A History of Australia

The country we call Australia is very young, with our European roots coming from Great Britain. However a lot happened before the British declared the federation of Australia. Here is some history of how Australia was discovered and founded:

Why is it called Australia?

In 200AD, a Greek map maker theorised that the world was in fact not flat, and that there had to be land in the south to stop the world from toppling (falling) over. He called it “Terra Australis Incognita” which means the Unknown Southern Land. This is where they got the name Australia, or the common phrase “The Land Down Under“.

Australia’s first people

Aboriginals were the first humans to discover Australia. They probably arrived about 50,000 years ago after migrating from Africa through India, Malaysia and Indonesia. When white people arrived, they forced many Aboriginals from their land and so the English colonisation of Australia (Australia Day) is often regarded with negativity.

The first Europeans

Captain William Janszoon from Holland (now called The Netherlands) is credited with being the first European to set foot (to step on) on Australian soil in 1606, but he didn’t even know it was Australia. He thought the land was part of the island of New Guinea, which is further to the north.

Our tiny island of Tasmania

In 1642 a Dutchman called Abel Tasman discovered an island he named Van Diemen’s Land, without knowing that it was part of the bigger land mass of Australia. It was later renamed to Tasmania in his honour.

British occupation

In 1770, a British ship captained by James Cook sailed to the East coast of Australia and most Australians regard him as being the first man to ‘discover’ Australia. That is what we were taught in school. One interesting fact that I didn’t know is that the ship ran into the Great Barrier Reef and was badly damaged. Captain Cook had to stay and repair the ship for seven weeks! He claimed the land for England and in 1788, more British arrived to colonise this new land (even though the land already occupied by the Aboriginals).

Australia becomes a country

Until 1901, each state of Australia was separate colony under the English crown. Finally on January 1st 1901, all the separate colonies were united as a federation to become one single country, Australia.

I learnt some things by writing this history, I hope you learn something by reading it!

The Cookie Chef.

P.S. If you want more posts about Australia and English, please subscribe below with your email address.

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