Australian Migration- Information Sourced from: 'Objects through Time' by Migration Heritage NSW

  • 200,000 BCE


    Humans and homo sapiens evolved in Africa. Image: Aboriginal rock painting of Macassan prahu in Arnhem Land, c.2011. Courtesy Australian National University
  • 178,000 BCE

    Humans Migrated out of Africa

    Humans are so adaptable we have migrated to almost every part of the world and in the process forced the extinction of all other species of hominoids. We are the only species of hominoid left.
  • 78,000 BCE

    Levant Wave

    The Genographic Project has found that people spread out of Africa in at least two migratory waves. The first wave traveled from eastern Africa into the area of the east coast of the Mediterranean known as the Levant.
  • 63,000 BCE

    Aboriginals Arrived

    63000 BC - 38000 BC. The first Aboriginal people arrived on the north west coast of Australia. The archaeological evidence suggests that Aboriginal people had contact with Macassans and the people of southern Indonesia for the past two thousand years exchanging ideas, technology and culture. Aboriginal people eventually populated the entire continent of Australia developing a subsistence economy hunting birds, fish and animals and harvesting edible plants.
  • 48,000 BCE

    Merging into Populations

    Merging into Populations
    By now, we were already beginning to diverge into distinct populations. Image: The migration of Homo sapiens
    'Objects through Time' by Migration Heritage NSW
  • 48,000 BCE

    Second Migratory Wave

    The later second wave moved from Africa into the Arabian Peninsula and continued eastward following the coast of South Asia about 50,000 years ago. This southern wave kept rolling along reaching Southeast Asia, where one branch of people migrated to Australia and New Guinea, while other branches moved along the coast of east Asia.
  • 48,000 BCE

    Humans faced Voyage

    But before the last Ice Age, humans would still have faced a voyage across fifty miles of open sea to get to Australia. They must have built sea craft strong enough to survive the voyage, a technological feat that went beyond making spears or lighting fires.
  • 47,000 BCE

    Evolution reached Modernity

    Humans and homo sapiens reached modernity
  • 38,000 BCE

    Second Wave Migration Moved North

    A branch of this second wave migration moved north, into the central Asia and spread west into Europe and east into Siberia.
  • 18,000 BCE

    Humans to America

    Eventually humans made their way to the American continent
  • 10,000 BCE

    Ending of Ice Age

    Ending of Ice Age
    The actual timing of the southern wave of humans is hard to ascertain because it appears to have moved along the coast, where after the end of the last Ice Age, the melting glaciers drowned large stretches of coastline so the evidence is now under the ocean. The fossils we have of these migrants offer few clues as to what sparked their spread. Image: Southeast Asia and Australia during the last Ice Age
    'Objects through Time' by Migration Heritage NSW
  • 150

    First Map of the World

    Around CE 150 a brilliant Greek astronomer named Ptolemy drew a map of the world. Ptolemy speculated that land masses might lie beyond the known European world. Like many others, Ptolemy believed there was a Great South Land to balance the landmass of the Northern Hemisphere. Ptolemy called his imagined land Terra Australis Incognita – the unknown south land. Gradually Europeans explored and pushed the boundaries of the known European world.
  • 1000

    Exploring of the Seas

    For at least 40,000 years Aboriginal people lived isolated in Australia. But during this time people from China, India, Arabia, Malaya and the Pacific Islands started to explore the oceans around them. It is most likely that these sailors visited the north coast of Australia and traded with Aboriginal people.
  • Dutch Arrival in Australia - Willem Janszoon

    The first Europeans to visit Australia were the Dutch. Willem Janszoon mapped part of the Gulf of Carpentaria and was the first European to set foot on Australia soil.
  • Dirk Hartog Exploration of Australia

  • Abel Tasman Exploration in Australia

    1642 -1644. The Dutch named the west coast of Australia New Holland.
  • William Dampier landed in Australia

    William Dampier landed in Australia
    The English pirate William Dampier landed on the West Coast of Australia and this was a catalyst for British interest in New Holland. Image: Portrait of Captain William Dampier, Edmund Dyer, 1835. Courtesy National Library of Australia
  • Captain James Cook Expedition

    Captain James Cook Expedition
    England sent an expedition to Tahiti to chart the transit of Venus across the sun. James Cook, a brilliant Royal Navy navigator and map maker, was in charge of the expedition on the converted coal carrier HMS Endeavour. Cook set out to see if there was a Great South Land – the land that navigators had believed existed for hundreds of years. Image: Watercolour of Captain James Cook, c. 1780s. Courtesy State Library of New South Wales
  • Captain Cook Arrives in Australia

