- Travel and Places
Australia from its beginning
You are facing a Challenge - Are You Ready?
Australia is a unique country because not only is it the largest island in the world but it is also a continent. Its land mass is huge and there are numerous islands around the coast. The largest of these is Tasmania, in the south. It is divided from the rest of the continent by Bass Strait. This little island is said to be two and a half times bigger than England and very like it in climate. That's probably why so many 'poms' (English) settled there.
Prior to English settlement Australia was owned and inhabited by indigenous people who have a proud history of care and protection of their country/ But they could not avoid the incoming surge of westerners once the word was out. This quiz is about the discovery of Australia by Europeans and the development of settlements and the progress made since.
Beautiful Botany Bay
Just as Cook must have seen it
This is the wonderful Botany Bay and probably close to where Cook landed and first encountered the indigenous owners of the land. He met his first aborigine people here, saw his first kangaroos and noticed the very strange wildflowers growing around the shore. He found fresh water nearby in the Cook's river which runs beside Sydney airport.
Now the area is flown over by passenger jets bringing people in their hundreds every day to this great land. That's because Sydney's International airport is there and juts out into the bay as the run way had to be extended. The surrounding shores are built up often with high rise apartment blocks and shopping centers. When you drive around General Holmes Drive which runs around the foreshore don't be surprised if a massive jet flies within a few feet over your head.
What it means to be Australian - Our beginning
What's Your impression of Australia so far? - Was it Terra Nullus?
That means "empty land". In a remarkable court case around 20 years or so ago a guy named Mabo took the government to court and won. He had no money and no legal representation but he proved his case. Australia was not an empty land when white people arrived and they deserve to be given title to their claims. So they were.
Was this the right thing to do?
Would you give aborigines land rights?
Governor Phillip Takes Possession
The first fleet arrival
Of course there are no actual photos of the event but reenactments ensure we get some idea of what it may have been like. The purposeful intention of Phillip was to build a colony and he chose what he called Farm Cove to do it. It wasn't much good for farming however and the colony was soon in dire straits as the people faced starvation. But suitable farm land was found at Parramatta, around 25 km up the river from here.
Captain Philip first came ashore close to where Captain Cook had landed but the situation was somewhat different. They could not find any clean fresh water and the aborigines were aggressive. So they moved up to Sydney Cove, later called Port Jackson.
What they never realised was that Botany Bay was full of food but it was hidden from their eyes because it was not traditional British farmed food. It was and is what is called 'bush tucker' comprising lots of meat, mainly kangaroos, emus and even koalas. Birds also were edible. After their poor salted rations and stale, maggot filled food they had on the voyage one would have thought there was plenty of choice.
Later European settlers took to these things with relish while fish and a wide assortment of vegetable foods were also present and with some encouragement the aborigines may have shown them where they were and how to eat them. But kangaroos were thought to be giant rats and no one eats them - do they?
The first Australians arrived here up to 100,000 years ago. Their lexicon dates their separation from the rest of the world by the things missing in it. For instance they have no word for 'father', they had no counting system or navigation plans. They also had no calendar or knowledge of money prior to European settlement.
Farm Cove or Sydney Cove Today
Its now the site of the Opera House and Circular Quay
This is where the ships dock, the people flock and things happen. The ferries that vie across the harbour towards Circular Quay all trace the route of the first fleet as they make their way to the city. Day after day thousands cross the water to work, play, shop and to be entertained. It's a very busy place indeed.
Farm Cove today is Circular Quay and it is a transit point for ferries, ocean liners, rail travellers and office workers, who head into the city every working day from the Bays around the harbor. The ferries are a great way to travel and the normally calm waters of Sydney Harbor are a showpiece that the world has come to respect.
When Phillip arrived it was an ideal anchorage with shelter and a magnificent harbor that could hold many ships out of view of passing sea traffic. He set about building a small settlement with the convict labor from those on board. Yes, it was a penal colony and the business of the colony was to carry out the punishment set upon these poor souls, some of whom had been transported for life for stealing. Sometimes their booties comprised nothing more than a loaf of bread within a society that cared little for the creatures who were too poor to live.
The Great Aussie Spirit - It was born in blood and hardship
Would you like to visit Australia - Or maybe you already live here
The consensus among scholars for the arrival of humans of Australia is placed at 40,000 to 50,000 years ago, but possibly as early as 70,000 years ago. The earliest human remains found to date are that of Mungo Man which have been dated at about 40,000 years old. At the time of first European contact, it has been estimated the absolute minimum pre-1788 population was 315,000, while recent archaeological finds suggest that a population of 750,000 could have been sustained (Wikipedia)
Were Europeans right in taking this land for western style settlement?
Yes, the country was grossly underdeveloped
European Settlement Was not Popular Among the Natives.
A wave of massacres and resistance followed the frontier of European settlement. In 1838, twenty-eight Indigenous people were killed at the Myall Creek massacre. The convict settlers responsible for the massacres were hanged. The Kalkadoon of Queensland resisted the settlers, and there was a massacre of over 200 people on their land at Battle Mountain in 1884. There was a massacre at Coniston in the Northern Territory in 1928. Poisoning of food and water had been recorded as early as the 1840s. (Wikipedia)
One of the problems between the two types of people arose because aborigines believed that everything belonged to everyone. They had no concept of ownership so they would wander into the camp and take what they needed. This was called stealing on the part of the British and, as they had many convicts among them who had been transported for such minor offenses as stealing a loaf of bread, such behavior warranted death.
No one laid down a basic set of rules for the original Australians to understand and consequently they were kept in the dark as to what behavior was acceptable. Many in the New Colony considered them savages although we now know they had a highly sophisticated legal system and trade among themselves worked extremely well. Pity the European did not take time to figure it out before they tried to annihilate them.
If you visit the chances are you will want to try camping out beside one the billabongs or at one of our famous beaches. Try this company for the right gear.
Still images from Dreamstime - click here