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

Australia in the 1930s


In 1930, Amy Johnson became the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia in 20 days in her Gipsy Moth biplane.

In 1931, the first airmail from England reached Sydney after an Imperial Airways aircraft crashed in Indonesia and the Australian-based Charles Kingsford Smith and GV Allan brought the mail to Darwin.

In March 1931, the Southern Cloud, carrying two pilots and six passengers, crashed in the Blue Mountains. It wasn't found until 1958. After this disaster radios were installed by Australian airlines.

In September 1932, Maude Rose Bonney became the first woman to fly around Australia.

In April 1933, the body of Australian pilot Bert Hinkler was found in the Italian Alps two months after the plane he was flying had crashed on a flight from England to Australia.

In November 1935, Charles Kingsford Smith and Tommy Pethybridge disappeared while attempting a record-breaking flight from England to Australia. The Lady Southern Star crashed off the coast of Burma, and neither the plane nor the bodies of the two men on board were ever found.

Amy Johnson with her Gipsy Moth biplane at a stopover in India on her solo flight to Australia, 1930

A snapshot of 1938

  • January
    • The first national conference of Indigenous Australians was held at the Australian Hall, Sydney, to mark a 'Day of Mourning' and protest during the 150th Australia Day anniversary of colonial settlement. The conference was initiated by William Cooper, founder of the Australian Aborigines League (AAL), and The Aborigines Progressive Association (APA), led by William Ferguson, and Jack Patten. Participants called for Aboriginal land and citizenship rights.

  • March
    • Xavier Herbert won the Commonwealth sesquicentennial (150 years) literary prize for his novel Capricornia.
    • Daisy Bates (1863-1951), a social worker in Aboriginal communities and an anthropologist, published her book The Passing of the Aborigines.
    • Many of Bates's views and stories were sensationalist and incorrect, and many Aboriginal people indicated ambivalence about her and her work.

  • July
    • All exports of iron ore from Australia to Japan were suspended as Japan was seen as militaristic.

  • December
    • The federal government announced that refugees from (Nazi) Germany were to be relocated in Australia.
    • A direct radio–telephone link was set up between Canberra and Washington as a sign of closer US–Australian government cooperation.
    • Albert Namatjira, an Indigenous artist, held his first exhibition of paintings in Melbourne. All 41 pieces sold within three days of the opening.


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