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Short economic history of australia:

Economic history: Since european settlement in australia in 1788 many changes have been made. The land has been developed for settlement and farming. Dams for storing water have been built so that during the dry summers and long dry drought periods there is enough water for the population and some farms. As well , mineral resources such as coal, iron , and gold have been developed. All these are necessary for the growing population. At first , the huge , newly discovered continent did not have any type of transport system such as roads or railways. There were also no communication systems such as the post office . both these were necessary for life and business as the british knew it. Particular problems were the transport system because of the huge distances and water storage facilities due to the dry climate.

The Beginning: 1788 to 1820

The convicts (will be mentioned later) and civilians who arrived with the first fleet were only interested in surviving. They needed all their energy to get to know the new climate and conditions to grow crops and fruit trees , and to keep animals. This was a long , slow process and it was not until 1805 that wool was ready for export, the first australian export product. John Macarthur developed a special breed of merino sheep which prduced fine wool and lived well in the hot dry climate and on the hard ground of Australia. The other main difficulty was enough land for farming around Sidney. The mountains behind the city were like a wall stopping people going further. This was not solved until 1813 when the Blue Mountains were finally crossed and the open country on the other side could be used for more farming.

The farming age: 1820 to 1851

The Industrial revolution in Britain led to a huge demand for raw materials. Sheep farming, being very profitable, increased quickly after 1813 and the "unlocking" or opening of the land behind Sidney. Farmers and those hoping to be farmers who wanted land did not listen to the government. It had only certain small areas where people could live and have farms. People wanting to start new farms were to wait until the local and English government decided on how to sell the land, who to sell it to, and what is the price for it. These new farmers did not wait. They moved out into new , unexplored areas and "squatted", that is stopped and set up camps where the land was good and had permanent water. If things went well , they built a house and other buildings needed for farming. In general , wool was the most important product. On a smaller but still important scale, South Australia and Tasmania produced sufficient wheat for export.

The goldrush and the Boom: 1851 to 1890

Gold was first discovered in 1823. the government did not publish this information because it was afrid of what would happen to the new colony if it become known.
The Goldrush first began in Victoria in 1851. This was the start of very big changes in Australia. The population grew, there was more bulidning and business bagan. The population rose from around half a million in 1851 to 1.7 million in 1871 and in this period over 50.000.000 ounces (over 140 tonns) of gold were mined. With more money from the gold and more people , the government also had more money. This was spent on roads, railways and government services, for example. Now Australia did not need money from the British parliament. Private investment was also high. There were many new and buildings and industry grew.

The Depression, Recovery, World War 1 and After : 1890 to 1939

In 1890 there was a bad economic depression . the large economic problems in Britain were also felt in Australia. This showed that she was still strongly dependent economically on Britain. Wool prices fell, land prices in Melbourne collapsed and there was a banking crisis in 1893.
Unemployment rose and the Shearers' Strike , though not succesful at the time was very important for the new trade unions in Australia.the sheep population fell from over one million in 1891 to half a million by 1902. the situation was made worse by a long , hard drought from 1895 to 1902. This was a disaster for a country "riding on the sheep's back2.
The economy slowly improved after 1900 more gold-mining , refrigerated shiping which meant that meat could be exported, railways and better sheep and shearing equipment were the main reasons. There were good and bad periods during this time . british migrants arrived and the gouvernment gave money for irrigation schemes. This meant that farms had water all year and could produce more. Local manufacturing industries such as cars , clothing and electrical goods grew. Taxes on imports to make them cost more kept the local industries in businnes. However, the country suffered greatly with the world economic depression.

World War 2 to 1972:

Economically , world War 2 made Australia develop locaql manufacturing industries as europe could no longer provide her needs. In general , this was a time when everyone had a job and a good living standard. The immigration programm brought skilled and unskilled workers to Asutralia.
Local and international investment brought progress. Wheat and wool prices were high and there were many technical changes in industry bringing higher productivity. This situation began to change towards the end of the 1960s.
It was made worse by the start of the European Economic community, as Europe, especially Britain, was one of Australias main markets. The situation was helped only by mining, especially the export of minerals and iron to Japan.

