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His daring and notoriety made him an iconic figure in Australian history, folklore, literature, art and film. Some bushrangers, most notably Ned Kelly in his Jerilderie Letter , and in his final raid on Glenrowan, explicitly represented themselves as political rebels. Attitudes to Kelly, by far the most well-known bushranger, exemplify the ambivalent views of Aussie regarding bushrangers. European explorers made their last great, often arduous and sometimes tragic expeditions into the interior of Australia over the period - some with the official sponsorship of the colonial authorities and others commissioned by private investors.

By , large areas of the inland were still unknown to Europeans. Trailblazers like Edmund Kennedy and the Prussian naturalist Ludwig Leichhardt , had met tragic ends attempting to fill in the gaps during the s, but explorers remained ambitious to discover new lands for agriculture or answer scientific enquiries. Surveyors also acted as explorers and the colonies sent out expeditions to discover the best routes for lines of communication. The size of expeditions varied considerably from small parties of just two or three to large, well equipped teams led by gentlemen explorers assisted by smiths, carpenters, labourers and Aboriginal guides accompanied by horses, camels or bullocks.

In , the ill-fated Burke and Wills led the first north-south crossing of the continent from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Lacking bushcraft and unwilling to learn from the local Aboriginal people, Burke and Wills died in , having returned from the Gulf to their rendez-vous point at Coopers Creek only to discover the rest of their party had departed the location only a matter of hours previously.

Though an impressive feat of navigation, the expedition was an organisational disaster which continues to fascinate the Australian public. His expedition mapped out the route which was later followed by the Australian Overland Telegraph Line. Uluru and Kata Tjuta were first mapped by Europeans in during the expeditionary period made possible by the construction of the Australian Overland Telegraph Line.

In separate expeditions, Ernest Giles and William Gosse were the first European explorers to this area. These barren desert lands of Central Australia disappointed the Europeans as unpromising for pastoral expansion, but would later come to be appreciated as emblematic of Australia.

The steady encroachment of European explorers and pastoralists into the lands of the Aborigines met with a variety of responses, from friendly or curious to fearful or violent reactions. Very often, early European exploratory expeditions only succeeded by means of the assistance rendered by Aboriginal guides or negotiators or by advice from tribes encountered along the expeditionary route.

According to the historian Geoffrey Blainey , in Australia during the colonial period: "In a thousand isolated places there were occasional shootings and spearings. Even worse, smallpox, measles, influenza and other new diseases swept from one Aboriginal camp to another The main conqueror of Aborigines was to be disease and its ally, demoralisation". Pastoralists often established themselves beyond the frontiers of European settlement and competition for water and land between indigenous people and cattlemen was a source of potential conflict - especially in the arid interior.

In later decades Aboriginal men began working as skilled stockmen on outback cattle stations. Christian missionaries sought to convert Aboriginal people. Prominent Aboriginal activist Noel Pearson born , who was raised at a Lutheran mission in Cape York , has written that Christian missions throughout Australia's colonial history "provided a haven from the hell of life on the Australian frontier while at the same time facilitating colonisation".

Some Anthropological work was also conducted among the Aborigines during the period. A pioneering and landmark work on indigenous Australia was conducted by Walter Baldwin Spencer and Frank Gillen in their renowned anthropological study The Native Tribes of Central Australia in earned international renown and provides a valuable 19th century study of an indigenous Australian society. Around this time, Aboriginal welfare advocate and anthropologist Daisy Bates commenced her work among the Aborigines after reading an allegation in The Times about atrocities against Aboriginals in north-west Australia.

Bates came to fear that the Aboriginal race was destined for extinction. Once Europeans had gained control of Aboriginal territory, the local Aborigines who had not been affected by disease or conflict were generally pushed into reserves or missions. Others settled on the fringes of white settlement or worked as station hands for white farmers. Some either intermarried or bore children with Europeans. European diet, disease and alcohol adversely affected many Aboriginal people.


