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Australia from its beginning

Updated on November 29, 2014

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.

Botany Bay
Botany Bay

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?

Would you give aborigines land rights?

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    • mizzyjo 4 years ago

      Certainly. They lived in the land long before anybody else 'arrived'. They were indigenous, not settlers, and entitlement is inherent. This is similar to and yet totally different from, squatters' rights. In some countries, like Costa Rica, squatters can claim title if they can prove the land was not occupied when they came and that they were left in possession for two years.

      The aborigines may not 'own' the land, because ownership is not part of their vocabulary, but they and the land are one.

    • Tony Bonura 4 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

      Yes, they were robbed as badly as the American Indians were


    • goo2eyes lm 5 years ago

      i must say yes because australia is their homeland. canada gave lands back to the american natives.

    • SteveKaye 5 years ago

      This is a classic example of success by exploitation (i.e., taking something without paying for it).

    • mjtaylor lm 5 years ago

      The colonization of the world by the English and Spanish was ... well, largely reprehensible. Of course, the aborigines and other native peoples certainly deserve land rights, at the very least.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      i thinks so

    • Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      yes, it is like the native rights in our country.

    • WilliamPower 5 years ago

      Give them land rights.

    • dahlia369 5 years ago

      It's one of those never-ending debates.

    • Pangionedevelopers 5 years ago

      great info

    • Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I think it would be a fair thing to do.

    • Tolovaj Publishing House 6 years ago from Ljubljana

      It is a hard question. Based on justice aborigines were there first, they should have every right, but based on the law, supported with guns... Similar things happened every where where Europeans landed. Life is just not fair:(

    • Titia Geertman 6 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands


    • photofk3 6 years ago


    • Blackspaniel1 6 years ago

      Yes. It was their domain.

    • ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      We have to respect all peoples and dispossession is not respect.

    • pubspy 6 years ago

      And Enjoyable. Knew I got the first one wrong when I saw Q2, Crafty ?

      Great Lens

    • anonymous 6 years ago


    • resabi 6 years ago

      Yes. Indigenous populations have rights that should never have been trampled on in the first place. They certainly deserved restitution.

    • MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      Of course

    • RinchenChodron 6 years ago

      No, because the aborigines were there all along and are the original people of Australia.

    • gia combs-ramirez 6 years ago from Montana

      Of course. The Australian government's treatment of the Aborigines has been deplorable.

    • Paula Morgan 6 years ago from Sydney Australia


    • Petstrel LM 6 years ago

      Land right for them!

    • The Afrikan 6 years ago

      i too am not a fan of colonialism (or neocolonialism). Europe made a big mess of the world... they colonized the Americas, Africa, Asia, Oceania- then started wars amongst themselves (ww1 and 2, the cold war, etc.), and brought everyone else into it. i believe that all colonies (past and present) should be given back to the original inhabitants

    • The Afrikan 6 years ago

      i too am not a fan of colonialism (or neocolonialism). Europe made a big mess of the world... they colonized the Americas, Africa, Asia, Oceania- then started wars amongst themselves (ww1 and 2, the cold war, etc.), and brought everyone else into it. i believe that all colonies (past and present) should be given back to the original inhabitants

    • justholidays 7 years ago

      Yes, I would do. Just like NZ did for the Maori people. After all, aborigines were the first to live in Australia. Actually, I'm not a fan of colonisation... :)

    No, they may have been here first but they didn't own the place.

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      • Diana Grant 6 years ago from United Kingdom

        Very problematic - I think, but not certain, that Aborigines didn't believe in ownership of land, and that it was occupied but not "owned" by them. In order to reclaim land that belonged to them, they would need to prove that they had title to the land claimed and my feeling is that in general they wouldn't be able to do that.

        I think they should be given the benefit of any doubt, because it doesn't seem right that they should be completely dispossessed of land when their

        ancestors occupied it first. But they would need to go some way to proving that specific relations occupied specific land.

        Otherwise, why can't Jews whose families were dispossessed by the Nazis reclaim land, and Armenians, American Indians, and other dispossessed peoples across the world reclaim land?

        Are we to look at every country where there was a conquest (think Genghis Khan, the Romans, the Ottoman Empire, the Conquistadors, and so forth)?

        Where will it all end, I ask myself!

      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

      Yes, the country was grossly underdeveloped

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        • Tony Bonura 4 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

          I'm not sure. I have mixed feelings about this just like I do about the settlements in the Americas.


        • goo2eyes lm 5 years ago

          in those circumstances, it was necessary.

        • photofk3 6 years ago

          Yes. Otherwise there would be no country today we call Australia.

        • Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

          It was the done thing in those days. Actually not a lot has changed.

        • resabi 6 years ago

          It is the nature of people to explore and to populate. Although there should be limits on the ravages to the land, it would have been a great pity for the world not to know Australia.

        • Diana Grant 6 years ago from United Kingdom

          It was a huge country, and very underpopulated and underdeveloped. Much of it was uninhabited.

        No, it already belonged to the first Australians.

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          • Bill 4 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

            Back then it was the done thing and aboriginals were thought to be no more intelligent than animals at the time. Now people realise that Aboriginals and animals are far more intelligent that first thought. That is no excuse though, they should not have invaded like they did against mostly unarmed and peaceful people.

          • SteveKaye 5 years ago

            Sadly, this was considered proper behavior hundreds of years ago.

          • Wednesday-Elf 5 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

            The aborigines received the same treatment by European settlers as did the American Indians in the U.S. A better plan would have been to find a way to co-exist without destroying another people's way of life!

          • mjtaylor lm 5 years ago

            Inevitable, perhaps, but evil.

          • RinchenChodron 5 years ago

            No - the aborigines deserve to have it. Same all over the world.

          • IanMayfield 5 years ago

            No, but what's done is done. It really is God's own country so you can hardly blame them.

          • anonymous 5 years ago

            The land belongs to the natives!

          • dahlia369 5 years ago

            Right or no right - depends on perspective.

          • Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

            It belonged to the first Australians, but there is nothing wrong in sharing, rather than taking it by force.

          • Tolovaj Publishing House 6 years ago from Ljubljana

            Hard question again. I can say what seem right to me but it is easy to be smart for hundreds of years ago.

          • Blackspaniel1 6 years ago

            No, but it does not differ from what was the norm of the times.

          • ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

            Right is difficult to judge from a different age, in which we are (hopefully) more enlightened. I'm unhappy with colonisation in general, so I vote 'No'. However, I cannot condemn those who acted according to their current morality and ethics.

          • anonymous 6 years ago

            That's was what was common but not right!

          • MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

            No, development is not a requirement for 'owning' land

          • justholidays 7 years ago

            No, of course since I don't like the idea of colonies. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure you're all Aussies, happy to live in Australia and we can't re-write the history.

          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

          Please leave a rating - thank you

          Cast your vote for Australia from its beginning

          Before You Go - How did you do?

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            • WriterJanis2 profile image

              WriterJanis2 3 years ago

              This was quite educational and a place I would love to visit.

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              Zienna1 3 years ago

              Goodness me, I still manage to interchange my answer on the first two questions. I reviewed these along time ago. It so happened I don't have to take the examination to pass my citizenship. The others are just guesses. Thank you so much, brought back some of my freaking nights of reviewing..LOL.

            • MJ Martin profile image

              MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose 3 years ago from Washington State

              Interesting quizzes. I like learning more about Australia

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              othellos 4 years ago

              Nice educational lens. Very well done structure. All of your quizzes are so fun to take:=)

            • norma-holt profile image

              norma-holt 4 years ago

              @CampingmanNW: It's nice to get such lovely feedback. thank you

            • CampingmanNW profile image

              CampingmanNW 4 years ago

              I loved every bit of it and learned a lot about Australia. Thank you for a fun and informative lens

            • norma-holt profile image

              norma-holt 4 years ago

              @VspaBotanicals: Nice to see oyu here. Hugs

            • VspaBotanicals profile image

              VspaBotanicals 4 years ago

              Very informative and well done. Thank you.

            • tonybonura profile image

              Tony Bonura 4 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

              I love the quizzes. Thanks for the chance to take them.


            • norma-holt profile image

              norma-holt 4 years ago

              @RawBill1: Thanks Bill, will check it out, Hugs

            • RawBill1 profile image

              Bill 4 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

              Thanks for all the quizzes, they allowed tome to level up! But the last one has no correct date for the First fleet landing. Typo! :-)

            • Kara Hara profile image

              Kara Hara 5 years ago

              Thanks for the quizzes.

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              Dana Marie 5 years ago from St. Peters, MO

              I didn't know much about Australia's I do :) thanks!!

            • cinefile profile image

              cinefile 5 years ago

              Great lens.

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              AJ 5 years ago from Australia

              Another great quiz. Some of the issues raised need to be assessed from a perspective of living with those issues.

            • goo2eyes lm profile image

              goo2eyes lm 5 years ago

              thank you for sharing this lens. the aborigines have the right to get back their lands but please don't get offended. blessings.

