, following Sir John Kerr's resignation.
    • The Queensland government bans street marches.
    • In an election for the House of Representatives and half Senate, the Fraser government is re-elected. The Democrats hold two Senate seats and new members include Neal Blewett and Barry Jones.
    • Gough Whitlam announces that he will step down as Leader of the Labor Party. W G Hayden is elected ALP leader.
    • Cardinal Sir Norman Gilroy, Archbishop of Sydney, dies at 81.
    • The wreck of the 'Pandora', lost near Torres Strait in 1791, is located.
    • Kerry Packer launches World Series Cricket.
    • Books published; 'Australian Encyclopedia', 3rd edition (6 volumes).
      Helen Garner, 'Monkey Grip'.
      Colleen McCullough, 'The Thorn Birds' .


    • The Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) is established to provide multilingual radio and television services.
    • Sir John Kerr is appointed Ambassador to Unesco. He resigns before taking up the position, following public opposition.
    • Unions involved in the uranium industry allow existing contracts to be honoured but ban any new mining until safeguards are established.
    • A bomb explodes outside the Hilton Hotel in Sydney, where Commonwealth Heads of Government are meeting. Two council workers and a policeman are killed.
    • The Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Ordinance is passed. This sets up a process of prosecution if a sacred site is destroyed or desecrated.
    • Road deaths during year: 3,671.
    • 45 Vietnamese refugee boats arrived in Australia between April 1975 and September 1978 carrying 1,634 people.
    • China buys 4.6 million tonnes of wheat from Australia.
    • The maternity allowance is abolished.
    • The Equal Opportunity Act comes into force in Victoria.
    • Whaling from Australia ends with the closing of the Cheynes Beach station near Albany, Western Australia.
    • Australia's first open university, Deakin, at Geelong, Victoria is officially opened.
    • Prince Charles attends the funeral of Sir Robert Menzies in Melbourne. Representatives of 30 countries also attend the funeral.
    • The Sri Venkateswari Temple opens at Helensburgh, New SouthWales, the first Hindu temple in Australia.
    • The first Gay Mardi Gras is held in Sydney. This event was to grow to become one of Sydney's major parades.
    • Swimmer Tracey Wickham sets a world record for the 400 metres freestyle.
    • Artist Brett Whiteley wins the Archibald Prize (with 'Art, Life and the Other Thing'), the Wynne Prize (with 'Summer at Carcoar'), and the Sulman Prize (with 'Yellow Nude').
    • Films:
      Fred Schepisi, 'The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith'.
      Phil Noyce, 'Newsfront'.
    • Books published:
      Jessica Anderson, 'Tirra,Lirra by the River'.
      David Malouf, 'An Imaginery Life' .


    • Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory is proclaimed.
    • Seven die in a fire in the Ghost Train at Luna Park, Sydney.
    • Sydney's Eastern Suburbs Railway begins operating.
    • The Aboriginal Development Commission is established.
    • The Commonwealth abolishes Estate duty and Gift duty.
    • Pieces of the disintegrating United States space station 'Skylab' fall on Western Australia.
    • Sunday trading for hotels is introduced in New South Wales.
    • Fourteen coalminers die at Appin, NSW, when methane gas ignites in a mine tunnel.
    • ACTU president Bob Hawke wins preselection for the safe federal seat of Wills.
    • All females are given the right to 52 weeks maternity leave.
    • The Australian Federal Police are formed, incorporating the Commonwealth and ACT police forces.
    • Lotto tickets go on sale in New South Wales.
    • The report of the Woodward Royal Commission into drug trafficking in New South Wales is tabled in Parliament.
    • ABC reporter Tony Joyce is shot while on assignment in Zambia. He dies in February 1980.
    • Australia wins the Admiral's Cup. During the last event, the Fastnet race, 17 yachtsmen of other countries die in a storm.
    • Des Renford swims the English Channel three times during the year, taking his total crossings to 16.
    • Tracey Wickham breaks the world 1,500 metres freestyle swimming record.
    • The Sydney Theatre Company is founded.
    • Films Gillian Armstrong, 'My Brilliant Career'.
      George Miller, 'Mad Max'.
    • Books published:
      David Ireland, 'A Woman of the Future', (Miles Franklin Award winner).
      Thomas Keneally, 'Confederates'. Roger McDonald, '1915'. Patrick White, 'The Twyborn Affair' .


    1980s overview

    The 1980s are remembered by many as a time of excess, entrepreneurs and environmental issues.

    Issues of all kinds came to the fore -- a referendum was held over whether to dam the Franklin River, peace rallies were well attended during the early part of the decade, land rights became part of the political agenda and the first national council on AIDS was held in 1984. A Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody was set up and Australia signed the Ozone Layer Treaty.

    The Bicentenary caused controversy as people remembered 200 years of European settlement or 200 years of white oppression.

    The Australian economy was placed in a world context when the Australian dollar was floated and the banking system deregulated. Unrealistic amounts of money were borrowed, house prices rose considerably and share prices on the Australian stockmarket crashed. By the end of the decade a large number of corporations had collapsed.

    Australia's high profile in sport continued with success in the America's Cup, the Wallabies rugby tours, the world surf-riding championship and victory in the Ashes tour of England for the first time in 55 years.

    Questions for research and discussion:

    • In the 1980s there were many firsts for women. Go through the timeline and make a list of these, giving the date and the achievement.
    • Choose two events from the 1980s that you think were influential on how Australians regard themselves. Give reasons for your answer.
    • Why do you think the Australian National Film and Sound archives were set up in 1984?
    • Why did the Australian government recommend that Australia not participate in the Moscow Olympics in 1980?
    • What are the `Ashes'?


