Australia in the 1870s

National parks and sport

The colonists gradually realised the need to protect Australia's natural resources such as its forests, waterways, flora and fauna. Scientific societies concerned about species loss argued for the establishment of national parks. For example, in 1871 the Royal Society of New South Wales held talks on the effects of the goldfields on forest clearance, which led to the permanent reservation of forest land. In 1872, 400 hectares of land was given as a gift to the city of Perth for a park. It was initially called Perth Park and then re-named Kings Park. It was the first park to be created for public use in Australia. In 1879, Australia's first national park was declared on the southern outskirts of Sydney. It was called The National Park and was the second national park to be established in the world after Yellowstone National Park in the United States. It was the beginning of the Australian national parks system.

Sport became an increasingly important part of colonial life. In 1876 Edward Trickett (18511916) won the sculling championship on the River Thames in England, and became the first Australian to win a world championship in any sport. On his return to Sydney a crowd of 25,000 cheered his triumphant homecoming.

Cricket was a popular social game often played at picnics. In 1877 the first test match played between a combined New South Wales and Victorian team ended in defeat for England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. In the same year, the Victorian Football Association organised the first competitive football season.

Australian cricket team playing Marylebone at Lord's, England

A snapshot of 1878

  • January
    • The construction of the Ghan railway line commenced at Port Augusta in South Australia.

  • February
    • The telephone was used for the first time in Melbourne.

  • April
    • The Stawell Easter Gift, a professional foot-racing competition over 120 metres, was run for the first time on Easter Monday.

  • May
    • One thousand unemployed men marched up Collins Street in Melbourne demanding relief work.

  • November
    • The song 'Advance Australia Fair' was presented for the first time.

  • December
    • Seamen in Sydney went on strike against the employment of low-paid Chinese crews on ships. The strike spread to other ports in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. A mass anti-Chinese meeting was held in Hyde Park, Sydney.


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