Economies shape their own histories. Australia was a group of affluent British colonies, then a dominion, and finally an independent nation. It was rich in resources, a global supplier of raw materials and food, with large urban domestic markets. Around and through it flowed goods, capital, and people. There was no industrial revolution, no struggle for political independence, but there were first world living standards. How did these conditions mold the central concerns of Australian economic history? Did the Australian experience provide new insights into economic development, and if so, did these influence the practice of economic history internationally? We endeavor to tell the story of the rise and fall of Australian economic history from its foundation at the hands of the State Statistician, its take-off as an academic discipline situated firmly in economics, a period of global expansion and self-sustained growth, through to its current parlous state of decline. We examine its intellectual preoccupations and methodological approaches, and commit a heinous sin of simplification by imposing a coherent story on what is a particularly disparate set of scholarly works. The focus is on the economic history of Australia which was the principal, but not sole, area studied by those employed as economic historians. We conclude that Australia offers a strong tradition of empirical work supported by the state provision of official statistics; that Australian economic historians were early adopters of new approaches; and that the tyranny of distance – while protecting and nurturing an infant industry in economic history aimed at the domestic market – left the discipline largely marginal from the international mainstream. Now, when greater worldwide integration might have embraced an antipodean perspective, the discipline is a shadow of its former self.