* 10 YEARS SINCE THE DEATH OF HEATH LEDGER, JANUARY 22
Australian-born Hollywood actor Heath Ledger was found dead at the age of 28 in his Manhattan apartment on January 22, 2008.
A toxicology report later revealed he died from a mix of sleeping pills and prescription drugs, in what has been described as an accidental overdose.
Only three months earlier Ledger had finished his starring role as the psychotic Joker in Christopher Nolan’s film The Dark Knight, for which he won a posthumous Oscar, among other awards.
Ledger was born in Perth on April 4, 1979 and had his breakout role in the 1999 film 10 Things I Hate About You, before going on to star in the critically-acclaimed 2005 film Brokeback Mountain.
A monument consisting of three oversized chessboards has overlooked Perth’s Swan River since 2009 as a memorial for the late star.
His body rests in Perth’s Karrakatta Cemetery.
A Heath Ledger exhibition is showing at the Western Australian Museum in Perth until January 29.
* COMMONWEALTH GAMES, GOLD COAST, APRIL 4-15
Beach Volleyball will make its debut alongside 22 other sports at the 21st Commonwealth Games in April, to be held for the first time on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Almost 40,000 people will pack into Queensland’s Carrara Stadium on April 4 for the opening night to kick-start 11 days of sport before it all comes to a close on April 15.
About 6600 of the world’s best athletes from 70 nations and territories will compete for gold in sports such as basketball, boxing, rowing, rugby sevens, athletics, gymnastics, shooting, and ping pong.
Australia has hosted the most amount of games, with the first lighting up Sydney in 1938 only eight years after the first Commonwealth Games was launched in Canada.
The most recent games was in Scotland in 2014 where Australia took home a total of 137 medals, beaten only by England with 174.
* CENTENARY OF VILLERS-BRETONNEUX, FRANCE, APRIL 25
Australia reclaimed Villers-Bretonneux from the Germans, who had overtaken the northern French town following a fierce tank battle with the British only 24 hours earlier on April 24, 1918.
Now the pivotal event of World War I is about to mark a 100-year milestone with a dawn service and the launch of the Sir John Monash Centre near the battlefield site on April 25.
About 2400 diggers were killed when the Australians launched a surprise attack by circling the German Army the same night they occupied the town.
By the following morning of April 25 the Australians had won back the northern French town of Villers-Bretonneux and pushed back the Germans, stunting their attempts to occupy France.
The centenary also coincides with the 103rd anniversary of the Allies’ landing at Anzac Cove at Gallipoli.
* 75 YEARS SINCE THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC, MAY 1
The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest-running of World War II, lasting all but two of the 2075 days from 1939 until Germany’s surrender in 1945.
This year marks 75 years since the start of the most intense phase of the battle, in May 1943, that cost the lives of least 70,000 Allied sailors, merchant seamen and air force crew, including many Australians.
Australia will hold a commemorative service in Canberra on May 1.
Nazi Germany ignited the battle in September 1939 by torpedoing the British passenger liner SS Athenia which was en route to Canada, killing 118 of the 1400 people aboard.
The Axis strategy was to stop the Allies’ ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Britain, with much-needed supplies from the US and Canada.
Australian ships that served in the Battle of the Atlatic included HMAS Australia, Napier, Nestor, Nizam, Quickmatch, Perth and Quiberon.
* TWENTY YEARS SINCE NATIONAL SORRY DAY WAS ESTABLISHED, MAY 26
This year marks two decades since National Sorry Day was established, one year after the landmark Bringing Them Home report was released in 1997 following a national inquiry.
One of 54 recommendations in the report, National Sorry Day is held to remember the stolen generation of indigenous Australians who were taken from their families and communities.
Among plans to mark the 20 years will be special concerts, reconciliation walks, flag-raising events, speeches from community leaders, indigenous elders and politicians.
The National Apology, remembered on February 13 when former prime minister Kevin Rudd said ‘Sorry’ to the stolen generations, was also one of the recommendations in the Bringing Them Home report.