A Timeline of major events in Western Australia's History

(including some events associated with the discovery and founding of other parts of Australia)


If you are looking for time-lines for individual towns then click on site-map link (scrolling above) and click each town you are interested in.


60,000 BC Archaeological evidence (Mungo man) shows hominids were already inhabiting Australia at this time. They were distinct from Aborigines and show different MDNA to all modern humans. This casts doubt on the 'out of Africa' theory of human colonisation. (Note: The actual age of Mungo man is disputed and may be 20,000 years younger than 60,000 years.)
38,000 BC The ancestors of the Aborigines probably arrive around this time. (1).

Sometime after the arrival of humans the mega fauna of Australia begins to become extinct.
18,000 BC Onset of the last ice age which would enlarge the Australian mainland to the edge of the continental shelf.
4,000 BC After the end of the ice age ocean levels reach their current levels and the Australian coastline we know today takes shape.
2,000 BC Dingoes arrive from Indonesia, probably with fishermen from small coastal villages.
1420 AD Maps by the Chinese Admiral Cheng Ho are reported to show part of the west coast of Australia but records are unable to confirm any landings
1525 Games de Sequeira is said to have mapped part of the north west but this is disputed.


First likely landing - Portuguese.


Pedro de Quiros coins the name 'Austrialia' and reported on 'Terra Australis'.


First documented landing by Europeans in Australia - Dutch, William Janszoon. (Duyfken)

1611 Hendrik Brouwer pioneered a new route to the Dutch East Indies


Dirk Hartog makes the first confirmed landing on West Australian soil. (Eendracht)

1618 Crew of Zeewolf first sights and records the North West Cape. Later that year the first landing is made there.
1619 Houtman discovers the Abrolhos Islands.
1622 The Leeuwin sails around the south west coast.
The Trial is wrecked.


Franz Thyssen charts part of the coastline. The land is named Nuytsland.


Batavia wrecked on the Abrolhos Islands.

1642 Abel Tasman discovers VanDiemen's Land (Tasmania)


Abel Tasman christens the country 'New Holland' and explores the north west coast.

1656 Vergulde Draeke (Gilt Dragon) wrecked near Ledge Point.


Samuel Volkersen makes the first landfall on Rottnest but does not name the island.


William Dampier becomes the first Englishman to land on West Australian soil. (Cygnet)


Willem de Vlamingh lands on Rottnest and explores and names the Swan River.

1699 Dampier's second voyage in the Roebuck.
1768 Cook's Endevaour voyage.


St. Allouram lands on Hartog Island and claims the land for France when he visits Shark Bay (March 31st).

Cook's Resolution voyage.
1779 Joseph Banks suggests founding a convict settlement at Botany Bay.
1786 Decision made to establish a settlement at Botany Bay.
1788 Sydney Colony established.


George Vancouver lands near Albany and claims the land on behalf of Britain.

1792 D'Entrecasteaux's voyage.


The name Australia is used by George Shaw and appears to be the first documented use.

1801 Mathew Flinders circumnavigates the continent - at quite a distance in some places. (Investigator)
Baudin's voyage. (Geographe and Naturaliste)
1802 Baudin and Flinders meet at Encounter Bay.


Mathew Flinders suggests that Australia be the name adopted for the country.

Foundation of Hobart.
1818 DeFreycinet's expedition. (Uranie)
P.P. King begins his voyages of exploration and becomes the first to circumnavigate the continent close to the coast.


Edmund Lockyer arrives from NSW at Albany and establishes the first settlement in W.A. with troops and convicts


Lockyer claims the land for Britain (January 21).


James Stirling aboard the HMS Success surveys the Swan River with a view to settlement.

1828 Syndicate formed in London for colonisation of Swan River.
Decision of British Government to found the new colony.


Charles Fremantle lands near mouth of the Swan River and claims the land for Britain. (May 2)

First death in the colony. June 10. William Parsons is killed by a falling tree on Garden Island.


James Stirling officially proclaims the territory of Western Australia. (June 18)

Perth is founded (August 12th.)


Ensign Robert Dale leads the first exploration to the east of the. Darling Scarp. (October)

First European child born in the new colony (Joseph Mitchell).


First liquor licenses issued (Jan 1). (First official hangovers Jan 2).

First marriage in the colony (James Knight and May A Smith on Jan 18).
Experimental farm established at York (Feb 14.)
Settlement at Augusta started by Turner, Molloy and Bussell party. (May)
Swan River in flood May-June
Colonial hospital opens (June 15.)


