Home | Contact | Privacy

direction to
Australia's free
genealogy information

Some of Australia's European history and other items of interest

Australia - is a land with only a recent European immigration history. I acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and the contributions of Indigenous Australians to the vast history and stewardship of Australia, however this web-page and entire site is only primarily focused on European history.

A Complete Map of the Southern Continent as surveyed by Abel Tasman

1606   It was Willem Janszoon, a Dutch navigator and colonial governor of the East Indies, who is recorded as the first European to land on the Australia continent. This takes place on the western side of Cape York in February & he goes on to chart 320km of coastline.

1642   Dutch explorer and merchant, Abel Tasman first discovers and claims formal possession of Van Damiens Land in December.

1644    Abel Tasman undertakes a 2nd voyage and maps the north coast of the southern land and applied the name Nova Hollandia aka New Holland to the land. His map (left) when published in 1744 by Emanuel Bowen had the following text added; "It is impossible to conceive a Country that promises fairer from its Situation than this of TERRA AUSTRALIS, no longer incognita, as this Map demonstrates, but the Southern Continent Discovered. It lies precisely in the richest climates of the World....and therefore whoever perfectly discovers and settles it will become infalliably possessed of Territories as Rich, as fruitful, and as capable of Improvement, as any that have hitherto been found out, either in the East Indies or the West. . . ."

1688   British explorer and privateer William Dampier landed on the northwest coast of New Holland in January and made extensive notes on his observations.

1699   William Dampier was given command of the Roebuck and a mission by the British Admiralty to return and explore the east coast of New Holland, this didn't take place due to bad weather and unsuitable ship, however charts of the northwest coastline and records of trade winds and currents were made.

1770   After observing the transit of Venus in Tahiti, and upon opening sealed orders from the British Admiralty, Captain James Cook in the Endeavour sailed westward in the Pacific to search for the suggested southern land of Terra Australis. After mapping New Zealand, he reached the south-east coast of Terra Australis in April and continued north charting the coast. In August, upon reaching Possession Island, he claimed the entire coastline as British territory for King George III.


1785   Orders for the establishment of the colony of New South Wales were issued in the British Parliament.

1787   Eleven ships engaged in the service of the British government, collectively known as The First Fleet leave Portsmouth in May, bound for the great southern land. The ships being HMS Supply, HMS Sirius, Alexander, Scarborough, Friendship, Charlotte, Lady Penrhyn, Prince of Wales, Fishbourn, Borrowdale and Golden Grove.

1788   Led by Captain Arthur Phillip, the arrival into Sydney Cove of The First Fleet takes place in January and British settlement commences. Whilst exact numbers are not known, it is widely accepted that 1373 men, women and children landed, of which 753 were convicts.

1790   The Second Fleet arrives in Sydney Cove in June with ~760 convicts. The mortality rate (>25%) of this voyage was the highest of any transportation voyage to the colony, with much criticism directed to the private firm contracted to provide the service.Convicts-New-Holland_17

1791   Another eleven ships, making up The Third Fleet arrived in Sydney in July through to October, landing a total of 1875 convicts.

1799   Van Diemen's Land discovered to be an island, circumnavigated by Captain Matthew Flinders and George Bass.

1803   The British penal colony of Van Diemen's Land begins with ~75,000 convicts being transported there until 1853.


1808   Population reaches 10,263.

1824   The British penal colony of Moreton Bay was established at Redcliffe Point and with a population of 47 and remained active until the 1840s, although transportation there ended in 1839.

1829   Swan River Colony, a British settlement for free settlers was established by Thomas Peel who arrived with 300 settlers.

1834   In April, the sheep breeding pioneer Captain John Macarthur dies. He had bred the Merino, a breed that would cope with the climate and yield fine wool. He became the largest sheep rearer and wealthiest man in Australia.

