In 1860–61, the Burke and Wills expedition completed the first crossing of the Australian continent, from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Both the expedition leaders perished on the return trip, emphasizing the hostility of the interior, but the Northern Territory was now on the map, and incorporated into South Australia in 1863. South Australia had also acquired a barren chunk of the Nullarbor Plain in 1861. Queensland grew prosperous, with wool production augmented by the initiation of sugarcane cultivation using imported Melanesian labour. Western Australia began to find its metier with the introduction of sheep-farming and wheat. Boosted by the gold-rush boom, Melbourne was now the largest city, and the opening of its Trades Hall (1859) opened the golden age for Australia’s organized labour. Mistreatment of the aboriginal populations, ravaged by imported diseases, was near universal, and bush-rangers were becoming an ever-present menace in the urban hinterlands.
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