Ensign Dale explores east of the Darling Scarp. (Sept.)

First criminal conviction recorded (Oct 1.)
Legislative Council established (Nov 1.)
Thomas Bannister explores the country from Perth to Albany overland. (Dec 14.)
Executive Council established.


J.S. Roe leads an overland exploration to Albany.

Round House gaol at Fremantle is completed (Jan 18.)
Frederickstown becomes Albany as W.A. takes over from N.S.W. (March 7.) - convicts withdrawn.
Lt. Governor Stirling becomes Governor Stirling.
Agricultural Society established. (May 28.)
Yagan comes to the attention of the authorities by killing a settler near Melville Water. (Aug 1.)
First newspaper established.


Established governing bodies meet for the first time. (February 7.)


Civil and criminal court system established.

The colony's first (and last) duel is fought.
First census is held. (July 1st.)
Gov. Stirling returns to England to seek more support for the colony. (Aug 12.)
1833 Yagan is shot dead (July 11th.)
Sir Richard Spencer is appointed Government Resident at Albany.


Foundation Day (June 1.) declared a public holiday.


Battle of Pinjarra.

Colony exports its first wool shipment.


The Lady Stirling (first ship built in the colony) is launched.


J.S. Roe leads the Great Southern Expedition. (Oct-Dec).


George Shenton has the South Perth flour mill constructed.


First brewery established.


Bank of Western Australia opens (June 1.)

Stirling resigns as Governor. (Dec 31.)
George Grey's first expedition.
Colonies first brewery is established.


John Hutt becomes the colony's second Governor.


Aboriginal prison established on Rottnest.

The almost forgotten Lieutenant Lort Stokes explores a large part of the north coast of Australia.
1840 West Australian Company establishes a settlement at Australind.


Eyre arrives in Albany after travelling overland from Adelaide and making the first east-west crossing of Australia.


Causeway and bridge first spans the Swan River.


Parkhurst boys transported.

Master and Servant Act becomes law.
1843 Publicans Act banns Aborigines from being supplied with alcohol.
First causeway opens over the Swan River and a toll is charged.


John Gavin (aged 15)  is the first white person hanged in W.A. (Parkhurst transportee.)


First horses bred in the colony for use in India are shipped out.

1845 A.C. & F.T. Gregory's expedition.


Andrew Clarke takes over as Governor.

Coal is discovered.
New Norcia Mission founded.


Governor Clarke dies.


Charles Fitzgerald takes over as Governor.


First official census.

Deposits of lead and copper discovered.


Transportation of convicts approved.


First convicts arrive (June 1) aboard the Scindian.

1851 Pearling industry starts operations.
1852 Direct mail service operates from Albany to Britain.


Robert Austin's expedition seen as a failure but he is the first to report likely gold in the Murchison. He is ignored by history.

First postage stamps are introduced. Going against tradition W.A. issued stamps bearing the image of a black swan and not the reigning monarch.


A.E. Kennedy appointed Governor.

A.C. Gregory's expedition to Victoria River.
1856 Mathew Hale becomes the first Bishop of Perth. (One source says 1857).
Perth is proclaimed a city by Queen Victoria. (Sep 23.)
1857 F.T. Gregory's expedition to Murchison and Gascoyne.
1858 A.C. Gregory's second expedition.
1861 F.T. Gregory's expedition to Nichol Bay.


John Stephen Hampton appointed Governor.


Charles Cooke Hunt opens up a trail to the goldfields and sinks wells but does not find gold.

  Roebuck Bay Pastoral Association, Camden Harbour Pastoral Association and Denison Plains Association all try to settle the north west.
1866 Bridge over the river at Fremantle opens. (Built by convicts.)
C.C. Hunt's expedition to Hampton Plains.
1867 Elections held for Legislative Council.


Transportation of convicts from England ends. Last ship Hougoumont arrives (Jan 10.)


First telegraph line opens between Perth and Fremantle. (June) - one source says 1870.


Frederick Weld appointed Governor.


John Forrest leads an expedition from Perth to the Leonora area.


Representative Government established. New constitution adopted.


John Forrest leads the first expedition to cross Australia from west to east. (Mar 30-Aug 27.)

Perth town hall opens (June 1st).


First private railway in the state running on wooden rails. Western Australian Timber Co.


Alexander Forrest leads an expedition from Perth to the goldfields and Esperance.

