kids encyclopedia robot

History of Queensland facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

The history of Queensland encompasses both a long Aboriginal Australian presence as well as the more recent periods of European colonisation and as a state of Australia. Before being charted and claimed for the Kingdom of Great Britain by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770, the coast of north-eastern Australia was explored by Dutch and French navigators. Queensland separated from the Colony of New South Wales as a self-governing Crown colony in 1859. In 1901 it became one of the six founding states of Australia.

Indigenous people

50,000 to 60,000 years ago, Aboriginal people arrived in Australia by boat or by land bridge. The most likely route was from Southeast Asia across the Torres Strait. During the next ten thousand years, the Aboriginal people travelled over most of the continent.

Around 25,000 years ago, an ice age began with a rapid drop in the temperature of the earth of eight degrees. The climate changes lasted over 10,000 years. The land bridges from Southeast Asia and to Tasmania became inhospitable. Food was difficult to find and this led to the origin of seed-grinding technology.

About 15,000 years ago, global temperatures warmed and rainfall increased along the eastern coast of Australia. The inland of Queensland, also receiving rainfall, again became habitable. Coastal lands decreased due to rising sea levels and tropical rain forests spread. The Kalkadoon people of the inland central gulf region, dug wells 10m deep to maintain their supply of freshwater.

From 10,000 years until European arrival, the favourable warmer climate allowed the development of semi-permanent villages in the northern rainforests, the far western regions and around Moreton Bay. Along the Barron River, and on the islands of Moreton Bay, large huts (djimurru), capable of housing thirty to forty people were built. However, due to recurrent droughts and floods, the dominant hunter-gatherer lifestyle persisted in most areas of Queensland.

The peak Aboriginal population in Queensland prior to European arrival is uncertain. The number may have been between 200,000 and 500,000 people. Numbers may have decreased at times of epidemics like smallpox. Rough calculations of the population can be made from the knowledge that Queensland supported 34.2 percent of the total number of tribes in Australia and from the knowledge that 35 to 39 percent of Australian aboriginal people lived in Queensland. Queensland was the most densely populated region of the continent with two of the six to seven hundred Aboriginal nations and at least ninety language groups.

European exploration and settlement


In 1606, the Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon landed near the site of the modern-day town of Weipa on the western shore of Cape York. His arrival was the first recorded encounter between European and Australian Aboriginal people.

In 1614, Luis Váez de Torres, a Spanish explorer may have sighted the Queensland coast at the tip of Cape York. In that year, he had sailed the Torres Strait, the body of water now named after him.

In 1768, the French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville sailed west from the New Hebrides islands, getting to within a hundred miles of the Queensland coast. He did not reach the coast because he did not find a passage through the coral reefs, and turned back.

Lieutenant James Cook claimed the east coast under instruction from King George III of England on 22 August 1770 at Possession Island, naming eastern Australia "New South Wales". This included the present Queensland. Cook charted the Australian east coast in his ship HM Barque "Endeavour", naming Stradbroke and Morton (now Moreton Island) islands, the Glass House Mountains, Double Island Point, Wide Bay, Hervey Bay and the Great Sandy Cape, now called Fraser Island. His second landfall in Australia was at Round Hill Head, 500 km north of Brisbane. The Endeavour was grounded on a coral reef near Cape Tribulation, on 11 June 1770 where he was delayed for almost seven weeks while they repaired the ship. This occurred where Cooktown now lies, on the Endeavour River, both places named after the incident. On 22 August the Endeavour reached the northern tip of Queensland, which Cook named the Cape York Peninsula after the Duke of York.

In 1799, in the Norfolk, Matthew Flinders spent six weeks exploring the Queensland coast as far north as Hervey Bay. In 1802 he explored the coast again. On a later trip to England, his ship the HMS Porpoise and the accompanying Cato ran aground on a coral reef off the Queensland coast. Flinders set off for Sydney in an open cutter, at a distance of 750 miles (1,210 km), where the Governor sent ships back to rescue the crew from Wreck Reef.

