Australia Exploration

Australia Exploration

The appearance of the new lands, discovered here and there at times, was everywhere desolate and inhospitable; more than one of the navigators had been massacred by the natives during the first descents on the coasts. However, the government of the Dutch colonies, in order to more fully explore the Ocean in S., and to define the limits of the mysterious land and its connections with the supposed great southern continent, in 1642 sent Abel Janszoon Tasman, already an expert sailor, with two vessels in the Southern Ocean. The discovery of what he called the Land of Van Diemen (Tasmania), to which he came from the open Indian Ocean, the subsequent discovery of New Zealand and the return by Torres Strait later of 5000 miles sailed in completely unknown waters, they completely condemned the idea of ​​a immense southern land and delimited the seas within which was enclosed what was already beginning to be called New Holland. A new navigation of the Tasman (1644), even without noticing the presence of the Torres Strait yet, recognizes the whole tour of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the lands to the West of it; various subsequent surveys perfect and complete the knowledge of the coasts already known to the West and NW, including that of Willem de Vlamingh who, carefully following the entire west coast (1696), gave news, among other things, of the Swan River and of the broad bosom of Shark Bay, and that of Maarten van Delft on Melville Island and the adjacent Coburg Peninsula (1705).

Then the brilliant Dutch period ended, as the English navy invaded the field. For some years English ships had already appeared in those eastern seas; memorable are William Dampier’s landings along the Australian coast of the Timor Sea (1688) and along the west coast at Shark Bay (1699), who, like his other discoveries in the southern seas, left reports full of news geographical and naturalistic. However, it was only after the formation of the English East India Company that the travels intensified; mainly Australia Dalrymple, who came into possession of precious Spanish nautical documents about the existence of the Torres Strait, became secretary to the government of Madras, made himself an energetic advocate of the expansion towards the Pacific, marking the way for the new great explorers. And here we are, after the Peace of Paris, to the great British voyages of discovery in the Pacific. In the first of his famous voyages, on April 19, 1770 James Cook, coming from New Zealand, landed at the extreme south of the Australian east coast, at Point Hicks, somewhat west of Cape Howe, and from here began a minute exploration following the coast to the north. He landed in Southerland Bay, Botany Bay, Hervey Bay, meeting a few natives and all hostile, while the scientists accompanying the expedition gathered important biological and geological information. At Cape Tribulation the ship ran aground fearfully, and the need to repair it forced Cook to stop at the mouth of the small river, which he called Endeavor from the name of the ship (where Cooktown is today). Finally on 21 August the great navigator reached Cape York and crossed the Torres Strait (so long ignored, despite the Spanish discovery), after having explored about six hundred miles of coasts, entirely unknown and in several very dangerous places, where he had to constantly plumb.

Cook’s work, which, in addition to finally establishing the detachment of New Guinea from Australia, revealed the entire E. shore of the continent, giving valuable information on products and people, had an extraordinary repercussion. He had taken possession of the uncovered lands in the name of Great Britain, and in fact, although with a delay of a few years, the English government decided in 1786 to establish some prison establishments in Australia to begin colonization. In January 1788, the first expedition of settlers and convicts arrived at Botany Bay under the command of the Phillip. The ships of that convoy and those sent for subsequent supplies made notable surveys on the routes followed in those neighborhoods, while other discoveries were added elsewhere, such as those of W. Bligh, who, already a companion of Cook in the first expedition, he recognized some stretches of the southern coasts of Tasmania in 1788 and again in 1792, slightly preceding D’Entrecasteaux. Meanwhile, scientific exploration journeys became more and more frequent. MacCluer in 1790-91 carried out various reliefs in the north on behalf of the government of the Indies; Vancouver in 1791 was studying the south coast making accurate longitude observations, but without being able to penetrate the Great Bay. His footsteps were followed the following year by the Frenchman Bruni d’Entrecasteaux who, sent in search of La Pérouse, lost in an expedition in 1788, first explored the SE coast in detail. of Tasmania and a few months later followed the Australian coast from Cape Leeuwin to the east, also

