Queensland timeline

Queensland has witnessed many remarkable events and achievements over its 165-year history. Check out the history of Queensland through our timeline below to find out more.

There are two significant dates associated with Queensland’s separation from New South Wales.

On 6 June, Queen Victoria signs the Letters Patent, approving Queensland becoming a separate colony to New South Wales, with its own representative government.

On 10 December, Queensland's first Governor, Sir George Ferguson Bowen, and his wife Lady Diamantina, arrive in Brisbane. The proclamation establishing the Colony of Queensland is read from the balcony of Government House (now the Deanery of St John's Cathedral).


On 6 June, Queen Victoria signs the Letters Patent, approving Queensland becoming a separate colony to New South Wales, with its own representative government.

On 10 December, Queensland's first Governor, Sir George Ferguson Bowen, and his wife Lady Diamantina, arrive in Brisbane. The proclamation establishing the Colony of Queensland is read from the balcony of Government House (now the Deanery of St John's Cathedral).

Extract of Proclamation to establish Queensland as a separate colony and appoint Sir George Bowen as the first Governor of Queensland, published in the Queensland Government Gazette, 10 December 1859.


Queensland Parliament sits for the first time.


The first Queensland versus New South Wales cricket match is played.

Members of Queensland’s cricket team, 1864.


Queensland's first rail line opens between Ipswich and Grandchester.

Railway workers posing with one of four original A10 clan locomotives, the Lady Bowen locomotive in 1865.


The new Parliament House in George Street is used for the first time.


Free primary education is introduced in Queensland, a first in Australia.

West Ipswich State School, 1870.


The first Ekka is held in Brisbane.

Image of the first Ekka held in Brisbane

The Queensland flag is officially adopted.

Image of the first Ekka held in Brisbane

The first barrel of Bundaberg Rum rolls off the production line.

View of the Bundaberg Rum Distillery in 1928.


January 1891 marked the start of one of Australia's most famous (or infamous) industrial disputes, the Shearers' Strike.

Wool bales at the railway station goods shed

Wool bales at the railway station goods shed along Oak Street, Barcaldine, Queensland, surrounding the Tree of Knowledge.
Photo credit: State Library of Queensland


Queen Victoria grants the Queensland Coat of Arms, the oldest State Arms in Australia, to the colony of Queensland.

Queensland Coat of Arms

‘Waltzing Matilda’ is performed for the first time in the North Gregory Hotel at Winton.


The colony of Queensland becomes a state of the new Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January.

His Excellency the Governor reading the Queen’s proclamation on the balcony of the Treasury Building in Brisbane, 1901.


Queensland women are granted the right to vote.

Votes for women

Witches Falls at Mount Tamborine is proclaimed Queensland's first national park.

Witches Falls at Mt Tamborine

The University of Queensland opens its doors to students.

Inauguration procession at The University of Queensland in 1911.


The largest earthquake in Queensland history at a magnitude of 6 was recorded just off Lady Elliot Island, with the worst affected areas Rockhampton and Bundaberg.

Map of Queensland

Qantas, Australia’s first airline, is established on 16 November at Winton by four First World War veterans.

Qantas, Australia’s first airline.

The Queensland Legislative Council was abolished, making Queensland the only Australian state without a bicameral legislature.


Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary opens in Brisbane’s western suburbs is the world's first koala sanctuary and the first to breed captive koalas.


The first Royal Flying Doctor Service took flight from Cloncurry on 17 May.

Sir Charles Kingsford Smith lands in Brisbane after completing the first trans-Pacific flight.


Cane toads are introduced in Queensland to control pests on sugar cane crops.

Cane toads

The Story Bridge, Brisbane's most iconic bridge, opens and is named after John Douglas Story—a senior and influential public servant who had advocated strongly for the bridge’s construction.

The Story Bridge

The School of the Air commences, giving children in remote areas access to education via radio.


Queensland celebrates the first Centenary of Separation in December. Highlights of the celebrations include the presentation of Miss Queensland to the Deputy Premier and re-enactments of Governor Bowen’s arrival at the Botanical Gardens.

The Cooktown orchid becomes Queensland's floral emblem.

Cooktown orchid

Rockhampton-born Rod ‘Rocket’ Laver wins the tennis Grand Slam (the only man to win it twice—winning again in 1969).

Rod Laver

The Bruce Highway linking Brisbane and Cairns is completed.


Queenslander Neville Bonner becomes the first Indigenous person to be elected to Federal Parliament as a Senator for Queensland.

Neville Bonner

Surf clothing company Billabong is founded on the Gold Coast by surfer and surfboard shaper Gordon Merchant and his partner Rena.


The Brisbane flood—the worst flood since 1893—leads to major flood mitigation works. The Wivenhoe Dam is built.


Queensland beats New South Wales 20–10 in the first State of Origin game in front of a packed Lang Park (now Suncorp Stadium).


The Great Barrier Reef is World Heritage listed.


The Commonwealth Games come to Brisbane, the largest major sporting event held in Queensland. Australia wins the overall gold medal tally.


