Timeline of Australian history and culture

Prehistoric
50,000 BC (estimated): Aborigines migrate to Australia (the estimated time period is subject to debate).

1600s
1606: Willem Janszoon, in the Duyfken (a Dutch East India Company ship), explores the western coast of Cape York Peninsula; some of the crew go ashore, becoming the first Europeans known to have landed on Australian soil.
1616 October 25: Dirk Hartog, in the Eendracht, sighted “various islands” in Shark Bay (WA). He landed at an island, now known as Dirk Hartog Island, and nailed a metal plate to a post with a note of his being there; he then sailed northwards, charting the western coast of Australia.
1629: The Batavia (a Dutch East India Company ship) is shipwrecked off the coast of Western Australia, which was followed by a murderous mutiny.
1642: Abel Tasman (a Dutch explorer) discovers Tasmania, naming it Anthoonij van Diemenslandt, after Antonio van Diemen (Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies).
1642 December 3: Abel Tasman claims Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) for the Netherlands.
1688: William Dampier lands on the west coast of Australia.

1700s
1770: James Cook discovers and charts the east coast of Australia, and claims it on behalf of Britain.
1783: James Matra, a British loyalist from North America, draws up a proposal for the British to settle Australia.
1787 May 13: The First Fleet, under the command of Arthur Phillip, sails from Portsmouth, England, for Australia.
1788 January 18: The First Fleet arrives in Botany Bay, New South Wales.
1788 January 25: The First Fleet arrives at Sydney Cove, after Governor Phillip’s decision that Botany Bay was an unsuitable place for a settlement.
1788 January 26: The First Fleet lands at Sydney and establishes the first European settlement in Australia.

1800s
1802: A British colony is established in Van Diemen’s Land (later renamed as Tasmania).
1803 March 5: The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser begins publication (this was the first newspaper in Australia).
1803: Matthew Flinders sails around Australia, thus achieving the first circumnavigation of the continent.
1804 March: Convicts revolt in the Castle Hill Rebellion.
1808 January 26: The Rum Rebellion occurs, with the Governor of New South Wales, William Bligh, being deposed by the New South Wales Corps, led by Major George Johnston.

1810s
1813: Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth find a way over the Blue Mountains, thus opening up further land for settlement.
1814: Governor Macquarie issues the “holey dollar” (authorised by proclamation on 1 July 1813, but not ready for circulation until 1814). Due to a lack of coinage in New South Wales, Macquarie obtained £10,000 in Spanish dollars and had the middles punched out for use as separate coins, thus doubling the number of coins available. The two coins were the “holey dollar” (five shillings) and the “dump” (15 pence).

1820s
1823 July: William Charles Wentworth enters his poem “Australasia” for the Chancellor’s Medal at Cambridge University, winning second prize.
1824: Hume and Hovell mount an expedition to Port Phillip Bay (Victoria), and discover the Mitta Mitta, Murray, Ovens, and Goulburn rivers.
1825: The colony of Van Diemen’s Land is established in its own right (later renamed as Tasmania).
1827 January 21: Major Edmund Lockyer formally takes possession of the western part of the Australian continent (New Holland) for the British.
1829: The Swan River Colony established on the Swan River (Western Australia) by Captain James Stirling.

1830s
1830 September 1: The bushranger John (“Jack”) Donohoe is shot dead by a soldier at Bringelly, New South Wales.
1831 March: Quintus Servinton, the first novel published in Australia, is printed in Hobart (Tasmania) in three volumes; published anonymously, it was apparently based upon the life of the author, Henry Savery.
1834: An Historical and Statistical Account of New South Wales: Both as a Penal Settlement and as a British Colony, by the Reverend John Dunmore Lang, is published.
1835: A settlement at Port Phillip is established by John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner; it later becomes the city of Melbourne.
1835: The Australian Patriotic Association is formed in Sydney, to seek civil and political rights (including representative government) for both free colonists and for former convicts.
1836 April 20: A fleet of ships sails from Portsmouth (England) to establish a colony in South Australia.
1836 December 28: The colony of South Australia is proclaimed.

