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What is Australia?

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James Trapani

on 22 September 2016

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Transcript of What is Australia?

Australia and the World
Lecture one --> Australia in the World prior to 1788
What is Australia?
Next Week
- We will examine the "biggest estate on earth"
- The Indigenous People of Australia have a culture
dating back at least 50,000 years.
- We will demonstrate that this culture defies European notions of "Terra Nullius" through its unique social, political and economic structures
Gondwana Land
The Origins of Man
Out of Africa
The Wallace Line
European Concepts of Australia (And Asia)
Ancient Concepts
Medieval Concepts
European overland Exploration of Asia
Indian and Middle Eastern Concepts of "the Great South Land"
Chinese Concepts of "the Great South Land"
Portugal and Australian Exploration
The Portuguese Empire
Western Australia
Why don't we know more?
Spanish Exploration of Australia
Dutch Exploration of Australia
The Dutch Empire and the "East Indies"
Dirk Hartog and Western Australia
Abel Tasman and "Van Dieman's Land"
The British Empire in India and Asia
William Dampier and Western Australia
James Cook and the Transit of Venus
Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet
Where are we?
Who are we?
Where are we going?
Today's lecture
Notion of Pre-History?
Understanding the continent?
Understanding its inhabitants?
Spanish Exploration and Imperialism
Arriving in Australia
Australia is difficult to define. Many everyday citizens think of Australia in terms of:
In the tutorials we will (or have) consider what you think Australia is.
Many of these ideas will be expanded on in this and subsequent lectures.
- Australia is a large island on the edge of Asia.
- Australia is on the Southern tip of South East Asian archipelago which forms a virtual land bridge between China and Broome in North Western Australia.
- This proximity to Asia has historically been seen as THREAT to Australia. Australians believed that the populous Asian continent would look to the underpopulated Australian continent as an easy target of conquest.
- However, in recent years Asia has been viewed as more of an OPPORTUNITY.
- Australia is a vast land of 2.97 million square kilometers
- It possesses a variety of climates from alpine snow fields to tropical rainforests to some of the harshest deserts on earth.
- Its flora and fauna are completely unique for reasons that I will explain later.
- Like other 'settler societies' Australia is a nation of immigrants - with 28% of (current) inhabitants born overseas.
- There were approximately one million indigenous inhabitants in 1788. This number has declined prior to slightly rebounding in recent decades - meaning that approximately 2.4% of Australia's population now identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
- Approximately 82% of the population identify either as "white Australian" or as originating from the UK and Ireland.
- Another 10% identify as "white" coming from other European countries - most significantly Germany and Italy
-The remaining 8% of Australia's population is composed of recent immigration from every corner of the globe, with China and India and the Middle East accounting for much of this group.
- Australia's white settler society has a history of multi-racialism dating back to the 1960s and multiculturalism dating back to the 1980s.
- However, Australia is still considered a white settler society.
This is the most vital question for the unit. Some things to consider throughout:
- Can Australia provide proper recognition for its first inhabitants?
- Can Australia truly become a multicultural country?
- Can Australia break the shackles of monarchic rule?
- Can Australia exercise an independent foreign and security policy?
- Can Australia effectively integrate with Asia to take advantage of the Asian century?
- Can Australia move past its western identity to engage with Asia on its own terms.
These issues, which directly concern your everyday life, in this country are central focus of Australia and the world.
By learning about these, you will be a more informed citizen in a very significant time period.
- While this is not a traditional history unit with an emphasis on source and discourse analysis, we do use history to highlight aspects of our present.
- Lecture 1 focuses on concepts of the "great south land", the natural development of the continent and European 'discovery' of Australia. Effectively it seeks to define "what was Australia prior to 1788"? in doing so, it hopes to demonstrate the intersections between Australia and the world.
- It will specifically focus upon:
1) The development of the Australia continent.
2) The first human migration to this continent.
3) Differing concepts of the "Great South Land"
4) European exploration into Asia and contact with Australia.
5) The major explorations of our region.
6) English "discovery".
7) Claims under the concept of Terra Nullius.

