European exploration of Australia

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Exploration by Europeans until 1812
  1616 Dirk Hartog
  1644 Abel Tasman
  1770 James Cook
  1797–1799 George Bass
  1801–1803 Matthew Flinders

The European exploration of Australia encompasses several waves of seafarers and land explorers. The first documented encounter was that of Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon, in 1606. The most famous of the explorers was that of Royal Navy Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook 164 years later, who after an assignment to make observations of the 1769 Venus Transit, followed Admiralty instructions to explore the south Pacific for the reported Terra Australis and on 19 April 1770 sighted the south-eastern coast of Australia and became the first recorded European to explore the eastern coastline. Explorers by land and sea continued to survey the continent for some years after settlement.

Theories of Portuguese and French discovery[edit]

Some writers have advanced the theory that the Portuguese were the first Europeans to sight Australia in the 1520s.[1]

A number of relics and remains have been interpreted as evidence that the Portuguese reached Australia. The primary evidence advanced to support this theory is a series of French world maps, the Dieppe maps, that may, in part, be based on Portuguese charts. However, most historians do not accept this theory, and the interpretation of the Dieppe maps is highly contentious.[2]

The French navigator Binot Paulmier de Gonneville[3] claimed to have landed at a land he described as "east of the Cape of Good Hope" in 1504, after being blown off course. For some time it had been thought he discovered Australia, but the place he landed has now been shown to be Brazil (which is north-west of the Cape).[4]

Occasional claims have been made in support of earlier encounters, particularly for various Portuguese explorations. Evidence put forward in favour of this theory, particularly by Kenneth McIntyre,[5] is primarily based on interpretation of features of the Dieppe maps. However, this interpretation is not accepted by most historians.[6]

17th century explorers[edit]

The most significant exploration of Australia in the 17th century was by the Dutch. The Dutch East India Company (Dutch: Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, "VOC", "United East India Company") was set up in 1602 and traded extensively with the islands which now form parts of Indonesia, and hence were very close to Australia already. The first documented and undisputed European sighting of and landing on Australia was in late February or early March 1606, by the Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon aboard the Duyfken.[7][8][9] Janszoon followed the coast of New Guinea, missed Torres Strait, and explored and then charted part of the western side of Cape York, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, believing the land was still part of New Guinea.[10][11][12][13] On 26 February 1606, Janszoon made landfall near the modern town of Weipa and the Pennefather River, but were promptly attacked by the Indigenous people.[14] Janszoon proceeded down the coast for some 350 km. He stopped in some places, but was met by hostile natives and some of his men were killed. At the final place, he initially had friendly relations with the natives, but after he forced them to hunt for him and appropriated some of their women, violence broke out and there were many deaths on both sides. These events were recorded in Aboriginal oral history that has come down to the present day. Here Janszoon decided to turn back, the place later being called Cape Keerweer, Dutch for "turnabout".

That same year, a Spanish expedition sailing in nearby waters and led by Pedro Fernández de Quiros landed in the New Hebrides and, believing them to be the fabled southern continent, named the land "Austrialia del Espiritu Santo" (Southern Land of the Holy Spirit), in honour of his queen Margaret of Austria, the wife of Philip III of Spain.[15][16][17] Later that year, De Quiros' deputy Luís Vaez de Torres sailed to the north of Australia through Torres Strait, charting New Guinea's southern coast,[18] and possibly sighting Cape York in October 1606.[4][10][19]

In 1611 Hendrik Brouwer working for VOC discovered that sailing from Europe to Batavia was much quicker if the Roaring Forties were used. Up to that point, the Dutch had followed a route copied from Arab and Portuguese sailors who followed the coast of Africa, Mauritius and Ceylon. The Brouwer Route involved sailing south from the Cape of Good Hope (which is at 34° latitude south) into the Roaring Forties (at 40-50° latitude south) then sailing east before turning north to Java. The Brouwer Route became compulsory for Dutch vessels in 1617. The problem with the route, however, was that there was no easy way at the time to determine longitude, making Dutch landfalls on the west coast of Australia inevitable, as well as ships becoming wrecked on the shoals. Most of these landfalls were unplanned. The first such landfall was in 1616, when Dirk Hartog, employed by VOC, reached land at Shark Bay (on what is now called Dirk Hartog Island) off the coast of Western Australia. Finding nothing of interest, Hartog continued sailing northwards along this previously undiscovered coastline of Western Australia, making nautical charts up to about 22° latitude south. He then left the coast and continued on to Batavia.[20] He called Australia T Landt van d'Eendracht (shortened to Eendrachtsland), after his ship, a name which would be in use until Abel Tasman named the land New Holland in 1644.

In 1619 Frederik de Houtman, in the VOC ship Dordrecht, and Jacob d'Edel, in another VOC ship Amsterdam, sighted land on the Australian coast near present day Perth which they called d'Edelsland. After sailing northwards along the coast they made landfall in Eendrachtsland, which had previous been encountered and named by Hartog, before turning for Batavia.