1840s
1840: Transportation of convicts to New South Wales ends; however, convicts continue to be sent to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) and Western Australia.
1841: Caroline Chisholm founds the Female Immigrants Home to assist poor women.
1841 July 1: New Zealand separates from New South Wales, becoming a colony in its own right.
1845: Thoughts: A Series of Sonnets, the first book of poetry by Charles Harpur, is published.

1850s
1850: The University of Sydney is founded.
1851: The Port Phillip District is established as the colony of Victoria, separating from New South Wales.
1851: Edward Hargraves publicly announces that he has discovered gold, and thus claims the reward offered by the NSW government to the first person to find a commercially payable goldfield.
1853: The transportation of convicts to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) ends.
1853 May 26: The St Vincent, the last convict ship to come to Tasmania, arrives in Hobart with 207 convicts.
1854 November 31: Peter Lalor is chosen as the leader of the miners of the Eureka Rebellion in Ballarat.
1854 December 3: Military and police storm the Eureka Stockade, ending the Eureka Rebellion.
1855: All of the Australian colonies, except for Western Australia, are granted limited self-government (WA becomes self-governing on 21 October 1890).
1855 December: The Eureka Stockade: The Consequence of Some Pirates Wanting on Quarter-Deck a Rebellion, a first-hand account of the Eureka Rebellion, by Raffaello Carboni, is published.
1856: Trade unionists win an eight hour day agreement, the first in the world.
1856: The name of Van Diemen’s Land is changed to Tasmania.
1857: Anti-Chinese riots occur at Buckland River, where hundreds of European miners oust the Chinese from the goldfields.
1859: Queensland separates from New South Wales, becoming a colony in its own right.
1859: The Melbourne Football Club is formed, the first club to be created for the game of Australian Rules Football.
1859: “The Song of Australia” by Caroline Carleton, wins the Gawler Institute’s competition for a patriotic song; it becomes an unofficial national anthem for many years.

1860s
1860: Burke and Wills set off on an expedition to cross the Australian continent, travelling from Melbourne (Victoria) to the Little Bynoe River (Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland).
1861 June: Burke and Wills die on their return journey, although other members of the expedition survive; their exploration, and that of the rescue parties, enabled the opening up of lands for further settlement in the interior of eastern Australia.
1861 June 30: Anti-Chinese riots occur at Lambing Flat (now Young, NSW); hundreds of European miners oust the Chinese from the goldfields.
1861 November 7: The first Melbourne Cup race is held.
1862: Poems and Songs, the first book of poetry by Henry Kendall is published.
1865 April 9: The bushranger “Mad Dan” Morgan is shot by police, dying of his wounds on the same day.
1865 May 5: The bushranger Ben Hall is ambushed by police and shot dead.
1868: The transportation of convicts to Australia ends, with the cessation of transportation to Western Australia.
1868 January 9: The Hougoumont, the last convict ship to come to Australia, arrives in Fremantle with 229 convicts.

1870s
1870 May 25: The bushranger Frederick Ward, known as “Captain Thunderbolt”, is shot dead by a policeman.
1872 August 22: The Overland Telegraph, from Adelaide to Darwin, is completed, thus establishing a telegraph link to London.
1878: The song “Advance Australia Fair” is written by Peter McCormick.

1880s
1880: Peter Lalor becomes Speaker of the Victorian Legislative Assembly, a position which he holds until 1887.
1880 January 20: The bushranger Andrew Scott, known as “Captain Moonlite”, is hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol (NSW).
1880 January 31: The Bulletin magazine begins publication.
1880 October 1: The International Exhibition commences in Melbourne (the 8th World’s Fair); it remains open until 30 April 1881.
1880 November 11: The bushranger Ned Kelly is hanged at Melbourne Gaol (Victoria).
1882: The beginning of The Ashes in cricket competition between Australia and England.
1885: Where the Pelican Builds and Other Poems, the first book of poetry by Mary Hannay Foott, is published.
1885: New South Wales sends a contingent of volunteers to the war in the Sudan to assist the British forces fighting the Mahdi.
1887: The Australian Republican Union is formed.
1887: Nellie Melba has her operatic debut.
1888 May 15: The Dawn magazine, owned and edited by Louisa Lawson, begins publication.
1889: Sir Henry Parkes delivers a speech at Tenterfield in favour of federation, which is viewed by many as an important impetus for the unification of the Australian colonies.
1889: The Australian National Association is formed, with one of its aims being the federation of the Australian colonies.