Nineteenth century

In 1823, John Oxley sailed north from Sydney to inspect Port Curtis (now Gladstone) and Moreton Bay as possible sites for a penal colony. At Moreton Bay, he found the Brisbane River whose existence Cook had predicted, and proceeded to explore the lower part of it. In September 1824, he returned with soldiers and established a temporary settlement at Redcliffe. On 2 December, the settlement was transferred to where the Central Business District (CBD) of Brisbane now stands. The settlement was initially called Edenglassie, a portmanteau of the Scottish towns Edinburgh and Glasgow. Major Edmund Lockyer discovered outcrops of coal along the banks of the upper Brisbane River in 1825. In 1839, transportation of convicts ceased, culminating in the closure of the Brisbane penal settlement. In 1842, free settlement was permitted. In the same year Andrew Petrie reported favourable grazing conditions and decent forests to the north of Brisbane, which led shortly to the arrival of settlers to Fraser Island and the Cooloola coast region.

StateLibQld 1 210279 Artemisia (ship)
Immigrants aboard the Artemisia arrived at the colony of Moreton Bay in 1848.

In 1847, the Port of Maryborough was opened as a wool port. The first immigrant ship to arrive in Moreton Bay was the Artemisia in 1848. In 1857, Queensland's first lighthouse was built at Cape Moreton.

Frontier war

Fighting between Aborigines and settlers in colonial Queensland was more bloody than in any other colonial state in Australia, perhaps partly due to Queensland having a larger pre-contact indigenous population than any other colony in Australia, accounting for over one third, and in some estimates close to forty percent, of the entire pre-contact population of the continent. The latest and hitherto most comprehensive survey estimates that some 1,500 European settlers - and their Chinese, Aboriginal and Melanesian allies - died in frontier skirmishes with Aboriginals in Queensland during the nineteenth century. The same study indicates that the casualties Aboriginal people suffered in these battles with settlers and native police (frequently described by contemporary political leaders and newspapers as "warfare", "a kind of warfare", "guerrilla-like warfare", and at times as a "war of extermination") is highly likely to have exceeded 30,000. (That is a tripling of the hitherto used minimum estimates for Queensland.) Yet even this figure is liable to increase if the results of the first attempt to use extensive primary sources to calculate the Aboriginal casualties due to violence on the Queensland frontier in this period is used. A paper prepared by Raymond Evans and Robert Ørsted-Jensen for the annual AHA conference at University of Queensland on 9 July 2014 indicated that a minimum figure of 65,000 Aboriginal casualties is a more realistic figure. The "Native Police Force" (sometimes "Native Mounted Police Force"), recruited and deployed by the Queensland government, was a key instrument in the oppression, dispossession and murder of indigenous people during this period.

The three largest massacres of whites by Aborigines in Australian colonial history all took place in Queensland. On 27 October 1857 Martha Fraser's Hornet Bank station on the Dawson River, in central Queensland took the lives of 11 Europeans. The tent camp of the embryo station of Cullin-La-Ringo near Springsure was attacked by Aborigines on 17 Oct 1861, killing 19 people including the grazier Horatio Wills. Following the wreck of the brig Maria at Bramble Reef near the Whitsunday Islands, on 26 February a total of 14 European survivors were massacred by local Aborigines. The Battle of One Tree Hill and Darkey Flat Massacre also took place in the 1840s.

Colony of Queensland

In 1851, a public meeting was held to consider Queensland's separation from New South Wales. On 6 June 1859 Queen Victoria signed Letters Patent to form the colony of Queensland. A proclamation was read by George Bowen on 10 December 1859 whereupon Queensland was formally separated from New South Wales. Bowen became the first Governor of Queensland and Robert Herbert became the first Premier of Queensland.

Queensland was the only Australian colony that commenced immediately with its own parliament, instead of first spending time as a Crown Colony (i.e. having a Governor appointed by The Crown). By this time, Western Australia was the only Australian colony without responsible government. Ipswich and Rockhampton became towns in 1860, with Maryborough and Warwick becoming towns the following year.

In 1861, rescue parties for Burke and Wills, which failed to find them, did some exploratory work of their own, in central and north-western Queensland. Notably among these was Frederick Walker who originally worked for the native police. Brisbane was linked by electric telegraph to Sydney in 1861, however the first operating telegraph line in Queensland was from Brisbane to Ipswich in the same year.

