Voyages of Grand Discovery
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Nation Year Historical Event Ship
The VOC ship Zuytdorp, Captain Marinus Wijsvliet, is wrecked on the mainland coast of New Holland, just south of Shark Bay. The adjacent cliffs now bear the ship’s name. Survivors land and are possibly helped by Aborigines.
As a servant of the Dutch East India Company in Batavia in 1717, the Swiss Jean Pierre Purry, urged the Heren XVII to colonise Nuyts Land, the present south and south-west of Australia. He considered Leeuwin and Edels Lands to be islands, and included them among the islands of Nuyts Land. Purry’s ideas were published in Amsterdam in 1718 and in London in 1744 in A Method for Determining the Best Climate of the Earth.

In this work Purry wrote:
Who knows what there is in New Holland, and whether that Country does not, perhaps, contain richer Mines of Gold and Silver than perhaps, Chili, Peru, or Mexico? And what should hinder, but that all that Coast, called the LAND OF NIGHTS, containing five or six [hundred] Leagues in Extent, and all of it contained within the fifth Climate, may be equal to Barbary, Chili, and all the best Countries of the Old and New Continents?

Loss of Zeewijk, Captain Jan Steyns. Survivors camp on what is now known as Gun Island in the Pelsaert Group of the Houtman Abrolhos for 9 months. They build a vessel, the Sloepie, and sail to Batavia (Jakarta). Their geographic knowledge of the Pelsaert Group is recorded in three sketch maps: by Jan Steyns (Captain), Adriaen van der Graeff (Understeersman) and an unknown person. The map produced by van Keulen, and reproduced by Alexander Dalrymple in 1782, most closely resembles Jan Steyns’ sketch-map.
Emanuel Bowen’s Complete System of Geography, referred to the ‘Land of Peter Nuyts’. On his ‘Complete Map of the Southern Continent’ Bowen stated:
If Peru overflows with Silver, if all the Mountains of Chili are filled with Gold, and this precious metal & Stones much more precious are ye product of Brazil this Continent enjoys the benefit of the same position and therefore whoever perfectly discovers & settles it will become infalliably possessed of Territories as Rich, as fruitful, & as capable of Improvement, as any that have hitherto found, either in the East Indies, or the West (National Library of Australia coll.).
Lieutenant James Cook charts the east coast of Australia.
HM Barque Endeavour
Louis de Saint Alöuarn arrives at Cape Leeuwin en route from Kerguelen Island (thought to be the elusive Terres Australes). De Rosily accurately charts Flinders Bay, 23 years before Matthew Flinders. De Saint Aloüarn proceeds to Shark Bay and sends a landing party ashore at Dirk Hartog Island to claim possession of Western Australia for France.
Gros Ventre
Governor Arthur Phillip arrives in Botany Bay with the ‘First Fleet’
to establish British settlements in New South Wales and Norfolk Island.
HMS Sirius & Supply; transports Alexander, Charlotte, Friendship, Lady Penrhyn, Scarborough & Prince of Wales; storeships Borrowdale, Fishburn & Golden Grove
1786 - 88
Jean-François de Galaup, Compte de Lapérouse arrived at Botany Bay on 26 January 1788, at virtually the same time as Governor Phillip’s ‘First Fleet’, and thus became the first ‘visitor’ to Australia. The Astrolabe and Boussole continued their voyage on 10 March, and sailed into oblivion. The two shipwrecks were located many years later at Vanikoro, Solomon Islands.
Astrolabe & Boussole
1790's - 1800's
French, British and American sealers and whalers frequent the west and south coasts. In 1792 the American whalers Alliance and Asia anchored in Shark Bay and parties went ashore on Dirk Hartog Island.
Alliance & Asia et al.
George Vancouver explores south coast. Took possession of the territory at King George Sound for the British monarch in 1792, but this was not followed up by a British occupation: it had already been proclaimed by de Saint Aloüarn in 1772.
Joseph Antoine Bruny d’Entrecasteaux conducted a hasty reconnaissance of the south coast instead of a comprehensive survey of the unknown parts of the area. He considered the land to be arid and waterless, perpetuating Dampier’s dismal views about western Australia. Observatory Island was named Port Esperance, the name now given to the township and port. The expedition then proceeded to search for Lapérouse in the Pacific but was unsuccessful.
Recherche & Espérance
1797 - 99
George Bass and Matthew Flinders voyages.
Tom Thumb & Norfolk
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