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Every day throughout the world over a billion people rely heavily on Australian inventions. Every time they drive a car, fly, prepare a meal, use a laptop or smartphone or spend some time in hospital there is a good chance they are relying on Australian inventions or discoveries. Then you ask people what Australia is famous for and the say “sport”. But fortunately that does not include you dear reader, because we know people visit the White Hat website because they are Intelligent and Informed.

Despite its short history since European settlement and relatively small population, Australia has generated a remarkable number of important inventions in the last 200 years. In the areas of invention, the sciences and medical research (For those that like to do comparisons then you could compare and contrast Australia's inventive output with say the inventive output of the state of Florida in the USA or Portugal in Europe both of which have roughly the same cumulative population over that period.) Australia has achieved at a level well above what would be expected for a country of its population. Below is a list of a number of inventions that White Hat considers significant.

Some notable Australian inventions & innovations


See also Why are there so few Aboriginal inventions?


Why is the Black Box orange?

David Warren's father had died in one of Australia's first commercial airline crashes in 1926, and it was during the 1950s that Warren invented a device for recording voice and data from a plane, analysis of which after a crash may help prevent similar disasters.
However, he could not get it developed in Australia, The RAAF weren't interested and the Federation of Australian Airline Pilots declared that "no plane would take off in Australia with Big Brother listening". As a result the invention was championed by the British and manufactured in America.
Black Boxes have expanded from their original home on aircrafts and are now fitted on many millions of vehicles worldwide.
David Warren's original invention was housed in black bakelite so the British dubbed it the 'Black Box'.  Nowadays, aircraft Black Boxes are made in bright orange to make them easy to detect after a crash.

Automotive and transportation

Certificate of Appreciation for White HatDomestic and consumer products

Finance, commerce & business

Food and drink

Plaque commemorating James Harrison's refrigeration plant.
Plaque in Melbourne
marking the site of the world's
firstProbably second - see 'Refrigeration' to left commercial ice works

Social Innovations and 'firsts'


Cochlear implant (bionic ear)
Cochlear Implant

General health and wellbeing


Self constructing tower crane


(see also the Fairlight Computer Music Instrument below)

The History of the Kelly Gang
The History of the Kelly Gang

Arts and entertainment


We are currently investigating the type of cycling race known as the Australian Pursuit. We do not yet know if it was invented in Australia but its name suggests that it was.



Appropriate Technology

Often solutions to problems exist but are too expensive or inappropriate for use in remote communities. Australian inventors have come up with simple solutions which are often appropriate in the Australian outback or third world countries.

Design Improvements

Sometimes people come up with design improvements which, although not being 'inventions' in the true sense of the word, can be important in their own right. Here are a few Australian ones.

Under Development


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You can find a comprehensive guide to markets around Australia at The White Hat Guide to Markets in Australia.

  • James Harrison - inventor of commercial refrigeration
    James Harrison - inventor of commercial refrigeration
  • Dave Warren with prototype of  Black Box Flight Recorder
    Dave Warren with prototype of Black Box Flight Recorder