Under the Southern Cross we Stand, a sprig of Wattle in our hand

September 1796 - Crossing the Blue Mountains
So, after an absence of 18 months or more, I am back posting. Why I hear you ask? Well, I retired in June and am now a gentleman of leisure...and you can only play so much golf, after all. What have I been doing since June? Well, I have modified all my large timelines that I posted on Kindle, Rudolf will Reign, Consequences of an Errant Shell, the Australasian Kingdom, Leyte Gulf Redux and A Reluctant Fuhrer. Proof reading 2500 pages of text can take some time. Plus I have cleaned the house and published a book on the Post Office in Tasmania. And dealt with the usual drama of having children, albeit they are supposed to be adults.

So why I have I posted this when I already had a half commenced timeline? I wanted to make a fresh start, not only on this, but also on two other timelines, one a Jutland one, another an Alien Space Bats scenario based on my Errant Shell World where Imperial Russia is still hanging around in 2020?

So, you ask, you intend to write three timelines at once. When I am rolling, which I hope to be now, I have always updated two timelines at once. Three is a bit more of a stretch, so we will see how I go. I don't have those other annoying distractions, such as clients, to take up my time, anymore, so it's virgin ground, so to speak.

Thanks to all those that have read my previous works and hopefully more will jump on board. Anyways, here we go.


18 September 1796, Blue Mountains wilderness, Colony of New South Wales

It had been an arduous ten days since they had moved forward from the base camp he established on an earlier expedition along the Nepean River. He had failed in 1794, but now there was no such failure. There had been hazards, for sure. He had actually trodden on the head of a large black snake. Thankfully it had not been the brown type that were not only frighteningly aggressive, but whose bites were almost universally fatal.

Henry Hacking considered Bass and Flinders were both correct. Taking the black Bennelong had been more than useful, not only in navigating the rugged country, but finding the vital path between the impenetrable escalated perpendicular mountains, without falling into the succession of deep ravines that dominated the region and trapped the unwary for fruitless days. Now he stood on the top of an exposed sugar loaf and the view was spectacular. Miles and miles of lightly timbered plains to the West, as far as the eye could see. He scrambled down the slope as fast as possible, using the climbing irons provided by Bass and Flinders, re-joining them, the native Bennelong and their three other companions. Two days later they had cut through the Blue Mountains. For 20 years, the Blue Mountains marked the edge of the Colony's Westward expansion. Now, it's main requirement, more grazing land, which would help support the cropping and sheep of the colony, was solved. Henry Hacking would no doubt benefit in the best possible way, provision of a land grant.

He remembered again the view from the top. Miles and miles of some of the best watered country that one could wish for. Land that seemed to go forever.
Blue Mountains terrain
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October 1798 - More livestock, more convicts
1 October 1798, Rag and Bone Inn, Sydney, Colony of New South Wales

John Macarthur watched as St Philip's Church burned, the small spire lurching drunkenly, as the flames ate further into the structure. Built by convicts, it was destroyed by their negligence. It was to be expected in a penal settlement. The opening of lands beyond the Blue Mountains created opportunities for the colony not previously expected and the availability of land beyond said mountains had consequently seen more land become available in the Sydney Cove area, as a number of landholders had elected to move beyond the mountains onto new, larger, land grants.

Governor John Hunter was concerned the French may return to the Southern regions, but that seemed unlikely to him. Bass and Flinders were due to repeat their exploration ambitions with an expedition to Van Diemen's Land. Macarthur thought such efforts were the height of folly. He had established a small flock of Merino sheep over two years ago and they were doing well, very well indeed, in the protected lands round Sydney Cove, where depredations by native dog and blacks were kept to a minimum. No, there were two things the colony required. More livestock and more convicts. Transportation numbers had fallen to less than 400 per annum during the French Revolutionary Wars, as convict labour was needed in the dockyards and in the services. Previous to such time, numbers transported had been three times this. Previously, only a third of those sentenced were actually put on a transport ship; the rest got no further than the hulks; old, unseaworthy ships acting as prisons. Terms of transportation were usually seven years or life. The hulks were still in use as prisons, tying up Royal Navy resources, when the ships could well be used for harbour defense, training and military accommodation.

If influence could only be brought to bear in Whitehall, numbers of convicts transported could be upped, both to the benefit of the Colony as a whole and also to the mother country, in the return of raw materials such as wool. Areas such as Ireland could be focused upon, where the absence of pestiferous political rebels would be welcomed. If more numbers could not be obtained, then other alternatives would have to be looked at, possibly including obtaining natives from Britannia in the Loyalty Islands, a chain some distance North of the penal settlement at Norfolk Island.

Governor Hunter was an ineffective man, easily influenced by the last person to talk to him. It would not be a difficult task to convince him of the requirement of such a plan. Without growth, the Colony would stall. Now they had all the land that any man would possibly want to expand into. In fact, with the generosity of recent land grants, it would be worth investigating many of the London lock up houses. In England, 10,000 people were imprisoned for debt each year and those of superior class were well kept but, in many cases, unable to extricate themselves from their predicament. Whilst there was no way to do so in England, a different story awaited in New South Wales, where a man's fortunes could quickly be made.
John Macarthur
March 1804 - Collapse of the Australian Empire
4 March 1804, Government House, Bridge Street, Sydney

Captain Philip Gidley King was furious. Why did they keep foisting these Irish bastards on him? This was the inevitable result of such actions. The 1798 rebellions in Ireland had produced many men and a few women who had been subsequently transported as exiles- most without any trial, to New South Wales, from late 1799 to 1802. Had he not performed virtual miracles? Confirmed as Governor of not only New South Wales and New Zealand, he had added Britannia, now named New Caledonia, to his list of Governorships, where some 'blackbirding' had taken place to fill the need for manual labourers in Sydney, although this had been solved to some degree by the arrival of the pestiferous Irish. Norfolk Island had been settled.

