What If?: Australian History as It Might Have Been


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Good luck and good policy

Bungaree accompanied the explorer Matthew Flinders on the first circumnavigation of Australia. Pemulwuy was accused of the first killing of a white settler in , and Windradyne resisted early British expansion beyond the Blue Mountains.

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According to the historian Geoffrey Blainey , in Australia during the colonial period: "In a thousand isolated places there were occasional shootings and spearings. Even worse, smallpox, measles, influenza and other new diseases swept from one Aboriginal camp to another The main conqueror of Aborigines was to be disease and its ally, demoralisation".

Conflict in the Hawkesbury Nepean river district near the settlement at Sydney continued from —, [ citation needed ] including Pemulwuy's War — , Tedbury's War — and the Nepean War — , as well as the interwar violence of the — Conflict. It was fought using mostly guerrilla-warfare tactics; however, several conventional battles also took place.

The wars resulted in the defeat of the Hawkesbury and Nepean Indigenous clans who were subsequently dispossessed of their lands. Even before the arrival of European settlers in local districts beyond coastal New South Wales, Eurasian disease often preceded them. A smallpox epidemic was recorded near Sydney in , which wiped out about half the Aborigines around Sydney.

History of Australia - Wikipedia

Opinion is divided as to the source of the smallpox. Some researchers argue that the smallpox was acquired through contact with Indonesian fishermen in the far north and then spread across the continent, reaching the Sydney area in The impact of Europeans was profoundly disruptive to Aboriginal life and, though the extent of violence is debated, there was considerable conflict on the frontier. At the same time, some settlers were quite aware they were usurping the Aborigines place in Australia.

In , settler Charles Griffiths sought to justify this, writing; "The question comes to this; which has the better right—the savage, born in a country, which he runs over but can scarcely be said to occupy In , anthropologist W. Stanner described the lack of historical accounts of relations between Europeans and Aborigines as "the great Australian silence". William Westgarth's book on the colony of Victoria observed: "the case of the Aborigines of Victoria confirms Many events illustrate violence and resistance as Aborigines sought to protect their lands from settlers and pastoralists who attempted to establish their presence.

Although Tasmanian history is amongst the most contested by modern historians, conflict between colonists and Aborigines was referred to in some contemporary accounts as the Black War. Estimates of how many people were killed during the period begin at around , though verification of the true figure is now impossible. The effort failed and George Augustus Robinson proposed to set out unarmed to mediate with the remaining tribespeople in In , at least twenty-eight Aborigines were killed at Myall Creek in New South Wales, resulting in the unprecedented conviction and hanging of six white and one African convict settlers by the colonial courts.

Palmer wrote in "the nature of the blacks was so treacherous that they were only guided by fear—in fact it was only possible to rule There are numerous other massacre sites in Australia, although supporting documentation varies. From the s, colonial governments established the now controversial offices of the Protector of Aborigines in an effort to avoid mistreatment of Indigenous peoples and conduct government policy towards them.

Christian churches in Australia sought to convert Aborigines, and were often used by government to carry out welfare and assimilation policies. Colonial churchmen such as Sydney's first Catholic archbishop, John Polding strongly advocated for Aboriginal rights and dignity [70] and prominent Aboriginal activist Noel Pearson born , who was raised at a Lutheran mission in Cape York , has written that Christian missions throughout Australia's colonial history "provided a haven from the hell of life on the Australian frontier while at the same time facilitating colonisation".

The Caledon Bay crisis of —34 was one of the last incidents of violent interaction on the 'frontier' of indigenous and non-indigenous Australia, which began when the spearing of Japanese poachers who had been molesting Yolngu women was followed by the killing of a policeman. As the crisis unfolded, national opinion swung behind the Aboriginal people involved, and the first appeal on behalf of an Indigenous Australian to the High Court of Australia was launched. Following the crisis, the anthropologist Donald Thomson was dispatched by the government to live among the Yolngu.

