Click to the "Aboriginal Arrival Era [above] to visit a more informative site on this era

75,000  years ago  

40,000  years ago

30,780  years ago

23,000  years ago

20,000  years ago

2,000    years ago
The first Aboriginal genome sequence confirms Australia's native people left Africa.     

Clear archaeological evidence that Aboriginal people have been living for some time in south eastern Australia eg Lake Mungo.

A man from the Lake Mungo area was buried in a shallow grave. His forearm bones were stained pink from ochre. This is one of the earliest known burials of a distinctly modern people.

Aborigines were living at Malangangarr in Arnhem Land and using ground-edge grooved axes. Australian technology leads the world.

Aboriginal people are well established throughout coastal and mainland Australia and Tasmania

Jesus Christ was born

Click on "Immigration Era" [above] to find a more informative page on this era





1606 .









1789 .





1830 1832













Chinese sailors visit near Darwin (NT), evidence of 15th Century Ming statuette found.

Dutch documents record the journeys of Macassan trepangers (Indigenous traders from Indonesia) to ‘Marege’, as the Macassans call Australia.

Macassan praus are sailing to the north eastern coast of the Northern Territory. Trade between Aborigines and continued until it was stopped by the Government in 1906 .

Bone tool deposits at Otway Peninsula, Victoria suggest Aboriginal people were working with animal skins.

Earliest recorded contact between Europeans and Aborigines were with the crew of the Dutch ship Duyfken under Captain Willem Janszoon on the western coast of the Cape York Peninsula .

Luis Vaez de Torres from Spain becomes the first European to successfully navigate the passage between New Guinea and Cape York Peninsula in North Queensland.  Today the passage is named after him – Torres Strait

Dutchman Dirk Hartogh, the capain of the Dutch VOC ship Eendracht landed on the Western Australian  coast of Australia.  Today this is know as the Dirk Harog Island at the entrance to Shark Bay.

The oldest dated rock painting is believed to come from the 1620s. The rock painting depicts a sailing boat and is proof of Aboriginal people’s early contact, possibly with Macassars from Indonesia fishing for trepang.

Dutchman Jan Carstenz described several armed encounters with Aboriginal people on the northern coast of Australia. Shots were fired and an Aboriginal man was hit.

Tasman traverses Gulf of Carpentaria

Gonzal and Aaschens reach west Cape from Indonesi\]

Lieutenant James Cook charts the eastern coastline of the continent aboard the   Endeavour and claims the land as a British possession.

Captain James Cook passes through the islands and takes possession and lays claim of Australia for Britain and erects flag on Possession Island.

Outbreak of small pox introduced by the British led to the devastation of the Aboriginal population in the Port Jackson, Botany Bay and Broken Bay.  The disease spread inland and along the coast.

Explorer, Matthew Flinders enters and renames 'Moreton Bay'.  Racial clash at Skermish Point, Bribie Island. 

Two years after the British flag was raised in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) settlers were authorized to shoot Aborigines.

John Bingle makes amicable contace tith Moreton Bay Aborigines

Maginnchini was the Aboriginal name for Brisbane city area. Explorer, John Oxley, was shown Brisbane River by stranded timbergetters and local Aborigines; mistakes it for entrance to inland sea.

Serious racial violence erupts on Stradbroke and Moreton Islands.

John Batman attempted to make a treaty with Aboriginal people. Blankets and goods are exchanged for 250,000 hectares of land. This treaty is the only one made with the original occupants of the land but is not recognized by colonial authorities.

Myall Creek massacre, NSW.  Near Inverell settlers shoot and burn 28 Aborigines, mostly women and children.  The first massacre of Aborigines in Australian history where offenders are punished under Australian law.  German missionaries arrive to convert Aborigines (unsuccessfully).

First public execution of Aborigines in Brisbane.

Brisbane proclaimed a 'free settlement': first land sales.  Mass poisoning of Aborigines at Kilcoy Station exacerbates race relations;

Native Mounted Police commence operations in Queensland Zone. In 1853 They commenced operations in Brisbane Region.

Queensland becomes a self-governing colony

Cullin-la-ringo massacre of whites by Aborigines the largest in mainland Australia.  Mass reprisals follow. Select Commission of Enquiry into Native Mounted Police and in 1874 there is a rash of Native Mounted Police scandals.

Reformatory Schools (Industrial) Act (QLD). Any child born of an Aboriginal or half caste mother' was deemed to be a neglected child' and as such was liable to be sent to a reformatory or industrial school. Simply being Aboriginal was proof of neglect and for the purposes of the Act missions were declared to be industrial schools or reformatories to which Indigenous children could be sent.

The first overseas cricket tour left Australia for England; the team was all Aboriginal. 150 Aboriginal people were killed resisting arrest in the Kimberley’s.

