Just say you and I were the very first people to walk on to Australia. And just say we knew how big it was.
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Now if you said to me in two hundred years this overgrown lump of dirt would have twenty million people living at one of the highest standards in the world I would look at you strangely.
If you went on to say there would be cities with up to five million people, bitumen sealed roads everywhere and the whole country except the worst of the deserts would be in use growing a hundred and sixty million sheep and eighty million cattle I would check my gun was loaded. If you continued to prattle on and say cotton would be grown in enormous quantities, pasta supplied to Italy, rice to Asia I would raise my gun and put you out of your misery.
Unyet this is precisely what we have been told happened! Two hundred lousy years, the blink of an eye. Not even three Biblical lifetimes and even less now the average rot age has reached eighty.
I don't blame Luis one little bit. Pardon? oh, Luis Vaes de Torres, me old Portuguese mate, I think from Portugal who in fifteen hundred and something sailed along between New Guinea to our north and Cape York Peninsula. I can see Lew now as he looked to his right...er...starboard and saw the great hunk of dirt. "I didn't see that" he decides, and who would blame him.
Not all that long later three Dutchmen possibly from Holland or maybe The Netherlands decide to actually map the coast. These guys were all navigators and they called themselves Dutch names for some reason. They were Dirk Hartog, Van Diemen and Tasman. I think Tasman thought he was the best navigator because he was known as Abel Tasman, but I could be wrong. They mapped a lot of coast but as far as they were concerned it was just a hostile and barren island they really didn't want to know about.
Would we ever get this show on the road - every white man that comes takes off in fright. This is one time when we needed someone really greedy - like someone who would get excited about landing on the moon and see it as a subtropical paradise.
So, back in the seventeen hundreds who was like that - you know, greedy as hell. Why, the British of course!
But they couldn't find the joint, so I reckon the Creator used his giant invisible hand to gently push Captain Cook this way, and shoved him on to the Great Barrier Reef to get his attention.
Now just because the Poms used the joint for all the wrong reasons, such as making a thumping great prison out of it isn't all that relevant.
Once Captain Cook had decided on Sydney for the first settlement, out came Captain Arthur Phillip with the First Fleet. There were eleven ships carrying seven hundred and thirty six convicts and they got to Sydney in 1788.
By 1852 a hundred and sixty thousand convicts had been bought here, but at that point the flow of felons ended. Lots of "goodies" had come too so things really started to jump. Buildings went up, roads were built and rebuilt and a mere hundred and fifty years later Australia is where it is today.
I really do find it incredible that a country can be put together in such a short space of time. This is not the only country to achieve that of course. But no matter where it is, three lifetimes! Thatís all it takes.
I am astonished.
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