What happened in Australia in the 1860s?

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 these years. 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 – A lad named Quirk drowned in Anderson’s Lake, near Perth – 1860
2nd – Thermometer 149 degrees in the sun at Adelaide – 1867
4th – Captain Davis, of the “Robertina”, was tried and acquitted, at the Quarter Sessions, of the charge of occasioning the wreck of that vessel by neglect of duty – 1860
4th – Complaints made of the absence of proper signals at Rottnest for vessels entering the harbour.
7th – Duke of Edinburgh left Victoria – 1868
9th – A luncheon given at the Swan River Mechanics’ Institute in celebration of its 9th anniversary.
10th – Thermometer 129 degrees in the sun at Melbourne – 1867
10th – The “Dolphin” arrives in WA from England with several passengers, among whom is Mr J. H. Monger, one of the earliest settlers – 1860
11th – S.S. London foundered – 1866
12th – A thermometer recorded 129 degrees in the sun Melbourne – 1867
13th – Border Customs Treaty signed – 1867
22nd – Duke of Edinburgh Arrived in Sydney – 1868
21st – Burke and Wills funeral – 1863
30th – Oriental Bank robbery – 1867
The price of wheat ranges from 6s to 6s 6d per bushel; barley and oats, from 4s 6d to ss – 1860


3rd – A full cargo of sandalwood and horses sent to Singapore in the “Erolite” out of Perth – 1860
4th – “Nelson” first Victorian war ss arrives – 1868
7th – Wreck of the “Orpheus” – 1863
8th on – Three ships (Glenburn, Frances, and Champion) loading with timber at the Vasse, WA – 1860
8th – Proposal made to establish a horse depot at Rottnest for the supply of the Indian market – 1860
New Land Regulations proclaimed in WA – 1860
11th – Burke and Wills crossed the continent – 1861
17th – Commencement of the New Zealand war – 1860
18th – 320 tons sandalwood exported to Singapore in the “Crystal Palace” – 1860
22nd – Second visit by Prince Alfred to Victoria – 1869
24th – Intercolonial Exhibition closes – 1867
24th – An accident, through the escape of steam, occurs on board the steamer “Lady Stirling”, by which two of the crew died – 1860
A large quantity of wheat, barley, and hay consumed by fire at Dandhlup, Murray River – 1860
Intelligence received of the formation of an Association in London for watching over and promoting the interests of Western Australia – 1860
The formation of a railway between Champion Bay and the Wanerenooka Mine projected – 1860


6th – Floods and loss of life in NSW – 1867
6th – The foundation-stone of a new episcopal Church at Guildford laid by Mrs Kennedy – 1860
7th – A Roman Catholic Chapel proposed to be erected at Fremantle – 1860
9th – No fewer than eight American whale ships were lying at “Geographe Bay” – 1860
9th – Fenian Rebellion in Ireland – 1867
12th – Duke of Edinburgh shot at Sydney – 1868
16th – Duchess of Kent died – 1861
16th – A somewhat grand cricket match played at Perth between eleven of that town and eleven from Fremantle; the latter were the victors – 1860
22nd – Mr James Duffield and a man named Luft killed by the falling in of a well at Bicton – 1860
23rd – Floods in NSW – many lives lost – 1867
29th – Fine Arts Exhibition opened in Melbourne – 1869
Paving stones becoming in general use on the pathways in front of the principal stores in Perth – 1860
The establishment of a sanitarium in Perth again mooted – 1860
The WA Chamber of Commerce revived – 1860
Price of flour reduced to £2 per bag – 1860
The house and premises of a farmer named Allen, at the Vasse, totally destroyed by fire – 1860
It is computed that the supply of flour, the produce of last harvest, exceeds the consumption for the year by 200 tons – 1860