Gold rush

StateLibQld 1 102208 Gold miners outside a bark hut, Queensland, ca. 1870
Early gold miners were prepared to live rough in order to strike it rich.

Although smaller than the gold rushes of Victoria and New South Wales, Queensland had its own series of gold rushes in the later half of the nineteenth century. In 1858, gold was discovered at Canoona. In 1867, gold was discovered in Gympie. Richard Daintree's explorations in North Queensland lead to several goldfields being developed in the late 1860s. In 1872, William Hann discovers gold on the Palmer River, southwest of Cooktown. Chinese settlers began to arrive in the goldfields, by 1877 there were 17,000 Chinese on Queensland gold fields. In that year restrictions on Chinese immigration were passed.

Other events

StateLibQld 1 137083 Cleared scrubland, Mary River, Queensland
Mary River residence, ~1870
StateLibQld 1 13930 Pioneer Sugar Mill at Mackay, 1880s
Pioneer Sugar Mill at Mackay in the 1880s.

1862 saw Queensland's western boundary changed from longitude 141° E to 138°E. In 1863, the first Chief Justice, Sir James Cockle was appointed. 1864 was an annus horribilis for Queensland. In March of that year, major flooding of the Brisbane River inundated the centre of town, in April, fires devastated the west side of Queen Street, which was the main shopping district and in December, another fire, which was Brisbane's worst ever, wiped out the rest of Queen Street and adjoining streets.

1865 saw the first steam trains in Queensland, travelling (from Ipswich to Bigge's Camp, which is now known as Grandchester). Townsville gazetted as a town in the same year. In 1867, the Queensland Constitution was consolidated from existing legislation under the Constitution Act 1867. Sugar production was by then becoming a major industry. In 1867, six mills produced 168 tons of cane-sugar, by 1870 there were 28 mills with a production of 2,854 tons. The production of sugar started around Brisbane, but spread to Mackay and Cairns, and by 1888 the annual output of sugar was 60,000 tons. 1871 saw George Phipps, 2nd Marquess of Normanby become the Governor of Queensland. The first record of a rugby match played in Queensland occurred in 1876. In 1877, Arthur Edward Kennedy became the Governor of Queensland. The first meat processed in the state occurred at Queensport along the Brisbane River in 1881.

In 1883, Queensland Premier Sir Thomas McIlwraith annexes Papua (later repudiated by British government). On 2 June the decision to form a rugby union association was made at the Exchange hotel in Brisbane. The same year Queensland's population passed the 250,000 mark. In 1887, the Brisbane-Wallangarra railway line was opened, and in 1888 there was a 483-mile (777 km) line opened between Brisbane and Charleville. There were other lines that were nearly complete from Rockhampton to Longreach, and others being constructed around Maryborough, Mackay and Townsville. By 1888, there were more than 5 million cattle in Queensland.

StateLibQld 1 114716 Hope Street, South Brisbane, under floodwaters in 1893
South Brisbane during the 1893 Brisbane flood

1891 saw the Great Shearers' Strike at Barcaldine leads to formation of the Australian Labor Party. The issue in the strike was whether employers were entitled to use non-union labour. There were troops and police called in, some sheds were fired, and there were mass riots. There was a second shearers strike in 1894. Union sponsored candidates won sixteen seats at the Queensland elections in 1893. The 1893 Brisbane flood caused much destruction including destroying the Victoria Bridge. The land where the Brisbane Cricket Ground now sits was first used as a cricket ground in 1895, with the first cricket match played there in December 1896. In 1897, Native (Aboriginal) Police force disbanded.

Queensland State Archives 2253 Coal mine at Blackstone near Ipswich 1898
Coal mine in Ipswich, 1898

In 1899, the world's first Labor Party Government, with Premier Anderson Dawson as the leader, was elected into power only to last one week. In July 1899 Queensland offered to send a force of 250 mounted infantry to help Britain in the Second Boer War (Second Anglo-Boer War). Also in that year, gold production at Charters Towers peaked. The first natural gas find in Queensland and Australia was at Roma in 1900 as a team was drilling a water well. The Mahina Cyclone of 1899 strikes Cape York Peninsula, destroying a pearling fleet in Princess Charlotte Bay. The cyclone claimed the lives of around 400 people, making it Queensland's worst maritime disaster.


