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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
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.

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 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 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
Product Description:
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.

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.

First People Then And Now: Introducing Indigenous Australians

By Marji Hill

The Prison Tree Press
Released: 2017-02-07
Kindle Edition (102 pages)

First People Then And Now: Introducing Indigenous Australians
 
Product Description:
Discover! the rich cultural heritage of Australia’s first people then and now in one of the world’s first centres of civilisation.
Do you want to learn about the vast, sweeping epic story of Australia’s first people dating from 65,000 years ago to the present day?

In her most recent book Marji Hill, author of over 60 publications, presents the big picture - history, rich cultural heritage, British invasion, resistance, and the process of reclaiming an almost lost inheritance.

First People Then And Now

Provides answers to questions asked about Aborigines by visitors to Australia from around the globe

Explains concepts like the Dreamtime, totems, Native title, clan, “tribe”

Shows how the cultures of Aboriginal people survived in the face of almost total dispossession and destruction

Promotes understanding between Indigenous Australians and Non-Indigenous Australians

* Brings into the spotlight the culture and humanity of Aboriginal Australians coupled  with the insidious colonisation by the British



Do not expect an academic treatise with First People Then And Now  as it is primarily a short, educational book about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders designed as a starting point for those who want to know more.

Marji Hill is not Indigenous so the book is not written from an Indigenous perspective. However, Marji has had a lifetime involvement with Aboriginal Australia and has spent years working with the first people and studying their cultures.

* The writing style is simple with headings reflecting the content of each section
 
* Neither the Indigenous Australians nor the British are glorified or villainised

* The book is a compelling and unbiased and questions are answered succinctly

If you are interested in gaining a basic understanding of the world’s oldest continuing civilisation, how it has evolved, and how it is characterised by its resilience, then this book is for you.

Australia: History of Australia: Discover the major events that shaped the history of Australia

By James Walker

Independently published
Paperback (184 pages)

Australia: History of Australia: Discover the major events that shaped the history of Australia
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Australia is the land where opportunity knocks for everyone, no matter who you are, Australia is open and ready for you to create your own lifestyle and live your dreams.

Although Australia may appear as a hostile, arid chunk of land at first glance, the truth is that this mystical, faraway land is rich in more ways than one. Apart from kangaroos and other iconic, endemic species that roam the Australian landscape, the Land Down Under is also home to a vibrant and diverse culture, as well as some of the oldest surviving folk traditions maintained by Aboriginal Australians. Being incredibly diverse themselves, the indigenous people of Australia are made up of a wide range of tribes that speak many languages and maintain countless ancient customs. While the British certainly played a decisive role in Australia’s development, they weren’t quite the first to arrive, which is just one of the misconceptions that are all too common. How and when the Dutch got there first will become abundantly clear in the early chapters of this book where we will delve deeper into these defining historical events. As we proceed through the chapters, we will explore the entire journey that Australia has had to make to arrive at the point where it is today. Like many other former colonies, Australia gives off the illusion of having a short and uneventful past, which could not be further from the truth. Apart from the indigenous people and their stories, even the relatively brief colonial period is enough of a tale to fill out several volumes.

This book aims to put that information and more into a comprehensive and accessible read for all of those who wish to acquaint themselves with this unique country.

In addition to history, we will also delve into the life and structure of contemporary Australian society and state. This will provide insight into what exactly it means to be Australian and how the country’s past has defined this modern, developed land, which 25 million people now call their home. You will find that, as always, there is more than meets the eye, and that Australia not only has a rich history but has also contributed a great deal to the world as a whole. Let's explore Australia History today

Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia

By David Hunt

Black Inc.
Released: 2013-07-24
Kindle Edition (286 pages)

Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia
 
Product Description:
Winner, 2014 Indie Award for Non-Fiction

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.

Shortlisted, 2014 ABA Nielsen BookData Bookseller's Choice Award, 2014 NSW Premier's Literary Awards, 2014 Australian Book Industry Awards.

Girt … cuts an irreverent swath through the facts, fools, fantasies and frauds that made this country what it is today, hoisting sacred cows on their own petards and otherwise sawing the legs off Lady Macquarie’s chair. I was transported.’ —Shane Maloney, the Age Best Books of 2013

Girt is a ripping read… a humorous history that is accessible enough to share with the eight-year-old. Hunt’s writing interests span comedy, politics and history, a happy triumvirate when your subject is Australia.’ —Stephen Romei in the Australian

David Hunt is an unusually tall and handsome man who likes writing his own bios for all the books he has written. David is the author of Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia, which won the 2014 Indie Award for non-fiction and was shortlisted in both the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and Australian Book Industry Awards. True Girt, the sequel, was published in 2016, as was a book for children, The Nose Pixies. David has a birthmark that looks like Tasmania, only smaller and not as far south.

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.

The Speaking Land: Myth and Story in Aboriginal Australia

By Ronald M. Berndt

Brand: Inner Traditions
Released: 1994-09-01
Paperback (480 pages)

The Speaking Land: Myth and Story in Aboriginal Australia
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The 195 stories collected in this first anthology of Aboriginal myth were told to anthropologists Ronald and Catherine Berndt, who spent nearly fifty years working among the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.

The Berndts developed a system of field research that allowed them entrance into a culture that has been alive for more than 100,000 years: Ronald Berndt met with male storytellers, while Catherine met with the women. The myths they collected come from the oldest collective memory of humankind, describing characters and events of the "Dreamtime"--a time that existed before the material world was formed.

The Speaking Land touches on all aspects of life: creation, natural forces, social rules, and the exotic. Stark, tinged with fantasy, sometimes bizarre, the myths chronicle the actions of the Ancestors, portraying not only beauty and wonder but also scenes of conflict: treachery and theft, jealousy and lust, greed and antagonism, injury and death. The lessons of life implicit in these stories are still reflected in the simplicity and deep spirituality of this culture.

In all of the myths collected here the land is as important as the living characters who travel it. In the Dreamtime creation, mythic, shape-changing characters moved across the countryside, leaving part of their eternal spiritual qualities in the land. Eventually, these characters and forces retreated into the living environment, where they remain today, spiritually anchored. The land still speaks to us, and The Speaking Land will help us understand its language.

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.



 
 
 

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