By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (July 9, 2024) – In this edition of Fun with Maps we celebrate the establishment of an independent Australia.  

Down Under

On July 9, 1900, Queen Victoria signed the Royal Commission of Assent, establishing Australia as an independent, self-governing Dominion of the British Empire.

Although Australia celebrates its National Day on January 26 to mark the colonization of the country, there is a movement to change the designation to July 9 since it is really the birthday of the modern nation.  Currently July 9th is known as Australian Constitution Day.

Australians were the first people in the world to vote for their constitution, which was years in the making before being put to a vote.  The first draft was written in 1891.  Voting around the country took two years, from 1998-1900, before the adoption of the document which came into effect on January 1, 1901.

Since the creation of the Australian Constitution was an act of British law, the original of the document was kept in London.  In 1988, it was lent to Australia for their bicentennial celebration and has remained in the National Archives of Australia ever since.

This is one of the earlier maps of large portions of Australia.  Only the coasts were explored, except for the southern coast by 1804 when Arrowsmith issued this map.  The first European contact was in 1606 in the north and Botany Bay, today’s Sydney, was first seen by the first European, Captain Cook, in 1770, and the penal colony soon followed.

Australia – Circa 1804 (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Fun with Maps here on Loveland Beacon.