What happened in Australia in 1884?

If Social Media existed back then, what would our ancestors have been talking about? Taken from year books, Almanacs and newspapers, follows is a list of notable events that occurred in this year. Includes disasters, severe weather, notable people, milestones, construction, inaugurations and other significant events. Obviously, this list references recorded events only and is not exhaustive.


4th – Victorian Council of Defence decided on gradual disbandment of old forces.
7th – Marvellous escape of railway train with 500 excursionists, Adelaide after brakes gave way.
7th – Mysterious disappearance of Henry Salway at Bermagui.
8th – Church service near Lilydale interrupted by bush fire, which was beaten off and service continued.
9th – Destructive bush fires in New South Wales.
9th – Mayor of Melbourne banquets Earl Roseberry.
10th – Burning of Apollo Candle Works, Melbourne.
13th – Miller beat Victor in wrestling match, Sydney.
15th – Discovery of gold in Magdala Mine, Stawell.
17th – Formal disbandment of Victorian forces.
23rd – Consecration of New Masonic Hall, Sydney.
24th – Property tax proposed by Treasurer, NSW
29th – First edition of Mr. Justice Higinbotham’s celebrated lecture, “Science and Religion,” delivered in Scots’ Church, Melbourne, sold out.
30th – Appointment of Victorian Public Service Board Messrs. J. N. Templeton, Irving, and Couchman. Railway Board: Messrs. Speight, Agg, and Ford.
30th – Terrific hurricane at Bowen, Queensland. Many houses jetty and stores blown down, great damage, many hundreds of people rendered homeless.
31st – Railway collision near Wagga, many injured.


2nd – Heavy floods in Northern Queensland.
3rd – Disastrous fire at Hillston, NSW Property destroyed valued at £20,000.
6th – Several vessels wrecked during a cyclone on the Northern Queensland coast.
8th – Legal reciprocity established between New South Wales and Victoria.
9th – Juvenile Industrial Exhibition at Parramatta, NSW, formally closed.
9th – Hon. Ivo Bligh married to Miss Florence Rose Morphy, Sunbury, Victoria.
11th – Mr. R. Speight, Chairman of New Railway Board, Victoria, arrived in Melbourne by the “Lusitania”
12th – Total wreck of the schooner “Advance” in Botany Bay, NSW – crew saved.
15th – Disastrous fire at the Commercial Hotel, Deniliquin – four persons burnt to death, and all the property totally destroyed.
16th – Scab in sheep reported to have broken out at Carcoar, in a flock of 200 sheep imported from the United States of America.
17th – Shocks of earthquakes reported on the northern coast of Tasmania.
18th – University Council, Victoria, adopted plans for enlargement of medical school, at a cost of £10,000.
20th – Season’s yield of sugar at Mackay, Queensland, amounted to 14,000 tons.
21st – Floods in Northern Queensland – at Cooktown, Queensland, 24 inches of rain fell in 24 hours, and a violent gale raged, doing great damage to shipping.
21st – Fire at Newcastle, NSW – loss about £3,000.

MARCH 1884

3rd – Destructive fire at Norwood, South Australia – property valued at £20,000 destroyed.
3rd – Horsham branch of London Chartered Bank robbed of £6,000.
6th – Discovery of extensive cave two miles from Fish River Caves.
15th – Australian cricketers left Adelaide for England.
16th – Fire at Brisbane Corporation sheds – damage estimated at £30,000.
16th – Large fire, George-street, Sydney – property valued at £30,000 destroyed.
17th – Edward Hanlan, champion sculler of the world, landed in Sydney from San Francisco – 12,000 persons assembled to welcome him.
22nd – 311 diamonds found at Bingera diamond mines.
26th – Installation of Sir W. J. Clarke, M.L.C. as of the Victoria, English, Irish, and Scotch Cons, of Freemasons.

APRIL 1884

1st – Bishop Barry, new Primate of Australia, welcomed on arrival at Melbourne.
2nd – Serious collision on railway between Werribee and Little River, Victoria, with fatal results – collision caused by stationmaster’s daughter telegraphing wrong instructions from Werribee.
5th – Bishop Barry arrived in Sydney, and was received quietly, it being Lent season, but a thanksgiving service was held in Cathedral and numerously attended.
5th – Victorians won seventh intercolonial eight-oared contest with New South Wales.
6th – Observed as a day of general mourning in colonies for death of Duke of Albany.
8th – lnquest on victims of Werribee collision concluded. Thos. Biddle, stationmaster at Werribee, committed for trial for manslaughter.
9th – King Tawhaio, of New Zealand, entertained by the Postmaster-General and Secretary for Works, NSW, enroute for England on an embassy.
10th – Total eclipse of Moon.
12th – Beach beat Trickett in sculling race for championship of Australia and £400 on Parramatta.
14th – R.M.S. “Rome” in quarantine at Melbourne.
15th – Upwards of 20 claims made for compensation for injuries received in Little River collision, Victoria.
15th – Discovery of subterranean water near Farina, South Australia, at 1,220 feet.
17th – Fatal prize-fight at Randwick, NSW, causing death of Alex Agar.
17th – lnauguration of a Grand Lodge of Freemasons at Adelaide.
21st – Eight Hours’ Demonstration, Melbourne, attended by 31 societies – procession of 20,000 persons.
24th – Installation of Bishop of Sydney. R.M.S. “Rome” on arrival at Sydney was quarantined.
25th – Fatal accident at Sydney Railway Station – boy, Frederick Fletcher killed – verdict, manslaughter.

