Huberman Australian bicentenary

  • Issue: January 1988
  • Designer: G. Sagi
  • Stamp size: 40 x 25.7 mm
  • Plate no.: 50
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Photolithography

This stamp commemorates the 200th anniversary of the modern settlement of Australia. The continent had been known to explorers from the early 17th century hut only in 1788 did a British fleet arrive to establish the first colony of Europeans on what was to become the city of Sydney. These were not, however, Australia's first inhabitants: 300,000 Aboriginals, a dark-skinned race of hunters and food-gatherers whose ancestors had come from Asia in prehistoric times, were scattered throughout the continent.

The British settled Australia (almost exclusively in its fertile south-eastern area) primarily with convicts sentenced to long-term transportation to a penal colony. By 1830, 58,000 convicts had been sent to Australia, many of whom remained there on completion of their sentence. By the mid 19th century, freer immigration had developed with many of the newcomers attracted by the discovery of gold.

Australia, as a commonwealth within the British Empire, participated in World War I in which 300,000 Australians were in the ranks of the Allied armies, 60,000 of them losing their lives. Their commander on the European front was a Jew, General Sir John Monash. In the Middle East they fought in the Dardanelles, Gallipoli, and in the liberation of Palestine from the Ottoman Empire. They fought again in World War II, at first in the Mediterranean and North Africa battles but after the Japanese entered the War, primarily in the Pacific zone.

Since World War II, their ties with Britain have loosened, although three-quarters of their almost 16 million inhabitants are of British origin. The large immigration, averaging 100,000 a year since the War has brought newcomers from many European and Asian countries including 120,000 from Arab lands) so that the society is growing increasingly multicultural. Most of the population is concentrated in the south-eastern provinces, while the continent as a whole only slightly smaller than the U.S. - remains arid, isolated and unpopulated. At the same time it has rich mineral and agricultural resources, with the worlds greatest wool industry.

Its Jewish community is also two centuries old, as the initial batch of convicts arriving in 1788 included at least eight Jews. Altogether, about 1,000 convicts sent to Australia were Jews, and from the 1820s they were joined by free settlers, including some well-to-do merchants and financiers, from Britain. Many refugees from the Russian pogroms arrived in the late 19th century while 7,000 came from Nazi-dominated countries in the 1930s. Other Jews were attracted after the War and now 80-90,000 Jews live in Australia, most of them in Sydney and Melbourne.

In 1947, Australia's Foreign Minister, Herbert V. Evatt, played an important role in promoting the passage of the U.N. Palestine Partition Resolution when he served as chairman of the U.N. Ad Hoc Committee for Palestine. This resolution led to the establishment of the State of Israel which has maintained friendly relations with Australia, symbolized by the issuance of this stamp.

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Australian bicentenary