Warning: This resource may contain references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may have passed away.

Australia in the 1910s

The national capital

On 1 January 1911, an area of 2,360 square kilometres was transferred from New South Wales to the Australian Government to establish the Australian Capital Territory.

In May 1912, architect Walter Burley Griffin and his wife architect and illustrator Marion Mahony Griffin won the worldwide competition to design the national capital of Australia. It was to be a thoroughly planned and self-contained city divided into sections with a lake (later named Lake Burley Griffin) as the dividing point.

In March 1913, the governor-general Lord Denham laid the foundation stone of the new capital and told the assembled press that people should not complain about the expenses involved in creating another city because Melbourne and Sydney were already overcrowded. Lady Denham officially named the city 'Canberra'.

The area in which Canberra would eventually be constructed was on Ngunnawal and Walgalu peoples' traditional country. The word 'Canberra' is derived from the word 'Kanbarra', meaning 'meeting place' in the Ngunnawal language of the local Ngabri people.

Lady Denman names the city 'Canberra', 1913

A snapshot of 1918

  • January
    • The Australia Corps formed out of five separate Australian divisions fighting in France during the First World War.

  • April
    • A factory opened in Caulfield, Victoria, to manufacture artificial limbs for returned soldiers.

  • September
    • The first direct wireless message was transmitted from Britain to Australia.

  • November
    • On the '11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour', the Armistice between the Allies and Germany flagged the cessation of fighting on the Western Front.
    • Preferential voting was introduced for the first time in elections for the House of Representatives.
    • Two significant children's books were published: The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay and Tales of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie: Their Wonderful Adventures by May Gibbs.


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