He had dispatched Bowen to Risdon Cove and the troublesome William Patterson to Port Dalrymple, creating new settlements in both locations. Patterson was man who did not look upon with favour any accommodations with the natives, yet King himself had been able to negotiate a tentative agreement based on a holding line at Prospect. It must be admitted that things to the West in the Blue Mountains were more problematic, with native depredations common. None the less, he had founded the settlement of Bathurst, the town featuring two commodious inns and many favourable land grants had been made that served to shore up his own position and popularity.

The colony was doing well and had expanded to a population of more than 5,000, another 1,500 scattered in other settlements. More people were arriving from London every month, not all of them convicts. Flinders circumnavigation confirmed what many expected, that this land was truly vast. He had started construction of Fort Philip, laid out streets, even assisted in the publication of a newspaper. Now his reward was this, an Irish convict uprising.

On the evening of 4th March 1804, Phillip Cunningham, a veteran of the 1798 Irish rebellion, activated the plan to gather weapons, ammunition, food and recruits from local supporters and the government farm at Castle Hill. Things had developed rapidly and King was forced to rely on an officer he had little time for, Major George Johnston, who had replaced Patterson as commander of the New South Wales Corps. Johnson had been sent home to London once for paying his men in rum, in direct contravention of orders, only to return like a bad penny with assistance from patrons.

With Cunningham leading, about 200 to 300 rebels broke into the government farm's buildings, taking firearms and ammunition. The constables and overseers were overpowered and the rebels went from farm to farm on their way to Constitution Hill at Parramatta, seizing more weapons and supplies, including rum and spirits, recruiting others to join their cause. King had to give Johnson his due, he had reacted quickly and called out the guard, enacting marshal law. Nor had Cunningham been idle. His followers elected him "King of the Australian Empire", deciding to march on government House. It was a grave mistake, as this was where Johnson's forces were strongest. Some 70-armed civilians and 45 Redcoats rapidly showed the untrained and ill-equipped rebels what trained soldiers were capable of, routing them, killing 25 and capturing 21 more. Some slipped back to their assignments, or at least tried to, others dispersed and awaited capture.

Cunningham, however, was made of sterner stuff. Some 13 days later, using the new road built in 1802 to link the two settlements, he appeared in Bathurst with all that remained of his force, 59 men. However, this was enough to take the small town of Bathurst. He was able to hold the town from 17th March until 1st April, when Johnson arrived with 72 Redcoats reinforced by 29 armed settlers, taking back the town in the "Battle of Bennett's Barn" that saw 13 more rebels killed, including Cunningham. With their "King" dead the rebels lost heart, seven slipping away to become bushrangers, the remainder surrendering to their fate. With two Redcoats killed, it was to a brutal one. Two were subject to gibbeting. Ten more received either 200 or 500 lashes. The remainder were retained in irons until they could be "disposed of", eventually sent to Norfolk Island into the harshest conditions imaginable.

Yet nothing could disguise the fact that it had been a significant scare to the colonial government, a challenge to their authority, as witnessed by some escaping into rowboats that first night and pleading to be let abroad ships at anchor. King himself had been shaken.
March 1807 - The End of the NSW Corps
16th November 1807, Sydney Cove, Colony of New South Wales

Philip Gridley King, Governor, smiled a razor-sharp smile at the arrival of the convoy of ships. It had taken some doing, but his reputation in London had been inflated since the 1804 rebellion and his willingness to take charge of the various Irish rebels and floor sweepings confined to prison hulks in the Thames and English Naval bases further boosted his reputation as a man of foresight. This allowed him to weather a storm of criticism from the New South Wales Corps, the former 102nd Regiment of Foot, helping him to convince himself that the New South Wales Corps and its principle supporters would never change, being to mired in the profits made by keeping the status quo.

The main reason he suffered the abuse of the officers of the New South Wales Corps was simple. He favoured giving opportunities, as they occurred, to emancipists. How else could such an isolated colony survive? Use must be made of those prepared to mend their former indiscretions. Convicts, not free setters formed the basis of the colony and there must be methods of allowing such men and women to contribute in a positive manner. Ex-convicts should not remain in disgrace, therefore, he appointed emancipists to positions of responsibility, regulated the position of assigned servants and laid the foundation of the system where former convicts could become free men. He had been patient and his patience had paid off.

It was a system that had not been well received by the officers of the New South Wales Corps, who subjected him to all sorts of abuse, both direct and indirect, forming various complaints to London. Yet he had his own allies, as shown by the presence of the ten vessels anchored off Government House. He had sought such allies and a reliable man to replace him, preferably an army man that would engender greater loyalty than himself. Lachlan Macquarie was such a man and in the New Year he would turn over his authority and retire here, his son having come out with the small fleet.
King watched as the first men disembarked and marched to Government House. He strained to hear the troops singing a marching song.

“Then fall in lads behind the drum
With colours blazing like the sun.
Along the road to come what may
Over the hills and far away.

If I should fall to rise no more,
As many comrades did before,
Ask the fifes and drums to play
Over the hills and far away.

Though kings and tyrants come and go
A soldier's life is all I know
I'll live to fight another day
Over the hills and far away.”

The 73rd Regiment of Foot continued to disembark, signalling the end to the New South Wales Corps, which would be following the arrived fleet back to England. Johnson and his ally John MacArthur had been outmaneuvered and the practice of accepting payment in rum for work, necessary up to this time, could be discontinued once a proper Bank had been established, a proposal that had previously met stiff resistance from the New South Wales Corps, so stiff that he had been forced to secure himself bodyguards.
December 1822 - The End of Macquarie
Extract from “The Autocratic Era- the early Governors of New South Wales”, Denly Press, 1950

The twelve-year term of Lachlan Macquarie as Governor of New South Wales was a far reaching one. It was a time of rapid growth and expansion, not only in land holdings, but in population. Lachlan Macquarie was to die in Scotland in relative obscurity, portrayed by many as a man of strange ideas, but in Australasia many consider him a nation builder and the “father of Australasia”. Macquarie saw the future of the colony was to provide an opportunity for former convicts to start a new life and begin again after a period of punishment for their crimes. He saw Australasia as a new land, where those without opportunities to advance themselves in Ireland or England could come and advance their station in life. It was a position that brought him into conflict with his superiors in London, who did not espouse similar views.