1971 to Today:

The economic situation has continued to worse since the early 1970s.
inflation was between 11% and 14% for many years, although this fell to below 2% in 1992. unemployment rose to over 10% in 1983, fell but then increased again.


During the 18th and 19th centuries in Britain one of the common forms of punishment for breaking the law was transportation. Prisons wre so full in England and the British wanted to send bad people out of the country. Prisoners sent to another country by ship were called convicts. After the War of Independence , America did not let Britain send any more convicts. Prisons soon filled and something had to be done with the prisoners. This was one of the main reasons the British decided to settle in Australia. Until that time Australia had not been interesting as a place to live in. there were no suitable goods, such as spices, for trade the climate was much hotter and drier than in Europe and the vegetation was very different. No Europeans had shown interest in the country. However, the problem nof prisoners was a very big one for the British and the decicion was made to start a colony in Australia.
The first Fleet of eleven sailing-ships with 1.500 people including about 800 convicts left England under governor Philip in May 1787. it arrived at Botany near sydney on 18 January 1788. food supplies for the first two years were carried as it was not expected that the colony could supply itself within a short time. A settlement was built north of Botany Bay at Port Jackson , today Sydney Harbour.
During the next eighty years more than 160.000 convicts were transported . Convicts had to stay either 7 years , 14 years or their whole life in prison. Most convicts came from cities. The normal convict was poor, uneducated and had often done something against the law although this was often just stealing a loaf of bread. The bad social conditions in England and the extreme punishments for crimes at those times need to be known before saying that all the convicts were bad by nature. For many it was a matter of life or death and the fight for food. Those convicted of serious crimes were normally hung, not transported. A small number of educated men , especially poitical prisoners were people who had organised and been in strikes and demonstrations against so many people being poor and unemployment . there were many Irish and Scotsmen who did not like the English.
The handling of convicts was very different depending on the time they were sent out , their crime , their behaviour and those in control. Up until 1820 Governor Macquarie's ideas were used. These were that people who had not had a good start and a fair chance in life could return to the right way if controlled carefully and given a chance. The government authorities had very little housing for convicts and they were not usually locked in to the prisons at night. Many worked for the government and were free to work for themselves after 3 o clock in the afternoon. Others were sent to work for free settlers as servants or farm workers on new farms. A convict had the chance of freedom before his time if he behaved well. A "ticket of leave" freed him and let him work for himself under certain conditions. A "conditional pardon" made him free as long as he did not return to Britain. Until 1820 freed convicts were often given land and tools to help start a farm.
The system became much worse after an enquiry in 1820. This said that conditions were too good for convicts and ex-convicts. The result of the report was protests in Britain which costs bad changes.
Generally , conditions were made worse and there were more chain gangs where prisoners were chained together by the feet. They had to walk and work with these chains. Special prison settlements witch very bad conditions and terrible punishments were also set up by the British in Tasmania and on Norfolk Island.
Various factors brought an end to the convict era. Free setlers did not like the convicts as they were cheap workers for the landowners. A landowner would take a cheap convict before he would pay more for a free worker. Free convicts wanted to stop discrimination against them and strong criticism of the terrible handling of convicts came from Australia and Britain. In London, a comitee from the House of Commons for the British Government decided that as many prisoners expected better conditions in Australia than in England, transportation was not effective. From 1840 convict numbers dropped and transportation was finally stoppen in 1868.


