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Defining Moments in Australian History

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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. More about the project

Our list of featured moments provides insight into many of these moments. 

Why not suggest a moment of your own?

Latest featured moments

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

Timber sailing vessel at sea with lower sails catching the wind. The Dutch flag sails from the bowsprit.
Wreck of the Batavia
4 June 1629
two men sitting in a radio studio in front of microphones. They are smiling and clearly in conversation. The present is wearing a top saying ‘We’re talking your language on 3EA’
SBS established
1 January 1978
four young men sit in front of a beach umbrella at night holding up signs
Aboriginal Tent Embassy
26 January 1972
sepia-toned photograph of a large three-storey white building
Free education introduced
17 December 1872
Young people squatting or standing on a dirt road holding the Australian flag and various banners.
Franklin Dam and the Greens
14 December 1982
A colour-tinted drawing of a parade watched by crowds of people.
Eight-hour day
21 April 1856

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

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.

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

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
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