Important Events

1500–1770 Portuguese, Spaniards, French, Dutch, and British touch north and west coast but are glad to get away from this wasteland of “sand, sorrow, and sore eyes.”

1770 Captain James Cook discovers fertile southeast coast.

1788 Penal settlement made at Sydney. Similar settlement in Tasmania soon afterward.

1813 Discovery of vast grazing plains beyond coastal mountain range starts westward movement. Sixty years of exploration of interior pave way for settlement of inhabitable areas. Four other states—Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia—founded.

1851 Gold discovered in New South Wales and Victoria. $600,000,000 extracted in ten years. Population nearly trebles.

1850–60 Parliamentary government established in five states.

1882 First cargo of frozen meat carried successfully to London.

1890 The “Great Strike” in the ports.

1891 Labor Party in New South Wales wins many seats at general election.

1891–1900 Discussions lead to federation in Commonwealth of Australia.

1900–02 Australians take part in Boer War in South Africa.

1910 First Labor government in New South Wales, followed quickly by similar governments in other states and in federal sphere.

1914–18 Anzacs take German New Guinea and fight in Near East, Gallipoli, and on Western Front.

1915 East-West Railway completed across continent. First steel mill goes into production.

1919 Australia given mandate over ex-German New Guinea and some islands.

1921–22 Washington Disarmament Conference decrees scuttling of Australia’s only battle cruiser.

1929–32 The Great Depression. Australia organizes first “Brains Trust” to make plans for recovery.

1939 Australia declares war on Germany.

1942 Japanese bomb Port Darwin—the first attack on Australian soil in the country’s history.