What happened in Australia in 1888?

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.


3rd – Mr. Justice Deffell formally appointed Judge in the Bankruptcy Division of the Supreme Court of NSW
7th – The Adelaide Jubilee International Exhibition closed. Attendance 766,880.
7th – South Ward Brisbane erected into a separate municipality.
12th – Official opening of the railway from Cockburn (SA) to Broken Hill, by the Duke of Manchester. Length of line, 36 miles.
16th – Through railway communication between Sydney and Brisbane established.
16th – The second session of the Federal Council of Australasia commenced at Hobart – the Hon. Sir S. W. Griffith, President.
17th – The fifteenth annual session of the Wesleyan Methodist Conference commenced.
19th – The Intercolonial Postal Conference held in Sydney.
24th – The statue of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, in Chancery-square, Sydney, unveiled by Lady Carrington, in the presence of an immense number of spectators.
24th – The Centennial number of the S.M. Herald issued being the largest daily newspaper published to date in the colonies.
25th – Agricultural Society’s Centennial Intercolonial Exhibition at Moore Park, Sydney, opened.
26th – The Centenary of Australia celebrated – general holiday.
26th – The Centennial Park opened by his Excellency Lord Carrington.
26th – State Banquet held at the Exhibition Building, Sydney.
27th – Centennial Regatta held. Yacht Race for “One Hundred Years Challenge Cup” won by Mr. A. G. Milson’s “Era.”
30th – Foundation stone of the new Houses of Parliament, Sydney, laid by his Excellency Lord Carrington.


1st – Sydney Harbor illuminated at night in celebration of the Centenary.
2nd – Disastrous floods occurred near Geraldton (W.A.)
7th – Resignation of Mr. B. R. Wise, Attorney-General of NSW
7th – Letters-Patent from the Emperor of China, received by Mr. Quong Tart, of Sydney, conferring upon him the rank of Fifth Mandarin.
8th – His Honor Mr. Justice Faucett resigned his position as a Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
9th – Mr. J. C. Neild, M.L.A. Executive Commissioner for New South Wales at Adelaide Exhibition, banqueted by journalists of that city, prior to his return to Sydney.
9th – Prorogation of the Federal Council of Australasia.
13th – Terrible accident at Kapunda marble quarries (S.A.), resulting in death to two men and serious injuries to others.
14th – Mr. W. J. Foster appointed to the vacant judgeship in New South Wales.
15th – A splendid supply of artesian water tapped at a depth of 850 feet, between Bourke and Wanaaring (NSW)
17th and 18th – Disastrous floods at Rockhampton (Qld) 21 inches of rain were registered in a little over 24 hours.
21st – Valedictory meeting to Bishop and Mrs. Kennion prior to their departure for England.
23rd – Installation of the Rev. Dr. O’Brien as Rector of St. John’s (R.C.) College, Sydney.
24th – Complimentary “social” tendered to Sir E. T. Smith, in the Norwood Town Hall, Adelaide, by his constituents.

MARCH 1888

2nd – Lord Carrington appointed D.G.M. of the E.C. Freemasons of New South Wales.
14th -The Centenary Universal Exhibition, at the Exhibition Building, Prince Alfred Park, Sydney, opened by his Excellency the Governor.
14th through 17th – Large bush fires occurred in many parts of NSW causing great loss of stock and fodder.
18th – Fire on board the ship “Aristomene” laden with coal at Newcastle – damages £3,000.
27th – Major-General Downes appointed Commandant of the Military Forces of South Australia.
27th – Victorian Juvenile Industrial Exhibition opened by his Excellency Sir Henry Loch.

APRIL 1888

2nd – Her Majesty’s Opera House at Brisbane opened.
4th – Queensland Parliament dissolved.
7th – Melbourne University Commemoration.
10th – Annual sittings of the Church of England Synod of Tasmania commenced.
10th through 13th -Serious bush fires occurred in the Kilmore district, Victoria.
11th – Judge Cope retires from the Bench of Victoria.
14th – Sydney University, 37th annual Commemoration.
14th – Opening of the Taemus Bridge over the Murray River.
16th – The Intercolonial Rabbit Commission held its first meeting in Sydney.
19th – A large shipment of salmon ova arrived in Tasmania, which were placed in ponds at the Plenty River.
21st – A New South Wales 3½ per cent, loan of £3,500,000 placed on the London market.
22nd – Archbishop Dunne laid the foundation stone of the Magdalen Refuge to be erected at Brisbane at a cost of £4,800.
23rd – Mr. W. H. Paling formally handed over to trustees his estate at Camden, to be used as a Convalescent Hospital and added a donation of £10,000.
25th – His Excellency the Governor left Sydney per H.M.S. “Nelson,” to pay an official visit to Norfolk Island.
26th – H.M. gunboat “Lizard” reported on a reef, 95 miles north of Cooktown.

