During the late 18th and 19th centuries, large numbers of convicts were transported to the various Australian penal colonies by the British government. One of the primary reasons for the British settlement of Australia was the establishment of a penal colony to alleviate pressure on their overburdened correctional facilities. Over the 80 years more than 165,000 convicts were transported to Australia.
The number of convicts pales in comparison to the immigrants who arrived in Australia in the 1851–1871 gold rush. In 1852 alone, 370,000 immigrants arrived in Australia. By 1871 the total population had nearly quadrupled from 430,000 to 1.7 million people. The last convicts to be transported to Australia arrived in Western Australia in 1868.