Australia

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Updated on 7.4.12

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Australia and New Zealand, countries referred to in Britain as "down under" profited enormously from the arrival of Scottish immigrants. Though a great deal of the influence their forbears had on the development of the country has been subsumed under the title British, in the 1990's, almost 14 percent of white Australians claim Scottish descent. The Scots highly deserve their place of honor in the roll of those who did so much to develop Australia and New Zealand into prosperous, modern states whose sobering influence has added so much to the world in general. As they did in Canada, the Scots had an enormous influence upon the lands they settled "down under." They filled positions of authority in just about every enterprise they put their minds to. Scotland's loss was the colonies' gain. A wave of emigration from Scotland then began.  In 1839, Melbourne was described as a "Scotch Settlement." Pockets of Scotch communities were formed throughout the mainland.

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Explorers

John McDouall Stuart. 1815–66, Scottish explorer in Australia. He emigrated (1838) to S Australia. He was the first (1860) to reach the center of Australia; he climbed and named Mt. Sturt (later renamed Stuart).

Major Sir Thomas Mitchell (1792-1855) was an explorer and a surveyor. He was Surveyor-General of the colony and as such, was responsible for laying out roads, bridges and towns. He was also responsible for surveying much of the eastern part of Australia. Born in Scotland, Mitchell joined the army where he learnt to be a surveyor and in 1827, arrived in Australia where he  took over from John Oxley as Surveyor-General. Mitchell was a very talented artist and also wrote poetry. He was also a geologist and botanist. Mitchell wrote books about his journeys. In 1838, Mitchell was knighted  and became Sir Thomas Mitchell. He was responsible for exploring vast areas of south-eastern Australia and opening up new grazing lands in the southern parts of Victoria. He led four main expeditions.

Robert O'Hara Burke (1821-1861), together with William John Wills were the first men to cross Australia from south to north. They both died of starvation in tragic circumstances on the banks of Coopers Creek. Burke was born in Ireland.  In 1848, he joined the Irish police. After migrating to Australia, he became inspector of police in the  gold-mining areas. Burke and Wills were sent by the Victorian government to travel from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria. No one knew what was in the centre of Australia. Some people even believed that there could be an inland sea. Burke and Wills died a lonely death and are possibly Australia's most famous explorers.

 

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Nation Building

Lachlan MacQuarie In April 1809 Hebrides-born Macquarie was appointed Governor of New South Wales, designated to replace William Bligh whose governorship had been wracked with controversy. Macquarie and his wife sailed with the 73rd Regiment from Portsmouth in the storeship Dromedary and escorted by H.M.S Hindostan on 22 May 1809, and they arrived at Port Jackson on 28 December. He took up his commission as governor on 1 January 1810.

Of the twenty-five Prime Ministers of Australia, at least Ten were of Celtic ancestry, and most probably five more!

Rt Hon. George Houston Reid was Prime Minister from 18 August 1904 to 5 July 1905. Born: 25 February 1845 at Renfrewshire, Scotland. Died: 12 September 1918 at London, England. He married Flora Brumby in 1891, and had three children.  George Reid was Prime Minister for 10 months and seventeen days. He was our first Federal Opposition leader and the federal government's first High Commissioner to the UK.

Rt Hon. Andrew Fisher was Prime Minister three times, from 13 November 1908 to 2 June 1909, from 29 April 1910 to 24 June 1913 and from 17 September 1914 to 27 October 1915. Born: 29 August 1862 at Crosshouse, Ayrshire, Scotland. Died: 22 October 1928 at South Hill Park, London, England. Andrew Fisher was the most successful of our early Labor Prime Ministers - because he won so many elections. He became Prime Minister not once, not twice - but three times! His government started the Commonwealth Bank and introduced invalid pensions. The First World War broke out only a month before he began his third time in office. His government raised the First AIF and sent Australian soldiers to fight in Gallipoli, the Middle East and the Western Front in Europe. It was Fisher who vowed to defend the "Mother Country" to the last shilling.

