Australia has a very own origin history in his spatial isolation. As a prison colony of the Britons it is known, as well as for the Aborigines. But what has happened between then and now and what distinguishes the history of the 5th continent?
Here is a small summary:
history of the origin
approx. 40.000- 60.000 years ago
The ancestors of the contemporary Aborigines reached the continent over the Torres Strait. This was then “only” 50-100 km apart due to the approx. 50 m deeper sea level, however no one knows until today how they were able to do this.
approx. 30.000 years ago
Finds prove first settlements and graves of the original inhabitants.
approx. 10.000 years ago
Tasmania seperates from the continent.
600 B.C. – 1400
Chinese, Malaysians and Arabs travel already to Australia
Marco Polo travels from China back to Venice and reports about a “big south country” (“Java Maior”, “Java la Grande”)
It is proved that Willem Janszon goes ashore as first Dutch man on the continent (he is regarded as discoverer of Australia)
the Dutch ship Duyfken of the researcher Willem Janszon lands on the coast of Queensland in the gulf of Carpentaria. In his reports he writes about “cruel black savages” and deserts.
Luis de Torres, a Spaniard, discovers the “Torres Strait” named after him, the sea street between Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Pedro Fernandez de Quiros lands on the New Hebrides, which he called “Tierra Australia”.
The Dutch man Dirk Hartog lands in Shark Bay in Western Australia and leaves a tin board with the inscription: “1616. The ship the Eendracht arrived here on October 25th”. Western Australia is called from now on Newholland.
The Dutch man Abel Janszon Tasman discovers the contemporary Tasmania and names it after his principal Anthony van Diemen, the governor- general of Java, Van-Diemens-land (Just in 1853 it is renamed in “Tasmania”). Driven away by winds he finally lands on the coast of New Zealand.
The British adventurer William Dampier lands at the northwest coast and names it Newbritania.
Captain James Cock has been driven to the coast of Victoria (Cape Everald) by a tempest with his ship HMS Endeavour and sails northward from there. In this case he discovers as first obviously fertile areas of the continent.
On April 28th he discovers Botany Bay and starts the following English settlement of the continent.
On January 18th a group of eleven ships, the so-called “First Fleet”, reaches Australia under the management of Captain Arthur Philipp. On board 736 English convicts, 294 soldiers and civilians. The ships sailed into Port Jackson and set up a colony at the Sydney Cove. They laied the foundation stone of the contemporary Sydney.
Arthur Philipp holds the office of the first governor of New South Wales to 1792.
On January 26th the British flag is formally hoisted which is celebrated nowadays annually as Australia Day.
Australia becomes thus (as already America before) to the new convict colony of the crown.
Mutiny on the “Bounty”. The abandoned Capitain Bligh becomes governor of the colony New South Wales (NSW) later on.
The second prisoner fleet reaches the colony, which fights for survival.
The first independent colonizers arrive in the previous convict colony.
John MacArthur introduces the merino-sheep (from the cape of Good Hope).
Flinders and Bass sail around the entire continent.
For the first time wool is exported to England.
Gregory Blaxland, William Charles Wentworth and William Lawson succeed first to cross the Blue Mountains (Great Dividing Range) and enable the entrance into the rich pasture in the hinterland.
The researcher Mathew Flinders uses the name Australia for the first time instead of Newholland.
Gold finds in Bathurst in New South Wales activate the first gold fever of the continent.
On the suggestion of the investigation traveller Mathew Flinders the continent receives the Australia name (of lat. australis – southern).
Tasmania becomes an independent colony.
Convicts cultivate the contemporary town area of Brisbane.
The British crown extends their possession claim onto Western Australia (WA).
Western Australia becomes a independent colony (Under the jurisdiction of New South Wales to 1834)..
Perth (WA) is founded.
England stops the deportation of prisoners because of pressure from the public (except for Western Australia, where it was stopped in 1868).
Melbourne is founded.
Adelaide is founded.
McMillan and Strzelecki open up the Snowy Mountains.
Termination of the convict transportation to New South Wales (NSW).
Edward John Eyre crosses the Nullarbor Plane starting from Lake Eyre in south Australia. He needed three years by foot for the route of the contemporary Lake Eyre to the contemporary Albany.
New Zealand seperates from Australia and becomes an independent colony.
Ludwig Leichhardt ends his first expedition successfully.
Ludwig Leichardt (who had emigrated from Germany in 1842) succeeds in the first east-west-crossing of the tropical north of Queensland to Arnhem Land (east of the contemporary Darwin).
He disappears without a trace while crossing Australia from Queensland heading to Western Australia in 1874.
Victoria becomes an independent colony (own government since 1855).
Gold finds in New South Wales (NSW).
The gold fields in Victoria are discovered.