    • The Japanese company Mitsubishi takes over Chrysler Australia Ltd.
    • Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visit Australia for the opening of the High Court building in Canberra.
    • Convicted bank robber Darcy Dugan is released from Maitland Jail, New South Wales, after spending more than 30 of his 59 years in prison. He is re-arrested in 1981 and charged with the armed hold-up of a service station.
    • Baby Azaria Chamberlain disappears from a campsite at Ayers Rock, reportedly taken by a dingo.
    • Robert (Bob) Hawke resigns as president of the ACTU and is elected to the House of Representatives.
    • An election for the House of Representatives and half Senate is held and the Fraser Government is re-elected with a reduced majority. The Democrats win three more Senate seats.
    • A world-wide competition for a design for the new Parliament House in Canberra is won by the United States-based Romaldo Giurgola.
    • The Pitjantjatjara Council advises the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs of the possible radioactive contamination of Aboriginal people in South Australia caused by the atomic tests of 1953.
    • Australia's Landsat data-acquisition station at Alice Springs begins receiving direct information from United States remote-sensing satellites.
    • NSW is crippled by a petrol drivers strike.
    • Justice David Opus, a Family Court judge, is shot dead at his Sydney home.
    • The Turkish Consul-General is shot on 17 December, This is the first political assassination in Australia.
    • Australia's first 'test tube' baby is born.
    • Automatic teller machines are introduced.
    • Women are allowed to become full members of surf lifesaving clubs.
    • Deborah Wardley becomes the first woman in Australia to be appointed as a pilot for a major commercial airline.
    • The Australian Olympic Federation votes to send a team to the Olympic Games in Moscow even though the Federal Government has called for a boycott because of Russia's intervention in Afghanistan. Some individual athletes subsequently withdraw from the team.
    • Michelle Ford wins the 800 metres freestyle swimming event at the Moscow Olympic Games, and the men's team wins the 4 x 100 metres medley relay.
    • Tennis player Evonne Cawley wins the women's singles at Wimbledon.
    • Grant Kenny wins the National Open Iron Man and Junior Iron Man titles in consecutive events at the Australian surf championships.
    • Des Renford swims the English Channel for a record 19th time.
    • Alan Jones wins the world Formula One driver's championship.
    • The 'Wilfrid Thomas Show' ends after 39 years on ABC radio.
    • Bruce Beresford makes the movie, 'Breaker Morant'.
    • The estimated resident population of Australia is 14,807,370.


    • Sir Garfield Barwick retires as Chief Justice of the High Court and is succeeded by Sir Harry Gibbs.
    • Australia withdraws diplomatic recognition of the Pol Pot regime in Kampuchea.
    • Alice Springs coroner Denis Barritt finds that a dingo killed Azaria Chamberlain.
    • Grants of assisted passage are restricted to refugees.
    • The Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act (South Australia) is passed and a large area of the state is returned to the Anangu Pitjantjatjara people.
    • Jack 'Puttynose' Nicholls is found shot dead in a car at Wangaratta, Victoria. He was due to give evidence to the Costigan Royal Commission.
    • A Royal Commission into drug trafficking under Justice Donald Stewart is established.
    • The Church of England in Australia becomes the Anglican Church in Australia.
    • Northern Territory Chief Minister Paul Everingham orders the police to reopen investigation into the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain.
    • Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visit Australia to open the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Melbourne.
    • The National Bank of Australasia and Commercial Banking Company of Sydney merge to form the National Australia Bank.
    • The Bank of New South Wales and the Commercial Bank of Australasia merge. It begins trading under the name of Westpac on 1 October 1982.
    • The Rural Bank of New South Wales becomes the State Bank.
    • A referendum is held in Tasmania to decide the site of the dam on the Franklin River (44.89% vote 'No Dams' or informal).
    • Death duties are abolished in New South Wales.
    • Antivenene for funnelweb spider bites is developed by Struan Sutherland of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. This has taken over 22 years to develop.
    • The four-millionth Holden vehicle comes off the assembly line.
    • Metal trades workers gain a 38-hour week.
    • Pat O'Shane is appointed permanent head of the New South Wales Department of Aboriginal Affairs.
    • The Cairns section of the Great Barrier Reef is proclaimed as a Marine Park.
    • Dame Enid Lyons, the first woman in Federal Parliament dies at 84.
    • The Australian Institute of Sport opens at the National Sports Centre in Canberra.
    • Cricketer Dennis Lillee takes his 310th Test wicket, setting a new world record.
    • Cricketer Trevor Chappell bowls the last ball underarm in a World Series Cricket match against New Zealand in Melbourne to prevent New Zealand scoring the six runs it needed to draw. There is a public uproar.
    • Brothers Glen, Mark, and Garry Ella play in Australia's Rugby Union Test team.
    • England beats Australia in Manchester to retain the 'Ashes'.
    • Jan Stephenson wins the women's world golf championship in Japan.
    • Film:
      Peter Weir, 'Gallipoli'.
      George Miller, 'Mad Max 2'.
    • Books published:
      Peter Carey, 'Bliss' (Miles Franklin Award winner).
      Blanche d'Alpuget, 'Turtle Beach'.
      A.B. Facey, 'A Fortunate Life'.
      The Macquarie Dictionary
      Eric Rolls, 'A Million Wild Acres'.
      Gavin Souter, 'Company of Heralds'.
      Patrick White, 'Flaws in the Glass' .


