World War I and Australia

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visitors are kindly advised that this website includes images, sounds and names of people who have passed.

All users should be aware that some topics or historical content may be culturally sensitive, offensive or distressing, and that some images may contain nudity or are of people not yet identified. Certain words, terms or descriptions may reflect the author's/creator's attitude or that of the period in which they were written, but are now considered inappropriate in today's context.

Key to library resources

Access anywhere with a library card In the Library (or anywhere with a Library card for NSW residents)
Available to access in the library Only in the Library
Publicly available online Publicly available

War begins for Australia

August 1914

Australia was in the middle of a double-dissolution election when Britain declared war against Germany in August 1914. With Britain now at war, all dominions of the British Empire were also at war with Germany — including Australia. The Prime Minister, Joseph Cook as well as opposition leader, Andrew Fisher — who would win the election and become the Prime Minister — both pledged Australia’s full support. The campaign to recruit volunteers for the Australian Imperial Force began straightaway.

We have a number of books published in the lead-up to the centenary of the beginning of the war. Visit us to read these books.

Some of the first Bega men to enlist during World War I, 1914, on Tathra Wharf ten miles from Bega. Waiting to embark on ship Merimbula – Tathra, NSW



Copying, publishing or purchasing digital copies

You can make copies of pictures for research and study purposes by:

  • using a digital camera
  • using our microfilm reader printers 
  • ordering paper or electronic copies
  • ordering high quality digital scans  

You need to contact us for permission to publish our original materials. You must also acknowledge the Library and provide the correct location details. 

Find out more about copying and purchasing digital copies.

Sydney Mail

We have digitised all the Sydney Mail covers for the period of the War. You can view the covers via the Library's catalogue.



We have digitised a collection of Greeting cards, Christmas cards and postcards published during World War I. You can view them via the Library's catalogue.


Search Trove to find Australian newspaper articles relating to the outbreak of the war.

Trove includes major Australian metropolitan and regional newspapers. You can search by keyword across all newspapers or narrow your search to a specific newspaper.

View a list of the newspapers available on Trove.