1885 in Australia
- Governor of New South Wales – Lord Augustus Loftus (until 9 November), then Lord Carrington (from 12 December)
- Governor of Queensland – Sir Anthony Musgrave
- Governor of South Australia – Sir William C.F. Robinson, GCMG
- Governor of Tasmania – Major Sir George Strahan
- Governor of Victoria – Sir Henry Loch
- Premier of New South Wales – Alexander Stuart (until 6 October), then George Dibbs (until 9 October), then John Robertson (from 22 December)
- Premier of Queensland – Samuel Griffith
- Premier of South Australia – John Colton (until 16 June), then John Downer
- Premier of Tasmania – Adye Douglas
- Premier of Victoria – James Service
- 3 March – The New South Wales Contingent, consisting of an infantry battalion and an artillery battalion, leaves Sydney to fight in the Sudan Campaign.
- 28 March – HMQS Gayundah arrives in Brisbane.
- 1 April – The Cabinet of South Australia meets to discuss the "Russian scare"—the fear that South Australia would come under attack from Russian warships should hostilities between Russia and Britain over Afghanistan result in war.
- 10 August – The Broken Hill Proprietary Company (later to become the world's largest mining company, BHP Billiton) is registered as a company in Victoria.
- 4–7 October – Third Intercolonial Trades Union Congress held in Sydney.
Science and technology
- 24 March – Hugh Victor McKay patents stripper-harvester.
Arts and literature
- Tom Roberts paintings:
- Winter morning after rain, Gardiner's Creek
- The Artists Camp
- 8 January – John Curtin (died 1945), Australian Prime Minister
- 29 January – Arthur Halloway (died 1961) rugby league footballer and coach
- 20 March – Vernon Ransford (died 1958), cricketer
- 1 July – Dorothea Mackellar (died 1968), poet
- 12 August – Keith Murdoch (died 1952), journalist and newspaper publisher
- 15 August – Beaumont Smith (died 1950), film director and producer
- 18 August – Nettie Palmer (died 1964), poet and literary critic (wife of Vance Palmer)
- 28 August – Vance Palmer (died 1959), novelist, essayist and critic (husband of Nettie Palmer)
- 22 September – Ben Chifley (died 1951), Australian Prime Minister
- 15 October – Frank Hurley (died 1962), photographer and adventurer
- 7 November – Frank Cheadle, rugby league footballer and World War I soldier (died 1916).
- 28 January – Edward Davy (born 1806), scientist
- "Sudan (New South Wales Contingent) March–June 1885". Australian military history overview. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
- Painter, Alison. "1 April 1885 Russian scare". SA 175. Professional Historians Association (South Australia). Retrieved 2 March 2012.
- Lack, John. "McKay, Hugh Victor (1865 - 1926)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Archived from the original on 21 March 2007. Retrieved 12 March 2007.