During the 1890s many workers known as the Kanakas were brought to Queensland from neighbouring Pacific Island nations to work in the sugar cane fields. Some of whom had been kidnapped under a process known as Blackbirding. When Australia was federated in 1901, the White Australia policy came into effect, whereby all foreign workers in Australia were deported under the Pacific Island Labourers Act of 1901. At this time there were between 7,000 and 10,000 Pacific Islanders living in Queensland. Most of them had been deported by 1908, by which time there were only 1500-2500 remaining.

Twentieth century

StateLibQld 1 139704 Lord Lamington addresses Federation Day crowds, Brisbane, 1901
Lord Lamington addresses Federation Day crowds, Brisbane, 1901

Federation to First World War

On the 1 January 1901 Australia was federated, following a proclamation by Queen Victoria. At this time Queensland had a population of half a million people. In the same year, the Chillagoe smelters commenced operations. Brisbane was proclaimed a city in 1902. In 1905, women voted in state elections for the first time. In 1908, Witches Falls, now part of Tamborine National Park on Tamborine Mountain is declared the first national park in Queensland. The University of Queensland was established in 1909. The 1912 Brisbane General Strike lasted for five weeks.

World War I

The United Kingdom declared war against Germany on 4 August 1914. As Australia's new constitution was silent on the declaration of war, on 20 August 1914 Queensland made an independent proclamation of war between His Majesty the King (George V) and the German Emperor (Wilhelm II). Later Queensland made further independent proclamations of war against Austria and Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey. Initially in 1914 the war in Europe did not impact greatly on life in Queensland, although the existing militia were deployed in the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force attack on German New Guinea.

The outbreak of war created a heightened sense of patriotism; the call for Queenslanders to volunteer for the Australian Imperial Force met its initial quota of 2500 men by September 1914. With so many willing to enlist, the army could insist of a high standard of physical fitness. However, the only women accepted by the army were single women nurses. Women doctors were not accepted by the army, arguing they could not stand the conditions (despite nurses enduring the same conditions) and, perhaps more tellingly, that male doctors would be unwilling to work with them. This led to a number of Queensland women finding unofficial ways to serve the war effort, e.g. Lilian Violet Cooper, Queensland's first female doctor served in the Scottish Women's Hospitals serving in Serbia while her companion Josephine Bedford also served in the Scottish Women's Hospitals as an ambulance driver in Serbia. Eleanor Bourne, another Queensland doctor, travelled to England to enlist as a medical officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps and later served in the Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. Visiting London during the outbreak of the war, Annie Wheeler, a married nurse, remained in London and, with the assistance of her daughter Portia, became a volunteer worker for the comfort of Central Queensland soldiers, maintaining a comprehensive card index through which she ensured the soldiers and their families were kept well-informed and supported through practical and financial assistance. Eleanor Bourne. There was also a heightened suspicion of Germans with any known German military reservists being immediately arrested and detained.

In Queensland on 10 January 1916, Canon David John Garland was appointed the honorary secretary of the Anzac Day Commemoration Committee of Queensland (ADCCQ) at a public meeting which endorsed 25 April as be the date promoted as “Anzac Day” in 1916 and ever after. Devoted to the cause of a non-denominational commemoration that could be attended by the whole of Australian society, Garland worked amicably across all denominational divides, creating the framework for Anzac Day commemorative services. Garland is specifically credited with initiating the Anzac Day march, the wreath-laying ceremonies at memorials and the special church services, the two minutes silence, and the luncheon for returned soldiers. Garland intended the silence was used in lieu of a prayer to allow the Anzac Day service to be universally attended, allowing attendees to make a silent prayer or remembrance in accordance with their own beliefs. He particularly feared that the universality of the ceremony would fall victim to religious sectarian disputes.

Over 58,000 Queenslanders fought in World War I and over 10,000 of them died.

The state's largest recorded earthquake strikes in 1918 near Rockhampton with a magnitude of six.

