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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.
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.

Australia: A Cultural History (Third Edition) (Australian History)

By John Rickard

Monash University Publishing
Paperback (320 pages)

Australia: A Cultural History (Third Edition) (Australian History)
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"A perceptive, balanced, wide-ranging interpretation of the evolution of modern Australia which is both erudite and well-written."--Duncan Bythell ***John Rickard's Australia: A Cultural History, first published in 1988, is still the only short history of Australia from a cultural perspective. It has also acquired a unique reputation as an introduction to the development of Australian society and was listed by the historian and public intellectual John Hirst in his First XI: The Best Australian History Books. Although arranged chronologically, this book is not a chronicle; rather, it focuses on the transmission of values, beliefs, and customs amongst the diverse mix of peoples who are today's Australians. The story begins with the sixty thousand years of the Aboriginal presence and their continuing material and spiritual relationship with the land. The reader is led through the turbulent years of British colonisation and the emergence-through prosperity, war, and depression-of the cultural accommodations which have been distinctively Australian. The third edition concludes with a critical review of the challenges facing contemporary Australia and warns that 'we may get the future we deserve.' (Series: Australian History) [Subject: History, Sociology]

The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia's Founding

By Robert Hughes

Vintage Books
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.

The British Subjugation of Australia: The History of British Colonization and the Conquest of the Aboriginal Australians

By Charles River Editors

Charles River Editors
Released: 2018-06-10
Kindle Edition (73 pages)

The British Subjugation of Australia: The History of British Colonization and the Conquest of the Aboriginal Australians
 
Product Description:
*Includes pictures
*Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading
*Includes a table of contents

“It is quite time that our children were taught a little more about their country, for shame’s sake.” – Henry Lawson, Australian poet

A land of almost 3 million square miles has lain since time immemorial on the southern flank of the planet, so isolated that it remained almost entirely outside of European knowledge until 1770. From there, however, the subjugation of Australia would take place rapidly. Within 20 years of the first British settlements being established, the British presence in Terra Australis was secure, and no other major power was likely to mount a challenge. In 1815, Napoleon would be defeated at Waterloo, and soon afterwards would be standing on the barren cliffs of Saint Helena, staring across the limitless Atlantic. The French, without a fleet, were out of the picture, the Germans were yet to establish a unified state, let alone an overseas empire of any significance, and the Dutch were no longer counted among the top tier of European powers.

Australia lay at an enormous distance from London, and its administration was barely supervised. Thus, its development was slow in the beginning, and its function remained narrowly defined, but as the 19th century progressed and peace took hold over Europe, things began to change. Immigration was steady, and the small spores of European habitation on the continent steadily grew. At the same time, the Royal Navy found itself with enormous resources of men and ships at a time when there was no war to fight. British sailors were thus employed for survey and exploration work, and the great expanses of Australia attracted particular interest. It was an exciting time, and an exciting age - the world was slowly coming under European sway, and Britain was rapidly emerging as its leader.

That said, the 19th century certainly wasn’t exciting for the people who already lived in Australia. The history of the indigenous inhabitants of Australia, known in contemporary anthropology as the “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia,” is a complex and continually evolving field of study, and it has been colored by politics. For generations after the arrival of whites in Australia, the Aboriginal people were disregarded and marginalized, largely because they offered little in the way of a labor resource, and they occupied land required for European settlement.

At the same time, it is a misconception that indigenous Australians meekly accepted the invasion of their country by the British, for they did not. They certainly resisted, but as far as colonial wars during that era went, the frontier conflicts of Australia did not warrant a great deal of attention. Indigenous Australians were hardly a warlike people, and without central organization, or political cohesion beyond scattered family groups, they succumbed to the orchestrated advance of white settlement with passionate, but futile resistance. In many instances, aggressive clashes between the two groups simply gave the white colonists reasonable cause to inflict a style of genocide on the Aborigines that stood in the way of progress.
In any case, their fate had largely been sealed by the first European sneeze in the Terra Australis, which preceded the importation of the two signature mediums of social destruction. The first was a collection of alien diseases, chief among smallpox, but also cholera, influenza, measles, tuberculosis, syphilis and the common cold. The second was alcohol. Smallpox alone killed more than 50% of the aboriginal population, and once the fabric of indigenous society had crumbled, alcohol provided emotional relief, but relegated huge numbers of Aborigines to the margins of a robust and emerging colonial society.

The Dying Days of Segregation in Australia: Case Study Yarrabah (Australian Aboriginal Issues Series Book 1)

By Barbara Miller

Barbara Miller Books
Released: 2018-08-13
Kindle Edition (173 pages)

The Dying Days of Segregation in Australia: Case Study Yarrabah (Australian Aboriginal Issues Series Book 1)
 
Product Description:
Did the deep north of Australia experience racism, discrimination and segregation? Yes. But it was different from the deep south of the USA. A system similar to South African apartheid existed on Aboriginal reserves like Yarrabah in Queensland till as recently as 1984. This book, The Dying Days of Segregation in Australia: Case Study Yarrabah, is unique in that Australian Aborigines themselves tell their story of living under legal discrimination on reserves and discusses their aspirations for self-determination, local government and land rights.

Human rights abuses of the law they lived under are discussed in detail as well as government policy that promoted racial discrimination. Race relations are examined. The book is a political history from contact till now between white and black Australia and puts Yarrabah in a national context.