- Most history comes from written sources. That is, we know that Cook arrived in 1770 because he wrote this in a journal which is corroborated by other journals, such as that of Joseph Banks.
- But writing is a relatively recent occurrence. Many cultures never developed writing, and those that did only did so in the past 3-4,000 years.
- Hence, historians need to rely on science and "pre-history" to fill in the gaps.
- As many of the "facts" or "theories" that will be presented today rely on this "pre-history" it is worthwhile discussing what this means.
There are many ways to investigate the natural history of a continent:
1) Geologists study rock formations to provide estimates of past events.
2) Botanists investigate various forms of plants to uncover the evolutionary links between continents.
3) Zoologists and Paleontologists do the same for animals.
With all of this evidence - humans have a pretty good idea of how and why the world developed in the way that it did.
They can also tell us a lot about natural history which puts our existence into context.
We also need science to explain the migration of the first Australians to this continent.
1) Archaeologists study the remains of human society. By studying the remains of ancient civilizations they can make estimates about how long ago they arrived and how 'advanced' these cultures were.
2) Ethnographers and Anthropologists study these civilisations and the complex social structures within them. By examining both current and ancient Indigenous civilisations they can tell us more about how the first inhabitants begin.
Moreover, just because we don't have written evidence - does not mean that historians are just guessing. There is a lot of research that goes into forming these arguments.
The Pope's Line
The Macassans and the trepang industry.
Archaeological evidence has demonstrated that the very first humans evolved in South Africa.
The theory of evolution states that humans gradually evolved from a common primate ancestor to modern day Chimpanzees around 500,000 years ago.
Around 200,000 years ago the success of the species led brave pioneers to leave Africa in an epic migration.
Lake Toba
Humans now inhabit virtually corner of the globe.
They gradually replaced all of their ancestors as the alpha species of this planet.
This human migration was very gradual.
Around 200,000 years ago humans left Africa via the Middle East.
They arrived in Asia around 75,000 years ago.
They populated Europe 40,000 years ago and the Americas 15,000 years ago.
None of these people crossed large bodies of water.
*Keep in mind new evidence is constantly altering these estimates*
It is believed that human arrived in Australia around
50,000 years ago.
Archeologists have found evident of human habitation in Lake Mungo northwestern NSW which is carbon dated at 40,000 years.
After arriving in Australia they would come to dominate a diverse array of climates.
The footprints below are 15,000 years old - demonstrating the length of human habitation.

More on this next week.
Most of our understanding of history is European.
Eurocentric models trace human development from Egypt, to Greece, to Rome, to a Renaissance in Europe that led to the high Imperialism that changed the world.
While following that model, this lecture will continue to demonstrate the "other" views of Australia.
This will cover pre-history as well as Asian concepts of the "great south land"
This picture is over 1600 years old.
It demonstrates early concepts of world geography and an acceptance that there was a continent to be found.
In this conception the land was to be like Europe with reverse climates - which is not a bad estimate.
The we must question - where do their ideas come from?
This image is a medieval concept of the great south land.
Giovanni Botero's "Monsters of the Southern World" demonstrates the fear that Europeans had of the unknown at the time of European exploration. But what was this based on?
As time progressed, the Europeans became more accustomed to Asia.
There was overland trade on the "silk-road" since at least 330CE.
Marco Polo (below) traveled to Beijing on his five year journey between 1264-9.
As the "wealth" of Asia was realised, the Europeans sought easier ways to travel to Asia. This would bring them into the proximity with Australia - something we will examine soon.
The spice trade in Asia dates back to the time of the Roman Empire. However, the Europeans did not dominate this.
Indonesian fisherman invented the sail around 1700 years ago which allowed for quicker trade throughout the region.
In this map you can see how close Australia was just on the edge of this ancient network.
The peak of Chinese Imperial occurred under Zheng He.
During this period his massive navy traveled Asia seeking tribute.
It has been suggested, though not proven, that Zheng He traveled as far East as Peru and as far South as Australia.
The left picture shows the extent of Chinese naval technology over European.
The common argument about Australia is that it was close but never found by Asia.
This was untrue - Australia was part of this trading network - even if its population did not actively use "capitalism".
From around 400 years ago fisherman from Indonesia operated an advanced fishing operation in Northern Arnhem land.
Given the normal "Eurocentric" view of Australia as an object to be found - we will spend some time on those discoveries.
Recall that the Europeans were searching for another avenue to Asia.
The Portuguese were the first to reach Asia - when Vasca da Gama circumnavigated Africa - arriving in India in 1502.
- The map below demonstrates how close the Portuguese sphere of influence was to Australia.
- Their colony in East Timor was within 200km of Northern Australia.
- The trade winds of the Indian Ocean means that encountering Australia was unavoidable.
Portuguese maps show that they did more than encounter - they charted.
The map below is on its side with the West to the North.
It was drawn in 1530 - a time when Europeans were just finding Asia.
There are a lot of mysteries of the Portuguese Empire.
The Great Lisbon fire of 1755.
Many more maps and accounts may have existed prior to the destruction of the national archives.
By that stage their empire was in decline and their Northern competitors carved out their empire
- The Spanish also sought a route to Asia - they commissioned a Venetian, known as Christopher Columbus, to head West.
- He found the Western Hemisphere - the wealth of which made it a powerful state.
- This did not stop their quest to find Asia and the Great South Land.
- Ferdinand Magellan and his crew of 270 left Seville in August 1519.
- By 1521 he was in the Pacific and player the largest role in the Cartography of that area.
- After his death in the Philippines, his crew returned to Europe with a better understanding of Asia.

