A Brief History of European Australia
Before the British arrived in the East, in 1642-43, Abel Tasman sailed East from Mauritius utilising the Roaring Forties into the Southern the Indian Ocean and onto the Great Southern Ocean. He was the first European to sight the west coast of Tasmania which he named Van Dieman's Land and claimed for the Netherlands on 3 December 1642. Wanting to head north, but weather forcing him east he arrived at New Zealand. He continued and sailed north to sight the Fijian Islands before turning westward. It was Tasman who named the Western side of Australia New Holland, with New Holland in popular use for the name of the whole continent until the mid 1850s. For over a century, until the era of James Cook, Tasmania and New Zealand were not visited by Europeans – mainland Australia was visited, but usually only by accident.
William Dampier (Baptised 5 September 1651 died March 1715) was an English explorer, pirate and navigator and the first person to circumnavigate the world three times.
William Dampier was the first Englishman to set foot on Australia at Karrakatta Bay near the northern tip of the Dampier Peninsula.
He has also been described as Australia's first natural historian, as well as one of the most important British explorers of the period between Sir Walter Raleigh and James Cook.
In 1770, Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook in command of the HMS Endeavour charted the east coast of "New Holland". As the first European to arrive, he named the land New South Wales after the area his home. "New South Wales", as defined by Cook's proclamation, covered most of eastern Australia, from 38°S 145°E. The Kingdom of Great Britain became the first European power to officially claim any area on the Australian mainland.
The main reason for Cooks first voyage to the Pacific was two fold. The first was to observe the "Transit of Venus" that is, Venus moving across the face of the Sun from Tahiti.
After that he had secret orders to search for an unknown continent and to try and discover the existence of "Terra Australis Incognita." In other words, the "unknown southern land".
The continent and country that would be known as Australia, was already known as New Holland and had been visited many times.
Terra Australis, was not Australia. Many people confuse "Australia" with "Terra Australis." This confusion dates back to In the early 1800s, British explorer Matthew Flinders popularized the naming of Australia after Terra Australis, giving his rationale that there was "no probability" of finding any significant land mass anywhere more south than Australia. The continent that would come to be named Antarctica would be explored decades after Flinders' 1814 book on Australia, which he had titled A Voyage to Terra Australis, and after his naming switch had gained popularity.
Cook is credited as the first European to visit the east coast of Australia. Many people also mistakenly believe Cook "discovered" New Zealand. Able Tasman was the first European to visit New Zealand in 1642. Prior to Tasman, the Māori people had settled in Aotearoa early in the 1300s AD -- probably sailing from the Eastern Polynesia.
It was Cook's second visit to the Pacific where travelled further south than anyone before him, reaching 71°10'S on 31 January 1774 and almost discovering "Terra Australis Incognita." After encountering icebergs, Cook surmised there was still another continent further south. He had guessed right, but he turned north to resupply in Tahiti narrowly missing the opportunity to find the seventh continent that would eventually be named Antarctica.
On the 18th January 1788, HMS Supply was the first ship to arrive and land at Botany Bay. Over the next 2 days, the remaining ships in the fleet arrived.
On January 26th, Captain Arthur Phillip moved the First Fleet to Sydney Cove (now the Rocks area) and raised the Union Jack. This is now known as Australia Day. The convicts did not disembark until the next day.
His Majesty's Penal Colony New South Wales was proclaimed on the 7th February 1788 and comprised a much larger area of the Australian mainland than it is now.
It included the current states of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia, the Northern Territory as well as New Zealand. The western boundary was the meridian 135° east of Greenwich -- extending into roughly the eastern half of what is now South Australia and the Northern Territory.
Over time the Territories and States have evolved. 11 May 1989. The most recent change was on 11 May 1989 when the Jervis Bay Territory was created on when the coastline portions of the Australian Capital Territory ceded from New South Wales when The ACT is granted self-government. JBT becomes Australia's third mainland territory.
For many indigenous and non-indigenous people, Australia Day is considered "Invasion Day", a day of mourning and there is a growing movement to change the date.
The Second of February is a date that has been suggested. The Second Day of the Second Month - A Day for a Second Chance.
