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Travel Guide 2   >   Australia   >   History

   
 

Australian History


The first humans are believed to have arrived in Australia over 40,000 years ago. These people arrived via land-bridges and/or sea crossings from Southeast Asia, and became the indigenous people known as "aborigines". An additional and distinct group of early settlers, ethnically Melanesian, settled in the Torres Strait Islands (the Strait between Australia and Papua New Guinea) and the far North of Queensland.

Replica of James Cook's ship, HMB Endeavour, in Cooktown Harbour, 1988 Europeans first began to reach the area at the aroud the beginning of the 17th century. The first undisputed sighting of the Australian mainland was by the Dutch sea captain, William Janszoon in 1606. The Dutch are known to have chartered the western and northern shorelines of the continent during the 17th century, but made no attempt at settlement of what they called at the time "New Holland". In 1770, British navigator, James Cook mapped parts of the East coast of Australia: the region today known as New South Wales. Cook claimed the area for Great Britain.

The first British colony was established in New South Wales on January 26th, a day that is now remembered as "Australia Day". The British formerly claimed the western portions of Australia in 1859, and during the 19th century a whole series of separate British colonies were established around the continent. Much of this British colonization was based upon the transportation of convicts to penal colonies, and it was only in 1848 that the transportation of convicts to New South Wales stopped.

The arrival of Europeans had a drastic effect on the indigenous aboriginal population. This fell dramaticly from a high of 350,000 due to the infectious diseases, forced resettlements, and other factors. Indeed, although the issues remain highly controversial and disputed, some historians have characterized the events of the period as genocide.

In 1850s, the European population increased further thanks to a gold rush, and between 1855 and 1890, each of the six British colonies was separately granted responsible government - while the the colonies were autonomous in their internal affairs, they Britain retained control of foreign affairs and defense. In 1901, the six colonies were united in a federation known as the Commonwealth of Australia.

Australia participated in both World War I and World War II as part of the British Empire. To many Australians the events of the world wars, especially the Gallipoli campaign in World War I, and the Kokoda Track Campaign in World War II, were important milestones in Australia's path to independent nationhood.

Legally, Australia first moved towards independence from Britain with the Statue of Westminister in 1931 (although Australia did not ratify it until 1942, but then back dated its effect to 1939), which granted effective independence in most matters. Australia however did retain some constitutional ties with Britain for another 40 years, these only finally be severed with the passing of the Australia Act in 1986. It should be noted that the British Queen Elizabeth II is also Queen of Australia, and a 1999 national referendum rejected becoming a republic.

Here are some books about the history of Australia:


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Books about Australian History


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Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia

By David Hunt

Black Inc.
Paperback (286 pages)

Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia
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Girt. No word could better capture the essence of Australia ...

In this hilarious history, David Hunt reveals the truth of Australia's past, from megafauna to Macquarie - the cock-ups and curiosities, the forgotten eccentrics and Eureka moments that have made us who we are.

Girt introduces forgotten heroes like Mary McLoghlin, transported for the crime of "felony of sock", and Trim the cat, who beat a French monkey to become the first animal to circumnavigate Australia.

It recounts the misfortunes of the escaped Irish convicts who set out to walk from Sydney to China, guided only by a hand-drawn paper compass, and explains the role of the coconut in Australia's only military coup.

Our nation's beginnings are steeped in the strange, the ridiculous and the frankly bizarre. Girt proudly reclaims these stories for all of us.

Not to read it would be un-Australian.

About the author: David Hunt is an unusually tall and handsome man who likes writing his own biographical notes for all the books he has written (one). He has worked as an historical consultant and comedy writer for television, and also has a proper job.

"A sneaky, sometimes shocking peek under the dirty rug of Australian history."
John Birmingham

"Hilarious and insightful -- Hunt has found the deep wells of humour in Australia's history."
Chris Taylor, The Chaser

Australian History for Dummies

By Alex McDermott

For Dummies
Released: 2011-05-16
Paperback (448 pages)

Australian History for Dummies
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Created especially for the Australian customer!