Despite past racism and discrimination and some lingering examples of this in government policy and society’s attitudes, Yarrabah today is a thriving community run by an Aboriginal Council. It still has some of the hallmarks of a disadvantaged population like lack of housing and health issues.

Yarrabah is no longer a reserve. It is still a discrete community but its residents do not experience segregation and can come and go freely and have the same human rights as other Australians. For those interested in politics and government and public affairs policy in relation to ethnic studies or minority studies, this is the book to read. History buffs and legal eagles will find it fascinating. The author has a long term and close association with Yarrabah.

This is an excellent coverage of the milestones in the contemporary historical coverage of our Indigenous Queenslander’s struggle for Land Rights and freedom from the autocratic control of Government. It is works such as this that clearly identify the oppressive control and heinous actions of the Department of Aboriginal and Islander Advancement. The hypocrisy of including ‘Advancement’ in their name, when they did the exact opposite, only underlines the Machiavellian treatment of Queensland’s First Nation people. Miller has clearly and effectively covered the momentous changes that have been wrought. Only someone who has lived and worked with these trials and tribulations could explain the events so well. This is undoubtedly a valuable contribution to understanding the hard-fought steps that our Indigenous people have had to overcome, and it’s not over—but now there is room for hope!

Dr Timothy Bottoms, historian, author of Conspiracy of Silence and a History of Cairns, City of the South Pacific 1770–1995. August 2016.

It is entirely appropriate that Barbara Miller is the one to write an update on Yarrabah’s efforts at self-determination and land rights, as she does not just stand on the sideline and cheer us on. She often jumps into the fray herself. No doubt many people who were or still are involved in some degree in the push for Aboriginal social justice and human rights and all that that encompasses, plus interested persons, will be attracted to Barbara Miller’s latest case study. This book gives a succinct report of how things have turned out in the last thirty years. She has ably teased out the many strands of human rights issues that reveal the many flash points that happened as Aboriginal people and friends contended with, and still contend with the ‘hydra-like monster’. Her reporting skills and love for Aboriginal people are recognised by friend and foe alike, with her work being quoted by such bodies as the Human Rights Commission.

Rev Michael Connolly, Former Chairman of Yarrabah, August 2016.

When I came to live in Yarrabah in 1984, the days of the white only section and black only sections in the town, drawn up by the Department of Native Affairs, was coming to an end.

Les Baird, Trainer, Wontulp-Bi-Buya College 2006–2016, Health Manager Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service, Yarrabah 2000–2005.


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.

Aboriginal Australians: A History Since 1788

By Richard Broome

Allen & Unwin
Released: 2010-05-01
Kindle Edition (410 pages)

Aboriginal Australians: A History Since 1788
 
Product Description:
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 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 throughthe important events of Australia's past, introducing you to thepeople and events that have shaped modern Australia. Be there asBritish colonists explore Australia's harsh terrain with varyingdegrees 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 ofimmigration from all over the world
  • Understand how Australia took two steps forward to become anation in its own right in 1901, and two steps back when thegovernment was dismissed by the Crown in 1975

Discover the fascinating details that made Australia the countryit is today!





The European Settlement of Australia: The History and Legacy of Early Expeditions and British Settlements on the Australian Continent

By Charles River Editors

Charles River Editors
Released: 2018-05-30
Kindle Edition

The European Settlement of Australia: The History and Legacy of Early Expeditions and British Settlements on the Australian Continent
 
Product Description:
*Includes pictures
*Includes contemporary accounts
*Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading
*Includes a table of contents

“It is quite time that our children were taught a little more about their country, for shame’s sake.” – Henry Lawson, Australian poet

A land of almost 3 million square miles has lain since time immemorial on the southern flank of the planet, so isolated that it remained entirely outside of European knowledge until 1770. However, the first human footprints on this vast territory were felt 70,000 years earlier, as people began to cross the periodic land bridges and the short sea crossings from Southeast Asia.
The history of the indigenous inhabitants of Australia, known in contemporary anthropology as the “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia,” is a complex and continually evolving field of study, and it has been colored by politics. For generations after the arrival of whites in Australia, the Aboriginal people were disregarded and marginalized, largely because they offered little in the way of a labor resource, and they occupied land required for European settlement.

At the same time, it is a misconception that indigenous Australians meekly accepted the invasion of their country by the British, for they did not. They certainly resisted, but as far as colonial wars during that era went, the frontier conflicts of Australia did not warrant a great deal of attention. Indigenous Australians were hardly a warlike people, and without central organization, or political cohesion beyond scattered family groups, they succumbed to the orchestrated advance of white settlement with passionate, but futile resistance. In many instances, aggressive clashes between the two groups simply gave the white colonists reasonable cause to inflict a style of genocide on the Aborigines that stood in the way of progress.

In any case, their fate had largely been sealed by the first European sneeze in the Terra Australis, which preceded the importation of the two signature mediums of social destruction. The first was a collection of alien diseases, chief among smallpox, but also cholera, influenza, measles, tuberculosis, syphilis and the common cold. The second was alcohol. Smallpox alone killed more than 50% of the aboriginal population, and once the fabric of indigenous society had crumbled, alcohol provided emotional relief, but relegated huge numbers of Aborigines to the margins of a robust and emerging colonial society.

The European Settlement of Australia: The History and Legacy of Early Expeditions and British Settlements on the Australian Continent analyzes the expeditions that discovered Australia and the subsequent settlements over the course of about 150 years. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events, you will learn about the European settlement of Australia like never before.


 
 
 

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