Having recently celebrated Australia Day it made me think about what interesting family trees most Australians have. Many of our Ancestors were adventurers and rebels. People who were brave enough (or foolhardy enough) to take on the challenges of a new country so far away from the rest of the civilized world.
Of course not everyone came to Australia of their own free will.
From the first European settlement in 1788 until 1868, Convicts were being sent to Australia to help ease the pressure on Britain’s overcrowded gaols.
There are many records to be searched if you do find you have a convict in your family tree. A good starting point is the National Library of Australia’s website.
There were many free settlers who came to Australia as well, eager for land of their own. People who wanted to leave their past behind and make a new life in a new country. Entire families and extended families who emigrated together. Loners, drifters, adventurers and of course fortune hunters. The discovery of Gold in 1851, brought not just British people to Australian shores but people from all over the world, including many Chinese, Americans, French, Polish etc. Some tried their luck at the Goldfields and then returned home, but many stayed on to build a new life in a country that had so much to offer.
Just looking at my own family tree I see an Ancestor from Scotland who came out on a convict ship as a Redcoat and stayed on to settle the land. An ancestor from Sweden who jumped ship to stay in Australia illegally. An ancestor from Canada who was lured here by the gold but stayed to farm the land. My great great grandmother from Wiltshire England, who sailed alone at the age of 23 as an assisted passenger in 1857 to look for a better life.
There are so many diverse and interesting stories to discover about why and when your ancestors came to Australia. There was always a reason behind the decision to emigrate and Australian genealogists can enjoy unlocking their exciting past.