Hessel Gerritsz was appointed on 16 October 1617 as the first exclusive cartographer of VOC, whose job included creating and maintaining charts of coastlines in the area. Gerritsz produced a map in 1622 which showed the first part of Australia to be charted, that by Janszoon in 1606.[21] It was considered to be part of New Guinea and called Nueva Guinea on the map, but Gerritsz also added an inscription saying:

"Those who sailed with the yacht of Pedro Fernandes de Queirós in the neighbourhood of New Guinea to 10 degrees westward through many islands and shoals and over 2, 3 and 4 fathoms for as many as 40 days, presumed that New Guinea did not extend beyond 10 degrees to the south. If this be so, then the land from 9 to 14 degrees would be a separate land, different from the other New Guinea".[22]

All charts and logs from returning VOC merchants and explorer sailors had to be submitted to Gerritsz and provided new information for several breakthrough maps which came from his hands. Gerritsz’ charts would accompany all VOC captains on their voyages. In 1627 Gerritsz made a map, the Caert van't Landt van d'Eendracht, entirely devoted to the discoveries of the West Australian coastline, which was named “Eendrachtsland”, though the name had been used since 1619.

On 1 May 1622, Englishman John Brooke in the Tryall, a British East India Company owned vessel of approximately 500 tons, on the way to Batavia was the second English voyage to use Brouwer's southerm route. He sailed too far east and sighted the coastline of Western Australia at Point Cloates (about 22° latitude south), although they mistook it for an island sighted in 1618 (??) by Janszoon (in 1816 named Barrow Island by Phillip Parker King). They did not land there, and a few weeks later were shipwrecked on an uncharted reef northwest of the Montebello Islands (about 20° latitude south; the reef is now known as Tryal Rocks). The shipwreck caused the death of 93 men, but the captain and nine men survived, and made their way to Batavia by longboat, and later back to England. However, for the next two decades, English ships were barred from using the southern route.

In 1623, Jan Carstensz was commissioned by VOC to lead an expedition to the southern coast of New Guinea and beyond, to follow up the reports of further land sighted by Janszoon in his 1606 voyages to the south. Settling off from Amboyna in the Dutch East Indies with two ships, the Pera and Arnhem (captained by Willem Joosten Van Colster), he traveled along the south coast of New Guinea, then headed south to Cape York Peninsula and the Gulf of Carpentaria. On 14 April 1623, he passed Cape Keerweer.[23] Landing in search of fresh water for his stores, Carstensz encountered a party of the local indigenous Australian inhabitants, who he described as "poor and miserable looking people" who had "no knowledge of precious metals or spices". On 8 May 1623, Carstensz and his crew fought a skirmish with 200 Aborigines at the mouth of a small river near Cape Duyfken (named after Janszoon's vessel which had earlier visited the region) and landed at the Pennefather River. Carstensz named the small river Carpentier River, and the Gulf of Carpentaria in honour of Pieter de Carpentier, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies. Carstensz reached the Staaten River before heading north again. The Pera and Carstensz returned to Amboyna while the Arnhem crossed the Gulf of Carpentaria, sighting the east coast of Arnhem Land.

In 1627, François Thijssen ended up too far south and on 26 January 1627 he came upon the coast of Australia, near Cape Leeuwin, the most south-west tip of the mainland. Pieter Nuyts the VOC official aboard his ship gave Thijssen permission to continue to sail eastwards, mapping more than 1500 kilometres of the southern coast of Australia from Albany, Western Australia to Ceduna, South Australia. He called the land 't Land van Pieter Nuyts (The Land of Pieter Nuyts). Part of Thijssen's map shows the islands St Francis and St Peter, now known collectively with their respective groups as the Nuyts Archipelago. Thijssen's observations were included as early as 1628 by Gerritsz in a chart of the Indies and Eendrachtsland

One Dutch captain of this period who was not really an explorer but who nevertheless bears mentioning was Francisco Pelsaert, captain of the Batavia, which was wrecked off the coast of Western Australia in 1629.[24]

The route of Tasman's first and second voyages

In August 1642, VOC despatched Abel Tasman and Franchoijs Visscher on a voyage of which one of the objects was to obtain knowledge of "all the totally unknown provinces of Beach". This expedition used two small ships, the Heemskerck and the Zeehaen. Starting in Mauritius both ships left on 8 October using the Roaring Forties to sail west as fast as possible. On 7 November, because of snow and hail the ships' course was altered to a more north-eastern direction. On 24 November 1642 Abel Tasman sighted the west coast of Tasmania, north of Macquarie Harbour.[25] He named his discovery Van Diemen's Land after Antonio van Diemen, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies. Proceeding south he skirted the southern end of Tasmania and turned north-east, Tasman then tried to work his two ships into Adventure Bay on the east coast of South Bruny Island where he was blown out to sea by a storm, this area he named Storm Bay. Two days later Tasman anchored to the north of Cape Frederick Hendrick just north of the Forestier Peninsula. Tasman then landed in Blackman Bay – in the larger Marion Bay. The next day, an attempt was made to land in North Bay; however, because the sea was too rough the carpenter swam through the surf and planted the Dutch flag in North Bay. Tasman then claimed formal possession of the land on 3 December 1642.

In 1644 Tasman made a second voyage with three ships (Limmen, Zeemeeuw and the tender Braek). He followed the south coast of New Guinea eastwards, missed the Torres Strait between New Guinea and Australia, and continued his voyage westwards along the north Australian coast. He mapped the north coast of Australia making observations on the land, which he called New Holland, and its people. From the point of view of the Dutch East India Company, Tasman's explorations were a disappointment: he had found neither a promising area for trade nor a useful new shipping route.[26]

Hollandia Nova, 1659 map prepared by Joan Blaeu
When Who Ship(s) Where
1606 Willem Janszoon Duyfken Gulf of Carpentaria, Cape York Peninsula (Queensland)
1616 Dirk Hartog Eendracht Shark Bay area, Western Australia
1619 Frederick de Houtman[27] and Jacob d'Edel Dordrecht and Amsterdam Sighted land near Perth, Western Australia
1623 Jan Carstensz[28] Pera and Arnhem Gulf of Carpentaria, Carpentier River
1627 François Thijssen[29] het Gulden Zeepaerdt 1800 km of the South coast (from Cape Leeuwin to Ceduna)
1642–1643 Abel Tasman Heemskerck and Zeehaen Van Diemen's Land, later called Tasmania
1696–1697 Willem de Vlamingh[30] Geelvink, Nyptangh and the Wezeltje Rottnest Island, Swan River, Dirk Hartog Island (Western Australia)
Map of William Dampier's voyage.

