6 Billion™ - The Game Of The New Millennium

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Australia in Detail
(This is background information only - you do not need to know this to play "6 Billion™")


Soon after Britain lost its American colonies in the American War Of Independence (1776 to 1783), so Britain gained new colonies in Australia (first settlement the Port Jackson penal colony in 1788). These colonies united peaceably during Federation in 1901, and Australia the nation celebrated its centenary on 26th January 2001 (Australia Day).

At the time of the Port Jackson settlement (now called Sydney) , it is estimated that 300,000 Aboriginals lived throughout Australia. Their way of life was the hunter gatherer way. They were culturally united, but had no central government. They spoke approximately 260 languages (mostly extinct) and its estimated there were 700 distinct tribes.

Early Growth - New South Wales

From the 1,000 settlers in 1788 the colony of New South Wales (as it became known) grew as follows:

New South Wales Separates

The New South Wales colony separated into today’s smaller NSW, Tasmania (1825), Victoria (1851), Queensland (1859) and South Australia (1836). Western Australia was founded in 1829. The Australian Capital Territory was created out of Federation, with the Australian capital Canberra being founded in 1908. The Northern Territory (today’s population about 180,000) was granted self-government in 1978.

Settlers Tasmania Western Australia South
Victoria Queensland New South Wales Total
1851 69,187 7,186 66,538 77,345 34,367 197,265 254,820
1871 101,900 25,447 188,644 729,654 121,743 503,981 1,671,369

The vast increases in population in Victoria and NSW between 1851 and 1871 can be largely credited to the gold rush in those 2 states. Sheep farming was the other main economic force that attracted the Europeans. In all, 160,000 convicts were transported to Australia ,ending in 1840 (NSW), 1853 (Tasmania) and 1867 (Western Australia).

In 1850 Britain passed the Australian Colonies Government Act which provided a fair degree of independence to the colonies, allowing them to change their own constitutions.

During World War I, over 300,000 Australians from a population of about 4,500,000 fought alongside Britain.

Recent Population Figures

In 1993, the capitals of the states and territories had the following (estimated) populations:

Population of Australia (mid -1994) was 17,843,300. As you can see, most Australians live in cities.

Roughly 3 in 4 Australians are native born, 1 in 4 being a migrant (including yours truly). 95% of Australians are white, 1.1 % Aboriginal, 2.2% Asian.

The annual birth rate is 1.4%, the death rate 0.7%, making a natural growth rate of 0.7%. This is increased due to the continued intake of migrants by 0.5%, making an adjusted annual growth rate of 1.2%. If this rate is sustained, Australia's population will double in about 58 years.

So what happened to the Aboriginals?

Estimates vary, but their population fell to 50,000 by 1890, 40,000 by 1901 and perhaps as low as 20,000 in 1911.

Whereas the distinct Tasmanian Aboriginal population (5,000) was effectively wiped out largely by deliberate policy, the estimate is that only a further 15,000 to 20,000 mainland Aboriginal were deliberately killed for a cost of perhaps 2,500 European lives. This is known as the war of extirpation, largely carried out by civilians and hired native police. I say "only a further 15,000..." because this doesn’t explain the devastation of Aboriginal populations. In truth, nobody knows the true figure for deliberate killings...

The main cause of death appears to be disease - influenza, smallpox and syphilis being the biggest killers. The European germ pool was the product of centuries of animal husbandry, with cattle (measles, tuberculosis, smallpox) and pigs (flu) amongst others as the common culprits for the likely source of the original pathogens for suffering Europeans over the centuries. That, the large concentrated populations, and the intermingling of germ pools with populations as far afield as India and China meant that Europeans were relatively immune to such plagues. The Aboriginals, on the other hand, had lived for tens of thousands of years in relative isolation and had no such immunity. It was germ warfare. Unintentional, perhaps, but just as deadly. Only in Cape York did this factor work effectively in the Aboriginals’ favour - early British attempts at settlement all failed due to malaria, for which the Aboriginals had a higher immunity.

Finally, the displacement of Aboriginals from their lands would have led, in conjunction with the devastation wrought by disease and war, to Aboriginals dying from starvation. I was unable to find any estimates for the effects of famine on the Aboriginal populations, but common sense says it must have been considerable.

Australia Today

Today , hunter gatherers at the heart of a civilized nation, Aboriginal numbers are close to their original figure of 300,000. This allows for the fact that the census allows a person who is one eighth Aboriginal to state that they are Aboriginal. Aboriginals were given the vote in 1967. In 1985 legislation was proposed to give up to 25% of Australia back to the Aboriginals as freehold. This has not been fully realised, and land rights looks set to being an issue for some time to come.

In 1986 Britain passed The Australia Act which gave the nation full legal independence whilst retaining the British Queen as sovereign. In 1999 Australia decided in a referendum against proposals to make Australia a republic and make an Australian the elected head of state.

A New Malthusian Scale

Using my New Malthusian Scale, here is an overview of Australia's demographic history with rough dates:

Time 58000BC 1788AD  
Kilopops 1 2 4 8 16 32 64 128 256 (293) 512 1024
Time 1860AD   1901AD   1980AD              
Megapops 1 2 4 8 16 32 64 128 256   512 1024

(1 Kilopop = 1,024 individuals, and 1 Megapop = 1,024 Kilopops).

In 1788 the Australian Aboriginal population was roughly 293 Kilopops (293 x 1024 = 300,000). Between 1788 and 1911 there was a rapid decline in the Aboriginal population, and a rapid increase in the overall Australian population. From a low of 20,000 in 1911, Aboriginal numbers have now returned  to around 300,000 (though many are now of mixed Aboriginal and European descent).

This table indicates that the hunter-gatherer Aboriginal population doubled approximately 8 times in 60,000 years, for an average population doubling time of 7,500 years (allowing for 8 doubles between 58,000BC and 1788AD). It is entirely possible that the population went into decline on occasion throughout that 60,000 years, but overall the trend was for exponential growth and hence population doubling. 

From 1788 to 1980 the European population has doubled roughly 6 more times, and has started its 7th doubling. The average doubling time for the civilized settlers has therefore been 32 years (allowing for 6 doubles between 1788 and 1980). 

It is possible to model the demographic history of any people throughout history, including any of today's nations, using this New Malthusian Scale. Try it, and you will find the same disparity between the doubling times for the original hunter-gatherer population and the later civilized population.

It is extremely unlikely that Earth can go back to the doubling times of the hunter-gatherer populations. You might like to read my article The Cassandra Prediction for my views on what happens next.


A Concise History Of Australia - Stuart Macintyre
History Of Australia - Manning Clark
The Future Eaters - Tim Flannery
Blood On The Wattle - Bruce Elder
Six Australian Battlefields - Al Grassby and Marji Hill
A Military History Of Australia - Jeffrey Grey
SBS World Guide - 4th Edition

If you have any comments on this page, email me (David A. Coutts).

Related pages include The Design and Production of 6 Billion™ , The Planets And The Asteroid Belt and Per Ardua Ad Astra (6 Billion™ - Future Fact Or Mere Fantasy?)

For a list of articles by me, see the Articles page.

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Last modified: 03 September, 2008