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Research Guides

Commonwealth Government Records about Tasmania

Appendix A: Timeline – key events in 20th-century Tasmania

1900 Tasmanian troops leave for Second Boer War
Macquarie Island becomes part of Tasmania
1901 Administrator Sir John Dodds reads proclamation of Commonwealth of Australia from Tasmanian Supreme Court steps
Visit by Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York
First elections for federal Parliament
Zeehan conference leads to formation of Tasmanian Workers Political League
1902 Last Tasmanian troops return from the Boer War
1903 Hobart–Launceston telephone line opens
1905 Wireless telegraphy experiments between Hobart and Tasman Island and between state and mainland
General Post Office building opens in Hobart
1906 Tasman Island lighthouse first lit
1910 Great Lake hydro-electric project starts
1911 Mawson’s ship Aurora docks in Hobart on the way to Antarctica
1912 Mount Lyell fire traps miners underground, 42 die
Norwegian Roald Amundsen, first man to reach the South Pole, arrives in Hobart on return from Antarctic expedition
1914 First Tasmanian troops leave to fight in World War I
State government buys hydro-electric company
1916 First all-Tasmanian battalion (the 40th) leaves for World War I
Opening of Great Lake hydro scheme’s first stage, Waddamana power station
1917 Electrolytic Zinc Company established at Risdon
1919 Worldwide Spanish influenza epidemic reaches Tasmania
1920 Visit by Prince of Wales
1923 Severe flooding in Hobart
Labor’s Joe Lyons becomes Tasmanian Premier
1924 Federal voting becomes compulsory
1927 Visit by Duke and Duchess of York
1929 Floods, mainly in Northern Tasmania, take 22 lives; dam burst damages Derby township and tin mines
Legislation creates HEC
1932 Ivan and Victor Holyman start air service between Launceston and Flinders Island
Joe Lyons becomes Prime Minister
1933 Commonwealth Grants Commission appointed to inquire into affairs of claimant states, including Tasmania
1934 Holyman Airways launches Launceston–Melbourne service; within months, company plane Miss Hobart disappears over Bass Strait with loss of 12 people
1936 SS Paringa sinks in Bass Strait while towing tanker, 31 die
Last known Tasmanian tiger dies at Hobart’s Beaumaris Zoo
First commercial flights use federal aerodrome at Cambridge
Submarine telephone cable service begins between Tasmania and Victoria via King Island
1939 World War II begins
Death in office of Prime Minister Joe Lyons
1940 Tasmanian soldiers leave for North African campaign
German naval raiders Pinguin and Atlantis lay mines off Hobart and other parts of Australia; Hobart closed to shipping because of mine threat; Bass Strait closed after mine sinks British steamer Cambridge
1941 Tasmanian soldiers leave for Malaya with the 8th Division
1943 Floating-arch pontoon Hobart Bridge opens
Enid Lyons (later Dame Enid), widow of former Prime Minister Joe Lyons, elected first female member of the House of Representatives, winning seat of Darwin
1946 Australian National Airways plane crashes at Seven Mile Beach, killing 25
1947 War-affected migrants begin arriving from Europe to work for HEC
Major flooding in south of state
The census records 13 individuals resident in Tasmania who were born in The Netherlands
1948 Antarctic research station established on Macquarie Island
1949 Tasmanian politician Dame Enid Lyons, widow of Joe Lyons, becomes first woman to reach federal Ministry rank, as Executive Council Vice-President
Government buys Theatre Royal
1951 Brighton army camp gets first intake of national service trainees
Italian and German migrants arrive to work under contract for HEC
1954 Queen Elizabeth II becomes first reigning monarch to visit the state; as part of 150th anniversary celebrations, she unveils monument to pioneer British settlers
Hobart Rivulet area damaged as severe floods affect southern and eastern Tasmania
1955 Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the University of Tasmania after request by Professor Sydney Orr
Proclamation of Lake Pedder National Park
First ingot poured at Bell Bay aluminium refinery
Federal conference in Hobart brings ALP party split over industrial groups to a head, leading to formation of ALP (Anti-Communist), later the Democratic Labor Party
