National Library of Australia

Hope and Hardship

Before European discovery, the ‘Great South Land’ held the promise of Utopia for those imagining it from northern climes.

Later, Australia still held for many people the promise of untold wealth and happiness, but many also suffered as a result of this dream. This section shows how people were often ill-equipped to deal with the harsh reality of climate and geography.

When one group of Australians became disappointed in life here, they set off for South America to establish their own Utopia. This time it was not environment that defeated them, but human nature.

European settlement in Australia was founded on migration, targeting women in the early years, and a labour force after World War 2.

In this section, insight is given into some of Australia’s most intriguing personal histories, both famous and less well known. The stories of Australian life reside in its great library collections.

The story of Cyclone Tracy concludes the section and symbolises the sometimes extreme circumstances of life in Australia, where hope can be severely tested in the face of hardship.