Education commentator for The Australian Kevin Donnelly writes:

History should not be restricted to simply memorising dates, but an understanding of significant dates, their chronology and importance are vital to establishing a strong sense of narrative. Ten dates related to Australian history that all students should know include:

  • Pre-European settlement: arrival of Aborigines to what is now known as Australia, their relationship to and impact on the land and an understanding of Indigenous culture and society.
  • 1770: Captain Cook explores the coast, eventually leading to the arrival of the First Fleet.
  • 1788: arrival of the First Fleet and the start of European settlement/occupation.
  • 1854: the Eureka Stockade, eventually leading to more democratic parliamentary representation.
  • 1901: the federation of the states into the Commonwealth of Australia – the birth of a nation and consensus around what Paul Kelly terms the Australian settlement, including: conciliation and arbitration, white Australia and tariff protection.
  • 1914-1918: First World War, significance of Gallipoli and battles in France on Australia’s self-image and social and economic impact.
  • 1930s: the Great Depression hits Australia, social and economic impact as well as differences about how best to alleviate.
  • 1939-45: the Second World War and its influence on Australia’s relationship with the Empire and the USA, nation building after the war and Australia’s post-war refugee policy
  • 1972: election of the Whitlam Government and the start of a cultural revolution in Australian society.
  • 1975: the dismissal of the Whitlam Government, reasons why and constitutional and political implications.