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Australia did not exist before 26 January 1788

The historical detail for the reasons I claim Australia did not exist before the 26th of January 1788 is in chapter 2, Foundations of a Nation of my book PRISON HULK TO REDEMPTION SECOND EDITION. The philosophical arguments about what it means to be a people are in my essay Edmund Burke on what it means to be a people. Both should be in read in combination to appreciate the full argument.

Prison Hulk to Redemption

Chapter 2

Foundations of a new nation

On 28 April 1770, the then Lieutenant James Cook steered his ship, the Endeavour, into a broad open bay and dropped anchor at its southern shore. He named it Stingray Bay because of the abundance in its waters of stingrays on which his crew gorged. He later crossed out Stingray Bay in the ship’s logs and entered Botany Bay in tribute to Botanist Joseph Banks, the ship’s eager scientist. Banks had put together an impressive collection of specimens of unknown plants and animals after trekking around the land bordering the bay’s shores.

Cook and the Endeavour were on their way back to England after carrying out the official task of observing the transit of Venus from the island of Tahiti. There were also unofficial tasks, one of which was the order to investigate the existence of the South Land, whose ancient mythology promised great riches of all kinds. From Roman times, it had been called Terra Australis Incognita—Unknown South Land. The search for the mysterious land of the south had occupied the Portuguese, the Dutch, the Spanish, and later the English in the person of William Dampier (1688 and 1689).  Dampier added little to the findings of the Dutch seamen.

Until Cook’s voyage, the most successful effort to map what was south of present-day Indonesia and New Guinea was the voyage of Dutchman Abel Tasman in 1642 and1643. This eight-month voyage on the order of the Governor of Batavia to find the South Land took Tasman west from Batavia (today’s Jakarta). Keeping the Indonesian islands to the north of him, he eventually turned and sailed far to the south before turning directly east. After navigating a great distance, he hit landfall. He followed the shoreline south, mapping it as he went, turned east, then north, but left the coast to head east again. He named this bushy landmass Anthoni Van Diemens Landt after Batavia’s governor. After some days, he made landfall again. Thinking the land he had come across reached as far as Tierra Del Fuego in South America, he noted Staten Landt in his logbook. Staten Landt was the Dutch for the Spanish name of Argentine’s Isla de Los Estados.

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