At the end of Macquarie’s tenure in 1822, we saw what was later Western Australia colonized and the first convicts arrive at such a station in the following year. This followed the settlement of the Morton Bay district two years earlier in 1820. At the end of Macquarie’s tenure, he had effective control over not only what is now New South Wales, but what is now Queensland, Tasmania, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Macquarie Island, New Caledonia and Western Australia. Near sixty thousand people, both convict and free settler, lay scattered across these territories.

Macquarie created the first police force in 1810. He was to break the importation and use of rum as a currency, granting and taxing the privilege of importing liquor into the colonies. Despite objections by many in London, Macquarie actively canvassed for more free settlers, a fine prospect for many of Wellington’s veterans that came back to England in 1814 with no job and little in the way of prospects. The ready availability of land grants to former soldiers sparked a wave of immigration. Without a war to prosecute, the number of convicts transported to Australia leapt dramatically. Some 21,000 are sent between 1817 and 1822 alone, severely testing the colony’s ability to guard and deal with such numbers and hampering Macquarie’s ability to comply with London’s wishes to cut expenses. A proper Court was established in 1815, rendering redundant a need to contact London to determine sentences for serious crimes. Macquarie established “counties”, forbidding settlement in some so as to appease Aboriginal people that their lands would be protected.

For all this, there were certain areas in failure of policy. One of these was in relations with natives. Macquarie had been inclined to as conciliatory as possible, favouring treaties and establishing native schools and a forum where both parties could meet. Despite these seemingly sensible acts, many settlers ignored prohibitions in regards non settlement in reserved areas, provoking confrontations that became increasingly common. The constant stream of complaints from influential people who had supporters in London eventually influenced Macquarie to abandon these conciliatory policies and instead embark troops on a number of punitive expeditions. These only further raised tensions and led to more conflict. Likewise, the very large numbers of convicts transported and consequent strain on infrastructure was to see a sharp increase in absconding, with increasing numbers of men turning to bushranging. Eventually, Macquarie’s detractors were to have their way. In 1820, London, concerned Macquarie was allowing far too much free reign to “unlawful and seditious elements”, appointed a commissioner to report on activities in the Antipodes, this in spite of Macquarie’s strong support from within the Colony. Bigge was to arrive in Sydney in mid-1820 in the company of three Catholic priests, who were to build the first Catholic Church in Sydney, St David’s, and a further sign of Macquarie’s laxity in the eyes of Bigge. His large three volume report that was released in early in 1822. On the 1st December 1822, Macquarie was replaced by Thomas Brisbane.
November 1831 - Colonies everywhere, Darling
18 November 1831, Sydney Harbour, Colony of New South Wales

They could wait, damn their eyes, thought outgoing Governor Ralph Darling, just like he had made them wait these last four weeks. He felt there was little appreciation either from locals who viewed his rule as far too heavy handed, even tyrannical, nor from the sort of milksops that were in charge of affairs these days in London. After the short tenure of Brisbane as Governor, the changes instituted during his own tenure would, in his opinion, stand the fledgling colonies in Australia in good stead. Events under his rule were many and varied. They had organised exploration parties that ranged as far South as the Murray River in 1824, proclaimed Van Diemen’s Land as one entity under a Lieutenant Governor the same year. In 1826, the whole continent was brought under British control, when a party landed at King George Sound in Western Australia. This had been reinforced by London finally responding to his entreaties and sending a party to establish a permanent settlement in 1828. In 1829, a fixed border set at the 129 meridian was established. He had sent ships to explore Northern Australia, claiming Bathurst and Melville Islands.

He had fought to keep a British presence on Norfolk Island, a move that reaped its own benefits with the discovery of sandalwood on New Caledonia and the New Hebrides, both of which he claimed for the British Crown. All the colonies had grown and he had expanded the number of counties available to settle in from 19 to 30, advertising free land for settlers in London, continuing the polices of Macquarie. Settlements on the East Coast now ranged from Bateman's Bay to Port Macquarie. It had resulted in a large expansion of population, Sydney now a large, spread-out settlement housing some 17,000 people. New South Wales population was now over 50,000. Van Diemen’s Land was 30,000. New Zealand and Western Australia 1,000 or so each, plus 1000 scattered over the three islands in Norfolk, New Caledonia and New Hebrides.

His army career had made him less able to mix comfortably in society and he had little tolerance for Liberal ideas, yet for all that, he had set up schools for child and women prisoners, not his so-called Liberal opponents. He came into conflict with "Liberal" emancipists, who wished greater political and social freedom in New South Wales. Yet it seemed clear to him their main aim was to accumulate power for themselves, power that should rightly reside with the Governor. Major figures in the colony, such as John Macarthur, were implacably hostile for this reason.

Their main aim seemed clear enough to him. They wished to enact their own laws for their own advantage, a case in point being a desire to end the gifting of land to free settlers. Whilst land was available in the form of free land grants, the landowner's power to sell their holdings for a profit and likely scuttle back to the Home Country was limited. Likewise, they had commenced agitation for the cessation of transportation of convicts. In Darling's opinion, the transportation of convicts was badly needed to provide bodies for the backbreaking work of land clearance that was still an everyday occurrence. In addition, a man earning an honest ticket of leave could achieve far above what he ever could in Britain. That was another point of order. They said he treated the convicts too harshly, yet when they received a ticket of leave and earned a small plot of land, the colony's elite considered them to be rising above their station. It was hard to achieve an equitable result in the minds of such men.
February 1835 - A different solution
22 February 1835, Adventure Bay, Bruny Island, Van Diemen's Land, Australia

It had taken three trips via the converted whaler Prince George, but 229 Tasmanian aboriginals had been relocated from the mainland to Bruny Island, which had been set aside exclusively for their use, aside from the trading and whaling port at Adventure Bay. Many had been brought to Hobart Town via the exhortations and efforts of George Augustus Robinson, who was motivated to try and bring peace in the endless clashes between settlers and the indigenous inhabitants of the island.