MAY 1884

3rd – Oriental Bank suspended payment – intense excitement in various colonies.
8th – Presbyterian Assembly Melbourne, organise strong opposition to Scots’ Church secession.
16th – Fire in Theatre Royal, Hobart – much damage.
19th – R. T. Booth lectured on local option to large audience, Sydney Exhibition Building.
21st – Great fire at Pulsford’s timber-yard, Adelaide.
22nd – Sculling race between Hanlan and Laycock for £1,000 and championship of world, rowed on Nepean River, NSW – won easily by Hanlan.
22nd – Chamber of Manufacturers’ Industrial Exhibition, Adelaide, opened.
24th – Queen’s Birthday celebration deferred in accordance with Her Majesty’s wish.

JUNE 1884

1st – Discovery of small-pox case in Melbourne.
3rd – Scots’ Church, Melbourne, decided to proceed with separation from Presbyterian Church.
6th – Hanlan gave exhibition on Lake Wendouree, Victoria.
7th – S.S. “Doric” from Plymouth, quarantined at Hobart with small-pox.
10th – Mr. Justice Molesworth granted order for winding up Oriental Bank in Victoria.
12th – South Australian Ministry, Mr. Bray, Premier, defeated on want of confidence motion.
13th – Mr. A. G. Taylor, M.L.A. for Mudgee, issued a writ against Mr. Speaker Barton for £1,000 damages for having put in force new rules, by which Mr. Taylor was recently suspended.
19th – Mr. W. D. Bear, new superintendent of NSW Fire Brigades, arrived Sydney.
21st – Interview between Mr Service and General Mclver regarding New Guinea expedition – Mr. Service unfavourable to the proposal.
25th – Severe shock of earthquake in South Australia.
26th – Hanlan arrived in Queensland and was enthusiastically welcomed.

JULY 1884

4th – Wreck of American ship “Susan Gilmore,” near Newcastle, NSW – all hands saved.
9th – Governor Jervois, Superintendent of the Defence Works of the Colonies, made an official visit to the defence works of New South Wales.
10th – Severe shocks of earthquakes, felt at Tasmania – considerable injury done at Launceston. Shocks were also felt at Pambula, Eden, and Candelo in NSW
15th – Sir H. B. Loch, new Governor of Victoria, arrived at Melbourne, with Lady Loch and family. “Forest King,” schooner, seized for kidnapping, arrived in Brisbane in charge of Sub-Lieutenant H.M.S. “Swinger.”
21st – “Farningham” barque, from Dunedin to Adelaide, run into by “Vanguard” barque, from London to Brisbane. The accident occurred off Tasmania on July 11th. The “Farningham ” sank in five minutes – three seamen were drowned.
22nd – Formal opening of buildings for better housing of the Melbourne poor.
24th – Robbery of the Bank of Tasmania, at Beaconsfield, Tasmania. The robbers previously stuck up the manager while out for a walk, took the bank keys from him, and afterwards robbed the bank of £2,500 and 30ozs. of gold.
27th – “Taiwan” grounded on a coral reef 40 miles from Port Darwin, Queensland.
27th – New powder works at Narrabeen, NSW, opened by His Excellency the Govr.


8th – Entrance to several new caves discovered by the keeper of the Fish River Caves, in which were several fossil bones of extinct animals.
9th – Serious collision between the steamers “Barrabool ” and “Birksgate” in Sydney Harbour.
14th – Deliberate attempt to wreck a railway train near Boolboonda, Queensland – three separate obstructions were placed on the line.
15th – Sir Thomas Mclwraith returned to Brisbane from England – he received a hearty reception.
16th – Champion sculling match of the world between Edward Hanlan and William Beach, rowed on the Parramatta River champion course – won by Beach.
19th – Opening of railway extension from Armidale to Glen Innes.
21st – Hon. J. F. Garrick assumed the duties of Agent General for Queensland in London. Remains discovered of Mr. Powell, murdered by natives in N.Q.
23rd – Five cases of small-pox discovered in Orient Hotel, lower George-street, Sydney.
25th – Messrs. Boylson and Sons’ flour mills at Bathurst destroyed by fire – loss about £18,000.
26th – Exploring party left Sydney per steamer “Whampoa” for Cambridge Gulf, Western Australia.
28th – An 18-ton gun fractured during firing-practice on board the “Cerberus” at Hobson’s Bay.
29th – Sir Henry Parkes returned from England via America – welcomed by a large number of citizens.
31st – Melbourne Cricket Club grandstand destroyed by fire – the building cost £5,900, insured for £3,000.