Englishman William Dampier came looking for the Tryall in 1688, 66 years after it was wrecked. Dampier was the first Englishman to set foot on the Australian mainland on 5 January 1688, when his ship the Cygnet was marooned in King Sound. While the ship was being careened he made notes on the fauna and flora and the indigenous peoples he found there. He made another voyage to the region in 1699, before returning to England. He described some of the flora and fauna of Australia, and was the first European to report Australia's peculiar large hopping animals. Dampier contributed to knowledge of Australia's coastline through his two-volume publication A Voyage to New Holland (1703, 1709). His book of adventures; "A New Voyage around the World," created a sensation when it was published in English in 1697.[31] Though he was briefly marooned on the NW Australian coast on the trip described in this book, only his second voyage seems to be of importance to Australian exploration.

In 1696, Willem de Vlamingh commanded the rescue mission to Australia's west coast to look for survivors of the Ridderschap van Holland that had gone missing two years earlier. The mission proved fruitless, but along the way Vlamingh charted parts of the continent's western coast and as a result improved navigation on the Indian Ocean route from the Cape of Good Hope to the Dutch East Indies.

Maps from this period and the early 18th century often have Australia marked as "New Holland", the name given to the continent by Abel Tasman in 1644.[32][33] Joan Blaeu's 1659 map shows the clearly recognizable outline of Australia based on the many Dutch explorations of the first half of the 17th century.

18th century explorers[edit]

Cook's 1770 voyage shown in red, the 1776-80 voyage shown in blue

In 1756, French King Louis XV sent Louis-Antoine de Bougainville to look for the Southern lands. After a stay in South America and the Falklands, Bougainville reached Tahiti in April 1768, where his boat was surrounded by hundreds of canoes filled with beautiful women. "I ask you," he wrote, "given such a spectacle, how could one keep at work 400 Frenchmen?" He claimed Tahiti for the French and sailed westward, past southern Samoa and the New Hebrides, then on sighting Espiritu Santo turned west still looking for the Southern Continent. On June 4 he almost ran into heavy breakers and had to change course to the north and east. He had almost found the Great Barrier Reef. He sailed through what is now known as the Solomon Islands that, due to the hostility of the people there, he avoided, until his passage was blocked by a mighty reef. With his men weak from scurvy and disease and no way through he sailed for Batavia in the Dutch East Indies where he received news of Wallis and Carteret who had preceded Bougainville. When he returned to France in 1769, he was the first Frenchman to circumnavigate the globe and the first European known to have seen the Great Barrier Reef. Though he did not reach the mainland of Australia, he did eliminate a considerable area where the Southern land was not.

In 1768 British Lieutenant James Cook was sent from England on an expedition to the Pacific Ocean to observe the transit of Venus from Tahiti, sailing westwards in HMS Endeavour via Cape Horn and arriving there in 1769. On the return voyage he continued his explorations of the South Pacific, in search of the postulated continent of Terra Australis. He first reached New Zealand, and then sailed further westwards to sight the south-eastern corner of the Australian continent on 20 April 1770. In doing so, he was to be the first documented European expedition to reach the eastern coastline. He continued sailing northwards along the east coast, charting and naming many features along the way. He identified Botany Bay as a good harbour and one potentially suitable for a settlement, and where he made his first landfall on 29 April. Continuing up the coastline, the Endeavour was to later run aground on shoals of the Great Barrier Reef (near the present-day site of Cooktown), where she had to be laid up for repairs. The voyage then recommenced, eventually reaching the Torres Strait and thence on to Batavia. The expedition returned to England via the Indian Ocean and Cape of Good Hope.[34]

In 1772, two French expeditions set out to find Terra Australis. The first, led by Marc-Joseph Marion Dufresne, found and named the Crozet Islands. He spent a few days in Tasmania where he made contact with the island's indigenous people (the first European to have done so), and in Blackmans Bay claimed Van Diemen's Land for France.[citation needed] He then sailed on to New Zealand where he and some crewmen were killed by Maori warriors. The survivors retreated to Mauritius.[35] Also in 1772, the two ships of the second French expedition were separated by a storm. The leader turned back but the second in command, Louis Aleno de St Aloüarn, sighted Cape Leeuwin and followed the Western Australian coast north to Shark Bay. He landed on Dirk Hartog Island and claimed the land for the French king.[citation needed]

Tobias Furneaux on the Adventure accompanied James Cook (in Resolution) on Cook's second voyage (1772–1775), which was commissioned by the British government with advice from the Royal Society,[36] to circumnavigate the globe as far south as possible to finally determine whether there was any great southern landmass, or Terra Australis. On this expedition Furneaux was twice separated from his leader. On the first occasion, in 1773, Furneaux explored a great part of the south and east coasts of Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania), and made the earliest British chart of the same. Most of his names here have survived. On Cook's third voyage (1776-80), in 1777 Cook confirmed Furneaux's account and delineation of it, with certain minor criticisms and emendations, and named after him the Furneaux Group at the eastern entrance to Bass Strait, and the group now known as the Low Archipelago.[37]