It followed a number of sad events, most notably a massacre of over 30 aboriginals on the land of the Van Diemen Company and the 1830 "Black line". George Arthur had allowed himself to be persuaded to change his policies from the strangest of places, namely John Batman, a well-known terror of natives in the colony. Batman had sailed to Port Phillip the previous year and established a settlement, purchasing land from the local aboriginals for a nominal number of blankets, clothes, axes, scissors, knives and mirrors. Whether the savages understood what they were agreeing to was another matter, but that was a matter for them. Motivated by this seeming success, Arthur had been only too happy to move the quarrelsome blacks from the areas of main settlement and the island of Bruny seemed a fair location where they could be out of sight and out of mind. Hence, he was to provide twenty bags of flour, knives, scissors, three spades, six mirrors, 50 axes, 20 sets of clothes, even two muskets and a small amount of powder. Reports indicated it left less than 40 natives on the island, not counting half castes. Robinson was well intentioned and motivated by simple Christian charity, but a fool in Arthur's opinion, yet such an accommodation was encouraged from Sydney and would be beneficial in the long run, perhaps even to both parties.

Land was badly needed, with the colony expanding at a rapid pace. In England, a survey conducted by hulk officials indicated that convicts "appeared to have a general wish for transportation", with the Antipodes seen as a chance to start a new life with a clean slate.
March 1840 - Money to be made
18 March 1840, Government House, Sydney, New South Wales

Stapleton Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere, pondered his position as Governor of New South Wales, an institution he had filled for nine years and had no plan to vacate. There had been schemes to remove him from the job, schemes he was only too well aware of. In New South Wales the wool industry was booming. While this provided an export industry to financially support New South Wales and pay for necessary food imports, it also allowed the emergence of a wool baron class whilst convict society and transportation was at its peak. Under his own hand, there was a form of forced labour with little mitigation, at least until such time as a ticket of leave was obtained and Cotton made that a lengthy and more difficult process.

That was not to say that he did not face opponents. The passage of the South Australia Act in 1834 and the establishment of a convict free South Australia was very much against his self-interest. There were ever those in favour of the abolition of convict transportation, the same sort of people who succeeded in the abolition of slavery some five years before. Yet, he was not without his own allies. With himself at its head, the wool barons of New South Wales had leverage in Westminster. Their requests allowed him to continue as Governor. In return, he had helped establish them as an aristocracy built on land ownership and convict labour and in return their men in Westminster provided ongoing support for transportation. He had an able ally in Van Diemen's Land when Arthur was Governor, less so now with Franklin, yet he still had a measure of support.

Yet for all that, there was a movement to outflank and usurp his rightful authority. South Australia was lost to him, so he had created a new colony called Northern Australia for all land above 26 degrees South, installing a loyal man as Lieutenant Governor. There was pressure from abolitionists to create a separate colony in New Zealand, something he adamantly opposed. For all that, he agreed with the Treaty of Waitangi, signed at a time when the natives in New Zealand were engaged in a ruinous civil war and therefore more likely to negotiate from a position of weakness. What had happened in Van Diemen's Land showed the it was possible to negotiate favourably with the natives, at times. The continuation of the current situation was very much in his interests. In nine years, he had become the richest man in Australasia. He had no wish for this state of affairs to change.
September 1847 - The destitute Duke
14th September 1847, Stowe House, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom

Richard Plantagenet Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, signed the paperwork forwarded by the brand-new Colonial Office, created only the year before. There was little choice in the matter, he was, after all, some 988,000 Pounds in debt, a sum increasing with every day and now almost beyond imagine. Stapleton Cotton had prospered in the Antipodes as Governor, establishing almost a private fiefdom, in conjunction with other powerful men in London and there was a chance that he could also make good financially. He also admitted the prospect of putting 10,500 miles between himself and his creditors was not unattractive. For all that, he was under no illusions that things would be easy. There was one problem with the increased need to feed convicts into the system of grazing in Australasia. Increasingly the population consisted of an underclass of labourers, many of whom were fractious Irish Catholics. In addition, there were the even more dangerous political exiles, Charterists, Irish Republicans. These numbers had not been balanced by the passage of free settlers, especially in New South Wales. In addition, there were those who wished to bring an end to transportation, with strong movements for abolition in Van Diemen's Land and what would become the new State of Victoria on 1st January 1848. The Port Phillip District was especially fractious, with strong demonstrations at Melbourne, Portland and Geelong. That was not all, there was agitation for self-Government and a drastic reduction in the power of the Governor.

It was a worrying sign, then again, Cotton had managed so there was no reason why he would not be able to do the same. It looked like it would be just himself and his son, with his daughter married and his wife estranged, surely a disadvantage.

When he was to eventually set foot in Australasia on 1st April 1848, a delay long enough to oversee the sale of his family seat, he was to have no idea how transformative his tenure was to be, with changes in Australasia being not evolutionary, but revolutionary in the period from 1853 to the end of the decade. By 1850, Australasia's population was in excess of 620,000, half those in New South Wales, 100,000 in Victoria, 90,000 in Van Diemen's Land, 35,000 in New Zealand, 75,000 in South Australia, 10,000 in Western Australia and another 5,000 on Pacific islands. This did not include native populations, of course.

By 1850, Australasia would be on a powder keg, with both the newly renamed Tasmania, as well as Victoria, having achieved self-government. Both had suspended transportation. The latter, in particular, was attracting settlers from the abolitionist bloc, noting similar evils in the New South Wales convict labour system as they did in slavery. By that time, there existed an unofficial passage smuggling convicts into a freer life in the three southern colonies, as tensions between New South Wales and its subordinate colonies of Queensland and also North Australia, and the more liberal Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the sympathetic Lieutenant Governor of New Zealand were on the rise.
June 1850 - Too many convicts
16 June 1850, Toorak House, Melbourne, Victoria

Adye Douglas and Horatio Wills were of the same mind as their New Zealand counterpart. Whilst convicts had continued to pour into New South Wales, South Australia had never been a convict state and Tasmania had suspended the transportation of convicts in 1847 for two years before a resumption. The resolution of both men was simple enough. From 1.1.1851, they would ask for a suspension of convict transportation to Victoria, Tasmania and New Zealand and that no further convicts would be accepted after that time, with future emigrations to these states only free men.