Frontier encounters in Australia were not universally negative. Positive accounts of Aboriginal customs and encounters are also recorded in the journals of early European explorers, who often relied on Aboriginal guides and assistance: Charles Sturt employed Aboriginal envoys to explore the Murray-Darling ; the lone survivor of the Burke and Wills expedition was nursed by local Aborigines, and the famous Aboriginal explorer Jackey Jackey loyally accompanied his ill-fated friend Edmund Kennedy to Cape York.

In inland Australia, the skills of Aboriginal stockmen became highly regarded and in the 20th century, Aboriginal stockmen like Vincent Lingiari became national figures in their campaigns for better pay and improved working conditions. The removal of indigenous children , by which mixed-race children of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent were removed from their families by Australian Federal and State government agencies and church missions, was a policy actively conducted in the period between approximately and The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission argued that these removals constituted attempted genocide [75] and had a major impact on the Indigenous population.

Although a theory of Portuguese discovery in the s exists, it lacks definitive evidence. The Dutch, following shipping routes to the Dutch East Indies , or in search of gold, spices or Christian converts, proceeded to contribute a great deal to Europe's knowledge of Australia's coast.


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These ships made extensive examinations, particularly in the Gulf of Carpentaria , named in honour of de Carpentier. On his second voyage of , he also contributed significantly to the mapping of Australia proper, making observations on the land and people of the north coast below New Guinea. A map of the world inlaid into the floor of the Burgerzaal " Burger 's Hall" of the new Amsterdam Stadhuis "Town Hall" in revealed the extent of Dutch charts of much of Australia's coast.

One inscription said:. It lies precisely in the richest climates of the World Although various proposals for colonisation were made, notably by Pierre Purry from to , none was officially attempted. The Dutch East India Company concluded that there was "no good to be done there". They turned down Purry's scheme with the comment that, "There is no prospect of use or benefit to the Company in it, but rather very certain and heavy costs".

With the exception of further Dutch visits to the west, however, Australia remained largely unvisited by Europeans until the first British explorations. John Callander put forward a proposal in for Britain to found a colony of banished convicts in the South Sea or in Terra Australis to enable the mother country to exploit the riches of those regions. He said: "this world must present us with many things entirely new, as hitherto we have had little more knowledge of it, than if it had lain in another planet".

Cook also carried secret Admiralty instructions to locate the supposed Southern Continent : "There is reason to imagine that a continent, or land of great extent, may be found to the southward of the track of former navigators. On 19 April the Endeavour sighted the east coast of Australia and ten days later landed at Botany Bay. Cook charted the coast to its northern extent and, along with the ship's naturalist, Joseph Banks , who subsequently reported favourably on the possibilities of establishing a colony at Botany Bay.

Seventeen years after Cook's landfall on the east coast of Australia, the British government decided to establish a colony at Botany Bay. The American Revolutionary War — saw Britain lose most of its North American colonies and consider establishing replacement territories. In Sir Joseph Banks , the eminent scientist who had accompanied James Cook on his voyage, recommended Botany Bay as a suitable site for settlement, saying that "it was not to be doubted that a Tract of Land such as New Holland, which was larger than the whole of Europe, would furnish Matter of advantageous Return".

Matra reasoned that the country was suitable for plantations of sugar, cotton and tobacco; New Zealand timber and hemp or flax could prove valuable commodities; it could form a base for Pacific trade; and it could be a suitable compensation for displaced American Loyalists. Matra's plan provided the original blueprint for settlement. In this vast tract of land At the same time, humanitarians and reformers were campaigning in Britain against the appalling conditions in British prisons and hulks.

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In prison reformer John Howard wrote The State of Prisons in England and Wales , exposing the harsh conditions of the prison system to "genteel society". According to historian David Hill, "Europeans knew little about the geography of the globe" and to "convicts in England, transportation to Botany Bay was a frightening prospect". Echoing John Callander, he said Australia "might as well have been another planet".

