Pathos of a new natural world
were obliged to request shipments of convicts from the middle of the century.
All the colonies faced various difficulties in their early days but in hindsight their growth, in a not particularly promising land at the very ends of the earth, was impressive in its rapidity and in the ambitions the colonists soon conceived for their new cities. In the many early views of the various colonies in this remarkable exhibition, it is the rate of growth that is particularly striking. A few years after its beginning as a tent city, Sydney had an ever-increasing number of brick and stone houses. The origins of some of the city’s schools and other institutions go back to a generation after foundation. By 1850, the University of Sydney, the first in the Empire, was established.
Melbourne had started later but had grown faster than Sydney, and by 1851 a petition for the separation of Victoria from the colony of New South Wales gained royal approval. Months later, gold was discovered and the wealth generated by the diggings quickly turned Melbourne into a great 19th-century city. The gold rush also enormously increased the population of settlers, from less than 500,000 before 1850 to more than three million by the 1880s; Melbourne alone soon had a population of more