Australia's discovery


The 16th century has been the century of discoveries in America; the 17th century will see the first expeditions to find what was called the Terra Australis, the austral continent which must equilibrate the earthly sphere.

Duyfken (Little Dove) was a vessel of about 20 metres length on the waterline with a crew of 20. She was the first recorded European vessel to visit Australia. Captained by Willem Janszoon, Duyfken sailed from the Indies in November 1605 exploring beyond the southern coast of New Guinea. Janszoon's first Australian landfall was at the Pennefather River on the western shore of the Cape York Peninsula. Janszoon and his crew sailed south as far as Cape Keerweer (Turnabout) then turned north to survey the Cape York coast and Torres Strait islands. They charted over 300 kilometres of a coastline which they regarded as Nova Guinea, a mythical source of gold connected to the great southern continent Terra Australis Incognita.

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Duyfken replica was launched at Fremantle in 1999


In 1616, Dirk Hartog discovers on EENDRACHT the western coast of Australia where wrecks the East Indiaman BATAVIA commanded by Francisco Pelsaert on 4 June 1629: the Dutch land on the austral continent by accident.


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BATAVIA (Length 150', 600 Gt) wrecks on Houtman Abrolhos islands 


In 1642, the Dutchman Abel TASMAN fits out  HEEMSKEERK and the flute ZEEHAEN to sail round the South of Australia, to sight Van Diemen's land (later renamed Tasmania) and New-Zealand.


In 1688, Dampier had sailed from Mexico to the Philippines in Cygnet, subsequently landing on the coast of Australia for repairs. Dampier prepares next an expedition to explore Australia and New Guinea.  He arrives with ROEBUCK on August 7 1699 with at Shark's Bay, near where Dirck Hartog had landed in 1616. A week later he sailed north, following the coast as far as Roebuck Bay (near Broome,  Dampier Land) before quitting the coast of New Holland on September 5.


Willem de Vlamingh's voyage of exploration to the Great South Land (or Eendrachtsland, as it was known to the Dutch) in 1696-97 was the last large scale voyage of exploration to Australia under the flag of the Dutch East India Company. De Vlamingh left the Netherlands with the frigate GEELVINCK, hooker Nijptangh and galliot 't Weseltje on May 3 1696 and arrived at the island known to the Aborigines as 'Wadjemup' on december 29, renamed Rottnest. Then, he explores the Swan River estuary and on January 30, Dick Hartog Island was sighted. . The fleet finally arrived in Batavia in the East Indies (Java) on March 17. On the way, Christmas Island, then known as Moni, was sighted and a pinnace and a longboat were sent to investigate. 

After 1750, several expeditions are organised to get out the the mystery of Terra Australis, whicj may be placed on the South of the globe.  DOLPHIN and the corvette SWALLOW left together at the end of 1766, get lost in the strait of Magellan.  DOLPHIN is a 24 guns frigate, one of the first Royal Navy ships to be cupper doubbled; SWALLOW is a 14 guns corvette 28 m long. WALLIS lands alone at Tahiti in June 1767 with DOLPHIN. CARTERET wilkl be the first to sail through the strait between New-Britain and New-Ireland.


James COOK and  his shipmates reach New Holland on 27 April 1770, at the end of a first trip with  ENDEAVOUR, a 371 tons collier, 29.74 m long. They call in a bay where the scientists Solander and Banks gather a lot of plants ; so Cook named it Botany Bay. The expedition sails along the East coast of Australia. On 10 June, an accident on a reef obliges to repair ENDEAVOUR. Going South of  New Guinea, off cape York, the expedition loops his loop around the world on 12 May 1771 after calls at  Batavia and Capetown.


In 1791, la Recherche and l'Espérance under command of admiral  Joseph Bruny D'ENTRECASTEAUX and Huon de Kermadek go in search of Lapérouse's expedition. Tasmanian coasts and New-Caledonia are explored in detail: Bruny island closing Adventure Bay, south of Tasmania where Cook called in January 1777, Esperance bay and Recherche island in the South West of Australia remind it.

Leaving Le Havre on October 19, 1800, Nicolas Baudin leads Le Géographe and her storeship Naturaliste sailing along the coast of Africa, calling at Mauritius. On June 1, 1801, the ships came to Géographe Bay (which they named), near Cape Leeuwin, Australia. Baudin will meet Flinders  at Encounter bay, in the southern Australia, near Adelaide.


Matthew Flinders and George Bass were responsible for exploring the coastline of Australia in 1796 on the sloop NORFOLK and proving that Tasmania was, in fact, an island. Flinders named the strait of water separating Tasmania from the continent, Bass Strait, after his companion who was the first to imagine it existed. Flinders later circumnavigated Australia in 1802-1803 with INVESTIGATOR, proving that Australia was  not a series of islands and his charts were extremely accurate, being used for many years. 
Phillip Parker King, navy officer, goes in 1817 with the cuter MERMAID to complete the coastline survey after Flinders.

To read  on the web: to know about the Dutch East Indies Company ships 
Ships of the World: An Historical Encyclopedia:
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Click below for the pages list 


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