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Australia - the land of opportunity.

Before European settlers arrived, Australia was inhabited by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. There were many different tribes and groups - each of them speaking one or more languages or dialects out of about 250 languages and dialects. Lifestyles and traditions differed between groups and their complex social structure allowed for alliances, among other things.

"Indigenous Australians lived and utilised resources on the continent sustainably, agreeing to cease hunting and gathering at particular times to give populations and resources the chance to replenish." *1

"The first records of European mariners sailing into 'Australian' waters occurs around 1606, and includes their observations of the land known as Terra Australis Incognita (unknown southern land). The first ship and crew to chart the Australian coast and meet with Aboriginal people was the Duyfken captained by Dutchman, Willem Janszoon." *2

Captain James Cook set off on an expedition in 1768 having been hired by the Royal Society. Tahiti was a port of call and when he finished, he moved onto mapping New Zealand before heading west. He reached the south-eastern coast of the Australian continent on 19 April 1770, and in doing so his expedition became the first recorded Europeans to have encountered its eastern coastline.

"The British Crown Colony of New South Wales started with the establishment of a settlement at Sydney Cove by Captain Arthur Phillip on 26 January 1788. This date later became Australia's national day, Australia Day." *1

"From 1788 to 1823, the Colony of New South Wales was officially a penal colony comprised mainly of convicts, marines and the wives of the marines.

The early convicts were all sent to Botany Bay, but by the early 1800s they were also being sent directly to destinations such as Norfolk Island, Van Diemen's Land, Port Macquarie and Moreton Bay." *4

"In 1826, a British military camp was established in Western Australia at King George Sound, to discourage French colonisation.  In 1829, the Swan River Colony and its capital of Perth were founded on the west coast proper and also assumed control of King George Sound. Initially a free colony, Western Australia later accepted British convicts, because of an acute labour shortage." *1

"The Port Arthur penal settlement began life as a small timber station in 1830. Originally designed as a replacement for the recently closed timber camp at Birches Bay, Port Arthur quickly grew in importance within the penal system of the colonies.

The initial decade of settlement saw a penal station hacked from the bush, and the first manufactories - such as ship building, shoemaking, smithing, timber and brick making - established. The 1840s witnessed a consolidation of the industrial and penal nature of the settlement as the convict population reached over 1100." *5

"The Australian gold rushes started in 1851 when prospector Edward Hammond Hargraves claimed the discovery of payable gold near Bathurst, New South Wales, at a site Edward Hargraves called Ophir. Six months later, gold was found in Victoria at Warrandyte and Ballarat, and a short time later at Bendigo Creek. Gold was later found in all of the other Australian colonies (later known as states or territories)." *3

In 1855, New South Wales was the first colony to gain its own government, managing most of its affairs whilst remaining part of the British Empire. Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia followed in 1856, Queensland from its foundation in 1859 and Western Australia in 1890.

"On 1 January 1901, federation of the colonies was achieved after a decade of planning, consultation and voting, and the Commonwealth of Australia was born, His Majesty King George V proclaimed Australia as a Dominion in 1911 of the British Empire." *1

The Federal Capital Territory (later named the Australian Capital Territory) was formed from New South Wales in 1911 (to make way for a formal capital of Australia - Canberra). The Northern Territory was transferred from South Australia to the Commonwealth in 1911.

The First World War intervened during the period of 1914 to 1918 as a result of Australia's deep connection to the British. Troops from Australia and New Zealand's Army Corps (ANZAC's) fought mainly in the Middle East until 1916, when many were moved to the trenches in Western Europe. ANZAC losses were considered to be the highest percentage wise of any country and the ANZAC soldiers have become cultural icons.

Australia also participated in the Second World War during the period between 1939 to 1945.

Following World War II the Australian government instigated a massive program of European immigration. After narrowly preventing a Japanese invasion and suffering attacks on Australian soil for the first time, it was seen that the country must "populate or perish". Immigration brought traditional migrants from the United Kingdom along with, for the first time, large numbers of southern and central Europeans. ... Two million immigrants arrived between 1948 and 1975." *1

And in 1962 to 1975 they participated in the Vietnam war. "The war was the cause of the greatest social and political dissent in Australia since the conscription referendums of the First World War. Many draft resisters, conscientious objectors, and protesters were fined or gaoled, while some soldiers met a hostile reception on their return home." *6

Since then, Australia has grown from strength to strength. It is a modern country contributing to many lifechanging discoveries. It is multi-cultural. With its laid-back lifestyle and friendly people, it's a great place.

Sources: Ancient Heritage, Modern Society, http://www.dfat.gov.au/aib/history.html 

Source: *1 History of Australia, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Australia 

Source: *2 European Discovery and Colonisation of Australia, http://www.cultureandrecreation.gov.au/articles/australianhistory/ 

Source: James Cook, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Cook 

Source: *3 Australian Gold Rushes, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_gold_rushes

Source *4 Convicts and the British Colonies in Australia, http://www.cultureandrecreation.gov.au/articles/convicts/

Source *5 Convict Life, Port Arthur Historic Site, http://www.portarthur.org.au/pashow.php?ACTION=Public&menu_code=400.100 

Source *6 Australian War Museum, Vietnam War 1962 - 75, http://www.awm.gov.au/atwar/vietnam.asp

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