Australia History

ANZAC SoldierANZAC Soldier
  • Australian Aborigines refer to the beginning of time as the Dreamtime (which is often the setting for a lot of traditional Aboriginal art)
  • Australia was originally part of a supercontinent called Pangea, which eventually split and drifted apart into two pieces called Gondwanaland and Laurasia. Gondwanaland then eventually broke apart too, creating South America, Africa, India, Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand and Antarctica.
  • Australia once had large pre-historic animals (like everywhere else) but they were in the form of giant marsupials such as a wombat the size of a hippo, and 10-foot-tall kangaroos!
  • The first people to reach Australia and chart its coastline were the Portuguese, in about 1536. Throughout the 1600s, many Dutch ships the followed (it was referred to as “New Holland”).
  • Abel Tasman was then sent over to chart the country. He also discovered Tasmania. The sea between New Zealand and Australia is called the Tasman Sea.
  • Captain James Cook arrived in his ship Endeavour in1770 and charted the East Coast. He claimed the land for Britain and named New South Wales.
  • Meanwhile, King George III began to see the potential in Australia as a colony for England’s increasing convict population, and the first 800 were sent over in 1787.
  • Gold was discovered in 1852, causing an influx of immigrants from Europe, America and China.
  • The last of the convicts were brought over in 1868, bringing the total to 168,000.
  • Australia proclaimed itself the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, but fought with New Zealand alongside Britain in the first and second World Wars and alongside America in Korea and Vietnam.
  • It was only in 1992 that a law was passed allowing Aborigines to reclaim their government-owned land.

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