Australia in the 1820s


Road transport


By 1820, bullock teams were the most effective means of transporting people and goods inland, as the roads were badly made and in poor condition. The better roads were closer to the towns, and the further away from the town, the worse the conditions of the roads. Bullock teams drew heavily laden carts full of provisions, equipment and people from town to town and into the countryside to isolated homes. The bullock teams were slow, only travelling 12 to 25 kilometres per day. Bullocks were efficient and cost-effective and had a better grip on uneven and soft surfaces than horses. They were not replaced as the main form of transport until railways were introduced in the 1850s.

On 26 August 1820, due to the number of traffic injuries and delays caused by accidents on the roads, Governor Lachlan Macquarie (1762–1824) introduced a government regulation requiring carts, drays, wagons and other carriages be driven on the left side of the road. Failure to comply with this proclamation would incur a fine.

Between 1810 and 1821, Macquarie introduced a tollway system or turnpikes as a means of funding road construction and upkeep.

Road transport_1820


A snapshot of 1828

  • February
    • The Cape Grim massacre took place in Van Diemen's Land.

  • May
    • Thomas Livingstone Mitchell became Surveyor-General following the death of John Oxley.

  • September
    • Australia's first bank robbery took place. The robbers broke into the vault of the Bank of Australia in Sydney.
    • The holey dollar currency was withdrawn from circulation.

  • November
    • Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur declared martial law against Aboriginal peoples in the settled districts of Van Diemen's Land.
    • The first census was held in New South Wales, showing that 24 per cent of the total population was born in the colony. Children under 12 years comprised only 16 per cent of the total European population. The Indigenous population was not included.

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