From 1788 to 1823 the Colony of NSW was a penal colony. However, the first free settlers arrived in 1793 on the "Bellona". These few families - including wives and children, were selected because they were farmers. Governor Phillip was desperate to solve the food crisis. Each family was given a land grant and convict labour and all provisions to try and get food production underway. The area they farmed is called Homebush today - think Sydney Stadium!! Some of the marines and their families were also given land grants and free convict labour to start farms. None were very successful at first.


Among the first free citizens were ministers of religion, doctors and surgeons, and administration staff. There were scientists who were interested in the new plants and animals, artists and explorers. The new land had much to learn about. Many of their writings and drawings can be viewed in museums and libraries. Try here! [the National Museum] and here[ the NSW State Library].

While NSW was firstly a PENAL colony for reforming convicts, the potential to grow a productive free colony was seen by many. Early governors encouraged suitable British men and women to come across the 20000k with a variety of incentives including free passage and land and servants [convicts]. Skills in farming and construction were especially desired.
In the early 1800s some very wealthy businessmen and their families decided to move to NSW and expand their fortunes in what they hoped would become a thriving British colony - complete with modern farms and factories, taking advantage of the technological advances of the Industrial Revolution - and the free convict labour!!


Sydeny - early 1800s
Sydeny - early 1800s




One such family was the Blaxlands. [Just quietly - these are MY ancestors too!] Look at this map of their estate - on the Parramatta River and still known as Homebush Bay today. What was it like then?
external image 0109p36-Map.jpg

Free settlers, it was hoped, would also help bring a more moral and civil society; women were particularly encouraged to make the voyage. Cheap tickets were given to single women to entice them. Caroline Chisolm is remembered for her care of these new arrivals.
Look at these objects and the information below; what do you think their lives might have been like? [Other names of rich families who gained power and wealth in NSW are Macarthur, Campbell, Cox, Close and Throsby...]
Here are more artefacts and information about early immigrants from the Immigration Museum of Australia.
Slowly the township of Sydney started to grow, with some fine official buildings, churches, businesses and stores, roads, grand houses and farms beyond. Governor Macquarie oversaw the colony's progress from 1808 to 1822. By 1825 free citizens with land had created a basic form of government.

The vast majority of new arrivals came from Great Britain. As the country was explored both overland and by sea, new areas were located to farm and settle - including Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide, and inland in towns like Bathurst, Maitland and Goulburn. Settlers were soon taking up very good farm land in the Hunter Valley. Within 25 years there were many farms and the townships of that area reveal many of these early settler family names. Are your relatives among them? This is a great website for exploring the early history of the Hunter region. You can find out the names of both settlers and the convicts that were assigned to them.

Wealthy squatters took up large tracts of land for wheat and sheep farming; other settlers leased or bought smaller farms. Do you have ancesters who came and settled here during the last century? The most significant industry during this time - and well into the 20th Century, was agriculture, with fine merino wool a major export back to Great Britain.

The next big wave of immigration came with the discovery of GOLD in 1851. Thousands came from around the world to try their luck. Whole new townships emerged and the wealth of Australia grew. Despite the cultural diversity of the gold fields, Australia remained strictly British - with an 'Australian character' emerging.

By 1869 there were 6 separate colonies - can you name them? More land was being 'gazetted' and sold to farmers. Towns and cities grew. New industries were devleoped - the Industrial Revolution spread to Australian shores too. Coal mining began in the Maitland area in th 1840s. Most factories in Australia were small up until the end of the 1800s [=19th Century] - beer, boats and biccies were among the main products!

By 1900 over 1 million people had migrated to Australia.

Look at these statistics. What can you learn?


Table 1 The Colonial Economy: Percentage Shares of GDP, 1891 Prices, 1861-1911




Pastoral
Other rural
Mining
Manuf.
Building
Services
Rent
1861
9.3
13.0
17.5
14.2
8.4
28.8
8.6
1891
16.1
12.4
6.7
16.6
8.5
29.2
10.3
1911
14.8
16.7
9.0
17.1
5.3
28.7
8.3



Source: Haig (2001), Table A1. Totals do not sum to 100 because of rounding.

Table 2 Colonial Populations (thousands), 1851-1911




Australia
Colonies
Cities


NSW
Victoria
Sydney
Melbourne
1851
257
100
46
54
29
1861
669
198
328
96
125
1891
1,704
608
598
400
473
1911
2,313
858
656
648
593