The Kooris, the first australian people have lived in Australia for more than 40.000 years. Since 1788, Australians of european background have lived there also. They either migrated or are descended from people who migrated. By 1868 no more convicts from British prisons were sent to Asutralia and all migrants were free settlers. For many, many years most migrants came from britain , and this continued until after World War 2. in 1947 australia had a population of 7.5 million in an area of 7.700.000 square kilometers. In this years the Autralian Government decided the population had to grow. Since then there has been a large rise in the number of immigrants and they come from many differnet countries. The decision to have more migrants and pay their fares to Australia was mad after the Japanese bombed Darwin during World War 2. it was clear that Asutralia needed a larger population for two reasons . One was to keep herself safe from other countries wanting to come and take her over to have more land. Therefore, more people were needed to fill her huge , empty areas. The other reason was , workers were needed to increase local production of goods and services. Thses workers also then had needs and made the local market bigger. At first the Australian government tried to bring mainly British people to the country , but in the early 50ies they went to holland, italy and west germany to find enough people. Refugees from Latavia, Estonia and Lithuania were accepted as immigrants for politicial reasons. Yugoslavs also came and white russians who had escaped to china after the Russian Revolution were allowed to come as well.
As conditions became economically better in Britain, less and less epople were intersested in migrating. The biggest change came when large numbers of italians and Greeks immigrated. These groups had fewer skilled workers and also did not usually have a knowledge of English. New arrivals settled in nareas where relatives or friends lived and there are areas of Australian cities and suburbs which have a higher number of Greeks or Italians. At one time Melbourne is siad to have been the city with the largest Greek population after Athens. Both these national groups had a strong influence on certain aspects of Australian life. Two aspects are food and schools. The different types of fruit and especially vegetables that could be bought in the shops increased very quickly witch, for example , zucchinis and garlic. Children attending school from the late 1950ies were normally in a class witch several differnet nationalities. During the period from the end of World War 2 to 1970, over three million migrants arrived in Australia. From 1976 on , about 25% of migrants to Asutralia have come from differnet parts of Asia. They have come for both political and economic reasons. Because of bad economic conditions in Australia such as unemployment, inflation and the loss of important markets because of the protectionist trade policy of the european community, migraion is much more limited today. People can only migrate legally for non-political reasons if there is a need for their skills. This change is important as it does not help anyone to come to a new country and then not find work. In general , however, many people who have had nowhere to go because of political changes have found a home in Australia from World War 2 up to today.

The home of the Aborigines:

Most people think that australia is a young country, but is that really true?
Certainly, it was only 200 years ago that the British under Captain James Cook began their invasion (most people said that australia was discovered by Captain Cook, but how can you discover a country where people have lived for thousands of years? That's why many australians now prefer the word invasion). But what some people forget is that the Aborigines had already been living in that country for a long time: scientists say for at least 50.000 years! The Aborigines themselves say that they have been there since the beginning of time.
When the British came in 1788, there were about 750.000 Aborigines. They lived in large family groups, each with its own language and culture. There was plenty of contact between different groups, as the Aborigines were very good at learning languages. One person could often speak four or five.
Coming from such a different culture, the British never really understood the Aborigines' way of life . they even said the aborigines did not have a culture. Let's go back to the time before the British arrived and look at the some of the customs and beliefs of the Aborigines.


Only one or two women - no men - were allowed to be there when a mother gave birth to her baby. In some tribes, the father was only told the sex of his new child by a "message stick". This stick was long if the baby was a boy and short if it was a girl. A baby was not usually given a name until it was one year old. Before that it was not a "real person". Altough the mother had the most respnsibility, all members of the group , including the men , took care of the child in the first years of its life.
Between the ages of 10 and 15 , boys and girls became men and women. This took place in special religious ceremonies called " initiations".
In the south of australia a girl was taken into the bush by some of the older women in her family. Her body was painted with earth colors and her arms covered witch animal skins. For the next few days , the girl had to sit up in a tree in a cloud of smoke from a fire below. She was only allowed to come down at night to sleep. After this, she was given a skirt of emu feathers which she had to wear until she married. Two young men from the tribe then joined the group and took part in the next stage. The girl had to hold a branch witch two small cakes at each end. The men took bites from the cakes, spat them into the fire and began dancing. The branch was burned and the girl taken back to her father . that night there was a big celebration party. The girl knew that she was now ready top marry : she was now a women.
Boys' initiation often took longer. One tribe said when the boys's beards began to grow , it was the right time for initiation. Older men took a group of boys away from the camp and pulled their beards out. They were not allowd to eat or sleep for three days and three nights. This was over the next six months. During this time a boy learned many of the sacred stories, dances and laws before becoming a man.

