Articles on Australian history

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In 1948, as Cecil George Harris lay dying after a tractor accident, he scratched a final message into the vehicle’s fender. illustration supplied by: Impact Studios/Dinalie Dabarera.

An unsent SMS, a message on a tractor, a poem: the courts say a valid will can take many forms

Courts have had to consider whether an eggshell, a tractor fender, a petticoat hem, graffiti on a wall, and a poem might be valid wills. They've shown surprising flexibility in judgment.
Though illegal, fortune telling was only sporadically prosecuted. Here, two women set up tents at the 1913 Adelaide Children’s Hospital fete. State Library of SA

Did they see it coming? How fortune-telling took hold in Australia - with women as clients and criminals

In the early 1900s, fortune-telling provided entertainment, social connection and a job for some Australians. Its legal status made criminals of women, yet allowed others entry to the police force.
Australian families have been sitting down in front of the TV on New Year’s Eve for over 60 years. Wikimedia Commons

What Australia watched on TV on New Year’s Eve, 1959

From Clint Eastwood to Bert Newton – here's what Melbourne could watch on that new technology, the television set, to see in the new decade.
Waters from the Herbert River, which runs toward one of northern Australia’s richest agricultural districts, could be redirected under a Bradfield scheme. Patrick White

‘New Bradfield’: rerouting rivers to recapture a pioneering spirit

The ‘New Bradfield’ scheme seeks to revive a nation-building ethos supposedly stifled by bureaucratic inertia. But there are good reasons the scheme never became a reality.
Elephants destined for Wirths’ circus on a ship’s deck circa 1925. Early last century, Frances Levvy asked school students to write an essay on whether the exhibition of wild animals in travelling menageries was consistent with humanity. By Sam Hood ca. 1925-ca. 1945, State Library of NSW

Hidden women of history: Frances Levvy, Australia’s quietly radical early animal rights campaigner

Born in 1831, at a time when animals were widely regarded as property, Frances Levvy used the power of the press and the passion of children to advocate for their welfare.
The anti-transportation ‘ladies petition’ from 1850 is one of the first concrete examples of political engagement by women in the NSW colony. Parliament of NSW

Sydney’s 9,189 ‘sister politicians’ who petitioned Queen Victoria

A newly-discovered petition from 1850 provides rare evidence of what might be women's first moment of political activism in Australia.
You might not know the name, but you would recognise the songs. Mojo was the advertising agency behind such classics as You Ought to be Congratulated. Screenshot/YouTube

Mojo: the rise and fall of an Australian advertising empire

The ABC documentary, How Australia Got Its Mojo, purported to tell the story of advertising agency Mojo. But the real story is more complex.
Through Paul Hogan and Crocodile Dundee we can learn a lot about the enduring myth of the Aussie Bloke. Paramount

Paul Hogan and the myth of the white Aussie bloke

The mythical Australian bloke is white, straight, and able-bodied – he's Crocodile Dundee. But where does this legend come from, and what is his future?
A large bowl or pan thought to have been made in Sydney by the potter Thomas Ball between 1801 and 1823. Courtesy of Casey & Lowe, photo by Russell Workman

How clay helped shape colonial Sydney

Though the Indigenous inhabitants were using white clay long before them, Sydney-made pottery helped colonists maintain different aspects of 'civilised' behaviour.
Grata Flos Greig, First Female Law Graduate, c1904, University of Melbourne. Flos was the first woman admitted to the Australian legal profession. University of Melbourne Archives, UMA/I/5131

Hidden women of history: Flos Greig, Australia’s first female lawyer and early innovator

When Flos Greig first entered law school, it was illegal for women to become lawyers. Undeterred, she lobbied for change and became the first woman admitted to the legal profession in Australia.
A scene at the Aquarius Festival, Nimbin, 1973. Flickr/Harry Watson Smith, CC BY-SA

Nimbin before and after: local voices on how the 1973 Aquarius Festival changed a town forever

Nimbin before and after: local voices on how the 1973 Aquarius Festival changed a town forever. The Conversation, CC BY69.6 MB (download)
The stories shared with you today are drawn from consultations and interviews with more than 60 Nimbin residents, Aquarius Festival participants and Indigenous elders.

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