    • Lindy Chamberlain is committed for trial for the murder of her baby daughter, Azaria. She is found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. The Morling Commission in 1987 results in a pardon.
    • The ALP reverses its policy on uranium mining to allow for the continuation of existing mining projects.
    • Aboriginal Northern Land Council agrees to the mining of uranium at Jabiluka, Northern Territory.
    • Sir Ninian Stephen follows Sir Zelman Cowen as Governor-General.
    • The Australian dollar falls below parity with the American dollar for the first time.
    • The Dalai Lama arrives in Australia for the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Buddhism in Australia.
    • Uranium mining ceases at Mary Kathleen, Queensland.
    • Queen Elizabeth II visits Australia to open the Australian National Gallery. Prince Phillip arrived earlier for the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane.
    • The National Country Party, at the Federal level, changes its name to the National Party of Australia.
    • John Cain leads the ALP to victory in Victoria, ending 27 years of Liberal rule.
    • Instant lotteries are introduced in New South Wales.
    • The first case of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) in Australia is diagnosed in Sydney.
    • Aborigines agree to Uranium mining at Jabiluka.
    • Random breath testing is introduced in New South Wales.
    • A Royal Commission into the Maralinga atomic tests begins.
    • The Federal Government approves $160 million to develop and launch 'Aussat' to provide outback communications.
    • Much of Australia is in the fourth year of drought.
    • Large protest rallies are held against the damming of the Gordon River.
    • The 'Australian Women's Weekly' is first published as a monthly.
    • Thomas Keneally wins the Booker prize with his book, 'Schindler's Ark'.
    • The records of the group 'Men at Work' top the Australian, British and American charts.
    • Mark Richards wins the world professional surf-riding championship for the fourth year in succession.
    • Films:
      George Miller, 'The Man from Snowy River'.
      Peter Weir, 'The Year of Living Dangerously' .


    • Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser obtains a double dissolution of parliament. Bob Hawke replaces Bill Hayden as leader of the Labor Party to go to the election.
    • A severe dust storm sweeps through Melbourne and deposits 11,000 tonnes of topsoil on the city.
    • The 'Ash Wednesday' bushfires in Victoria and South Australia result in the loss of 72 lives and the destruction of more than 2,000 houses.
    • A huge worldwide television audience watches the Sutherland and Pavarotti concert from the Sydney Opera House.
    • The election for Federal Parliament results in Labor winning office. Malcolm Fraser resigns from the Liberal leadership.
    • The Australian dollar is devalued by 10%.
    • The Hawke Ministry is sworn in. Andrew Peacock is elected Liberal Party Leader of the Opposition.
    • Australian Catholic priest Brian Gore is jailed in the Philippines on charges of murder and inciting rebellion. He is released in 1984.
    • A National Economic Summit is held in Canberra.
    • Archbishop Edward Clancy succeeds Cardinal Sir James Freeman as Catholic Archbishop of Sydney.
    • New South Wales Premier Neville Wran steps aside while a Royal Commission investigates allegations made on the ABC TV program 'Four Corners' that he attempted to influence the magistracy.
    • New South Wales Premier Neville Wran is exonerated and resumes his post as New South Wales Premier. Chief magistrate Murray Farquhar is charged with perverting the course of justice.
    • The Australian Broadcasting Commission is reconstituted as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
    • The first death from AIDS in Australia occurs.
    • Dick Smith completes the first solo flight around the world in a helicopter.
    • Paul Sharp becomes the first white person to cross the Simpson Desert alone and on foot.
    • A High Court decision blocks the construction of the Gordon-below-Franklin dam in Tasmania.
    • The foundations of Sydney's first Government House are uncovered by Heritage Council archaeologists.
    • The second building for the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney is begun. It is completed in 1988.
    • The first electronic funds transfer at point of sale (EFTPOS) is launched by Westpac Bank.
    • The Inaugural National Conference of Aboriginal Writers is held in Perth.
    • The Melbourne Cricket Club votes to allow women members.
    • Cliff Young, aged 61, wins the inaugural Sydney-Melbourne foot race.
    • Kiwi wins the Melbourne cup.
    • Golfer Jan Stephenson wins the US Women's Open golf championship.
    • Runner Robert de Castella wins the marathon at Rotterdam and at the world athletic championships in Helsinki.
    • Australia II wins the America's Cup. It is the first time in 132 years that a non-American yacht has won.
    • Unemployed number 730,000 (10.4% of the workforce).


    • 'Advance Australia Fair' is proclaimed as Australia's official national anthem and green and gold as Australia's national colours.
    • The $100 banknote is introduced.
    • The $1 coin is introduced.
    • Friday night and Saturday afternoon shopping are introduced in New South Wales.
    • 76,000 square kilometres of land are returned to the Aboriginal people at Maralinga.
    • First National Council on AIDS is held.
    • Banks are deregulated.
    • Heavy snowfalls block roads and railways in eastern Australia. Sydney has its coldest July day since 1896.
    • Migrants from Asia increase by 17%, while those from Europe fall by 37%.
    • More than a hundred of the thousand companies listed on the stock exchange are taken over during the year.
    • The video-cassette boom cuts attendances at cinemas and forces the closure of some drive-in cinemas.
    • A mouse plague sweeps New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia country districts.
    • Tim Macartney-Snape and Greg Mortimer become the first Australians to climb Mount Everest and the first to ascend the north face without oxygen.
    • The National Film and Sound Archives open in Canberra.
    • At the Los Angeles Olympics, Glynis Nunn wins the women's heptathlon, John Sieben wins the 200 metres butterfly swimming, the Australian men's cycling team wins the 4,000 metres team pursuit, and Dean Lukin wins the super heavyweight weight-lifting.
    • The Australian Jockey Club (AJC) 'warns off' Bill and Robbie Waterhouse following the substitution of the racehorse Bold Personality for Fine Cotton at Brisbane Racecourse.
    • The State Sports Centre opens in Homebush, Sydney.
    • Black Knight wins the Melbourne Cup.
    • Wallabies Rugby Union team achieve the grand slam, beating England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, and also the Barbarians.
    • Tom Carroll wins the world surfing (board-riding) championship.
    • Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney, are restored and converted to a museum of social history.
    • Australia's first Mormon temple is built in Carlingford, Sydney.
    • The world's first frozen-embryo baby is born in Melbourne.


