Comment: The Discovery of Australia

Submitted: Friday, May 25, 2012 at 16:01
ThreadID: 95807 Views:2101 Replies:2 FollowUps:1
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Fascinating how all these European travellers had maps telling them of terra australis, who gave them the maps in the first place to follow? I think we need to look at the locals who werent as stupid as the early europeans actually thought.
But, hey, its good to look at any avenue, early landings and settlements by Europeans are one thing, what about the trade in Trepang with what we call Indonesia now? Lotsa stories everywhere, adds to the mystery, love it.
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Reply By: Ron N - Sunday, May 27, 2012 at 11:40

Sunday, May 27, 2012 at 11:40
I think it's reasonable to state that the Portuguese were the earliest mappers of Australia, in the early 1500's. The Portuguese and the Spanish ruled the seas in this era, as evidenced by their arrogance in their agreement of the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, to divide one half of the world into Portuguese territory and one half into Spanish territory!

The Portuguese sea charts of that era were kept secret, because of fears of other countries territorial searches and claims and the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 destroyed virtually all those early maps.

As a result, we're left with a pretty poor record of what mapping was actually done by these great seapowers in this era. No doubt locals in SE Asia knew something about the Great South Land - but no records exist anywhere of maps made of the Southern areas of land, before the 1500's, because no country had done the specific searching and mapping of the unknown lands beyond the Old World before this time.

It's likely that the Portuguese and Spanish made use of local fishermans knowledge, but it's highly unlikely that any nation had maps of Southern land areas before the Portuguese and Spanish ventured into these "unknown" areas.

These Portuguese and Spanish adventurers were a brave, adventurous, and hardy lot.
Christopher Columbus set off with no maps and endured a near mutiny by his crew, who were convinced they were going to sail off the edge of the "flat" Earth!

Cheers - Ron.
AnswerID: 486885

Follow Up By: Member - lyall h (QLD) - Sunday, May 27, 2012 at 13:36

Sunday, May 27, 2012 at 13:36
ah well, the debate continues, thats always good.
We all know the European voyages, and the reason why the Portugese came this way wasn't for exploration, more like exploitation.
Anyway, I still find the fact that maps were produced by Europeans showing areas no known Europeans had even been near in the 1500's a fascinating subject, Piri Reis must have been mistaken when he said Columbus had a map. Da Gama also settled his crew down when near mutiny by telling them he had a map. Gavin Menzies books ask the questions, and i for one believe they have some answers, Writers like Anatole Andro (the 1421 heresy) and Chao Chien (Chinese origin of the age of discovery) make a great read. More has to come yet. The debate could last forever.
Never dismiss something just because we've been previously told something different.
Enough said, lets get on with travelling around.
FollowupID: 762110

Reply By: garrycol - Sunday, May 27, 2012 at 12:51

Sunday, May 27, 2012 at 12:51
The north of Australia was well known through the voyages of Torres, Hartog, Tasman and Dampier in the early to late 1600s.

Tasman also covered much of South and south east WA - discovered Tasmania and New Zealand. I was always taught Cook discovered Australia but he already knew it was there but not mapped so he just filled many of the blanks.

When the Batavia went aground in 1629 the West Coast was already well known.

Torres was probably the first but there had always been rumours of a large land mass (not Terra Australia Incognito) and this is what the Spanish and Dutch were looking for.Cook was looking for the much larger Terra Australia Incognito and proved it did not exist.

AnswerID: 486892

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