1849   A shortage of workers caused the growth of the colony to come to a halt and after petitioning, the Swan River Colony was constituted to be a penal settlement. Convicts started arriving in 1850 and 9,700 convicts had been transported there by 1868 when transportation ceased.

1851   Population reaches 430,000.

1851   Gold was discovered near Bathurst, NSW by Edward Hargraves, in 4 months over 1000 prospectors had descended on the area. Six months later, gold was also discovered at Ballarat and Bendigo in Victoria starting the gold rush when 370,000 new immigrants arrived in 1852.

1856   Van Diemen's Land is renamed to Tasmania in honour of the explorer Abel Tasman.

1858   Population reaches 1,050,828.

1868   Penal transportation from Britain officially ended, by this time over 160,000 convicts had been sent to the colonies.

1877   The last penal settlement in Tasmania closes.

Australian Swagman1895   "Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong" ..... the famous and well loved poem Waltzing Matilda was written in January by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson. It was written and set to music that was played by Christina Macperson (Dagworth Homestead Qld) and is the unofficial national anthem.

1898   Population reaches 3,664,715.

1901   The Commonwealth of Australia was formed from the Federation of six States

1901   Total population at the time of Federation was 93,000 (Indigenous) and 3.8million (European)

1902   Women were given the right to vote at Federal level

1908   "I love a sunburnt country; A land of sweeping plains" ... is the 2nd stanza of the immensely patriotic Australian poem "My Country", written by Dorothy MacKellar and first published in the London Spectator.

1914   During WW1 (1914-1918), 416,809 Australians enlisted to support the British Empire, with almost 62,000 dying in action or from wounds and a further 156,000 were wounded or taken prisoner.

1916   The first anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, was officially recognised and named ANZAC Day with ceremonies both overseas and around Australia . This recognition continued annually and by the late 1920s the day had became an annual national public holiday.

1921   Population reaches 5,455,136.


1929   The Great Depression that started in USA, also hit Australia and saw upto 32% of the workforce unemployed during the 1930s which had many social implications.

1932   The champion racehorse Phar Lap dies in the USA. The horse had survived a shooting attempt on his life in 1930 and went on to win 37 of the 51 races he entered. His death in April was painful as he haemorrhaged to death and popular culture speculated that he was killed by US gangsters to protect betting stakes. Many years later, analysis has determined that the horse had ingested a massive dose of arsenic.construction of Sydney Harbour Bridge

1932   Starting in 1923 and stalled during the Great Depression, the Sydney Harbour Bridge officially opens in March.

1939   During WW2 (1939-1945) almost one million Australians served directly in the military or one of the many support services, with almost 40,000 dying.

1948   The greatest and much loved cricket batsman Don Bradman retires from the game after 20 years of test cricket with a career average of 99.94 runs. He became a sporting idol for Australians during the dark days of the Great Depression.

1955    A concerted effort to encourage post-war immigration and resettlement of displaced persons resulted in one million immigrants arriving by November.

1956   Melbourne hosts the Summer Olympic Games with 67 nations competing; Australia won 35 medals.

1961   Population reaches 10,548,267.

1962   Indigenous peoples were given the right to enrol and vote in Federal elections regardless of their State level rights.

1966   The decimal currency introduced, using paper notes, replacing the British style currency system based on pounds, shillings and pence.

1984   "Australians all let us rejoice, For we are young and free" .... Advance Australia Fair becomes the official National Anthem for Australia. First performed in 1878, it was sung at the inauguration of the Commonwealth in 1901. It was first enshrined as the national song in 1974 by the Whitlam government but in 1976 the Fraser government reinstated "God Save the Queen".

1992   Polymer currency notes replace paper currency notes.

2000   Sydney hosts the Summer Olympic Games with 199 nations competing; Australia won 58 medals. The 1 cent & 2 cent coins no longer in circulation, were melted down and turned into the bronze medals for the game.

2013   Population reaches 23,463,000.

2016   National census takes place.