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  • In 1770 Lieutenant James Cook's "Endeavour" sailed up Australia's east coast, with Cook charting the coastline and botanist Sir Joseph Banks noting the extensive, unusual new flora. Cook claimed the eastern half of the continent for Britain, under the name of New South Wales.
  • In January 1788, the First Fleet of convicts, officers and a handful of free settlers arrived in Australia. This was the first permanent European settlement in Australia, and thus began not only the history of Australia as it is now, but the beginning of the displacement of Australian aboriginal people.
  • In May 1813, William Wentworth, William Lawson and Gregory Blaxland became the first Europeans to make a complete journey across the Blue Mountains without being forced to turn back. Previous attempts by other explorers had been made, but they always ended with the exploration parties finding themselves faced with an impossible climb up sheer rock faces, or standing on ridges that ended sharply at cliff edges. This was significant because, now that there was a route across the Blue Mountains, it then allowed the colony to expand to the extensive grasslands on the other side.
  • In 1829-30 Explorer Charles Sturt followed and charted the major rivers of New South Wales, opening up the waterways along the Murray and Darling Rivers, and generating interest in a southern colony (later South Australia).
  • The official discovery of gold in Australia in 1851 marked a whole new era for Australia. This brought enormous numbers of immigrants, especially Chinese, to Australia, with the resultant influence on Australian culture.

    The goldrushes helped bring improvements in transportation. The famous "Cobb and Co Coaches" ran successfully for half a century, thanks to the goldrush. Train lines were built, linking the major centres, and roadways were improved.

  • The Eureka Stockade, which occurred in December 1854, led to the beginnings of democracy and democratic representation for all classes and groups of people in Australia. The Eureka Stockade occurred in Ballarat, Victoria, during the early years of the Australian goldrush. In the event, the gold miners rebelled against the miner's licence, which cost a monthly fee of 30 shillings and allowed the holder to work a meagre 3.6 metre square "claim". Licences had to be paid whether or not a digger found any gold. There were frequent licence hunts, during which the miners were ordered to produce proof of their licences, and this increased the sense of unrest. Early in the morning on Sunday, 3 December 1854, 276 police and military personnel and several civilians stormed a stockade which the miners had erected. 22 diggers and 5 troopers died in the battle that followed. Although the rebellion itself failed in what it set out to do, it gained the attention of the Government. Following a Commission of Enquiry, changes were put in place. These included abolishing the monthly gold licences, which were replaced by an affordable annual miner's licence. The numbers of troopers were reduced significantly, and Legislative Council was expanded to allow representation to the major goldfields. For these reasons, the Eureka Stockade is regarded by many as the birthplace of Australian Democracy.
  • Federation of the Australian colonies occurred in 1901. The discovery of gold had brought wealth to Australia, and with it, a new sense of independence and confidence to push for Federation and the establishent of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. Although this did not mean Australia was free of British rule, over the next 85 years, this independence did come gradually.
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Q: What are 5 of the most famous events in Australia's history Why were they so important in helping to shape our nation?
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