Australia in the 1860s


Flourishing Arts


The Arts flourished during the 1860s. In 1861, Henry Clarence Kendall (18391882) published his first volume of verses titled Poems and Songs and his second volume, Leaves from Australian Forests, in 1869.

Catherine Helen Spence (18251910), a writer, preacher, reformer and feminist, published the pamphlet A Plea for Pure Democracy in 1861 as well as a children's book on citizenship and laws called The Laws We Live Under. She was a noted reformist and suffragist and her portrait appears on the Australian five-dollar note.

Adam Lindsay Gordon (18331870), a bush poet, published his first book ballad, The Feud, in 1864.

Charles Robert Thatcher (18311878), a goldfields entertainer and journalist, wrote and performed songs such as 'Colonial Minstrel'. His works became Australian folk songs. Thatcher is regarded as the vocal equivalent of the goldfield artist ST Gill (18181880).

Australian landscape painters Eugène von Guérard (18111901), Louis Buvelot (18141888), and Nicholas Chevalier (18281902) came to the public's attention during this time. Eugène von Guérard had arrived in Australia in search of his fortune on the goldfields. Failing at mining, he took commissions to paint and became one of Melbourne's most successful painters of landscapes and pastoral properties. His painting of Mount Kosciuszko exemplifies his belief that it was possible to combine the most detailed accuracy with a strong emotional connection to the subject. On his many expeditions he always kept detailed sketchbooks, 33 of which still exist, in which he recorded times, weather, colours and textures that became the basis for later paintings and lithographs.

The Arts_1860s


A snapshot of 1868

  • January
    • Transportation of convicts to Western Australia ended.

  • March
    • The Queensland Parliament passed the Polynesian Labourers Act 1868 (Qld) to regulate the employment of Pacific Islanders recruited through 'blackbirding'.
    • The attempted assassination of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, by Henry James O'Farrell at Clontarf, a suburb of Sydney.

  • May
    • An Indigenous Australian cricket team became the first Australian sports team to tour overseas.

  • September
    • John King, the only surviving member of the Burke and Wills exhibition, was found living with an Aboriginal group.
    • Public Schools Act introduced compulsory schooling in Tasmania.

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