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Defining Moments in Australian History



Defining Moments in Australian History

WARNING: This website includes images and names of deceased people that may cause distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

What do you think is a significant moment in Australia’s history?

Join the conversation

The project

The Defining Moments in Australian History project aims to stimulate public discussion about the events that have been of profound significance to the Australian people. The project began with an initial list of moments compiled by Museum staff and an expert advisory panel. More about the project

We've also created a list of moments suggested by members of the public. Explore your list of moments and suggest a moment of your own.

Gallipoli Centenary, a year to remember?

On 29 October 2015, National Museum of Australia director Dr Mat Trinca had a spirited discussion with a distinguished panel comprising Brad Manera, Dr Carolyn Holbrook and Prof Peter Stanley about Australia’s largest and most public of commemorations since the centenary of Federation. More information

Big Ideas

Leading Australian thinkers George Megalogenis, Michelle Arrow, Jackie Huggins and Gideon Haigh met at the Museum on 24 September 2015 to discuss what makes a ‘defining moment’. The discussion was broadcast on Radio National on 28 September, and is available as a podcast from the Big Ideas website.

Michael Kirby

National Museum of Australia director Mat Trinca discusses Defining Moments in Australian History with project patron The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG.

Object stories on film

Mikey Robins has worked with the Museum on a series of videos investigating key objects in the Museum's collection that relate to defining moments in Australian history. View more videos on our YouTube channel


Latest featured moments

Each month we provide detailed background to particular defining moments. View all featured moments

Kokoda Trail
Kokoda Trail
4 November 1942
Conscription referendums
Conscription referendums
28 October 1916
Maternity leave introduced
Maternity leave introduced
10 October 1912
Trans-Australian Railway
Trans-Australian Railway
17 October 1917
Royal Australian Navy
Royal Australian Navy
4 October 1913
Sydney Opera House opens
Sydney Opera House
20 October 1973

Commemorative plaques

We are unveiling a series of commemorative plaques representing particular Defining Moments.

1788: Convict cargo
Convict cargo
1788: Captain Arthur Phillip establishes a convict settlement at Sydney Cove
1792: Pemulwuy
1792: Aboriginal warrior Pemulwuy leads resistance against Sydney colonists
3 June 1992: High Court Decision in Mabo Case recognises Native Title
Mabo decision
1992: High Court decision in Mabo case recognises native title

The word on the street

Writer and comedian Mikey Robins hit the streets in Sydney and Melbourne to find out what people think are defining moments in this nation’s history. View more videos on our YouTube channel