1890s
1890: “Banjo” Paterson writes the poem “The Man from Snowy River”.
1891 February: A widespread shearers’ strike is held, which lasts until May 1891.
1891 December 5: The earliest known publication date of the song “Click Go the Shears”.
1894: Short Stories in Prose and Verse, the first book by Henry Lawson, is published.
1895: The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses, the first book of poetry by “Banjo” Paterson, is published.
1895: “Banjo” Paterson writes the song “Waltzing Matilda”.
1895: Women in South Australia are given the right to vote (age required, 21 years).
1896: Australia competes in the first modern Olympic Games, held in Greece.
1896: In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses, a book of poetry by Henry Lawson, is published.
1899: The Ways of Many Waters, the first book of poetry by E. J. Brady, is published.
1899: Referendums are held in four Australian colonies (New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, and Victoria) on the proposal for Federation. A majority in all colonies vote “Yes”; however, the vote in NSW does not reach the legally-required quota, so the vote fails.
1899 October: The Boer War begins in South Africa; Australian colonies offer troops to assist the British forces (the war ends in May 1902).
1899: Referendums are held in all of the Australian colonies, except Western Australia, on the proposal for Federation; WA holds its referendum in 1900. A majority in all colonies vote “Yes”.

1900s
1900 August 4-16: Australian soldiers distinguish themselves at the battle of Elands River.
1901 January 1: Australia officially becomes a nation; Edmund Barton becomes Australia’s first Prime Minister; John Hope (7th Earl of Hopetoun) becomes the first Governor-General.
1901 May 8: The federal parliamentary Labor Party is formed.
1901: The Bulletin Reciter is published.
1903: Such is Life: Being Certain Extracts from the Diary of Tom Collins, the classic novel by Tom Collins (Joseph Furphy), is published.
1903: Dawnward?, the first book of poetry by Bernard O’Dowd, is published.
1905: The Old Bush Songs, a book of songs from Australia’s colonial era, collected by “Banjo” Paterson, is published.
1907 May: The Lone Hand magazine begins publication.
1907 November 8: The Harvester judgement, in the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, sets a minimum wage for workers.
1908 August 27: Don Bradman is born in Cootamundra, New South Wales.
1908 September 5: Dorothea Mackellar’s poem “Core of My Heart” is published in the Spectator (London, UK); the title of the poem is later changed to “My Country”.
1909: The Australian Crisis, a novel by C. H. Kirmess, is published.
1909: Poems, the first book of poetry by Agnes L. Storrie (Agnes L. Kettlewell), is published.

1910s
1911: The Horses of the Hills and Other Verses, the first book of poetry by Marie E. J. Pitt, is published.
1911: The Closed Door, and Other Verses, the first book of poetry by Dorothea Mackellar, is published.
1913: Australians Yet and Other Verses, the first book by Grant Hervey, is published.
1913: Backblock Ballads and Other Verses, the first book of poetry by C. J. Dennis, is published.
1914: The First World War begins.
1915 January 1: The Battle of Broken Hill occurs; two Muslims, flying the Turkish flag, attack and kill a number of Australian civilians, as their contribution to the war between the British Empire and the Ottoman Empire.
1915 April 25: The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) lands at Gallipoli (Turkey) as part of an Allied effort to take the Dardenelles and/or keep Turkey out of the European theatre of war.
1915 August 6-9: The Battle of Lone Pine, at Gallipoli.
1915 December 8-20: The Anzacs evacuate Gallipoli (Cape Helles evacuated on 9 January 1916).
1915: The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke, a book of poetry by C. J. Dennis, is published.
1916: The Poems of Joseph Furphy, a book of poetry by Joseph Furphy is posthumously published.
1916: A Short History of Australia, by Ernest Scott, is published (it was afterwards republished in several editions).
1916 July 1: The Battle of the Somme begins.
1917 June 7: Hill 60 blown up by Australian tunnellers.
1917 October 31: The charge of the Australian Light Horse against the Turks at Beersheba Wells.
1918 September 18: Australian forces attack the Hindenburg Line and capture Montbrehain.
1918: The First World War ends.
1918: Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, by May Gibbs, is published.
1918: Backblock Ballads and Later Verses, a book of poetry by C. J. Dennis, is published.
1919: Heart of Spring, a book of poetry by John Shaw Neilson is published.
1919: Australian troops participate in the North Russia Campaign.

