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The land and its first inhabitants have been here for hundreds of thousands of years, but New South Wales as we know it only came into existence when Captain James Cook gave it that name in 1770. Not long after, in 1788 a colony to relocate convicts from overcrowded British gaols at Botany Bay was established on the shores of Port Jackson where Sydney now stands. It was originally intended that the convict settlement should be self-supporting, but before long it became clear that the fertile coastal river valleys, magnificent stands of timber, extensive grasslands in the interior, splendid fisheries and abundant reserves of coal would sustain a substantial colony.
The convict settlement survived till 1840 but by then, much of the land was explored and appropriated at the expense of its Aboriginal inhabitants, agriculture became viable, and fine wool and coal were established as exports. Most of the convicts were re-located to Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) or Moreton Bay. In 1851, the land south of the Murray River became a separate colony called Victoria. The northern settlements became Queensland in 1859.
Continue reading Beverly Kingston's 'A Brief History of New South Wales'...