Top 13 Australian Inventions

We are an inventive bunch. For a country of only around 22 million we have proven to be a very resourceful and clever people, capable of creating inventions that have shook the world. Read on to discover the top 13 Aussie inventions that have changed our way of life.

1838 Pre-paid postage – Colonial Postmaster-General of New South Wales, James Raymond introduced the world’s first pre-paid postal system.

1856 Refrigerator – Using the principal of vapour compression, James Harrison produced the world’s first practical refrigerator. He was commissioned by a brewery to build a machine that cooled beer.

1889 Electric Drill – Arthur James Arnot, patented the world’s first electric drill on 20 August 1889 while he was an employee of the Union Electric Company in Melbourne. He designed it primarily to drill rock and to dig coal


1900s – The ‘Australian Crawl’ – For most of human history, humans didn’t know how to swim effectively. In the 1900s, Australians invented the Australian Crawl that has since become known as ‘overarm’ or ‘freestyle’ swimming stroke.


1902 Notepad
-For 500 years, paper had been supplied in loose sheets. J A Birchall decided that it would be a good idea to cut the sheets into half, back them with cardboard and glue them together at the top.

1907 First international ski tournament – We don’t have much snow and are isolated from most countries that do. Even so, in 1907 Australians organised the first fully documented International Alpine Ski Carnival. The downhill event was won by Charles Menger (Denver, USA), second was R. Paterson (Australia) third was Earl Prince (England).


1912 The tank – A South Australian named Lance de Mole submitted a proposal, to the British War Office, for a ‘chain-rail vehicle which could be easily steered and carry heavy loads over rough ground and trenches’. The British war office liked the idea but then developed the tank themselves without paying royalties.


1924 Car radio The first car radio was fitted to an Australian car built by Kellys Motors in New South Wales.


1930s – Nuclear Fusion – In the early 20th century, Mark Oliphant worked on the artificial disintegration of the atomic nucleus and positive ions, and designed complex particle accelerators. He discovered helium 3 and tritium, and also discovered that heavy hydrogen nuclei could be made to react with each other. This fusion reaction formed the basis of a hydrogen bomb.


1953 Solar hot water – Developed by R N Morse at the CSIRO



1979 Bionic ear – The cochlear implant was invented by Professor Graeme Clark of the University of Melbourne.


1984 Frozen embryo baby- The world’s first frozen embryo baby was born in Melbourne on 28th March 1984


1992 Supersonic combustion – The University of Queensland demonstrated the world’s first supersonic combustion in an atmospheric flight test at Woomera on July 30, 2002. The craft reached speeds of more than Mach 8, or 8 times the speed of sound.


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