Within days of Victoria’s proclamation as a separate colony on 1 July 1851, gold was discovered at Ballarat. With the subsequent rushes and economic boom, its population had outstripped that of the mother colony of New South Wales by the end of the decade. The previous year, the Australian Colonies Government Act (1850) had granted the colonies the right to form representative institutions, a freedom which they energetically embraced. Van Diemen’s Land ceased taking penal transportations in 1853, and took the new name Tasmania (1856) to divorce itself from its dubious past. Western Australia languished in its formative years, coming close to abandonment in 1843–44, before commencing a gradual revival. The Northern District of New South Wales began to enjoy a wave of free settlers, attracted by the rich sheep-grazing pasture north of its centre at Brisbane. It too ‘gentrified’, ceasing convict transports in 1850.
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