South Australia becomes an independent colony.
Queensland becomes an independent colony.
Australia has 1 million inhabitants in the meantime.
The tragedy of the expedition of Robert O’Hara Burke, W.J. Wills and William King takes their beginning in Melbourne: It ends tragically in one of the most famous incidents of the discovery history of the continent, when Burke, King and Ohara missed their left behind team after 6 months only by one day. They returned, after waiting 3 months longer than arranged, to Melbourne, which was thousands of kilometers away. They left behind the famous Dig Tree, which lead to a buried emergency ration with the inscription “Dig Here”. Burke and Wills died of starvation while King could escape with the aid of Aborigines.
John McDouall Stuart succeeded the south-north crossing in the third run and reached the north coast (from Adelaide) near Darwin and started to the latter following telegraph lines through the center of the continent. The Stuart Highway follows roughly his former travel route.
Northern Territory is subordinated to the administration of South Australia.
The deportation of English prisoners is stopped in Western Australia at last (as already 1835 for the rest of the continent). Until then approx. 160.000 convicts were deported to Australia by England.
The Forrest brothers cross Australia from east to west for the first time.
The telegraph line from north to south across Alice Springs is finished.
Australia is connected to the rest of the world through the telegraph line between Java and Darwin.
Truganini, the last original inhabitants of Tasmania dies.
Australia has 2 Mio. inhabitants.
Ned Kelly, the most famous Bush Ranger of the continent, is grabbed and executed on November11th in Melbourne.
Australia has 3 Mio. inhabitants.
Western Australia becomes an independent colony.
The greatest gold occurrences of the continent are discovered in Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie (WA).
The worst drought of the continent’s history. Almost the entire continent is affected.
Australia participates in the South African Boer War.
After tough negotiations and nation decisions the Commonwealth of Australia is set up on January 1st and thus the alliance of all colonies to a Federal state.
On May 9th the first parliament is opened in the provisional capital Melbourne by the Duke of York and Cornwall (later King Gorge V.).
Australia has 4 Mio. inhabitants.
Canberra becomes capital (up to now Melbourne).
Norfolk Island becomes part of Australia.
During the attack on the Turkish Gallipolis peninsula in the First World War, 8587 Australians are killed. The Britons appointed them as “cannon fodder” during the hopeless attack on the fortification. The Australians still have a national day of mourning on April 25tth. Anzac Day reminds of the dead soldiers (ANZAC – Australian and New Zeeland Army Corps). In the First World War died 60.000 Australians in total, 23.000 of them just at the west front.
The First World War created for the first time solidarity and patriotism in Australia.
The transcontinental railroad connection from Adelaide to Perth is finished.
Australia has 5 Mio. inhabitants.
Foundation of the Queensland and Northern Territory Arial Services Ltd. or shortly: Qantas.
Australia has 6 Mio. inhabitants.
Government and parliament move into the new founded capital Canberra.
The Royal Flying Doctor service is set up for the medical supply of the remote interior (Outback).
The worldwide economic crisis is felt as well in Australia.
Inauguration of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Shortly before finishing what would have been the longest steel bridge of the world, however, then another bridge was just half a meter longer. A bitter setback for the self-confidence of the young country.
Australia has 7 Mio. inhabitants.
Japanese attack Darwin and Broome. The immigration politics was changed in the following years radically since “Mother England” shocked the young nation since it did not intervene helping because their troops were bound in another way.
The battle in the Coral Sea flings the Japanese back later on.
Introduction of the 40-hour-week in whole Australia.
The first Holden car is produced in the country.
Australia has 8 Mio. inhabitants.
Australia participates in the Korean War.
Australia founds the ANZUS security pact together with New Zealand and the USA.
Inauguration of the School of the Air, that teaches pupils over radio who live on remote farms in the Outback.
Uranium is discovered in the Northern Territory.
The Britons do nuclear weapon tests in Maralinga, in the desert of South Australia.
After the breakdown of the French regime in Indochina, Australia founds the SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization) together with the USA, England, New Zealand, France, Pakistan and the Philippines. Basic aim is to prevent the spreading of communism in Asia.
Melbourne achieves the first Olympic summer games of the continent.
The Danish Architect Joern Utzon wins the international architecture competition for building the new opera of Sydney. The finishing of the building will last, however, to 1973, cost a multiple of the initially estimated costs and makes even one referendum necessary.
The last aboriginal tribe (Pintubi) that hasn’t seen a white man before, has been discovered in the interior.
Australia has 10 Mio. inhabitants.
Some civil rights are awarded to the Aborigines.
Gigantic iron ore deposits are discovered in the west- australian Pilbara Region (WA). Oil finds in south- west Queensland (QLD).
