What happened in Australia in 1889?

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.


1st – The Act of Parliament authorising Launceston (Tas.) to be called a city came into force.
1st – Post cards between the colonies and the United Kingdom came into use.
3rd – Sir Henry Parkes entertained at a banquet by Sir James Macbain, President of the Centennial International Exhibition, Melbourne.
7th – The Intercolonial Medical Congress opened in Melbourne.
8th – The Colonial Treasurer of Tasmania delivered his financial statement.
9th – First electric traction car successfully employed on the Hindmarsh tramway (S.A.)
9th – An address presented to His Excellency Sir William Robinson by the Executive Council of South Australia on the expiration of his term of office. On a motion for adjournment, moved in the Legislative Assembly of NSW by Mr. J. H. Want, the Government was defeated.
10th – Parkes’ Ministry (NSW) resigned. Mr. Dibbs undertook to form a new Government.
11th – Close of the Intercolonial Medical Congress; members entertained by Sir William and Lady Clarke. Railway collision in South Australia.
18th – Telegraph line from Roebourne to Derby (W.A.) completed – length, 1,220 miles.
21st – Dr. J. H. Tarrant, P.G.M., banqueted by the Masonic U.G L. of NSW
23rd – Mr. W. H. Paling, of Sydney, presented a block of land at Camden together with £1,000 and £100 per annum for five years for a Destitute Children’s Home.
24th – An address presented to Mr. Frederic H. Cowen, Musical Director of the Melbourne Exhibition, by the Executive Commissioners. Southport (Qld) Railway opened.
24th – Three new caves discovered between Braidwood and Araluen (NSW).
30th – Opening the third session of the Federal Council of Australasia, at Hobart, by the Governor of Tasmania.
31st – Centennial International Exhibition, Melbourne closed. Attendance 1,901,789, receipts £101,730.


2nd – Cowen orchestral concerts commenced in Sydney.
5th – Trades Congress at Hobart formally opened by His Excellency the Governor.
9th – Foundation stone of the Berrima Cottage Hospital laid by Lord Carrington.
11th – Arrival at Sydney and reception of the Bishop of Rochester.
14th – The last spike of the Great Southern Railway (W.A.) driven by T. W. Powell – length of line 240 miles.
16th – Cowen’s “Sleeping Beauty” conducted by the composer at the Exhibition Building, Adelaide.
18th – The first through train ran from Albany to Perth (W.A.) Foundation stone of the Carrington Centennial Hospital (founded by W. H. Paling, Esq.) laid by His Excellency the Governor, at Camden (NSW).
19th – Presentation of a testimonial to U.S. Consul Griffin by the Governor in the Town Hall Sydney.
27th – New South Wales 14th Parliament assembled.

MARCH 1889

1st – Final span of the Hawkesbury River (NSW) Railway Bridge placed in position.
1st – Opening of the Lilydale to Healesville (Vic.) railway extension.
4th – Adelaide City Council presented a farewell address to His Excellency Sir William Robinson.
5th – Sir Henry Loch, Governor of Victoria, banqueted in the Town Hall, Melbourne, prior to his departure for England.
5th – Sir William Robinson left Adelaide for Melbourne to assume the temporary Governorship of Victoria. In the New South Wales Legislative Assembly an amendment to the Address-in-Reply to the Governor’s Speech carried by a majority of 4.
6th – His Honor Mr. Chief Justice Way sworn in by Mr. Justice Boucaut as Administrator of the Government of South Australia pending the arrival of the Earl of Kintore. Mr. Dibbs’ Ministry (NSW) resigned.
8th – Departure of His Excellency Sir Henry Loch and Lady Loch from Melbourne.
11th – The Victorian Parliament dissolved by proclamation, having expired by effluxion of time.
15th – Opening of the Legislative Council of Western Australia by the Governor.
19th – The Hon. Edmund Barton, M.L.C. (NSW), ap pointed a Q.C.
21st – The Hon. Sir Wm. Clarke installed as P.G.M. of the U.G.L. of Victoria of Freemasons, by Lord Carrington, G.M. of New South Wales, and Chief Justice Way, G. of South Australia.
28th – Bishop Kennion arrived in Adelaide after an absence of thirteen months.
30th – Annual commencement of Melbourne University.

