Queensland’s economy expanded rapidly in 1867 after James Nash discovered gold on the Mary River near the town of Gympie, sparking a gold rush. While still significant, they were on a much smaller scale than the gold rushes of Victoria and New South Wales.
Immigration to Australia and Queensland in particular began in the 1850s to support the state economy. During the period from the 1860s until the early 20th century, many laborers, known at the time as Kanakas, were brought to Queensland from neighboring Pacific Island nations to work in the state’s sugar cane fields. Some of these people had been kidnapped under a process known as black-birding or press ganging, and their employment conditions amounted to indentured labor or even slavery. Italians had entered the sugar cane industry as early as the 1890s. During the Australian federation of 1901, the White Australia policy came into effect, which saw all foreign workers in Australia deported under the Pacific Island Labourers Act of 1901, which saw the Pacific Islander population of the state decrease rapidly.
On 1 January 1901, Australia was federated following a proclamation by Queen Victoria. During this time, Queensland had a population of half a million people. Brisbane was subsequently proclaimed a city in 1902. In 1905, women voted in state elections for the first time, and the University of Queensland was established in 1909. In 1911, The first alternative treatments for polio were pioneered in Queensland and remain in use across the world today.
World War I had a major impact on Queensland. Over 58,000 Queenslanders fought in World War I and over 10,000 of them died.
Australia’s first major airline, Qantas, was founded in 1920 to serve outback Queensland.
In 1935, cane toads were deliberately introduced to Queensland from Hawaii in a poorly-thought-out and unsuccessful attempt to reduce the number of French’s cane and greyback cane beetles that were destroying the roots of sugar cane plants, which are integral to Queensland’s economy.
In 1962, the first commercial production of oil in Queensland and Australia began at Moonie.
The humid climate—regulated by the availability of air conditioning—saw Queensland become a more accommodating place to work and live for Australian migrants. To this day, it is one of Australia’s economic powerhouses and the third-most populous state in the country.
In 2009, Queensland celebrated Q150, its 150th anniversary as an independent colony and state. The Queensland government and other Queensland organisations commemorated the occasion with many events and publications, including the announcement of the top 150 icons of Queensland by the Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, and the creation of monuments at significant survey points in Queensland’s history to honour the many early explorer/surveyors who mapped the state.
Queensland is an expansive area with a wide range of climates and geographical areas. If Queensland were an independent nation, it would be the 16th largest nation on earth. Most of Queensland’s human population is on the East coast, particularly the southeast. Like much of eastern Australia, Queensland has a mountain range that runs roughly parallel with the coast, and areas west (inland) of this mountain range are much more arid than the coastal regions.