1st – Paris Exhibition opened – 1867
5th – The “Dolphin” sails for England with a cargo of 85 bales wool, 116 tons copper ore, 50 tons lead, 15 tons gum, 1,500 lbs leather, and 2 hogsheads wine – 1860
5th – The first applications for the purchase and lease of land under the new regulations were received, for which upwards of £3,000 was paid to the Government – 1860
6th – Duke of Edinburgh left colony for England – 1868
8th – 7th Census – population 540,322 – 1861
10th – Geelong & Ballarat Railway opened – 1862
12th – The Perth Races winning horses were: For the Maiden Plate, Messrs Phillips & Co.’s Bashful; Margeaux Cup, Messrs Phillips & Co.’s Flash; Ladies’ Purse, Mr Chidlow’s Stirling; Three-Year-Old Stakes, Messrs Phillips & Co’s Flash; Settlers’ Stakes, Mr Guerin’s Madame Rarey; Town and Queen’s Plates, Mr Guerin’s Sultana – 1860
16th – Great gales and shipwreck – 1867
17th – Gray, Victorian explorer died – 1861
21st – Burke’s Party returned to C. Ck. – 1861
25th – Railway opened to Kyneton – 1862
21st – O’Farrell executed – 1868
24th – Great flood at Ballarat – 1860
25th – Railway opened to Kyneton – 1862
27th – Tasmanian Subm. cable laid – 1869
An assessment of £1 on each allotment in Fremantle levied in that town – 1860
A Roman Catholic Chapel opened at York – 1860
Intelligence received of the adoption of a resolution by the Western Australian Association to the effect that a joint-stock company (limited) be established in London for the purpose of promoting the exportation of timber and minerals from, and the acquisition of land in, Western Australia – 1860
Sandalwood falls in price at Singapore – 1860
A Museum in course of erection by the Swan River Mechanics’ Institute – 1860
A memorial, numerously signed, advocating an increased number of convicts, forwarded to the Home Government – 1860
The price of flour advances to £22 per ton; wheat to 9s 6d per bushel – 1860


13th – “General Grant” wrecked at Auckland – 1866


1st – the anniversary of the foundation of the colony celebrated at Fremantle by boat-races and rural sports – 1860
12th – At a meeting of the Toodyay, Northam, and Victoria Plains Agricultural Society, it was proposed that as the Eastern districts of WA were becoming overstocked, an exploring party should be organised, and that an application be made to the Government for a bonus of 1,000 acres to each settler who might be successful in the discovery of a new pastoral run – 1860
13th – Floods cause loss of life in NSW – 1867
26th – Wills’ (Explorer) last letter – 1861
29th – St. Mary’s Catholic Sydney burnt – 1865
29th – Burke and Wills died – 1861
The project to establish a branch of the Union Bank at Perth, abandoned – 1860
A cargo of flour and sandalwood sent to Singapore in the “New Perseverance” – 1860
A fine tract of pastoral land reported to be discovered to the eastward of Doubtful Island Bay – 1860
WA – Greater fall of rain than experienced in the corresponding month for some years past – 1860


7th – Darling Gt. “dead-lock” ceased – 1868
8th – Railway opened to Woodend – 1861
9th – Fatal boat accident at Dromana – 1867
10th – Oriental Rice Mills burnt – 1867
12th – “Cawarra” foundered at Newcastle – 1866
16th Collision between “Black Swan” and “Luna” – 1867
22nd – Departure of the 40th Regiment to N.Z. – 1860
27th – Assembly resolved to refuse Supply – 1865
30th – Atlantic Cable completed – 1866
31st – First Queensland railway opened – 1865
A dispatch received from the Lieutenant Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, complaining of the arrival there on board the “Lord Raglan”, of a number of conditional-pardon men from Western Australia, warning Governor Kennedy that every legitimate means would be taken to prevent their stay, and the arrival of others, —and explaining the conduct of the inhabitants of the Cape in resisting the landing of convicts from the “Neptune” – 1860
Capsizing of a boat at Freemantle by which a young gentleman, who had just arrived from England (son of Mr W. L. Brockman), and two boatmen, lost their lives – 1860
Six horses belonging to Mr C. Bibra speared by the natives in the Champion Bay district – 1860


