Why was Eastern Australia settled first?

Discussion in 'History' started by Epictetus, May 23, 2012.

  1. Epictetus here & now Registered Senior Member

    I am wondering why the first European settlement was Botany Bay in eastern Australia. If the British were coming via the Indian Ocean, why didn't they set up somewhere on the western coast?
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  3. Spud Emperor solanaceous common tater Registered Senior Member

    White Australians are taught (well they were in my day) that Australia was discovered by Captain Cook in 1770.

    This is a little odd given that the Dutch 'discovered' Western Australia well before this and I guess they were a bit late by about 60,000 years from when it was discovered and inhabited by the Aborigines who were probably from Indonesia.
    The Dutch had some small settlements but found the terrain all too tough and unfamiliar.
    To new European eyes, the West coast is dry hot and unforgiving, like nothing they'd ever seen.

    Your question is a good one.
    I think it comes down to Cooky having found the East coast after forays in the pacific and that was it.
    The East coast was certainly moister and more familiar to European eyes.
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  5. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    It really isn't that diffcult.

    William Dampier was the first Englishman known to have explored any of the coastlines of Australia, and he made landfall in the northern half of Western Australia. In order to implement a successful colony, you'd probably need things such as "water" and "trees" which are, as anyone who has been to the region will know, woefully lacking in the area.
    The Dutch had been there a few times before that, and several theories exist as to the Portuguese and whatnot, but these aren't really substantiated. None of these, however, ventured as far south so as to see where the far more hospitable Perth and Albany were eventually established.

    James Cook was given the mission of confirming that Terra Australis was a continent at all, and how far east it extended if so. It's relatively easy for your modern student to look at a map and see how big it actually is, but at the time they had no idea at all and were working purely on theory and rumour. His was the first recorded European landing on the east coast, and what he found would have been at the time would have been an altogether far more attractive prospect than what Dampier, Hartog and other Europeans had found to the west.
    Added to that, the natural harbour of Botany Bay was a shelter in itself, and an easily defensible position given the political nature of Europe at the time.

    So your opening statment that the English typically approached from the west is actually erroneous. There weren't too many expeditions at all at that time which headed directly west from Africa (read: virtually none), as they veered further north where Indonesia and Papua New Guinea were already known to exist and could be used to resupply water and other essentials.
    Cook himself approached from the east, around South America. Check a map.

    And, finally, do yourself a favour and google some pictures of Shark Bay and Geraldton in the west, and then Sydney Harbour in the East. Take away all the buildings and try to imagine the contrast and context. Imagine you're a real estate salesman based in England.
    You'll work it out.

    Oh, and Spud? Unless you're significantly older than I am, my guess is that you weren't really paying too much attention in class. Either that, or you grew up in the eastern states... and we all know what parochial bastards you lot are. We in the west, of course, knew the real story. Or at least I did.
    Then again, I was one of those wierd kids who actually loved this stuff and forgot about imagining what Sally whatsername looked like under that little skirt until I got to maths.
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  7. Spud Emperor solanaceous common tater Registered Senior Member

    Yep, old c***...prick and grew up in the Anglocentric eastern states and that's how it sounded. All hail Captain Cook.
  8. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    Bow down to the West, son. We're the ones who are making the Australian economy look good at the moment. Without us filling the coffers, you'd probably be feeling a little Greek at the moment.

    All Hail Dampier.
  9. Gustav Banned Banned

    all hail the genocide of the natives in that region
    lets hail the ongoing rape and pillage of an ancient culture

    lets celebrate bloodlust and greed
    lets also throw some shrimp on the goddamn barbie while we are at it
  10. Epictetus here & now Registered Senior Member

    No one said that the English typically approached from the west. In my original post I was alluding to the fact that the first fleet of settlers took the Indian Ocean route.

    What you have explained is pretty much what I might have guessed, but I wanted to here it from an Aussie. I thought you a bit belligerent at first, but then I remembered you guys are always a bit rough. I guess that's what comes of being descendents of petty criminals. So that's oll raight, mite.

    Granted they didn't know about the Perth and Albany areas, but would they have been just as good or better than Sydney? If we can play 'what if' for a moment, do you suppose it would have altered history much if the Poms had settled in the west first?