Right to vote for Aborigines in the Northern Territory (NT).
Australians fight in the Vietnam War. Due to antiwar protests and government alteration the troops are brought back home by Labour-chief Graham Whitlam in 1972.
Abolition of the English pound and introduction of the Australian Dollar.
The Aborigines receive the right to vote.
For the first time Aborigines are considered at a census.
Neville Bonner becomes Senator (until 1983) of the Liberal party for Queensland and thus the first Aborigine elected in parliament.
Australia has 13 Mio. inhabitants.
The Labour-party wins the elections and sets the government to 1975.
Abolition of the general compulsory military service.
Prime minister Gough Whitham is relieved by the governor-general of her majesty in an extremely controversial decision of his office (until today unique in Australian history, however on principle still possible).
The race discriminating “White Australian Policy” that determined the Australian immigration politics since 1901 is eliminated.
The Sydney Opera House is opened.
Cyclone Tracy devastates Darwin.
Papua New Guinea attains the independence of Australia.
The Liberal party leader Malcolm Fraser becomes prime minister and guarantees the disassembly of social state services.
With the Aboriginal Land Rights Act important tribe areas are returned to the initial owners.
Australia has 14 Mio. inhabitants.
The defense alliance SEATO is officially dissolved on June 30th.
The baby Azaria Chamberlain disappears from a tent at Ayers Rock. The parents claim a dingo kidnapped the child from the tent. After two years full of rumors, prejudices from press and police investigations, the mother is condemned of murder in a trial based on circumstantial evidence. The judgment is canceled seven years later.
Australia has 15 Mio. inhabitants.
Drought in the east
Alan Bond, one of the most colorful business man in Australia, wins with his yacht “Australia II” the America’s cup before the archrival USA.
In January 70 people die on “Ash Wednesday”, a gigantic bush fire in Victoria and south Australia.
Due to the recession the Australian government decides to decrease the immigration quote.
“Advance Australia Fair” dissolves the previous Australian national anthem “God Save The Queen”; furthermore “Waltzing Matilda” remains as the unofficial national anthem.
In October 1985 the highly symbolic Uluru (Ayers Rock) is handed over to its traditional owners again and leased to ANPWS (Australian National Park and Wildlife Service) for the duration of 99 years for an annual payment of AU$ 75.000 plus a quarter of the admission fees.
The British queen Elizabeth II. signs the Australia Act with which legislature and executive are a matter of Australia’s and none of the crown’s.
The Australian economy falls into a deep recession.
Australia has 16 Mio. inhabitants.
Riots in Queensland between Aborigines and the local police. In October the Aborigines require the sovereignty of their nation.
200 anniversary in the big floodgate for the memory of the arrival of the first English convict fleet.
The international exhibition EXPO occurs in Brisbane.
Groups of Aborigines use this to gain attention about their situation.
Foundation of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), with 60 regional councils that are supposed to participate directly in political decision processes.
Australia has 17 Mio. inhabitants.
Paul Keating relieves prime minister Bob Hawke from his post after 9 years. He was brought down by his own party in a crucial vote.
Australia supports allied troops in the first gulf war.
Prime Minister Paul Keating recognizes the disadvantage of the Aborigines in public on September 10th in his speech at the International year of the original inhabitants.
Opening of the Harbour tunnel to relief the Harbour Bridge in Sydney.
Nomination of Sydney as venue for the Olympic summer games 2000.
The “Mabo Law”, a new law for the arrangement of the legal claims of Aborigines on property comes into effect on January 1st: Claims are regarded as legitimate if a traditional and continuous use of the country can be proved since the time before 1788.
Devastating forest fires in January destroy huge parts of the surrounding area of Sydney.
In a remote national park north of Sydney a tree species is discovered which was more known up to now only from petrification: the so-called Wollemi pine.
Australia has 18 Mio. inhabitants.
The liberal John Howard relieves Paul Keating as prime minister, the 13 years domination of the Australian Labour Party ends.
Tasmanian Martin Bryant murders 35 people with an automatic rifle in Port Arthur on April 29th, the worst massacre of Australian history (at least if one doesn’t count the innumerable atrocities of the white Australians against the Aborigines in the middle of the 19th century).
55 % of the Australians vote in a referendum against proclaiming the republic and for the retention of the monarchy.
Sydney achieves the second Olympic games of the continent.
After the summer games the Olympic village becomes the biggest town district of the world powered with solar energy with about 5000 inhabitants.
Australia rejects the rescued refugees (mainly coming from Afghanistan) from the Norwegian Oil Tanker “Tampa”.
Devastating bush fires rage 23 days along Sydney’s surrounding area. Luckily no one died, but hundreds of residential buildings are destroyed.
Australia participates in the second gulf war.