    • Australia begins a two-year term on the United Nations Security Council.
    • More than 140 bushfires rage through Victoria and South Australia. Five people are killed.
    • AM stereo radio broadcasting begins.
    • Women begin training in the Australian Army.
    • In the 'Come to Canberra Campaign' joint Land Councils from the Northern Territory and the States go to Parliament House, Canberra, to protest against the amendments to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act of the Northern Territory.
    • The United States withdraws from a planned ANZUS naval exercise after New Zealand refuses to allow nuclear-capable United States warships to call at its ports.
    • Australia cancels its involvement in American MX missile tests.
    • More than 300,000 people across Australia march in Palm Sunday anti-nuclear rallies.
    • Bond Corporation takes over Castlemaine Tooheys in the biggest takeover operation yet in Australia.
    • John Howard replaces Andrew Peacock as leader of the Federal Opposition.
    • The Mutijulu Aborigines gain control of Ayers Rock and the Uluru National Park.
    • Canon Arthur Malcolm becomes first Aboriginal bishop.
    • The State of Victoria celebrates its 150th anniversary.
    • Simon Crean succeeds Cliff Dolan as president of the ACTU.
    • Australians have $2.28 billion in debt on Bankcard.
    • The annual per capita consumption of alcoholic beverages: beer, 115 litres; wine, 22 litres; spirits, 1.1 litre per person.
    • 'Neighbours', the popular Australian soap opera, begins.
    • Sir Macfarlane Burnet , Nobel Prize winner for medicine, dies in Melbourne.
    • Poet Douglas Stewart dies, aged 71.
    • Books published:
      Peter Carey, 'Illywacker'.
      C J Koch, 'The Doubleman' (Miles Franklin Award winner).


    • Australia's first women deacons are ordained in the Anglican church.
    • Pat O'Shane becomes the first Aboriginal magistrate.
    • Halley's Comet is visible in the night sky.
    • 'Southern Aurora' and 'Spirit of Progress' trains combine to become the Melbourne/Sydney Express.
    • The Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) becomes Australian Airlines.
    • Sydney has its wettest 24 hours on record, with more than 327 mm of rain falling. Six people are killed, 1,500 evacuated and transport is in chaos.
    • Joan Child becomes first female speaker of the House of Representatives.
    • Australian Democrats leader Don Chipp retires from Federal Parliament and is succeeded as party leader by Senator Janine Haines, the first woman and the first South Australian to become a parliamentary party leader.
    • NSW Premier, Neville Wran, retires from politics.
    • Liberals are re-elected in Tasmania and the ALP is returned in Western Australia.
    • Federal Government introduces a $250 administration charge for all tertiary students, to take effect in the 1987 academic year.
    • Mary Gaudron becomes the first woman appointed to the High Court.
    • There is a severe downturn in the rural sector which threatens the economic survival of many farmers.
    • Pope John Paul II visits Australia.
    • The Turkish Consulate in Melbourne is bombed.
    • The Roman Catholic Church becomes Australia's largest religious denomination (26.25%).
    • Artist Davida Allen's portrait of Dr John Arthur McKelvie Shera wins the Archibald Prize.
    • Richard Meale's opera 'Voss', with libretto by David Malouf, has its world premiˇre at the Adelaide Festival.
    • The movie 'Crocodile Dundee', starring Paul Hogan has worldwide success.
    • Elizabeth Jolley's 'The Well' wins the Miles Franklin Award.


    • Alan Bond buys Channel 9 television network from Kerry Packer for $1 billion.
    • The all-weather road from Darwin to Adelaide is completed.
    • The Hawke Government is returned for a historic third term.
    • A crocodile kills an American woman at the Prince Regent River, in north-west Western Australia. She is the eighth person in two years to be killed by crocodiles.
    • News Ltd. takes over the Herald and Weekly Times Group.
    • Sir Anthony Mason succeeds Sir Harry Gibbs as Chief Justice of the High Court.
    • Share prices on Australian stock exchanges suffer a record fall, in line with the worldwide stockmarket crash.
    • The Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Royal commission is set up.
    • Carbon dating of ancient artefacts found near Penrith, New South Wales, indicates that humans occupied Australia 47,000 years ago.
    • Aboriginals are officially acknowledged as the first owners of Australia.
    • The Royal Commision on Black Deaths in Custody is announced.
    • Northern Territory elections are held and voting becomes compulsory for Aboriginal people.
    • Sir Warwick Fairfax, former chairman of media group John Fairfax Ltd, dies in Sydney at 85.
    • Australian entrpreneur Dick Smith becomes the first person to fly solo in a helicopter to the North Pole.
    • The American yacht 'Stars and Stripes' beats Australia's Kookaburra III in a series of races off Fremantle to win back the America's Cup.
    • Tennis player Pat Cash wins the Wimbledon men's singles tennis championship.
    • Cyclist Martin Vinnicombe of Sydney wins the amateur 1,000-metre time trial at the world cycling championships in Vienna.
    • Wayne Gardner wins the world 500-cc motorcycle championship.
    • Kensei wins the Melbourne Cup, in which a female jockey (Maree Lyndon) rides for the first time.
    • Allan Border overtakes Greg Chappell to become Australia's greatest run-scorer in Test cricket.
    • ABC TV program 'Countdown' ends in its thirteenth year.
    • Artist William Robinson's 'Equestrian Self-Portrait' wins the Archibald Prize.
    • David Williamson's play, 'Emerald City' is first produced.
    • Filmmaker John Duigan releases the popular film 'The Year My Voice Broke'.
    • Books published:
      Murray Bail, 'Holden's Performance'.
      C. M. H. Clark, 'A History of Australia', the final volume (volume 6).
      Robert Hughes, 'The Fatal Shore'.
      Thomas Keneally, 'The Playmaker'.


