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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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Australian History for Dummies

By Alex McDermott

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

Australian History for Dummies
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Product Description:
Created especially for the Australian customer!

Exciting and informative history of the land down under

Australian History For Dummies is your tour guide through the important events of Australia's past, introducing you to the people and events that have shaped modern Australia. Be there as British colonists explore Australia's harsh terrain with varying degrees 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 of immigration from all over the world
  • Understand how Australia took two steps forward to become a nation in its own right in 1901, and two steps back when the government was dismissed by the Crown in 1975

Discover the fascinating details that made Australia the country it is today!





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

The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia's Founding

By Robert Hughes

Vintage
Released: 1988-02-12
Cream Paperback (628 pages)

The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia s Founding
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In this bestselling account of the colonization of Australia, Robert Hughes explores how the convict transportation system created the country we know today.

Digging deep into the dark history of England's infamous efforts to move 160,000 men and women thousands of miles to the other side of the world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Hughes has crafted a groundbreaking, definitive account of the settling of Australia.

Tracing the European presence in Australia from early explorations through the rise and fall of the penal colonies, and featuring 16 pages of illustrations and 3 maps, The Fatal Shore brings to life the incredible true history of a country we thought we knew.

National Geographic Traveler: Australia, 5th Edition

By Roff Martin Smith

National Geographic
Released: 2014-01-07
Paperback (400 pages)

National Geographic Traveler: Australia, 5th Edition
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  • National Geographic
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Active travelers trust National Geographic to deliver what they want in a guidebook: expert advice, insider tips, and the cultural feel of each destination not easily found online. These guides are pitch-perfect for today's experiential travel enthusiasts who want an authentic, enriching immersion.

From famous Bondi beach in Sydney to massive Ayers Rock in the remote desert outback, from rough-and-tumble gold-mining towns in Australia's Far West to the incredible underwater vistas of the Great Barrier Reef, Oz expert Roff Smith guides you through the incredibly varied land- and cityscapes that are modern Australia. Illustrated with 175 vivid photographs and nearly 30 detailed, full-color maps, this guide gives you every tool you need to plan a trip to the unique land on the other side of the world. 

Starting with a detailed introduction to Australia's history, food, land, and culture, the book explores every corner of the country beginning with Sydney, the gleaming cosmopolitan jewel in New South Wales. Special sidebars give detailed information on many topics such as Australian wine, cricket, bush fires, aborginal art, and the many cultural festivals of southern Australia. The book features seven guided drives through some of the land's more spectacular scenery and numerous guided walks in Sydney and Melbourne. A thorough Travelwise section recommends hotels and restaurants throughout the country in all price ranges. 

The book is chock-full of insider tips from National Geographic and local experts to favorite or little-known sites and events, as well as dozens of sidebars highlighting experiences such as wading among curious wild dolphins off the western coast, camel trekking in the outback desert, and diving among giant clams and vivid coral at the Great Barrier Reef. Whether you're visiting the lush forests and wildflowers of the Snowy Mountains, fishing for trout in the rivers of Tasmania, or taking in a concert at Sydney's world-famous Opera House, this guide has everything you need for a memorable trip.

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

By Charles River Editors

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Paperback (56 pages)

The British Subjugation of Australia: The History of British Colonization and the Conquest of the Aboriginal Australians
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*Includes pictures
*Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading
“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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  • Cambridge Univ Pr
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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.

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.

A Shorter History of Australia: Further Revised & Updated

By Geoffrey Blainey

Random House Australia
Paperback (352 pages)

A Shorter History of Australia: Further Revised & Updated
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Revised and updated, a broad, concise, and inclusive vision of Australia and Australians by one of the country's most renowned historians

After a lifetime of research and debate on Australian and international history, Geoffrey Blainey is well-placed to introduce us to the people who have played a part and to guide us through the events that have created the Australian identity: the mania for spectator sport; the suspicion of the tall poppy; the rivalries of Catholic and Protestant, Sydney and Melbourne, new and old homelands and new and old allies; the conflicts of war abroad and race at home; the importance of technology; defining the outback; the rise and rise of the mining industry; the recognition of our Aboriginal past and Native Title; and the successes and failures of the nation. For this enlarged edition Blainey has rewritten or expanded on various episodes and themes and updated relevant matter. He also describes significant events and trends of the early-20th century. A timeline of major events in Australian history is also included.

Living in . . . Australia

By Chloe Perkins

Simon Spotlight
Released: 2017-03-07
Paperback (32 pages)

Living in . . . Australia
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  • SIMON SPOTLIGHT
Product Description:
Discover what it’s like to grow up in Australia in this fascinating, nonfiction Level 2 Ready-to-Read, part of a series all about kids just like you in countries around the world!

Hello! My name is Ruby, and I’m a kid just like you living in Australia. Australia is a country filled with awesome beaches, unique animals, and exciting cities! Have you ever wondered what Australia is like? Come along with me to find out!

Each book in our Living in… series is narrated by a kid growing up in their home country and is filled with fresh, modern illustrations as well as loads of history, geography, and cultural goodies that fit perfectly into Common Core standards. Join kids from all over the world on a globe-trotting adventure with the Living in… series—sure to be a hit with children, parents, educators, and librarians alike!

Heroes and Villains: The amazing story of two men who changed Australia's history.

By Greg Jefferys

JAG
Released: 2015-01-23
Kindle Edition (237 pages)

Heroes and Villains: The amazing story of two men who changed Australia s history.
 
Product Description:
The previously untold true story of two men whose vision changed the course of Australia's history.

In 1824 two men sailed from England to Hobart Town in Tasmania to build a saw mill. Ten years later they had built two mills, Australia's oldest brewery, Australia's oldest theatre, facilitated the writing of Australia's first novel, made the first 3D representation of a kangaroo on the first Tasmanian silver coin and initiated Tasmania's greatest lost treasure legend.

One of these men was Major Hugh Macintosh, an ex-officer of the British East India Company, a veteran and hero of some of India's bloodiest battles, the Siege of Seringapatam, the Battle of Assaye, and the Siege of Gwalior Fort. A real life version of Bernard Cornwell's famous Sharpe character, Macintosh saved the Duke of Wellington twice, once at Seringpatam and again at Assaye. After India Macintosh went to Persia as a military advisor to the Shah; there he became a close friend and advisor of the Crown Prince of Persia Abbas Mirza and fought along side him in many battles before his wounds forced him to return to England. As well as a soldier Macintosh was also a highly cultured man, a painter, a violinist, fluent in five languages and in love with Mary Reibey, a poor convict girl who by 1820 had become Australia's richest business woman.

The other man was Macintosh's brother-in-law Peter Degraves, an ambitious businessman, brilliant engineer, inventor, architect, mathematician and conman. He was a bully, a bankrupt burglar, prolific liar and by 1850 one of Australia's richest, most ruthless, men.

This book, the result of the author's research for his Masters Degree in History, is a fascinating read that will take you on two amazing journeys as you follow Degraves and Macintosh's lives, lives filled with adventure, romance, tragedy and endeavour in the world of the expanding British Empire. It is filled with many interesting side stories such as the inspiration for Dr Jeckle and Mr Hyde (Degraves' father); the inspiration for Frankenstein (Macintosh's father-in-law); the writing of Australia's first novel by the tragic Henry Savery and life aboard the notorious slave ship the " Pearl ". The book is richly illustrated with 18th and 19th century images.


 
 
 

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