APRIL 1889

1st – Dr. Renwick elected Vice-Chancellor of the Sydney University.
2nd – Public reception of Bishop Kennion at Adelaide.
6th – Banquet in Sydney to M. le Compte de Seguier, late French Consul. 8th – Conversazione in Perth to bid farewell to Chief Justice Onslow.
10th – The final stone of the Centennial Hall, Sydney, laid by Miss Harris, daughter of the Mayor.
10th – Chief Justice Onslow, of Perth, banqueted prior to departure for England.
11th – Arrival and installation of His Excellency the Earl of Kintore as Governor of South Australia.
11th – Arrival of Mr. John Dillon, M.P., the Irish Home Rule Delegate, in Adelaide.
11th – Opening of the first Exhibition of the Anglo-Australian Society of Artists in Sydney.
11th – The Earl of Onslow, the new Governor of New Zealand, arrived in Sydney.
13th – Sydney University annual commemoration.
17th – The Earl and Countess of Onslow left Sydney for New Zealand.
22nd – Destruction by fire of the Bijou Theatre Melbourne.
23rd – Official testing of the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge.
30th – Railway employees of South Australia testimonialised Mr. Thow, late Locomotive Engineer.

MAY 1889

1st – Archdeacon Dawes consecrated at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney, as Assistant Bishop (C.E.) of Brisbane.
1st – Western Australia Parliament prorogued. Rev. H. H. Montgomery consecrated in Westminster Abbey as Bishop of Tasmania.
1st – The Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge formally opened, thus completing railway communication between Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane.
1st – General Sir Henry W. Norman, new Governor of Queensland arrived and was sworn in.
1st – Annual meeting of the Royal Society of New South Wales.
6th – Foundation stone of a Church of England Theological College laid at Newtown Sydney by Bishop Barry.
9th – The Primate (Dr. Barry) left Sydney for England after resigning the Episcopate and Primacy.
10th – Queensland Parliament opened. New Queensland Railway Commissioners appointed.
12th – Investiture of Archbishop Murphy of Hobart with the “Pallium” by Cardinal Moran.
15th – H.M.S. “Orlando” the new Flagship on the Australasian Station arrived in Largs Bay S.A.
16th – The Irish Delegates banquetted in Sydney by the Shamrock Club.
21st – An address presented to Alderman John Harris as a token of appreciation of his valuable services as Mayor of Sydney during 1888.
21st – Rev. Principal Rainy D.D. of Scotland welcomed by the Presbyterian Church of Victoria.
21st – The new wing of the Hobart Museum opened by His Excellency the Governor.
23rd – A grand Masonic welcome tendered to the Earl of Kintore in Adelaide.
24th – Phenomenally heavy rainfall in New South Wales accompanied with destruction of property and life – rainfall in Sydney, 20.3 inches.
29th – Lady Norman laid the foundation stone of the new wing of the Brisbane Hospital to cost £6,000.
30th – Opening of the last section of the Goulburn to Cooma Railway New South Wales.

JUNE 1889

5th – New Parliamentary Buildings in Adelaide opened.
6th – South Australian Parliament opened.
8th – Adelaide School of Mines and Industries formally opened.
20th – Inauguration of the annual “Arbor Day” in Adelaide – 761 trees planted by public school children.
22nd – A portion of the roof of the A. A. Company’s Glebe Colliery at Newcastle fell in burying a number of men whose lives were lost.
22nd – Playford (S.A.) Ministry defeated on a no-confidence motion.
22nd – A bust of Sir Wm. McLeay unveiled at the Linnean Society’s Rooms, Sydney.
24th – Annual commemoration of St. John’s (R.C.) College Sydney.
25th – The foundation stone of the Royal Naval Sailors’ Home Sydney, laid by Lady Carrington.
26th – A statue of the late General Gordon unveiled in Melbourne by the Acting Governor.
27th – Right Rev. Dr. Higgins, Coadjutor (R.C.) Bishop of Sydney arrived and was accorded a reception.
27th – New Ministry formed (S.A.), Dr. Cockburn Premier.

JULY 1889

1st – The Premier of New South Wales banquetted at Bourke.
2nd – Lord Carrington laid the keystone of a new Masonic Hall at Bathurst, NSW.
2nd – Lord Knutsford introduced a Bill into the English House of Lords to grant Responsible Government to West Australia.
9th – Tasmanian Parliament opened.
18th – Chief Justice Way resigned his office as G.M. of the G.L. of S. Australia of Freemasons.
20th – First section of the Nungarr-Gayndah (Qld) Railway opened.
24th – The Land Bill passed the third reading in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales.
26th – Opening of the Legislative Council of Western Australia.
27th – New South Wales Military Forces reviewed by Major-General Edwards – muster 3,500.
30th – The New South Wales Legislative Assembly introduced and passed through all its stages a new Payment of Members Bill.
30th – Mr. Gillies, in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, announced a surplus of £1,700,000.
31st – Turning of the first sod in connection with the Windsor (NSW) water supply by the Mayoress.


4th – Installation of the Right Rev. Dr. Higgins, R.C. Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney, in St. Benedict’s Church.
9th – Launceston-Scottsdale (Tas.) Railway opened.
11th – Rev. Dr. William Saumarez Smith elected Primate of Australia.
13th – The eighth annual Synod of the Church of England, Diocese of Sydney, opened.
21st – Queensland National Association Exhibition opened.
24th – Major-General Edwards reviewed the S.A. Military Forces.