            • Demaw profile image

              Demaw 5 years ago

              It's very sad how indigenous people globally suffer when the more powerful come and take over their lands. Death, disease and sometimes the end of all that they know follow.

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              Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

              We were in Australia once and enjoyed it. You made me understand some of the issues the country grapples with.

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              Chazz 5 years ago from New York

              Fun way to learn more about Australian history. Hope to visit there someday. Blessings.

            • Wednesday-Elf profile image

              Wednesday-Elf 5 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

              I almost had an opportunity to immigrate to Australia and still would like to visit. If I win Mega Million tonight, a visit is in my plans! :) My sister-in-law just came home from a 3 week tour of Australia. She loved it.

            • jordanmilesbask profile image

              jordanmilesbask 5 years ago

              I learn a lot from those quizzes...Thanks heaps!

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              anonymous 5 years ago

              nice information's

              many thanks

            • siobhanryan profile image

              siobhanryan 5 years ago

              I learned a lot about Australia from your article. It was brilliant.

            • SheGetsCreative profile image

              Angela F 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

              I learned a few new things about Australia. Thanks for the quiz points :)

            • rob-hemphill profile image

              Rob Hemphill 5 years ago from Ireland

              Very interesting info. Whets the appetite to return to Oz one day - it's been over 30 years since my last trip! Such a beautiful country, and plenty of sun (I'm in damp 'ol Ireland!)

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              anonymous 5 years ago

              Excellent lens, very good quizzes.

            • MelonyVaughan profile image

              MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

              What a great lens! Loved the quizzes!

            • tcorbs profile image

              tcorbs 5 years ago

              Great questions! I'd love to travel to Australia someday.

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              anonymous 5 years ago

              very informative lens, great visit

            • Diana Wenzel profile image

              Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

              Well, I bombed the first quiz, but actually improved as I went along. Thank you for educating me about this amazing place. Australia fascinates me. So much to learn and experience. Still hoping to visit soon. Blessed!

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              Katie Harp 5 years ago

              blessed by a squid angel :) <3

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              Jeanette 5 years ago from Australia

              I must confess that I only did the first quiz and I got a couple wrong even though I am an Aussie! But in my defence, question 11 was a repeat of question 10 and I thought you were talking about the aborigines ;-)

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              anonymous 5 years ago

              Nice quiz! Great history of this beautiful country! :)

            • Lady Lorelei profile image

              Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

              I didn't take the quiz because I know that I am just not good at remembering things. I really am fascinated by the history of Australia though. Australia does indeed have a very long and colorful past behind it.

            • WilliamPower profile image

              WilliamPower 5 years ago

              Not very good but I will keep trying !

            • dahlia369 profile image

              dahlia369 5 years ago

              Love the quiz lenses with good quality content and this was one of them, thank you! :)

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              sherioz 5 years ago

              Well, some of this I learned in elementary school and some in high school. That was decades ago. I remembered a detail or two. Interesting. In most cases, my correct answers were by coincidence alone.

            • Rangoon House profile image

              AJ 5 years ago from Australia

              Well done! Great quiz.

            • myraggededge profile image

              myraggededge 5 years ago

              Interesting and informative. Not sure I'd want to get caught up in the debates but you raise some intriguing points!

            • ajgodinho profile image

              Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

              Great to learn more about Australia and its history. I would love to visit Australia someday. I do have some friends there. I didn't do too well at the quizzes (averaged 50%). Blessed!

            • AnzE02 profile image

              AnzE02 5 years ago

              great lens my friend, keep up the good work

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              Tolovaj Publishing House 6 years ago from Ljubljana

              Very informative, it was fun, thanks!

            • pimbels lm profile image

              pimbels lm 6 years ago

              I did not so well, but enjoyed it very much. Great lens, thank you.

            • jvsper63 profile image

              jvsper63 6 years ago

              I didn't take the quizzes yet. I want to do good:) I will tomorrow..Great lens Joni

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              ohcaroline 6 years ago

              Very informative lens. Thanks for the history lesson.

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              tssfacts 6 years ago

              Definitely learned some new things on this article. Great learning experience.

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              Oliversbabycarecouk 6 years ago

              wow a lot to learn from these questions.

            • photofk3 profile image

              photofk3 6 years ago

              Great lens. I must admit I didn't do very well on the quizzes (33% was my average results) but I have learnt a lot from it about Australia. Thanks for sharing.

            • ChrisDay LM profile image

              ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

              Nice extra quiz - thanks

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              Mary Beth Granger 6 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

              very interesting...someday I'd love to visit Australia. blessed

            • Blackspaniel1 profile image

              Blackspaniel1 6 years ago

              Found out how little I know with the quizzes.