    • Many Australians celebrated 200 years of European occupation.
    • The Aboriginal television station 'Imarja' begins transmission in Alice Springs.
    • The First Fleet re-enactment vessels arrive at Botany Bay.
    • The NSW Labor government is defeated in the elections. Nick Greiner, Lberal Party leader, becomes Premier of NSW.
    • Parliament House on Capital Hill, Canberra, is officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II.
    • Former Prime Minister Sir William McMahon dies in Sydney, aged 80.
    • Sydney's controversial monorail begins operations.
    • The two-dollar coin goes into circulation to replace the banknote.
    • The number of motor vehicles on Australia's roads increases to more than 9.3 million.
    • Australia signs the Ozone Layer Treaty.
    • Luna Park (Sydney) closes down.
    • Construction work begins on the Sydney Harbour Tunnel.
    • Sir Charles Moses, former head of the ABC, dies in Sydney, aged 88.
    • At the Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea; Duncan Armstrong wins the 200 metres freestyle swimming; Sue Williams wins the women's judo; Debbie Flintoff-King wins the 400 metres hurdles; and the women's team wins at hockey.
    • Kay Cottee in her yacht 'First Lady' arrives back at Port Jackson to become the first woman to sail single-handed non-stop around the world.
    • Empire Rose wins the Melbourne Cup.
    • Peter Carey's 'Oscar and Lucinda' wins both the Booker Prize and 1989 Miles Franklin Award.
    • Books published:
      The Australian Encyclopedia, 5th edition (9 volumes).
      The Australian National Dictionary.


    • Bill Hayden succeeds Sir Ninian Stephen as Governor-General.
    • A large earthquake strikes Newcastle, New South Wales, killing 13 people, injuring more than 120, and damaging many city buildings.
    • The 'Greens' hold the balance of power in Tasmania for first time in Australian history.
    • The Communist Party of Australia decides to disband.
    • Poet and civil rights campaigner Oodgeroo Noonuccal receives a Doctorate at Griffith University. She is the first Aboriginal woman to receive a PhD.
    • Australia offers temporary resident status to 20,000 Chinese students in the aftermath of the massacre in Tiananmen Square.
    • Several large corporations, including Equiticorp, Hooker Corporation, Spedley Securities and Qintex, collapse during the year.
    • Gaby Kennard, the first Australian woman to fly single-handed around the world, arrives back at Bankstown Airport.
    • Australia's current account deficit rises to $21 billion.
    • Andrew Peacock displaces John Howard as Liberal Party leader and Charles Blunt replaces Ian Sinclair as Federal National Party leader.
    • The Home loan interest rates increase to 18 per cent.
    • Singer Kylie Minogue's debut LP 'Kylie' and its associated singles sell more than 12 million copies and top the charts in 20 countries.
    • The Australian cricket team captained by Allan Border wins the 'Ashes' in England for the first time in 55 years.
    • The ALP wins government in Queensland after 32 years.



    By 1994, the Australian Labor Party has governed Australia for over 10 years, Paul Keating is the Prime Minister and the move for Australia to become a republic is gaining momentum. The 1992 Mabo High Court decision recognising that Australia was occupied prior to 1788 by the Aboriginal people is causing controversy and debate in the community.

    Sydney was chosen to host the Year 2000 Olympics, the Sydney Harbour Bridge celebrated its 60th birthday and the Sydney Harbour Tunnel opened to help ease Sydney's traffic problems.

    The decade began with a recession and a large amount of people were unemployed. The excesses of the eighties had taken their toll, but the economy was on the mend by the mid-90s.

    What will the future bring?

    On 31 January 1993, the Sun-Herald published a `Poll on the Future' journalist Simon Kent. began the article, `The Prime Minister turned towards her videophone on the wall of her office... she left the lodge and climbed into her electric-powered Ford Citymate...'

    What do you think will happen in the remaining years of the 2000s? Write your own timeline of events up to the year 2010.

    Questions for research and discussion:

    • If Australia is to become a Republic how might the system work? That is, who would replace the Queen as Head of State? Who would choose the new head? Would the states still exist?
    • After thinking about and discussing these issues, write two letters to the editor of a major newspaper on the issue of Australia becoming a republic -- one supporting the idea of a republic and one supporting retaining the monarchy.
    • The issue of a new flag and the idea of a republic are seen by many as two separate issues. Can Australia have a new flag and still retain the monarchy?
    • There are interest groups that support all these issues. How important are interest groups in forming public opinion?


