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Walter Raleigh was searching for another way to Nth America.
He left England in June 1584 and sighted the west coast of Australia in May 1585. April 9, 1585, with five main ships: the Tiger, the Roebuck, the Red Lion, the Elizabeth, and the Dorothy
He went on to explore the southern coast before entering a great bay which he called Elizabeth Bay (OTL Port Philip Bay), after Queen Elizabeth 1 of England. Finding fresh water and a good climate and soils he decided that it would make a perfect place for a settlement.
This new land he called Queens Land (OTL Victoria) and the settlement he named Regina (OTL Melbourne).
The new colony soon flourished, the temperate climate, good water and good soils made for a plentiful amount of food.
Soon after landing a minor outbreak of influenza broke out amongst a few of the settlers and it soon spread to the local natives who had no immunity to this new disease, the result was catastrophic to them with over 98% dying from the disease.
The Tiger and Elizabeth returned to England, the crews and other ships remained, with the Dorothy eventually circumnavigating the continent and returning to England to give a report.
In Nov of 1559 a further nine ships arrived with another two thousand settlers, a quarter of which were tradesmen.
With England being involved in wars with Spain the ships and their crews remained in the new colony to protect it, which turned out to be a godsend as England didn't send any new ships for another ten years, by now the colony had increased to nine thousand.
An expedition had sailed south and found a large island which was named Raleigh, after Walter Raleigh who was governor of the colony of Queens Land.
The expedition soon returned after finding that the natives were very hostile, and it then travelled on to the north and entered a magnificant harbour that had been discovered by the crew of the Dorothy in 1587, this new harbout was called Portsmouth (Botany Bay) after the great English naval port. In 1561 a small number of settlers moved to the new port and stated a colony that was called New South Wales and the new settlement was named Francis (OTL Sydney) after Sir Francis Bacon. This settlement soon flourished.
In the same year a small party of troops whilst collecting water in a small creek discovered gold, this was in an area about one hundred miles from Regina, the place was given the name Eureka, this discovery caused great excitement amongst the colony but Governor Raleigh quiteted it down by decreeing that all minerals were owned by the colonial govt, and would thenceforward be used for the coinage of the colony of Queensland.
To placate the citizens, Raleigh permitted the people to have a representation in the govt of the colony, and from this soon grew into a desire for independence.
The gold that was found gave Queens Land the ability to trade and this soon came about with one of the ships sailing up to India and opening up trade with the Portuguese of Bombay.
With the trade also came emigrants and indentured labour. By now, this new continent was given the name Australia - Latin for south land.
The Dutch had settlements in the sth west of the continent in an area they called New Holland and in the very nth the colony of New Amsterdam, the southern colonies were named Randstad (OTL Perth) and Beverwijk (OTL Albany), the northern colony was called Haarlem (OTL Darwin).
The people of Queensland and New South Wales permitted, both men and women over the age of twenty five to vote, and in 1572 the people voted to form an independent govt from England and this vote was in the affirmative 89% of the voting population, and a Republic was formed with a parliament that elected the head of state who was termed Governor. The Governor would then form a cabinet that comprised seven men from amongst the 23 elected parliamentarians, this later increased to 31 with the entry of Capricorniain to the now called Republic of Australia (only men could stand for Parliament). The new constitution acknowledged God and Sundays were written as to be free of work and entertainment, also with this section and laws on religion, only Christianity was permitted to be worshipped openly, those who emigrated who had other religions could worship in their homes. As to the building up of churches the law was that all churches had to be lay and that it was illegal for a professional clergy.
With the discovery of coal in the east of Queensland and iron ore in the west of the colony in an area termed South Australia an iron industry opened up, and with the influx of cheap labour from India, which allowed the manufature of cheap agriculture machinery.
With the discovery of gold in new South Wales and in the north east area called Capricornia (OTL Nth Queensland) the wealth of the the three colonies grew greatly as did the population so that by the year 1620 the population had grown to approx one million people.
There were settlements up and down the east coast of the continent, with some scattered inland.
The govt kept a strong hand on the economy with the State owning all the minerals , land and natural resources. People could buy land but only from the govt and if they wanted to sell the land they could only sell it to the govt. The land would be sold back to the govt at an increase in value of 5% per year plus improvements (buildings, fences, water, storages, etc), this was done to combat speculation.
The Banks were part owned by the govt and shareholders, with the govt owning 50.5% of stock, and no individual could own more than 0.5% of stock in an individual bank.
The stock exchange was owned outright by the govt, this stopped speculation.
All of what could be called strategic industries were part owned by the govt at 50.5%.
Markets were free and each town had a market place, there was no taxation on small businesses or farms.
Military service was required by all fit men over the age of sixteen and under fifty.
With the gold and silver the Australian govt increased the amount of skilled imigrants into the nation, and with that a university was started with entry by scholarship open to all citizens no matter what their race.
Australia was spared the plagues that hit Europe and the population had tripled to three million by 1660. By now an easy relationship with New Holland (which the entire west part of the continent was now known) and feelers went out to see if they wanted to be part of a federation. The population of New Holland only numbered 100,000 with the majority in the south west corner of the colony (they had only permitted immigrants of Dutch extraction ).
Australia remained free from the wars of Europe the only fights were small wars with pirates and some small Asian states who wanted to extract taxes to do trade, otherwise peace was normal for the continent and by 1690 the entire continent of Australia was now united after New Holland voted to be part of the Republic.
Australia through the 18th century was one of exploration and expansion. As the fortunes of Holland faded there was a great increase in the number of Dutch immigrants.
Australia remained neutral to the Anglo-Dutch wars, but Australia did move into Dutch controlled trade of SE-Asia and southern Africa.