Family life:

In our society , people usually choose who they marry. For the Aborigines , marriage was more like a contract between parts of the tribe. A women usually had more than one husband in her life, and the first was sometimes 30 years older that herself. However, she was allowed to choose her next husbands if she obeyed the law. Having many children improved a women's status. If she was unable to have any children of her own , she was given a child. A man's status grew if he had many wives and children.

Creation Ancestors:

The aborigines say it was the "creation ancestors" - animal,human and reptile creatures - who created the landscape and the first people. When these creatures disappeared, they left their spirits in the mountains and the rocks. If somebody damaged, they left their spirits in the mountains and the rocks. If somebody damaged these sacred places, they were sometimes punished by death. For us , laws are something people make, but for the Aborigines it is the Creation Ancestors that made the law.
One of these creatures was the Rainbow serpent.

At the time of creation he travelled across the country and made rivers and valleys with his long , heavy body. After his journey , the rainbow serpent went back to his hole in the ground and then called out loudly " Come out". Suddenly , all the animals , birds and plants which had been sleeping under the ground came out and began to live on earth.
Then the rainbow serpent made rules for all living things to obey. If a plant or an animal did not obey him, it was turned into a stone by the rainbow serpent. These stones became hills and mountains. The rainbow serpent rewarded some plants and animals that obeyed the rules by making them into people. In this way the various tribes developed.

Uluru - Ayers Rock - in the Northern Territory has a very special religious meaning to Aborigines.

The fight to survive:

Normally a peaceful people, the aborigines suddenly found themselves at war when British arrived and started taking the land. Thousands of aborigines were killed. Diseases that the British brought with them caused even more deaths. When the aborigines fought back, whole tribes were massacred. The aborigines who survived were put onto reserves and church missions. These were often like prisons. Rape of aboriginal women was common, and soon many children were born witch some "white blood" . The white people thought that these children were better than the other aboriginal children. So they took them away from their families by force and sent them to hostels in the cities. There they learned to live " the eurpean way".
Today , the Aborigines live in a country which is very different form the australia of 1788. Although they live in the traditional ways in only some parts of the country , all aborigines are proud of their culture.

Explorers of Australia:

William Dampier was an english seaman who lived from 1652 to 1715. He was the first Englishman to land in Australia. It was because of bad luck and some bad decisions that he is not remembered as the man who claimed the country of England.
In 1688, the "Cygnet", the ship he was sailing on, stopped at the north-west coastnear today's town of dampier. While the ship was being repaired, he found time to explore the country close to it. As he did this he made notes on the way of life of the kooris, the first asutralians. In the book he wrote about his travels and Asutralia , he said the country was very dry and did not have many trees , grass and other plants. He also said the people were very primitive.
Although what Dampier saw was not very helpful for England, he wanted to return and find out more about the country. After taking a lot of time , talking to the english government , they gave him a ship. In 1699 he sailed from Engalnd . he hoped to land on the east coast and find something important for England. He had problems such as heavy storms which blew him off his course he wanted to sail and his ship was in bad condition. This meant he could only sail along parts of the west and north coasts of Australia. On his second trip Dampier also did not find anything good for trade or good land for farming. Because of his reports the British were not interested in asutralia. It was neraly a hundred years before they were.

In 1768 Captain James Cook sailed to Tahiti to watch the planet venus crossing the sun. he was then to sail further west-south-west to explore the South Pacific Ocean. He found and made maps of New Zealand and the east coast of Asutralia. In general, he made a realistic report about Australia . The country was fertile and a lot of food could be produced in contrast to the land Dampier had seen. Cook's reports of the Koori people were very different from those of other Europeans. He wrote about their great knowledge and understanding of the natural enviroment and how this was linked to their way of life.