London Missionary Society arrives and Christianity is introduced to the islands. The first landing at Darnley Island [Erub] on 1st July 1871. This is celebrated annually as the ‘Coming of the Light’ or ‘July 1 Celebrations’ throughout Australia.

In the Torres Strait THE Queensland Government appoints a Government Resident.  Head men are appointed and given police powers in the outer islands

Torres Strait Islands are annexed to Queensland.

Haddon’s Expedition to the Torres Strait.

Click on "Protection Era" [above] to find a more informative page on this era.











The Aboriginal Protection and Restrictions of the Sale of Opium Act.

Cambridge Anthropological Expedition [Haddon] to the Torres Strait.

Queensland Government takes control of the islands from the London Missionary Society.  Torres Strait Islander citizens become wards of State.  (Aboriginal Protection Act).

Brisbane free speech fight begins. Several participants conduct Australia's first political hunger strikes.

Queensland males begin enlisting to fight in World War One.

Queensland troops the first to land, and take casualities at Gallipoli.

Maritime Strike, resulted not only from poor working conditions of pearl divers but rather the Islander’s right to control wages and their own affairs.  It was about equality and autonomy, which led to the establishment of local governing Island Councils

Australian Aborigines Conference held in Sydney.  Meeting on January 26, the 150th anniversary of NSW, Aboriginal mark the ‘Day of Mourning’

Aboriginals Preservation and Protection Act and the Torres Strait Islanders Act replaces the Act.

Torres Strait Islanders were allowed into mainland Australia, to pursue employment

Click on "Assimilation Era" [above] to find a more informative page on this era.








First National Aborigines Day (NAIDOC) Palm Island Aborigines strike heavily suppressed.

The Commonwealth Electoral Act was amended to give franchise to all Aboriginal people (i.e., extended the right to vote to Aborigines in WA, QLD, and NT).

Weipa Aborigines unsuccessfully resist relocation as northern missions surrendered to Aluminium consortium.

Aboriginal poet Oodgeroo Noonuccul (Kathy Walker) publishes "We Are Going". 

Women de-segregate male public bars in hotels

Referendum sees 92% of Australian vote to give the Commonwealth power to legislate for Aboriginal people and to allow Indigenous Australians to be counted in the Census.

Aboriginal flag designed by Harold Thomas in Adelaide, South Australia. The flag is symbolic to our people in a number of ways; the black represents the Aboriginal people, past, present and future; the yellow represents the sun, the giver of life; the red represents the earth, red ochre and our spiritual relationship to the land. The flag became a powerful uniting symbol of identity for our people across the country when it was flown at the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra in 1972

Springbok Rugby tour induces anti-apartheid protests and renewed State of Emergency.  Campaign to end Fraser Island sand-mining launched. Aboriginal Act begins de-institutionalisation of reserve populations.  Neville Bonner, first Aboriginal parliamentarian, becomes Queensland Senator. .

Click on "Self Determination Era" to find a more informative page on this era.






The Racial Discrimination Act was passed in the Federal Parliament.

Queensland Aboriginal reserves and missions converted to Government shire to thwart self-management moves.

Brisbane Commonwealth Games: State of Emergency powers invoked against land rights demonstrations.  Land Act blocks freehold title for Aboriginal councils.  Eddie Marbo launches legal action to overturn Crown control over Murray Island.

Tens of thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their non indigenous supporters marched through the streets of Sydney on 26 January (Australia Day) to celebrate their survival, during national Bicentennial celebrations.  

Black Deaths in Custody . recommendation 53 in the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody highlighted the need for government archival records pertaining to family and community histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be opened to re-establish community links broken due to by past government policies. 

Fitzgerald Inquiry Report leads to gaoling of parliamentarians and Police Commissioner.

1988 – T]

Click on "Reconciliation Era" to find a more informative page on this era.












Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody presents its report to the Federal Government.  It finds that of the 99 deaths it investigated, 43 were of people who had been separated from their families as children.

The Torres Strait Islander flag was designed by Bernard Namok from Thursday Island. It features three horizontal bands, two green for the land and one blue for the sea. These bands are separated by black lines which represent the people. A further symbol of all Torres Strait Islander people is the white dhari - the traditional headdress. Underneath this is a white five pointed star which represents the five island groups: eastern, western, central, Port Kennedy area and Northern Peninsula area.

The High Court of Australia ruled in the Mabo case that native title exits over particular kinds of land - unalienated Crown land, national parks and reserves - and that Australia was never terra nullius (land belonging to no one) or ‘empty land’.

The Native Title Act was passed in the Federal Parliament.

Indigenous Land Fund established by Federal Government for indigenous people to buy land as part of the government's response to Mabo decision.

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission release the Bringing Them Home report into the separation of Indigenous Children from their parents.

Murray Island Native Title case won in the Federal Court of Australia, 3rd June 1997. This is commemorated as Mabo Day yearly on the anniversary date.  Plaintiffs were  Eddie Mabo, James Rice and Meb Salee.