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A relative few remained living traditional lives un-affected by Europeans at the close of the 19th century - mainly in the far North and in the Centralian deserts. The rapid economic expansion which followed the gold rushes produced a period of prosperity which lasted forty years, culminating in the great Land Boom of the s.

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Melbourne in particular grew rapidly, becoming Australia's largest city and for a while the second-largest city in the British Empire : its grand Victorian buildings are a lasting reminder of the period. The traditional craft of Stonemasons in Melbourne were the first organised workers in the Australian labour movement and in the world to win an eight-hour day in Melbourne Trades Hall was opened in with Trades and Labour Councils and Trades Halls opening in all cities and most regional towns in the following forty years. During the s Trade unions developed among shearers , miners , and stevedores wharf workers , but soon spread to cover almost all blue-collar jobs.

Shortages of labour led to high wages for a prosperous skilled working class, whose unions demanded and got an eight-hour day and other benefits unheard of in Europe. Australia gained a reputation as "the working man's paradise. This produced a reaction which led to all the colonies restricting Chinese and other Asian immigration. This was the foundation of the White Australia Policy. The "Australian compact", based around centralised industrial arbitration, a degree of government assistance particularly for primary industries, and White Australia, was to continue for many years before gradually dissolving in the second half of the 20th century.

The Great Boom could not last forever, and in it gave way to the Great Crash, a decade-long depression which created high unemployment, and ruined many businesses, and the employers responded by driving down wages. The unions responded with a series of strikes , particularly the bitter and prolonged Australian Maritime Dispute and the and shearers' strikes. The colonial ministries, made up for the most part of liberals whom the unions had long seen as allies, turned sharply against the workers and there were a series of bloody confrontations, particularly in the pastoral areas of Queensland.

The unions reacted to these defeats and what they saw as betrayals by liberal politicians by forming their own political parties within their respective colonies, the forerunners of the Australian Labor Party. These parties achieved rapid success: in Queensland saw the world's first Labor Party parliamentary government, the Dawson Government, which held office for six days. The industrial struggles of the s produced a new strain of Australian radicalism and nationalism , exemplified in the Sydney-based magazine The Bulletin , under its legendary editor J F Archibald.

This newfound Australian consciousness also gave birth to a profound racism , against Chinese, Japanese and Indian immigrants. Attitudes towards indigenous Australians during the period varied from the outright armed hostility seen in earlier times to a paternalistic "smoothing the pillow" policy, designed to "civilise" the last remnants of what was considered a dying race.

By the mid 19th century, there was a strong desire for representative and responsible government in the colonies of Australia, fed by the democratic spirit of the goldfields evident at the Eureka Stockade and the ideas of the great reform movements sweeping Europe , the United States and the British Empire. The end of convict transportation accelerated reform in the s and s. The Australian Colonies Government Act [] was a landmark development which granted representative constitutions to New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania and the colonies enthusiastically set about writing constitutions which produced democratically progressive parliaments - though the constitutions generally maintained the role of the colonial upper houses as representative of social and economic "interests" and all established Constitutional Monarchies with the British monarch as the symbolic head of state.

An innovative secret ballot was introduced in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia in , in which the government supplied voting paper containing the names of candidates and voters could select in private. This system was adopted around the world, becoming known as the " Australian Ballot ". This right was extended to Victoria in and New South Wales the following year.

The other colonies followed until, in , Tasmania became the last colony to grant universal male suffrage. Propertied women in the colony of South Australia were granted the vote in local elections but not parliamentary elections in Henrietta Dugdale formed the first Australian women's suffrage society in Melbourne , Victoria in Women became eligible to vote for the Parliament of South Australia in This was the first legislation in the world permitting women also to stand for election to political office and, in , Catherine Helen Spence became the first female political candidate for political office, unsuccessfully standing for election as a delegate to the Federal Convention on Australian Federation.