1st – Victorian Postage reduced to 2d – 1866
4th – At the Quarter Sessions held in WA, 9 cases were brought forward for trial; two of the prisoners being natives, charged with the murder of another native—they were both found guilty and hanged – 1860
3rd – Riot on Railway at Sandhurst – 1860
10th – Earthquake at Melbourne – 1867
11th – At a meeting of the York Agricultural Society, the principal prizes declared for the show of stock on the 4th October, were—for the best colonial bred cart stallion, best imported thorough bred entire, best colonial-bred cartinare, and best bull, £5 each ; and for the best pen of 2 rams, £4 – 1860
13th – Gov. Manners-Sutton arrived – 1866
15th – Gov. Manners-Sutton sworn – 1866
17th – At a meeting of the Western Australian Mining Association held at Perth arrangements were made to reform the company under the limited liability Act – 1860
18th – Burke’s Party left Melbourne – 1860
20th – Council rejected Appropriations Bill – 1867
25th – Independent Church, Collins Street opened – 1867
27th – Essendon Railway purchased by Government – 1867
28th – Riot at Parliament Houses – 1860
Preliminary movement made in London for the promotion of an exploring expedition in WA, in order to connect Mr Augustus Gregory’s last expedition with the terminus of that of Mr F. Gregory; the latter gentleman offering to act as leader of the party – 1860
Price of cattle at auction £8 16s to £10 10s – 1860
Efforts making to induce the Government again to declare Fremantle a free port – 1860
Rain as incessant as in the preceding month, and a flood apprehended – 1860
Five more horses belonging to Mr C. Bibra speared by the natives in the Champion Bay district, and an addition to the police force sent there to afford protection – 1860
A sperm whale floats ashore near Bunbury – 1860
Very favourable report of the Wheal Fortune Mine (WA) published by the mining captains, Messrs. Hosken and Lorey; nearly 100 tons copper-ore from this mine ready for shipment – 1860
Amateur theatricals again revived in Perth – 1860
The low land on the Swan, Canning, Murray and around Perth, flooded by continual rain – 1860
Retail price of flour £23 per ton – 1860
Blackboy gum sold for £l0 10s per ton in the London market – 1860
Notification made in the Government Gazette of the intention of the local authorities to impose an export duty on sandalwood – 1860
The first ploughing match held in the Northern district takes place on the Greenough Flats in WA – 1860


5th – A Freemasons’ ball held at Mr Haysom’s Hotel, Perth – 1860
9th – Sir Charles Darling arrived – 1863
14th – Bodies of 3 lost children found at Daylesford – 1867
19th – Wills buried Cooper’s Creek – 1861
21st – New Guildford Church opened for Divine Service – 1860
21st – Burke’s remains found – 1861
A man named Anderson drowned at the Perth bridge – 1860
Western Australian timber again in great demand by the Admiralty, and large orders received for execution – 1860
The scarlet-fever introduced into King George’s Sound by the steamer “Salsette” it is still limited to that locality, and one person only has yet died from its effects – 1860
The photographic art brought to much perfection by Mr A. Curtis, who takes some excellent views of the city of Perth – 1860
Dispatches received from England of a rather discouraging nature, both as to the proposed establishment of a sanitarium, and the projected railway in the northern district (WA) -1860
The Museum at the Swan River Mechanics’ Institute, nearly completed -1860


1st – Second Victorian Exhibition opened – 1861
5th – Great Flood at Melbourne – 1866
7th – Melbourne Musical Festival – 1862
11th – “Result” burned in Hobson’s Bay – 1866
13th – Deaf and Dumb Institute opened – 1866
15th – Railway to Castlemaine opened – 1862
8th – Great Floods in Gippsland – 1866
20th – Railway to Sandhurst opened – 1862
21st – Railway to Essendon opened – 1860
25th – Taradale Viaduct commenced – 1860
28th – Earthquake – 800 lives lost at St Thomas – 1867
29th – Prince Alfred arrived at Adelaide – 1867


