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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?

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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

1890–91: Depression and strikes; formation of the Labor Party
ALP forms
1890–91
1942: Japanese Imperial Army invades Singapore
Fall of Singapore
15 February 1942
1951: Australia signs ANZUS Treaty with New Zealand and the United States
ANZUS Treaty
1 September 1951
1616: Dutch navigator Dirk Hartog lands on the island off western Australia that now bears his name
Dirk Hartog lands off WA
25 October 1616
1944: Formation of Liberal Party of Australia
Liberal party forms
16 October 1944
An elderly couple and two young women or girls sit around a radio the size of a bar fridge
Start of the ABC
17 May 1932

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