Cook's first expedition carried botanist Joseph Banks, for whom a great many Australian geographical features and at least one native plant are named. The reports of Cook and Banks in conjunction with the loss of England's penal colonies in America after they gained independence and growing concern over French activity in the Pacific, encouraged the foundation of a colony at Botany Bay, which took place in 1788.[38]

In 1788, Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse arriving off Botany Bay on 24 January 1788,[39][40] just as Captain Arthur Phillip was attempting to move the colony from there to Sydney Cove in Port Jackson.[41] The First Fleet was unable to leave until 26 January because of a tremendous gale, which also prevented La Pérouse's ships from entering Botany Bay.The British received him courteously, and each captain, through their officers, offered the other any assistance and needed supplies.[40] La Pérouse was 6 weeks in Port Jackson, where the French established an observatory,[42] held Catholic masses,[43] performed geological observations,[44] and planted the first garden.[45] Before leaving Sydney on 10 March, La Pérouse took the opportunity to send his journals, some charts and also some letters back to Europe with a British naval ship from the First Fleet—the Alexander.[46] Neither La Pérouse, nor any of his men, were seen again. Fortunately the documents that he dispatched with the Alexander from the in-progress expedition were returned to Paris, where they were published.[47]

In 1792, Bruni d'Entrecasteaux landed and named Esperance in Western Australia. His expedition also resulted in the publication of the first general flora of New Holland.[48]

When Who Ship(s) Where
1773 Tobias Furneaux[49] Adventure South and east coasts of Tasmania
1776 James Cook Resolution Southern Tasmania
1788 Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse Astrolabe and Boussole encountered First Fleet in Botany Bay
1796 Matthew Flinders Tom Thumb Coastline around Sydney
1798 Matthew Flinders and George Bass[50] Norfolk Circumnavigated Tasmania

Later exploration from the sea[edit]

Voyages of George Bass
Voyages of Matthew Flinders

In 1796 (after settlement), British Matthew Flinders with George Bass took a 2.5 metre long open boat, the Tom Thumb, and explored some of the coastline south of Sydney. He suspected from this voyage that Tasmania was an island, and in 1798 Bass and he led an expedition to circumnavigate it and hence prove his theory. The sea between mainland Australia and Tasmania was named Bass Strait. One of the two major islands in Bass Strait was named Flinders Island. Flinders returned to England in 1801.

Meantime, in October 1800, Frenchman Nicolas Baudin was selected to lead what has become known as the Baudin expedition to map the coast of Australia/New Holland.[4] He had two ships, Géographe and Naturaliste captained by Jacques Hamelin, and was accompanied by nine zoologists and botanists, including Jean Baptiste Leschenault de la Tour. He reached Australia in May 1801, being the first to explore and map a part of the southern coast of the continent. The scientific expedition was a great success, with more than 2500 new species discovered. The French also met Indigenous people and treated them with high respect.[citation needed] Many Western Australian places still have French names today from Baudin's expedition (Peron Peninsula, Depuch Island, Cape Levillain, Boullanger Island and Faure Island); the Australian plant genus Guichenotia honours the name of Antoine Guichenot. In April 1802, the Le Naturaliste under Hamelin explored the area of Western Port, Victoria, and gave names to places, a number of which have survived. Ile des Français is now called French Island.

Flinders' work come to the attention of many of the scientists of the day, in particular the influential Sir Joseph Banks, to whom Flinders dedicated his Observations on the Coasts of Van Diemen's Land, on Bass's Strait, etc.. Banks used his influence with Earl Spencer to convince the Admiralty of the importance of an expedition to chart the coastline of New Holland. As a result, in January 1801, Flinders was given command of the Investigator, a 334-ton sloop, and promoted to commander the following month.

The Investigator set sail for New Holland on 18 July 1801. Attached to the expedition was the botanist Robert Brown, botanical artist Ferdinand Bauer and landscape artist William Westall. Due to the scientific nature of the expedition, Flinders was issued with a French passport, despite England and France then being at war. Flinders first sailed along the south coast to Sydney, then completed the circumnavigation of Australia back to Sydney.[51]

Freycinet Map of 1811 – The first full map of Australia to be published

While each was charting Australia's coastline, Baudin and Flinders met by chance in April 1802 in Encounter Bay in what is now South Australia. Baudin stopped at the settlement of Sydney for supplies. In Sydney he bought a new ship, the Casuarina, a smaller vessel which could conduct close inshore survey work, under the command of Louis de Freycinet. He sent home the larger Naturaliste with all the specimens that had been collected by Baudin and his crew. He then headed for Tasmania and conducted further charting of Bass Strait before sailing west, following the west coast northward, and after another visit to Timor, undertook further exploration along the north coast of Australia. Plagued by contrary winds and ill health,[52] it was decided on 7 July 1803 to return to France. The expedition stopped at Mauritius, where he died of tuberculosis on 16 September 1803. The expedition finally came back to France on 24 March 1804. According to researchers from the University of Adelaide, during this expedition Baudin prepared a report for Napoleon on ways to invade and capture the British colony at Sydney Cove.[53]

The British suspected that the reason for Baudin's expedition was to try to establish a French colony on the coast of New Holland. In response, the Lady Nelson and the whaler Albion, both commanded by Lieutenant John Bowen, sailed from Port Jackson on 31 August 1803 to establish a settlement in Van Diemen's Land, and on 10 October 1803 a convoy of two ships HMS Calcutta and Ocean led by Captain David Collins carrying 402 people entered Port Philip Bay and formed a settlement near Sorrento.[54] The first British to enter the bay were the crews of HMS Lady Nelson, commanded by John Murray and, ten weeks later, HMS Investigator commanded by Flinders, in 1802.

