1770 - James Cook formally claimed eastern Australia for a waltz...but not before snapping it up for Great Britain, naming it New South Wales.
1788 - Some warriors landed at Tarra (Dawes Point) and stole a goat near the hospital at The Rocks, then took it by canoe towards Long Cove (Darling Harbour).
1801 - The government farm at Toongabbie was closed and replaced by a new farm at Castle Hill. Toongabbie had been the site of the third main settlement in the Colony after Sydney and Parramatta. The farm was established in 1791 and by December 1792 there were 500 convicts working on the site.
1801 - Gov King wrote Sir Joseph Banks,
"We have also some hopes that coal with which the country abounds will be of much Colonial advantage. A ship lately returned to Bengal loaded with coals, and it gave no small satisfaction to every person interested in the prosperity of the colony to see this first export of it; and I am hopeful from these advantages that New South Wales, however contemptible it may at present appear in the list of our colonies, may yet become an acquisition of value to the mother country."
1803 - The Sydney Gazette reported on a new species of Didelphis / Phascolarctos cinereus (Koala) found at Hat Hill (Mount Kembla).
1806 - The residents of Hobart were granted permission to hunt kangaroos as their food supplies dwindled.
1814 - Aleksey Rossiyski, sturman (steersman or navigator) on the Russian-American Company cargo ship Suvorov, acquired spears, a shield, two ‘bludgeons’ and a large club, giving in return ‘some threadbare clothing, a small mirror, some beads, and a bottle of rum’. The Aborigines gave back the clothing for another bottle of rum.
1820 - Lake George, near Canberra, discovered Joseph Wild. Wild was an ex-convict, sentenced on 21 August 1793 in Chester for shooting a rabbit on another's property, and transported in 1797. He received a ticket-of-leave in 1810 and conditional pardon in January 1813. After being appointed first Constable of the Five Islands District, now Illawarra, in 1815, Wild undertook several expeditions into the interior of New South Wales with pastoralist Charles Throsby. Wild and Throsby were the first Europeans to explore the area that became the Australian Capital Territory.
The lake was named for King George III by European explorers. In the local indigenous language, its name was Werriwa, originally spelt Weereewa in the journals of the explorers who noted the name and its meaning of "bad water". The lake is exceptionally salty; when it is full, the lake is one of the saltiest bodies of water in inland NSW.
1821 - John Laurio Platt was recorded as the first free settler in the Lower Hunter River area; he received a grant of some 2,000 acres, which was described as being on the Hunter River of Newcastle.
1823 - Annual Muster for residents/landowners of Appin and Illawarra held at Merchant Browne's Oaklands at Appin (NSW).
1826 - Capt Patrick Logan rowed up the Logan River, Queensland, to approximately where Macleans Bridge is now. He named the river after Gov Ralph Darling, but the governor graciously declined and ordered it to be called the Logan River.
1829 - The Legislative Council of New South Wales met for the first time in the present Parliament House.
1829 - The despicable murder of an Aboriginal woman at Emu Bay (Tas) was explained away under the guise of martial law and personal disputes by Lt-Governor Arthur.
1836 - The writer of the Chronicles of Early Melbourne, "Garryowen", or Edmund Finn, described a corroboree that occurred on Parliament Hill, on 21st August, 1836, just 14 months after Batman rowed up the Yarra to the site now occupied by the central business district of Melbourne. "...after dark, the Aborigines had the good manners to treat the whites to a[n]…entertainment further away on the hill, where the Parliament Houses were opened just twenty years after. The blackfellows…treated their guests – for the first time performed before white men – to their great national dance, known as the “ngargee”. Semicircling a huge bonfire, they pirouetted…around the flames, which leaping up to the sky, illumined the then houseless surrounding country. "
1837 - SA Governor John Hindmarsh suspended Robert Gouger as Colonial Secretary following a street fight between Gouger and Treasurer Osmond Gilles.
1842 - Hobart Town, the main settlement in Van Diemen's Land, was proclaimed a city.
1843 - Sir John Eardley-Wilmot arrived in Hobart to take office as Lieut-Gov of Tasmania, replacing Sir John Franklin.
1851 - Gold discovered at Poverty Point, Ballarat, Victoria. Golden Point is named four days later when gold is discovered in that area.
1857 - Government of Boyle Travers Finniss in SA resigned; John Baker formed a new ministry.
1862 - Explorer John McDouall Stuart suffered blindness from scurvy during his return journey from successfully crossing Australia.
1864 - The settlement at Somerset, at Port Albany on Cape York, was officially founded.
1872 - BLACK SPRINGS PLOUGHING MATCH. On Wednesday, August 21, upon Mr Pascoe’s property near Black Springs, a ploughing match was held. The day was disagreeable, the air of proper publicity interfered with the attendance and competition, still some visitors arrived from Farrells Flat, Steelton, Waterloo, Burra, and elsewhere within comparatively easy reach.
1890 - 4,500 men employed on Sydney wharves went on strike over the use of non-union labour on the Sydney waterfront.
1894 - The Tasmanian Government introduced a flat rate personal tax.
1915 - Last major fighting on Gallipoli took place at Hill 60.
1918 - The Second Battle of the Somme, the offensive that would lead to the end of WW I began today.
