The historical detail for my claim that Australia did not exist before the 26th of January 1788 is in chapter 1 ‘Foundations of a New Nation’ of my book Prison Hulk to Redemption. The key issue is the concept of nation. I use the text (below) from my book for my two-part youtube presentation. I include helpful illustrations in the videos.
The philosophical arguments about what it means to be a people or nation are in my presentation ‘Edmund Burke on what it means to be a people’. Both should be read or heard in combination to appreciate the full argument.
Foundations of a new nation
ON 28 APRIL 1770, 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 of stingrays in its waters 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 to investigate the existence of the South Land, whose ancient mythology promised great riches. 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 Englishman 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 whatever was south of present-day Indonesia and New Guinea was Dutchman Abel Tasman’s voyage in 1642 and 1643. The Governor of Batavia had ordered Tasman to find the unknown South Land. On his eight-month voyage, Tasman sailed west from Batavia (today’s Jakarta). Keeping the Indonesian islands to the north, he eventually turned and sailed far to the south before turning 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 he had sailed 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. But Tasman was well short of Staten LandtContinue reading Australia did not exist before 26 January 1788