1920s
1921 March: The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is formed.
1921 March: QANTAS (Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services) commences operations.
1921 November 13, Ginger Meggs appears for the fist time, in the “Us Fellers” cartoon strip, published in the Sydney Sunday Sun.
1921: Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, the first book of poetry by John O’Brien (Patrick Joseph Hartigan), is published.
1921 November 4: Poppy Day is held in Australia to sell poppies, to be worn on Armistice Day (Remembrance Day, 11 November) in commemoration of the end of the First World War and to remember the sacrifice of those who fought and died.
1923: Vegemite is sold for the first time.
1923: Beyond the City Gates: Australian Story & Verse, the first book by Jack Moses, is published.
1923 November 23: 2SB (Sydney) is the first commercial radio station in Australia to commence broadcasting.
1929: The Complete Inner History of the Kelly Gang and Their Pursuers by J. J. Kenneally is published (it was afterwards republished in several editions).
1929: The Great Depression begins. It lasts until 1932, although financial hardships continued for many Australians throughout the 1930s.

1930s
1930 November 4: Phar Lap wins the Melbourne Cup.
1931 January 22: Sir Isaac Isaacs becomes the first Australian-born Governor-General.
1932 March 19: The Sydney Harbour Bridge is officially opened.
1932 July 1: The Australian Broadcasting Commission is established; it becomes the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on 1 July 1983.
1932-1933: The Bodyline cricket controversy erupts, during the English cricket teams’ Ashes tour of Australia, in which English bowlers adopted the tactic of aiming for the body of Australian batsmen.
1933: Blinky Bill: the Quaint Little Australian, by Dorothy Wall, is published; this is followed by several other Blinky Bill books: Blinky Bill Grows Up (1934), Blinky Bill and Nutsy (1937), and The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill (1939).
1934: The children’s song “Kookaburra”, written by Marion Sinclair, is performed for the first time in public.
1935: Gumtops, the first book of poetry by Rex Ingamells, is published.
1936: The Foundations of Culture in Australia, by P. R. Stephensen, is published.
1938: Conditional Culture, by Rex Ingamells, is published.
1939: The Second World War begins. Australia declares war on Germany.