    Captain Cook Arrives in Australia
    After circumnavigating New Zealand, Cook’s expedition sailed west for Van Diemens Land (Tasmania) but winds forced the Endeavour north and the expedition came upon the east coast of Australia. For the next four months, Cook mapped the east coast from Eden to the Gulf of Carpentaria. At a simple ceremony at Botany Bay, he named the entire east coast of Australia New South Wales. Image: Cooks Landing at Botany Bay A.D.1770, Town & Country 1872. Courtesy National Library of Australia
  • American Revolution Ended the Transportation of Convicts to America

    The Government wanted punishments to deter crime, but also wanted them to be more humane so the transportation for the term of your natural life became the more common sentence from the 17th century to the 19th century. Around 60,000 convicts were transported to the British colonies in North America in the 17th and 18th centuries. When the American Revolution brought an end to that means of disposal in 1776, the British Government was forced to look elsewhere.
  • First Fleet

    First Fleet
    The First Fleet of 11 ships, each one no larger than a Manly ferry, left Portsmouth in 1787 with more than 1480 men, women and children onboard. Although most were British, there were also African, American and French convicts. After a voyage of three months, the First Fleet arrived at Botany Bay. Here the Aboriginal people, who had lived in isolation for 40,000 years, met the British in an uneasy stand off at what is now known as Frenchmans Beach at La Perouse. Image: NSW State Library
  • European Australia Establish Ceremony at Sydney Cove

    Two French frigates of the Lapérouse expedition sailed into Botany Bay as the British were relocating to Sydney Cove in Port Jackson. The isolation of the Aboriginal people in Australia had finished. European Australia was established in a simple ceremony at Sydney Cove.
  • Second Fleet

    Second Fleet
    Hopes were raised when a vessel arrived in Port Jackson in 1790, but it was not the Supply, but the first of a Second Fleet of five ships carrying over 730 people. The Second Fleet was contracted to private businesses who kept the convicts in shocking conditions. Of 1000 convicts on board, 267 died and 480 were sick from malnutrition, scurvy, dysentery and fever. Image: HMS Sirius wreck on the reef at Norfolk Island, William Bradley, 1790. Courtesy National Library of Australia
  • The Expansion of Australia

    Two years after the arrival of the First Fleet, the colonial authorities had, according to plan, allocated land to male emancipists and expirees in little settlements at Norfolk Island and New South Wales. After completing their term of hard labour, ex-convicts were encouraged to stay in the settlements and cultivate their 30 acres of land- or more if they were prepared to marry and have children. Explorers set out to find new land and areas were opened for many agricultral needs.
  • Australia is referred to as 'Australia'

    Around this time Matthew Flinders was exploring the coastline of New South Wales and New Holland. In 1802 – 1803 Finders circumnavigated the continent and was the first person to use the term Australia when referring to the whole continent of New Holland, New South Wales and Van Diemens Land.
  • Blue Mountains Discovery

    Blue Mountains Discovery
    Explorers Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth crossed the Blue Mountains and found rich plains as far as the eye could see. This was an economic bonanza for the New South Wales businessmen. The Government tried to regulate land use by setting up 13 counties radiating out from Sydney for 200 miles in all directions. Land use beyond these was forbidden. Image: Convicts building road over the Blue Mountains, N.S.W. 1833. Charles Rodius. Courtesy National Library of Australia
  • Migration Schemes Resulted in More People

    These migration schemes resulted in 58,000 people coming to Australia between 1815 and 1840.
  • Migrants to Australia from England

    About one third of migrants who came to Australia between 1830 and 1850 paid their own way. Convicts and settlers who came to Australia found that in comparison to Europe, conditions were very good and with hard work and determination they could prosper. They encouraged their relatives in England to come to Australia and enjoy the prosperity. Women migrants were also assisted to curb a gender imbalance in the colonies, to work as domestic servants and to foster marriages and childbirth.
  • Gold Rush

    In 1851, Edward Hargraves convinced the people of Sydney that there was payable gold just outside of Bathurst in New South Wales. Within a month, 300 prospectors were in the area looking for gold. Soon payable gold was found in Victoria near Ballarat and Bendigo and people began streaming to the two gold fields, resulting in a gold rush. But, many businesses found it hard to keep operating. People also abandoned their jobs, homes, and lives to find gold.
  • Chinese Diggers Victimised on the Gold Fields

    Chinese Diggers Victimised on the Gold Fields
    Immigrant ships brought thousands of people keen to try their luck at the diggings. While people migrated from all over the world during the gold rush most came from Scotland and England, followed by a large number of Chinese diggers who were often victimised on the gold fields and many riots against them were started. Image: Chinamen at work on the gold fields. The Australian News for Home Readers, August 25, 1863. Courtesy State Library of Victoria
  • Ceasing of Convicts to Australia

