What Happened When: A Chronology of Australia from 1788

What Happened When: A Chronology of Australia from 1788

What Happened When: A Chronology of Australia from 1788

What Happened When: A Chronology of Australia from 1788


"First published in 1988 and now in its fourth updated edition, What Happened When will continue to settle arguments, refresh memories, furnish some surprises, and answer a lot of questions."


The idea for this book originated many years ago. As a publisher's editor, frequently working on books of Australian history, biography, art, sport, entertainment, social history, and general Australiana, I was required to check facts and dates that were often not readily accessible. For my own future use I recorded these details on index cards and filed them away in chronological order in cardboard boxes. Gradually I got into the habit of noting down details of any event or achievement that I came across, not only in the manuscripts I was working on but in books, magazines, and newspapers, in guidebooks and leaflets from historic places, in pamphlets and advertisements published in celebration of some anniversary, and on plaques attached to buildings and memorials.

Eventually I decided to gather the material systematically, with the object of producing a chronology of Australia for publication. I started to read through The Australian Encyclopaedia and collections of historical documents as well as specialized histories, noting down every date and fact of significance and filing the cards away in the ever-increasing number of cardboard boxes. The work became a time-consuming occupation.

To my great good fortune, the publisher of the original edition, John Ferguson, put me in touch with a fellow chronologist, David Elder, who had recently retired after a lifetime in publishing. David Elder had amassed an enormous amount of chronological information from prodigious reading, patient investigation, and years of travelling round Australia as a publisher's representative. The extent of his research was matched by the extent of his generosity; he graciously put all of his material at my disposal to use as I thought fit.

The amount of material was several times as much as I had gathered, even though its cut-off point was 1950, and far more than I could fit into a manageable single volume. But if I could not use it all, I could select freely from it. It allowed me to fill in many blank spaces in years where little of note seemed before to have happened, and it provided me with precise dates for innumerable events for which I and many reference works could . . .

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