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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

Wiley
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 History of Australia (Macmillan Essential Histories)

By Mark Peel

Red Globe Press
Released: 2017-11-06
Paperback (328 pages)

A History of Australia (Macmillan Essential Histories)
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This vivid, multi-dimensional history considers the key cultural, social, political and economic events of Australia’s history. Deftly weaving these issues into the wider global context, Mark Peel and Christina Twomey provide an engaging overview of the country’s past, from its first Indigenous people, to the great migrations of recent centuries, and to those living within the more anxiously controlled borders of the present day.

This engaging textbook is an ideal resource for undergraduate students and postgraduate students taking modules or courses on the History of Australia. It will also appeal to general readers who are interested in obtaining a thorough overview of the entire history of Australia, from the earliest times to the present, in one concise volume.

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.

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.

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

Lonely Planet Australian Language & Culture (Phrasebook)

By Lonely Planet, Peter Austin, Susan Butler, Alan Dench, Dana Ober, Jenny Tindale & Jane Curtain

Lonely Planet
Paperback (248 pages)

Lonely Planet Australian Language & Culture (Phrasebook)
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Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Toss another shrimp on the barbie, crack open a tinny or pour yourself a chardy while you traverse Australia's vast expanse of true blue, fair dinkum Aussie lingo - from cosmopolitan communique to surf slang, outback jargon and some of the world's oldest indigenous languages. C'mon, avagoyermug!

Features a comprehensive section on Australia's impressive array of indigenous languages.

Lonely Planet's Language & Culture series goes behind the scenes of languages you thought you knew. Get into the culture and humour behind common - and not so common - English expressions and learn about the local languages that inspired them.

Lonely Planet gets you to the heart of a place. Our job is to make amazing travel experiences happen. We visit the places we write about each and every edition. We never take freebies for positive coverage, so you can always rely on us to tell it like it is.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet, Denise Angelo, Peter Austin, Barry Blake, Susan Butler, Carolyn Coleman, Jane Curtain, Alan Dench, Mark Newbrook, Dana Ober, Paul Smitz, Jenny Tindale, Dana Ober, and Melanie Wilkinson.

About Lonely Planet: Started in 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel guide publisher with guidebooks to every destination on the planet, as well as an award-winning website, a suite of mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet's mission is to enable curious travellers to experience the world and to truly get to the heart of the places they find themselves in.

TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards 2012 and 2013 winner in Favorite Travel Guide category

'Lonely Planet guides are, quite simply, like no other.' - New York Times

'Lonely Planet. It's on everyone's bookshelves, it's in every traveller's hands. It's on mobile phones. It's on the Internet. It's everywhere, and it's telling entire generations of people how to travel the world.' - Fairfax Media (Australia)

DK Eyewitness Australia (Travel Guide)

By DK Eyewitness

DK Eyewitness Travel
Released: 2018-01-16
Paperback (588 pages)

DK Eyewitness Australia (Travel Guide)
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Whether you want to climb the Sydney harbor bridge, ride the perfect wave at Bondi Beach, watch the sun set over Ayers Rock, or stroll the cosmopolitan streets of Melbourne, this guide is your ultimate travel companion.

The best places to visit in Australia are showcased with fantastic photography and detailed descriptions, plus DK's unique illustrations and floor plans. Packed with valuable insider information such as Sydney's best beaches and Melbourne's buzzing shopping districts, along with a wealth of practical tips including hotel and restaurant listings, transportation maps, suggested itineraries, and tours of unmissable sights, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Australia is the only guide you'll need.

With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that illuminate every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Australia truly shows you this city as no one else can.

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

By Charles River Editors

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Paperback (56 pages)

The British Subjugation of Australia: The History of British Colonization and the Conquest of the Aboriginal Australians
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*Includes pictures
*Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading
“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.

A Traveller's History of Australia

By John H. Chambers

Interlink Pub Group
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.



 
 
 

 
 
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