Documenting Democracy
Australia's Story
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Australian Courts Act 1828 (UK)
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Timeline 60,000 BC–1836
60,000 BC    People living in Australia at least since this era
1600s    Explorers from Europe, such as Luis Vaez de Torres, Abel Tasman, Willem de Vlamingh and William Dampier record and name parts of the coastline of 'New Holland'
1700s    Fishing crews from Macassar and other parts of present-day Indonesia make seasonal camps on the northern coast and trade with Aboriginal people who live there
1768    Secret Instructions to Lieutenant Cook 30 June 1768 (UK)
James Cook is told what to do if he finds new land
1770    Lieutenant James Cook charts the eastern coastline of the continent aboard the Endeavour and claims the land as a British possession
1787    Charter of Justice 2 April 1787 (UK)
Towards an Australian system of law

Governor Phillip's Instructions 25 April 1787 (UK)
How to start a colony of convicts in an unseen land ... still searching

New South Wales Courts Act 1787 (UK)
An Act to keep the convicts on the straight-and-narrow
1788    Britain establishes the Colony of New South Wales at Sydney Cove
1798    Matthew Flinders and George Bass prove Van Diemen's Land is an island

Josiah Wedgwood designs medallion to represent the founding of the Colony using clay from Sydney Cove
1801    Lieutenant John Murray lands at bay he names Port Phillip
1802    Lieutenant Charles Robbins lands on King Island and proclaims Van Diemen's Land a British possession
1803    Matthew Flinders' circumnavigation of coast shows New South Wales is not a large island, but part of a continent he suggests be called Australia

Colonel Collins' Commission 14 January 1803 (NSW)
Setting up an outpost of empire ... still searching
1804    David Collins establishes convict settlement at Hobart on the Derwent River in Van Diemen's Land

William Paterson establishes second settlement in Van Diemen's Land, named George Town, on Tamar River
1810    Governor Lachlan Macquarie takes office and Ellis Bent becomes the Colony's third deputy judge advocate
1811    Governor Macquarie inspects Van Diemen's Land, sets out town design for Hobart
1814    Jeffrey Bent arrives in Sydney to become first judge in Colony (court has civil jurisdiction only)

Charter of Justice 2 April 1814 (UK)
Establishing law and order in Van Diemen's Land
1823    Charter of Justice 13 October 1823 (UK)
An ad hoc legal system adopts regular procedures

New South Wales Act 1823 (UK)
Self-government – cautious steps in the colonies

Explorer John Oxley charts Moreton Bay and Brisbane River
1824    George Arthur becomes Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land

Francis Forbes becomes first Chief Justice of New South Wales

Sir John Pedder becomes Chief Justice of Van Diemen's Land

Legislative Council established in New South Wales

Penal settlement established at Moreton Bay

James Bremer establishes trading base at Fort Dundas, Melville Island
1825    Governor Darling's Commission 1825 (UK)
New South Wales gains territory to the west but loses in the south

Order-in-Council separating Van Diemen's Land from New South Wales 14 June 1825 (UK)
Independence from New South Wales ... still searching

Legislative and Executive Councils established in Van Diemen's Land

Moreton Bay convict settlement moved and named Brisbane
1826    Edmund Lockyer establishes convict settlement at King George Sound Western Australia
1827    James Stirling explores Swan River Western Australia

Fort Dundas abandoned, Fort Wellington established at Raffles Bay on Cobourg Peninsula on the north coast of Australia
1828    Australian Courts Act 1828 (UK)
Trial by jury comes to stay

Instructions to the Admiralty to take formal possession of the western portion of the continent 5 November 1828 (UK)
Power to take possession of western Australia

Lieutenant-Governor Stirling's Instructions 30 December 1828 (UK)
Instructions on how to make a colony of Western Australia
1829    Captain Fremantle takes possession of the western third of Australia for the British government

Western Australia Act 1829 (UK)
Making a government for the new Colony of Western Australia

Lieutenant-Governor Stirling's Proclamation of the Colony 18 June 1829 (UK)
His Majesty's settlement in Western Australia proclaimed

James Stirling founds new British Colony of Western Australia
1830    Charles Sturt's expedition explores Murray River to its entrance at Lake Alexandrina

Public meeting in Sydney demands representative government

Governor Arthur establishes penal settlement of Port Arthur on Tasman Peninsula

Tasmania's 'Black Line' – Governor Arthur attempts to force Aboriginal people onto the Tasman Peninsula
1831    Ripon Regulations end land grant system in all three colonies and fix sale price

Emigration Commissioners established in London to promote emigration to Australian colonies

Commission appointing Stirling Governor and Commander-in-Chief 4 March 1831 (UK)
The King's Western Australian representative appointed

Despatch No.2 re legal and judicial subjects 28 April 1831 (UK)
A legislature for Western Australia
1832    First meeting of the five-member Legislative Council of Western Australia

Act establishing Civil Judicature 1832 (WA)
Western Australia's first Act sets up a Court

In New South Wales, civilian juries used for certain criminal trials
1834    In New South Wales, defendants in criminal trials can choose either civilian or military juries

South Australia Act, or Foundation Act, of 1834 (UK)
A South Australian Colony created by Parliaments

In Van Diemen's Land, civilian juries used for certain criminal trials
1835    John Batman explores Port Phillip Bay and Yarra River; makes a treaty with Aboriginal people but Governor Bourke disallows it

Governor Bourke's Proclamation 1835 (UK)
The Governor of New South Wales announces that the Aboriginal people do not own their land

William Wentworth establishes Australian Patriotic Association to campaign for representative government

George Robinson appointed Protector of the Aboriginal people removed to Flinders Island in Bass Strait

Anti-Transportation League founded in Sydney

South Australian Commission Land Sale Regulations 1835 (issued by the Commissioners in the UK)
Making public land into private land

A land route opened from Sydney to Port Phillip
1836    Letters Patent establishing the Province of South Australia 19 February 1836 (UK)
Founding the Province of South Australia

Order-in-Council establishing Government 23 February 1836 (UK)
Creating a government in South Australia

Settlers arrive at Holdfast Bay and new Colony of South Australia proclaimed by Governor John Hindmarsh

Church Act in New South Wales

60,000 BC to 1836  |  1837 to 1899 |  1900 to 1926 |  1927 to 1951 |  1952 to 2001 |  2002 onwards