They were not to know that such a trade would never resume in any of these three states, or of course South Australia. The age of transportation was coming to an end and at the same time the future of Australasia took shape in what would be a turbulent six-year period, driven by competing priorities, an up-swell of democratic thought in the Southern colonies, transportation and its implacable opponents in the Anti Transportation League. All these were set against the background of the Gold Rush in Victoria and Tasmania, a rush that attracted people from all over the World, but, to the dismay of many, attracted as many as 45,000 Chinese to goldfields towns by the mid 1850’s, changing the demographic picture in Victoria, in particular, in a way not seen or anticipated before and skyrocketing the population of “marvelous Melbourne.”

Of course, this was to affect Australasia’s most populous colony. A succession of autocratic Governors in New South Wales had limited the power of the Legislative Assembly. When gold was discovered, all in the southern colonies, the lure for fleeing convicts improved dramatically and the wool barons faced abandoned flocks, as convicts started to abscond. It placed enormous pressure on the New South Wales Governor from his political supporters, a pressure only increased from the start of 1851. It was to reach its zenith when Britain’s attention was firmly fixed elsewhere by a combination of the Crimean War, a Sepoy Mutiny and a nationalist uprising in Burma.
June 1851 - Walking to freedom
2 June 1851, near Tarranganda, New South Wales

For Aubrey McWilliam, a man convicted and transported four years before, all that now remained was a crossing of the Bega River. Once he crossed the river, he would be relatively safe in Victoria. Victoria had declared itself “free” of convicts. During the last 6 months they had not sent any impressed convicts that crossed into the state back to New South Wales. His own case was typical of many over the last three months. He simply walked off the property of the man to whom he had been assigned, heading first East, then South, as he moved day by day ever closer to Victoria. He had duly avoided police pursuit and was to cross the Bega River that night. Two days later, he was able to exchange a week’s labour for a new set of clothes and a week’s worth of meals and he continued his journey on to Clunes, where excited reports realised the discovery of gold in significant quantity; released to the newspapers on the 18th June. The Victorian Gold Rush was about to commence.
Contemporary Australia Map 1851
March 1852 - Chinese issues
14 March 1852, Government House, Melbourne, Victoria

Governor Horatio Wills looked at his pile of papers. There were three items under consideration, the first of which was his replacement. He had no current thoughts in relation to this, but would have to correspond with London in regards it soon.

His second problem was the Chinese. Already 25,000 Chinese had emigrated to California for “Gold Mountain”. Now, at the height of summer, 224 Chinese had arrived on board the large barque Star of Asia. With ‘the diggings” around Ballarat and Clunes already called “New Gold Mountain” it seemed obvious the gold strikes would be the start of another wave of Chinese immigration. To his mind the presence of so many Chinese in Melbourne and Victoria would constitute a security risk. Who knew where such people’s loyalty lay? Already there were calls within Victoria and indeed Tasmania to take measures to cease or restrict Chinese immigration. Wills had his own idea. Labourers were needed on Melbourne’s suddenly booming docks and the gold fever gripping the colony was dragging away able-bodied men to fulfill such a need. From Amoy came indentured Chinese labourers that had been successful in other areas as an alternative to the slave trade and many ships and crews had previous experience in such a trade, as he was certain many did not come voluntarily. The Treaty of the First Opium War allowed the presence of British subjects in virtually all Chinese ports and for that reason London would never agree to an exclusion of Chinese immigrants. In any case, Wills needed them to feed into Melbourne’s dock work and foresaw a need to use their market gardening and irrigation skills. No, there was more than one way to skin a cat. Chinese miners were not required; however, Chinese labourers were. Wills recommended the placement of an 8 pound poll tax on Chinese immigration for single men only. For families, or men with wives, this was waived, as it was for women. It was also waived for those that filled indentured positions for the colonial government. This was to become law on 15th June 1852, initially cutting Chinese immigration drastically, before it was to flow again in 1853.

His second priority was to greatly increase the presence of the local militia. With the outbreak in January of a Sepoy revolt in India, in addition to a Royalist rebellion in Burma, the 40th Somerset Regiment would not be coming to the colonies, leaving Australia and New Zealand garrisoned by only two thinly spread Regiments, the 11th and 99th. This was down from seven Regiments in the 1840’s. To cover this enormous area such limited forces were manifestly inadequate. To that end, he had obtained permission for military stores to be left in Melbourne to allow the formation of full Regiment of Rifles, with half in Melbourne and the remainder in Tasmania, New Zealand and South Australia. There was little point in trying to accommodate such an arrangement with New South Wales and its vassal states Queensland and North Australia, as the Governor in Sydney, Richard Plantagenet, was a man vested in only his own interests. Relations between New South Wales and Victoria had plunged to an all-time low, fueled by escaped convicts, jealousy of the gold strikes and pettifogging, Plantagenet being insanely jealous of all those he thought likely to usurp his prerogatives. Even his own son had broken with the man and now resided in Melbourne. It was a fundamental difference in philosophies. On one side a penal colony based on slave labour, on the other, a developing colony.
June 1852 - Shipbuilding in the antipodes
22 June 1852, Recherche Bay, Van Diemen’s Land

The 18-gun 405-ton sloop of war Maweena was something new, a ship that would belong to the new colonial government, rather than the Royal Navy. Her sister ship Tasmania was nearing completion. The shipbuilding works at Recherche Bay had been a staple of the colony ever since Macquarie Harbour Penal Station had closed at the end of 1840. It had already produced two brigs and two gunboats, the later using the prized Huon Pine harvested for a month a year from Tasmania’s remote West Coast. The yard, along with another in Hobart, were the only yards in Australasia able to quickly produce craft of over 200 tons. Up until now, for most British merchants, the Australian colonies were simply too remote to dispatch vessels of under 150 tons. As a result, there was an ever-present need for smaller vessels to meet domestic needs for transport and trade between the colonies. Furthermore, smaller vessels were required to meet the needs of the Australasian-based maritime extractive industries, such as sealing, whaling and now mining, the later the first important income generating industries in the colonies. Due to the great distances between the ports, shipbuilding was vitally important to the development and sustainability of the colonists.

