Summary of the decade
The decade of the 1880s saw a generation of children of gold rush migrants grow up, get married and start having families of their own. This time in Australia's colonial history brought about the dream for many non-Indigenous Australians of owning their own home on land that they could either farm or grow their own food on. But, realising this dream of home ownership had unexpected consequences for many settlers. The land boom led to a great 'speculative mania', as thousands of workers and investors took their money and placed it in high-return building societies, investment companies and new banking institutions. Investment returns, profits and wages became higher and higher.
Migrants came to the colonies in the hope of making a fortune, whether from gold discoveries or in new businesses. People flocked to the cities in search of work thus creating an available labour force, and new manufacturing industries blossomed.
The society that emerged in this era was a relatively open and fluid one, in which new possibilities emerged, such as women's suffrage, the trade union movement and an electoral party for the workers. Indigenous people were being dispossessed of their land and removed from their country to reserves or missions as the land was opened up for the settlers.
In 1886, the Board for the Protection of Aborigines was given powers to make decisions governing Indigenous children's lives, removing them from their families, apprenticing 13-year-old Indigenous children and granting or denying permission to visit their families. Most of these children never saw their families again after being taken away, hence becoming known as the 'Stolen Generations'.