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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

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.

Out of Australia: Aborigines, the Dreamtime, and the Dawn of the Human Race

By Steven Strong

HAMPTON ROADS
Paperback (240 pages)

Out of Australia: Aborigines, the Dreamtime, and the Dawn of the Human Race
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In their startling new book, Steven and Evan Strong challenge the “out-of-Africa” theory. Based on fresh examination of both the DNA and archeological evidence, they conclude that modern humans originated from Australia, not Africa.

The original Australians (referred to by some as Aborigines ), like so many indigenous peoples, are portrayed as “backward” and “primitive.” Yet, as the Strongs demonstrate, original Australians had a rich culture, which may have sown the first seeds of spirituality in the world. They had the technology to make international seafaring voyages and have left traces in the Americas and possibly Japan, Southern India, Egypt, and elsewhere. They practiced brain surgery, invented the first hand tools, and had knowledge of penicillin.

This book brings together 30 years of intensive research in consultation with elders in the original Australian community. Among their conclusions are the following:

  • There is evidence that humans existed in Australia 40,000 years before they existed in Australia.
  • There were migrations of original Australians in large boats throughout the Indian/Pacific rim.
  • Three distinct kinds of Homo sapiens are found in Australia.
  • There is evidence from the Americas that debunks the out-of-Africa theory.
  • The spiritual influence of the Aborigines is reflected in the religions of the world.

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!





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.

Australians: Origins to Eureka

By Thomas Keneally

Allen & Unwin
Hardcover (628 pages)

Australians: Origins to Eureka
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The outstanding first volume of acclaimed author Thomas Keneally's major new three-volume history of Australia brings to life the vast range of characters who have formed Australia's national story
 
Convicts and Aborigines, settlers and soldiers, patriots and reformers, bushrangers and gold seekers—it is from their lives and their stories that Tom Keneally has woven a vibrant history to do full justice to the rich and colorful nature of Australia's unique national character. The story begins by looking at European occupation through Aboriginal eyes, moving between the city slums and rural hovels of 18th-century Britain and the shores of Port Jackson. Readers spend time on the low-roofed convict decks of transports and see the bewilderment of the Eora people as they see the first ships of turaga, or "ghost people." They follow the daily round of Bennelong and his wife Barangaroo and the tribulations of warrior Windradyne. Convicts like Solomon Wiseman and John Wilson find their feet and even fortune, while Henry Parkes' arrival as a penniless immigrant gives few clues to the national statesman he was to become. Chinese diggers trek to the goldfields, and revolutionaries like Italian Raffaello Carboni and black American John Joseph bring readers the drama of the Eureka uprising. Tom Keneally has brought to life the high and the low, the convict and the free of early Australian society. This is truly a new history of Australia, by an author of outstanding literary skill and experience, whose own humanity permeates every page.

Australian Lizards: A Natural History

By Steve K. Wilson

Brand: CSIRO Publishing
Paperback (208 pages)

Australian Lizards: A Natural History
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The extraordinary lives of lizards remain largely hidden from human eyes. Lizards feed, mate, lay eggs or give live birth, and carefully manage their temperatures. They struggle to survive in a complex world of predators and competitors.

The nearly 700 named Australian species are divided into seven families: the dragons, monitors, skinks, flap-footed lizards and three families of geckos. Using a vast array of artful strategies, lizards have managed to find a home in virtually all terrestrial habitats. Australian Lizards: A Natural History takes the reader on a journey through the remarkable life of lizards. It explores the places in which they live and what they eat, shows how they make use of their senses and how they control their temperatures, how they reproduce and how they defend themselves.

Lavishly illustrated with more than 400 color photographs, this book reveals behavioral aspects never before published, offering a fascinating glimpse into the unseen lives of these reptiles. It will appeal to a diverse readership, from those with a general interest in natural history to the seasoned herpetologist.

A Concise History of Australia (Cambridge Concise Histories)

By Stuart Macintyre

Stuart MacIntyre
Paperback (396 pages)

A Concise History of Australia (Cambridge Concise Histories)
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  • 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.

The Good, the Bad and the Unlikely: Australia's Prime Ministers

By MacCallum Mungo

Black Inc.
Paperback (248 pages)

The Good, the Bad and the Unlikely: Australia s Prime Ministers
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Good drinkers, bad swimmers and unlikely heroes. Since Australia's birth in 1901, twenty-eight politicians have run the national show. Their time at the top has ranged from eight days for Frank Forde to eighteen years for Bob Menzies. But whatever the length of their term, each Prime Minister has a story worth sharing. Edmund Barton united the bickering states in a federation; Billy Hughes forced US President Woodrow Wilson to take notice of Australia. The unlucky Jimmy Scullin took office days before Wall Street crashed into the Great Depression, while John Curtin faced the ultimate challenge of wartime leadership. John Gorton, Gough Whitlam and Paul Keating each shook up their parties' policies so vigorously that none lasted much longer than a single term in office. Julia Gillard overthrew Kevin Rudd and Kevin Rudd overthrew Julia Gillard, thus paving the way for Tony Abbott. With characteristic wit and expert knowledge, Mungo MacCallum brings the nation's leaders to vivid life. The Good, the Bad and the Unlikely tells the tale of the many men and one woman who've had a crack at running the country. It is a wonderfully entertaining education.


 
 
 

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