The Spanish were not satisfied.
In 1605 Pedro de Quiros sailed from Peru to find the port of New Hebrides in Vanuatu.
Like Columbus in Cuba, he did not think to head further to the mainland.
Luis de Torres took command of the Quiros exploratory mission in 1606.
The map below demonstrates how close to Australia he came.
On a clear day you can see across the Torres Straits - but he did not claim to find Australia.
This could mean two things:
a) He never saw Cape York
Or b) He thought it was yet another small island of the major island of Guinea.
We call the region the Torres Straits due to him.
Dutch cartography was the most
advanced in the region.
These images come from the first
world atlas written in 1593 by
Gerrad de Jode.
They demonstrate a knowledge of
"the great South land".
It also demonstrates a European
concept of the unknown.
Notice the pouch attached to the
creature on the bottom right.
How did Europeans know of
- The Dutch Empire was built on trade.
- One of the wealthiest sources of trade was the
East Indies spice Islands.
- They began their colonisation of the region in the
1500s and remained until 1949.
- You can see how close they were to Australia.
- The other distinct factor was the volume of ships moving goods. Hence, the likelihood of contact was much higher.
- One such misguided explorer was Dirk Hartog who in 1616 inadvertadly found Western Australia.
- The trade winds from Africa meant that many dutch sailors landed in this region on their way to Batavia (modern day Jakarta).
This led to increasing curiosity.
In 1642 Abel Tasman was commissioned to explore "the great South land"
He charted much of Western and Southern Australia before losing land and arriving in "Tasmania" - which he named for his governor - Van Diemen's Land.
He then discovered New Zealand and returned home via the East Indies.
This created the most accurate maps of Australia.
- Britain was very late to enter the Imperial race.
- Like the Dutch, they developed a commercial empire by dominated Asian trade - their focus was India.
- By the eighteenth century, they were very rich and powerful.
- However, their influence in Asia was limited largely to Indian trade.
- They relied on similar trade winds to move cargo to Asia.
Britain expressed a renewed curiosity in the natural world and its resources.
Hence, they commissioned more exploratory missions than other other state - knowing that wealth would naturally come.
Dampier, a man who circumnavigated the world three times spent time in Western Australia in 1699.
- This tradition was continued by James Cook who entered the Pacific in 1770 to find the "Transit of Venus".
- While here he was the first European to discover the most attractive zone of this continent - the South Eastern corner.
- Despite the explicit orders to not claim land against the will of its natural inhabitants - naming the region New South Wales.
- The British saw the value of a new settler society in the aftermath of the American War of Independence between 1776 and 1788.
- The First Fleet of British convicts arrived in Australia on January 26, 1788.
- This is seen as "the" defining moment in Australian history.
- While this unit will not always take that perspective, it is impossible to ignore the fact that this event has the greatest impact on the implementation of a European society in Australia.
1) Humans overcame great adversity to arrive here over 50,000 years ago.
2) In the field of written history, Australia was a great unknown until 1788.
3) Differing evidence suggests that this was not the case for our Asian neighbours.
4) Europeans entered Asia because it was more wealthy and they wanted access to that wealth.
5) Australia's histroy is intertwined with that of European colonialism.
6) Its narrative is also interconnected with the Asian region.
Lecture Revision Question 1
What was significant in the journey of the First Australians
Take 3-4 minutes to respond
What were the ancient and pre-modern concepts of the "Great South Land"?
How did Asia engage with Australia prior to 1788?
How did Europe engage with Australia prior to 1788?
Log onto Kahoot.it and follow the prompts on the screen
Full transcript