Australia in the 1880s


The railway revolution


By the 1880s, railways were ready to go 'trans-colonial'. In 1883, the first regular train service between Sydney and Melbourne was established. However, since each colony built its own railway lines to its own standards, Sydney–Melbourne passengers had to change trains at Albury because of different train gauges. Uniform gauge would not be introduced until 1962.


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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