Australia is the fifth and smallest continent. It covers approximately 7.700.000 square kilometres, the mainland is almost 4.000 kilometres from west to east and over 3.000 kilometres from north to south. Most of the land is very flat. The very old Western Plateau is generally only 300 metres above sea-level and is mostly desert or semi-desert. In general Austrlia's climate has a mild drought or dry period every five years and a bad one evrey ten. One example is Central Australia which went without rain for seven years in 1970s. therefore, although the soil may be fertile in the inland , little or no water makes it almost impossible for people to live there and use the land. Much of the water that has managed to reach these dry areas over hundreds of years and run into the lake system has brought salt to the surface . the heat evaporates the water. As the lakes dry out the water just below the surface rises because of the heat and also evaporates on the surface bringing up salts from the soils. The Western Plateau contains many salt lakes . Lake Eyre, the largest , covers an area over 9.000 square kilometres and as the lowest is 16 metres below sealevel. It is the drainage basin of the inland river system that confused the early settlers who thought the area would be well supplied with fresh water. Due to these conditions there are only the two large settlements of Darwin in the north and alice springs in the centre.
The Tropics are in the north and have wet and dry seasons controlled by the monsoons, wet seasonal rains blowing south from the equator . the wet seasons normally starts in November and continues to April. Rainfalls are heavy and continual, often washing out roads and making travel across the country impossible. Planes can only land on sealed or concrete airfields and not on any flat area of cleared ground. Thick, tall tropical rain forest still covers large areas of the north-east. Only 3% of the population live in the north, again because of the climate.
The Great Dividing Range runs along the eats coast from north to south. Its name describes what it does - to divide the continent into two main areas. West of the Great dividing Range the yearly rainfall drops until the desert areas are reached. About one third of the continent receives under 25 cm of rain each year and another third between 25 and 50 cm a year. Australia is the driest continent on earth. The Great Dividing Range has Australia's highest mountain, Mount Kosciusko , in the "Australian Alps". The Australian Alps are relatively low by world standards and were covered with glaciers. They are steep , rugged and covered with native eucalyptus forest.
Most of the population live in the east and south-east coastal areas, especially around the cities of Melbourne , Sydney Adelaide and Briusbane. Other areas where more people live are Tasmania which is cut off from the mainland by Bass Strait. It has a much milder climate with snow each winter and about 3% of the population live there. Around 17% of the Australian population live on the south-west coast around Perth, where the climate is warm, but pleasant and rainfall is enough to support farms and a large city.

Sydney: Big City Life

Why do so many Europeans seem to think that sidney is the capital of asutralia? Because it's the largest city in the country? Or is it because most foreigners make Sidney their first stop on a visit to Australia? Maybe it's because of sidneys cultural scene. The opera house, for example, is internationally famous.
Whatever the reason , there's no doubt that this beautiful and lively city has a lot to offer - the sun and the sea, to name just two things . In Sydney alone there are 250km of small bays and beaches along the pacific coast. Even though the beaches are so near, many people have their own swimming-pools in their gardens. Because of the wonderful climate , "sydneysiders" spend most of the year outdoors - at barbecues, picnics, sporting activities or just lying in the sun or if you like sailing , sydney is the place to live.over on the western side of the city the atmosphere is really different. Immigrants from southern europe , the Lebanon and vietnam live here. In fact, one suburb, Cabramatta, is now called "Vietnamatta" by sydneysiders, because thousands of vietnamese who came to Australia in the 70s and 80s have made it their home. The place has a very asian atmosphere , with many vietnamese food stores, restaurants and businesses.
Another suburb, Redfern, is one of the poorest parts of Sydney. It's here that many Aborigines live. You won't find any swimming-pools here. Instead, you'll see poor, shabby houses. Many of the people living here don't have a job. But the Aborigines in Redfern haven't given up hope. They would like to play a greater role in the organization of the suburb. They believe , for example , that some of their problems could be solved if they had their own high school.
Sydney also has a lot of problems typical of big cities anywhere in the world: heavy traffic-jams and pollution, for example. Air pollution is such a problem that , at times, you can actually see a huge orange cloud hanging over the city. The once clean beaches are now polluted, too. Sometimes you can even smell the city's sewage as it flows into the sea.
Every Sydneysider knows only too well about the dangers of fire. There are laws against having barbecues on very hot days. Even burning a match outdoors is illegal at this time. If you break this law , you can be sent to prison.

