It is only 175 years since the British first settled in Australia. Sydney, which today is a city of two and a half million inhabitants, in 1788 was peopled by transported convicts and those who guarded them. For more than half a century the Australian colonies continued to receive shiploads of felons—the labour force of the new land. One of the results of the convict system was a society divided into two opposed groups—those who laboured and those who employed labour. The character of this society began to alter when free settlers came in numbers, first to supplement and then to supplant the convict labour force, and eventually to provide a middle class. But immigration,whether free or not, produced a society diverse in origins and interests but inescapably united by the challenge of a new landscape and a new life. Both the diversity and the unity have left the marks of their force in the language of Australians even to the present day.

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