In 1795, along with the new Governor Hunter, the ship’s physician, G. Bass, and M. Flinders, ensign, arrived in Sydney. These were the men who completed the great exploration of Australia. In December 1797 the Bass with a whaler descended along the coast of New South Wales until it passed the extreme Cape Wilson, observing in this southernmost stretch an accentuated wave motion from libeccio, and therefore inferring the existence of an open arm there. of sea; the following year he proved it, circumnavigating the whole of Tasmania together with the Flinders, in a lifeboat, and crossing the entire Strait now known as Bass: the detachment, well understood by D’Entrecasteaux, of the island was finally demonstrated from the continent. The Flinders then, in 1801-2, in command of a specially equipped ship, he recognized several ill-known stretches of the southern coast, penetrating to the bottom of the gulfs of Spencer and S. Vincenzo, and of the northern one, following the entire Gulf of Carpentaria, and finally circumnavigated the whole new continent, to which, it seems, he first gave the name of Australia. A similar reconnaissance design was carried out at the same time by a Frenchman, Captain Baudin, who above all was perfecting the layout of some ill-known stretch of the west coast.


Meanwhile, a new colony was detached from New South Wales, constituting itself, Australia Felix (1835), which later became Victoria, and a year later another rose further to the West, South Australia (South Australia). The rapid expansion of these colonies gave rise to major new explorations, initiated by Colonel Light, founder of South Australia, and major exponent John Eyre. In 1837, driven by the concern for the search for new grazing land in the interior, he tried to establish a road link between Adelaide and New South Wales; in 1839 it repeatedly penetrated the southern lake region, first discovering the River Broughton on the side of the Gulf of Spencer, then north of the gulf the chain of the M. Flinders and Lake Torrens; in 1840,

Similarly, the establishment of a military station at Arnhem Land led to the study of land connections, possibly by navigable waterways, between the northern coast and the eastern and southern coasts. The German naturalist Dr. L. Leichhardt in 1844, departed from Moreton Bay, following the courses of the Dawson, the Mackenzie and its tributaries Isaac, the Suttor and the Burdekin – all currents more or less parallel to the coast of Queensland but not navigable – crossed then along the Lynd and the Mitchell the Cape York Peninsula and thus reached the coasts of the Gulf of Carpentaria, and then, around the gulf and crossed the Land of Arnhem, he reached the extreme north of it, Port Essington, with a 15 months. In the same year, the Sturt, which left Adelaide to attempt the entire crossing, managed to penetrate between bare plains and desolate deserts, as far as Cooper Creek and Eyre Creek as far as the heart of the continent, touching the latitude of 24 ° 25 ′ S. In 1846 Mitchell, with E. Kennedy, repeated the attempt of Sturt from the east coast; it too failed to cross the continent, but discovered several inland rivers, including the Warrego and the upper reaches of the Barcoo. In 1847 the daring Leichhardt renewed his attempt, with the intention of crossing the continent from east to west; but the expedition, which departed from Newcastle (east coast), after reaching the Barcoo basin in April 1848, gave no further news of itself, nor the intense research carried out subsequently could ever reveal the mystery of its tragic end.

Meanwhile, the need for expansion and relations of the most luxuriant centers made explorations multiply in every part, rapidly increasing the geographical knowledge of the various regions. From Western Australia, established as a colony since 1829, several expeditions moved inland: G. Gray repeated the attempt twice and, although the hostility of the natives forced him to desist from his purpose, he discovered various rivers in the region. the Kimberley and the Gascoyne; R. Austin, having reached the lake that bears his name, explored the Murchison region. The three Gregory brothers devoted all their activity for fifteen years (1846-1861) to important explorations in Western Australia, penetrating the desolate interior to the NE. of Perth, exploring the coastal rivers, especially the Murchison and then the Gascoyne. In 1855 BC Gregory led an expedition to the Victoria River in the NW. of the continent, it crossed at its base the peninsula of Arnhem and, continuing to S. of the Gulf of Carpentaria, at the limits of the sandy desert, it then succeeded to the East. coast, to Moreton Bay. In 1858, starting from the same bay in search of Leichhardt, he reached the region of Warrego, then the Barcoo he descended, showing it identical to the Cooper; it eventually came along the Victoria River in Adelaide. Meanwhile Warburton, Babbage, Parry, Burts, Geharty, explored the area of ​​the great southern lakes and Cadell was the first to remount the Murray by steamboat, reaching the Murrumbidgee; and the following year Randell by the same means arrived 120 miles from Bourke on the Darling.

