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Australia in the 1820s


The decade of the 1820s saw settlers push the boundaries set by government as they looked for more farming land. In 1826, the Governor of New South Wales had restricted settlement to an area around Sydney but graziers ignored this and settled beyond the boundaries.

New institutions of government arrived in the colony during this decade. The first legislative council was set up to advise the governor of New South Wales in 1824. In 1823, the newly established Supreme Court of New South Wales and Supreme Court of Van Diemen's Land administered justice for both civil and criminal cases. The Australian Courts Act 1828 (UK) ensured that the laws of England would be applied in Australia, especially that trial by jury would operate in civil cases. From 1825, English currency became the official currency. First Nations laws and culture were ignored when these English laws were introduced to Australia. As the British established more penal settlements, First Nations people resisted this expansion.

Following the reforms of Governor Macquarie, who returned to England in 1821, Britain was increasingly concerned that the colony was not strict enough with convicts. The British government wanted transportation to be seen by the general population as a terrifying prospect and as a deterrent to crime. New convict settlements were then set-up at Moreton Bay, Macquarie Harbour and Port Macquarie.

A snapshot of the 1820s

History and Politics

Governor Macquarie returned to England and Commissioner Bigge questioned Macquarie’s reforms, 1822.

The British Admiralty officially adopted the name 'Australia', 1824.

The whole continent of Australia proclaimed British territory by the British, 1829.

Lieutenant Governor George Arthur declared martial law against Aboriginal peoples in Tasmania, 1828.

Society and Culture

The first newspaper published without government approval, The Hobart Town Gazette, 1824.

Women at the Female Factory, Parramatta hold their first protest about conditions, 1827.

First census held in New South Wales, 1828.

Brisbane founded as a settlement in 1825 and Perth in 1829.

Science and Technology

Explorers Hume and Hovell travelled through New South Wales to Port Phillip Bay, 1824.

The Great North Road started to connect Sydney to the Hunter Valley and Newcastle started in 1825.

First museum established to study Australian plants and animals, becomes the Australian Museum, 1827.