With the Investigator bring unseaworthy, in 1803 Flinders was returning to England as a passenger on Porpoise, together with his charts and logbooks. The vessel stopped in Mauritius, thinking that he would be safe because of the scientific nature of his voyages, though England and France were at war at the time. However, the governor of Mauritius kept Flinders in prison for six and a half years. As a consequence, the first published map of the full outline of Australia was the Freycinet Map of 1811, a product of Baudin's expedition. It preceded the publication of Flinders' map of Australia, Terra Australis or Australia, by three years. Flinders also published in 1814 his account of the voyage in A Voyage to Terra Australis, which was published just before his death at the age of 40.

When Who Ship(s) Where
1801–1802 Nicolas Baudin, accompanied by Thomas Vasse and numerous naturalists (see below)[55] Le Géographe and Le Naturaliste The first to explore Western coast; met Flinders at Encounter Bay
1801 John Murray[56] Lady Nelson Bass Strait; discovery of Port Phillip
1802 Matthew Flinders Investigator Circumnavigation of Australia
1817 King expedition of 1817Phillip Parker King[57] accompanied by Frederick Bedwell Mermaid Circumnavigation of Australia; charting of the north-western coasts

Land exploration 1788–1900[edit]

Blaxland's expedition to cross the Blue Mountains
John Oxley's expeditions
Route of the Sturt, Hume and Hovell expeditions

The opening up of the interior to European settlement occurred gradually throughout the colonial period, and a number of these explorers are very well known. Burke and Wills are the best known for their failed attempt to cross the interior of Australia, but such men as Hamilton Hume and Charles Sturt are also notable—if only because major geographical features, landmarks, and institutions have been named after them.

Crossing the Blue Mountains[edit]

For many years, plans of westward expansion from Sydney were thwarted by the Great Dividing Range, a large range of mountains which shadows the east coast from the Queensland-New South Wales border to the south coast. The part of the range near Sydney is called the Blue Mountains. Governor Philip Gidley King declared that they were impassable, but despite this, Gregory Blaxland successfully led an expedition to cross them in 1813. He was accompanied by William Lawson, William Wentworth and four servants. This trip paved the way for numerous small expeditions which were undertaken in the following few years.[58]

Inland exploration[edit]

After the Blue Mountains had been crossed, in 1824, Governor Thomas Brisbane asked Hamilton Hume and William Hovell to travel from Hume's station, near modern-day Canberra, to Spencer Gulf (west of modern-day Adelaide). However, they were required to pay their own costs. Hume and Hovell decided that Western Port (in present-day Victoria) was a more realistic goal, and they left with a party of six men. After discovering and crossing the Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers, they eventually reached a site near modern-day Geelong, somewhat west of their intended destination.[59][60]

After the Great Dividing Range had been crossed at numerous points a great many rivers were discovered; the Darling, Macquarie, Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers. All of these rivers flowed west. A theory was developed of a vast inland sea into which these rivers flowed. Another reason behind the idea of an inland sea was that Matthew Flinders, who had very carefully mapped much of Australia's coast had discovered no great river delta where these rivers should have emerged by had they reached the coast. The Murray-Darling basin actually drains into Lake Alexandrina. Matthew Flinders had noted this on his maps but viewed from the sea does not look like the outfall of a large watershed, but instead as a gentle tidal basin.

The mystery was solved by Charles Sturt, who in 1829–30 undertook an expedition similar to the one which Hume and Hovell had refused: a trip to the mouth of the Murray River. They followed the Murrumbidgee until it met the Murray, and then found the junction of the Murray and the Darling before continuing on to the mouth of the Murray. The search for an inland sea was an inspiration for many early expeditions west of the Great Dividing Ranges. This quest drove many explorers to extremes of endurance and hardship. Charles Sturt's expedition explained the mystery. It also led to the opening of South Australia to settlement.[61]

The theory of the inland sea had many supporters. Major Thomas Mitchell, the Scottish born Surveyor-General of New South Wales, set out in 1836 to disprove Sturt's claims and in doing so made a significant discovery. He led an expedition along the Lachlan River, down to the Murray River. He then set off for the southern coast, mapping what is now western Victoria. There he discovered the richest grazing land ever seen to that time and named it Australia Felix. He was knighted for this discovery in 1837. When he reached the coast at Portland Bay, he was surprised to find a small settlement. It had been established by the Henty family, who had sailed across Bass Strait from Van Diemen's Land in 1834, without the authorities being informed.[62]

Eyre's expeditions on the Nullarbor Plain and to the Flinders Ranges
Kennedy's expeditions in the interior of Queensland
Leichhardt's exploration
The ill fated expedition of Burke and Wills

Perhaps the most famous Australian explorers were Robert O'Hara Burke and William John Wills who in 1860–61 led a well equipped expedition from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Due to an unfortunate run of bad luck, oversight and poor leadership, Burke and Wills both died on the return trip.[63]

Expeditions (in chronological order):

