Australia in the 1920s


Art, literature and music


In 1921, the first Archibald Prize for portraiture was introduced after the death of The Bulletin's founder, Jules Archibald. The first prize was awarded to William Beckwith McInnes, who would go on to win five of the first six awards.

In the same year, the comic strip Ginger Meggs first appeared under the title Us Fellers in the Sydney Sun newspaper.

On 2 September 1922, Henry Lawson, author of While the Billy Boils, died a penniless alcoholic. The prime minister Billy Hughes gave Lawson a state funeral in Sydney. In 1922, The Stone Axe of Burkamukk by Mary Grant Bruce was published.

In 1923, DH Lawrence's novel Kangaroo was published. Set in Australia, the novel was written while he was living briefly in New South Wales.

In 1926, the first Australian jazz record was made by a new group called 'The Californians'.

In 1927, Dame Nellie Melba performed at the opening of the newly constructed Parliament House in Canberra.

In 1928, Grace Cossington Smith held her first solo exhibition at Grosvenor Galleries in Sydney.

Henry Lawson, 1867–1922


A snapshot of 1928

  • February
    • Bert Hinkler landed in Darwin after taking about 15 days for the first solo flight from Britain to Australia.

  • May
    • Charles Kingsford Smith flew across the Pacific Ocean from Oakland, California to Brisbane in 10 days.
    • Reverend John Flynn started flying doctors and nurses to the outback as a precursor to the first Royal Flying Doctor Service, which would be established in 1942.

  • June
    • The Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia was established as a separate entity.

  • August
    • Australian Iron and Steel began production with a blast furnace in Port Kembla.

  • December
    • Speedo produced its first swimsuit and Aeroplane Jelly was launched.

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