Exciting and informative history of the land down under

Australian History For Dummies is your tour guide throughthe important events of Australia's past, introducing you to thepeople and events that have shaped modern Australia. Be there asBritish colonists explore Australia's harsh terrain with varyingdegrees of success. In this informative guide you'll

  • Find out about Australia's infamous bushrangers
  • Learn how the discovery of gold caused a tidal wave ofimmigration from all over the world
  • Understand how Australia took two steps forward to become anation in its own right in 1901, and two steps back when thegovernment was dismissed by the Crown in 1975

Discover the fascinating details that made Australia the countryit is today!





Aboriginal Australians: A History Since 1788

By Richard Broome

Brand: Allen Unwin
Paperback (336 pages)

Aboriginal Australians: A History Since 1788
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A powerful history of black and white encounters in Australia since colonization, this fully updated edition remains the only concise survey of Aboriginal history since 1788
 
In the creation of any new society, there are winners and losers. So it was with Australia as it grew from a colonial outpost to an affluent society. Richard Broome tells the history of Australia from the standpoint of the original Australians: those who lost most in the early colonial struggle for power. Surveying two centuries of Aboriginal-European encounters, he shows how white settlers steadily supplanted the original inhabitants, from the shining coasts to inland deserts, by sheer force of numbers, disease, technology, and violence. He also tells the story of Aboriginal survival through resistance and accommodation, and traces the continuing Aboriginal struggle to move from the margins of a settler society to a more central place in modern. Since its first edition in 1982, Broome's Aboriginal Australians has won acclaim as a classic account of race relations in Australia. This fully rewritten fourth edition continues the story, covering the uneven implementation of native title, the plight of remote Aboriginal communities, the "Intervention," and the landmark apology to the "stolen generations" by Federal Parliament.

Let's Explore the Australian Outback: Australia Travel Guide for Kids (Children's Explore the World Books)

By Baby Professor

Baby Professor
Released: 2015-12-20
Kindle Edition (32 pages)

Let s Explore the Australian Outback: Australia Travel Guide for Kids (Children s Explore the World Books)
 
Product Description:
The great Australian Outback has been the popular theme used in several movies and stories. The wide expanse of land features peoples and animals that are truly fascinated. Open the pages of this picture book to learn about quick facts that could help build a trove of rich and diverse information. Order your copy today!

The European Settlement of Australia: The History and Legacy of Early Expeditions and British Settlements on the Australian Continent

By Charles River Editors

Charles River Editors
Released: 2018-05-30
Kindle Edition

The European Settlement of Australia: The History and Legacy of Early Expeditions and British Settlements on the Australian Continent
 
Product Description:
*Includes pictures
*Includes contemporary accounts
*Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading
*Includes a table of contents

“It is quite time that our children were taught a little more about their country, for shame’s sake.” – Henry Lawson, Australian poet

A land of almost 3 million square miles has lain since time immemorial on the southern flank of the planet, so isolated that it remained entirely outside of European knowledge until 1770. However, the first human footprints on this vast territory were felt 70,000 years earlier, as people began to cross the periodic land bridges and the short sea crossings from Southeast Asia.
The history of the indigenous inhabitants of Australia, known in contemporary anthropology as the “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia,” is a complex and continually evolving field of study, and it has been colored by politics. For generations after the arrival of whites in Australia, the Aboriginal people were disregarded and marginalized, largely because they offered little in the way of a labor resource, and they occupied land required for European settlement.

At the same time, it is a misconception that indigenous Australians meekly accepted the invasion of their country by the British, for they did not. They certainly resisted, but as far as colonial wars during that era went, the frontier conflicts of Australia did not warrant a great deal of attention. Indigenous Australians were hardly a warlike people, and without central organization, or political cohesion beyond scattered family groups, they succumbed to the orchestrated advance of white settlement with passionate, but futile resistance. In many instances, aggressive clashes between the two groups simply gave the white colonists reasonable cause to inflict a style of genocide on the Aborigines that stood in the way of progress.

