CHRONOLOGICAL HISTORY OF AUSTRALIA:
AN ABORIGINAL PERSPECTIVE
Since the first European settlement there has been a lack of an Aboriginal perspective in most writings on Australian history. The following chronology presents an Aboriginal perspective on important events since European settlement in 1788.
38,000 BP Fire hearth at Lake Mungo indicates existence of Aboriginal society.
30,000 BP A man from the Lake Mungo area is buried in a shallow grave. His bones are stained red from ochre. This is one of the earliest known burials.
26,500 BP The body of a woman from Lake Mungo provides the earliest evidence of ritual cremation in the world.
1451 Dutch documents record the journeys of Maccassan trepangers to Australia.
1770 Captain James Cook claims to take possession of the whole east coast of Australia by raising the British flag at Possession Island off the northern tip of Cape York Peninsula.
1788 Captain Arthur Phillip raises the Union Jack (or Butcher's apron) at Sydney Cove. The Aboriginal population of Australia is more than 300,000. Resistance is immediate.
1799 Aboriginal resistance flares with incidents in the Parramatta and Hawkesbury districts.
1804 Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) settlers are authorised to shoot Aborigines in response to Aboriginal resistance.
1816 Proclamation by Governor Macquarie prevents free movement of Aborigines.
1834 Governor Arthur gets 5,000 men to line up across Van Diemans Land and walk the length of the island in an attempt to force Aborigines into the Tasman Peninsula.
Western Australia's Governor Stirling leads 25 mounted police against Aborigines following attacks on the white invaders. Official reports say at least 14 Aborigines were shot dead in the 'Battle of Pinjarra'. Local histories record more.
1835 John Batman attempts to make a treaty with Aboriginal people. Blankets and goods are exchanged for 250,000 ha of land. This treaty is the only one ever made with the original occupants of the land but is not recognised by colonial authorities.
1838 Myall Creek Massacre28 Aborigines are killed at Myall Creek in Northwestern NSW. Seven of the new settlers are hanged for murder.
1848 NSW Police Troopers are sent to Queensland to kill natives and open up the land for settlement.
The Board of National Education states 'It is impracticable to provide any form of educational facilities for the children of the blacks'.
1851 The colony of Victoria established. A Board for the Protection of Aborigines is established in Victoria and continues operating until 1957.
1868 One hundred and fifty Aborigines are killed resisting arrest in the Kimberleys.
1869 Act for 'Protection and Management of Aboriginal natives' is passed in Victoria.
1893 The Aboriginal Protection Board (NSW) is established. The Board sets up Aboriginal reserves at sufficient distance from Town to keep contact with white society to a minimum.
1890 Jandamarra, or Pidgeon, an Aboriginal resistance fighter, declares war on white invaders in the West Kimberleys and prevents settlement for six years.
1918 In the Northern Territory the Aboriginal Ordinance Act forbids mining on Aboriginal Reserve Land.
1928 Coniston massacre (NT): whites admit to shooting l7 Aborigines after a white dingo trapper is killed. Aboriginal records show scores more died.
1934 The Arnhem Land Aboriginal Reserve is declared.
1938 On 26 January an Australian Aborigines Conference is held in Sydney. It is the first of many Aboriginal peaceful protest demonstrations against the inequality and injustice.
NSW Government changes Aboriginal policy from Protection to Assimilation.
1939 Protest at Cummeragunga (NSW) over malnutrition and ill treatment.
1940 NSW Aborigines Welfare Board replaces Aborigines Protection Board.
1942 Darwin is bombed by the Japanese and many Aboriginal people are relocated in 'control camps'. Restrictions are placed on Aboriginal movement, especially of Aboriginal women.
1946 Aboriginal children required to obtain medical certificates to attend public schools.
Strike by Aboriginal pastoral workers over pay, conditions and ill treatment in Pilbara WA.
1963-67 Atomic tests are conducted on Maralinga lands in South Australia, leaving many Aborigines suffering radiation sickness.
1962 The Commonwealth Electoral Act is amended to give the franchise to all Aboriginal people.
1963 Police evict residents and burn down settlement of Mapoon (QLD) to allow mining.
1965 The Federal Government adopts a policy of integration of Aborigines.
1966 Stockmen and women at Wave Hill protest against intolerable working conditions and inadequate wages. They establish a camp at Wattle Creek, and demand the return of some of their traditional lands.
An Aboriginal Lands Trust is established in South Australia. Titles are held by a body consisting of Aboriginal representatives for the first time, anywhere in Australia.
