What Happened on July 10 in Australian History?

by oaeen
The Whitlam Dismissal Controversy

Australia, with its rich tapestry of historical events, has seen numerous significant occurrences on July 10. From colonial developments to milestones in social and political spheres, this date has been marked by events that have shaped the nation. This article delves into some of the key events that happened on July 10 in Australian history, offering a comprehensive look at their impact and legacy.

See also: What Happened on July 9 in Australian History?

1. The Death of Edward Hargraves (1891)

Edward Hargraves, a pivotal figure in Australian history, died on July 10, 1891. Hargraves is best known for his role in initiating the Australian gold rush in the mid-19th century. In 1851, Hargraves discovered gold at Ophir in New South Wales, sparking a gold rush that would profoundly transform the Australian colonies.

Hargraves had previously spent time in California during the gold rush there and returned to Australia convinced that similar gold deposits could be found. His discovery led to a frenzy of gold prospecting and significant population growth, as people from around the world flocked to Australia in search of fortune. The gold rushes brought immense wealth to the colonies, leading to economic prosperity and the development of infrastructure.

Hargraves’ contribution to Australian history is significant not only because of the economic impact of the gold rushes but also because they played a crucial role in shaping Australia’s national identity and demographic composition. The influx of immigrants during the gold rushes contributed to the multicultural society that Australia is known for today.

2. Foundation of Canberra (1911)

On July 10, 1911, the Federal Capital Territory, which later became Canberra, was officially established. This event marked a crucial step in the development of Australia’s national capital. The decision to create a new capital city was a result of a compromise between Sydney and Melbourne, the two largest cities in Australia, which were both vying to be the national capital. The establishment of Canberra was part of a broader vision to create a planned city that would serve as the political and administrative heart of the country.

The site for Canberra was selected due to its location between Sydney and Melbourne, symbolizing a neutral ground. The design of the city was the result of an international competition, which was won by American architect Walter Burley Griffin. Griffin’s design incorporated a garden city concept, with a focus on integrating natural landscapes with urban development. The creation of Canberra was significant as it represented the aspirations of a young nation to develop a capital that was both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

3. The Birth of Edward Gough Whitlam (1916)

Edward Gough Whitlam, one of Australia’s most influential and controversial Prime Ministers, was born on July 10, 1916, in Kew, Victoria. Whitlam’s tenure as Prime Minister from 1972 to 1975 was marked by significant reforms and ambitious policies aimed at modernizing Australian society and addressing social inequalities.

Whitlam’s government introduced a range of progressive measures, including the establishment of universal healthcare (Medicare), free tertiary education, and significant advancements in Indigenous rights. His administration also implemented substantial changes in foreign policy, including the recognition of China and the withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam.

Whitlam’s legacy is a mixed one, characterized by both significant achievements and the dramatic political crisis that led to his dismissal in 1975. Nonetheless, his impact on Australian politics and society remains profound, and his contributions to public life continue to be recognized and debated.

4. The 1925 Referendum on Aviation (1925)

On July 10, 1925, Australia held a referendum on the regulation of aviation. This referendum was part of a broader effort to address the rapid development of aviation technology and its implications for national security, commerce, and transportation. The proposal put forward in the referendum sought to grant the federal government greater powers to regulate aviation, which was seen as necessary to ensure the safe and effective use of airspace.

The referendum was ultimately unsuccessful, with the majority of voters rejecting the proposal. However, it highlighted the growing importance of aviation in Australia’s national life and the need for a coordinated approach to its regulation. In the years that followed, the federal government took steps to establish a framework for aviation regulation, including the creation of the Civil Aviation Authority.

The 1925 aviation referendum is a reminder of the challenges and opportunities posed by new technologies and the ongoing need for effective governance and regulation in response to technological advancements.

5. The Launch of the HMAS Sydney II (1934)

On July 10, 1934, the Royal Australian Navy launched the HMAS Sydney II, a light cruiser that would become one of Australia’s most famous and storied warships. The HMAS Sydney II

played a significant role in naval operations during World War II, earning a reputation for its effectiveness and bravery in battle.

The ship’s most notable engagement occurred on November 19, 1941, when it encountered the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran off the coast of Western Australia. In a fierce battle, both ships were severely damaged and eventually sank. All 645 crew members aboard the HMAS Sydney II were lost, making it one of the greatest maritime tragedies in Australian history.

The loss of the HMAS Sydney II had a profound impact on the Australian public and the Navy. The ship’s final resting place remained a mystery for many years until it was finally discovered in 2008. The story of the HMAS Sydney II is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by Australian servicemen and women during times of conflict.