    With increasing numbers of free migrants and the desire of colonial society to be free of the hated convict stain, the Colonial Government decided to cease transportation to New South Wales in 1852. Between 1788 and 1868 approximately 160,000 convicts were sent to Australia.
  • Ending of the Gold Rush Hype

    In time people realised that gold was not the bonanza they anticipated and they began to filter back into cities and towns looking for work and places to live. They noticed that large areas of land were not being used and wanted the chance to establish farms like the squatters had done before them. With an increased population came further demand for land, food, clothes and buildings and the Australian economy grew to accommodate these needs. Land Acts were made to benefit these new people.
  • Colonies in Australia

    By 1869, there were six colonies in Australia – New South Wales, Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland – all settled by British people. These separate colonies all had their own governors, parliaments and systems of government reporting to Britain.
  • Protection Policy

    As the interior was explored and mapped, squatters and free settlers followed and Aboriginal people were pushed from their homelands. Governments wanted to protect Aboriginal people from settler violence. By the 1880s, many Australians believed that Aboriginal people were dying out. In 1788, there had been over 300,000, but by 1888 there were 80,000. Colonial Governments’ believed that the best way to help Aboriginal people was by a policy of Protection, it lasted from the 1880-1930s.
  • Common Immigration Policy

    Germany, France and Russia were expanding in the Pacific and the colonies could better defend themselves with a single army and navy. Thousands of Chinese migrants came to Australia during the gold rush. People wanted to restrict the economic competition of migrants from Asia. The best way to do this was for all the colonies to act together (formerly seperate and rivaling) and work out a common immigration policy.
  • Australian Labour Party

    As a result of this economic depression, the colonies created a federal system of government that administered wages and conditions, defence, post and telegraph, immigration and social welfare. The labour movement realised that industrial strikes would not achieve the progressive reforms they desired and political representation and government was the solution. The Australian Labor Party was formed in 1891.
  • Bubonic Plague in Sydney

    Bubonic plague broke out in Sydney in 1900 and soon spread to other Australian states. In seven months, 300 people caught the disease and 100 died. The disease came to Australia on ships from other countries, so the area around Sydney’s docks was quarantined: people could not move into or out of the area. The plague was spread by rats so the New South Wales Government introduced a rat bounty to encourage their capture.
  • The Commonwealth of Australia

    The Commonwealth of Australia
    The Commonwealth of Australia was proclaimed on 1 January 1901 at a grand ceremony in Sydney’s Centennial Park. Elections were held in March and the first Commonwealth Parliament was opened in Melbourne on 9 May 1901. Image: Invitations to Australian Commonwealth Celebrations, Francis Cotton, 1901. Courtesy State Library of New South Wales
  • Trade Unions to Stop Chinese and Pacific Islander Migrants

    In 1901, 98% of people in Australia were of British heritage. Australia wanted to remain a country of white people who lived by British customs. Trade unions were keen to prevent labour competition from Chinese and Pacific Islander migrants who they feared would undercut wages.
  • Immigration Restriction Act - Dictation Test

    One of the first pieces of legislation passed in the new Federal Parliament was the Immigration Restriction Act, along with the Pacific Islander Labourers Act and the Post and Telegraph Act 1901, made it virtually impossible for Asians and Pacific Islanders to migrate to Australia. This Act stated that if a person wanted to migrate to Australia they had to be given a ‘dictation test’ which could be in any European language.
  • Australia is a Dominions

    People were proud to be Australians and thought their country was the land of opportunity. Australia was part of the British Empire and in 1907 Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand became known as dominions. However, while Australians elected a parliament that made Australian laws, Britain – the mother country – kept a firm control over defence and foreign policy.
  • The Spanish Flu

    A worse epidemic broke out. The Spanish Flu, brought to Australia by soldiers returning from World War I, killed millions of people around the world. Between 1919 and 1920 it killed more than 11,500 Australians. Fortunately, the Commonwealth Government was prepared and was able to stop the epidemic from spreading.
  • British Migrants

    Many British citizens were told they would have a better life in Australia, due to the loss of population in Australia after World War 1. About 212,000 migrants came from Britain and most ended up in cities.
  • The Great Depression

    Australia lost money due to the number of unemployed citizens. As people lost their jobs, they could not afford to buy goods or pay taxes. It was mainly the unskilled workers and their families that were hit hardest and this included the recently arrived migrant families who were already finding the going tough. Shanty towns sprang up at Blacktown, Sans Souci and La Perouse. People vowed this would never happen again and the Australian Government took over social welfare in the 1930s.
  • World War 2

