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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

A Traveller's History of Australia

By John H. Chambers

Brand: Interlink Pub Group Inc
Other Paperback (384 pages)

A Traveller s History of Australia
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Essential reading for travelers who wish to enjoy the amazing diversity of Australia, this book outlines the history of that great southern democracy from the arrival of the earliest Aborigines some fifty or sixty thousand years ago to the present.

The ancient Aboriginal way of life is described; early European sightings; and the establishment of the British convict colony in 1788, which dragged the continent into the modern world. The dynamic story of Australia in the twentieth century, its role in two world wars, the post-war discoveries of huge mineral deposits, its courting of Asia in recent decades, the return of vast areas of land to the Aborigines, and its confident cultural vibrancy in wine, food, film, and art are also examined.

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.

True Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia

By David Hunt

Black Inc.
Paperback (450 pages)

True Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia
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First there was Girt. Now comes ...

True Girt

In this side-splitting sequel to his best-selling history, David Hunt takes us to the Australian frontier. 

This was the Wild South, home to hardy pioneers, gun-slinging bushrangers, directionally challenged explorers, nervous indigenous people, Caroline Chisholm and sheep. Lots of sheep.

True Girt introduces Thomas Davey, the hard-drinking Tasmanian governor who invented the Blow My Skull cocktail, and Captain Moonlite, Australia’s most infamous LGBTI bushranger.  Meet William Nicholson, the Melbourne hipster who gave Australia the steam-powered coffee roaster and the world the secret ballot. And say hello to Harry, the first camel used in Australian exploration, who shot dead his owner, the explorer John Horrocks.

Learn how Truganini’s death inspired the Martian invasion of Earth. Discover the role of Hall and Oates in the Myall Creek Massacre. And be reminded why you should never ever smoke with the Wild Colonial Boy and Mad Dan Morgan.

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!





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.

Australia's Empire (Oxford History of the British Empire Companion Series)

Oxford University Press
Hardcover (440 pages)

Australia s Empire (Oxford History of the British Empire Companion Series)
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This is the first major collaborative reappraisal of Australia's experience of empire since the end of the British Empire itself.

The volume examines the meaning and importance of empire in Australia across a broad spectrum of historical issues-ranging from the disinheritance of the Aborigines to the foundations of a new democratic state. The overriding theme is the distinctive Australian perspective on empire. The country's adherence to imperial ideals and aspirations involved not merely the building of a 'new Britannia' but also the forging of a distinctive new culture and society. It was Australian interests and aspirations which ultimately shaped "Australia's Empire".

While modern Australians have often played down the significance of their British imperial past, the contributors to this book argue that the legacies of empire continue to influence the temper and texture of Australian society today.

Australian Dreaming: 40,000 Years of Aboriginal History

By Jennifer Isaacs

Imprint
Hardcover (304 pages)

Australian Dreaming: 40,000 Years of Aboriginal History
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Australian Dreaming is the first Aboriginal history of the Australian continent and its people, as told by Aboriginal storytellers. It recounts epic travels of the Great Spirit Ancestors and tells how they created the animals and plants and gave birth to the earliest people of this land.

Dark Emu: Aboriginal Australia and the birth of agriculture

By Bruce Pascoe

Scribe US
Released: 2018-05-15
Paperback (288 pages)

Dark Emu: Aboriginal Australia and the birth of agriculture
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History has portrayed Australia’s First Peoples, the Aboriginals, as hunter-gatherers who lived on an empty, uncultivated land. History is wrong.

In this seminal book, Bruce Pascoe uncovers evidence that long before the arrival of white men, Aboriginal people across the continent were building dams and wells; planting, irrigating, and harvesting seeds, and then preserving the surplus and storing it in houses, sheds, or secure vessels; and creating elaborate cemeteries and manipulating the landscape. All of these behaviors were inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag, which turns out have been a convenient lie that worked to justify dispossession.

Using compelling evidence from the records and diaries of early Australian explorers and colonists, he reveals that Aboriginal systems of food production and land management have been blatantly understated in modern retellings of early Aboriginal history, and that a new look at Australia’s past is required ― for the benefit of all Australians.

Dark Emu, a bestseller in Australia, won both the Book of the Year Award and the Indigenous Writer’s Prize in the 2016 New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards.

Only in Australia: The History, Politics, and Economics of Australian Exceptionalism

Oxford University Press
Hardcover (320 pages)

Only in Australia: The History, Politics, and Economics of Australian Exceptionalism
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This edited volume is about the Australian difference and how Australia's economic and social policy has diverged from the approach of other countries. Australia seems to be following a 'special path' of its own that it laid down more than a century ago. Australia's distinctive bent is manifested in a tightly regulated labour market; a heavy reliance on means testing and income taxation; a geographical centralization of political power combined with its dispersal amongst autonomous authorities, and electoral singularities such as compulsory and preferential voting.

In seeking to explain this Australian Exceptionalism, the book covers a diverse range of issues: the strength and weakness of religion, democratic and undemocratic tendencies, the poverty of public debate, the role of elites, the exploitation of Australian sports stars, the politics of railways, the backwardness of agriculture, deviation from the Westminster system, the original encounter between European and Aboriginal cultures, and the heavy taxation of tobacco.

Bringing together contributions from economists, economic historians, and political scientists, the volume seeks to understand why Australia is different. It offers a range of explanations from the 'historical legacy', to material factors, historical chance, and personalities.


 
 
 

 
 
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