When Who Where
1804 William Paterson Port Dalrymple, Tamar River, North Esk River (Tasmania)
1813 Blaxland, Wentworth, and Lawson From Sydney across the Great Dividing Range via the Blue Mountains; first penetration into inland New South Wales
1817–1818 John Oxley[64] Interior of New South Wales; discovered Lachlan River and Macquarie River
1818 Throsby, Meehan, Hume and Wild Throsby and Wild discovered an overland route from Sydney to Jervis Bay via the Kangaroo and Lower Shoalhaven rivers

Meehan and Hume followed the Shoalhaven upriver and discovered Lake Bathurst and the Goulburn Plains[65]

1820 Joseph Wild[66] discovered Lake George[67]
1823 Currie, Ovens and Wild Region south of Lake George;[68] discovered Isabella Plains (now a suburb of Canberra), charted the upper reach of the Murrumbidgee River and discovered Monaro[69]
1824 Hume and Hovell expedition Sydney to Geelong; discovered Murray River
1828–1829 Charles Sturt and Hamilton Hume Macquarie River area; discovered Darling River
1829 Currie, Drummond, Dr Simmons and Lieut Griffin South of Fremantle; explored region, now Rockingham and Baldivis, and sighted the Serpentine River[70]
1829 Dr Collie and Lieut.Preston discovered Harvey, Collie and Preston rivers
1829–1830 Charles Sturt Along the Murrumbidgee River; found and named Murray River, and determined that western-flowing rivers flowed into the Murray-Darling basin
1830 John Molloy Blackwood River, Western Australia
1830–1834 Alfred and John Bussell Blackwood River and the Vasse, Western Australia
1831 Robert Dale and George Fletcher Moore Avon River area in Western Australia
1831 Collet Barker Mount Lofty and the Murray Mouth
1834 Frederick Ludlow Augusta to Perth; discovered Capel River
1834–1836 George Fletcher Moore Avon River and Swan River; discovered that they are the same river; discovered rich pastoral land near the Moore River
1839–1841 Edward John Eyre[71] The Flinders Ranges and Nullarbor Plain
1840 Paweł Strzelecki[72] Ascended and named Mount Kosciuszko, New South Wales
1840 Patrick Leslie Condamine River, New South Wales
1840–1842 Clement Hodgkinson[73] North-eastern New South Wales, from Port Macquarie to Moreton Bay
1844 Charles Sturt North-western New South Wales and north-eastern South Australia; discovered the Simpson Desert
1847 Anthony O'Grady Lefroy and Alfred Durlacher Gingin, Western Australia
1854 Austin expedition of 1854Robert Austin, Kenneth Brown Geraldton, Mount Magnet, Murchison River
1858–1860 John McDouall Stuart[74] North-western South Australia; discovered water sources used as staging points for later expeditions; found and named Finke River, MacDonnell Ranges, Tennant Creek
1860 Burke and Wills expedition including Robert O'Hara Burke, William John Wills Melbourne to Gulf of Carpentaria (traversing Australia south to north); determined non-existence of inland sea
1897 Frank Hann[75] Pilbara region of Western Australia; named Lake Disappointment

Other 19th-century explorers[edit]

Other explorers by land (in alphabetical order):

Stuart was the first to cross the country from south to north successfully.
Map of John Forrest's expeditions

20th-century explorers[edit]

By the turn of the 20th century, most of the major geographical features of Australia had been discovered by European explorers. However, there are some 20th-century people who are considered explorers. They include:

Indigenous Australians participating in European exploration[edit]

A number of Indigenous Australians participated in the European exploration of Australia. They include:

Naturalists and other scientists[edit]

There are a number of naturalists and other scientists closely associated with European exploration of Australia. They include:

Uncategorised explorers[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ K.G. McIntyre (1977) The Secret Discovery of Australia; Portuguese discoveries 200 years before Captain Cook. Souvenir Press, Medindie, South Australia. ISBN 0-285-62303-6
  2. ^ For a survey of most writers and their interpretations, see the Dieppe Maps entry.
  3. ^,,,, etc. (all in French)
  4. ^ a b c Eric Newby: The Rand Mc.Nally World Atlas of Exploration, 1975. London: Mitchell Beazley. ISBN 0-528-83015-5.
  5. ^ K.G. McIntyre (1977) The Secret Discovery of Australia; Portuguese discoveries 200 years before Captain Cook. Souvenir Press, Medindie, South Australia. ISBN 0-285-62303-6
  6. ^ For a survey of most writers and their interpretations, see the Dieppe maps entry.
  7. ^ George Collingridge (1895) The Discovery of Australia. P.240. Golden Press Facsimile Edition 1983. ISBN 0-85558-956-6
  8. ^ Ernest Scott (1928) A Short History of Australia. P.17. Oxford University Press
  9. ^ Heeres, J. E. (1899). The Part Borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia 1606–1765, London: Royal Dutch Geographical Society, section III.B
  10. ^ a b Raymond John Howgego: Encyclopedia of Exploration to 1800, 2003. Potts Point NSW: Hordern House. ISBN 1-875567-36-4.
  11. ^ George Collingridge (1895) The Discovery of Australia. p.240. Golden Press Facsimile Edition 1983. ISBN 0-85558-956-6
  12. ^ Ernest Scott (1928) A Short History of Australia. P.17. Oxford University Press
  13. ^ Heeres, J. E. (1899). The Part Borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia 1606-1765, London: Royal Dutch Geographical Society, section III.B
  14. ^ Davison, Graeme; Hirst, John; Macintyre, Stuart (1999). The Oxford Companion to Australian History. Melbourne, Vic.: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-553597-9. 
  15. ^ King, Robert J. (2013). "Austrialia del Ispiritu Santo". Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita To Australia. Canberra: National Library of Australia. p. 106. ISBN 9780642278098. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  16. ^ "Early Knowledge of Australia". Official Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia 1901-1909, No. 3. Melbourne: Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. 1910. p. 13. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  17. ^ ""Australia Felix.".". The Register (Adelaide: National Library of Australia). 26 January 1925. p. 8. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  18. ^ "". Retrieved 14 July 2011. 
  19. ^ Brett Hilder (1980) The Voyage of Torres. P.87–101. University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia, Queensland. ISBN 0-7022-1275-X
  20. ^ Phillip E. Playford (2005) "Hartog, Dirk (1580–1621)"[1] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  21. ^ Martin Woods , "For the Dutch Republic, the Great Pacific", National Library of Australia, Mapping our World: Terra Incognita to Australia, Canberra, National Library of Australia, 2013, pp.111-13.
  22. ^ J.Keuning, “Hessel Gerritz”, Imago Mundi, VI, 1950, pp.49-67, p.58; F. C. Wieder and Abel Janszoon Tasman, Tasman's kaart van zijn Australische ontdekkingen 1644 "de Bonaparte-kaart", gereproduceerd op de ware grootte in goud en kleuren naar het origineel in de Mitchell Library, Sydney (N.S.W.); met toestemming van de autoriteiten door F.C. Wieder, 'S-Gravenhage [The Hague], Martinus Nijhoff, 1942, p.12; W.A. Engelbrecht en P.J. van Herwerden , De Ontdekkingsreis van Jacob le Maire en Willem Cornelisz. Schouten in de jaren 1615-1617, 's-Gravenhage , Martinus Nijhoff , 1945, p.152.
  23. ^ Feeken, Erwin H. J.; Gerda E.E. Feeken (1970). The Discovery and Exploration of Australia. Melbourne: Nelson. p. 37. ISBN 0-17-001812-1. Retrieved 2009-07-10. 
  24. ^ J.P.Sigmond and L.H.Zuiderbaan (1976) P.54–69.
  25. ^ Original map of Tasmania in December 1642
  26. ^ "Abel Tasman's great voyage". Abel Tasman's great voyage. Tai Awatea-Knowledge Net. Retrieved 14 September 2011. 
  27. ^ J. van Lohuizen (1966) "Houtman, Frederik de (1571?–1627)" [2] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  28. ^ J.P.Sigmond and L.H.Zuiderbaan (1976), P.43–50
  29. ^ J.P.Sigmond and L.H.Zuiderbaan (1976), P.52
  30. ^ J. van Lohuizen (1967) "Vlamingh, Willem de (fl. 1697)" [3] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  31. ^ William Dampier (1697) A New Voyage around the World. Reprinted 1937 with an introduction by Sir Albert Gray, President Hakluyt Society. Adam and Charles Black, London. Project Gutenberg [4]
  32. ^ J.P.Sigmond and L.H.Zuiderbaan (1976) Dutch Discoveries of Australia. Rigby Australia. ISBN 0-7270-0800-5
  33. ^ Thomas Suarez (2004) Early Mapping of the Pacific. Chapter 5. Periplus Editions, Hong Kong.ISBN 0-7946-0092-1
  34. ^ For a full record of the log and journals of the entire voyage, see Ray Parkin, (1997) H.M. Bark Endeavour. Reprinted 2003. The Miegunyah Press, Carlton, Australia. ISBN 0-522-85093-6
  35. ^ Edward Duyker (2005) "Marion Dufresne, Marc-Joseph (1724–1772)." [5] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  36. ^ Williams 2004, p. 51
  37. ^ Sprod, Dan (2005). "Furneaux, Tobias (1735 - 1781)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 5 May 2008. 
  38. ^ C.M.H. Clark (1963) A Short History of Australia. P.20–21. Signet Classics, A Mentor Book.
  39. ^ See extract from La Perouse's journal published in 1799 as; "A Voyage Around the world," p. 179–180 in Frank Crowley (1980), Colonial Australia. A Documentary History of Australia 1, 1788–1840. 3–4, Thomas Nelson, Melbourne. ISBN 0-17-005406-3
  40. ^ a b David Hill, 1788: The Brutal Truth of the First Fleet
  41. ^ King, Robert J (December 1999). "What brought Lapérouse to Botany Bay?". 85, pt.2. Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society. pp. 140–147. 
  42. ^ observatory
  43. ^ Christian services]
  44. ^ geological observations
  45. ^ first garden
  46. ^
  47. ^ where they were published