Between the Wars

StateLibQld 2 117180 Crowd scenes at Brisbane and New Zealand, to greet Charles Kingsford Smith and his aeroplane Southern Cross, 1928
Crowds support Charles Kingsford Smith record breaking flights at Brisbane and Christchurch in 1928

Qantas was founded in 1920 to serve outback Queensland. 1920 saw Matthew Nathan become Governor and actively promotes British migration to Queensland. The Mount Mulligan mine disaster killed 75 workers in 1921. In 1922, the Queensland Legislative Council was abolished, making Queensland the only Australian state (to this day) without a bicameral legislature. On the 9 June 1925 the Traverston rail disaster occurs - the worst rail disaster in Queensland's history until 1947. In 1927, the Duke and Duchess of York toured Queensland. They were here to open Parliament House in Canberra but spent time in southern Queensland to meet and greet people. In 1928, the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia makes first flight, departing from Cloncurry. Also, in 1928, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith landed the Southern Cross in Brisbane, completing the first trans-Pacific flight. In 1935, 101 Cane Toads were brought into Queensland to try to control pests on sugar cane crops, and bred to 3,000, which were released into areas around Cairns, Innisfail and Gordonvale. They have since spread to many parts of Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory. In late 1936 a lightning strike hit the Bundaberg Rum Distillery, destroying the distillery without any loss of life. It was rebuilt and is currently operating on the same site today.

Second World War

Slq picqld-2003-02-03-14-42 U.S.MPs brisbane
April 1942. US military police outside the Central Hotel, Brisbane. Later that year there was violence between Australians and US MPs in the Battle of Brisbane. The pipe on which they are resting their feet carried sea water, for use in fighting fires in the event of air raids.

During World War II, many Queenslanders volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Australian Navy.

Following the outbreak of war with Japan, Queensland soon became a virtual frontline, as fears of invasion grew. Several cities and places in Northern Queensland were bombed by the Japanese during their air attacks on Australia. These included Horn Island, Townsville and Mossman.

There was a massive buildup of Australian and United States forces in the state, and the Allied Supreme Commander in the South West Pacific Area, General Douglas MacArthur, established his headquarters in Brisbane. Facilities were assigned or constructed to accommodate and train these forces such as Camp Cable south of Brisbane. Tens of thousands of Queenslanders were conscripted into Militia (reserve) units.

On 14 May 1943 the Australian Hospital Ship Centaur was sunk off North Stradbroke Island, by a torpedo from a Japanese Navy submarine. Later in the war, the 3rd Division, a Militia unit made of predominantly Queensland personnel, took part in the Bougainville campaign.

Post war

The 1948 Queensland Railway strike was a nine-week strike over the wages of railway workshop and depot workers. In 1952, Queensland's only whaling station opens at Tangalooma and is closed a decade later. The Shearers' strike of 1956 saw Queensland shearers off work between January and October in a dispute over wages. Henry Abel Smith becomes Governor in 1958. In 1962, the first commercial production of oil in Queensland and Australia begins at Moonie, as does a program of drum lines to reduce shark attacks at beaches. 1968 saw Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen elected as Premier. He remained in that role for 19 years. In 1969, the first natural gas pipeline in Queensland and Australia, connecting the Roma gasfields to Brisbane, became operational.

1971 saw escalating protests in regards to the 1971 Springbok tour and Bjelke-Petersen declare a state of emergency in the state In the same year Daylight Saving is introduced to Queensland. Only to be abandoned the following year. The Box Flat Mine explosion took the lives of 18 men in 1972. Two years later the 1974 Brisbane flood caused widespread damage. In 1976, sand mining on Fraser Island is halted.


Bird's eye view of Jupiters Casino on the Gold Coast
The Jupiters Hotel and Casino opened in 1985
Expo88-from-the-Brisbane River
World Expo 88

1982 saw Brisbane host the Commonwealth Games. In the same year Eddie Mabo began action in the High Court to claim ownership of land in the Torres Strait on behalf of the indigenous inhabitants, following the Queensland Amendment Act, which was passed that year. In 1985, the Queensland government tried to end proceedings in the High Court by passing the Queensland Coast Islands Declaratory Act 1985, which claimed that Queensland had total control of the Torres Strait Islands after they had been annexed in 1879. This act was held as contrary to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 by the High Court in 1988. The well known Mabo v Queensland (No 2) (1992) decision was handed down in 1992, which recognised native title.