Western Australia granted voting rights to women in Legally, Indigenous Australian males generally gained the right to vote during this period when Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia gave voting rights to all male British subjects over 21 - only Queensland and Western Australia barred Aboriginal people from voting. Thus, Aboriginal men and women voted in some jurisdictions for the first Commonwealth Parliament in Early federal parliamentary reform and judicial interpretation however sought to limit Aboriginal voting in practice - a situation which endured until rights activists began campaigning in the s.

Though the various parliaments of Australia have been constantly evolving, the key foundations for elected parliamentary government have maintained an historical continuity in Australia from the s into the 21st century. The s depression the most severe Australia had ever faced made the inefficiencies of the six colonies seem ever more ridiculous, and, particularly in border areas, a push for an Australian Federation began. Other motives for Federation were the need for a common immigration policy Queensland was busy importing indentured workers from New Caledonia , known as Kanakas , to work in the sugar industry: both the unions and the other colonies strongly opposed this , and fear of the other European powers, France and Germany, who were expanding into the region.

British military leaders such as Horatio Kitchener urged Australia to create a national army and navy: this obviously required a federal government. It was also no coincidence that in the s for the first time the majority of Australians, the children of the gold rush immigrants, were Australian-born. Amid calls from London for the establishment of an intercolonial Australian army, and with the various colonies independently constructing railway lines, New South Wales Premier Sir Henry Parkes addressed a rural audience in his Tenterfield Oration , stating that the time had come to form a national executive government: [16].

Parkes' vision called for a convention of Parliamentary representatives from the different colonies, to draft a constitution for the establishment of a national parliament, with two houses to legislate on "all great subjects". Like many in the Federation movement, Parkes was an Imperial loyalist, and at a Federation Conference banquet in , he spoke of blood-kinship linking the colonies:.

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Parkes was the initial leader of the federation movement, but the other colonies tended to see it as a plot for New South Wales dominance, and an initial attempt to approve a federal constitution in failed. In , representatives of the six colonies and New Zealand had met in Melbourne. They passed a resolution calling for the union of the colonies and requested that the colonial legislatures nominate representatives to attend a convention to consider a federal constitution.

The following year, the month-long National Australasian Convention was held in Sydney. With all the future states and New Zealand represented, and three committees formed: Constitution, Finance and Judiciary. The delegates returned to their respective colonial parliaments with the Bill, but progress was slow, as Australia faced its s economic Depression.

Following a federalist convention in Corowa in and an Premiers conference, five of the colonies elected representatives for the Australian Constitutional Convention , which was conducted in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne over the space of a year, allowing time for consultation with the parliaments and other sources. Queensland and Western Australia later moved to do the same, though New Zealand did not participate in the Convention.

In July the Bill was put to a series of referenda in the colonies, with Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania approving, but New South Wales rejecting the proposal. In , a second referendum put an amended Bill to the voters of the four colonies and Queensland and Bill was endorsed in each case. In March , delegates were despatched to London, where approval for the Bill was being sought from the Imperial Parliament. The Colonial Secretary, Joseph Chamberlain , objected to the provisions limiting the right of appeal to the Privy Council , but a compromise was reached and the Bill put to the House of Commons.

Passed on 5 July and, soon after, was signed into law by Queen Victoria , who proclaimed in September that the new nation would come into being on the first day of Lord Hopetoun was despatched from London, tasked with appointing an interim Cabinet to oversee the foundation of the Commonwealth and conduct of the first elections.

The arts in Australia developed distinct and popular characteristics during the second half of the 19th century and the period remains in many respects, the foundation of many perceptions of Australia to this day. Christianity continued to play a central role in the culture outlook of the colonists and the Church of England remained the largest denomination. The origins of distinctly Australian painting is often associated with the Heidelberg School of the ss.

Artists such as Arthur Streeton , Frederick McCubbin and Tom Roberts applied themselves to recreating in their art a truer sense of light and colour as seen in Australian landscape. Like the European Impressionists, they painted in the open air. These artists found inspiration in the unique light and colour which characterises the Australian bush. Some see strong connections between the art of the school and the wider Impressionist movement, while others point to earlier traditions of plain air painting elsewhere in Europe.