The Opera House:

One of the most famous buildings in Australia is the Sydney Opera House. It is on Bennelong Point where the First Fleet arrived in 1788. the white sails of the building stand out against the sky and the blue of the Harbour's water. It's design and the engineering techniques used while building it are very special in the world. There were many problems during the building period. The architect , Joern Utzon, who won the competition for designing the building had never been to Australia. He used photos of Sydney Harbour to draw his design. When building began , however , it was soon clear that the way the shells or sails could be built had to be changed . building began in 1959 and was not finished until 1967.
The original expected costs of 7 million dollar rose to be over 100 million dollar. Most of this extra money was raised by the Opera House Lottery. Today, many cultural activities are held there and many people visit the building out of interest.


Tasmania is sometimes called " The Apple Isle", as the climate is much cooler and milder than the rest of Australia , and excellent apples are grown there. The difference in climate is because Tasmania is the most southern state of Australia and, therefore, furthest from the Equator, and it is an island. It is separated from the mainland by Bass Strait., a narrow shallow channel of water that is very dangerous when there are storms. It is about 68.000 square kilometres in area , about 300 kilometres from north to south and east to west. This makes it the smallest state. There is thick rain forest on the west coast, and this area is still an area not farmed by a man. There are many fast rivers where people now raft although it's very dangerous and a trip takes many days. Walking in the area is also popular, but there is more than 2.000 ml of rain each year. The mountains here are steep and rugged and there are many lakes. The landscape was partly made by glaciers. The central area has less rain because the "Roaring Forties", the westerly winds coming across thousands of kilometres of open ocean, leave much of their water on the west coast.
In the centre there is a very famous walking track of about 90 kilometres , the Cradle Mountain-Lake St.Clair track. Native Australian beech tress with leaves much smaller than the European beech grow in forest here. Some of the area is wet and boogy with grass. Other parts have health and low plants typical of areas which have snow , and boronia , a native plant with dull flowers but beautiful perfume grows there. There are many steep mountains rising sharply from the land with waterfalls and deep valleys below, as well as the many glacial lakes. There is a lot of snow in winter and at the northern end of the walk is Cradle Mountain. This has its name because of its looks like a cradle with a man sleeping with his hands folded on his chest.
In general, Tasmania is very poular for holidays as it is always green, has good snow in winter , and is cooler than the mainland in summer. There are almost half a million people living there, only 3% of the total population. Historically it is known to australians as having had several very strict and terrible convict settlements, for example , in the south-east at Port Arthur.

A country becomes a nation:
By 1901 there were 3.5 million people living in asutralia until that time England had governed " the great southern land" from the other side of the world, but in 1901 Australia became an independent nation and the first national government was elected.
There were big celebrations in Sydney on this important day. Happy and proud australians crowded into the streets of the city to celebrate. Because so many Australians still had strong family and economic ties with britain, Australia became a part of the British Commonwealth and , to this day, still is.

Australia today:
After the British arrived in Australia there were continous waves of immigration. By far the largest group of immigrants has come from Britain. The second largest group of immigrants was from Italy , followd by yogoslavia, Greece and Germany. Since 1945 the population has increased from 7.5 million to 16 million. What were the resons for this?
During the Second World War the Japanese bombed the northern parts of the country. The gouvernment realized that the population had to increase if australia wanted to defend its long, uninhabitated coastline and if it wanted to become richer. Thousands of Europeans took the chance to start a new life on the other side of the world. More recently , Asians and people from the Middle East have immigrated. So Australian society has changed too. It is not as "English" as it used to be.
Today there are controls on immigration, but Australia still nedd skilled workers and technicians in certain fields.


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