In any case, their fate had largely been sealed by the first European sneeze in the Terra Australis, which preceded the importation of the two signature mediums of social destruction. The first was a collection of alien diseases, chief among smallpox, but also cholera, influenza, measles, tuberculosis, syphilis and the common cold. The second was alcohol. Smallpox alone killed more than 50% of the aboriginal population, and once the fabric of indigenous society had crumbled, alcohol provided emotional relief, but relegated huge numbers of Aborigines to the margins of a robust and emerging colonial society.

The European Settlement of Australia: The History and Legacy of Early Expeditions and British Settlements on the Australian Continent analyzes the expeditions that discovered Australia and the subsequent settlements over the course of about 150 years. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events, you will learn about the European settlement of Australia like never before.

Australia: A Cultural History (Third Edition) (Australian History)

By John Rickard

Monash University Publishing
Paperback (320 pages)

Australia: A Cultural History (Third Edition) (Australian History)
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"A perceptive, balanced, wide-ranging interpretation of the evolution of modern Australia which is both erudite and well-written."--Duncan Bythell ***John Rickard's Australia: A Cultural History, first published in 1988, is still the only short history of Australia from a cultural perspective. It has also acquired a unique reputation as an introduction to the development of Australian society and was listed by the historian and public intellectual John Hirst in his First XI: The Best Australian History Books. Although arranged chronologically, this book is not a chronicle; rather, it focuses on the transmission of values, beliefs, and customs amongst the diverse mix of peoples who are today's Australians. The story begins with the sixty thousand years of the Aboriginal presence and their continuing material and spiritual relationship with the land. The reader is led through the turbulent years of British colonisation and the emergence-through prosperity, war, and depression-of the cultural accommodations which have been distinctively Australian. The third edition concludes with a critical review of the challenges facing contemporary Australia and warns that 'we may get the future we deserve.' (Series: Australian History) [Subject: History, Sociology]

In a Sunburned Country

By Bill Bryson

Broadway Books
Released: 2001-05-15
Blue Paperback (352 pages)

In a Sunburned Country
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Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out.

His previous excursion along the Appalachian Trail resulted in the sublime national bestseller A Walk in the Woods. In A Sunburned Country is his report on what he found in an entirely different place: Australia, the country that doubles as a continent, and a place with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. The result is a deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiousity.

Despite the fact that Australia harbors more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else, including sharks, crocodiles, snakes, even riptides and deserts, Bill Bryson adores the place, and he takes his readers on a rollicking ride far beyond that beaten tourist path. Wherever he goes he finds Australians who are cheerful, extroverted, and unfailingly obliging, and these beaming products of land with clean, safe cities, cold beer, and constant sunshine fill the pages of this wonderful book.

Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bill Bryson its perfect guide.

The British Subjugation of Australia: The History of British Colonization and the Conquest of the Aboriginal Australians

By Charles River Editors

Charles River Editors
Released: 2018-06-10
Kindle Edition (73 pages)

The British Subjugation of Australia: The History of British Colonization and the Conquest of the Aboriginal Australians
 
Product Description:
*Includes pictures
*Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading
*Includes a table of contents

“It is quite time that our children were taught a little more about their country, for shame’s sake.” – Henry Lawson, Australian poet

A land of almost 3 million square miles has lain since time immemorial on the southern flank of the planet, so isolated that it remained almost entirely outside of European knowledge until 1770. From there, however, the subjugation of Australia would take place rapidly. Within 20 years of the first British settlements being established, the British presence in Terra Australis was secure, and no other major power was likely to mount a challenge. In 1815, Napoleon would be defeated at Waterloo, and soon afterwards would be standing on the barren cliffs of Saint Helena, staring across the limitless Atlantic. The French, without a fleet, were out of the picture, the Germans were yet to establish a unified state, let alone an overseas empire of any significance, and the Dutch were no longer counted among the top tier of European powers.

Australia lay at an enormous distance from London, and its administration was barely supervised. Thus, its development was slow in the beginning, and its function remained narrowly defined, but as the 19th century progressed and peace took hold over Europe, things began to change. Immigration was steady, and the small spores of European habitation on the continent steadily grew. At the same time, the Royal Navy found itself with enormous resources of men and ships at a time when there was no war to fight. British sailors were thus employed for survey and exploration work, and the great expanses of Australia attracted particular interest. It was an exciting time, and an exciting age - the world was slowly coming under European sway, and Britain was rapidly emerging as its leader.

