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A Brief history of the people of Australia

While you may be moving to Australia now, the first settlers are thought to have arrived around 50,000 years ago. These were the first Australian relocations and they were to the coast of Australia but the vast interior areas didn't attract settlers until around 25,000 years ago. The first European sightings of Australia were made by a Dutchman called Willem Janszoon in 1606. Janszoon was the first recorded European to meet with aboriginals. Later that year Louis Vaez de Torres sailed through the Torres Strait, named after himself. Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman's, first journey to Australia was in 1644 .The Australian state of Tasmania was named after this famous explorer.

It was not until 1770 that Captain Cook landed in Botany Bay on the Eastern side of Australia in the ship named HM Bark Endeavour. The First Fleet arrived at Sydney Cove under Captain Arthur Phillip to establish the first settlement in Australia. This was to be a penal colony, Sydney. The date of his arrival, 26th January, went on to mark Australia Day.


At this time it is estimated that 300,000 aboriginal people, speaking around 250 languages inhabited Australia. The arrival of Europeans who took over the land led to many Aboriginals being killed, displaced, and their natural habitat was overtaken by European animals and pests. Previously unknown diseases spread through the aboriginal population.During the early part of the 20th century legislations were passed to segregate and protect Aboriginals. This involved restrictions on where they could live and work and families being broken up.

During the 1960's the legislation was reviewed and the Federal Government passed legislation for all Aboriginals to be given citizen status. However, it wasn't until 1972 that the indigenous people were given back limited rights to their own land.


During the early 1800s in particular there was a time of great discovery and exploration. In 1851, the discovery of gold changed Australian history and the Gold Rush which followed made fortunes for many and really established Australia's standing. Australia grew in confidence and in 1901 the Commonwealth of Australia was established.

The Post Federation period was marked by the two world wars and the Great Depression. Australia still felt huge ties to Britain and was prepared to support Britain in military combat. From 1948 until 1975 2 million immigrants arrived in Australia mostly from Europe. Following this there has been a substantial migration into Australia by Asian migrants also. This has led to an enormously rich cultural diversity in Australia. Once again, although English is predominantly the main language, there are many other languages spoken now in Australia.

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