Here, all the old arguments are again rehearsed:
This article discusses the history of Australia from the arrival of European explorers in the 16th century to the present. For a more detailed discussion of Aboriginal culturesee Australian Aboriginal peoples.
Australia to Early exploration and colonization Early contacts and approaches Prior to documented history, travelers from Asia may have reached Australia.
Likewise, Muslim voyagers who visited and settled in Southeast Asia came within miles km of Australia, and adventure, wind, or current might have carried some individuals the extra distance. Both Arab and Chinese documents tell of a southern land, but with such inaccuracy that they scarcely clarify the argument.
Makassarese seamen certainly fished off Arnhem Landin the Northern Territoryfrom the late 18th century and may have done so for generations. The Portuguese The quest for wealth and knowledge might logically have pulled the Portuguese to Australian shores; the assumption has some evidential support, including a reference indicating that Melville Island, off the northern coast, supplied slaves.
Certainly the Portuguese debated the issue of a terra australis incognita Latin: He and some later Roman Catholic historians saw this as the discovery of the southern land.
More significantly, from some Dutch ships sailing from the Cape of Good Hope to Java inevitably carried too far east and touched Australia: Pieter Nuyts explored almost 1, miles 1, km of the southern coast in —27, and other Dutchmen added to knowledge of the north and west. Robert Ingpen, National Library of Australia, nla.
He then explored the island of New Zealand before returning to Bataviaon Java. The British The Netherlands spent little more effort in exploration, and the other great Protestant power in Europe, England, took over the role.
On returning to England, he published his Voyages and persuaded the Admiralty to back another venture. He traversed the western coast for 1, miles — and reported more fully than any previous explorer, but he did so in terms so critical of the land and its people that another hiatus resulted.
The middle decades of the 18th century saw much writing about the curiosities and possible commercial value of the southern seas and terra australis incognita.
This was not restricted to Great Britain, but it had especial vigour there. The British government showed its interest by backing several voyages. Hopes flourished for a mighty empire of commerce in the eastern seas. This was the background for the three voyages of Captain James Cook on behalf of the British Admiralty.
Cook landed several times, most notably at Botany Bay and at Possession Island in the north, where on August 23 he claimed the land, naming it New South Wales. National Library of Australia, nla. Marion Dufresne of France skirted Tasmania inseeing more than had Tasman.
In the British navigator George Vancouver traversed and described the southern shores discovered by Pieter Nuyts years before. Two Britons— George Bassa naval surgeon, and Matthew Flindersa naval officer—were the most famous postsettlement explorers.
Together they entered some harbours on the coast near Botany Bay in and Bass ventured farther south in —98, pushing around Cape Everard to Western Port. Flinders was in that region early incharting the Furneaux Islands. Late that year Flinders and Bass circumnavigated Tasmania in the Norfolk, establishing that it was an island and making further discoveries.
Several other navigators, including merchantmen, filled out knowledge of the Bass Strait area; most notable was the discovery of Port Phillip in Meanwhile Flinders had returned home and in was appointed to command an expedition that would circumnavigate Australia and virtually complete the charting of the continent.
Over the next three years Flinders proved equal to this task. Above all, he left no doubt that the Australian continent was a single landmass. Appropriately, Flinders urged that the name Australia replace New Hollandand this change received official backing from It was on the northern coast, from Arnhem Land to Cape York Peninsulathat more exploration was needed.
European settlement The British government determined on settling New South Wales inand colonization began early in The motives for this move have become a matter of some controversy. The traditional view is that Britain thereby sought to relieve the pressure upon its prisons —a pressure intensified by the loss of its American colonies, which until that time had accepted transported felons.
But some historians have argued that this glossed a scheme to provide a bastion for British sea power in the eastern seas.
Some have seen a purely strategic purpose in settlement, but others have postulated an intent to use the colony as a springboard for economic exploitation of the area.
It is very likely that the government had some interest in all these factors. Whatever the deeper motivation, plans went ahead, with Lord Sydney Thomas Townshendsecretary of state for home affairs, as the guiding authority.
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