    I'm just a Seppo, so I dunno!
  11. Gustav Banned Banned


    an exceedingly good and timely call
  12. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    The True Land of Oz.

    I know a magician from there!
  13. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    Oh fair enough. Yes, but by that time they knew where they were going. The first voyage of Cook was made at a time when they did not know that Australia was a continent. The First Fleet, as a result, knew they could travel via the Indian ocean directly to the east coast.
    Look at it this way. You have two choices, from current knowledge, regarding where to set up. One is a rather inhospitable stretch of coastline which has no real chance of becoming much more than a fishing village (actually, it pretty much still is. Geraldton consists mostly of fishermen, farmers, and the tourist industry... because it has pretty beaches. After two hundred years, it still only has a population of 35k or so), and the other is a verdant natural harbour with plenty of fresh water, trees to build houses with, and regular rainfall. Factor in the European political climate and the race for colonisation making success even more important, including the defensive aspect and easy shipping, it becomes a bit of a no brainer.

    Actually, three of my ancestors were on the first fleet. None of them were soldiers. So you're quite correct there. I do, in fact, have a reputation for being somewhat beligerent on occasion. It usually comes with drinking too much and forgetting to hide behind false politeness.

    Significantly, I'd imagine. Australia would probably be more than one country, for example, with one half having a more mainland European influence. It was actually a very close run affair, with the French having sent out colonial fleets already (such as in New Zealand) and definately had their eyes on the east coast of Australia. I don't imagine the English beat them by more than a year or two.

    Australia didn't become a nation until 1901. Until then, we were a bunch of colonies. Federation, in itself, was a primary importance in establishing Australia as a nation today. Without that, one half would have been a primary producer and the other industrialised, and both would have lacked the resources to become what they are now.
    Until mining and (modern) natural resources became of paramount importance, Western Australia was always little more than vast farming areas. Wheat, primarily, and sheep of course. Even today, without the mining sector, WA has very little to ensure a steadily growing economy other than farming.

    Thinking about it, I don't believe Australia would be anywhere near as successful as it is today. Obviously there is some antagonism toward English colonialism here and there, but for all that they were a highly efficient people whose colonies tended to be more successful in the long run than that of their French and Dutch counterparts (as Spud has already mentioned). The Aboriginals, by way of example, were never enslaved in Australia. Used, abused, shot and run off their lands, yes, but not enslaved. The British tended to rely on their own ingenuity and private settlement rather than slave labour, as a generalisation. Their view was one of permanency rather than pure profit. If the French had treated it in the same manner as their African or Asian colonies, I'd imagine the place would have had much in common with the present day Papua New Guinea... if even that advanced. Certainly, the Aboriginals themselves wouldn't have made it into what it is. Yes, I said that, censure me if you wish.

    Having said that, Australian colonisation had several significant differences from the usual effort, so it is possible the French might have held to a view of permanence as well. Perhaps it might have ended up much the same, but in the vein of Canada rather than little-but-bigger-than America. Speculation, really.

    There isn't that much difference. You started with religious nutcases, we had the convicts, but overall both just wanted to get the hell away from the British and wanted very little to do with the French. You shot your natives, we shot ours, and today yours are probably only doing a little better because they had a hundred years or so headstart on getting over it. Your little brothers are the Canadians, ours are the Kiwis... and both hate us and love us as only little brothers can. You started as farmers and then found gold, and so did we. You became a melting pot and so did we... both of us are fighting waves of foreigners who curse us even as they come in droves to get away from whatever hellhole they came from.

    In the end, you may as well ask yourself how America might have been different had it been settled primarily by the French rather than the British. My guess is that whatever answer you come up with would apply very much to both.
  14. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    Gustav... you came in here to say hello, I presume?

    I assume, of course, that you have my little plot of land in England all ready for me when you get your way and send me back to the homes of my ancestors? After all, my lands were stolen by those nasty French/Norsemen, and before them the Saxons, and before them the Romans, and..... well, you get my drift. Perhaps I should lodge a native title claim over Somerset. Is there a statute of limitations over native title claims, do you think?

    Stop living in the past, son. It's all over now, and colonisation isn't going to be reversed. And as soon as certain parties become aware that going backwards is of no use, the better off we'll all be.
    It's all so very... old.

