History Travel Activities

 

History of Australia

Aboriginal People 

The Aboriginal people were the original settlers of Australia. Researchers believe that they landed on the continent at least 50,000 years ago. They came from Southeast Asia during the last Ice Age. When European settlers came there was around 1 million Aboriginal people settled across the Australian continent, living a simple life as hunters and gathers. There were approximately 300 clans that spoke 250 different languages. Each clan was attached to specific land for spiritual reasons but trade did exist between them. All Aboriginal people shared a belief called Dreamtime. It was a timeless and magical spiritual belief that spiritual ancestors created the world and still have an affect on nature today.

Britain's Arrival

Many European explorers and navigators had sailed the coastlines of Australia but it was not until 1770 that British Captain James Cook claimed the eastern coast for the British. Australia was to be used as a penal colony for Britain, meaning that they would send convicts to live there. The first fleet of 11 ships came to Australia  in 1788 and carried 1,500 people, half whom were convicts. From 1788 to 1868 Britain sent a total of 160,000 men and women convicts to Australia. Free settlers came into the colony in the 1790's and the lifestyle in Australia was especially rough for the prisoners, women, and the Aboriginal people. Prisoners were severely punished for second offenses and women were constantly threatened by sexual assaults, being outnumbered by men 5 to 1. The Aboriginal people were driven from there land and plagued with European diseases they had never encountered.

Modern Australia

On January 1, 1901 Australia officially became a federation and the Commonwealth of Australia was created. Australia is considered to  have liberal democratic politics and is a Commonwealth Realm. This means that it is a sovereign state in the commonwealth of nations headed by Britain's Elizabeth II and its current prime minister is Julia Gillard. The population is approximately 22 million and its capital is Canberra but the largest city is Sydney. Australia is a modern developed country and has the thirteenth largest economy in the world.