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A considerable number of German sailors were probably among crew members of ships of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) that visited the north-western Australian coast from 1605 onwards.

Captain Yde T'Jercxzoon Holleman, born in Jever in northwest Germany, was the captain of the flagship Heemskerck during Abel Tasman's first great voyage of discovery; in 1642 they were the first Europeans to visit Tasmania. (more...)


Heinrich Zimmermann, a sailor from Wißloch in Germany's Pfalz region who is said to have been a jack-of-all-trades, went ashore at Adventure Bay on Bruny Island, Tasmania, from 27th-30th January. He was part of the crews of the ships Resolution and Discovery, on Captain James Cook's third voyage of exploration 1776-79. Zimmermann's book published in 1781 showed that the crew included other German sailors: Bartholomäus Lohmann from Kassel and another named Wacker.
Also on this voyage was Johann Wäber, a Swiss from Bern, who was selected by Cook as illustrator. Johann's father, a sculptor, had emigrated to England, and for financial reasons sent Johann to an aunt in Bern at the age of six. Johann received his art training in Bern and Paris. During the voyage Johann did 200 paintings and drawings, which subsequently influenced Europe's image of the Pacific Islands. His pictures made him famous and wealthy upon his return to London, where he settled after the voyage.

Photo: monument at Adventure Bay (copyright: D Nutting)

This monument at Adventure Bay commemorates the landing in January 1777.


Captain Arthur Phillip, commander of the First Fleet and first governor of the colony of New South Wales, established the settlement at Sydney Cove. His father Jakob Philipp, a language teacher in London, was born in Frankfurt. (>>)

Augustus Theodor Henry Alt, who graduated from Marburg University in 1748, was the first "Land Surveyor-General" of the colony. Alt played an important part in the planning of the township of Sydney. He is considered to have founded the settlement of Parramatta.

Image: Captain Arthur Phillip


Philipp Schäffer from Hessen arrived in Sydney and was one of the first three persons to be given land for free cultivation. He had been a lieutenant in a Hessian regiment hired from Germany by Britain's King George III to fight against the Americans in the War of Independence. He was an alcoholic and died in the colonial poorhouse.


The first Austrian arrived in September on the Active: he was the convict Barnard Walford, an engraver originally from Vienna, who had been convicted of stealing a basket of washing in Pettycoat Lane after moving to London. Several convicts in NSW were German-speakers who had migrated to Britain looking for work, and who were sent to Australia after committing crimes in England. Walford was sent to the penal settlement on Norfolk Island, and after doing his time he married an Irish woman. They went to Hobart where they became respected citizens.


Joseph Marcus, a German born in Mannheim who moved to England, arrived as a convict, having been sentenced in Staffordshire for breaking and entering.


The Austrian botanical artist Ferdinand Lukas Bauer was chosen by Sir Joseph Banks to accompany Matthew Flinders on HMS Investigator during Flinders's historic circumnavigation and surveying of the Australian continent from 1801-1803. Bauer took about 2000 sketches and drawings back to England; they are in the British Museum and in the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe admired them, and he is considered to be one of the greatest botanical artists of all time. A parrot species was named after him and Flinders named Cape Bauer near Streaky Bay (South Australia) after him.


Friedrich Johann Heinrich Bracker from Mecklenburg, arrived from Hamburg on 17th January in the Diadem. He brought with him about 300 stud sheep which he had chosen from Prince Esterhazy's Silesian flock for the Aberdeen Company. Bracker had planned to return to Germany, but he stayed in the colony and made a big contribution to the development of wool-growing in Australia. In 1843 the Aberdeen Company made him superintendent of a sheep run near Warwick on the Darling Downs which he named Rosenthal (the place name exists today). The explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, who visited him in March 1844 (and again on later occasions), noticed that Bracker was well-known in the colony as 'Fred the German' and was popular with all the squatters, many of whom asked him for advice on sheep. Bracker had good relations with the Aborigines.


