Outbreak of the Great War

Southern Dominions

Australasia 1914.0804

Outbreak of the Great War

From the Federation of Australia and World War I in the South Pacific to the outbreak of World War II (4 August 1914)

Historical Map of Australia, New Zealand & the Southwest Pacific

Although Australia and New Zealand were self-governing democracies, they were still part of the British Empire and tied to Britain's foreign policy decisions. When Britain declared war on Germany in 1914, the two dominions were automatically committed to the conflict.

Main Events

Anglo-Japanese Alliance

The United Kingdom and the Empire of Japan signed the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in London, promising that they will support each other if either country became involved in a war with more than one Great Power. The Alliance was announced on 12 February 1902 and marked the end of Britain's Splendid Isolation.

Dutch settle New Guinea frontier

In response to British protests that Marind-Anim from Dutch New Guinea were raiding British New Guinea and the Torres Strait Islands, the Dutch built a post near the border at Merauke. Later in 1902, the Dutch tried to set up a border commission with German New Guinea, but this was rejected by the Germans on the grounds that neither country had settlements in the region. The Dutch built Hollandia by the German border in 1910.

Papua Act 1905

The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia passes the Papua Act 1905, which sees the transfer of the territory of British New Guinea from the United Kingdom to Australia as the external territory of Papua.

New Hebrides Condominium

The United Kingdom and the French Republic sign an agreement making the New Hebrides an Anglo-French condominium, formally dividing the islands into two separate communities: one Anglophone and one Francophone. There are three governments - one for each country and one joint administration.

Dominion of New Zealand

On 26 September, the United Kingdom granted the Colony of New Zealand (along with Newfoundland) dominion status within the British Empire as the Dominion of New Zealand. This was in accordance with the decision of the 1907 Imperial Conference to confer dominion status on all self-governing colonies. The date was declared Dominion Day, but would never reach much popularity as a day of independence.

Canning Stock Route

Having been appointed by the Government of Western Australia, Alfred Canning surveyed a 1,850 km stock route from Halls Creek to Wiluna in 1906. Despite complaints about his treatment of Aboriginal guides, Canning is commissioned to lead a construction party, building 48 wells along the route between March 1908 and April 1910. However the route will be little used until it is re-opened in 1928.

Northern Territory Transfer

Following the Northern Territory Surrender Act 1908 in South Australia and the Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1910 by the Australian Government, the Northern Territory is separated from South Australia and transferred to the control of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Northern Territory (Administration) Act provides that there shall be an Administrator appointed by the Governor-General to administer the Territory on behalf of the Australian Government, subject to any instructions given to him by the appropriate Minister from time to time.

Naming of Canberra

At midday on 12 March 1913, the planned capital city of the Commonwealth of Australia is officially given the name Canberra by Lady Denman, at a ceremony on Kurrajong Hill (which will become known as Capital Hill). This historic occasion is officiated over by the Australian Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher, and will be commemorated by future generations as "Canberra Day".

British entry into World War I

In response to the German invasion of Belgium - whose neutrality was safeguarded by the 1839 Treaty of London - the United Kingdom declared war on Germany, bringing the British Empire into World War I.

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