School in a Book: A Brief History of Australia and Oceania

Prehistory (to 3500 BCE) and Ancient History (3500 BCE to 500 CE)

Important events of prehistoric and ancient times in Australia and Oceania: The Polyneisians settled Australia.

The Polynesians: The first people to settle modern-day Australia. [?] They might have first come from Taiwan, then Melanesia, an area in the Pacific Islands (2000 BCE). After that, they settled the Polynesian Triangle around Fiji, then moved to Tahiti and the Marquesas (1300 BCE). From there, they visited America, Easter Island and Hawaii. They carved wood; kept livestock; and grew coconuts, taros, yams and vegetables. They were remarkable sailors, with large oceangoing canoes featuring sails and paddles stabilized with outriggers or doubled up like catamarans. They also had advanced knowledge of stars, currents and winds.

Easter Island statues: They might have created the famous Easter Island statues, or they might have been created by unknown earlier settlers since the Polynesians weren’t known to be stone carvers.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

Important events of the Middle Ages in Australia and Oceania:

The Maori: The Polynesians who settled modern-day New Zealand during the Middle Ages (850 CE and on). They traded with the Aborigines.

The Aborigines: The Polynesians who settled modern-day Australia. [?] The Aborigines were tribal societies ruled by chiefs. They were experts in wood carving, even though they were isolated from Asia and Indonesia.

Early Modern Times (1500 to 1900)

Important events from 1500 to 1900 in Australia and Oceania:

New Holland:

1650–1800: Colonialism came to Australia and the Pacific Islands. First, the Dutch found Australia, renaming it New Holland. Then they found Tasmania, New Zealand and more. After that Captain Cook went to Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia and chartered New Zealand and Australia for Britain. (Later, he went to Antarctica, but was driven back by ice, and after that he went to Hawaii.) In the late 1700s, Britain began sending convicts into exile in Australia. These convicts became the first colonists there. Later, free settlers came, too, and soon began settling New Zealand as well. They introduced new diseases to the Aborigines and influenced local culture in many other ways as well.

1800–1900: In New Zealand, the Maori competed with the colonists for land. Eventually, the Maoris gave control of New Zealand to the British monarch in exchange for land ownership rights. Some accounts claim that two versions of the treaty were written, though, one leading the Maori to believe they were giving Britain governorship, not ownership. In the mid-1800s there were violent Maori uprisings. Eventually New Zealand officially became a British colony.

Meanwhile, in Australia, there was a population explosion. The British created the new nation of Australia in which Aborigines and British settlers lived side by side. Land conflict continued, though; many Aborigines were killed and others died from disease.

The Modern Era (1900 to the present)

In the early 1900s, the leaders of various Australian colonies united in a federation called the Commonwealth of Australia. These new colonies set up governments based on free trade and equal rights, and many of them achieved independence, writing their own constitutions based on the American and British constitutions.

In the late 1900s, there was a gold rush.

During World War II, the Australians fought on the side of the Allies.
During the robust postwar economic times, Australia gained wealth and tourism. They imported a great deal of American technology and culture.


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