Course Summary

Australian History 1: Prior to Federation

Unit 1 - Australian Pre-history

A brief analysis of the 50,000 year occupation of the continent by the Aborigines, emphasising the values, beliefs and customs of the people and their strong association with the land.

Unit 2 - Australia Before 1788

This presents three separate topics. The first covers the Early Exploration of Terra Australis Incognita, reviewing the initial, tentative contacts with the land by adventurous mariners from Portugal, Spain, Holland, France and England. Then, in the eighteenth century, Captain James Cook discovered and charted the east coast, claiming the entire land of New Holland for the British Sovereign. The final topic analyses the possible reasons behind the British government’s decision to establish a penal colony on the other side of the world, eighteen years after Cook’s achievement.

Unit 3 - The First Twenty Years

The first topic describes how the fledgling colony struggled to survive under the command of its first four governors, all Royal Navy Captains. During this time, an increasingly belligerent military moved towards conflict with the Colonial Governor, resulting in a rebellion that plunged the small colony into a two year interregnum. This is discussed in the second topic. Much of the remote colony’s problems leading up to this crisis can be attributed to poor colonial administration from London; this is the subject of the final topic.

Unit 4 - Transition And Progress 1810 To 1850

The first topic covers the Age of Macquarie, from 1810 to 1821. Much of Governor Macquarie’s noteworthy stewardship was severely criticised by the Bigge Report, discussed in the second topic. Finally, increasing immigration and moves towards colonial self-governments is described in the topic, Expanding Colonies.

Unit 5 - Exploration Of The Continent

Detailed knowledge of this massive land mass was achieved over a century of exploration, some with fatal consequences. This unit is covered in four separate topics: Charting the Perimeter; The Eastern Seaboard: Rivers and Ranges; The Dry Centre; and finally, The Western Seaboard to West of the Overland Telegraph Line.

Unit 6 - Change And Development 1851 To 1900

The discovery of large quantities of gold gave a great impetus to growth in Australia. A huge increase in immigration seeking great fortunes in gold resulted in significant developments in transportation, land reform, industry and infrastructure, communications and the economy. These issues are analysed in a series of topics.

Unit 7 - Military History

Australia has had a military history from the first day of settlement. This is explored in three topics: British Regiments in the Colonies; The Frontier Wars; and finally, Soldiers of the Queen: Australia’s Colonial Wars.

Unit 8 - The Emergence Of Australian Attitudes

An analysis of a number of influences that contributed to the growth of Australian values, beliefs and culture. The strong growth of nationalism proved to be an irresistible force which culminated in the federation of the separate colonies into the Commonwealth of Australia.

Unit 9 - From Colonies To Nationhood

This unit explores the complex processes by which the citizens of six independent colonies overcame their provincial prejudices and agreed to adopt a constitution creating a new national federation. The Commonwealth of Australia was formally established on 1 January 1901.