Australians in History & Modern Times - Part 4

In a country as vast and diverse as Australia, there are bound to be intriguing stories about our people. If you think your local history is interesting, just wait until you hear about Australians throughout history. From the gold rushes of the 1800’s to the Great Depression of the 1930’s, there are plenty of events that have shaped our nation. Whether it’s a courageous tale from World War I or an unfortunate event in the History of Sydney, this article will provide insight into some amazing people that have shaped Australia’s history, as well as more modern times.

A Brief Look at: Miles Franklin, Writer & Feminist

Miles Franklin was born Sarah Stella Mary McKinnon in Sydney in 1879. She was one of the first female novelists in Australia, as well as being a feminist writer. She also wrote under the name Myra Lewis. After writing her first novel at the age of 16, Franklin went on to publish eight more books during her lifetime. Her most famous work is My Brilliant Career, published in 1901. This book was the first Australian novel to be written by a woman, and it’s one of the most important feminist novels to have been published in Australia. It tells the story of a rebellious young woman whose dreams of a writing career are challenged by the conventions of her time.

A Brief Look at: Quong Mei Tart, Gold Rush Immigrant

Mei Quong Tart (1850-1903), merchant and philanthropist, was born at Hsinning (Sun-ning), Canton Province, China, the son of Quong Tart, who sold decorative wares. In 1859, he came to Australia as a nine-year-old during the Victorian gold rush.

 In December 1889, Quong Tart opened a lavish restaurant in King Street; a dining hall in the new Queen Victoria Markets, which opened in December 1898, was one of Sydney's most popular social destinations. Employees, who were mostly European, benefited from his generous leave policy, which included time off for shopping and sick time with pay. He went on to establish an tea export business and opened tea rooms at a time when few locations allowed ladies to mingle easily. Quong's tea rooms Sydney's Queen Victoria Building were the first suffragette meeting places in Sydney.

He also worked to help improve race relations between Chinese immigrants and Australians, despite the fact that Chinese people were unpopular and often met with racism at the time.

A Brief Look at: Nicole Kidman, Actress

Nicole Kidman was born in Hawaii to Australian parents in 1967. She grew up in Sydney and began acting there at the age of 17. In her over 30-year career, Kidman has won two Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, one BAFTA Award, and one Screen Actors Guild Award for her acting. It’s no surprise that she has a long list of acting credits to her name, ranging from television and film to theatre. Kidman has starred in and even produced a number of Australian films throughout her career. Her first Australian role was in Flirting, a film released in 1986. Kidman also starred in the iconic Australian TV series Neighbours as Dr. Virginia ‘Ginny’ Armstrong during the 1990s.

A Brief Look at: Linda Burney, Politician

Linda Burney was born in Liverpool, England in 1958 to Australian parents. She migrated to Australia when she was just two years old and grew up in Sydney. She has spent much of her career working in social justice, particularly in the areas of Aboriginal rights and women’s rights. She was the first Indigenous woman to be elected to the Australian parliament, and the first Indigenous person to be elected as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Burney has been very vocal about the importance of increasing the number of women in parliament. She has also spoken out about the need for parliamentarians to do more to support Indigenous Australians.


We hope that this article has given you a little insight into some of the amazing Australians in history whom you may not have heard of before. We hope that this inspires you to learn more about these amazing people, as well as all of the many other great Australians in history who have contributed to the shaping of our country.

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