At the dawn of time Australia was part of one massive continent that covered the earth. This eventually broke up as the oceans formed, and this land was called Gwandanaland. Australia is ancient, flat and remote; and also one of nature’s cruelest places in terms of natural selection, and the history of its inhabitants.
The first people started to appear some 60,000 years BC. The next creature to arrive on the scene of significant impact was the Dingo, which arrived some 3,500 years ago and decimated of most of the original slow-moving marsupials.
By the time Europeans arrived the indigenous peoples called Aborigines had spread across the continent and were trading with Asians.
“Terra Australia Incognita” was known of by seafarer’s tales from around the 1450s, and then the Dutch landed here in 1606. Called Nova Holland originally, a fellow named Abel Janzoon Tasman was sent to survey the coastline, but was blown off course and discovered Tasmania and ended up in New Zealand by mistake. When he finally arrived in Australia he sent home reports of “wretched naked beachcombers and wicked men.”
In 1770 Captain James Cook arrived and claimed the land for England. In 1778, based on Cook’s explorations, the British decided that this would be their next penal colony and started shipping convicts here.
In 1787 the first fleet of convict ships arrived in Botany Bay.
Declaring the land “terra nullius” or uninhabited by humans (discounting the Aborigines to sub-human status forever), the British used this justification for centuries of horror that followed, and centuries of profit for the settlers. This official policy did not end until the year 1992.
In 1797 the first grape vines were planted in Australia, and Merino sheep were imported for the wool and the meat.
Sydney’s Botanical Gardens were founded in 1816.
Port Macquarie is where the first sugar cane plantation was started in 1823.
In 1836 Charles Darwin visited Australia on his voyage to evolutionary theory.
By the 1850s there was a Gold Rush going on and Sydney and Melbourne began growing quickly into the large cities they are today.
Nationalism became a concept for the European settlers during the early 1800s, and for the first time locally born “Europeans” or free settlers, outnumbered the convicts. The total white population in 1828 being 36,598; and 15, 728 convicts. Most of the Aborigines were being slaughtered wholesale, especially in Tasmania.
Tasmania was known as Van Diemen’s Land back then, and in 1828 they declared martial law allowing settlers to shoot on sight any Aborigine who set foot on settled land. In the space of just thirty years they slaughtered an estimated 4000 natives, leaving only a group of only 150 in 1834 when they were forcibly ejected to Flinders Island and almost certain extinction. In 1830 the policy called the Black Line was created. In just seven weeks 5000 men swept the entire island in one line and found just two Aborigines in the wild. The governor at the time called it the “final solution” to justify the huge expense.
1847 The first sugar cane is grown in Queensland.
The year 1847 was when the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, Earl Grey, abolished the convict system. This decision by Earl Grey is a turning point in Australia's national identity.
In 1855 the ice-making machine was invented by James Harrison, it was the world’s first mechanical refrigeration unit.
Rabbits were introduced into the wild in 1859, beginning a continent-wide scourge.
In 1868 the then Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Alfred, survived an assassination attempt during the first Royal visit to the colony. The last convict ship arrives in Western Australia. In all 168,000 +/- men, women and children were sent here as slave convicts from “Merry Olde England.”
In 1886 the Aboriginal Protection Act allowed for Aboriginal children to be removed from their mothers.
1876 – Truganini dies, the last known living Tasmanian Aboriginal.
1879 World’s second national park established in Sydney, the Royal National Park.
1877 Last city linked to London by Telegraph line is Perth.
1897 Henry Austin builds the first internal combustion engine car in Australia.
1901 saw the birth of the Australian Commonwealth as a nation.
1902 Women granted the right to vote, following New Zealand’s lead (1898 the world’s first country to give women the right to vote).
1920 the airline Qantas is formed, the Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Service.
1922 Vegemite invented.
1927 The Speedo bathing suit designed and Canberra (the meeting place) formed as the capitol city of Australia, within it’s own newly created federally controlled state called the “Australian Capital Territory” (AS.C.T.).
1935 Cane Toads brought to Australia.
1951 British explode their first atomic bomb in Western Australia Desert.
1956 TV broadcasting begins in Australia.
More to come!
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