Elementary Education Act passed. Compulsory education for all children aged between 6 and 14 years old.
Districts Road Act is passed and 18 Road Boards are established. (3 more added by the end of the year).
1873 Ernest Giles' first expedition.
Peter Warburton's expedition from Alice Springs to Perth.


John Forrest leads an expedition from Geraldton to central Australia.


Governor Robinson appointed.

Ernest Giles' second expedition.
1876 Catalpa rescue. Irish prisoners escape.


Telegraph connects Perth to Adelaide, Darwin and London. (Dec. 9th.)


Governor Ord appointed.


Aboriginal Protection Board established.


First Government railway in the state constructed from Geraldton to Northampton.


Alexander Forrest leads and expedition to the Kimberley.

First edition of the West Australian newspaper.
Secret ballot introduced for the election of Legislative Council.


Governor Robinson appointed. (again)

George Shenton becomes the first Mayor of Perth.


Railway from Perth to Guildford completed.

1882 The age of consent for girls is raised from 10 to 14 years of age.


Frederick Napier Broome appointed Governor.


First workers union formed by Fremantle Society of Carpenters and Joiners.


The first payable gold is discovered at Halls Creek.

Federal Council Act passed.
First Australian rules football match played. (June 6th)
1886 Kimberley goldfield proclaimed.


First telephone service introduced in Perth and Fremantle.

1888 Aborigines are denied the right to hold a miner's license.
Yilgarn Goldfield proclaimed.
Pilbara Goldfield proclaimed.
1889 Ernest Favec leads an expedition to the Gascoyne and Fortescue rivers.
  Great Southern Railway opens.


Constitution proclaimed (October 21) John Forrest becomes the 1st Premier (22nd December)

First shipment of cattle from teh Kimberley arrives at Fremantle in June.


Governor Robinson appointed. (third time)

Imperial Act conferring Responsible Government passed.


Parliament officially opens (January 20).

Murchison Goldfield proclaimed.
1892 Married women gain the right to own property in their own right.
Construction of Fremantle harbour begins.
Coolgardie Goldfield discovered.


John Forrest introduces the Homestead Act.

Paddy Hannan finds gold at Kalgoorlie.
Electricity becomes available in Perth city.
1891 First manned balloon flight takes place over Perth. (23rd March.)
1892 Copper found at Ravensthorpe.


Agricultural Bank is established.

All major mining centres are connected to Perth by telegraph.
Midland railway opens.
Menzies goldfield proclaimed.


School attendance becomes compulsory.

Government purchases Great Southern Railway.
1896 Great Southern Railway purchased by the Government.
The first piped water service in Perth starts operation.


S.S. Sultan becomes the first steamer to use the new Fremantle harbour. (May.)


First self propelled motor car imported.


Coal discovered at Collie.

First motor car arrives in Perth.
Perth Zoo opens (Oct 17.)
The Land Act divides the state into six divisions, Kimberley, North West (now Pilbara), Eastern (now Wheat belt and Goldfields), South West, Western (now Mid-West and Metro) and Eucla (now Great Southern).


Women given the vote.

Legislative Council becomes an elected instead of an appointed body.


Free education in Government schools for 6-14 year olds.


First electric tram operates in Perth (Hay St.)

Perth Mint opens (June 21.)
First contingent of troops leave W.A. for the Boer War. Nov. 7. 69 officers and 1168 other ranks eventually serve there.

Truck Act. Employees had to be paid wages in cash not in goods.

Kalgoorlie water pipeline begins construction.


Electoral terms set at three years and members are paid a salary.

Donald Mackay cycles round Australia.
Referendum on federation.
The age of consent for girls is raised from 14 to 16 years of age.


Western Australia becomes part of the Commonwealth of Australia. (January 1st.)


Lt. F. W. Bell becomes the first West Australian to be awarded a Victoria Cross (Boer War).

First federal elections (Mar 29.)
F.S. Brockman leads an expedition from King Sound.
1902 Minimum wage is established by legislation.

Goldfields water scheme is opened.


First tram operates in Fremantle.

1906 First sewage system comes into use in Perth.


Plural voting abolished.

Land and Income tax starts to be levied in W.A.
1909 Compulsory national service instituted.


First aero plane flight in Perth. Bristol Boxkite piloted by J.J. Hammond. (January 3rd.)

University of W.A. begins construction.
1912 State shipping service commences.


