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To the south of these and inland, lie more areas of grassland: the Ord Victoria Plain and the Western Australian Mulga shrublands.
Eastern Australia is marked by the Great Dividing Range, which runs parallel to the coast of Queensland, New South Wales and much of Victoria.The latter two both derive from Dorothea Mackellar's 1908 poem "My Country".Indigenous Australians have an oral culture with spiritual values based on reverence for the land and a belief in the Dreamtime.A camp was set up and the flag raised at Sydney Cove, Port Jackson, on 26 January 1788, a date which became Australia's national day, Australia Day, although the British Crown Colony of New South Wales was not formally promulgated until 7 February 1788.The first settlement led to the foundation of Sydney, and the exploration and settlement of other regions.The passing of the Australia Act 1986 ended all possibility for any vestigial role of the British government in the government in Australia and removed the already seldom-used option of judicial appeals to the Privy Council in London.
In a 1999 referendum, 55% of voters and a majority in every state rejected a proposal to become a republic with a president appointed by a two-thirds vote in both Houses of the Australian Parliament.
For about 50,000 years After the European discovery of the continent by Dutch explorers in 1606, Australia's eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788.
The population grew steadily in subsequent decades, and by the 1850s most of the continent had been explored and an additional five self-governing crown colonies established.
A government policy of "assimilation" beginning with the Aboriginal Protection Act 1869 resulted in the removal of many Aboriginal children from their families and communities—often referred to as the Stolen Generations—a practice which may also have contributed to the decline in the indigenous population.
Traditional ownership of land ("native title") was not recognised in law until 1992, when the High Court of Australia held in Mabo v Queensland (No 2) that the legal doctrine that Australia had been terra nullius ("land belonging to no one") did not apply to Australia at the time of British settlement.
After World War II Australia encouraged immigration from mainland Europe.