On the 28 December 1836, the colony of South Australia was proclaimed at Holdfast Bay, near present day Glenelg. South Australia is the only Australian state to be settled entirely under a program of free settlement.
William Wilkins and Mary Chivers, had been among the very first migrants to come to South Australia. Their son, Henry, was born on 1 January 1837 at Glenelg, only three days after the landing of the officials and the Proclamation, he is most likely the first white child born after this historic event.
Henry, known as Harry had 13 children. His youngest was George Hubert Wilkins, born 31 October 1888 and died in 1958.
Sir Hubert is the greatest Australian you've never heard of.
On 1 January 1901, federation of the colonies was achieved after a decade of planning, constitutional conventions and referendums, resulting in the establishment of the Commonwealth of Australia as a nation and the entering into force of the Australian Constitution.
After the 1907 Imperial Conference, Australia and several other self-governing British settler colonies were given the status of self-governing "dominions" within the British Empire. Australia was one of the founding members of the League of Nations in 1920, and subsequently of the United Nations in 1945. Britain's Statute of Westminster 1931 formally ended most of the constitutional links between Australia and the United Kingdom. Australia adopted it in 1942, but it was backdated to 1939 to confirm the validity of legislation passed by the Australian Parliament during World War II.
In March 1902 Australia became the colonial ruler of the Territory of Papua and of the Territory of New Guinea from 1914 - 1975. In 1908, this resulted in the 7th point being added to the 6 point Federation Star on the Australian Flag.
The Federal Capital Territory (later renamed the Australian Capital Territory) was formed in 1911 as the location for the future federal capital of Canberra. Melbourne was the temporary seat of government from 1901 to 1927 while Canberra was being constructed. The Northern Territory was transferred from the control of the South Australian government to the federal parliament in 1911.
In 1914, Australia joined the Allies in fighting the First World War, and took part in many of the major battles fought on the Western Front. Of about 416,000 who served, about 60,000 were killed and another 152,000 were wounded. Many Australians regard the defeat of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) at Gallipoli in 1915 as the nation's "baptism of fire" — its first major military action, with the anniversary of the landing at Anzac Cove commemorated each year on Anzac Day.
From 1939 to 1945, Australia joined the Allies in fighting the Second World War. Australia's armed forces fought in the Pacific, European and Mediterranean and Middle East theatres. The shock of Britain's defeat in Asia in 1942, followed soon after by the bombing of Darwin and other Japanese attacks on Australian soil, led to a widespread belief in Australia that a Japanese invasion was imminent, and a shift from the United Kingdom to the United States as Australia's principal ally and security partner. Since 1951, Australia has been a formal military ally of the United States, under the ANZUS treaty.
In 1974 "Advance Australia Fair" first replaced "God Save the Queen" as the official national anthem, following a nationwide opinion survey. "God Save the Queen" was reinstated in January 1976, by the Fraser Government but a plebiscite to choose the national song in 1977 preferred "Advance Australia Fair", which was restored in 1984.
Citizens of Australia
When the Constitution of Australia came into force, on 1 January 1901, the colonies collectively became states of the Commonwealth of Australia. While the majority of citizens were descendants from Great Britain, there were also descendants of immigrants from China, Afghanistan, Europe and South Sea Islanders as well as others.
Australians Were 'British Subjects' Until 1949
In 1948 Australia enacted the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 to create its own citizenship, which came into force on 26 January 1949. Prior to 1949, Australians could only hold the status of British subjects.
After the Second World War, Chifley Government commissioned a report on the subject which found that Australia was in urgent need of a larger population for the purposes of defence and development and it recommended a 1% annual increase in population through increased immigration. Hundreds of thousands of displaced Europeans, including for the first time large numbers of Jews, migrated to Australia. More than two million people immigrated to Australia from Europe during the 20 years after the end of the war.
Arrivals by country of Birth
(From July 1949 to 2000)
- United Kingdom & Ireland (31.6%)
- Italy (6.9%)
- New Zealand (6.6%)
- Germany (4.5%)
- Greece (3.9%)
- Yugoslavia (3.7% - 1995)
- Vietnam (3.0%)
- Netherlands (2.9%)
- Hong Kong (1.9%)
- Philippines (1.8%)
While the UK & Ireland make up the majority of immigrants to Australia, some 10% of the population. The Republic of Ireland came into being in 1949 and there is no breakdown as to where Irish Australian originate -- those who are technically British (Protestant Irish from the north), and those who were from the Republic of Ireland (Catholic Irish from the South.) However, Irish Catholics have been the nation's largest minority throughout most of Australia's history.
