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Cheat Sheet

Australian History For Dummies

Australian history packs a lot of punch into a short recorded time span. You want the world’s oldest continuous indigenous culture? It’s right here. A nation that starts as a convict dumping ground and morphs quickly into one of the most stable, egalitarian and prosperous democracies in the world? Also here. Wars? Mining booms? Natural catastrophes? Federation? Economic booms and busts? Racial exclusion? Racial inclusion? Australia's got all of them too.

Key Dates in Australian History

Australian history — well, that kind that’s been written down — begins some 400 years ago when European traders and explorers first started coming up against the coast of a continent they hadn’t found before. From 1788, following British settlement of New South Wales, the dates start coming thick and fast.

The following timeline of significant events begins with that initial cross-cultural encounter and goes right up to the election of Australia’s first woman Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, in 2010.

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