1940s
1941 January 5: Tobruk captured.
1941 April: Australian forces battle German forces in Greece.
1941 April 11: Germans cut off Tobruk from Allied land forces; the siege of Tobruk lasts from April to October 1941; the Australians there cheerfully adopt the name thrown at them by the Germans, as “the Rats of Tobruk”.
1941 May: Allied forces, including Australians, evacuate the island of Crete, in the face of the superior German attacking force.
1941 December 8: Prime Minister John Curtin announces Australia will declare war on Japan, in consequence of the Japanese attack against the USA’s naval base at Pearl Harbor (Hawaii).
1942 January: Australian forces fight the Japanese army in Malaya.
1942 February 19: Japanese planes attack Darwin; further air attacks occur later, against Broome, Darwin, Exmouth Gulf, and elsewhere.
1942 March 3: Japanese planes shoot down a DC-3 full of refugees from the Netherlands East Indies and a Liberator carrying wounded US servicemen; they also destroy 6 planes on the ground and 16 moored flying boats (some of which were carrying refugees); an estimated 100 are killed.
1942 June 1: HMAS Kuttabul sunk by a Japanese midget submarine in Sydney Harbour; 21 sailors killed.
1942 June: Newcastle and Sydney shelled by Japanese submarines; no casualties.
1942 July: Townsville bombed by Japanese planes.
1942 November 2: Australians recapture Kokoda (New Guinea).
1942 November 26-27: The Battle of Brisbane, where fighting occurred between US servicemen and Australian servicemen and civilians; 1 Australian soldier killed, hundreds wounded on both sides.
1943 February: Australian forces defeat the Japanese at Wau.
1943 May 14: The brightly-lit Australian Hospital Ship Centaur is torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine off Stradbroke Island; 268 dead.
1945 May 7: Germany surrenders (effective 8 May).
1945 August 15: Japan surrenders.
1945: The Second World War ends. However, some fighting continued: Elements of the German Army Group Centre in Prague, Czechoslovakia, kept fighting until later in May 1945; Japanese troops on the island of Saipan did not surrender until 1 December 1945, whilst other troops on the island of Peleliu did not surrender until April 1947 (and some individual Japanese soldiers held out for many decades after the war had ended).
1945 August 31: The Liberal Party is formed.
1946 September 9: TAA (Trans-Australia Airlines) commences operations (it is later renamed Australian Airlines).

1950s
1950: Australian forces enter the Korean War on the side of South Korea.
1954: The Parish of St Mel’s and Other Verses, a book of poetry by John O’Brien (Patrick Joseph Hartigan), is posthumously published.
1955: The Australian Labor Party (Anti-Communist) is formed; shortly afterwards, it was renamed as the Democratic Labor Party.
1956 September 16: TCN-9 (Sydney) is the first mainstream television station in Australia to commence broadcasting (some experimental broadcasting had been previously conducted in 1929, using the “Radiovision” system).
1956 November 22: Opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, held in Melbourne (the closing ceremony was held on 8 December 1956).
1958: “A Pub With No Beer” becomes a hit song for Slim Dusty.
1958: “Wild One” becomes a hit song for Johnny O’Keefe.
1959: “Shout” becomes a hit song for Johnny O’Keefe.

1960s
1960: “She’s My Baby” becomes a hit song for Johnny O’Keefe.
1961: “I’m Counting on You” becomes a hit song for Johnny O’Keefe.
1964: “She Wears My Ring” becomes a hit song for Johnny O’Keefe.
1965: Australian military forces enter the Vietnam War on the side of South Vietnam (Australian involvement ends in 1972).
1966 August 18: Australian military forces distinguish themselves at the Battle of Long Tan (Vietnam).
1966 February 14: Australia changes from the Imperial monetary system to the Decimal monetary system; pounds, shillings, and pence are converted to dollars and cents.
1967: “Living in a Child’s Dream” becomes a hit song for the Masters Apprentices.
1967: “Woman You’re Breaking Me” becomes a hit song for the The Groop.
1969: “Arkansas Grass” becomes a hit song for Axiom.
1969: “Such a Lovely Way” becomes a hit song for the The Groop.

1970s
1970: “A Little Ray of Sunshine” becomes a hit song for Axiom.
1970: “Turn up Your Radio” becomes a hit song for the Masters Apprentices.
1971: “Because I Love You” becomes a hit song for the Masters Apprentices.
1971: The Bushwackers, a folk music band, are formed in Melbourne.
1971: “Eagle Rock” becomes a hit song for Daddy Cool.
1971: “I’ll Be Gone” becomes a hit song for Spectrum.
1971: “My Baby’s Gone” becomes a hit song for Axiom.
1972: “Ginger Man” becomes a hit song for Brian Cadd.
1972: “Show Me the Way” becomes a hit song for Brian Cadd.
1972 December: The last of the Australian forces leave Vietnam; Australia ends its involvement in the Vietnam War.
1974: “Let Go” becomes a hit song for Brian Cadd.
1974: “Give Me a Home Among the Gumtrees” is written by Bob Brown and Wally Johnson.
1975: “The Newcastle Song” becomes a hit song for Bob Hudson.
1977: The Australian Democrats party is formed (eventually disbanded in 2015).
1978: The Northern Territory is granted self-government.
1978: “C’mon Aussie C’mon” becomes a hit song for the Mojo Singers.
1978: “Down Under” (also known as “I come from a land down under”, after a line in the song) becomes a hit song for Men At Work.
1978: “Take a Long Line” becomes a hit song for The Angels.
1979: “Shadow Boxer” becomes a hit song for The Angels.
1979: “Up There Cazaly” becomes a hit song for the Two Man Band.

