All about Australia


Early History:

The Dutch seem to have discovered Australia, Abel Tasman was the discoverer in 1642. The Dutch named the continent New Holland, but they didn´t occupey it. In 1768, Captain James Cook came to Australia. In 1783 the first penal settlement was established. Criminals were sent to this penal settlements in Australia, because the Americans didn´t  accept the british criminals no longer.In 1850 the large majority of people were convicts (150 000), there were 20% woman and one third of this convicts were Irish people. Sydney was the first major city, which was found by convicts. In 1849 Gold was discovered in the United States and in 1850 there was also the Gold Rush in Australia. 

Australia within the Commonwealth:

In the 20th century Australia developed a national government and a national culture.

Alfred Deakin established a protective tariff on imports to foster internal development, designed procedures for setting minimum wages in industry and preserved the white immigration policy.

Identity forged by War:

World War I, began the transformation of Australia from six federated former colonies to a united state. In this war Australia sent more than 330 000 volunteers, who took part in some of the bloodiest battles. At Gallipoli the Australian an New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) tried in vain to launch a drive on the Turkish forces. This date of the fateful landing in 1915 became the Anzac Day and it remains the country´s most significant day of public homage. In the same year, William Hughes became Prime Minister and leader of the Labor Party. He attended the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 and established Australia´s right to enter the League of Nations. Economically, World War I benifited Australia, especially the textíle, vehicle and iron and steel industries. Products like wool, wheat, beef and muton found also a market in Great Britain.


During the Inter-War-Years an backlash within the Nationalist Party forced Hughes retirement. The Country Party, a patriotic, conservative movement, which protect the interests of farmers joined the Nationalist coalition. The opponent of the coalition was Labor. In the depression of the 1930s public and private debt increased at a time of massive unemployment. Recovery from the depression was extremly uneven. Deflationary economic policies were far more harsh than elsewhere in the world. There were new splits in the Labor Party and the government disintegrated in 1931. Now, the United Australia Party, composed of former memebers of the National and Labor parties, held the reins of power. Emphasis was placed on following Britain´s leadership in solving the problems of the depression. Among these, there was an attempt to redirect more trade between Britain and the dominions. Although that Japan and the United States were among Australia´s  best consumers for its wool, Australia sought to re-establish British trade at the expense of its relations with Japan.

World War II:

In 1939 war came again to Europe and Australia dispatched its armed forces to assist in Great Britain´s defence. The Pacific war between Japan and the United States broke out in 1941, Great Britain was unable to support Australia´s defence and so the new Labor government of Curtin sought alliance with the United States. Because of that US General Douglas MacArthur and his staff used Australia as their base of operations. Australian industry was transformed by the needs of war. The economy was redirected towards manufacturing and heavy industries. Curtin died in 1945 and Chifley, a member of the Labor party strenghened Australia´ s relationship with the United States in the ANZUS pact. New Zealand was their third partner.

Contemporary Australian Culture:

The siting of the federal government was first in Melbourne and than in Canberra.

World War II administered a shock to Australian culture. They recognized their dependency on US military support and launched a cultural revolution. First, the ethnicity of Australian culture has to be changed. In the 1950s thousands of immigrants were transported from Europe to Australia. This made the Australian population more cosmopolitan. In the 1960s full citizenship for the Aborigines were garanted and in 1967 they were allowed to vote. But greater efforts were still needed to address the profound social, they were not accepted in society, health, educational and economic inequalities. Although most of the white people want to help the Aborigines, there are still problems. For example, many Aborigines distrust the white doctors, and they have their own medicine and they are also often not interested in a white education. The Aborigines are a very old part of our history. They have many languages, the most importants are Aranda and Murngin. The Aborigines are organised in tribes. They use the boomerang to hunt animals and many people think that they have special powers.

The Menzies Era:

In 1949 Robert Menzies became Prime Minister and gave Australia centralized and personal leadership. By 1966 the White Australia policy was moribund and it was discarded in 1973. The White Australia policy were against any non white immigrants, especially the Aborigines. Australia´s alliance with the U.S. grew closer and they participated in the South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), which is a military organization like NATO, from 1954 until 1977.

Time of Uncertainties:

From 1966 until 1972 the Liberal Party and the Country Party sought to extend the Menzies era. But in 1972 the Labor Party, united after years of disputes, again came to power. The Labor foreign policy was pro-America. A member of the Liberal-Country coalition laid the foundation for Aboriginal land right claims, in the 1976 Aboriginal Land Rights Act, for the Northern Territory.

Australia in the 1990s:

In 1995 prime minister and leader of the Labor Party wanted to turn Australia into a republic by 2001. Because of this plan, Keating toppled and the power of Labor ended. In 1996 a single gunman killed 35 people and that leaded to calls for tightening of Australia´s gun laws. Soon firearms control legislation was announced. At that time, Bob Bellear became the first Aboriginal judge to be appointed in Australia. For a short time euthanasia was legalized in the Northern Territory.

Political Parties:

There are 4 major political parties in Australia.

The Labor Party, which has been the dominant party for much of the period since the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia, the National Party, the Liberal Party and the Democratic Party.

Geographical Informations:

Australia is divided in two territories (Northern Territory and Capital Territory) and six districts (Queensland, New-South Wales, South-Australia, West-Australia, Tasmania and Victoria). Australia is located southeast of Asia and is the only country which occupies a single continent. It is the most sparsly populated continent after the Antarctica. Australia is world´s flattest and driest landmass after the Antarctica and the Outback consists mainly of desert plains.

Plants and animals in Australia:

The country is surrounded by ocean and much of its coastline consists of white sandy beaches and cliffs. The Great Barrier Reef on Queensland east coast is the largest reef and it is the richest area of marine life. Australia is geographically isolated from the rest of the world and contains plants and animals found nowhere else on earth. Eucalyptus forests dominate much of costal Australia but Eucalypt trees can be found in every region of Australia. Subtropical rainforests can be found on eastern and northern coasts. Australia is home to many animal species such as marsupials (e.g. Koalas, Kangaroos), crocodiles and the most venomous snakes and spiders. There are also many colourful bird species such as parrots, kookaburra (the laughing jacass, the winged kookaburra) and Australia´s largest bird is the Emu.

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