6. The Introduction of Decimal Currency (1965)

On July 10, 1965, Australia took a significant step towards modernizing its economy by passing the Currency Act, which paved the way for the introduction of decimal currency. The move from the traditional British-style system of pounds, shillings, and pence to a decimal system of dollars and cents was a major change that impacted all aspects of Australian society.

The decision to adopt decimal currency was driven by the need for a simpler and more efficient monetary system that would facilitate trade, commerce, and everyday transactions. The new currency system was officially introduced on February 14, 1966, with the Australian dollar replacing the Australian pound at a rate of two dollars to one pound.

The introduction of decimal currency was a complex and carefully planned operation, involving extensive public education campaigns and logistical preparations. It marked a significant moment in Australia’s economic history, aligning the country more closely with international standards and practices.

7. The 1971 Springbok Tour Protests (1971)

On July 10, 1971, massive protests erupted in Australia against the South African rugby team, the Springboks, during their tour of the country. These protests were part of a broader international movement against apartheid, the institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination system in South Africa. The Springbok tour was highly controversial, as many Australians, along with the international community, condemned apartheid and sought to isolate South Africa through sports boycotts.

In Australia, the protests were particularly intense. Demonstrations were held in major cities, and protestors clashed with police in several instances. The protestors included a diverse coalition of anti-apartheid activists, students, trade unionists, and ordinary citizens who were outraged by the South African regime’s policies. The protests were successful in raising awareness about apartheid and putting pressure on the Australian government and sporting bodies to take a stand against racial discrimination.

The 1971 Springbok tour protests were a significant moment in Australia’s history, highlighting the country’s growing engagement with global human rights issues and the power of grassroots activism. They also contributed to the eventual sports boycott of South Africa, which played a role in the dismantling of apartheid in the early 1990s.

8. The Adoption of the Metric System (1974)

On July 10, 1974, Australia officially adopted the metric system for weights and measures, replacing the imperial system that had been used since colonial times. The decision to switch to the metric system was part of a broader international trend towards standardization and was aimed at simplifying trade, industry, and education.

The transition to the metric system was a significant undertaking, involving extensive public education campaigns and changes to manufacturing processes, signage, and educational materials. The adoption of the metric system was seen as a step towards modernizing the Australian economy and aligning it with global standards.

The switch to the metric system had a profound impact on everyday life in Australia, making measurements simpler and more consistent. It also facilitated international trade and cooperation, as the metric system is the standard used by most countries around the world.

9. The Whitlam Dismissal Controversy (1975)

On July 10, 1975, the political landscape in Australia was heating up as the country moved closer to the events that would culminate in the dismissal of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam later that year. While the actual dismissal occurred on November 11, 1975, the events of July 10 played a significant role in the unfolding crisis.

On this date, the Whitlam government was facing increasing pressure and controversy over its handling of economic and political issues. The opposition, led by Malcolm Fraser, was intensifying its efforts to block supply bills in the Senate, which would prevent the government from accessing funds necessary to operate. This political maneuvering set the stage for the constitutional crisis that would eventually lead to Whitlam’s dismissal by the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr.

The events of July 10 and the months leading up to the dismissal highlighted deep divisions within Australian politics and raised important questions about the balance of power between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. The Whitlam dismissal remains one of the most contentious and debated events in Australian political history.

10. The Opening of the Australian Institute of Sport (1981)

July 10, 1981, marked the official opening of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra. The establishment of the AIS was a response to Australia’s poor performance at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, where the country failed to win a single gold medal. The Australian government recognized the need for a national institute dedicated to elite sports training and development.

The AIS was created to provide world-class facilities, coaching, and support services to Australian athletes, with the goal of improving their performance on the international stage. The institute has since played a critical role in the development of Australian sports, producing numerous Olympic and world champions across various disciplines.

The opening of the AIS represented a significant investment in the country’s sporting future and a commitment to excellence in athletics. It also highlighted the importance of sport in Australian culture and the nation’s desire to compete at the highest levels. The success of the AIS has had a lasting impact on Australian sports, contributing to the country’s reputation as a powerhouse in various sporting arenas.


July 10 has been a significant date in Australian history, marked by events that have shaped the nation’s development and identity. From the establishment of Canberra as the national capital to the protests against apartheid, the introduction of decimal currency, and the adoption of the metric system, these events reflect the dynamic and evolving nature of Australian society.

The stories of individuals such as Edward Hargraves and Gough Whitlam, as well as the experiences of the HMAS Sydney II, highlight the diverse and often complex narratives that make up Australia’s history. Each event, in its own way, has contributed to the broader tapestry of the nation, leaving a lasting legacy that continues to influence contemporary Australia.

As we reflect on the events of July 10 in Australian history, we are reminded of the resilience, innovation, and commitment to progress that characterize the Australian spirit. These qualities have helped to shape a vibrant and diverse nation, ready to face the challenges and opportunities of the future.

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