In , Sir Ernest Scott , stated the traditional view of the reasons for colonisation: "It is clear that the only consideration which weighed seriously with the Pitt Government was the immediately pressing and practical one of finding a suitable place for a convict settlement". His book The Tyranny of Distance [] suggested ensuring supplies of flax and timber after the loss of the American colonies may have also been motivations, and Norfolk Island was the key to the British decision.

A number of historians responded and debate brought to light a large amount of additional source material on the reasons for settlement. The decision to settle was taken when it seemed the outbreak of civil war in the Netherlands might precipitate a war in which Britain would be again confronted with the alliance of the three naval Powers, France, Holland and Spain, which had brought her to defeat in Under these circumstances, the strategic advantages of a colony in New South Wales described in James Matra's proposal were attractive.

On subsequent occasions into the early 19th century when war threatened or broke out between Britain and Spain, these plans were revived and only the short length of the period of hostilities in each case prevented them from being put into effect. Georg Forster , who had sailed under Lieutenant James Cook in the voyage of the Resolution — , wrote in on the future prospects of the British colony: "New Holland, an island of enormous extent or it might be said, a third continent, is the future homeland of a new civilized society which, however mean its beginning may seem to be, nevertheless promises within a short time to become very important.

From their definition it covers, in its greatest extent from East to West, virtually a fourth of the whole circumference of the Globe. The extension of dominion, mercantile speculations and the discovery of mines were the real object. How can it be conceived that Spain, who had previously raised so many objections opposing the occupation of the Malouines Falkland Islands , meekly allowed a formidable empire to arise to facing her richest possessions, an empire which must either invade or liberate them?

The colony included the current islands of New Zealand. In , the British government withdrew the extensive territorial claim over the South Pacific. In practice, the governors' writ had been shown not to run in the islands of the South Pacific. It consisted of over a thousand settlers, including convicts women and men. The colony was formally proclaimed by Governor Phillip on 7 February at Sydney. Sydney Cove offered a fresh water supply and a safe harbour, which Philip described as being, 'with out exception the finest Harbour in the World [ Governor Phillip was vested with complete authority over the inhabitants of the colony.

Enlightened for his Age, Phillip's personal intent was to establish harmonious relations with local Aboriginal people and try to reform as well as discipline the convicts of the colony. Phillip and several of his officers—most notably Watkin Tench —left behind journals and accounts of which tell of immense hardships during the first years of settlement. Often Phillip's officers despaired for the future of New South Wales.

Australia has a genocidal history but we won’t learn while it’s dominated by white men

Early efforts at agriculture were fraught and supplies from overseas were scarce. Between and about male and female convicts were landed at Sydney—many "professional criminals" with few of the skills required for the establishment of a colony. Many new arrivals were also sick or unfit for work and the conditions of healthy convicts only deteriorated with hard labour and poor sustenance in the settlement.

The food situation reached crisis point in and the Second Fleet which finally arrived in June had lost a quarter of its 'passengers' through sickness, while the condition of the convicts of the Third Fleet appalled Phillip.

What if Australia Was Never Colonized?

From however, the more regular arrival of ships and the beginnings of trade lessened the feeling of isolation and improved supplies. Phillip sent exploratory missions in search of better soils, fixed on the Parramatta region as a promising area for expansion, and moved many of the convicts from late to establish a small township, which became the main centre of the colony's economic life.

This left Sydney Cove only as an important port and focus of social life.

What If?: Australian History as It Might Have Been What If?: Australian History as It Might Have Been
What If?: Australian History as It Might Have Been What If?: Australian History as It Might Have Been
What If?: Australian History as It Might Have Been What If?: Australian History as It Might Have Been
What If?: Australian History as It Might Have Been What If?: Australian History as It Might Have Been
What If?: Australian History as It Might Have Been What If?: Australian History as It Might Have Been
What If?: Australian History as It Might Have Been What If?: Australian History as It Might Have Been
What If?: Australian History as It Might Have Been What If?: Australian History as It Might Have Been
What If?: Australian History as It Might Have Been What If?: Australian History as It Might Have Been

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