Rt Hon. John Malcolm Fraser was Prime Minister from 11 November 1975 to 11 March 1983. John Malcolm Fraser was born in Toorak, Victoria, on 21 May 1930. He married Tamara ('Tammie') Beggs in 1956, and had four children. He's known by his middle name - Malcolm. He is the second of the two children of Una Woolf and John Neville Fraser. Una Woolf was of Jewish descent and J.N. Fraser, Scottish. Malcolm Fraser was asked to take over the job of Prime Minister by the Governor- General, when Gough Whitlam was dismissed in controversial circumstances in 1975. Fraser won the subsequent election by a landslide. He was Prime Minister for seven and a half years - one of our longest-serving Prime Ministers - continuing many reform policies in areas of human rights and in judicial matters. He was a prominent figure in international affairs, particularly in support of black African movements. He maintained a conservative economic policy, opposed to economic deregulation.

Rt Hon. Francis Michael Forde was Prime Minister from 6 July 1945 to 13 July 1945. Born: 18 July 1890 at Mitchell, Queensland. Died: 28 January 1983 at Brisbane, Queensland.  His parents were Irish immigrants. He married Veronica O'Reilly in 1925, and had four children. Our second 'care-taker' Prime Minister was Queenslander Frank Forde. His time in office - only eight days - was even shorter than Earle Page's. Forde was John Curtin's deputy, and when Curtin died Forde took over as Prime Minister until a new leader of the Labor Party could be appointed. Ben Chifley was chosen and became Prime Minister a week later.

Hon. Robert James Lee Hawke was Prime Minister from 11 March 1983 until 20 December 1991. Robert James Lee Hawke was born in Bordertown, South Australia, on 9 December 1929. He married Hazel Masterson in 1956, and had three children. He is the second of two sons of Clement Hawke, a Congregational minister, and Ellie Lee, a school teacher, both of Cornish ancestry. Under Bob Hawke, the Australian Labor Party won four elections in a row. During his first term in office, Hawke gained the highest popularity rating of any Prime Minister since the introduction of public opinion polls. A former trade union leader, Hawke believed in government by consensus and managed with considerable success to establish agreement between business and the unions in the pursuit of economic growth. He became the only Labor Prime Minister to have been removed by his own party while still in office, when successfully challenged by Paul Keating in December 1991.

Rt Hon. William Morris Hughes was Prime Minister from 27 October 1915 to 9 February 1923. William Morris Hughes was born in London, UK, on 25 September 1862. He died in Lindfield, New South Wales, on 28 October 1952.In 1886 he married Elizabeth Cutts, who died in 1906. In 1911 he married Mary Campbell. He had seven children from his first marriage and one from his second. He was the only child of Welsh immigrants to London. Imagine spending 58 years of your life in parliament! Billy Hughes was a member of federal parliament from the beginning of Federation in 1901 until 1952. Before that he spent seven years in the NSW parliament. He was Prime Minister for seven and a quarter years. While Prime Minister during the First World War, he became known as the "little digger" and was an advocate for compulsory military service. During his long, stormy career he chopped and changed his political ties, representing four different parties. Three of them expelled him! Hughes was one of the fastest political wits in the history of the parliament.

Rt Hon. Joseph Aloysius Lyons was Prime Minister from 6 January 1932 to 7 April 1939. Joseph Aloysius Lyons was born in Stanley, Tasmania, on 15 September 1879. He died in Sydney on 7 April 1939. He was known as Joe. He married Enid Muriel Burnell in 1915. They had twelve children! He was the fourth of eight children born to Michael Lyons and Ellen Carroll, both of whose parents were Irish immigrants. Joe Lyons was the Premier of Tasmania before entering federal parliament. He was one of our longest serving Prime Ministers and co-founded the United Australia Party, which held government from 1931 through to 1941. Lyons died while still in office in 1939, and his wife entered federal politics herself. She was the first woman elected to the House of Representatives and the first female member of a federal Ministry.

Rt Hon. John McEwen was Prime Minister from 19 December 1967 to 10 January 1968. John McEwen was born in Chiltern, Victoria on 29 March 1900. He died in Melbourne on 20 November 1980.He married Ann McLeod in 1921, who died in 1967, and Mary Byrne in 1968. He was the son of David McEwen, a pharmacist who had immigrated from Northern Ireland. Our third 'care-taker' Prime Minister was John McEwen, who took over the role of PM in 1967 after Harold Holt disappeared while swimming in heavy surf. McEwen, who had been leader of the Country Party and Deputy Prime Minister for nine years, was replaced after only 23 days by the Liberal Party's new choice - John Gorton. McEwen is well known as the architect of a high tariff policy established in the 1950s to protect Australian industry.