Sayers states that "there remains something excitingly original and indisputably important in the art of the s and s", and that by this time "something which could be described as an Australian tradition began to be recognized". The name itself comes from a camp Roberts and Streeton set up at a property near Heidelberg , at the time on the rural outskirts of Melbourne. Some of their paintings received international recognition, and many remain embedded in Australia's popular consciousness both inside and outside the art world. Among the first Australian artists to gain a reputation overseas were the impressionist John Peter Russell during the s and Rupert Bunny , a painter of landscape, allegory and sensual and intimate portraits.

Opera singer Nellie Melba — travelled to Europe in to commence her international career. She became among the best known Australians of the period and later participated in early gramophone recording and radio broadcasting. Australian composers who published musical works during this period include Alice Charbonnet-Kellermann , W. The distinctive themes and origins of Australia's bush music can be traced to the songs sung by the convicts who were sent to Australia during the early period of the British colonisation, beginning in Early Australian ballads sing of the harsh ways of life of the epoch and of such people and events as bushrangers , swagmen , drovers , stockmen and shearers were popular during the 19th century.

Convict and bushranger verses often railed against government tyranny. The lyrics of Waltzing Matilda , often regarded as Australia's unofficial National anthem , and a quintessential early Australian country music song were composed by the poet Banjo Paterson in Together with his contemporary Henry Lawson , Paterson is considered among the most influential Australian writers. Lawson, the son of a Norwegian gold prospector wrote extensively on themes often seen as definitive of an emerging Australian style - of egalitarianism and mateship among the young Australian society - as in such works as Shearers , in which he wrote:.

Australian writers introduced the character of the Australian continent to world literature over the period. Two Sydney journalists, J. Archibald and John Haynes , founded The Bulletin magazine: the first edition appeared on 31 January It was intended to be a journal of political and business commentary, with some literary content. Initially radical, nationalist, democratic and racist, it gained wide influence and became a celebrated entry-point to publication for Australian writers and cartoonists such as Henry Lawson , Banjo Paterson , Miles Franklin , and the illustrator and novelist Norman Lindsay.

A celebrated literary debate played out on the pages of the Bulletin about the nature of life in the Australian bush featuring the conflicting views of such as Paterson called romantic and Lawson who saw bush life as exceedingly harsh and notions of an Australian 'national character' were taking firmer root. Christianity remained the overwhelmingly dominant religion of the colonists through the period - with the Church of England forming the largest denomination.

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The churches continued to establish missionary work among Australia's indigenous population. With earlier legal restrictions lifted on the observance of the Catholic religion, the Catholic population - largely Irish in origin - established an extensive school network and hospitals throughout the colonies. In , Australia's first Catholic bishop John Bede Polding founded the first Australian order of nuns - the Sisters of the Good Samaritan - to work in education and social work. Dedicated to the education of the children of the poor, it was the first religious order to be founded by an Australian.

Mackillop established schools, orphanages and welfare institutions throughout the colonies. She became the first Australian to be honoured by canonisation as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church in South Australia was a haven for religious refugees leaving Europe over this period. The major churches established great cathedrals in the colonial capitals through the period - notably the Catholic St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney and St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne and the Anglican St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne considered among the finest examples of ecclesiastical architecture in Australia.

Hindus came to the Australian colonies to work on cotton and sugar plantations and as merchants.


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Coleman, R. Gibson and A. Monaghan, Garrett and Sean Tunney eds. Sussex Academic Press: Eastbourne. Rhodes, The Australian Study of Politics. Botterill and G. Cockfield, eds. Francis and J. Tully, eds. Christchurch: Canterbury University Press, pp. Franklin, T. Mackie, H. Valen et al. Rachel Gibson and Ian McAllister. The Election Online. Lanham MD: Lexington Press.


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