However, Australian Aboriginals, were literally not included nor had the same right to vote as other Australians. It was not until the 1967 Referendum was held that allowed Australian Aboriginal people to be included in the census.
The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1962 gave all Aboriginal people the option of enrolling to vote in federal elections.
It was not until 1984 that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people gained full equality with other electors under the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Act 1983. This Act made enrolling to vote at federal elections compulsory for Indigenous Australians.
Terra Nullius ("Nobody's land")
It was not until 1992 that the law overturned the legal doctrine of Terra Nullius.
Terra Nullius, was a term applied to the attitude of the British towards land ownership on the continent of Australia, used to justify the taking of the land without compensation or treaty and recognised that those first in Australia before European settlement had legal title to the land that had been proclaimed as British.
This was known as the "Mabo" decision after Eddie Mabo an Indigenous Australian from the Torres Strait Islands campaigned for Indigenous Land Rights.
Blue or Red Flag ?
People are surprised when they find out that the Blue Flag that everyone is so familiar with only came into vogue in the second half of the 20th century.
It was the Red flag that was the predominant flag used by the public and defence forces, while the Blue Flag was reserved for the use of the Commonwealth Government.
This is shown by e are any number of Red flags being flown in the past. See More Red Flags
A memo from the Prime Minister's Department dated 6 March 1939 states that: "the Red Ensign is the flag to be flown by the public generally" and the federal government policy was "The flying of the Commonwealth Blue Ensign is reserved for Commonwealth Government use but there is no reservation in the case of the Commonwealth Merchant Flag, or Red Ensign".
However, in 1953, The Flags Act 1953 declared the Blue Ensign to be the national flag and the Red Ensign the flag of the Australian mercantile marine. It has been claimed that this choice was made on the basis that the predominately red version carried too many communist overtones for the government of the day to be legislated for as the chief national symbol.
The use of the Blue flag by Australians is a relatively new phenomenon.
A National Song becomes the Anthem
1n 1974 a competition was announced for a a National Song that would represent Australia with "distinction. "Advance Australia Fair" was chosen and was enshrined as the national song, to be used on all occasions excepting those of a specifically regal nature. In the 1977 referendum (on various issues). "Advance Australia Fair" received 43.29% of the vote, defeating the three alternatives, "Waltzing Matilda" (28.28%), "Song of Australia" (9.65%) and the existing national anthem, "God Save the Queen" (18.78%).
It was adopted as the Australian national anthem on 19 April 1984 by a proclamation by the Governor-General, Sir Ninian Stephen, on a recommendation by the Labor government of Bob Hawke. "God Save the Queen", now known as the royal anthem, continues to be played alongside the Australian national anthem at public engagements in Australia that are attended by the Queen or members of the Royal Family.
A Republic of Australia ?
The Australian republic referendum held on 6 November 1999 was a two-question referendum to amend the Constitution of Australia. For some years opinion polls had suggested that a majority of the electorate favoured a republic.
The first question asked whether Australia should become a republic with a President appointed by Parliament following a bi-partisan appointment model which had been approved by a half-elected, half-appointed Constitutional Convention held in Canberra in February 1998.
The republic referendum was defeated, primarily because the monarchists at the convention voted for a system that they believed that the people of Australia would reject -- the President to be appointed by the Parliament. The people did indeed reject this model as they preferred a direct vote by the people, not political Parliamentary appointment.
It would appear that there is an impasse on moving toward a Republic of Australia, primarily because the politicians are concerned that a President elected by a popular vote would be more powerful than the Parliament.
There is a model that is a compromise. It is called the State Election Model (SEM). There is a direct election of candidates at the State level, including governments selecting their preferred candidate. When the State and Territory candidates have been elected by the people, (held at a Federal Election) the Representatives at both State and Federal level make the final decision on who to appoint as Head of State of the Republic of Australia.