The botanist Baron Karl Alexander Anselm von Hügel was the first German to reach the Swan River Colony (Perth) in Western Australia, arriving on HMS Alligator on 27th November. The Perth Gazette paid tribute to his arrival and considered the colony lucky to have received him. He collected plants at Augusta and at King George's Sound, and after about six weeks in Western Australia he moved on to New South Wales, where he carried out investigations in the Illawarra district. The first German wine-growers brought to NSW in 1837 by William Macarthur almost refused to go on with the unimaginable journey when they reached London, but a letter from Baron Hügel put their minds at rest.

Throughout the 1800s many botanists, naturalists and other scientists came to Australia from the German-speaking countries, because Australia's plants, animals and geology were for Europeans a new and exciting world for scientific investigation.


New South Wales almost received convicts from Hamburg prisons! In November Senator Hudtwalcker, Chief of Police in the City-State of Hamburg wrote to London, hoping to do something about the problem of Hamburg's overcrowded prisons. Through 1835-36 an agreement was worked out between the Hamburg Senate and the Australian Agricultural Commission, a London-based company that had rights to a million acres in NSW and that was looking for more labourers. Hamburg convicts were to be sent to NSW every year, and Hamburg worked hard to make the deal appealing to the British authorities. However, at the last moment, when 40 convicts had been equipped for the journey and put aboard a ship for England, the agreement was vetoed by the Secretary of State, Lord Glenelg, to Hamburg's annoyance. It appears that colonial authorities in NSW had made it clear to London that they didn't wish to become an international dumping ground for criminals.


dot point Johann Menge, born 1788 at Steinau in Hessen, arrived on the Coromandel with the colonists who established Adelaide (a city named after a German princess). He was the South Australian Company's geologist and had carried out geological investigations through most of Europe, and in Siberia, North America and Iceland. He was said to be a fluent speaker of German, English, Russian, Dutch and French, and also to be familiar with Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Chinese. His work in South Australia led directly to the mining boom that put the colony on a stable financial footing. About 40 other Germans skilled in a variety of trades were brought in by the South Australian Company in 1836-37. In February 1852 Menge led 50 German South Australians overland from Adelaide to the goldfields at Forest Creek (present-day Castlemaine / Chewton) in central Victoria, to dig together under his instructions (many German South Australians tried their luck at Forest Creek and Bendigo). Menge died poor in August 1852 somewhere around Forest Creek.

dot point The Addingham arrived in the Swan River Colony on 26th June, bringing the first German settlers to Western Australia. They were in a small missionary party that had been formed in London with the purpose of setting up a Christian mission for the Aborigines of the Swan River Colony. They were Friedrich Waldeck and Friederike Wilhelmine Ludovika Kniest, who were assistants to the missionary, an Italian priest named Louis Giustiani, who brought with him his German wife Maria, who had been born in Moravia (now part of the Czech Republic). The mission was established at Guildford and Friedrich and Friederike were married on 14th August 1836.


dot point Missionaries from the Gößner Brothers reached Sydney on January 25th in the Minerva. They had been recruited by the Reverend John Dunmore Lang to convert the Aborigines in the Moreton Bay area (present-day Brisbane) to Christianity. Moving on from Sydney to Moreton Bay on 20th March, the completely self-supporting group of 19 adults and 11 children formed the first free white settlement in what is now Queensland - the penal settlement for secondary punishment of convicts was about 11 kms away. The Zion's Hill missionary station, led by Pastors C. Eipper and K. W. Schmidt, was later known as German Station, then since 1885 as Nundah. The missionaries experienced a lot of hardship and found it difficult to gain lasting influence on the Aborigines, because the native Australians moved around a lot. In 1839 the Moreton Bay convict settlement was closed and government support for the missionaries stopped. The missionaries had to support themselves, however, this was not a big problem as several of the original missionaries were tradesmen and farmers, and they provided vegetables to other settlers. The five Germans who began this farming could be considered the first free farmers in Queensland. In June 1843 the German explorer Ludwig Leichhardt visited the German Station and wrote that the missionaries had made little progress in their missionary work with the Aborigines. By 1850 German Station had ceased to be a missionary facility.

