|Corroboree on the Murray River, 1858,|
image by Gerard Krefft, image courtesy SLNSW
This lecture given by acclaimed historian John Gascoigne aims to place the origins of Australia’s human population in the context of world history. Its central theme is how the original divergence and subsequent convergence of Homo sapiens drew Australia into the dynamics of globalization. Following its origins in Africa some 200,000 years earlier, the divergence of humanity eventually led to the arrival of the Aboriginal population around 60-50,000 years ago. The much shorter chapter of human history concerned with the convergence of humanity is largely associated with the efforts of dominant European powers to expand their trade and empires. As their global reach increased, so, too, did their interest in charting the Australian landmass. This lecture concludes with the publication of Matthew Flinders’ 1814 map of Australia, marking the endpoint of increasing European preoccupation with establishing the contours of what was, for them, a new quarter of the globe.