Rt Hon. Sir Robert Gordon Menzies was Prime Minister twice, from 26 April 1939 to 29 August 1941 and from 19 December 1949 to 26 January 1966.Robert Gordon Menzies was born in Jeparit, Victoria, on 20 December 1894. He died in Melbourne on 15 May 1978. He married Pattie Maie Leckie (daughter of a Senator) in 1920, and had three children. His parents were James Menzies and Kate Sampson. James, of Scottish descent, had been a coach-painter in Ballarat before opening a general store in Jeparit. Kate, of Cornish descent, was the daughter of a miners' union leader. Robert Gordon Menzies - 'Bob' Menzies or Mr Menzies - was our longest serving Prime Minister. He was Prime Minister twice - from 1939 to 1941, and from 1949 through to 1966 - a total of 18 years and five months - an impressive amount of time in any job! Early in his first period in office, he announced the declaration of the Second World War to the people of Australia. In 1944 he helped start the Liberal Party, which in terms of winning elections, has been the most successful party in federal politics. He presided over Australia's longest period of prosperity and rising living standards this century.


Rt Hon. James Henry Scullin
was Prime Minister from 22 October 1929 to 6 January 1932. James Henry Scullin was born in Trawalla, Victoria, on 18 September 1876. He died in Melbourne on 28 January 1953.He married Sarah McNamara in 1907, but had no children. He was commonly known as Jim. He was the fifth of the nine children of John Scullin and Ann Logan, both immigrants from Derry, Ireland. Jim Scullin was the first Catholic to become Australian Prime Minister, the first Prime Minister to have come from an Irish background, and the first Labor Prime Minister born in Australia. He became Prime Minister in 1929 - the start of the Great Depression - a devastating time for Australia and the rest of the world. In his two years in office he was confronted by two major crises - the severe economic hardship brought on by the depression, and the splitting of his party - Labor - into three. Facing a hostile Senate, his government was unable to pass the legislation it wanted to deal with the Depression.

 

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General Influence

The National Celtic Folk Festival
Portarlington June 4 - 7, 2003

The Australian Standing Stones. The Australian Standing Stones in Glen Innes in the New England Tablelands of New South Wales are unique - one of the first to be built in the World for more than 3500 years. Glen Innes, settled largely by Scots in 1838, was chosen for the site of the Stones by the Celtic Council of Australia as an official national monument to honour all Celtic peoples who helped to pioneer Australia.

 

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Andrew Barton Patterson 1864-1941 Known as the "banjo", Andrew, the son of Scots immigrants, wrote the tune, "Waltzing Matilda" along with many other poems and stories, including "The Man from Snowy River."

Electric Scotland's pages on Australian Scot history: Australia1

Scots down under: the history of Scottish contributions in Australia. Brittania.com's: Scots1 Scots2 Scots3

 

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Welsh in Australia Although the first Welsh emigrants to Australia may have wished they could find a better life than the one they had in Wales at the time, they were probably just as keen to escape from the land they found themselves forcibly removed to. They were not really emigrants at all, but convicts, four men and two women, who arrived with the First Fleet at Botany Bay, Australia, in 1788.

By 1852 a total of about 1800 of the convicts in Australia had been tried in Wales - about 1.2 per cent of the total number of convicts transported to Australia by that time. Of these, only about 300 were women. Poverty, dire living conditions and overcrowding in the industrialized southern counties of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire forced many into a life of crime to survive. Many who were transported could speak only Welsh so they were doubly damned - forced into exile in a strange land they were often unable to communicate with the majority of convicts who spoke only English.

It was mining that brought significant numbers of Welsh settlers to Australia in the mid nineteenth century. Initially, the discovery of copper in South Australia at Kapunda in 1843 and Burra in 1845 drew people from Wales; but it was the discovery of gold in the Ballarat-Sebastapol area of Victoria in the early 1850s which caused the Welsh population of the province to rise dramatically. In 1851 about 400 of the settlers were Welsh-born, and by 1871 there were almost 7,000 in Victoria. Although the population declined later, in the other provinces of Australia it continued to increase and, by the turn of the century there 12000 settlers of Welsh descent spread throughout the colony.

New South Wales is (predictably) the province which most conspicuously bears the mark of its old world namesake, with place names like Cardiff, Swansea, Neath and Aberdare amongst many others

 


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