            • ChrisDay LM profile image

              ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

              Learned a lot! 'Nuff said!

            • JeremiahStanghini profile image

              JeremiahStanghini 6 years ago

              I don't know nearly as much about Oz as I thought I did.

              With Love and Gratitude,


            • deyanis profile image

              deyanis 6 years ago from Oz

              Sprinkle an angel blessing =) Great job in creating the quiz, I still need to study as I didn't do well in this quiz at all. --- Blessed --- and Happy Australia Day!

            • hayleylou lm profile image

              hayleylou lm 6 years ago

              **Blessed** and featured on My Time as a Squid Angel I love living in Oz.

            • ChemKnitsBlog2 profile image

              ChemKnitsBlog2 6 years ago

              p.s. I've blessed this lens and featured it in my lens with a list of multiple quizzes :) Great work!

            • ChemKnitsBlog2 profile image

              ChemKnitsBlog2 6 years ago

              I really should have done better... my origins of Australia "A" just went to shame....

            • Philippians468 profile image

              Philippians468 6 years ago

              lovely lens! cheers

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              anonymous 6 years ago

              I did not do well on the quizzes but they were still fun and educational, thanks for sharing.

            • squid-janices7 profile image

              squid-janices7 6 years ago

              Wow those were some tough (but educational) quizzes. Fun lens!

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              anonymous 6 years ago

              Wonderful quiz and now I know the right answers!

            • TonyPayne profile image

              Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

              I didn't score too well, shame since I have been to Australia and have family there. My grandfather also sailed there in the early 1900s and I am researching for a book on this.

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              resabi 6 years ago

              I enjoyed the lens and the quizzes -- although my scores were awful. On the bright side, I learned a lot. Thanks.

            • Virginia Allain profile image

              Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

              I didn't score so well, but enjoyed the history lesson anyway. I'm lenrolling this to My First Day in Australia.

            • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

              MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

              I took them all. Passed one with 100% (I knew about the prisoners) but not so much with the rest.

            • snazzy lm profile image

              snazzy lm 6 years ago

              Hi Norma! A great lens, thanks for lensrolling my Aussie slang quiz. Just a heads up, you might want to check the last quiz for correct dates. I think there may be a typo in the answers to question 1. No need to publish this comment, just wanted to let you know:-)

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              Lisa Auch 6 years ago from Scotland

              Norma, I loved this my brother goes every year, because a lot of friends have emigrated. I will go with him one day I promise. I learned a great deal here

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              RinchenChodron 6 years ago

              A good deal of history here. I did learn a lot - my first quiz was abysmal!

            • Gloriousconfusion profile image

              Diana Grant 6 years ago from United Kingdom

              I had to guess most of them (with only a modicum of success). The questions about British convicts settling there had such obvious answers that I thought they must be trick questions, so I got them wrong!

              Lensrolled: Book Quiz: - Which Country or Place? Invasive Garden Plants, Nice Distinctions in English Language, Poem - A Lovely Cup of Tea, Property Rights for Cohabitees, Quiz: Cockney Rhyming Slang

            • profile image

              SofiaMann 6 years ago

              I know little of the history of Australia, but today I learned something.

            • caketech profile image

              caketech 6 years ago

              Wow, I learned quite a bit here!

            • The Afrikan profile image

              The Afrikan 6 years ago

              i liked it :)

            • profile image

              RebeccaE 6 years ago

              this was a great quiz, and admittedly I learned a lot more because of it, thanks!

            • VarietyWriter2 profile image

              VarietyWriter2 6 years ago

              Great quiz!

            • greenerme profile image

              greenerme 6 years ago

              Great quiz! It tells me how little I know about Australia. I need to do some research!

            • profile image

              kimmanleyort 6 years ago

              Very informative lens on Australia. I need to brush up on my history though as I didn't do very well on the quiz. Love the photo of the opera house! Oh, and thank you for visiting and blessing my strengths lens. You're an angel!

            • SidneyMorgan LM profile image

              SidneyMorgan LM 6 years ago

              I'm really beginning to enjoy these types of quizzes and testing what I know in comparison to what I find out. I felt I wouldn't do well but was pleasantly surprised that I knew a great deal of the history of our fair country. Great job putting all the information together and creating such a great quiz!

            • justholidays profile image

              justholidays 7 years ago

              Very interesting quiz about Australia! Definitely learned something today :)


            • strayspay profile image

              strayspay 7 years ago

              Love this lens! Five Stars. I knew that Australia was partially settled by prisoners but didn't know that they could have been sentenced for stealing a loaf of bread.