It was pride that kept Governor Plantagenet from ordering similar ships from the Recherche Bay or Hobart yards as Victoria had done, instead New South Wales, increasingly diverging in both attitudes and priorities from the Southern colonies, was to commence work in March 1852 on a shipyard of its own that was slated to be capable of building ships of over 2,000 tons and with an attached engineering works, capable of producing boilers and screws under the new craze, steam.

The shipyard itself was a microcosm of diverging attitudes. In New South Wales, the shipyard construction was a project of the colonial government using convict labour. In Tasmania, the Hobart yard was convict free and owned by the wealthy Archer family, who used the income to support their grazing activities in the North of the state. The quality of the island's hardwood timber resources, combined with excellent port facilities and access to major shipping routes meant that by 1850, Hobart Town and Recherche Bay were producing double the number of wooden ships than all other Australasian ports combined.
Archer's shipyard, Hobart

Tasmanian Colonial Flag
May 1853 - An unlikely triumverate
28 May 1853, Ballarat, Colony of Victoria

There were scarcely three such people less likely to form a friendship, yet such had occurred. Firstly Peter Lalor, a participant in the failed 1848 rebellion and an Irish Nationalist whose father had been that rare thing, an Irish Catholic MP. Secondly, the hard-bitten Scotsman Duncan Gillies, who had left Scotland and his position in an engineering concern to pursue his own future at 17 and was still only 19. Lastly, the ultimate English aristocrat, Richard Plantagenet Campbell Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, who had relocated to Victoria after a violent quarrel with his father resulted in a permanent split between the two men.

Together, they had done what many others had not been able to, namely form a coherent and stable mining company, rather than simply arriving and pegging out a claim as most had done. They had good fortune, of that there was no doubt, pegging out a rich area and expanding from that. To form such a company, a major requirement was provision of capital. Even cut off from his father, Plantagenet had been able to provide that. Secondly, such a company needed to be efficiently run, both in an engineering sense and a financial one. Gillies had worked in such a capacity in Scotland. Lastly, as the operation expanded and Blocks Company became well established, there was a need to recruit more and more miners and handle the everyday disputes of a diverse workforce, as people poured in to "marvelous Melbourne" in response to the gold rush, making their way to the diggings. Peter Lalor had proven himself extraordinarily adept at such dealings. One advantage that Blocks had in terms of attracting workers was the removal of the requirement to pay for a prospecting license, which the company paid, rather than the individual miner. Already on the goldfields, there were many men that avoided paying the ruinous 8 Pounds per annum license. Enforcement was only lax, which was all to the well, as non-payment carried a term of up to 6 months imprisonment per offense. With the colony due to receive a new Governor in June or July, enforcement may not stay lax for long. Lalor had proven to be a fair if controversial hirer, taking even escaped convicts from New South Wales and Chinese miners. The later, in particular, had stoked much resentment, but had proven to be a boon for the company as many were excellent workers, even if he had been required to hire a ten man "security detachment" to protect the company's assets.

Richard Plantagenet had built himself a legacy in rapid time, a most pleasant result, as he again looked at a recriminatory letter from his father deriding him for the use of escaped convicts at his company works. He watched as his fellow directors came into the room. He retained a 52% in interest in the company, whilst Lalor, Gillies and the Melbourne based Swanston family each held 16%. Peter Lalor snorted. "Are you still looking at that letter from your feckless father Richard?"

"Indeed I am. It's always those disappointments that are caused by family that cause one the most distress I feel. Duncan would say the same, would you not?" Duncan Gillies snorted " Aye, indeed I would."

Peter Lalor spoke again. "He is acting like a King in New South Wales, taking all steps in London to ensure a steady flow of convict bodies. What happens now that the Ottomans have rejected Russian demands in Wallachia? Will Britain be drawn into a war? If so, what will then happen? As it is, in New South Wales, many wool barons face abandoned flocks, as greater numbers of convicts run off. This is a campaign we have run from here in Victoria, to convince many to abandon their slavery. We are beyond such things here now. Transportation needs to cease, lest we have a slave state like exists in America. We need free settlers, free thinkers, men of substance. In the event of war, those in New South Wales that pull the stings in London will be facing a loss of their power in Westminster and will allow abolitionists to turn their sights on transportation more fully. That is what we must hope for."

Richard Plantagenet smiled a grim smile. "Acting like a King? Yes, I suppose he is. He has New South Wales, Queensland, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island and North Australia under his total control, after all." Duncan Gillies chimed in. "You realise he actually could be a King Peter?"

Peter Lalor looked at his Scottish friend. "How?" he asked. "Well, Henry VIII's will disinherited the Stuarts to a claim to the English Crown. If that had been followed, secession would have been through his other daughter Mary, whose direct descendant is here in front of you through the Brydges family. As his name says he is also descended from Arthur Plantagenet through an illegitimate line."
October 1854 - The first shots
17 October 1854, Ballarat, Colony of Victoria

Duncan Gillies could sense the ugly mood of the crowd as they gathered to commence their march on Bentley’s Eureka Hotel. It was an angry mob, most of them armed as was standard for the diggers of the day. The murder of James Scobie was a spark. However, the tinder to start the fires of a rebellion was coming for some time. The old Governor, Wills, has been sympathetic to the plight of the ordinary miner. The new, James Hotham, much less so and he had rapidly forced the hand of the Goldfields Commissioner, Robert Rede, towards enforcing the crippling monthly fee of 30 shillings required from diggers on Victorian goldfields for a mining license. For those that were struggling or just starting claims, it was a heavy impost.

Whilst this had been a boon in some ways for his own company, Blocks, as it forced some experienced miners to the wall and instead made them open to paid employment, it had created great resentment throughout the diggings in Victoria.

Plantagenet kept the 11th Regiment of Foot in New South Wales and the only other Regiment in Australia, the 99th, was spread between Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia. Less than 200 were stationed in Victoria, backed only by colonial militia.

