The first settlers are thought to have arrived around 50,000
years ago. This would have most likely been at a time when the sea levels were
low, the land was more humid and animals larger.
Although much of Australia became populated, the central dry
areas didn't attract settlers until around 25,000 years ago. The population grew
proportionately quicker around 10,000 years ago as the climate improved.
At the time of British settlement at Sydney Cove it is
estimated that 300,000 aboriginal people, speaking around 250 languages
On arrival, finding no obvious political structure, the
Europeans took the land as their own. The Indigenous people were driven out of
their homes and many killed. Various new European diseases spread rapidly
amongst the indigenous people, killing many. The introduction of feral and
domestic animals contributed to the destruction of natural habitats.
During the early part of the 20th century legislation's were
passed to segregate and protect Aboriginals. This involved restrictions on where
they could live and work and families being broken up.
After World War II, assimilation became the governments aim.
All rights were taken away from the Aboriginals and attempts made to
During the 1960's the legislation was reviewed and the Federal
Government passed legislation for all Aboriginals to be given citizen status.
However, it wasn't until 1972 that the indigenous people were given back limited
rights to their own land. The situation has been steadily improving for
Australia's Indigenous people, although many feel more needs to be