But, despite this intense exploration activity, the central area of ​​the continent remained ignored and the problem of communications between north and south remained unsolved. At the suggestion of botanist Müller, the South Australian government promised a prize of ten thousand pounds to anyone who crossed the continent from Adelaide. The Scotsman J. MacDuall Stuart, who had already explored the district to the West of Lake Eyre in 1858 and 1959, discovering the chain called Monti Stuart and the Hanson Range, attempted the very difficult feat for the first time in 1860, reaching the 134th of long. up to 400 km. from the Gulf of Carpentaria (lat. 18 ° 17 ‘), after having identified the watershed between the inland and northern rivers; a second attempt he made immediately afterwards, a little more at N., this time rejected by the impenetrable bushes, reaching the lat. 17th S., but also this time giving up the enterprise due to lack of food. At the same time and for the same purpose, the Burke expedition, organized with the help of a popular subscription, departed from the province of Victoria. Having left Melbourne on 20 August 1860, Roberto Burke, Irish, managed with his companions Wills, Gray, King, to cross the entire sandy desert, reached the Flinders and descended it until he saw the flow of the tide rising from the Gulf of Carpentaria. The crossing of the continent could be said to be complete, so the travelers, giving up on continuing, hastened their return. When Gray died of illness in the stony desert, the survivors did not find the rear guard of the expedition left there with supplies in the Barcoo; so that Burke and Wills, after long wandering, perished of starvation and starvation, and only King survived, saved by a tribe of benevolent natives; it was later tracked down by Howitt’s expedition. Among the numerous expeditions sent in search of the lost explorers, that of Howitt studied the hydrographic elements of the area between Lake Torrens and the Barcoo, that of MacKinlay (1861) traced the body of Gray to Cooper Creek, and continuing towards the N., through the Burke valley, reached the side of the Gulf of Carpentaria making the second crossing of the continent; then, heading to SE. and crossing Queensland, he arrived at Port Denison. Another more complex expedition was eventually organized in 1862, holding the ship Victoria as a base at the mouth of the Flinders; among the others W. Landsborough, having gone up the Flinders and crossed the riverside, by way of the Barcoo and the Darling reached the southern coast making the first crossing from north to south. In the same year the Stuart made his third attempt from S. and this time managed to reach the side of the Gulf of Carpentaria, then the watershed between it and the Land of Arnhem, reaching the planting at Chambers Bay, on the Ocean facing the Melville Island, the flag Miss Chambers had given to the expedition. The path he followed was then chosen for the laying of the telegraph line that today unites the southern centers with the north coast and with England. Taken together, these explorations had completed the knowledge of the area east of the 140th meridian, and had clarified its hydrography and orography. The bodies of Burke and Wills found and brought to Adelaide were solemnly buried; a monument remembers their daring undertaking in that city today. For Australia 2004, please check

Meanwhile, no less important results continued to be achieved by the surveys that were carried out in the various coastal regions for agricultural, commercial and scientific purposes, especially geological ones. Morton in 1860 explored the area between the Darling and the Lachlan; the Dempster brothers with Clarkson and Harper walked the boroughs of the SO.; GE Dalrymple studied the Burdekin basin, Neilson studied the Paroo basin. Subsequently Lefroy in 1863 and Hunt in 1864 traveled the southern districts; J. Martin discovered an agricultural area between Glenely and Camden; the Jardine brothers in 1865 from Port Denison went up to Cape York to establish communication routes; in 1863 Farlane, in 1865 Delisser and Hardwicke explored the region of Eucla; Warburton in 1864 was studying southern lake basins; Landsbourough and Douall Stuart in 1865 carried out their exploration activity in Queensland, while Litchfield operated in the northern regions. In the following year Hunt, Roe and Monger explored the districts of the  O. while Sholl made a new survey of the NO coast. Mc Intyre, departed from Wiluna on the Darling, following the 142nd meridian, reached the Gulf of Carpentaria, collecting important meteorological information during the crossing of the continent. Finally, in 1867 Warburton, with the German missionaries Walder, Kramer and Meissel, insisting on the study of southern lakes, discovered the extreme north of Lake Eyre and the vast deltoid mouth of Cooper Creek.

