- Claimed by white man in 1770, this great southern land, has a past that is as amazing as it is long. Being cut off from the rest of the world for so long it survived in it’s own unique way for millennia. How has it fared in the last 200 years?
- The Island: Australia is a massive country and often dons the name “The Great Southern Land”. As a country, it consists of a huge flat, dry island (the largest in the world), one much smaller island to the south and literally hundreds of tiny islands sprinkled along it’s vast 10,000km plus coastline … (History of Australia 1/2).
History of Australia 2/2: … This enormous sunburnt land stretches from just above the 45th parallel all the way up to the 10th parallel making it almost 3,000km tall. It also stretches a massive 3,500km from east to west.
Australians can experience temperatures between -10Oc in the mountains and and 50OC+ in the red centre or monumental rainfall of 12m a year in the tropics and 12mm a year in the deserts. And by the looks of it, it’s always been like this at lest for the past 10,000 years or so.
- That was when Australia was highly populated by its original habitants the Aborigines. These people are estimated to have migrated from Gondwana via Papua New Guinea to the north years ago. The seas then rose cutting Australia off from the rest of the world for almost 60,000 years. Leaving enough time for evolution to have its fun and come up with some amazing animals (Check out the platypus – the mammal that lives in the water, has a bill like a duck and lays eggs).
- Supposedly, since then the Aborigines existed in large organised communities surviving in a nomadic lifestyle. They had it pretty much sorted, living off the land in a sustainable fashion and from what has been understood, enjoying it.
White man cometh:
- From 1500 onwards, visitors came to the Australian coastline but never stopped to say hi. Other local island dwellers came to fish or hunt, particularly up north for some years then in the 1600’s the first Europeans are recorded to have popped in. In 1770, Captain Cook charted the whole of the east coast of Australia, claimed the coastline in the name of King George III and called it New South Wales. There are no recordings of what the Aborigines thought but I’m sure they would have been a bit pissed off had they know what was to happen next.
- On 26th January 1788, 11 ships of the “First Fleet” landed at Sydney Cove and on board were over 700 convicts from England. Since then, the European “invasion” (driven mostly from the UK) has virtually wiped out the original inhabitants and destroyed almost all of their communities. You’ve gotta love the old English conformist ideals that lead to progression.
- Now Australia consists of 6 states and 2 territories. The island to the south forms the state of Tasmania. The states of Western Australia and South Australia speak for themselves, as does the Northern Territory. Queensland takes up the top right corner, New South Wales has been reduced down to a manageable size in the South East Corner and Victoria (the smallest state) sits nicely between NSW and SA. The capital of the country actually sits in its own territory called Australian Capital Territory (ACT) half way between Melbourne and Sydney for reasons best known to itself.
The rest is history.