First wireless (radio) station opens in Applecross. (One source says 6WF started broadcasting June 4th 1924)

University of W.A. commences operation.
The first Australian bank notes are printed.


Wesfarmers Co-op is formed.

World War One begins.
First successful Australian made aero plane flies at Coolgardie. (17 May.)
1916 First conscription referendum.
1917 Second conscription referendum.
1918 World War One ends. (November 11th.)
1919 Riots in Kalgoorlie.
1920 First trans-continental flight. Melbourne to Perth. DH4 piloted by F.S. Briggs (Landed in Perth December 2.)


Edith Dicksey Cowan becomes the first female member of Parliament.

Group settlement scheme begins.
First airmail service established (December)
1922 Western Australian Airways becomes the first to commence regular commercial flights. (Later to become MacRobertson Miller Aviation in 1934.).
1924 Radio station 6WF conducts first radio broadcasts.
1926 Major flooding from the Swan River causes a railway bridge to collapse. (July).
Muresk Agricultural College in Northam starts to function.
1927 Aborigines banned from entering the centre of Perth. (Remains in force until 1948.)
1928 Woolworths Pty. Ltd. opens the first of its Perth based stores.


J.T. Franklin becomes the first Lord Mayor of Perth.

Aero Club of Australia (W.A. Branch) later Royal Aero Club is incorporated.
Interstate air services begin.
Fremantle becomes a city. (June 3rd)
New York stock exchange crash triggers the great depression. (Oct. 24.)
'Talkies' or movies with sound are seen in Perth for the first time.
1930 First interstate phone service opens.
1932 State lottery introduced.
Central buildings at the University of Western Australia completed and St. George's College officially opens.
1933 W.A. votes to secede from the rest of the country.
Sir. James Mitchell becomes the first locally born state Governor. (Technically he was Lt. Governor to begin with.)
1934 Goldfields riots.
1935 Flying Doctor service starts in W.A.
1939 World War Two begins. Australia declares war on Germany on (September 3rd.)
1942 North west towns bombed by Japanese planes.
1945 World War Two ends. (Japan surrenders August 15th, Surrender signed September 2nd. Pres. Truman declares an end to hostilities on December 31st.)
1948 Aborigines recognised as Australian citizens.
1950 Australia embroiled in the Korean war.
Petrol rationing ends in May.
1952 British atomic tests on the Monte Bello Islands.
1954 First Narrows bridge begins construction.
1955 Kwinana oil refinery opens.
1958 Tram services finish in Perth.
  Roe Street brothels closed after Government makes a ruling. (July)


First television broadcast. (October 17th.)

Narrows bridge opens to traffic.
1962 Empire games held at Perry Lakes.
Perth gets the name 'City of Light' as John Glenn passed over the city in his Mercury spacecraft.
The Bendix G15 becomes the first functional computer to be installed in W.A. It was second hand and cost 21,000 pounds. It had just 7kb of memory.
First direct jet flights to London begin.
1964 NASA builds a tracking station at Carnarvon.
Eric Edgar Cooke becomes the last person hanged in W.A.
1966 Ord River project begins.
USA builds a base at North West Cape.
Decimal currency is introduced on (February 14th.)


October 14th - Meckering earthquake.

1969 Aboriginal workers gain the right to equal pay but are then driven off many stations.
1970 Standard gauge railway finally goes all the way to Sydney.
First Test Match cricket game in Perth is played against England. (Dec 11-16)


Aboriginal heritage Act finally gives legal protection to Aboriginal sacred sites.

1973 Voting age reduced to 18.
First Avon Descent is held.


First colour television broadcast.

1979 Perth to Fremantle railway line is CLOSED!
Cadoux earthquake (June 2nd)
150th anniversary of settlement is celebrated.
1983 Railway from Perth to Fremantle finally re-opened.
W.A. wins the Americas Cup.
Australia II wins the America's Cup.
1984 Death penalty removed from the statute books.
1985 Burswood casino opens.
1986 Perth International Airport opens.
1988 Burswood resort opens.
1992 Joondalup railway line is opened becoming the first new line opened in over 100 years.
2007 First female Lord Mayor of Perth is elected.


State boundaries



Boundaries finalised in

Western Australia






New South Wales


South Australia


Northern Territory





Western Australia was founded after both Tasmania and New South Wales but its borders have remained the same since 1831. New South Wales once covered everything (except Tasmania) east of the W.A. border.

The map of Australian state borders that we see today was established in 1911.


I'm lost please take me home...


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