MAY 1888

3rd – Monster meeting at the Town Hall Sydney to protest against the further influx of Chinese.
4th and 5th – Two vessels arrived in Sydney, bringing a large number of Chinese, who were not allowed to land.
5th – Sir T Mcllwraith headed the poll at North Brisbane election by a majority of 653.
5th – The first election of members of the Legislative Council under the “Amended Electoral Act” of South Australia took place.
15th – Railway from Logan Village to Beaudesert, Queensland opened.
15th – Sir Anthony Musgrave formally opened the new Deaf, Dumb and Blind Asylum at Brisbane.
17th – A bank draft for £1,000 presented to Mr, J. M. Macrossan of Queensland by his friends and admirers.
23rd through 26th – Demonstration of the Fire Brigades of Australasia at the Agricultural Grounds.
25th – The first span of the Hawkesbury River railway bridge (NSW) successfully placed in position.
29th – Tasmanian Parliament opened.
29th – Sir James MacBain appointed president of the Cent. Inter. Exhibition, Melbourne.
31st – The Parliament of South Australia opened.
31st – Payment of Members Act came into operation (S.A.).

JUNE 1888

2nd – A great Anti-Chinese procession and indignation meeting held in Sydney.
9th – Sir Frederick Darley appointed President of the NSW Commission, CIE Melbourne.
12th – An Intercolonial Conference on the Chinese question commenced in Sydney, Sir H. Parkes president.
12th – Queensland new Parliament opened.
13th – The NSW Ministry entertained delegates to Chinese Conference at a harbour excursion.
13th – Griffith Ministry (Qld) resigned, and Sir T. Mcllwraith formed new Cabinet.
13th – Exhibition Building Brisbane, destroyed by fire.
13th – Hanlan easily beat Trickett on the Fitzroy River (Qld).
14th – First sod of the Bowen (Qld) Railway turned.
29th – Royal Exchange Adelaide opened.
29th – Cable communication between Port Darwin and Banjoewangie interrupted.

JULY 1888

2nd – Bank of North Queensland commenced business.
4th – American citizens held a banquet commemorative of their Independence.
13th – “Star of Greece” wrecked at Port Willunga (S.A.) – 19 lives lost.
13th – New Queensland 3½ per cent loan of 2½ millions successfully floated.
18th – Mr. Garrett resigned the office of Sec. for Lands.
19th – Dr. Murphy, R.C. Bishop of Tasmania made an Archbishop.
23rd – A nugget, containing 375ozs pure gold found at Dunolly (Vic.)
24th – New South Wales Parliament prorogued.


1st – Centennial International Exhibition Melbourne opened.
3rd and 4th – Conference of Australasian Supreme Court Judges in Melbourne.
8th – The new Cathedral of St. George Perth opened.
13th – The Newcastle (NSW) coalminers gave notice of intention to strike.
14th – Queensland National Association Annual Exhibition opened.
16th – The Masonic United Grand Lodge of New South Wales formed. Lord Carrington elected Grand Master.
18th – Mr. H. C. Mais, late Engineer-in-Chief (Adelaide) testimonialized by members of the Civil Service.
21st – Mr. Hensman gained a verdict for £800 against the West Australian (Perth) newspaper for libel.
24th – The Newcastle coalminers to the number of about 6,000 went out on strike. Discovery of limestone caves at Wombeyan.
26th – H.M.S. “Orlando” the new flagship on the Australian Station, arrived in Port Jackson.
28th – First Congress of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, commenced in Sydney.


