How Well Do You Remember the Most Important Dates In Australian History?

Bambi Turner

In what year did Captain James Cook sail to eastern Australia?

On April 19, 1770, British Royal Navy Captain James Cook became the first European to sail to eastern Australia. He also made the first recorded observations of the Aboriginal natives, but he didn't actually make contact.

Australia Day celebrates events that took place in what year?

On January 26, 1788, the HMS Supply landed at Sydney Cove. The British sailors on board claimed the land for King George III of England and established a permanent colony. Every January 26, Aussies celebrate Australia Day in honor of those brave sailors.

In what year did Gov. William Bligh lose his position, due to the Rum Rebellion?

Forget the tea parties of the Boston settlers -- the Aussies dealt in rum. During the 1808 Rum Rebellion, protesters deposed Governor William Bligh of New South Wales. You may remember Bligh's name -- he was one of the sailors set adrift at sea during the Mutiny on the Bounty.

In what year did Australia officially get its name?

The name "Australia" comes from the Latin "australis," which means southern. The country was initially called New Holland, but became known as Australia starting in 1817.

In what year was the first issue of the "Sydney Morning Herald" published?

The "Sydney Morning Herald" is Australia's oldest newspaper. It was first published April 18, 1831, as the "Sydney Herald," and started off as a four-page weekly.

While Americans were fighting a Civil War, the Great Fire of Brisbane burned in what year?

On December 1, 1864, a tremendous fire swept through the town of Brisbane in the Queensland Colony. The area had no fire department at the time, and most structures were made of wood. With much of the town center destroyed, the city was rebuilt from tougher materials, and a formal fire department was established.

What year was the Colony of Western Australia established, near what is now Perth?

The British established the Swan River Colony in western Australia in 1829. Just a few years later the colony -- home to modern-day Perth -- was renamed the Colony of Western Australia.

In what year was the colony of South Australia founded, with Adelaide as its capital city?

Every December 28 (or now the first work day following Christmas), residents of South Australia celebrate Proclamation Day -- the day the colony was founded in 1836. South Australia was the second colony to be founded in the country, and Adelaide was its capital starting from the colony's earliest days.

What year did the Australian ballot - or secret ballot - get passed into law in South Australia for the first time?

Australia became a model for world politics when it passed ballot laws in 1856. Not only did these laws establish a secret ballot, but they also allowed all men to vote, whether they owned property or not. Over the next few decades, the U.S. and U.K. went on to embrace the secret ballot, also known as the Australian ballot.

When did the colonies unite to form the Commonwealth of Australia?

On January 1, 1901, the six colonies on the continent joined forces to form the Commonwealth of Australia. These six colonies were Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australia.

In what year did the country experience an infamous maritime disaster, with the sinking of the Cataraqui?

On August 4, 1845, the British ship Cataraqui sank off of King Island, Tasmania. It was the worst maritime disaster in Australia's history, with more than 400 lives lost.

When did Canberra become the nation's capital?

At the start of the 20th century, both Sydney and Melbourne were favorites for being named the capital of Australia. Sydney -- the oldest city in the nation -- had its fans, while others fought for Melbourne, which was the largest city at the time. In the end, a compromise was reached to make Canberra the capital on January 1, 1911.

In what year was New Zealand split off as a separate colony from New South Wales?

Until mid-1841, New Zealand was actually a part of the New South Wales colony. On July 1, 1841, it became a separate crown colony, and in 1907, it was named a dominion of Great Britain.

In what year did the last convict ship reach Australia from Britain?

Until the whole American Revolution thing, Britain was happy enough to send its convicts to its American colonies. After America declared independence, the Brits started sending convicts -- many of which were accused of only political or petty crimes -- to Australia. The last ship loaded with convicts that the Brits sent to Australia arrived in January 1868.

In what year did Australia enter WWI?

As a Dominion of Great Britain, Australia entered WWI when Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914. Around half a million Aussies fought in the war, and 60,000 were killed.

In what year did the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge open?

The Sydney Harbour Bridge connects the North Shore with Sydney's central downtown area. Nicknamed "The Coathanger," due to its appearance, the bridge opened on March 19, 1932.

A Wall Street crash, which took place in the U.S. in what year, launched Australia into its own Great Depression?

The Wall Street crash of 1929 had a dire effect on the global economy. By 1932, 32 percent of Australians were out of work.

In what year did Australia enter WWII?

Australia entered WWII in 1939. By the time the war ended in 1945, more than a million Australians had served and 27,000 had been killed.

In what year did Melbourne host the Olympics?

Melbourne played host to the summer games in 1956. The city was the first in the Southern Hemisphere, and the first outside of Europe and North America, to host the Olympics.

In what year did Australia finally gain full independence from Great Britain?

Believe it or not, it wasn't until March 3, 1986, that Australia became fully independent. As Britain passed the Australia Acts, Australians had full power over their own Constitutional documents for the first time in history.

In what year did Sydney host the Summer Olympics?

Sydney played host to the summer games in 2000. It was the second time the country hosted the games. The 1956 summer games were held in Melbourne.

In what year did a bombing in a Bali nightclub kill dozens of Australians?

In 2002, a terrorist bombing at a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, killed 202 people - 88 of whom were Aussies.

When did the Black Saturday Bushfires take place?

Australia's terrain means that bushfires are a frequent concern. On February 7, 2009, a fierce fire swept through Victoria, killing 173 people in an event known as the Black Saturday Bushfires.

The Cronulla race riots took place in December of what year?

The Cronulla race riots occurred in December 2005, at a Sydney suburb known as Cronulla. Additional riots and protests spread across the city.

In what year did the Australian government issue its Aboriginal Apology?

In February 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made an official apology to the Aboriginal people harmed by Australian laws and policies. The apology was controversial, and many argued that it should have come with some form of financial compensation.

In what year did Quentin Bryce become the country's first female Governor General?

After serving as Governor of Queensland from 2003 to 2008, Quentin Bryce became Australia's first female Governor General, serving from September 2008 to March 2014.

In what year did the infamous Queensland Flood take place?

In December 2010, floods swept through Queensland. More than 90 towns were affected and 35 people were killed, with cleanup costing in excess of $2 billion.

Australia entered the War in Afghanistan with Operation Slipper, starting in what year?

Operation Slipper lasted from 2001 to 2014, making it Australia's longest war as of 2018. More than 26,000 Aussie troops served in Afghanistan during the conflict.

When did the country get its first female Prime Minister?

Julia Gillard served as Deputy Prime Minster from 2007 to 2010. From 2010 to 2013, she was Head of the Labor Party as well as Australia's first female Prime Minister.

In what year did a lone gunman hold 18 people hostage in a Sydney cafe?

On December 15 and 16, 2014, a gunman held ten customers and eight employees hostage in an event known as the Sydney hostage crisis. By the time it was over, three people were dead, including the gunman.

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Image: Nathalie Kabo

About This Quiz

The land down under started off as a place for the Brits to send convicts, but it has since evolved to become an independent nation and one of the world's leading economies. Take our quiz to see how much you know about the most important dates in Australian history!

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