In the southwest South Pacific, the island-continent of Australia is a democratic federal state in the British commonwealth. Australia’s population speaks English, and is 26 percent Anglican, 25 percent Protestant, and 25 percent Roman Catholic.
In 1840, William Barratt, 17, was called from England to serve a mission in Australia. He found circumstances difficult, but baptized Robert Beauchamp who later became an influential mission president in Australia. Then next missionary was Andrew Anderson who had been baptized by Orson Pratt in Scotland. Before he emigrated to Australia, he was given license to preach there. He and his family arrived in 1842. By the end of 1844, he organized a branch of 11 members in the private township of Montefiores, some 220 miles northwest of Sydney.
John Murdock and Charles Wandell arrived from Utah 31 October 1851 in Sydney, and established mission headquarters there. They published tracts, began preaching and found a few converts among a people very distracted by a gold rush. A year later, 47 members were in the mission when Murdock left because of ill health. On 6 April 1853, Wandell left with a company of Saints. A few days later, another 10 missionaries arrived under the direction of Augustus Farnham.
At least nine companies emigrated from Australia to Utah in the 1800s. The most serious ship accident among all the LDS emigrating companies occurred 3 October 1855, when the bark Julia Ann, carrying 28 Saints emigrating to Utah from Australia, broke up on shoals near the Scilly Islands. Five people were drowned in the mishap.
When word of the Utah War arrived in Australia in late December 1857, all missionaries returned to Utah. From then until 1875 only a few American missionaries were sent to Australia. Moreover, with greater successes in New Zealand, efforts of the Australasian Mission were focused there and in 1880 mission headquarters were moved to Auckland. After 1875 efforts in Australia were renewed and on 1 January 1898, the Australasian Mission was divided, forming the Australian and New Zealand Missions. At the time, membership in Australia was about 200.
Annouced in 1980 and dedicated in 1984. The Sydney Australia Temple is the 28th operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This was the first temple built in Australia, It is located in suburban Carlingford, about 12 miles northwest of downtown Sydney. The tranquil setting is considerably beautified by award-winning landscaping including huge eucalyptus trees that perpetuates appealing form and color year round.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915-1985) of the Quorum of the Twelves Apostles—a former mission president of Australia—presided over the groundbreaking services for the Sydney Australia Temple. At a fireside that evening, he said, "There is no reason why we can't have temples in Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, or wherever the number of saints justifies it." His statement proved prophetic with the construction of the Adelaide Australia Temple, Melbourne Australia Temple, Brisbane Australia Temple, and Perth Australia Temple.
Sources: United States Department of State, The World Factbook, cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook.; Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of the Church, 1941; Australasian Mission, Manuscript history, Church Archives; Church Public Affairs, press release, 28 Mar. 2003; Marjorie Newton, Southern Cross Saints, 1991; John Douglas Hawkes, A History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Australia to 1900, thesis, 1965. “Saints Shine in Perth, Western Australia’s ‘City of Lights,'” Ensign, October 1988; Australian Mission, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; and Christopher K. Bigelow, “Australia: Coming Out of Obscurity,” Ensign, December 1998.