Australia in the 1880s


Indigenous Australians


During the 1880s, new Native Protection Acts caused widespread displacement and suffering to Aboriginal peoples. Many Indigenous people's lives were extremely affected by dispossession, Western diseases and systematic attacks.

In the 1880s, laws were enacted giving Aboriginal Protectors the power to make decisions governing all aspects of Aboriginal peoples' lives, including imposing curfews and forcing Indigenous Australians to live and work on specially designated government reserves and missions.


A snapshot of 1888

  • January
    • Non-Indigenous Australians celebrate 100 years of colonial settlement.

  • May
    • A demonstration against Chinese immigration takes place outside Sydney Town Hall and a month later an Intercolonial Conference on the Chinese question is held.
    • In Queensland, Thomas Glassey becomes the first trade union candidate in any colonial parliament.

  • December
    • The Centennial International Exhibition opens in Melbourne in the newly built Royal Exhibition Building.
    • Henry Lawson's first story, His Father's Mate, is published.
    • The women's magazine, The Dawn, begins publication with editorials by Louisa Lawson, mother of Henry Lawson, and advocates voting rights for women and divorce law reform.
    • It also included household hints, a short story and poetry as well as fashion news. Established by Louisa it was prepared and printed by women.

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