Queen Elizabeth II officially opens World Expo '88 as a central feature of the national bicentennial celebrations.

The Daintree Rainforest is World Heritage listed.


Warner Bros. Movie World opens at Oxenford.


Mabo and others v Queensland (No 2) (1992) decision is made by the High Court of Australia, recognising native title in Australia for the first time.

South Bank Parklands opens in Brisbane.


The first Woodford Folk Festival is held.


Queensland wins the Sheffield Shield for the first time—68 years after joining the national cricket competition.


Queensland-born and educated immunologist Professor Peter Doherty shares the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with his Swiss colleague Professor Rolf Zinkernagel for discovery of how the immune system recognises virus-infected cells.

Professor Peter Doherty

The first high speed CityCat service begins in Brisbane.


The first electric Tilt Train service runs from Brisbane to Rockhampton. With a top speed of 165km/h, and the ability to tilt five degrees in each direction, the Tilt Train is the fastest train in Australia.

Tilt train

The first Queensland Greats are announced.


The Governor in Council officially names maroon as Queensland’s State colour.


Queensland population hits four million.


Brisbane-based medical researchers Professor Ian Frazer and Dr Jian Zhou develop Gardasil, the world’s first anti-cancer vaccine.


Nambour-born Kevin Rudd becomes the first Queenslander to become Australian Prime Minister since Francis Forde, who ruled for a few days in 1945.

Kevin Rudd

Queensland Governor Quentin Bryce becomes the first female Australian Governor-General.

Quentin Bryce

Anna Bligh wins the 2009 Queensland state election (the first woman in Australia to do so).

Anna Bligh

Queensland celebrates its 150th anniversary with a statewide program of special events and celebrations.


A series of floods hits Queensland, beginning in November 2010 and continuing through to January 2011. The floods force the evacuation of thousands of people from towns and cities, with at least 90 towns and more than 200,000 people affected.

Queensland floods

Cyclone Yasi makes landfall in northern Queensland and causes an estimated 3.6 billion in damages, making it the most costly in Australian history.

Cyclone Yasi

Brisbane Roar FC become the first team in the A-League to win back-to-back championships.

Brisbane Roar

The Queensland Maroons make history by winning their eighth State of Origin title in a row.

Queensland Maroons

Queensland hosts the G20 summit on 15 and 16 November, bringing 5300 delegates and 2300 international media to the state.

G20 summit

In March, the drought, covering more than 80 per cent of the state, is declared as the worst on record.


Leeanne Enoch is sworn in as Queensland's first Indigenous female Member of Parliament, as Minister for Housing and Public Works and Minister for Science and Innovation.

Leeanne Enoch

In the first all-Queensland team National Rugby League Grand Final, the North Queensland Cowboys were triumphant over the Brisbane Broncos, winning their first Premiership.


A new dinosaur type is found in Winton, later named the Savannasaurus elliottorum after the Elliot family who found the bones on their farm.


The Gold Coast plays host to the 16th Commonwealth Games from April 4–15.

Broncos women’s team win the inaugural NRL women’s premiership.


The 2019 Townsville flood was one of the worst natural disasters to ever impact the region.


Ashleigh Barty was named the 2020 Young Australian of the Year and in 2019 became the first Queenslander (second Australian) to be number one in the Women’s Tennis Association singles ranking.

Picture of Ashleigh Barty

The Queensland Government declared a public health emergency on 29 January in response to the global outbreak of coronavirus.

Unite against COVID-19 poster

The 2020 Toyota Australian Footbal League (AFL) Grand Final was held at the Gabba, Brisbane. This was the first time a Grand Final was held outside Victoria in 123 years.

Picture of the Gabba

Dr Jeanette Young appointed the state’s 27th Governor of Queensland.

Picture of Dr Jeanette Young

Brisbane announced to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Picture of Greg Martin

Queensland hits its first major COVID-19 vaccine milestone—70% of Queenslanders aged 16 years or older double dosed.

Picture of healthcare worker

Queensland opens it interstate borders, dropping restrictions and allowing movement between states.

Picture of cars on a road

A ‘rain bomb’ hits South East Queensland, impacting nearly 20,000 residences and causing widespread disruption in towns and cities.

Picture of houses under water

Ash Barty pulls off a remarkable win to claim her first Australian open title and announces a shock retirement two months later.

Picture of Ashleigh Barty

The Commonwealth celebrated another historic milestone—the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second. Her Majesty is the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years of service to the people of the United Kingdom, the Realms and the Commonwealth.

Queen's Platinum Jubilee 2022

Brisbane was the home ground for the Matildas’ campaign and played host to the unforgettable Quarter Final win over France on 12 August 2023.

Brisbane hosted eight matches during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 with almost 357,000 fans attending.

There were nearly 100,000 visits to the FIFA Fan Festival site at South Bank, and Brisbane welcomed more than 52,600 visitors from outside Queensland.

Matildas Celebration

The Muttaburrasaurus langdoni was officially recognised as Queensland’s fossil emblem in December 2023.

Women’s State of Origin

The Women’s State of Origin was expanded to a three-game series for the first time.

Women’s State of Origin