3rd – H.M.S. “Nelson” left for Plymouth.
4th – Proclamation of British Sovereignty in New Guinea by Dr. McGregor, Administrator.
7th – Dibbs v. Daily Telegraph libel case concluded, verdict for plaintiff – damages £100.
7th – A Conference between the coal-owners and miners in the Newcastle district commenced.
11th – lntercolonial Meteorological Conference commenced at Melbourne.
11th – A new reservoir, to contain 78,000,000 gallons opened in connection with Hobart Water Supply.
12th – Mr. G. W. Griffin, U.S. Consul at Sydney, banqueted.
14th – The body of Daniel Henry Deniehy, exhumed from Bathurst Cemetery, and reinterred at Waverley.
18th – His Excellency Lord Carrington, duly installed by Chief Justice Way (S.A.) as Most Worshipful G.M. of the U.G.L. of NSW of Freemasons.
18th – Fire at Brown’s warehouse, Brisbane, damages £400,000.
21st – Mr. E. Keane, M.L.C., received a testimonial from the citizens of Perth.
24th – A nugget of gold, 103ozs., found at Pilbarra (W.A.)
25th – The sixth annual session of the Municipal Association commenced at the Town Hall, Sydney.
25th – Genevieve Ward wing of Melbourne Women’s Hospital opened by Sir Henry Loch.
27th – Several miners at Newcastle committed for trial for rioting.
27th – Australian Club (Sydney) 50th anniversary celebrated.


1st – Sir William Westgarth banqueted by Old Colonists’ Association.
1st – Perth Stock Exchange formally opened.
2nd – The Exhibition of Women’s Industries at Sydney, opened by Lady Carrington.
3rd – The final section of the Illawarra Railway (NSW) opened.
3rd – Work resumed at the Stockton (Newcastle) collieries.
4th – The new Prince’s Bridge, Melbourne, formally opened by the Minister for Public Works.
4th – Severe windstorm in Sydney, one gust registering 18 miles per hour.
6th – Brisbane Sailing Club opened the season with their annual demonstration.
7th – The Rev. Dr. Carr, (R.C.) Archbishop of Melbourne, opened and blessed the Deaf and Dumb Institution at Waratah.
9th – Brisbane Tramway employees struck.
10th – West Australian Parliament opened.
13th – Mr. Frederic Cowen, Musical Director at the Melbourne Exhibition, banqueted by Sydney musicians.
15th – Fire at Spencer Street Railway Station, Melbourne.
16th – Mr. E. M. G. Eddy, the new Railway Commissioner, arrived in Sydney.
23rd – New South Wales Parliament opened.
25th – Mr. G. R. Dibbs elected Leader of the Opposition (NSW) Captain H. T. Wright, R.N., forcibly removed from his command of the Queensland gunboat “Gayundah.”
27th – Sculling race for the championship of the world, between Searle and Kemp, won by Searle.
27th – Railway collision near Gunning (NSW) .


1st – The first Congress of Australasian Chambers of Commerce held in Melbourne.
2nd – Mr. W. M. Fehon, one of the new Railway Commissioners in NSW banqueted prior to his departure from Melbourne.
5th – Disastrous fire at Broken Hill (NSW)
7th – Mr. Quong Tart testimonialised by Sydney friends, prior to departure for China.
9th – Tamworth, NSW, lighted by electricity, being the first town in Australasia to adopt this system.
17th – Termination of the coalminers’ strike in the New castle district.
24th – Sydney Evening News offices destroyed by fire.
28th – Presentation to Mr. C. A. Goodchap by N. S. W. railway officials.
29th – Cardinal Moran returned to Sydney.


8th – Foundation-stone of the memorial statue to the late Rev. J. D. Lang, D.D., laid by his Excellency, Lord Carrington, in Wynyard-Square, Sydney.
14th – Debate on leasing the Sydney Tramways, closed with a division against the Government.
14th – Resignation of the Primate of Australia, Dr. Barry.
15th – Tramway tenders returned unexamined.
18th – The Governor remitted the sentence on the Newcastle-Glebe colliery rioters.
22nd – A box containing £1,000 in gold specie, fell into the harbour at Neutral Bay. while being passed from a boat to the steamship “Alameda”.
25th – Wentworth House Family Hotel, Church Hill, destroyed by fire – two lives lost.
26th – Destruction of the west wing of the Alfred Hospital Melbourne by fire.