You are in site section: Online features

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

Your list

Alongside the initial list, we've created a list of moments suggested by members of the public. Explore your list of moments and suggest a moment of your own.

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. You can also watch the discussion on YouTube:

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

Sydney Opera House opens
Sydney Opera House
20 October 1973
First railway line
First railway line
12 September 1854
Extinction of Thylacine
Extinction of thylacine
7 September 1936
'Tampa affair'
‘Tampa affair’
26 August 2001
Wave Hill walk-off
Wave Hill walk-off
23 August 1966

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