1980s
1980: “Clancy of the Overflow” becomes a hit song for the folk music band Wallis and Matilda.
1980: “Duncan”(often referred to as “I’d love to have a beer with Duncan”, after a line in the song) becomes a hit song for Slim Dusty.
1980: “No Secrets” becomes a hit song for The Angels.
1980 August 17: A two-month-old baby girl, Azaria Chamberlain, is taken by a dingo from a tent during the night and killed, at a campsite at Ayers Rock (Uluru); her mother, Lindy Chamberlain, was subsequently convicted of murder, but this was later found to be a wrongful conviction, and she was released.
1981: “Boys in Town” becomes a hit song for the Divinyls.
1982: “Great Southern Land” becomes a hit song for Icehouse.
1982: “Science Fiction” becomes a hit song for the Divinyls.
1983: “I Was Only Nineteen” becomes a hit song for Redgum.
1984 April 19: “Advance Australia Fair” becomes Australia’s national anthem.
1985: “Pleasure and Pain” becomes a hit song for the Divinyls.
1985: “Sounds of Then” (often referred to as “This Is Australia”, after a line in the song) becomes a hit song for Gang Gajang.
1988: “Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again” becomes a hit song for The Angels.
1989: The Australian Capital Territory is granted self-government.

1990s
1991: “I Touch Myself” becomes a hit song for the Divinyls.
1992: The Australian Greens party (commonly known as “The Greens”) is formed.
1992 June 3: The High Court gives its decision on the Mabo case.
1994 January 26: Pay TV is launched in Australia.
1995 July 1: Telecom becomes Telstra.
1996 April 28: The Port Arthur massacre (Tasmania); Martin Bryant kills 35 people and wounds 23 others.
1997 April 11: The One Nation Party is formed.
1999: Australian military forces are deployed to East Timor, as part of the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET), to stabilize the country.
1999 October 31: Jesse Martin sails into Melbourne, becoming the youngest person to have sailed around the world solo, non-stop and unassisted.

2000s
2000 July 1: The federal Goods and Services Tax comes into effect. The GST was introduced by the Liberal-National coalition government, led by John Howard.
2000 September 15: Opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, held in Sydney (the closing ceremony was held on 1 October 2000).
2001 February 25: Don Bradman dies.
2002 October 12: Terrorists set off two bombs in Bali, Indonesia, at a nightclub frequented by tourists; the bombings were aimed primarily at Westerners, killing 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians, 24 Britons, and many others, culminating in a total of 202 people murdered.
2004: Terrorists set off a bomb outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.
2005: Some Lebanese men bash two lifeguards on a beach in Cronulla, Sydney; this led to a mass rally of thousands to protest against the attacks, which culminated in attacks against people of Middle Eastern appearance; Lebanese Muslims then carried out revenge attacks, smashing hundreds of cars and stabbing at least one person; NSW police lock down Cronulla.
2006: Australian military forces are deployed to East Timor, in Operation Astute, to stabilize the country.
2009 February 7: Black Saturday, the worst day of the huge bushfires that swept through various areas of Victoria in January and February 2009, killing 173 people, and devastating the towns of Flowerdale, Kinglake, Kinglake West, Marysville, Narbethong, and Strathewen.
2010 October 17: Mary MacKillop becomes the first Australian saint, being canonized by Pope Benedict XVI. MacKillop was born on 15 January 1842 in Fitzroy, Victoria (then part of the colony of New South Wales) and died on 8 August 1909 in North Sydney, NSW.

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