What Happened When in Australian History?

Yesterday was Australia Day, and I would have loved to participate in Pauleen’s Australia Day Challenge 2014, but unfortunately with my current work commitments (ie. a cruise in a week’s time), time didn’t permit me at present. So instead I’ve decided to do my own Australia Day blog post, and for this I want to share with you two of my favourite “Australian history” books.

First up we have “What Happened When: A Chronology of Australia From 1788” which was compiled by Anthony Barker. This is a fat book, being over 500 pages, and is exactly as it says … “a chronology of Australian history”. Arranged year by year, and then by date within the year, you’ll find everything from ships arriving or sinking, many fires together with other natural disasters, convicts, bushrangers, arrests, buildings opened, newspaper started, politicians begnning or finishing their term in office, when books and movies were released and 1000s of other anecdotal facts that make this country’s history.

What Happened When, Australia History

To quote from the blurb …

“When was the Melbourne Cup first run? When did women get the vote? When did Vegemite and Violet Crumble bars first appear? When did Nellie Melba give her last Australian concert? When did any noteworthy event happen in Australia? What Happened When has all the answers. If you want to know what was going on in the year you or your parents were born, you can browse. In 1932, for example, you will find that the Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened, Phar Lap died, the ABC was established, Ion Idriess wrote Flynn of the Inland, Walter Lindrum made a world-record billiards break of 4,137, the basic wage was 3 pounds 3s 11d, and over 30 per cent of the workforce was unemployed.”

Published by Allen & Unwin, the book used to be available through Gould Genealogy & History which is where I obtained my copy from, however they no longer sell it. But it is still available as a “print on demand” title from Allen & Unwin directly, and also as an ebook.

What Happened When, Australian history

The second one I wish to make mention of is “Australian Dictionary of Dates and Men of the Time”. This one was compiled by J. Heaton back in 1879 … that’s right, about 135 years ago!

Australian Dictionary of Dates

This book is also about 500 pages long, and contains two sections. One being dates of events that happened in Australia, and the other section is biographies of noted people ‘of the time’. While both sections are fascinating, for this purpose, I’m referring to just the Dictionary of Dates part.

Australian Dictionary of Dates 2

This book is arranged alphabetically by topics such as Aborigines, Ballooning, Camels, Earthquakes, Fairs, Illawarra, Macarthur John, Namoi River, Racing, Schools, Unitarian Church, Vaccination, Vines, and Young Men’s Christian Alliance to name just a a few, as there are literally thousands of topics listed. The image above shows a portion of the beginning of the “V” section.

This book is long out of print, but is is available on CD from Gould Genealogy & History. This is a digitised copy of the original 1879 book, and it is fully searchable. Being searchable, you can search by name, date or place which makes it great to be able to find relevant history facts in an area of interest. If you want to know a little more aout this book, you can download some sample pages from here.

So for anyone who loves finding out the anecdotal facts about Australian history, I can highly recommend both of these titles.

3 Responses to “What Happened When in Australian History?”

  1. Pauleen says:

    The Dictionary of Dates looks interesting ….stop tempting me 😉

    Sorry you couldn’t join in the meme but maybe there’s food for thought/posts after you return…it turned out to be trickier than I intended 🙂

  2. I need “What happened when” like now.

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