The story so far:
Australia was contacted, settled and converted by Moslems from Indonesia about 1350AD. By the time the Europeans arrived in the Indian Ocean around 1500, Aboriginal sultanates with early modern technology imported from Asia had popped up along the coasts. By 1800, when the Europeans began to eye the continent for colonization, the Aboriginal Moslems were advanced and populous enough to hold their own against any casual encroachment. Only in the final days of the European scramble for colonies did Australia fall. Now the rest:
In 1892, the continent was partitioned by the Europeans. The British (as usual) got the best parts: the fertile regions of Victoria and New South Wales (also Tasmania and New Zealand).
The French got Queensland and southeast New Guinea, while the Germans were given the rest, which was mostly desert, except where it was jungle. Although the German Zone looked mighty impressive on a map, they never really got a chance to plunder it before the First World War broke out. The German Zone caved in as soon as the British got around to invading, and that was that.
After the War, the League of Nations turned over most of the German Pacific colonies, including West Australia, to the Japanese. The British Zone was expanded a bit west to include Adelaide; the French got the German slice of New Guinea, and the continent quickly settled into your typical colonial torpor.
Of the three colonial zones, the British was the most dynamic. Cities like Sydney and Melbourne sprang up almost overnight out of sleepy little native trading towns. In each of these new cites were British enclaves of clean and green estates staffed by native servants, surrounded by vast squalid slums of natives and immigrant Indians and Chinese. Throughout Australia, the natives were still the overwhelming majority -- 80% or so. They worked on the plantations, ranches and mines owned by the colonials, and clung stubbornly to their culture despite the brutal oppression of their overlords. During the 1920s, a native uprising in the French Zone killed thousands, while several Japanese resettlement programs and public works projects killed tens of thousands in the 1930s.
In December of 1941, while Europe was busy with the Germans again, the Japanese took a shot at pushing the Europeans completely out of the Western Pacific, and in six months of lightning campaigning, they succeeded. The Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, French Indochina and the Dutch East Indies all fell in rapid succession. Although the Japanese fleet was temporarily stopped by the Americans at the Battle of Coral Sea, a series of overland assaults from the Japanese Zone of Australia managed to take the entire continent. Then they easily slipped over and scooped up New Guinea and Guadalcanal. Their assault on New Zealand, however, turned into a savage war of attrition that sucked in American troops as fast as they could be recruited, armed and shipped out.
With the Battle of Midway, the tide of Japanese conquest turned, but the Americans had a long way to go before they could get back at the Japanese. As they island hopped across the central Pacific, the tenuous American supply line all the way back to back to Hawaii (no bases in Australia and New Guinea in this timeline) was stretched to the limit, and by the time the European War ended in May of 1945, they had barely made it to the Mariana Islands. While the Americans were still trying to scrape up at least one airfield close enough to Japan to launch an atomic strike, the Russians attacked the Japanese in Manchuria, and the game was over.
Because the Americans had to share their victory with the Soviets, they had to agree to a partition of the Japanese territory: The Soviets got Sakhallin and Hokkaido Islands, Manchuria and all of Korea, where they quickly established Communist regimes. Japanese Australia was partitioned between Britain and France by continuing the border between Queensland and New South Wales along the 29th Parallel.
Exhausted by the war, however, the British began to dump their Asian colonies after only a couple of years. India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma in the forties, and finally Australia in 1951, which became a commonwealth republic under the slightly autocratic leadership of an Aborigine named Big Bob. (Yes, I know he should have a native Australian name, but I'm from Virginia, so I don't know any.) Big Bob ruled his state for the next 18 years, calling an occasional surprise election whenever he was sure that the opposition was safely jailed. He welcomed investment by any Western corporation that was willing to hire his brothers as consultants, and under his guidance, South Australia moved up the food chain from Third World to Second and a Half World.
The French, meanwhile, stubbornly clung to their half. Hell, they refused to give up Algeria and Indochina, so why should they give up Australia? Pretty soon a nasty guerrilla war for independence was raging across the French Zone. As the Soviets were the only major power willing to support them, the insurgents quickly decided that Marxism was really neat, so could they have more guns please? Finally, in 1960, the French pulled out, and the new nation of North Australia began to clean up the mess that tends to accumulate when you have a brutal 12-year civil war. They seized all Western-owned property for the government, redistributed the land, and thoroughly distressed all their western supporters by executing any native who had ever even smiled at the French. Then they closed their borders and sulked.
When President Big Bob of South Australia died in 1968, he left his successor a corrupt, friendly and vibrant nation ready to break out onto the world by renting cheap child labor to multinational corporations. His successor, Little Burt, however, never really got the hang of the friendly part, and when student riots erupted in Sydney in 1970, he had them all massacred. In outrage, more riots broke out all over the country, and these solidified into open rebellion as North Australia came out of seclusion to supply the Southern rebels with weapons.
In desperation, Little Burt declared martial law, and began yet another of the continent's 12-year civil wars. Suddenly, all the ethnic tensions of this wildly diverse nation erupted as big tribes fought for control and little tribes fought for survival. After Little Burt was assassinated in 1973, control of South Australia descended on a series of generals and colonels until finally a sergeant-major named Fred seized power in 1982 and negotiated a truce, which surprisingly, lasted long enough for the nation to arrange relatively free elections. Fred stepped aside peacefully in favor of the duly elected president, and then flew off to retirement in France with a suitcase full of Swiss bank books.
The North, meanwhile, had begun it's own 12-year civil war in 1979 when the tide of Moslem fundamentalism that was sweeping the globe hit Australia. Moslem insurgents rose up against the Marxist government and easily seized control of several coastal provinces, until the government was forced to call in Cuban troops to stiffen their resistance. Finally, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Marxist government fell, and the Moslem fundamentalists swarmed victorious into the capital. Then they shut their borders and sulked.
So that's where Australia stands today. A xenophobic Moslem theocracy in the North, and a bustling, emerging Moslem democracy in the South.
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Last updated November 1999
Copyright © 1999 Matthew White