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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

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!





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.

Australian History in 7 Questions

By Reader in History John Hirst

Black Inc.
Paperback (226 pages)

Australian History in 7 Questions
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If there are genuine questions about Australian history, there is something to puzzle over. The history ceases to be predictable-and dull.

From the author of The Shortest History of Europe, acclaimed historian John Hirst, comes this fresh and stimulating approach to understanding Australia's past and present.

Hirst asks and answers questions that get to the heart of Australia's history:

Why did Aborigines not become farmers?

How did a penal colony change peacefully to a democracy?

Why was Australia so prosperous so early?

Why did the Australian colonies federate?

What effect did convict origins have on national character?

Why was the postwar migration programme a success?

Why is Australia not a republic?

Engaging and enjoyable, and written for the novice and the expert alike, Australian History in 7 Questions explains how we became the nation we are today.

John Hirst was a member of the History Department at La Trobe University from 1968 to 2007. He has written many books on Australian history, including Convict Society and Its Enemies, The Strange Birth of Colonial Democracy, The Sentimental Nation, Sense and Nonsense in Australian History and The Shortest History of Europe.

History of the Australian the Australian Bushrangers (Classic Reprint)

By George E. Boxall

Forgotten Books
Paperback (408 pages)

History of the Australian the Australian Bushrangers (Classic Reprint)
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In this story of the bushrangers I do not pretend to have included the names of all those who have at various times been called bushrangers in A ustralia. That, as will be seen from what I have said in the earlier chapters, would be not merely impossible but useless. I believe, however, that I have collected some particulars about all those who succeeded in winning even a local notoriety, and I have also endeavoured to supply such personal characteristics of the leaders in the movement as may throw some light on the causes which induced them to take to the bush. My principal object, however, has been to make the picture as complete as possible, so that the magnitude of the social evil which the Australians set themselves to cure may be realised ;and it is generally believed in Australia that this cure has been so complete that bushranging will never again become epidemic. The story is a terrible one. Some of the incidents related are no doubt revolting, but it is necessary that even these should be told to show how civilised man may be degraded by unjust and oppressive laws. We are all creatures of the educational influences to which we are subjected in our youth, and therefore it is unfair to blame the earlier bushrangers; because they were the products of the civilisation of their day, and were not themselves responsible. But sensational as the story is, its tendency is rather to depress than to exhilarate the reader, for the story is a sad one, in that it shows a deplorable waste of what under happier conditions might have been useful lives.
(Typographical errors above are due to OCR software and don't occur in the book.)

About the Publisher

Forgotten Books is a publisher of historical writings, such as: Philosophy, Classics, Science, Religion, History, Folklore and Mythology.

Forgotten Books' Classic Reprint Series utilizes the latest technology to regenerate facsimiles of hist

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.

Australian Wildlife: Wildlife Explorer (Bradt Wildlife Guides)

By Stella Martin

Bradt Travel Guides
Paperback (200 pages)

Australian Wildlife: Wildlife Explorer (Bradt Wildlife Guides)
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Australia’s ancient continent tops the list for wildlife-seeking travellers with its unique creatures roaming diverse habitats, from eucalyptus-dotted woodlands to the awe-inspiring beauty of the coral reefs. You’ll find all the essential details of a reference book – from biology to behaviour – alongside practical, on-the-ground information in one handy, readable guide.

Wildlife writer Stella Martin guides visitors through dense rainforest and across parched deserts to discover how bizarre creatures evolved in isolation. Martin combines the encyclopaedic knowledge of David Attenborough with the enthusiasm of the late Steve Irwin. Find out why some fish change sex and how thorny devils drink. Bradt’s indispensable Australian Wildlife will have you up at dawn and out with your binoculars in the outback.

Australian Lives: An Intimate History (Australian History)

By Anisa Puri

Monash University Publishing
Paperback (442 pages)

Australian Lives: An Intimate History (Australian History)
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I really like the idea that in maybe a hundred years someone could listen and hear about my life to learn about what living in 2012 or 2013 was like. Think that's really cool.--Adam-Farrow-Palmer, born 1988. ***What is life like in Australia? How has it been experienced by those who have lived it? Australian Lives: An Intimate History illuminates Australian life across the 20th and into the 21st century. How have they been shaped by the forces and expectations of contemporary history and how, in turn, have they made their lives and created Australian society? From oral history interviews with Australians born between 1920 and 1989, fifty narrators reflect on their diverse experience as children and teenagers, in midlife and in old age, about faith, migration, and activism. As interviewee Kim Bear (born 1959) explains, Stories are a great way to inform people about what it is to be human. Even if you say one thing that resonates with them, there's that connection made. This book conveys the nature and spirit of Australian life, in all its diversity, particularity, and uniqueness. To read these intimate, personal stories is a cathartic experience, and an illuminating one, for visitors to Australia, teachers and students examining Australian life past and present, and, of course, for those who themselves know intimately what it is to live as an Australian. (Series: Australian History) [Subject: Australian Studies, History, Biography, Oral History]

Australia's Impressionists

By Christopher Riopelle, Allison Goudie & Sarah Thomas

National Gallery London
Hardcover (128 pages)

Australia s Impressionists
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Australia’s Impressionists focuses on the paintings of Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder, and John Peter Russell. All were key players in a distinctively Australian art movement that drew on influences ranging from Whistler’s subtle Nocturnes to the European tradition of plein air painting, and revealed Russell (who spent his working life in France, embedded in the avant garde) as one of the outstanding colorists of his time. This beautiful book challenges our preconceptions of what is meant by Impressionism, enriches our understanding of Australian art, and reveals the international nature of art-historical movements and exchanges in the 19th century. The story is framed by unmistakably Australian subjects and locations, by a preoccupation with light and color, and in the context of Australian identity and sense of nationhood. 




 
 
 

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