Gillies could see quite clearly that in any confrontation, if such an event occurred and escalated, the ability of the Government to maintain control would be put to the test. The 12th Regiment of Foot had not arrived, diverted instead to the Crimean War, when the British had suffered a setback after initial success.

Much of the problem Victoria found itself in was as a result of the States estrangement from New South Wales and the policies of its autocratic Governor and the sheer size of the population expansion that had occurred within the state. 1851 had brought 14,892 arrivals by sea to the state (not including Tasmania or New Zealand). This had swelled to 109,664 in 1852, 114,312 in 1853 and 82,265 to the end of September this year. These were numbers that were straining the infrastructure of Government in terms of being able to cope.

Gillies had let his own miners march in support of the demonstrators, hoping that it would be a peaceful procession. It was anything but. By the following morning, Bentley's Eureka Hotel was ashes, as was the office of the Commissioner of Goldfields, burnt whilst Robert Rede was en-route to Bendigo. The few shots exchanged by police with the mob before being overwhelmed by numbers were the first definitive shots of what would be not only the birth of a nation, but the start of a civil war in Australasia.
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What's the population of Australia at this point, @johnboy? Good start to the redone TL, with much more to come, methinks...
Yes, more to come. As far as populations go:

NSW: 341,000(approx 45,000 of which aboriginal)
Victoria: 346,000(approx 20,000 of which aboriginal)
New Zealand 90,000(approx 60,000 of which Maori)
Tasmania: 105,000(approx 4,000 of which aboriginals)
South Australia 80,000

Others states numbers are negligible.
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Yes, more to come. As far as populations go:

NSW: 321,000(approx 45,000 of which aboriginal)
Victoria: 342,000(approx 20,000 of which aboriginal)
New Zealand 90,000(approx 60,000 of which Maori)
Tasmania: 85,000(approx 4,000 of which aboriginals)

Others states numbers are negligible.
Do the people of Queensland and North Australia want to get out from under NSW?
October 1854 - A licking at Leigh's Creek
31 October 1854, near Leigh's Creek, Colony of Victoria

There was no going back now, thought Peter Lalor. He sensed the reservations of his two friends and business partners, but their path was set. The killing of two police and the imprisonment of those police unwilling to switch their allegiance to the rebels, as well as the goldfield commissioner, had drawn a line in the sand. There was no going back now and there was no getting around that. It helped to have good intelligence. Control of the Post and Telegraph Office at Ballarat had acquainted him with the fact that Lt Colonel H.K Bloomsfield had left Melbourne with over 100 men of the 11th Foot, as well as around 50 police, 30 of the later mounted. The telegram simply said "I have departed Melbourne this afternoon, with 100 or more sheep and 30 horses", but Lalor trusted Charles Meredith and knew full well what that meant.

Anticipating a reaction from the Governor in Melbourne to the present state of disorder, he had spent the intervening period readying his own forces. Some men had melted away on the news that the government had sent troops, but Peter Lalor had become the central figure of the rebellion. Support had come from some most unexpected sources, all unhappy with the position of the government of the day and Hotham.
On 28 October six thousand diggers gathered in the sunshine at Bakery Hill, beneath a flag of their own devising, the Southern Cross. Many had come from outlying areas, especially Bendigo, Maryborough, Talbot, Dunolly and Ballan. Friedrich Vern called upon them to burn their licenses, rather than submit to the government. Raffaello Carboni called on them to fight tyranny. Peter Lalor spoke last, reminding the men that here was tyranny as bad as this in old Ireland. It was Lalor who unfurled the Southern Cross and called upon those assembled to fight, to stand together. Almost 3000 agreed to do so. Kneeling in the dust, he led them in an oath: ‘We swear by the Southern Cross to stand true and fight to defend our rights and liberties.’ It was stirring, but it was also treason. Soon after Lalor's speech, 800 Chinese miners, harder hit than most, voiced their support in English from their own headman, Wei Shing.

These translated into the leaders of the rebellion, an Irishman, an Englishman, a Scot, a Chinaman, a German, an Italian and a Canadian, Henry Ross. Ross had a military background and it was him and Richard Brydges that convinced Lalor to attempt to ambush the redcoats and police before they arrived at Ballarat rather than build fortifications at Bakery Hill in anticipation of their arrival. The meeting at Bakery Hill resulted in many demands being put forward that were not currently met. Many shouted for the vote, for short parliaments and real democracy. All wanted the hated mining licenses gone, or at least the fee reduced drastically at a minimum. Others mentioned the untenable situation in New South Wales, the tyranny and corruption of the Governor. Many expressed a desire to end the countries ties with England and the monarchy, desiring a republic and an Australian state. Sentiment was whipped up as grog was passed around. When some diggers burned their licenses, hundreds more followed, throwing licenses into a great bonfire.

That night, they marched from Ballarat to Leigh's Creek, taking up positions either side of the road near Mount Warrenhelp, units of 250 men under the command of six leaders, 1000 on the thickly wooded slopes of Mount Warrenhelp, 500 in a smaller copse of trees to the South of Melbourne Road. Many were indifferently armed, less than 200 of the men having a rifle or muskets. None were mounted, aside from a small number of messengers. Others carried colts, horse pistols, even pepper-box revolvers and shotguns. Others swords, makeshift pikes or even shovels. One advantage that they did have was that most that carried weapons were all to proficient with their use, accustomed as they were to living off the land, shooting targets such as kangaroos.

Lt Colonel Henry Bloomfield was confident, how could he not be when facing only a scruffy mob of protesting miners. He has taken basic precautions and two scouts advised him that some 500 men were fortifying Bakery Hill at Ballarat that very morning. It would be all too late for them, he thought. Yes, he had reason to be confident so had closed up his marching formation and double timed then men to reach the town before nightfall. Then they could plan an attack to break the rebels. He was blissfully unaware that he was marching into a trap himself.