4th – Murder of H. Wills by natives – 1861
17th – Melbourne Illumination for Duke of Edinburgh – 1867
24th – Prince Alfred arrived in Victoria – 1867
25th – Prince Alfred’s public entry into Melbourne – 1867
28th – Grand Torchlight Procession – 1867
29th – Maiden Stone New Town Hall laid – 1867

The Pacific Mail Company conclude arrangements for running a line of first-class steamers from San Francisco to Australia, via Honolulu – 1869
Death of Oliver Francis Kelley, late clerk of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly – 1869
News of alleged failure of European Insurance Company occasions much excitement in the different colonies, many colonists being policy holders – 1869
Departure of H. M. S. Challenger from Melbourne for New Zealand – 1869
Queensland Government Loan of £343,000 successfully placed in the Sydney market – 1869
Eighty-one diamonds from Mudgee arrive in Melbourne – 1869
Mr. Ferguson relieves Dr. Mueller of his duties at the Melbourne Botanic Gardens – 1869
Large shipments of preserved meats from Victoria to England – 1869
Custom House at Somerset, Queensland, broken into by blacks – 1869
Shipment of colonial-grown tobacco from Queensland to England – 1869
Rev. Canon Russell installed as dean at St. Paul s Church, Adelaide – 1869
Sudden death of Archdeacon Twopenny at Riverton, South Australia – 1869
Writs issued for general election in Sydney – 1869
The Tasmanian Parliament prorogued by the Governor – 1869
Henry Butler, M.L.A., appointed Minister of Lands and Works in the Tasmanian Ministry – 1869
Native war continues in New Zealand – 1869
Gold discovered near Napier – 1869
New official badge adopted for New Zealand – 1869
Another eruption of Tongariro, the New Zealand burning mountain – 1869
Flying Squadron arrives off Cape Otway, Victoria – 1869
The Mane Gabrielle wrecked near Melbourne Heads – 1869
Shock of earthquake at Nelson – 1869
Fire at Government printing offices, Melbourne – 1869
Great fire in Geelong – 1869
Meeting of Melbourne Early Closing Association – 1869
Arrival at Sydney of live stock from England. – 1869


8th – Prince Alfred visited Ballarat – 1867
14th – Prince Albert died – 1861
15th – Joss House opened at Emerald Hill – 1866
16th – Burke left Coopers Creek – 1861
17th – Prince Alfred at Castlemaine – 1867
23rd – City Baths opened – 1860
24th – All England Eleven arrived – 1861
26th – International Cricket match won by NSW – 1866
19th – Prince Alfred at Sandhurst – 1867
28th – Regatta in presence of Prince Alfred – 1867
Death of Mr. W B Allen, formerly member of Sydney Legislative Assembly – 1869
Charge of libel against editor of Wagga Express – 1869
Arrival of Flying Squadron at Sydney – 1869
Heavy thunder storms in New South Wales – 1869
General election in New South Wales – 1869
More cures of snake-bite by Professor Halford’s remedy – 1869
Two of Halligan’s murderers executed at Rockhampton Sir Alfred – 1869
Queensland Government accepts tender for extension of telegraphic lines to Gulf of Carpentaria, to meet the submarine cable from Java – 1869
South Australian Assembly refuse Mr. Bean leave of absence until end of session – 1869
Dr. Schomburgh writes to Adelaide papers, warning colonists of approach of vine-disease – 1869
Mr. Solomon elected mayor of Adelaide – 1869
Gold reef discovered in Tasmania – 1869
20,000 young fish in the Tasmanian salmon ponds – 1869
Mr. Goyder publishes long and interesting report on Northern Australia – 1869
Large seizures at Melbourne Custom House ; the goods had been entered at false values, with the object of saving duty – 1869
Payment of Members Bill and State Aid to Religion Bill rejected by Victorian Parliament – 1869
Slight earthquake experienced in different parts of Victoria – 1869
Ostriches belonging to Acclimatisation Society hatch brood of twelve, the first in Australia – 1869
Government of Canterbury offer reward for discovery of payable gold-field – 1869
Project of a submarine cable from New Zealand to New South Wales mooted. – 1869