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Australian Capital Territory

Australian Capital Territory History Timeline

BC - 1800s
  • (21,000 BC) Indigenous Australians settled area
  • (1820s) Europeans explored and settled area
  • (1820) Charles Throsby Smith, Joseph Wild and James Vaughan become first Europeans to visit Limestone Plains
  • (1821) Charles Throsby discovered Murrumbidgee River
  • (1825) Robert Campbell granted land in Limestone Plains as compensation for lost cargo ship
  • (1833) Robert Campbell built homestead called Duntroon
  • (1835) Canberra, Duntroon, Palmerville (Ginninderra), Springbank, Yarralumla, Tuggeranong and Lanyon were established
  • (1895) Tharwa Bridge, first bridge in district, built across Murrumbidgee River
  • (1899) Colonial premiers determined the Federal capital should be within New South Wales
  • (1900) Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 was enacted; provided for a site for a capital city in New South Wales, at least 100 miles from Sydney, and new capital would have a minimum area of 100 square miles
  • (1901) Australian Capital Territory created
  • (1908) Site of Canberra selected for location of nation's capital
  • (1909) New South Wales Government enacted Seat of Government Surrender Act 1909 transferring site for the Federal Capital Territory
  • (1909) New South Wales Government ceded land at Jervis Bay for establishment of sea port for the capital
  • (1911) Territory officially came under government control as Federal Capital Territory
  • (1912) Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs, Colonel David Miller, appointed Administrator of the Federal Territory
  • (1913) In election, Joseph Cook became Prime Minister, William H. Kelly assumed responsibility for Federal Territory
  • (1918) At end of World War I, Molonglo Internment Camp was built near Canberra (now Fyshwick) to house German and Austrian nationals expelled from China
  • (1927) The Parliament of Australia moved to the Capital Territory
  • (1931) Federal Highway linking Canberra to Collector and Goulburn in New South Wales was completed
  • (1938) Federal Capital Territory was renamed Australian Capital Territory
  • (1939) Bushfires burned areas west of Murrumbidgee following record hot temperatures
  • (1939) In World War II, Prime Minister Robert Menzies declared Australia to be at war with Germany; 3,000 public service families brought to Canberra along with military personnel
  • (1940) In Canberra air disaster, chief military officer and three senior ministers were killed when their plane crashed on approach to Canberra
  • (1943) U.S. Embassy (first embassy built in Canberra) opened
  • (1949) Australian Capital Territory gained seat in the House of Representatives, Member could only vote on matters directly affecting the Territory
  • (1957) National Capital Development Commission (NCDC) established to assume responsibility for planning and development of Canberra including Lake Burley Griffin, Parliament House and towns of Woden Valley, Weston Creek, Belconnen, Tuggeranong and Gungahlin
  • (1960) Australia signed agreement with U.S. allowing them to establish satellite tracking stations in Australian Capital Territory
  • (1964) Lake Burley Griffin completed as centerpiece of Canberra
  • (1964) National Capital Development Commission opened Woden - first of a planned series of new towns
  • (1965) Royal Australian Mint opened
  • (1966) Belconnen opened, second in series of new towns
  • (1971) Flash flood in Canberra killed seven, injured 15, caused over $9 million in damages
  • (1972) Aboriginal Tent Embassy established by indigenous people
  • (1974) Capital Territory allocated two Senate seats
  • (1978) Residents rejected proposal for self-government
  • (1979) Legislative Assembly became House of Assembly

About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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States & Territories of Australia

This page was last updated on July 10, 2020.