Australia in the 1880s


Spectacular expansion


By 1883, Australian colonies borrowed heavily from British banks for business investment, pastoral properties (sheep and cattle), mining enterprises, railway construction and property speculation. It meant that for a period there was an increase in the number of small and large businesses, and large-scale building activity. In January 1888, transactions on the Melbourne Stock Exchange passed the £2 million mark. By July in the same year, Melbourne property prices were higher than those in London.


A snapshot of 1888

  • January
    • Non-Indigenous Australians celebrate 100 years of colonial settlement.

  • May
    • A demonstration against Chinese immigration takes place outside Sydney Town Hall and a month later an Intercolonial Conference on the Chinese question is held.
    • In Queensland, Thomas Glassey becomes the first trade union candidate in any colonial parliament.

  • December
    • The Centennial International Exhibition opens in Melbourne in the newly built Royal Exhibition Building.
    • Henry Lawson's first story, His Father's Mate, is published.
    • The women's magazine, The Dawn, begins publication with editorials by Louisa Lawson, mother of Henry Lawson, and advocates voting rights for women and divorce law reform.
    • It also included household hints, a short story and poetry as well as fashion news. Established by Louisa it was prepared and printed by women.

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