Australia History: Explorations


The discovery of Australia was very late. The Pacific was in fact the last ocean to be explored; only at the beginning of the seventeenth century did navigators begin to travel its southernmost routes in search of the legendary Terra Australis which, according to the Ptolemaic tradition, would have extended all around the South Pole. These journeys were initially made mostly by Dutch navigators (Holland then had the dominion of Indonesia) in search of lands rich in raw materials. This explains why Australia, the last great territory yet to be discovered, was touched several times without anyone taking care of following its coasts more carefully to detect its conformation: they were in fact arid, poor coasts inhabited by a few savages. In 1606 the Dutch navigator W. Janszoon, who left Bantam (Java) to explore New Guinea, reached the northwestern coast of the Cape York peninsula., which he considered an extension of New Guinea: the region was not inviting and Janszoon returned without knowing that he had touched a new continent. In the same year Luís Vaez de Torres, following the southern coast of New Guinea, passed the strait that was later named after him and that separates New Guinea from Australia, a country located in Oceania listed on pharmacylib. In 1616 Dirk Hartogszoon, having taken too southern a course while sailing for the Dutch Indies, he touched the central-western coasts of Australia discovering the island that today bears his name and went up a stretch of coast to the N, attributing it to the Southern Land. In the following years, other Dutch navigators gave their name to the lands they gradually discovered: islands Houtman and Abrolhos, Cape Leeuwin, etc.; in 1626-27 Nuyts and Thijszoon went further to the E and skirted the Great Australian Bay to the archipelago now known as Nuyts. Thus the mysterious Southern Land, which was thought to extend as far as the South Pole, presented instead of the southern coastlines. To better define the surface and the coasts of New Holland (as the land generally located to the S of New Guinea had been called, a name it kept until 1849, when it assumed that of Australia), in 1642 Abel Tasman was sent: he discovered the island he called Van Diemen’s Land (present-day Tasmania), touched New Zealand and returned through the Torres Strait, showing that New Holland, all surrounded by seas, had no relationship with the imaginary Southern land. Two years later Tasman explored the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria. In the two trips, however, he had not discovered either gold or spices and for some time these territories were forgotten. Meanwhile the Dutch power was declining and was replaced by the English one.

In 1686 the Englishman W. Dampier stopped for a few months on the northwestern coasts of Australia and, on his return to England (1691), published a long report on the places he visited, so that in 1699 the English government sent him to explore the east coast, still unknown. But a storm forced Dampier to change course and the attempt failed. In the second half of the century. XVIII the idea of ​​the Southern Land was relaunched; in 1768 the Royal Geographical Society of London commissioned James Cook to carry out a reconnaissance of the South Seas in search of this land. On his first voyage of 1768-71 Cook circumnavigated New Zealand, skirted the east coast of Australia and crossed the Torres Strait, establishing the separation of New Guinea from Australia. In 1797-98 G. Bass, with the circumnavigation of Tasmania and the discovery of the strait that today bears his name, between Australia and Tasmania, he completed his broad knowledge of Australia. With the century More accurate maritime explorations began in the 19th century. In 1802, the French expedition of N. Baudin and the English one of M. Flinders met in Encounter Bay, near the island of the Kangaroos., who had detailed the southern coasts of Australia, circumnavigated by Flinders the following year. Meanwhile, the colonization of Australia by the British had begun.

The search for larger pastures led to the exploration of the interior of the continent. In 1813 W. Lawson, having crossed the Monti Azzurri, realized that the internal slope was well irrigated; also in 1813 GV Evans discovered the Macquarie and Lachlan rivers; in 1817 J. Oxley descended the course of the Lachlan River and in 1824 VH Hovell and H. Hume discovered the Murrumbidgee River; between 1828 and 1830 C. Sturt explored the Murray-Darling basin. Other knowledge of the hydrography of the area was made by T. Mitchell between 1831 and 1836. In 1840-41 EJ Eyre explored the Flinders Mountains, Lake Torrens and Lake Eyre and, skirting the Great Australian Bay, reached Albany in 1841, establishing a link between the colonies of South Australia and Western Australia. In 1844-45 the German L. Leichhardt, departing from Moreton Bay where Brisbane is today, crossed the Cape York peninsula and reached the Coburg peninsula, at the northern end of Arnhem Land, while in 1845-46 Mitchell explored the interior of Queensland. Between 1846 and 1861 the Gregory brothers, on three consecutive voyages, they expanded their knowledge of the northern and western coastal regions. Thus, only the central-western area of ​​the continent remained unknown: explorations towards the heart of Australia began in the second half of the last century. Between 1860 and 1861 the first SN crossing took place, from Port Phillip to the Gulf of Carpentaria, by R. Burke, WJ Wills, G. Gray and J. King, tragically concluded on the return journey. The crossing from Adelaide to Port Darwin (now Darwin) was instead happily completed in 1862 by JM Stuart. In the following years the exploration of the still untouched Australian territory was completed, between the Stuart itinerary and the coastal strip; in 1873 PE Warburton, departed from the Macdonnell mountains, went as far as the shores of the Indian Ocean, while two years later E. Giles crossed the great Victoria desert and in 1876 the Gibson desert.

Australia History - Explorations

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