3rd – Opening of railway extension from Nyngan to Byerock, New South Wales.
3rd – Mr. Walter Scott, M.A. appointed to the Chair of Classics in the Sydney University, rendered vacant by the death of Dr. Badham.
4th – Arrangements completed and agreement signed for construction of the Beverley-Albany line of railway.
7th – Attack on a party of miners by natives in the Northern territory of Queensland – three men were speared.
7th – Wreck of the barque “Edith Carmichael” bound from Newcastle to Macassar with coals on Eastern Field – all hands saved.
8th – Arrival of Archbishop Moran at Sydney – he was enthusiastically welcomed by an immense crowd of over 20,000 persons.
8th – Opening of the Brunswick and Coburg Railway, Victoria.
10th – Opening of extension of railway from Wallerawang to Mudgee, NSW
10th – Mr. E. H. Belisario awarded £4,000 damages for injuries received at South Creek Railway Station, NSW.
15th – Fire on premises of Mr. P. R. Larkin, Sydney – property damaged about £5,000.
18th – Intercolonial Sanitary Conference held its first sitting in Sydney, under the presidency of Dr. Mackellar.
19th – “Collaroy” steamer, which had been high and dry on sands north of Long Reef, successfully floated and towed into Sydney Harbour.


1st – Australasian Sanitary Conference sitting in Sydney.
1st – A crushing of 107 tons of stone at Gympie, Queensland, gave 2,249ozs. of gold.
1st – Strong agitation in Perth, Western Australia, for adoption of Responsible Government.
2nd – Presentation of prizes by Minister of Public Instruction at Sydney Technical College.
8th – University Hall, Sydney, lit with 170 gas jets.
8th – The Mayor unveiled drinking fountain in St. Mary’s road, opposite Domain entrance, Sydney.
10th – The Commodore of Australian Squadron instructed to proclaim a British protectorate over southern shore of New Guinea and adjacent islands.
13th – Queensland torpedo boat “Mosquito,” arrived per Duke of Sutherland.
13th – City Council (S.A.) resolved to have free public weekly organ recitals. Commercial Bank of Tasmania Limited renamed so.
13th – Meeting of Non-conformist ministers, South Australia, decided in favour of taxation on church property.
13th – Major-General Scratchley, R.E., appointed High Commissioner for New Guinea.
14th – Illawarra (NSW) railway opened to Hurstville.
14th – Great destruction by caterpillars to crops in parts of Darling Downs.
15th – Juvenile Fancy Dress Ball by Mayor of Melbourne great success – 700 children present.
15th – Melbourne Stock Exchange dissolved.
15th – Royal Humane Society of Australasia appointed Town Clerks of all the colonies as hon. correspondents.
15th – A pearl (weight 240 grains) valued at £4,000, found off Western Australia.
1th – Deaths (over 50) at the De Grey River (W.A.) from measles.
17th – Melbourne Stock Exchange Members reformed in two separate sections.
17th – Grand torchlight procession (2,000 persons) at Perth, in favour of Responsible Government.
18th – Admiral Tryon, C. B, appointed to command the Australian Squadron.
20th – Birthday dinner to Sir John Robertson, M.L.A. at Reform Club, Sydney.
21st – Very severe thunderstorm at Sydney also about £5,000 worth of damage done at Newcastle, NSW by wind and rain.
22nd – Jubilee of Freemasonry in South Australia.
23rd – Largest screw steamer (the “Advance ”) built in Victoria launched.
24th – Branch line from Pyramid Hill to Kerang, Victoria, opened.
26th – Special services by Hebrew congregations in Australian Colonies in honor of 100th birthday of Sir Moses Montefiore.
26th – Large fire at Ehmcke’s timber yard, Adelaide.
27th – Masonic Club Melbourne opened.
27th – Morphett street overway bridge opened at Melbourne.
29th – Public School Teachers Union established in New South Wales.
29th – First Central Board of Health appointed in Queensland.
30th – Ninety ounces of gold obtained from 1½ tons of stone at Cape River, Queensland.


1st – Dr. Haacke resigned as Director of Museum, Adelaide, to take effect in six months.
3rd – First pile of New Municipal Wharves, South Brisbane, driven by Lady Musgrave.
4th – Sir Henry Parkes, M.L.A. for Tenterfield resigned.
6th – British Protectorate proclaimed over portion of New Guinea.
7th – Civil Service Board (NSW) appointed.
18th – Christian Evidence Society inaugurated at Sydney.


1st – Railway to Ravenswood (Queensland) opened.
3rd – Holdsworthy Paper Mills, Liverpool, NSW burned down – loss, £6,000.
6th – Severe storm passed over Brisbane, and also at Warwick (Queensland) – much damage done to property.
10th – An old gun (18-pounder) supposed to have belonged to a man-of-war about 1788, found at Mossman’s Bay, Port Jackson.
15th – Wealth and Industrial Exhibition opened at Sydney.
17th – Australasian Geographical Society’s first conference met on this and three subsequent days at Melbourne.
17th – Foundation stone of Benevolent Asylum laid at West Maitland (NSW).
25th – Bishop Torregiana was attacked by McCaffery during service at Armidale with a sword and revolver. One shot passed through the Bishop’s robe into the floor. The Bishop remained unhurt and proceeded with the service after McCaffery’s arrest by the congregation.