1956 University of Tasmania Council dismisses Professor Sydney Orr, alleging improper conduct by him with female a student; Orr launches unsuccessful court action against university for wrongful dismissal
1958 Hobart waterside workers block two ALP (Anti-Communist) members, father Frank Hursey and son Dennis, from working, in dispute over their objection to paying union levy that would partly go to ALP
1959 Princess of Tasmania becomes first roll-on/roll-off passenger ferry on Bass Strait run
High Court verdict in Hursey case upholds unions’ right to levy members for political purposes, and expel those who refuse to pay
1960 Severe floods in Derwent valley and Hobart, with business basements under water and houses washed away
Television stations ABT-2 (ABC) and TVT-6 start programs from Mount Wellington transmitters
1964 Tasman Bridge opens for traffic; old pontoon bridge towed away
1965 Ferry Empress of Australia makes first Sydney–Hobart voyage
1966 First Tasmanians leave for the Vietnam War under national service scheme
1967 Black Tuesday bushfires claim 62 lives – 53 in Hobart area – and destroy more than 1300 homes
Tasmania joins other states in approving full constitutional rights for Aboriginal people
HEC tables plans in State Parliament to dam Lake Pedder in south-west
1969 Worst floods in 40 years hit Launceston
1971 First state Aboriginal conference held in Launceston
1972 Conservationists lose battle to prevent flooding of Lake Pedder in south-west for hydro-electric scheme
Ferry Princess of Tasmania makes last Tasmanian voyage
Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre opens in Hobart
1973 Coastal freighter Blythe Star sinks with loss of three men; seven survivors spend eight days adrift in boat before coming ashore on Forestier Peninsula
1975 Freighter MV Lake Illawarra crashes into Tasman Bridge, causing 12 deaths and bringing down part of bridge; temporary Bailey Bridge put across Derwent
1976 Members of Aboriginal community ritually cremate Truganini’s remains
Tasmanian Wilderness Society formed
Freight Equalisation Scheme subsidises sea cargo to and from the state
1977 Repaired Tasman Bridge reopens to traffic
Royal visit, during which Aboriginal activist Michael Mansell presents the Queen with land rights claim
1978 Australian National Railways takes over Tasmanian rail system; Tasman Limited ceases operations, ending regular passenger train services in the state
HEC proposes power scheme involving Gordon, Franklin and King rivers
1979 Government expands south-west conservation area to more than one-fifth of the state’s total area
1980 Australian Antarctic Division headquarters completed at Kingston
1981 Plebiscite on preferred new hydro-power development scheme shows 47 per cent of voters favour Gordon-below-Franklin development, 8 per cent prefer Gordon-above-Olga, with 45 per cent casting informal votes, including writing ‘no dams’
Bushfires destroy 40 Zeehan homes
1982 Proclamation of Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area; conservationists blockade Gordon-below-Franklin hydro-electric dam work
1983 Federal regulations block Franklin dam construction; High Court rules in favour of federal sovereignty, ending the proposed Gordon-below-Franklin scheme
Tasmanian Aboriginal Land Council established Visit by the Prince and Princess of Wales
1985 Four-day cremation ceremony at Oyster Cove, south of Hobart, for Aboriginal remains recovered from museums
CSIRO Marine Laboratories open in Hobart
Last voyage by ferry Empress of Australia before replacement by Abel Tasman
1986 Discovery of Aboriginal rock paintings in south-west believed to be 20,000 years old
1987 High Court decision bans logging in Lemonthyme, southern forests
1992 Aboriginal people occupy Risdon Cove in protest over land claims
1993 Spirit of Tasmania replaces Abel Tasman on Bass Strait ferry service
1994 End to 80 years of dam building as state’s last power station, Tribute, opens near Tullah
1996 Port Arthur massacre
Former federal Liberal minister Peter Nixon heads Commonwealth-state inquiry into Tasmanian economy
1997 Nixon report recommendations include single chamber state Parliament with 27 members, government asset sales
1998 Commonwealth Government sells Hobart and Launceston airports