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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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The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia's Founding

By Robert Hughes

Vintage Books
Released: 1988-02-12
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.

The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds

By Peter Slater

New Holland Publishing Australia Pty Ltd
Released: 2009-09-01
Paperback (416 pages)

The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds
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  • New Holland Publishing Australia Pty Ltd
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The Slater's Field Guide to Australian Birds is a guide to the identification of all the birds so far recorded in Australia and is designed for use in the field, to slip easily in a hip-pocket, backpack or glove box. The illustrations have been planned to enable easy comparison between similar species. There are more than 750 species described and illustrated in 200 superbly painted plates.

Australian Language & Culture (Lonely Planet Language & Culture)

By Lonely Planet

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Paperback (248 pages)

Australian Language & Culture (Lonely Planet Language & Culture)
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  • Lonely Planet
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Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Toss another shrimp on the barbie, crack open a tinny or pour yourself a chardy while you traverse Australia's vast expanse of true blue, fair dinkum Aussie lingo - from cosmopolitan communique to surf slang, outback jargon and some of the world's oldest indigenous languages. C'mon, avagoyermug!

Features a comprehensive section on Australia's impressive array of indigenous languages.

Lonely Planet's Language & Culture series goes behind the scenes of languages you thought you knew. Get into the culture and humour behind common - and not so common - English expressions and learn about the local languages that inspired them.

Lonely Planet gets you to the heart of a place. Our job is to make amazing travel experiences happen. We visit the places we write about each and every edition. We never take freebies for positive coverage, so you can always rely on us to tell it like it is.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet, Denise Angelo, Peter Austin, Barry Blake, Susan Butler, Carolyn Coleman, Jane Curtain, Alan Dench, Mark Newbrook, Dana Ober, Paul Smitz, Jenny Tindale, Dana Ober, and Melanie Wilkinson.

About Lonely Planet: Started in 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel guide publisher with guidebooks to every destination on the planet, as well as an award-winning website, a suite of mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet's mission is to enable curious travellers to experience the world and to truly get to the heart of the places they find themselves in.

TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards 2012 and 2013 winner in Favorite Travel Guide category

'Lonely Planet guides are, quite simply, like no other.' - New York Times

'Lonely Planet. It's on everyone's bookshelves; it's in every traveller's hands. It's on mobile phones. It's on the Internet. It's everywhere, and it's telling entire generations of people how to travel the world.' - Fairfax Media (Australia)

Learning About Australia (Searchlight Books) (Searchlight Books - Do You Know the Continents?)

By Lisa Owings

Lerner Publications
Paperback (40 pages)

Learning About Australia (Searchlight Books) (Searchlight Books - Do You Know the Continents?)
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Australia is the smallest continent, known for having the largest coral reef in the world. But did you know that Australia is the only continent that is also a country? Or that one-third of Australia is a desert? Learn more about the diverse continent of Australia, from its people and cities to its landforms, economy, and more. Each book in this series highlights major landforms, climate, natural resources, countries, and cultures of the continent, making for an engaging and well-rounded read. Sidebars, maps, a glossary, a Further Reading section, and an index introduce readers to important nonfiction features and support and enhance the main text.

Australians: A Short History

By Thomas Keneally

Allen & Unwin
Hardcover (992 pages)

Australians: A Short History
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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 the Australian national story. Here these volumes are brought together for a story that encompasses original Australians and European occupation of their land, the convict era, 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 and the social upheavals of the Great Crash and World War II. Then 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.

Australian History for Dummies

By Alex McDermott

For Dummies
Released: 2011-05-06
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 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!





Australia: A Very Short Introduction

By Kenneth Morgan

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Paperback (152 pages)

Australia: A Very Short Introduction
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  • Oxford University Press
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In this Very Short Introduction, Kenneth Morgan provides a wide-ranging thematic introduction to modern Australia, examining the main features of its history, geography and culture since the beginning of European settlement in New South Wales in 1788. It highlights the distinctive features of Australian life by placing contemporary developments in historical perspective, by paying attention to Australia's indigenous culture, and by making connections between Australia and the wider world. Morgan also balances his discussion of the successful growth of Australian institutions and democratic traditions with the struggles that occurred in the making of modern Australia--in other words, between the optimistic approach to life in the Antipodes and the more negative view of the "black armband tradition."

From White Australia to Woomera: The Story of Australian Immigration

By James Jupp

Cambridge University Press
Released: 2007-05-03
Paperback (256 pages)

From White Australia to Woomera: The Story of Australian Immigration
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There has never been a greater need for a sober, historically informed yet critical account of immigration policy in Australia. In this revised and updated edition, James Jupp, Australia's leading specialist on migration, surveys the changes in policy over the last thirty years since the seismic shift away from the White Australia Policy. Along the way he outlines the history of Australian immigration, compares the achievements of the Fraser, Hawke and Keating governments, and considers the establishment of the 'institutions' of multiculturalism and ethnicity. Jupp looks critically at the ways economic rationalism, the rise of Pauline Hanson and One Nation, and the environmental debate have impacted upon migration choices. The vexed issue of refugees and asylum seekers is also covered in great depth.

In a Sunburned Country

By Bill Bryson

Broadway Books
Released: 2001-05-15
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 Wombat: Common Wombats in Australia (Australian Natural History Series)

By Barbara Triggs

Univ of New South Wales
Paperback (148 pages)

The Wombat: Common Wombats in Australia (Australian Natural History Series)
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This is the first book published solely about one of Australia's iconic marsupials: the wombat. It gives a full account of the wombat's way of life above and below the ground, its life cycle, maternal behaviour, mating and reproduction.


 
 
 

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