It was the element of surprise that won the day for the rebels. The first two volleys killed 24 men and wounded twice that amount, before the started regulars could reply. Despite attempts to rally the soldiers and form a square, many, including the less experienced police, panicked when large numbers of rebels emerged from the neighboring bush and started to bear down on the loyalist troops. Casualties were heavy on both sides, as the rebels attempted to close. At the end of the engagement, some 42 rebels lay dead, 66 more wounded, cut down by controlled volleys from the 1842 muskets of the 11th Foot. However, the 11th Foot had suffered 38 dead(including it's commander), 32 wounded and 29 captured, 99 of the 112 men dispatched. Only 13 men escaped, two of those being captured later and another two deserting. Of the 48 police dispatched, some 29 were lost, only 13 mounted men escaping. It was a disaster of the first order for the government, left with less than 60 regulars in Melbourne, bolstered only by colonial militia. It was something that could not be swept under the carpet as a mere civil disorder.

For Peter Lalors's men, it opened up a new vista. It allowed a broader perspective, an agenda greater than that originally envisaged, i.e fairness in the goldfields region. Calls came to march on Melbourne and overthrow Hotham's administration.

On the same day, in Sydney, the Rodney arrived with 40 convicts on boards, as convicts still continued to arrive in New South Wales, against the wishes of many of the ordinary citizens, as opposed to Victoria and Tasmania, where transportation had already ceased. None the less, their were changes on the way to Australia's population. In 1854, 1000 immigrants arrived in Moreton Bay from Germany, fleeing religious persecution. These made up more than 20% of the settlement, at least in regards whites.
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4 November 1854 - Hotham falls
4 November 1854, Toorak House, Melbourne, Colony of Victoria

It had all gone wrong very rapidly for Sir Charles Hotham, Governor of Victoria. On reflection, he was now the former Governor of Victoria, thought Peter Lalor. Lalor himself had rapidly realised the importance of moving as quickly as possible. Telegraph communication was the key. It would take 60-70 days for any news of such a rebellion to make it to England, however, new would reach Launceston in only 1-2 days, Sydney in a week.Allowing two days to bury the dead, they had left Ballarat on the 2nd November with a force of 1000 men, 250 of which were now armed with rifles or British Army muskets. 400 men, 50 armed with long-arms, marched to Bendigo via Talbot and Maryborough under Brydges that same day.

Moving through Ballan and actually gaining some 50 extra men, they overnighted at Taylor's Creek, camping at the property of Scotsman William Taylor. The following morning they marched on Government House at Toorak. It was an unequal struggle. Melbourne was garrisoned by only 88 men of the 11th Foot and 51 police, backed by 38 civilian volunteers, Colonel W.A Anderson's Melbourne Volunteer Rifles, only just in the process of forming and consisting of some 34 men and lastly the late arriving Geelong Volunteer Rifles, consisting of 16 men commanded by Horatio Wills, the former Governor. What's more, the more able of the police had already been dispatched, the men left being of less utility.

The two forces met near the Hay, Corn and Horse Market, close to the bridge on Flemington Road, where the loyalist forces had set up barricades. It was a disaster for the Governor's forces. Initially able to hold the rebels, after 30 minutes they realised that their left flank had been turned. The rebels had taken position on Arden Street. Horatio Wills Geelong Volunteer Rifles had sided with the rebels, taking up positions inside the Royal and Parkside Hotels.

The rebels lost 27 dead and 31 wounded at the barricades, the loyalists 24 dead and 18 wounded. More were picked off as they began a confused retreat that ended in a rout, many men surrendering in place. By noon on the 4th November, the Governor was in custody and by 2.30pm all Government forces had laid down their arms. The rebels were in total control of "marvelous Melbourne and it 112,000 population.

Lalor rather dramatically climbed out the skylight to speak to the assembled citizens of Melbourne from the roof of the Post Office in Bourke Street later that day.

“Liberty! That is why we are here, that is what we have fought for.

Fellow Citizens, we can no longer be but outraged at the unaccountable conduct of this Governor and his corrupt officials, we take it as an insult to our manhood and a challenge to the determination to pay the usurious taxes foisted upon us by this grasping administration. We can no longer tolerate the use of this country as a dumping ground for those unwanted in England, those transported against their will by the tyranny of the Crown and of old England. Make no mistake, they will call us traitors, attempt to call us to account, but if you wish to forge your own destiny, brothers and sisters, then you must cleave to the course that we wish to follow.

That course proposes we follow no more than the basic rights of any free man or woman, the right to choose one's own destiny, the right to be free of oppression, to chart ones own course. That is what I propose we do. I propose we chart our own course in this great Southern land. That we longer be beholding to the whims of London, that our wishes be no longer overridden, that the tyranny spewing for from the entitled few in Sydney also be curtailed. You see our flag, the Southern Cross. Swear a solemn oath by our standard, be not a coward at heart. I order all persons who do not intend to take the oath to leave the meeting at once, you will not be molested and public notices will be issued as to the future direction of this colony within the next two days.
For those of us that remain, for those that want a new future free of oppression, for those that wish to see us masters of our own destiny, I call on you now to swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other, and fight to defend our rights and liberties."

The amount of men that came forward, and some women, far exceeded the numbers that Lalor had envisaged. Lalor knelt. "Comrades, assist me to pray for the safety of these men. 
 Bless these men that go to fight for their rights and liberties. May Heaven shield them from danger. I charge you to commit no violence to the peaceably disposed. I will shoot the first man who takes any property from another except arms and ammunition and what is necessary for us to use in our defense.
 March behind our standard.”

Two days later, leaflets circulated all Melbourne homes.

"In the light of circumstances that had previous existed within the previous Colony of Victoria, in light of the patient sufferance of this colony, in light of the oppression suffered, it now constrains us to alter our former system of government, having in direct object the rejection of tyranny over this State.

To that end, I, Peter Lalor, state the following, namely, this Colony is now a free and independent State; it is absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown and all political connection between it and the state of Great Britain, is totally dissolved. To that end, I announce the following appointments for the new Southern Cross Republic:

President and Minister for External Affairs: Horatio Wills
Minister for War: Peter Lalor
Minister for Mining and Postmaster General: Duncan Gillies
Lord Protector: Richard Plantagenet- Brydges
Minister for Trade: Foster Fyans
Attorney General: Adye Douglas
Treasurer: Raffaello Carboni
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