A short history of Australia

Australia's first people were the Aborigines. They have occupied the continent for at least 50,000 years, and before the Europeans arrived in 1788 their population was probably between 300,000 and 750,000. They occupied a lot of the northern territory. Although Captain James Cook had sailed the length of the east coast in 1770 the British did not settle in Australia until 1788. The first ships arrived and brought 1,000 convicts from England. They called the area where they landed New South Wales. Historians still argue today about why the British settled in Australia. Some say that Britain was trying to find new places to send convicts because British prisons were too crowded. Others say that the British wanted to use Australia's natural resources or that they were attempting to stop other Europeans from claiming Australia. Australia's white population grew slowly after 1788. Most of the people were either convicts or former convicts who had finished their sentences. In the 1830s, more migrants arrived in Australia from Britain looking for a new life. Sheep farming had already developed and many people found jobs on farms. New colonies appeared called Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland. They later became the States of the Commonwealth of Australia.

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