Queensland timeline

Queensland has witnessed many remarkable events and achievements over its 160-year history. Check out the history of Queensland through our timeline below to find out more.


1859

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.

1860

Queensland Parliament sits for the first time.

1864

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

Members of Queensland’s cricket team, 1864.

1865

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.

1868

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

1870

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

West Ipswich State School, 1870.

1876

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
1889

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

View of the Bundaberg Rum Distillery in 1928.

1893

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

Queensland Coat of Arms
1895

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

1901

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.

1905

Queensland women are granted the right to vote.

Votes for women
1908

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

Witches Falls at Mt Tamborine
1911

The University of Queensland opens its doors to students.

Inauguration procession at The University of Queensland in 1911.

1918

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
1920

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

Qantas, Australia’s first airline.
1922

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

1927

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

1928

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.

1935

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

Cane toads
1940

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
1951

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

1959

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
1962

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.

1971

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

Neville Bonner
1973

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

1974

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

1980

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

1981

The Great Barrier Reef is World Heritage listed.

1982

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

1988

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

The Daintree Rainforest is World Heritage listed.

1991

Warner Bros. Movie World opens at Oxenford.

1992

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.

1994

The first Woodford Folk Festival is held.

1995

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

1996

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.

CityCat
1997

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
2001

The first Queensland Greats are announced.

2003

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

2005

Queensland population hits four million.

2006

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

Gardasil
2007

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
2008

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

Quentin Bryce
2009

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.

2010

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
2011

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
2012

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

Brisbane Roar
2013

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

Queensland Maroons
2014

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.

2015

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.

2016

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

2018

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.

2019

Queensland celebrates its 160th anniversary on 6 June. Happy Queensland Day!