2nd – Mr. W. H. J. Andrews, Registrar-General of South Australia, retired after 42 years’ service.
5th – An address and testimonial presented to Mr. R. A. Sholl, by the staff of the Post-office, on his permanent appointment as Postmaster-General of Western Australia.
10th – Rear-Admiral Fairfax banqueted at the Exchange Hotel, Sydney.
12th – Rear-Admiral Fairfax, C. B, Commodore of the Australian squadron, left Sydney for England.
14th – A trades demonstration held in the Domain, Sydney, to signalise the termination of the London Dock Strike.
16th – The Hon. J. B. Watt made a donation of £1,000 for the establishment of a third Watt Exhibition within the Sydney University.
18th – The Payment of Members Act passed by the Legislative Council of New South Wales by a majority of one.
24th – Opening of the annual Municipal Conference at the Town Hall, Sydney.
24th – His Excellency the Earl of Kintore laid the foundation stone of St. Giles’ Presbyterian Church, Norwood, South Australia.


1st – Palmerston to Pine Creek Railway (146 miles) handed over to the Government of South Australia – cost, £1,086,632.
1st – Opening of the National Protection Conference at the New Masonic Hall Sydney.
4th – Mr. Crick, M.L.A. (NSW). placed under arrest by the Speaker for contempt of the House.
10th – Parliament of New South Wales prorogued.
16th – Mr. R. Burdett Smith appointed to the NSW Legislative Council.
16th – His Excellency the Earl of Kintore elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons, South Australia.
17th – Sir Henry Loch, Governor of Victoria, arrived in Sydney, after an absence of some months’ duration in England.
23rd – The Horticultural Society’s Spring Exhibition and Rose Show, opened at the Exhibition Building, Prince Alfred Park, Sydney.
23rd – The Right Rev. H. H. Montgomery, new Anglican Bishop of Tasmania, arrived in Hobart.
25th – The last spike in the Warrnambool (Vic.) railway driven.
25th – Opening of Parliament, Western Australia.
29th – The enthronement of Bishop Montgomery took place in Hobart – ceremony performed by Dean Dundas.
29th – Major-General Tulloch, R.E., new Commandant of the Victorian Military Forces, arrived in Melbourne.
30th – His Excellency the Earl of Kintore duly installed as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons of South Australia by Lord Carrington, Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales, assisted by Sir Wm. Clarke, Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Victoria.


1st – Intercolonial Stock Conference opened at Melbourne.
8th – Important speeches on Federation, delivered in the Town Hall, Sydney.
14th – Mr. Justice Manning sworn in as Puisne Judge of New South Wales, vice Deffell.
14th – Queensland Parliament prorogued.
14th – Farewell banquet to Sir Henry Loch by the citizens of Melbourne.
15th – Sir Henry and Lady Loch left Melbourne for Capetown.
16th – Discovery of mammoth caves, near Eucla, Western Australia.
19th – The great organ for the Centennial Hall, Sydney, arrived in port.
25th – The “Kaiser Wilhelm II” the largest merchant ship ever in Australian waters, arrived in Sydney.
22nd – Rear-Admiral Lord Charles Scott, new Commodore of the Australian Squadron, arrived in Sydney.
22nd – Tasmanian Parliament adjourned with a view to prorogation.
23rd – The Earl and Countess of Hopetoun arrived at Albany, W.A.
23rd – Mr. Justice Manning entertained at a harbor picnic by the members of the New South Wales Bar.
25th – Victorian Parliament prorogued.
26th – Parliament of New South Wales opened by His Excellency the Governor.
27th – Opening of the Centennial Hall, Sydney, by the Mayoress (Miss M. A. Harris), in the presence of a distinguished assemblage.
27th – The Melbourne City Corporation presented an address to His Excellency Sir Wm. Robinson on his retirement from the Acting-Governor ship.
28th – Lord Hopetoun, new Governor of Victoria, arrived in Melbourne, and was sworn in.


2nd – Ministerial dinner at Parliament House, Sydney.
4th – Hon. Mr. McMillan, Colonial Treasurer (NSW), made his financial statement in the Legislative Assembly.
6th – South Parliament prorogued.
6th – Commemoration of St. Andrew’s College, Sydney.
9th – Alderman Burdekin, M.P. elected Mayor of Sydney.
9th – The Premier of New South Wales delivered an address on Federation at Albury.
9th – Farewell Freemasons’ Banquet in Perth to Sir F. N. Broome.
17th – Farewell meeting to Dr. Jefferis, at the Pitt-street, Sydney. Congregational Church.
18th – Mr. Miller elected for Monaro (NSW).
18th – Annual commemoration of Adelaide University.
20th – Departure of His Excellency Sir F. N. Broome from Western Australia.