    Perhaps, rather than laying blame for events centuries old and demanding retribution, you should aim your efforts more towards providing solutions.
    Unless, of course, you don't have any... and would rather someone else took care of that, while you disguise your own impotence behind strident demands that someone... other than you... should think of the children.
  15. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I just read that with an Aussie accent!

  16. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    I'm rather a curiosty, in real life. My accent is, to hear from some gaming compadres in the USA, quintessentially Australian - more so than other Australians who play the same games. This is probably because I've lived mostly in the west and, more recently, years in the north, whilst most Australians would demographically be from the eastern states, which has developed an entirely different accent, distinct from the rest of Australia. Foreigners probably wouldn't notice it without concentrating, but I certainly can tell where whether someone is from east, west, or north with a reasonable rate of accuracy.

    I have been informed, however, that my vocabulary and elocution is middle upper class British, with some colloquialisms thrown in and a varying drawl. This makes me either pretentious or charming, depending entirely on the listener. Most favour pretentious. I live in Australia, after all.
    I offset this a little by swearing like a sailor, even more so than the average Australian, which is saying quite a lot.

    I speak, basically, much how I write, but the accent and language varies widely dependant upon present company. Which, I might add, is true of almost everyone.
  17. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    God I hope it wasn't one of those idiotic ones that American actors uses for what they THINK is an australian accent (like the guy from eureka, that guy grates on my nerves)

    Marquis: you do realise that was almost the case, WA wasn't going to join the commonwealth and NZ WAS right up till the last min. Kind of makes sense too, I've herd that the distance between Adelaide and NZ is less than Adelaide to Perth
  18. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    It is. New Zealand is very much closer to the east coast than the west is.

    Barnett is still speaking of secession even now. There has long been a following for it; particularly in the light of recent years where, as I mentioned previously, Western Australia is basically undermining the entire Australian economy, without which Australia would be in much the same state as the rest of the world, economically speaking.

    In return for this, Western Australia's share of the GST dsitribution is minimal compared to that of other states. This is making a lot of people (in the west) very angry.
    Last edited: May 23, 2012
  19. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    Heh. Undermining. Entirely the wrong word to use, of course, when I meant "underpinning" or something similar... but definately more amusing.
  20. Neverfly Banned Banned

    Ah... the Aborigines...


    A remarkable people with a fascinating lineage due to where they settled.
    Sorry- bit off topic but I was reading about this last week. Got an excuse to share.
  21. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    Certainly an interesting people, but I don't know why you would use the word "remarkable". They are no more so than any other.

    All one need do is wander around Australia a little and pay attention, and one would notice that the Aboriginals are many peoples.

    In fact, I would go so far as to say that it took a European invasion and several centuries of blame and guilt to make the Aboriginals see themselves as a single people at all. Being "Aboriginal" seems to me to be more an identity formed in the face of adversity... and more recently, convenience and political expediency.
  22. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    The earliest anatomically modern human remains found in Australia (and outside of Africa) are those of Mungo Man which have been dated at 42,000 years old.[20][21] Comparison of the mitochondrial DNA from the skeleton known as Lake Mungo 3 (LM3) with that of ancient and modern Aborigines has indicated that Mungo Man is not related to Australian Aborigines. The results indicate that Mungo Man was an extinct subspecies that diverged before the most recent common ancestor of contemporary humans. The DNA of LM3 only survives in modern humans as a segment found in Chromosome 11.[22] These findings have been criticized as possibly being due to posthumous modification of the DNA.[23]

    It is generally believed that Aboriginal people are the descendants of a single migration into the continent, split from the first modern human populations to leave Africa, 64,000 to 75,000 years ago[24], although a minority propose that there were three waves of migration,[25] most likely island hopping by boat during periods of low sea levels (see Prehistory of Australia). Aboriginal people seem to have lived a long time in the same environment as the now extinct Australian megafauna.

  23. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    Mungo man has been a spanner in the works of those who favour a single migration theory since he was discovered, controversy as to the actual and claimed DNA variations notwithstanding.

    My personal opinion is that the truth, should we ever find it, lies somewhere between the regional continuity and assimilation models regarding human evolution.

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