    Australia declared war on Germany. Just as in World War I, during World War II the Australian Government passed laws that gave it much greater control over the lives of people. Australian soldiers were also taken prisoner during this war.
  • Pearl Harbour

    Japan attacked the United States Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii. On the day after the attack, the United States and Britain were at war with Japan. Australia too declared war with Japan.
  • New Migrants to Australia

    New Migrants to Australia
    Migrants began streaming out of Eastern Europe to places like Australia and the United States to get away from the oppression in their homelands by the Soviet Union. The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union meant that nuclear war was a real threat and some people saw Australia as a safe place to live. Image: British migrants arrive in Sydney on the Fairsea, c.1963. Courtesy National Archives of Australia
  • Displaced Persons

    The first wave of post war migration began with Displaced Persons. These people fled their countries which had been utterly destroyed by war or overran by the Soviet Union. Between 1947 and 1953 the Australian Government assisted over 170,000 Displaced Persons to migrate to Australia.
  • Second Wave of Post-War Immigration

    The second wave of post-war immigration arrived in the 1950s and 1960s, and consisted of those seeking employment and better living conditions. These programs were an enormous success. A number of migrants spent their first months in Australia living in migrant hostels while they tried to find themselves a home.
  • The Colombo Plan

    The Colombo Plan was started by the Commonwealth of Nations so that developed countries of the Commonwealth could help the less developed ones, and also to improve its relationships with Asian countries and dispel negative impressions caused by the White Australia Policy. Later, many non-Commonwealth countries joined the Plan. In 1983 Australia gave $59 million in aid to support this plan and in 1986 there were 3500 foreign students and trainees who were paid for by the Australian Government.
  • More Migrants

    Between 1945 and 1965 more than two million migrants came to Australia. Most were assisted: the Commonwealth Government paid most of their fare to get to Australia. In return they had to stay in Australia for at least two years and work in whatever jobs the Government gave them.
  • Refugees

    Since World War II many refugees have come to Australia. The first refugees came from countries in Eastern Europe which had been taken over by the Soviet Union after World War II. Later refugees came from countries such as Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Greece and Chile, fleeing civil wars and persecution. In the 1970s and 1980s refugees came from Asian countries like Vietnam and Kampuchea to escape revolution and persecution.
  • Australian Government’s Immigration Policy

    Between 1945 and 1970 the Australian Government’s Immigration Policy sought migrants from England and Europe. In the 1970s, this policy changed and people from other countries were encouraged to come to Australia. Refugees were allowed to come to Australia because Australia had signed a United Nations agreement to accept refugees. Australia wanted to help people in Asia and other parts of the world who had been made homeless by war, revolutions or persecution by governments.
  • Vietnam War Refugees

    After the Vietnam War in the late 1970s when communists gained controlled of Vietnam, thousands of people who were afraid of the Government left in small boats, they reached Darwin in 1978. By the end of 1979, 2011 Vietnamese ‘boat people’ survived the dangerous journey from Vietnam, but many more died trying. In 1979 Australian immigration officers selected most refugees from refugee camps in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, only few were selected, in benefit for Australia.
  • Ending of the White Australia Policy

    Very few refugees were accepted by Australia at first. The arrival of Vietnamese refugees signalled the end of the infamous White Australia Policy in 1978, and was accompanied by much argument and debate.
  • More Vietnamese Refugees

    In 1982, the Vietnamese Government agreed to let refugees leave Vietnam without persecution, freeing people to come to Australia to be with their families who had fled earlier. By 1985, 70,000 refugees from Southeast Asia, mostly Vietnam, had settled in Australia. The arrival of Vietnamese refugees forced changes in migration policy around the world, especially in Australia, which was pressured by ASEAN to accept more refugees after 1978.
  • Refugee Camps Closed

    By the late 1980s there were fewer arrivals, as it became more difficult to leave Vietnam and several countries reduced the numbers of people allowed to stay. As camps closed from 1996 onwards, forced repatriations to Vietnam have occurred. In Australia, most people arriving from Vietnam have been accepted through family reunion programs. Others have migrated from the north – again a difficult decision – often for education and work prospects.
  • New Statistics

    After more than 200 years of migration, Australia has become a multicultural society. By 2010, 27% of people in Australia were born overseas and over 100 languages were spoken.
  • Population Increase

    As Australia’s population passes 23 million in 2012, further growth will place stress on Australia’s fragile environment through damage to soil, waterways, coasts, and natural habitats through intensive agriculture, urban expansion, industrial development and the ever-increasing demand for food and resources. Our population cannot grow indefinitely as our land simply can not carry us. The future is ours for the making, and the future is now.