Australia had quickly become the land of all wonders and, as such, attracted the attention of all peoples. His fame spread, and to this contributed the reports of famous travelers and travelers, among which the Austrian Ida Pfeiffer, the English Isabella Bishop who was there in 1870, the archaeologist Désiré Charnay and the famous flower painter. Marianne North. However, between the Stuart line and the known west, there was still an area of ​​about fourteen degrees of longitude completely unexplored. The explorers turned to it in the following years. W. Gosse in 1873, departing from the telegraph line fifty miles to the South. of Central Mount Stuart, went for six hundred miles into the poor and dunes of the O.; Colonel Warburton (1873-74), with an expedition organized with the help of the patron T. Elder, who left Alice Springs (along the transcontinental telegraph line) reached the Gray River and the NW coast with a painful crossing. Australia, but without finding land suitable for agricultural exploitation; J. Forrest, who had already signaled himself in the researches of the Leichhardt expedition and renewed from Perth to Adelaide (1870) the crossing along the Great Southern Bay already made inversely by the Eyre, in turn made the crossing of the desert area along the 26 ° parallel, in order to clarify the hydrographic problems of the north-western side. E. Giles finally made three explorations to determine the extent of the sandy desert: the first two were limited to the region of Lake Amedeo; during the third, with Tietkins.

In the same years the mineral value of the continent had also been revealing itself in the N. and in the O. Already in 1873, studying the Mitchell basin and its tributaries, rich mineral resources and gold fields had been discovered: in a short time the search for unsuspected deposits became frantic, and led to the creation of new demographic centers and the establishment of new communications. The work of the explorers acquired new importance. Jack Logan discovered in 1881 that the western Queensland region was an artesian basin; Favenc in 1888 traced some great tributaries of Ashburton and the fertile district of the River Cunningham. D. Lindsay, still under the auspices of Sir T. Elder, in 1891 repeated the exploration of the sandy desert crossing it first from Greek to south-west wind, then along the western edge up to the Kimberley. LA Wells, staying about the 123rd meridian, went up to Fitzroy from the 25th parallel, through a difficult region. In 1894 Horn, accompanied by Winnecke, the greatest Australian surveyor of that time, explored the James Range region in Central Australia. G. Hubbe in 1896 tried in vain to establish a communication between Oodnadatta and Coolgardie; D. Carnegie, in the same year and with the same purpose, from the south-western districts went up to Alexander Springs in the Kimberley, and returned to the starting point with a more western route, demonstrating the impossibility of drawing a road between the Kimberley and Coolgardie, the regions of greatest exploitation of gold at the time, and also proving that the internal desert did not contain traces of gold. Even Davidson, exploring between 1898 and 1900 the territory to the E. of the telegraph line from the 19th to the 22nd parallel, found unfavorable mineralogical conditions.

The gold fever calmed down somewhat, the searches for agricultural areas inland returned to honor and at the same time the problem of western communications between the S. and the N. reappeared.In 1902 Maurice and Murray crossed the continent along the 130th meridian, noting the desert conditions of the area traveled. Canning in 1906 made the journey from Wiluna (Perth) to the Kimberley and vice versa and, in his footsteps, the desired artery was shortly afterwards implemented. The cycle of great explorations can be said to be closed with the long journeys of T. Desiré, who in 1915 and 1916, starting from Oodnadatta, went first for three thousand leagues towards E., then for three thousand leagues towards the West, still studying the possibility of exploitation of vast desert areas.

Australia Exploration