    • Carmen Lawrence replaces Peter Dowding as Premier of Western Australia, becoming Australia's first female Premier.
    • It is reported that the Queen has asked that Australian citizens no longer be nominated for British Imperial honours.
    • A report is released revealing that the State Bank of Victoria had incurred a loss of $1.345 billion, the largest in Australia's corporate history.
    • In an election for the House of Representatives and a half Senate, Bob Hawke and the Labor Party government are re-elected with a reduced majority. New members include Ted Mack, the first independent elected to the House for 35 years.
    • John Hewson is elected leader of the Liberal Party.
    • Three navy warships leave Sydney for the Persian Gulf as part of a multinational force to enforce the United Nations embargo of Iraq following its annexation of Kuwait.
    • Bob Hawke attends the 75th anniversary of ANZAC Day ceremony at Gallipoli.
    • Kerry Packer regains control of the Channel 9 television network.
    • Direct broadcasting of Senate question time begins on television.
    • Floor trading ends at the Australian Stock Exchange.
    • One-cent and two-cent coins cease being issued.
    • Cigarette advertising is banned in print media.
    • Women in Australia's defence forces are allowed to do combat-related duties.
    • Author Patrick White dies.
    • Joan Sutherland gives the final performance of her career at the Sydney Opera House.
    • Morning and afternoon newspapers in Sydney and Melbourne merge into 24 hour publications.
    • Queensland finally adopts Daylight Saving.
    • Victorian Labor Premier John Cain resigns and Joan Kirner takes over.
    • Melbourne loses a bid for the 1996 Olympic Games.
    • Kingston Town wins the Melbourne Cup.
    • Australia wins 52 gold medals at the Auckland Commonwealth Games.
    • Kerry Saxby breaks her 26th world record, winning the 10 km track walk at Fana, Norway.
    • Susie Maroney, 15, swims the English Channel and wins the Manhattan Island marathon.
    • Surfboard-rider Pam Burridge wins the Association of Surf Professionals world title at Hawaii.
    • Morris West publishes 'Lazarus'.
    • The population of Australia reaches 17 million.


    • Stuart Challender, Chief Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, announced to the world that he is suffering from AIDS. He dies in December.
    • John Fahey becomes Premier of New South Wales after Nick Greiner resigns.
    • Sydney Hydrofoils (after 26 years of service) leave the water and are replaced by Jetcats.
    • The legal age for buying cigarettes in New SouthWales is increased from 16 to 18 years of age.
    • Sir John Kerr, Governor-General involved in the sacking of the Whitlam Government dies.
    • A Royal Commission into W A Inc. commences.
    • A Parliamentary inquiry begins into banking begins.
    • End of floor prices for Australian wool industry.
    • Unemployment hits 10.5%.
    • 350 workers lose their jobs in Tasmania as Australia's largest tin mine closes.
    • The National Inquiry into Racist Violence report is tabled in Parliament.
    • Royal Commission into 99 Aboriginal deaths in custody is completed.
    • Christopher Skase, one of the well-known identities of the 1980s, is declared bankrupt.
    • Drought across eastern Australia, storms rip through the North Shore of Sydney.
    • Eight die in Strathfield (Sydney) massacre. Tighter gun laws are advocated.
    • Labor endorses Bob Hawke's resistance to allowing mining at Coronation Hill out of respect for Aboriginal belief.
    • Dr Victor Chang, one of Australia's foremost heart surgeons is murdered.
    • Australian Republic Movement (ARM) launched in Sydney.
    • Tourang Consortium becomes the new owner of the Fairfax media empire.
    • Newcomer Australian airline, Compass Airlines collapses.
    • John Coulter succeeds Janet Powell as leader of the Democrats.
    • Paul Keating displaces Bob Hawke as Labor leader and Prime Minister.
    • State Bank of South Australia announces $100 million loss.
    • Historian and author Charles Manning Clark dies at the age of 76.
    • Champion racehorse Kingston Town dies.
    • Peter Senior wins the Australian Masters Golf Tournament.
    • Movie 'Proof' directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse is released.
    • 'Patrick White, A Life' biography by David Marr is published.
    • Wallabies win Rugby's World Cup by beating England at Twickenham. There is a ticker tape parade through the streets of Sydney on their return home.


    • 60th anniversary of the completion of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
    • Olympic Games held in Barcelona; Swimmer Kieren Perkins breaks the 1,500 metres freestyle record.
    • The Sydney Harbour Tunnel opens.
    • Australian High Court Mabo judgment finds an enduring form of native title.
    • Film 'Strictly Ballroom' wins a prize at Cannes Film Festival. Acclaim and good box office takings around the world follow.
    • Cricketer Bill O'Reilly dies.
    • Artist Brett Whiteley dies.
    • Photographer Max Dupain dies.
    • Singer Fairlie Arrow is fined $5000 for staging her own abduction.
    • The Australian Anglican Church makes history by approving the ordination of women.
    • The worst unemployment levels since the Great Depression - 11.4%. (Males 11.4%; Females 10.2%).
    • Bankrupt entrepreneur Alan Bond is acquitted of dishonesty charges after serving three months in jail.
    • Toxic blue-green algae reaches its worst levels in the Darling and Murrumbidgee Rivers.
    • Qantas purchases Australian Airlines from the Federal Government for $400 million.
    • The bodies of two English backpackers, stabbed to death, are dicovered in Belanglo State Forest near Bowral, NSW.
    • NSW, Victoria and ACT suffer a severe epidemic of rubella (German Measles).
    • Melbourne Cup is won by Subzero.
    • Paul Keating and others call for a new flag, arguing that Australia should have its own flag as a symbol of its cultural independence.
    • The average daily number of people in jail is 14,045.
    • Injinoo Aborigines buy Cape York for $2.2 million, ending a struggle by the Injinoo people to obtain control of the area.
    • Australia wins 7 gold, 9 silver and 11 bronze medals at the Barcelona Olympic Games.
    • Singer-songwriter Peter Allen dies aged 48.
    • 56 Asian boat people walk into a remoteWest Australian station after several days in the bush.
    • Ray Groom leads Liberals to election victory over Labor in Tasmania.
    • Paul Keating is criticised in the British Press for putting his arm around the Queen to assist her during her 12th tour of Australia.
    • Australian troops arrive in Cambodia for UN peacekeeping duties.
    • Interest rates fall to a 20 year low when official rates are cut to 6.5 per cent.
    • National Vietnam memorial dedicated in Canberra at the Australian War Memorial.
    • Artist Sir Sydney Nolan dies.
    • South African cricketers arrive for first tour in 21 years.
    • Rugby Wallabies arrive in South Africa for first tour in 23 years.


