Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Australia were established on 14 September 2002.
The Royal Government established an Embassy in Canberra in 2021. Ambassador Sonam Tobgay presented his credentials virtually to H.E. General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), Governor-General of Australia, on 29 September 2021. He is the first resident Ambassador of Bhutan to Australia. Earlier, Ambassador to Thailand was concurrently accredited to Australia. Ambassador of Australia to India based in New Delhi is concurrently accredited to Bhutan. H.E. Hon Barry O’Farrell is the current Ambassador of Australia to Bhutan.
Australia is an old friend of Bhutan. Engagement between the two countries began during the early stages of Bhutan’s development process in the 1960s through cooperation in the Colombo Plan, prior to the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2002. Australia was the destination for the first batch of Bhutanese sent overseas for higher education in the 1970s. To this day, human resource development is one of the main areas of cooperation between Bhutan and Australia. In line with changing priorities of the two countries, the area of cooperation has also recently expanded to Technical and Vocational Education and Training. Further, through the Australian Volunteer Program, which has a country office in Thimphu, Australian volunteers are placed in various agencies to fill existing capacity gaps.
Her Royal Highness Ashi Tashi Chodzom Dorji, sister of Her Majesty The Royal Grandmother, was presented with the title of the Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia in Thimphu on 11 July 2018 in recognition of HRH’s distinguished service to Australia-Bhutan relations, particularly in the education sector.
His Majesty The King conferred the National Order of Merit Gold to Mrs. Catherine Harris, the former Honorary Consuk of Bhutan in Sydney, on 17 December 2019 during the 112th National Day celebrations in recognition of her services to Bhutan as the Honorary Consul of Bhutan for the past 15 years.
The bilateral relations has been boosted by strong people-to-people linkages between the two countries. In the last decade, Australia has become the most preferred destination for Bhutanese students and it is now home to Bhutan’s largest Bhutanese population abroad, with thousands of Bhutanese studying, working and living all over Australia.