History of Oceania

The Discovery of Australia

Last updated:2022-07-25
The discovery was made on August 21, 1770 and was named New South Wales.

The Discovery of Australia

European captain James Cook was the one who discovered Australia when he was exploring the continent for the United Kingdom. The discovery was made on August 21, 1770 and was named New South Wales. The region had already been visited by the Portuguese in 1522 and 1525 and by the Dutch in the 17th century.

It was postulated by the geographer Ptolemy who named the continent Terra Australis Incognita with the hypothesis of being the source of the Nile River. The terra australis provoked obsession and imagination in navigators who thought there were great riches of gold and spices. It took nearly 300 years of travel for James Cook in the late 18th century to discover the land that is now called Australia.

After discovering that the terra australis was not the southern lands, he also abandoned it as did the Portuguese.
It was not until 1642 that Australia was officially discovered. A Dutchman named Abel Tasman arrived on an island in southern Australia and named it Tasmania.

In 1868, the uncovered land was used to house 168,000 English serving sentences, thieves, cheats and convicts. In 1830, the sending of the English had already been suspended and then it began to be coveted by English farmers. In 1851, large amounts of gold were discovered throughout the territory, which attracted many curious and greedy for fortunes.