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Learn more about each key event and check the answers for our quiz on Australian history over the 20th-century.

C. Rats spread the Bubonic plague

Image: Rats caught in Sydney, State Library of New South Wales a147317

A. The Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 enable Australian women to vote in federal elections and stand for office

Image: Poster of women’s suffrage banner, ‘Trust the Women Mother As I Have Done’, by Dora Meeson Coates, 1908. National Museum of Australia

C. William Farrer is famous for breeding a strain of wheat that flourished in the Australian climate

Image: William Farrer, 1900. National Library of Australia obj-151629878

A. The first lifesaving club was established at Bondi

Image: Manly, New South Wales, 1900–1910. Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales PXE 711 / 277

B. The 1907 Harvester Judgement is famous for creating a minimum wage standard for workers

Image: Postcard of Sunshine Harvester Works, 1910. Museums Victoria HT 31909

A. Herbert ‘Dally’ Messenger was the greatest rugby league sportsman in the first half of the 20th century

Image: Herbert ‘Dally’ Messenger. Reet Howell Collection, State Library of Queensland 7195

C. The new Australian naval fleet arrived in Sydney in 1913

Image: Cover of pamphlet published for the occasion. Josef Lebovic 1913 Collection, National Museum of Australia

C. The Aborigines Protection Act 1909 (NSW) gave the state government the power to remove any Aboriginal child at any time for any reason

Image: Gate from the Aboriginal Children’s Home at Kempsey, NSW. National Museum of Australia

D. 16,000 Australian and New Zealand troops landed on the first day of the Gallipoli Campaign

Image: Reinforcements coming ashore at ANZAC Cove. Australian War Memorial A05774

C. Edith Cowan was the first woman elected to an Australian parliament

Image: Portrait of Edith Cowan, about 1920s. National Library of Australia nla.obj-136673287

A. The first ABC radio broadcast was in 1932

Image: STC mantel radio. National Museum of Australia

C. The infamous ‘Bodyline’ Ashes series was held from 1932–33

Image: Third test, January 1933, Adelaide Oval. State Library of South Australia B8660

A. Sir Robert Menzies founded the Liberal party in August 1945

Image: Sir Robert Menzies, Dame Enid Lyons, Sir Eric Hansen, Harold Holt and Tom White in 1946. National Library of Australia 151577240

D. The Australian scientist Howard Florey was part of the team responsible for discovering penicillin

Image: Howard Florey, 1960. National Library of Australia obj-136743351

B. The former Minister of External Affairs, Hubert ‘Doc’ Evatt was inaugural president of the General Assembly of the United Nations

Image: The United Nations headquarters, New York. Flickr, CC BY 2.0

B. Queen Elizabeth II had been Queen for 2 years when she arrived in Australia in February 1954

Image: Wattle Painting, 1954, William Dargie, oil on canvas, 102 x 76 cm. National Museum of Australia

A. ‘Good evening and welcome to television’ were the first words spoken by Bruce Gyngell to introduce Australians to television on 16 September 1956

Image: HSV 7 Melbourne began broadcasting on 4 November 1956. National Archives of Australia 7495308

C. 67 national teams participated in the Melbourne Olympics

Image: John Konrads’ official participation medal, 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. National Museum of Australia

B. In November 1960 the federal government agreed to a partial lifting of the export ban on iron ore

Image: A giant power shovel and 95-ton trucks working on the Hamersley railway, May 1966. National Library of Australia obj-137443783

C. On Valentine’s Day 1966 there was a major change in the Australian currency, from the Australian pound to the Australian dollar

Image: HRH The Duke of Edinburgh opening the Royal Australian Mint on 22 February 1965, with Treasurer Harold Holt and Prime Minister Robert Menzies. Royal Australian Mint

A. The oldest human remains in Australia were found at Lake Mungo in 1968

Image: Archaeologist John Mulvaney at Lake Mungo, 1974. National Archives of Australia A6180, 23/8/74/3

C. Prime Minister Gough Whitlam ended conscription in relation to the Vietnam War in December 1972

Image: Vietnam moratorium badge. National Museum of Australia

B. The Conciliation and Arbitration Commission granted equal pay for women in 1972

Image: Equal pay protest, Melbourne Town Hall, 20 February 1969. Laurie Richards Collection, Museum Victoria MM054972

C. Australian author Patrick White won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973

Image: Patrick White, 1984. Photo: Brendan Hennessy. National Library of Australia obj-149858648

C. 71 people died in Cyclone Tracy in 1974

Image: Houses destroyed by Cyclone Tracy, Darwin, December 1974. Photo: Alan Dwyer. National Library of Australia obj-148903303

Updated: 30 January 2020
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