That said, the 19th century certainly wasn’t exciting for the people who already lived in Australia. The history of the indigenous inhabitants of Australia, known in contemporary anthropology as the “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia,” is a complex and continually evolving field of study, and it has been colored by politics. For generations after the arrival of whites in Australia, the Aboriginal people were disregarded and marginalized, largely because they offered little in the way of a labor resource, and they occupied land required for European settlement.

At the same time, it is a misconception that indigenous Australians meekly accepted the invasion of their country by the British, for they did not. They certainly resisted, but as far as colonial wars during that era went, the frontier conflicts of Australia did not warrant a great deal of attention. Indigenous Australians were hardly a warlike people, and without central organization, or political cohesion beyond scattered family groups, they succumbed to the orchestrated advance of white settlement with passionate, but futile resistance. In many instances, aggressive clashes between the two groups simply gave the white colonists reasonable cause to inflict a style of genocide on the Aborigines that stood in the way of progress.
In any case, their fate had largely been sealed by the first European sneeze in the Terra Australis, which preceded the importation of the two signature mediums of social destruction. The first was a collection of alien diseases, chief among smallpox, but also cholera, influenza, measles, tuberculosis, syphilis and the common cold. The second was alcohol. Smallpox alone killed more than 50% of the aboriginal population, and once the fabric of indigenous society had crumbled, alcohol provided emotional relief, but relegated huge numbers of Aborigines to the margins of a robust and emerging colonial society.

A Concise History of Australia (Cambridge Concise Histories)

By Stuart Macintyre

Cambridge Univ Pr
Paperback (396 pages)

A Concise History of Australia (Cambridge Concise Histories)
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Australia is the last continent to be settled by Europeans, but it also sustains a people and a culture tens of thousands years old. For much of the past 225 years the newcomers have sought to replace the old with the new. This book tells how they imposed themselves on the land, and describes how they brought technology, institutions and ideas to make it their own. The fourth edition incorporates the far-reaching effects of an export and investment boom in the early years of the twenty-first century that lifted Australia to unprecedented prosperity. The sale of minerals and energy enabled the economy to withstand the global financial crisis of 2007-08 but there was no agreement on how the wealth was to be managed and its benefits distributed. The book describes a continuing search for solutions to climate change, the unauthorised arrival of refugees, Indigenous disadvantage and generational change.

Australians: A short history

By Thomas Keneally

Allen & Unwin
Released: 2016-10-26
Kindle Edition (953 pages)

Australians: A short history
 
Product Description:
Australians, Thomas Keneally's widely acclaimed three volume history of the Australian people from origins to Vietnam, gave us a robust, vibrant and page-turning narrative that brought to life the vast range of characters who have formed our national story.

Australians: a short history brings these three volumes together and reintroduces us to the rich assortment of contradictory, inspiring and surprising characters who made a young and cocky Australia.

It is the story of the original Australians and European occupation of their land through the convict era to pastoralists, bushrangers and gold seekers, working men, pioneering women, the rifts wrought by World War I, the rise of hard-nosed radicals from the Left and the Right, the social upheavals of the Great Crash and World War II, the Menzies era, the nation changing period of post-war migration and Australia's engagement with Asia. This is a truly masterly history of Australia and its people by an author of outstanding literary skill whose own humanity permeates every page.

Praise for Australians, the three volume history

'... giving us what Australian history has desperately needed for years.' Canberra Times

'Keneally evokes these distant lives with concrete detail and vivid sympathy ... his people inhabit the same world we do - we meet them without the hesitation of reaching across voids of space and time.' Sydney Morning Herald

'When it comes to writing page-turning narrative no one does it better than Thomas Keneally ... no doubt about it, Australians is a corker.' Weekend Australian

'Reading this book is like listening to a witty raconteur.' Adelaide Advertiser

'This new perspective on Australia's founding fathers is truly fascinating.' Courier Mail

'... what this book does is populate the blankness of our collective memory with lots of characters from all parts of the continent and all walks of life.' Saturday Age


 
 
 

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