    • The Australian Labor Party under Paul Keating wins a fifth successive term in government.
    • Prime Minister Keating sets up a committee to look at the issue of Australia becoming a Republic.
    • Professor Fred Hollows, an eye surgeon who worked selflessly in the third world with the underprivileged, dies on 10 February.
    • Golfer Greg Norman wins the British Open Tournament.
    • Sydney is announced as the host city for the Year 2000 Olympic Games.
    • The average weekly wage is $559.00. This buys 372 loaves of bread.
    • Aboriginal rock singer Mandawuy Yunupingu is declared Australian of the Year.
    • War hero Sir Edward 'Weary' Dunlop, a doctor with the Australian prisoners in Thailand during the second world war dies at 85.
    • Compass Airlines fails to stay afloat despite efforts of staff and supporters.
    • Telecom vs Optus - 'the telecommunications war' begins with de-regulation of the industry.
    • North-Eastern Victoria experiences the worst flooding on record.
    • The road-death toll is the lowest in 42 years at 649 fatalities.
    • Skin cancer increase by 21%. 1215 Australians suffer.
    • Vintage Crop wins the Melbourne Cup.
    • Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker), poet and Aboriginal rights activist, dies aged 72.
    • Dick Smith flies a hot-air balloon across the continent.


    • Anniversary of the 'Kokoda Trail' campaign in the second world war, where many Australians fought.
    • Alan Border, Australian Cricket Captain resigns from the Australian cricket team.
    • Alexander Downer replaces John Hewson as the new leader of the Liberal Party in opposition.
    • Nancy Wake's war medals are put up for auction. They are bought by the RSL and donated to the Australian War Memorial.
    • The movie 'Sirens' about Australian artist Norman Lindsay is released internationally. Shot on location at Lindsay's estate in the the Blue Mountains, the film stars Elle Macpherson.
    • Donald Bradman's cricketing record of highest runs in an innings is broken by West Indian Brian Lara with a score of 501.
    • 'Heartlands' airs on ABC TV. It is one of the first fictional TV series which recognises Aboriginal lifestyles.
    • Disastrous bushfires sweep thoughout NSW and into suburban Sydney.
    • 'Who' magazine is held in contempt of court for releasing photographs of an arrested suspect in the 'backpacker murders' case.
    • NSW beats Queensland in the first 'State of Origin' Rugby League game to be held on neutral ground in Melbourne.
    • 50th anniversary of the Allied D-Day landings in Normandy that helped bring about victory in the second world war.
    • Jane Campion, the director of 'The Piano', wins an Acadamy Award (Best Original Screenplay) and an award at the Cannes Film Festival. Two of the actors, Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin, also win Academy Awards.
    • The hole in ozone layer continues to grow, increasing the greenhouse effect and the incidence of skin cancer continues to accelerate.
    • Former prime minister Bob Hawke releases his memoirs causing great controversy about his account of how Paul Keating replaced him as Prime Minister.


    • Queensland town of Winton celebrates the 100th anniversary of Banjo Patterson’s Waltzing Matilda
    • 50th anniversary of the allied forces victory over Japan
    • According to a World bank rating system Australia’s natural resources have made it the world’s richest nation
    • The Northern Territory’s Aborigines are 40 times more likely to die from infectious diseases than other Australians
    • Federal cabinet proclaims the Aboriginal and Torres Strait flag as an official flag of Australia
    • Australia and France break off relations in protest against the French who are conducting testing of atomic bombs in the Pacific Ocean
    • Former High Court Judge, Sir William Deane is appointed Governor General of Australia
    • Claims of plagiarism in the novel, The Hand that signed the paper, against 24 year old Helen Darville has frozen the publication of this book.
    • The Calicivirus disease being developed to reduce the rabbit population, has escaped from quarantine station and is spreading throughout Australia
    • Three member Newcastle rock band silverchair tops the US charts with their song Tomorrow
    • The Pope comes to Australia for the beatification of Mother Mary McKillop who was the founder of the Josephite order


    • The Labor Party was defeated in the March election
    • Liberal National Party coalition become the government and John Howard is the Prime Minister
    • Australian football supporters celebrate the 100th Australian Football League season
    • Australia’s most popular tourist attraction became a killing field on 29th April as Martin Bryant, who shot dead 35 people, went on a shooting rampage
    • The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported on Australian Social Trends, including studies of family life, work, education, housing and health. It reported that most Australians are living the Australian dream of a home in the suburbs, kids, a car and annual holidays
    • From a site near Kununara, Northern Territory, there is new evidence that people were in Australia more than 100,000 years earlier than first thought
    • $1.25 billion Natural Heritage Trust established to oversee the conservation of the Australian environment
    • Pauline Hanson, an independent for the extreme right, becomes member of parliament for the Queensland seat of Oxley
    • High Court determines the Wik case
    • Research scientist professor Peter Doherty, whose research into immunology facilitated the treatment of cancer and diabetes, becomes the 6th Australian to receive the Nobel Prize
    • Bob Dent becomes first Australian to request to die under the recently passed Euthanasia laws in the Northern Territory. The Federal Government subsequently passed a law overriding the Northern Territory Act
    • Sir Hubert Opperman one of Australia’s greatest sporting heroes dies at the age of 91. He will be remembered for his cycling feats
    • Two Blachawk helicopters collide during a training mission in Queensland , killing 18 servicemen
    • The movie Babe wins an Academy award for Best Visual Effects
    • Morning Glory breaks the Sydney – Hobart yacht race in record time of 2 days, 14 hours, 7 mins and 10 seconds


