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There are two that I am aware of:

I am not looking for Naval battles but actual attacks on Australian soil.

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I can't think of any others, but I am looking forward to seeing what people come up with. – RedBlueThing Oct 13 '11 at 23:52
By a sovereign nation, or by terrorists? – Andrew Grimm May 5 at 9:24
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Southeast New Guinea (Papua) was legally part of Australia during WWII, and there were battles there as the Japanese tried to take out Port Moresby. This includes the advance over the Owen Stanley Mountains and the landing in Milne Bay.

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Depends on what you call "Australia" and "attacks".

One could say that the UK attacked and took over the country from the natives that were there initially.

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They certainly took over the country, but I'm not so sure that their actions can be characterised as attacks. I'm not aware of there being any conflict during the establishment of the major settlements. Later conflicts with the indigenous population were by settlers who had been in the country (if not the particular territory) for a while, so they're not really comparable with the WW2 attacks by Japan. – lins314159 Oct 14 '11 at 12:04
Depends on how you define "attack". The settlers took the land. If that's not an 'attack', then I don't know what is. – Rory Oct 14 '11 at 15:06
I assume the original asker meant "since European settlement", however in the guise of thinking about the australian natives and all other invaded people, I gave this answer ;) – Rory Oct 17 '11 at 20:20
@lins314159 is correct. There were no real major conflicts; certainly not by armies. Alright, we certainly should not condone the British actions to the native Aborigines of Australia, but let's not exaggerate them to be overly politically correct. The "invasion" was nothing comparable to the British colonisation of the Americas, really now. – Noldorin Nov 11 '11 at 4:21
@Noldorin while the scale of resistance was smaller, and often protracted due to the lack of treaties, the "invasion" is very comparable in terms of dislocation of previous human settlements, mass and often engineered deaths, and a continuing absence of reconciliation or treaty process. Agree with you entirely on the scale of opposed violence issue. – Samuel Russell Mar 19 '13 at 2:09

Aside from attacks during the two already mentioned time periods - European colonisation and the Japanese attacks during WW2 - there was another attack on Australian soil, though not on the continent itself: In the early morning of 2004-09-09, a car bomb was detonated at the Australian embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Of course, an embassy's area isn't, strictly speaking, sovereign territory of the country maintaining it. However, it does enjoy a wide array of protection similar to such a territory and any attack on such can be perceived as an attack on the country itself - and has on occasion been treated as such.

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Perhaps technically correct. However, I think even you don't believe this is the kind of thing the question was asking about. – T.E.D. Apr 9 '12 at 19:03

A Japanese submarine bombarded the suburbs of Sydney, including Rose Bay, with a small cannon. As part of the initial attacks on Northern Australia, there were air raids at several points including a devastating attack on a seaplane base at Broome in North-Western Australia. Eventually the Japanese had to re-deploy the carrier forces that led these attacks (they were largely destroyed at Midway) and the fighting shifted to New Guinea and the Solomons. The Japanese then had few resources to waste in attacks on mainland Australia.

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This looks like a decent answer. Care to quote sources, please? – Noldorin Nov 11 '11 at 4:21

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