The ushering in of the new decade began with unprecedented bushfires that tore across the eastern seaboard.
As Australians grappled with the unfolding horror, other events of consequence that will shape the near future unfolded across the globe.
Here’s a quick list of other major events you may have missed in the last two weeks.
Brink of war between US and Iran
The first week of 2020 started with the United States openly targeting and killing a foreign military leader for the first time since World War I.
The tense rhetoric between the two countries escalated into violence when the US drone attack killed top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.
In retaliation, Iran launched missile attacks on two Iraqi airbases hosting US troops, triggering fears that the violence would spark another war in the Middle East.
Ukrainian passenger jet shot down
The rising tensions were followed by Iran shooting down a Ukrainian airliner after it mistakenly believed it was a cruise missile, killing the 176 people on board.
After initially claiming that mechanical issues had caused the airliner to go down, Iran’s military announced it had accidentally shot down the plane.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake,” President Hassan Rouhani said on Twitter.
The victims included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three British nationals.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to investigate how the tragedy happened.
“This tragedy should never have occurred,” Mr Trudeau said at a vigil in Canada.
“We will not rest until there are answers. We will not rest until there is justice and accountability.”
Hossein Salami, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, apologised for the crash and said he has “never been so ashamed in my entire life,” according to Iranian state television.
Brexit bill gets green light
On January 9 something remarkable finally happened in Britain. After years of debate, the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly in favour of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill.
After more than four decades of membership in the European Union before a controversial referendum, the toppling of a Prime Minister and countless rallies to stop it, Britain is on its way out.
The bill was approved on a vote of 330 to 231 and will now be sent to the House of Lords, and put into legislation in coming weeks.
But some observers say Brexit will only get messier, as negotiations for a trade deal with the EU begin in earnest.
Mr Johnson, however, is confident. The UK will remain under EU rules of trade until December 31 and he has said he expects to strike a deal in that time.
Volcano shuts down Philippine capital
Up to 15 kilometres of ash spewed from a volcano in the Philippines on Sunday evening local time.
The sudden explosion prompted a “total evacuation” of nearly half a million people near the capital Manila, flight cancellations and thousands of people fleeing to safety.
Taal volcano is one of the country’s most active, and authorities have upgraded the threat level to 4, meaning an eruption could happen within hours or days.
The rumbling volcano is in the middle of a lake about 70km south of Manila’s centre and has sent clouds of ash across the city as seismologists warned an eruption could happen at any time and potentially trigger a tsunami.
Ghosn’s escape from Japan
Carlos Ghosn was the king of the car industry in Japan. Head of Nissan, he was hero-worshipped before becoming one of the country’s most high-profile criminal subjects.
He’s now a fugitive in exile.
The former car-maker jumped bail and fled Japan last month while awaiting trial on financial misconduct charges.
Adding to the intrigue, Mr Ghoson popped up in Lebanon where his wife Carole was born and they’ve both been talking to international media about the escape.
In Beirut he told reporters: “There was no way I was going to be treated fairly.”
“No sign that I was going to have a normal life for the next four or five years. So I can tell you that, I mean, it’s not very difficult to come to [the] conclusion that you’re going to die in Japan, or you’re going to have to get out.”
He has claimed he’s innocent of all charges and needed to escape from Japan where there is a 99 per cent conviction rate.
India passes dangerous citizenship laws
India has erupted in violent protests over a new citizenship law that curtails the rights of Muslims in the democratic country.
Last week the government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who backed the laws, passed the controversial measure which grants special treatment to Hindu and other non-Muslim migrants in the nation.
The Citizenship Amendment Act means religious migrants who want to settle in India will have to take a test. Muslim Indians are concerned the government could use it to render many of them stateless.
Critics argue that the law is designed to marginalise the country’s 200 million minority Muslims and undermines democracy.
China turned away in Taiwan’s election
In a sharp and swift rebuke to Beijing, Taiwan’s population re-elected incumbent president Tsai Ing-wen in a landslide election on Sunday.
Winning 57 per cent of the popular vote, Ms Tsai, of the Democratic Progressive Party, led a strong win over her Beijing-friendly rival Han Kuo-yu who received just 39 per cent.
“This election is about whether or not we choose freedom and democracy,” Ms Tsai said, delivering her victory speech in Taipei. “We must work to keep our country safe and defend our sovereignty.”
Beijing attacked senior officials from the United States, Britain and Japan for congratulating President Tsai.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters on Sunday that he urged the international community to embrace the one-China policy.
“We hope and believe that … [they will] understand and support the just cause of Chinese people to oppose the secessionist activities for ‘Taiwan independence’ and realise national reunification,” he said.