A Checkered Australian History

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A million aborigines lived in Australia as hunters and gatherers when Europeans arrived. They worshipped spirit ancestors in a country that had it all deserts and tropical forests besides snowy mountains. The New Holland of the 17th century changed when the British laid their claims through James Cook in 1770. The penal life ended in 1868, but by then, 160,000 convicts had reached the shores of Australia. Free settlers arrived too, but life was tough and more so for the displaced aborigines whose lifestyles suffered severely. 

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The gold fever commenced after discovering the magical metal in Victoria and New South Wales in 1851. Melbourne and Sydney developed as classic modern cities based on the profits from gold and wool. Yet gold brought all kinds of people from the colonies and violence too. Starting as a penal colony, soldiers and the emancipated convicts established farms. The cheap land attracted further migrants from Britain, and the settlers uprooted the natives to set up farms and identify grazing lands.

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Soldiers and convicts settled in the native Yuggera territory nearby Brisbane in 1825. The English aristocrats settled in Perth in 1829, and Melbourne came into existence through settlers in 1835. Adelaide came into being through a private British company. The modern setup was now complete, and political parties remained to be born beside the involvement in the 20th-century world wars when Australia stood by America. What happened during the wars? In a nation of merely 3 million, 60,000 died during the First World War. Then came the great depression in 1929, when financial institutions collapsed in Australia too. The Australians fought well in the Second World War and contributed to the Allied victory. Pride was rising, and legends like the cricketer Donald Bradman were born.

The end of the global war in 1945 blessed the world and Australia too. Migrants came from Europe and Asia in search of jobs in the industry. The Australian economy was booming in the 1950s, and the exports of metal, meat, wheat, and wool brightened development prospects. The 1960s looked up for the whole world, and Australia was getting socially, economically, and politically more vibrant and independent from England. They then brought the locals into the limelight with representation and development facilities.

The Hawke-Keating Labor governments during 1983-1996 brought economic reforms in banking and floated the dollar. John Howard’s Coalition government ruled from 1996 to 2004. It changed the tax and industrial relations systems. The Labor party, led by Kevin Rudd in 2007, pursued a vigorous plan for development. Australia never looked back from its ivory tower.


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