Native Title Amendment Act is passed.

Corroboree is held at Sydney Opera House to mark 10 years of work on Reconciliation

First stamp of Australia showing a living Aboriginal person.

Carol Martin (ALP) was the first indigenous Member of the Western Australian Parliament representing the Kimberley electorate


Click on "Present Day" to view a some information relevant to this time...















The first member of the Stolen Generations is awarded compensation in the NSW Victims Compensation Tribunal for the sexual assault and injuries she suffered after authorities removed her from her family. The Howard government calls for an inquiry into the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).

ATSIC was abolished; the ‘main-streaming’ of Indigenous services and the establishment of the National Indigenous Council. Mulrunji Doomadgee dies in a police watch house on Palm Island, 70 km north of Townsville in north Queensland.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) is dismantled by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Amendment Act 2005 and replaced by a Commonwealth government-appointed advisory board.

Reconciliation Action Plan program was launched. Victoria is the first state to formally recognise the sacrifice and service of Aboriginal servicemen during the inaugural Honouring Victorian Indigenous Returned Service Men and Women Shrine of Rememberance Service. The first Stolen Generations compensation scheme in Australia is set up in Tasmania by the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal Children Act 2006 (Tas).

2007 National Indigenous Television (NITV), Australia’s first national 24-hour Aboriginal television service, starts. 143 member states adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Along with Canada, New Zealand and the United States, Australia is one of four nations to vote against the declaration, while 11 nations abstain.Intervention into the Northern Territory Aboriginal communities in response to the findings of a report about sexual abuse. The long standing permit system, enacted as part of the 1976 Aboriginal Land Rights Act (Northern Territory) was scrapped. Premier Peter Beattie orders a judicial review of the case and Hurley is charged with manslaughter, the first time ever in Queensland that a police officer is charged over the death of an Aboriginal person

Ngaanyatjarra Elder Mr Ward dies in the back of a prison van because the two officers failed to give him water and offer him breaks while driving 320km through 42-degree heat in Western Australia.

For the first time in government history Aboriginal people perform a Welcome to Country as the federal parliament opens after the break. Patrick Dodson is the second Australian to receive Australia’s only international peace prize, the Sydney 2008 Peace Prize. The Devils Marbles (Karlu Karlu) site is handed back to traditional owners after a 28-year native title battle. Its owners consider Karlu Karlu as one of the most significant sacret sites.

The Queensland government announces a new Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council. Kevin Rudd, made a formal apology to the Stolen Generations in the House of Representatives.

Aboriginal law professor Mick Dodson receives the 2009 Australian of the Year award for his lifetime commitment to improving the lives of Aboriginal people and in helping to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Australia supports the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Boxer Anthony Mundine claims his third world boxing title.

Indigenous Sport Queensland launches the Queensland Indigenous Sports Hall of Fame. The Queensland Parliament amends the Constitution of Queensland to include a preamble honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians. Aboriginal academic Megan Davis becomes the first Aboriginal person appointed to a UN body when the Australian government nominates her for the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Michael Leslie wins the $50,000 Red Ochre Award for lifetime achievement in Indigenous dance. 19-year-old Aboriginal model Samantha Harris makes it to the cover of Vogue Australia’s June issue.  Noongar man Ken Wyatt becomes the first Indigenous Australian in the House of Representatives in the federal parliament when he wins the Perth seat of Hasluck for the Liberal Party.
 The West Australian government approves $3.2 million, one of the largest ex-gratia (voluntary) payments ever made in Australia to the family of an Aboriginal Elder who died of heatstroke in the back of a prison van two years ago The UN Committee on the Eliminiation of Racial Discrimination (CERD) delivers a damning report on Australia’s failure to meet international commitments on eliminating discrimination.
2011 Aboriginal boxer Lionel Rose dies aged 62. He was the first Aboriginal boxer to win a world title.

DNA studies discover that ancestors of Aboriginal Australians reached Asia at least 24,000 years before another wave of migration that populated Europe and Asia. Australian Aboriginals had split from the first modern human populations to leave Africa, 64,000 to 75,000 years ago.

The Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra celebrates its 40th anniversary. Aboriginal people set up tent embassies in Brisbane, Moree and Perth to draw attention to issues such as sovereignty and native title. After widespread outrage and a petition signed by 20,337 people Facebook removes a page of Aboriginal memes which portrays Aborigines as drunks who sniff petrol and bludge on welfare. Over 200 people, including newly arrived asylum seekers, receive an Aboriginal Passport. The Aboriginal Passport was first introduced in 1988 by Palawa (Tasmanian) activist, Michael Mansell, and was issued to an Aboriginal Delegation that visited Libya

This is not a completed history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  There is still a lot more information to find out.  Only through opening up the collections held in the government institutions can researchers discover and present this history to Australians. 

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