Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Take a Journey Back Through Time                                                                                     

The ABC production "Australia: The Time Travellers Guide" goes very well with this page, illustrating the major events in the evolution of the Earth from its formation, visiting the places of significance mentioned on this page and in the same order.

The history of Australia starts at the beginning of the history of the Earth. The earliest known blocks of crust on Earth are the seeds around which the Australian continent grew. The Earth is believed to have formed about 4550 million years ago, and only a short time later the dated rocks of the beginnings of Australia solidified. By travelling around Australia one can visit many stages of the development of life and the geologically historic events in the history of the Earth, such as:  

  •  Living reptiles whose much bigger, but otherwise almost identical, ancestors probably feasted on dinosaurs, 

  • the first known multicellular organisms that were solid enough to leave fossils,

  • stand on the site of the biggest known dinosaur stampede, 

  • see in the mud, now fossilised, where the first vertebrates to emerge from the sea left tracks as they foraged above the tide,

  • See the tracks left by the first known animals to walk about on dry land, eurypterids, millions of years before the vertebrates existed,

  • Even further back one can stand on a range of hills that formed when Antarctica and Australia collided to form a bond that would last a billion years, and gaze about 30 km to another line of hills that formed during the crustal movements that separated the two continents for the last time 45 million years ago,

  • see 3500 million year old stromatolites, taller than their modern descendants in Shark Bay, but otherwise unchanged. When they were alive they contributed to the growing oxygen levels, at first in the ocean, then in the atmosphere, that allowed later life forms to evolve,

  • In the Hamersley Ranges can be seen the results of the rusting of the iron of the oceans by the oxygen to eventually form the ironstone of the range,

  • see the hills of recycled sandstone in which were found the zircon crystals that were part of the oldest rocks ever dated, 4404 +/- 8 million years, the beginning of time as far as the Earth is concerned. 

  • Visit Australia's answer to the Burgess Shale - Emu Bay Early Cambrian fossil beds on Kangaroo Island

  • Unusual for a continent to have 75 % of it flora made up of 2 genera, Eucalyptus, where rainfall exceeds 300 mm /yr and Acacia where rainfall is less than 300 mm/yr.

Australia Zoo         Photo Gallery

One possible starting point, where Australian saltwater crocodiles, survivors from the age of dinosaurs can be seen in "power mode" is Australia Zoo, the home of Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

(B Y ago)


4400 Ma

4400 million years ago. The rock containing the oldest known crystal.

3.6 Ga

The world's oldest exposed land crust, Mt Narryer, Western Australia. 

3.5 Ga

Stromatolites at the North Pole area of Western Australia
    3.4 Ga Oldest Well-preserved Fossils

2.8 Ga

Stromatolites in the Pilbara.

2.5 Ga

The Hamersley Range, the result of the use of chlorophyll that produced oxygen as a byproduct.

2.4 GA

The Kimberley Block rose from the sea.

1.6 GA

Tetrads of cells found among fossil microbes in sediments of the Bungle Bungles

1.6 GA

Fossil Stromatolites, Paradise Creek area near Mt. Isa, western Queensland

1.5 GA

Ripples in sand from a freshwater lake. Jim Jim Gorge at the foot of the Arnhem Land Escarpment


The Porongurup Range Marks the collision with Antarctica at the formation of Gondawan supercontinent. The Stirling Ranges mark the break up of Gondwana.


East Mount Barren, Western Australia, sandstone that was metamorphosed (heated and squeezed) during the Bonding of Australia to Antarctica


The MacDonnell Ranges

900 Ma

Stromatolite fossils

900 Ma

Inarlanga Pass - Heavitree Quartzite

850 Ma

The Bitter Springs formation - early microfossils

750 Ma

Old glacial debris in the Indulkana Ranges

700 Ma

The Kimberley Block, the oldest land surface in the world

630 Ma

The Ediacaran Fauna.

600 Ma

Petermann Ranges rise

575 Ma

Ediacaran life forms
    520 Ma Emu Bay, Kangaroo Island, fossils slightly younger than the Burgess Shale Deposit

415 Ma

The earliest-known clubmoss

408 Ma

The earliest known footprints on dry land, a eurypterid,  Kalbari, Western Australia

380 Ma

Western Australia - The oldest mother giving birth - a placoderm, a Devonian fish

380 Ma

Western Australia - the earliest known tetrapod-like fish

360 Ma

In East Gippsland, Victoria, Australia - the earliest-known tracks of a vertebrate on land

350 Ma

A Devonian Barrier Reef in the Kimberleys

300 Ma

China Wall, the oldest exposed, and most unusual quartz vein in Australia.

300 Ma

The ancestors of the Queensland Lungfish
     300 Ma Woodleigh Crater, WA, Impact large enough to trigger extinction event

2-300 Ma

200-300 Ma. Carnarvon Gorge, a source of water for the Great Artesian basin

175 Ma

Sugarloaf Rock, one of the few visible remainders of the line where Australia broke from southern Tibet and India

165 Ma

The Acropolis, one of the few remaining outcrops of the dolerite that filled the gaps as Tasmania began to separate from Gondwana.

140 Ma

Leaellynasaura, probably a nocturnal, polar dinosaur

130 Ma

Gosse's Bluff Crater

123 Ma

Monotremes, the earliest mammals found in Australia.
     115 Ma Dinosaur Tracks near Broome, Western Australia

114 Ma

The last known Labyrinthodont
     110 Ma The earliest "generalist" Angiosperm pollen known from Australia

105 Ma

The latest known dicynodont

100-110 Ma

Kronosaurus queenslandicus, the largest marine reptile of  its time and possibly of all time.
    98-95 Ma Oldest known true crocodiles
    95 Ma Dinosaur Stampede - Winton Formation

55 Ma

Oldest known placental mammal in Australia

50-60 Ma

Pyramid Rock - A remenant of the rock formed by the rifting process between Tasmania and Antarctica.

50-60 Ma

Precipitous Bluff, Tasmania

50-60 Ma

Stirling Ranges, Western Australia - Marks the break up of Gondwana. The Porongurup Ranges mark the collision that formed the first supercontinent.

50-60 Ma

Recherche Archipelago

25 Ma -40,000 ya.

World's most continuous fossil site & new types of marsupial

6-8 Ma

The biggest known bird

2-3 Ma

Kubla Khan Cave

2 Ma

Wolf Creek meteorite crater

190,000 ya.

Undara volcanic eruptions
74,000 BP Aboriginal Occupation of Australia - Timeline (40,000-50,000 by proponents of radio carbon dating as opposed to the more recent thermoluminescence dating technique)

62,000 +/- 6000 ya.

Lake Mungo - Human burial and oldest known use of a spear thrower


Sources & Further reading


Australia Through Time


Author: M. H. Monroe
Last Updated 21/04/2012

Drifting Australia
Journey Back Through Time
The Great Journey North
    Stages along the way
Journey Back Through Time
Experience Australia
Aboriginal Australia
National Parks
Photo Galleries
Site Map
                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading