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This Day in History

Australian History

Wednesday, May 17, 1893. :   Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination sparked WWI, arrives in Australia for a tour marked by hunting parties and barbeques.

     His Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Este, was born 18 December 1863. He was an Archduke of Austria and from 1896 until his death, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne. The Archduke was one of the leading advocates of maintaining the peace within the Austro-Hungarian government during both the Bosnian Crisis of 1908-1909 and the Balkan Wars Crises of 1912-1913.

On 17 May 1893, the Archduke arrived in Sydney, Australia. His visit was unique in that he spent much time hunting in the New South Wales outback, near the then-remote towns of Nyngan and Narromine. In his diary, Ferdinand noted a dislike for the barbeques organised for his hunting parties, and he reamrked on the "wasteful" practice of ringbarking trees for clearing. He was also astonished by, and admired, the speed and endurance of Australian horses.

Following the completion of his tour in Australia, the Archduke then went on to the United States, where his most notable observation was disgust at the Americans' attitude to and treatment of the poor.

Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated by "The Black hand", a secret nationalistic Serb society, at approximately 11:00am on 28 June 1914. The assassination led to war between Austria and Serbia, which escalated into World War I as other European countries allied themselves with one side or the other.

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