    • Bringing them home a report on the Stolen generation, by Sir Ronald Wilson is released.
    • Fox Studios owned by Rupert Murdoch set to transform the old Sydney Showgrounds site
    • Macquarie Island, Heard Island and McDonald Island are placed on the World Heritage list
    • Federal Government cuts immigration back to 68,000 per year with places retained for refugees
    • Australia’s last Anzac, Ted Matthews dies at 101 years of age
    • Prime Minister, John Howard’s 10 point Wik plan effectively extinguishes Native Title on pastoral leases
    • Stuart Driver becomes the sole survivor at the Thredbo landslide, surviving 66 hours in near freezing temperatures.
    • 200 million year old fossil , a 2 metre long Temnospondyl has been found near Gosford
    • Environment Minister Robert Hill, brokers a deal at the Climate Change conference in Kyoto, Japan to allow Australia to increase the limit on greenhouse emissions
    • The English yatchsman Tony Bullimore is rescued from his capsized yacht in the Southern Ocean
    • Geoffrey Rush is awarded Best Actor at the Academy Awards for his portrayal of David Helfgott in the movie Shine
    • Susie Moroney becomes the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida unassisted in just over 24 hours
    • Pauline Hanson, Independent Federal MP launches the One Nation Party
    • Professor Peter Doherty, Nobel Prize winner becomes Australian of the Year
    • The Australian Cricket team has scored their 5th consecutive Ashes win against England
    • Cathy Freeman is the first Australian to win a title at the World Athletics championship
    • Patrick Rafter defeats Greg Rudeski to win the US Open
    • Michael Hutchance, 37 years old and formerly of INXS, is found dead in a Double Bay hotel


    • John Howard’s Liberal and national Party coalition are re-elected
    • Mark Taylor named Australian on the Year
    • Constitutional convention held at Old parliament House recommends that Australia become a republic. One hundred and fifty delegates voted to replace the Queen as head of state with a president to be chosen by parliament
    • Andrew Thomas becomes Australia’s first astronaut to fly on the space shuttle, Endeavour to the Mir space station where he spent a month working with an international crew
    • Australia’s waterfront is crippled by anti-government action, the most violent action was between Maritime Union of Australia and Patrick Stevedoring
    • Commonwealth Government proclaims a Marine park in the Great Australian Bight under the National Parks and Wildlife Act
    • $51 million has been given to the Clean Seas program to help establish the reduction of pollution of Australia’s seas, bays and rivers from stormwater and sewage run off
    • General Motors Holden celebrates 50 years of car making in Australia
    • Alan Ridgeway becomes the 1st Aboriginal from NSW and second in Australia to enter Federal Parliament
    • 1st Sorry day held as the national conscience finds a way of expressing feelings for the hurt done in the past to Aborigines
    • Wik Bill is passed and set the groundwork for Aboriginal land Rights
    • Sydney water crisis lasts for weeks as contamination of the Sydney water supply, initiates a major health alert
    • 6 yachtsmen are dead and 55 winched to safety as a wild storm hits the Sydney to Hobart yacht race
    • Native Title Amendment Bill is passed
    • The life of Peter Allen is made into a musical, The Boy from Oz, and set the one day box office record for sale of tickets, selling over 9,500
    • Mum Shirl, commonly known as the Black Saint of Redfern dies at age 74
    • Rock group, Savage garden make number 1 in the US charts with their single, Truly,Madly, Deeply
    • Australian Women’s hockey team win World Cup in Netherlands
    • 19% of Australian households are connected to the Internet
    • Australia was the dominant country at the 16th Commonwealth games in Kuala Lumpur, 198 medals, 80 gold


    • 50th anniversary of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme
    • Australian peacemakers leave for East Timor
    • Arthur Boyd, the “painter of light” dies
    • Morris West well respected author dies
    • Albert Tucker the artist who excelled at reflecting the cruelty of humanity, dies at age 84
    • Alice Springs to Darwin railway to be built, effectively linking the southern Ocean and the Timor Sea
    • Uranium mining commences at Jabiluka in the Kakadu National Park
    • Ultra marathon runner, Pat Farmer, completes a 14,500 km around Australia run in 191 day to highlight the anniversary of the Centenary of Federation celebrations
    • Eighteen year old, Jesse Martin, sails into Melbourne after a 50,000 km to become the youngest, solo, unassisted person to make it around the world
    • The “No” vote wins in the referendum on the Australian republic


    • Australia hosts the "best ever" Olympic Games
    • Australian of the Year awarded to Sir Gustav Nossal for his contribution to medicine
    • YK2 disaster unrealised as the change to the new millennium has happened and no major disasters have been reported
    • S11 protests at the World Economic Forum's meeting in Melbourne
    • Unemployment rate hits 10 year low of 6.6%
    • Cyclone Steve devastated large areas of the Northern Territory
    • The Weather Bureau confirms that the 1990's was the wettest decade of the century
    • 15 backpackers died in a deliberately lit fire in a youth hostel in Childers, Queensland
    • Australian Armed Forces led the United nations INTERFET forces in keeping peace in East Timor
    • Three Park Rangers lose their lives in a bush burn off at Hornsby in northern Sydney
    • The Howard Government introduces the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as part of their tax reform program
    • The first successful cloning of an animal in Australia with the production of Suzi the calf in Melbourne
    • Nova Peris-Kneebone who was the first Aboriginal to win an Olympic gold medal became the first Australian to carry the Olympic torch in Australia at Uluru
    • Karrie Webb the world's Number 1 women's golfer has picked up more trophies in one year than any other Australian women's golfer
    • The falling of snow for the first time on a rugby match ensured it was a history making event. It happened in Canberra and the match was between Balmain and Canberra
    • Judith Wright one of Australia's greatest poets died at the age of 83

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