Australia in the 1920s

Ecological initiatives to control pests

In 1920, the Commonwealth Prickly Pear Board was formed to investigate biological control of the prickly pear pest, which had infested millions of hectares in New South Wales and Queensland. In 1928, the board introduced a species of moth from Argentina, called Cactoblastis cactorum, to eat the prickly pears. Its success gave rise to great optimism (although at times misguided) about introducing new species to bring agricultural pests under control. Prickly pear was largely eliminated as a problem by 1934.

In 1935, the cane toad (Bufo marinus) was imported into Queensland from South America in a mistaken attempt to eradicate the cane beetle pest. The cane toads completely ignored the beetles and steadily branched out across the continent. Cane toads soon rivalled rabbits as the most noxious pest ever introduced into Australia.

A cane toad (Bufo marinus)

A snapshot of 1928

  • February
    • Bert Hinkler landed in Darwin after taking about 15 days for the first solo flight from Britain to Australia.

  • May
    • Charles Kingsford Smith flew across the Pacific Ocean from Oakland, California to Brisbane in 10 days.
    • Reverend John Flynn started flying doctors and nurses to the outback as a precursor to the first Royal Flying Doctor Service, which would be established in 1942.

  • June
    • The Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia was established as a separate entity.

  • August
    • Australian Iron and Steel began production with a blast furnace in Port Kembla.

  • December
    • Speedo produced its first swimsuit and Aeroplane Jelly was launched.


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