Australia in the 1890s


During the early 1890s railway expansion, low wool prices and better farming techniques led to a doubling of wheat production from NSW, although drought would destroy many of these gains in the later part of the decade. Wheat and dairy products became important exports for the colonies.

Extraordinarily rich gold strikes in Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie catapulted Western Australia to the top of the gold exports. Countless thousands of newly unemployed workers from the eastern colonies moved to the west in the renewed hope of striking it rich at the diggings.

The Tharwa bridge under construction in 1894. This was the first bridge across the Murrumbidgee River and is the oldest bridge still standing in the Australian Capital Territory.

A snapshot of 1898

  • April
    • The Eighth Intercolonial Trades Union Congress is held in Adelaide.

  • June
    • A referendum is held in New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria to approve the draft Constitution of Australia.
    • The constitution is accepted by the required majority in South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria, but not in New South Wales.

  • October
    • The Perth Zoo opens with two lions and a tiger in its collection.
    • The Queen Victoria Building in Sydney is completed.
    • Hobart is lit by electricity.


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