1967 A referendum is held in May to change clauses in the Federal Constitution discriminating against Aboriginal people. s. 127 excluded people of full Aboriginal descent from counting in the census. s.51 prohibited the Federal Government from passing laws relating to Aboriginal people living in Australian States. With the changes to the Constitution Aboriginal people became recognised as Australian citizens with equal rights to vote. Aboriginal cattle station hands are awarded the right to the same wages as white station hands. The cattle industry reacts by phasing out Aboriginal labour and driving Aboriginal communities progressively off the properties which are their traditional lands.
1971 Noonkanbah cattle station workers walk off the job.
Gumatj elders take on Nabalco Pty Ltd and the Commonwealth of Australia in the Gove Land Case, following on from the bark petition.
Larrakia people 'sit-in' at Bagot Road, Darwin as a protest against theft of their land.
1972 On 26 January Aborigines pitch their Tent Embassy outside Parliament House in Canberra, which is forcibly removed by police on 20 July.
Withdrawal of regulation from Teachers Handbook (NSW) which allowed principals the right to refuse to enroll Aboriginal children into schools.
The Whitlam Government brings in a policy of self-determination.
In December the Whitlam Government freezes all applications for mining and exploration on Commonwealth Aboriginal reserves.
1975 The World Council of Indigenous Peoples is founded.
1976 The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act is passed by the Federal Parliament. It provides recognition of Aboriginal land ownership by about 11,000 Aboriginal people.
The Pitjantjatjara Council is formed.
1978 The Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Ordinance is passed.
The Kimberley Land Council is formed.
On 3 November the Ranger Mining Agreement is signed by the Northern Land Council and the Commonwealth of Australia.
1979 The Aboriginal Development Commission is established.
1980 The Pitjantjatjara Council advises the Aboriginal Affairs Minister of the possible radioactive contamination of Aboriginal people from Wallatinna Station, South Australia, as a result of the British atomic tests.
Aboriginal people from all over Australia travel to Noonkanbah to help the Aboriginal people in the fight to stop the Amax mining company drilling on their land. The WA Government, under Premier Court, gives police protection to an Amax convoy.
1981 The Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act (SA) is passed and a large area of the State is returned to the Anangu Pitjantjatjara.
1982 A Royal Commission into the Maralinga atomic tests begins.
Protests held by Aborigines in Brisbane during the Commonwealth Games.
1983 A delegation of five Aboriginal people goes to Geneva to attend the Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
Death of John Pat in Roebourne (WA) goal. The first death in custody to be widely protested, it eventually leads to the establishment of the Muirhead enquiry.
1985 In the 'Come to Canberra Campaign' joint land councils from the Northern Territory and the States go to Parliament House, Canberra, to protest against the proposed amendments to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act of the Northern Territory and the inadequate provisions in Hawke's visions of 'Uniform National Land Rights'.
The Pitjantjatjara Council enters a joint agreement with Amoco Petroleum for exploration on 20,000 sq km of Pitjantjatjara land.
On 26 October Uluru (Ayers Rock) is handed back to traditional owners.
1987 A Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody begins.
Imparja Television Company receives the first TV Broadcasting licence issued to an Aboriginal Organisation. It is the first such license in the world to be issued to indigenous people.
Torres Strait Islanders threaten to secede from Australia over lack of economic control over their lives.
1988 Long March. Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders from around Australia converge on Sydney to protest about the 200 year celebrations on 26 January.
Barunga Statement. Prime Minister Hawke affirms that the Government is committed to work for a negotiated Treaty with Aboriginal people.
Human Rights Commission reports that conditions at Toomelah and Boggabilia settlements are worse than in the Third World.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders host the 6th South Pacific Festival of Arts. Representatives of 25 nations attend the Festival in Townsville.
1990 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) replaces the Federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs.
1991 Royal Commission Into Black Deaths in Custody hands down its recommendations, which include screening police and prison officers to eliminate racists.
Barunga statement hung in Parliament House
1992 First meeting of the National Council for Reconciliation, held in Canberra.
High Court recognises native title to Murray Island in historic Mabo case, overturning the doctrine of terra nullius and paving the way for the filing of many native title claims (though few have been successful because of strict conditions).
1993 The United Nations sponsors the International Year of Indigenous Peoples. Prime Minister Paul Keating gives historic Redfern speech that acknowledges the injustices of the past.
1995 National enquiry into 'stolen generations' begins. Thousands of Aboriginal children were legally taken from their mothers under the policy of assimilation. The 'Protector of Aborigines' was the legal custodian of all Aboriginal children until the 1960s. Many Aboriginal people are still trying to trace their families.
1997 The Howard government's Ten-Point Plan codifies legal procedure for Aboriginal land claims and restricts Aboriginal rights of negotiation.