dot point Six vinegrowers with their families, altogether 12 adults and 17 children, arrived in Sydney on the Kinnear on 22nd April. The British Government set strict conditions under which they would accept immigrant workers into the Australian colonies from countries other than Britain. Immigrants from continental Europe with wine-making skills were eligible because there was no wine industry in Britain. Many colonial landowners in NSW were trying with varying success to establish vineyards. This first group of six vinegrowers was recruited in the Rheingau region in Hessen by Major Edward Macarthur for his brother William's property at Camden, 60 km south-west of Sydney. Three of the six (Caspar Flick, Georg Gerhard and Johann Wenz) were from Hattenheim, while the other three were from villages near Hattenheim: Johann Justus and Johann Stein from Erbach, and Friedrich Seckold from Mittelheim. While waiting in London for their departure on the Kinnear, they became worried about what they had let themselves in for, but a letter to them from the Austrian botanist and diplomat Karl von Hügel gave them the confidence to continue. Later many more German vinegrowers were brought to NSW and Victoria.

Through the information on this webpage the descendents of these six Hessian vinegrowers have become aware of each other, and they've organised a reunion event for 2008 to celebrate the arrival 170 years ago. Read more information on the event in a flyer in PDF-format (318 Kb). Some of the descendents have been interviewed (in English) by SBS Radio's German program - download the mp3 audio of the interview (17 Mb, 37 mins).

dot point The shepherd Johann Christoff Pabst with his wife (a free Irish girl, Ellen Scott) and two daughters arrived at Ten Mile Creek, 66 kilometres north-east of Albury, NSW. He had arrived in Australia on 15th November 1825, as one of four shepherds hired in Germany by the Australian Agricultural Co., founded by John Macarthur. As well as the four shepherds the Company brought about 700 Saxony sheep to Australia. In 1840 Pabst took over the licence for the Woolpack Inn, a stagecoach-stop on the southern bank of the Ten Mile Creek. The area became known as "The Germans" and in 1858 the settlement was officially named Germanton. In 1915 during World War One Germanton was renamed Holbrook after a British submarine captain who had been awarded the Victoria Cross and the French Legion of Honour.

Image: Pastor Kaveldot point The Prince George arrived in Adelaide on 20th November with the first large group of German settlers in South Australia (including those on the Bengalee). They were 178 conservative, religious German migrants mainly from Klemzig in Brandenburg, who left home mainly because of their rejection of Prussian state enforcement of a new prayer book for church services. Led by Pastor Augustus Kavel (>>), (see Kavel's memorial) they established the village Klemzig on the river six kilometers from Adelaide. Today Klemzig is a suburb in the north-east of Adelaide. The colony of South Australia, which promoted itself as a place only for free settlers and providing freedom of religion, was keen to attract these Germans, who had the reputation of being pious, hard-working and reliable farmers. On 18th November the Bengalee had arrived at Port Adelaide with 21 members of Pastor Kavel's group who could not be fitted on the Prince George.
More on the Old-Lutherans' reasons for emigrating...


Image: Dirk Hahndot point On 2nd January the Zebra under (<<) Captain Dirk Hahn arrived at Port Adelaide with 187 further religiously motivated settlers, mainly from the village of Kay in Züllichau District, Brandenburg. They had a rough and stormy journey, and 6 adults and 5 children had died on the voyage from a fever that broke out on the ship. During the journey Captain Hahn was impressed with the behaviour and attitude of the emigrants (read Hahn's comments about the journey and his passengers), and he arranged a lease for them on good land that he had visited in the Adelaide Hills. His passengers founded a village there a few months after their arrival (at first they lived in the existing German village of Klemzig near Adelaide), and named the new village Hahndorf after the captain in gratitude for his help. They were in tears when Captain Hahn left Adelaide on 12th February.
See pics of Hahndorf's German heritage and memorials.

dot point Pastor Kavel formally established the Lutheran Church in Australia, setting down its basic doctrines at the first Lutheran General Synod, which took place at Glen Osmond near Adelaide on 23rd-24th May. After that, synods were held at:
Hahndorf, 1840, probably in late March
Klemzig, 25th July 1841
Hahndorf, 17th May 1842 (the first one attended by Pastor Fritzsche)
Klemzig, 12th March 1843
Bethany, 1844
Hahndorf, 24th-28th August 1845

dot point Gustav Kissler, born in Saxony and working as a bookseller in London, was transported to Australia for receiving stolen property.

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