  48. ^ Leslie R. Marchant, (1966). "Bruny D'Entrecasteaux, Joseph-Antoine Raymond (1739–1793)." [6] Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  49. ^ Dan Sprod (2005) "Furneaux, Tobias (1735–1781)" [7] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  50. ^ K. M. Bowden (1966) "Bass, George (1771–1803)" [8]Australian Dictionary of Biography
  51. ^ Matthew Flinders (1814), A Voyage to Terra Australis; Undertaken for the purpose of completing the discovery of that vast country. G. and W. Nichol, London. Project Gutenberg [9]
  52. ^ Baudin p.561.
  53. ^ "Sacre bleu! French invasion plan for Sydney". ABC News. 10 December 2012. 
  54. ^ "CORRESPONDENCE.". The Advertiser (Adelaide: National Library of Australia). 14 October 1901. p. 7. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  55. ^ Leslie Marchant, J. H. Reynold.(1966) "Baudin, Nicolas Thomas (1754–1803)" [10] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  56. ^ Vivienne Parsons (1967) "Murray, John (1775?–1807?)" [11] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  57. ^ P.Serle (1967) "King, Phillip Parker (1791–1856)" [12] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  58. ^ Gregory Blaxland:"A Journal of a Tour of Discovery across the Blue Mountains, New South Wales in the Year 1813," in George Mackaness (Ed.)(1965) Fourteen Journeys Over the Blue Mountains of New South Wales 1813–1841, Horwitz Publications, The Grahame Book Company, Sydney, Australia.
  59. ^ See full article Hume and Hovell expedition and numerous summaries such as; Jan Bassett (1986) The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Australian History. P.136. Oxford University Press, Melbourne ISBN 0-19-554422-6
  60. ^ Hamilton Hume and William Hovell (1831) Journey of Discovery to Port Phillip District at Project Gutenberg [13]
  61. ^ H.J. Gibbney (1967) "Sturt, Charles (1795–1869)" Australian Dictionary of Biography [14]
  62. ^ D.W.A. Baker (1967) "Sir Thomas Livingstone (1792–1855)" [15] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  63. ^ Alan Moorehead (1963) Cooper's Creek. MacMillan, Melbourne and Sydney. ISBN 0-333-22909-6
  64. ^ E.W. Dunlop (1967) "Oxley, John Joseph William Molesworth (1784?–1828)" [16] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  65. ^ Year Book Australia 1931 – Canberra Past and Present
  66. ^ Vivienne Parsons (1967)"Wild, Joseph (1773?–1847)" [17] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  67. ^ NSW Government Collections, Joseph Wild
  68. ^ M.J.Currie, Journal of an excursion to the south of Lake George 1823
  69. ^ The Discovery of Monaro
  70. ^ Reference to the Serpentine in Murray River (Western Australia)
  71. ^ Geoffrey Dutton (1966) "Eyre, Edward John (1815–1901)" [18] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  72. ^ Helen Heney (1967) "Strzelecki, Sir Paul Edmund de [Count Strzelecki] (1797–1873)" [19], Dictionary of Australian Biography
  73. ^ K.A. Patterson (1972) "Hodgkinson, Clement (1818–1893)" [20] Dictionary of Australian Biography
  74. ^ Deirdre Morris (1976) "Stuart, John McDouall (1815–1866)" [21] Dictionary of Australian Biography
  75. ^ G.C.Bolton (1972) "Hann, Frank Hugh (1846–1921)" [22] Dictionary of Australian Biography
  76. ^ G.C.Bolton (1981) "Forrest, Alexander (1849–1901)" [23] Dictionary of Australian Biography
  77. ^ F.K.Crowley (1981) "Forrest, Sir John [Baron Forrest] (1847–1918)" [24] Dictionary of Australian Biography
  78. ^ Louis Green (1972) "Giles, Ernest (1835–1897)" [25] Dictionary of Australian Biography
  79. ^ P.Serle. (1961) "Grey, Sir George (1812–1898)" [26] Dictionary of Australian Biography
  80. ^ Edgar Beale (1967) "Kennedy, Edmund Besley Court (1818–1848)" [27] Dictionary of Australian Biography
  81. ^ E.W. Dunlop (1967) "Lawson, William (1774–1850)" [28] Dictionary of Australian Biography
  82. ^ Renee Erdos (1967) "Leichhardt, Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig (1813–1848)" [29] Dictionary of Australian Biography
  83. ^ Tim Flannery (Ed) (1996) Watkin Tench, 1788; Comprising a narrative of the expedition to Botany Bay and a complete account of the settlement at Port Jackson. Text Publishing, Melbourne. ISBN 1-875847-27-8
  84. ^ Denison Deasey (1976) "Warburton, Peter Egerton (1813–1889)" [30] Dictionary of Australian Biography
  85. ^ C. J. Horne (1993) "Colson, Edmund Albert (1881–1950)" [31] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  86. ^ David Carment, (1986) "Mackay, Donald George (1870–1958) [32] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  87. ^ L. W. Parkin (1986) "Madigan, Cecil Thomas (1889–1947)" [33] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  88. ^ ABC TV, George Negus Tonight. Broadcast 21/06/2004
  89. ^ Edgar Beale (1967) "Jackey Jackey ( –1854)" [34] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  90. ^ L.A. Gilbert (1967) "Solander, Daniel (1733–1782)" [35] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  91. ^ T.M.Perry (1967) "Cunningham, Allan (1791–1839)" [36] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  92. ^ Deirdre Morris (1974) "Mueller, Sir Ferdinand Jakob Heinrich von [Baron von Mueller] (1825–1896)" [37] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  93. ^ G.P.Whitley (1974) "Lhotsky, John (1795?–1866?)" [38] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  94. ^ G. P. Whitley, Martha Rutledge(1974) "Krefft, Johann Ludwig Gerard (Louis) (1830–1881)"[39] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  95. ^ Julie Marcus (2002) "Pink, Olive Muriel (1884–1975)" [40] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  96. ^ Treasures of the Museum Victoria
  97. ^ A.H. Chisholm (1969) "Calvert, James Snowden (1825–1884)" [41] Australian Dictionary of Biography
  98. ^ See numerous books by Michael Terry, dating from (1925) Across Unknown Australia, Herbert Jenkins, London, to (1974) War of the Warramullas. Rigby Limited, Australia. ISBN 0-85179-790-3

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]