In 1987 in response to a series of articles on high-level police corruption in The Courier-Mail by reporter Phil Dickie, followed by a Four Corners television report, aired on 11 May 1987, entitled "The Moonlight State" with reporter Chris Masters the Fitzgerald Inquiry (1987–1989), presided over by Tony Fitzgerald QC, resulted in the deposition of a premier, two by-elections, the jailing of three former ministers and a police commissioner being jailed and losing his knighthood. Wayne Goss led the Labor Government to power in 1989. In 1980, the annual State of Origin series began at Lang Park in Brisbane. Two years later the Commonwealth Games was held in Brisbane.

In May 1987, the Fitzgerald Inquiry (1987–1989) into Queensland Police corruption was ordered by Deputy Premier Bill Gunn. On 1 December 1987 Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen was forced to resign as Premier of Queensland. His resignation is accepted by Governor Walter Campbell. In 1987, the Brisbane Bears Australian rules football team joined the VFL as the second team outside Victoria. It was merged with Fitzroy to become the Brisbane Lions in 1997. 1987 saw Brisbane host games of the first ever Rugby World Cup.

Expo '88 held in Brisbane in 1988 to celebrate the Bicentenary of the First fleet founding the colony of Australia. The event was very successful and helped promote Brisbane and Queensland on the world stage. Also that year, the Brisbane Broncos and Gold Coast-Tweed Giants rugby league teams were founded, followed by the South Queensland Crushers and North Queensland Cowboys in 1995. In 1989, Queensland commenced a three-year trial of Daylight Saving. On 2 December 1989, the National Party government of Russell Cooper was defeated at the state election. The government of Labor Premier Wayne Goss commenced on 7 December 1989.


The 1990s saw Queensland undergo rapid population growth, largely as the result of interstate migration. Internal migrants were attracted to Queensland's buoyant economy, and the opportunity for young families to more easily purchase homes than market conditions would allow in Sydney. Queensland's population growth during the 1990s was largely concentrated in South East Queensland. In 1991, logging on Fraser Island ceases.

By the late 1990s, Queensland's rapid population growth was placing pressure on South East Queensland's infrastructure, including within Brisbane. Major planning of road, rail, electricity and water infrastructure was undertaken to cope with the growing population, with many of these projects being built during the following decade.

In 1992, Queensland held a referendum on Daylight Saving, which was defeated with a 54.5% "no" vote. In 1998, the use of the Brisbane and Bremer Rivers for the barging of coal ceases after 158 years.

The first nature refuge established under Queensland's Nature Conservation Act 1992 was declared for "Berlin Scrub", a forty-one hectare site in the Lockyer Valley in 1994.


Flooded intersection of Eagle and Charlotte Streets
Flood waters inundate the Brisbane central business district, 2011.

In 2001, the Goodwill Games were held in Brisbane. In 2003, both Brisbane and Townsville host games of the 2003 Rugby World Cup. In the same year the oil pipeline running from Jackson to Brisbane bursts open at Lytton, causing Queensland's largest-ever oil spill. Cyclone Larry crossed the Queensland coast in March 2006 becoming the costliest tropical cyclone to ever impact Australia. That year residents of Toowoomba voted against the use of recycled sewage in drinking water in a referendum, halting a project that was described as the world's most ambitious wastewater recycling scheme.

2009 saw Anna Bligh become the state's first appointed female Premier. According to the Bureau of Meteorology 2010 was Queensland's wettest year on record. At the end of 2010 and into the next year the state experienced widespread floods. Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley experienced severe flash flooding in January. Cyclone Yasi crossed the Queensland coast in February, causing more damage than Cyclone Larry.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Historia de Queensland para niños

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Famous Hispanic artists
Alma López
Juana Martinez-Neal
William Villalongo
Teresita Fernández
kids search engine
History of Queensland Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.