1924 - The Advertiser reported that successful tests by the South Australian Radio and Broadcasting Company had been carried out at the Grosvenor Hotel. The musical programme transmitted was heard clearly by all receivers around Adelaide and by some ships at Port Adelaide and Outer Harbour.
1924 - The large scale open cut coal mines at Yallourn, Vic, began production.
1936 - At the inaugural All-Australian Amateur Football Carnival Tasmania beat WA 14.14 (98) to 10.19 (79).
1938 - At a public meeting a motion was adopted calling for the establishment of the Australian Jewish Historical Society.
1940 - Electrical power supply was opened in Inglewood (QLD).
1943 – Enid Lyons and Dorothy Tangney were the first Australian women elected to the Australian House of Representatives and Senate respectively.
1945 - Arnold Lockyer, an Aboriginal airman who served as a flight engineer and air gunner, died on this day while a prisoner of war. His bomber was shot down during an operation over the Celebes on 17 July.
1950 - K Force recruiting campaign began in Australia; the raising of K Force was the last time that a volunteer force was raised in Australia to serve in a particular conflict.
1952 - Floods across south-eastern Australia began to ease.
1965 - The ABC premiered a TV adaptation of George Johnston's award-winning book My Brother Jack.
1969 – An Australian, Denis Michael Rohan, set the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on fire, a major catalyst of the formation of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
1973 - The Victorian government released statistics which showed that the number of drivers admitted to hospital after car accidents had dropped 51% since the state introduced its compulsory seat belt laws.
1979 - In response to the NAC (National Aboriginal Conference) resolution of April 1979, Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser indicated that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs was examining the NAC proposal, and confirmed his preparedness to discuss the concept of a treaty with the NAC at a mutually convenient time.
1984 - Guaranteeing a good nights sleep The Federal Budget was televised for the first time.
1991 - The Coode Island chemical storage facility in Melbourne exploded, leaving a toxic cloud hanging over the city for days.
1991 - The NSW Anti-discrimination Board held the first of 3 public hearings as part of its inquiry into HIV and AIDS related discrimination.
1995 - Senator Noel Crichton-Browne was expelled from the Western Australian Liberal State Executive.
1995 - High Court Judge Sir William Deane was announced as Australia's next Governor-General.
1996 - In Australia rescuers worked to save some 200 pilot whales on the southwestern coast near Dunsborough. Most were herded to sea but 14 died.
1997 - Scenes from traditional children’s dreaming stories produced for television by the all-Aboriginal animation company, ‘Aboriginal Nations’, were the subject of a new Australia Post series.
1998 - One of Brisbane’s most significant Aboriginal meeting places was placed in the hands of its traditional owners following an historic decision by the Beattie Government. After 13 years of frustration and struggle by Brisbane’s Aboriginal community, a portion of land in Musgrave Park in South Brisbane was set aside under a special Deed of Grant in Trust to the Brisbane City Council for Aboriginal heritage, cultural and historical purpose.
1998 - The Full Court of the Federal Court dismissed an appeal by Mirrar Senior Traditional Owner, Yvonne Margarula, in one of several legal challenges to the validity of the proposed Jabiluka uranium mine.
1998 - The Land Rights Act Review Report was tabled out of session in the Federal Parliament on this day, without the Northern Land Council’s knowledge.
2003 - Aboriginal and Torres Trait Islander cultural heritage in Queensland was afforded greater recognition and protection under new laws introduced to State Parliament on this day.
2007 - An Australian court ruled that the country's immigration minister wrongly revoked a work visa for an Indian doctor who was briefly accused of links with a failed British car bomb plot in June.
2007 - The Parliament of Australia enacted the NTNERA in response to a government-sponsored report entitled "Little Children Are Sacred". One author commented, "The quick passage of the [NTNERA] ensured that there was little room for discussion or opportunity for indigenous peoples to participate in developing the proposed legislation, arguing at the time that the NTNERA likely violated the UN's International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (the Convention) because of its hasty passage without informed consent from Australia's Aborigines. Since then, at least one UN official has confirmed that the suspension of the RDA is, in fact, discrimination in violation of the Convention. It is important to note that even the authors of the Report disapprove of the Australian government's response in what they see as an overreaching NTNERA ; Critics stated that the Howard administration, responsible for the Intervention, "[i]gnor[ed] nearly all of the reports' [sic] suggestions and suspend[ed] the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 (RDA) that protects against racially biased legislation,... impos[ing] paternalistic restrictions on Northern Territory Aboriginal communities."
2009 - Australian leader Kevin Rudd and his trans-Tasman counterpart John Key chaired the first-ever joint meeting of their cabinets, and said it had been a valuable opportunity to discuss their joint challenges. They vowed closer military ties and collaboration on climate change in the historic meeting.
2009 - A massive oil and gas leak forced the evacuation of an oil rig off Australia's northwest coast. PTTEP Australasia, a branch of Thai-owned PTT Exploration and Production Co. Ltd., said about 40 barrels of oil had been discharged in the initial incident, and it was still attempting to bring the leak under control at the rig, owned by Norway's Seadrill.
2010 - The Federal Election resulted in a hung Parliament and narrow victory by Julia Gillard (ALP) over Tony Abbott (Lib-Nat Coalition); Liberal Ken Wyatt becomes the first Aboriginal elected to the Australian House of Representatives while Joshua Frydenberg, became Australia’s first Jewish lawmaker for the federal Liberal Party.