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Mapping

Voyages of discovery

Europeans had been searching for rich new lands in the Southern Hemisphere long before Captain James Cook arrived on the east coast of Australia in 1770. Explore the State Library's incredible maps, journals, drawings and books.

The world in a book: the first atlases

In the Golden Age of Cartography, the first atlases combined the skills of the mapmaker with the ingenuity of the publisher.

A Map of Africa, Asia and the East Indies, 1599, by Evert Gijsbertsz

Throughout the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries decorated wall charts documented recent discoveries and expeditions, served as planning tools for future trading ventures, and attested to the wealth and power of their owners. But few wall charts are as beautifully illustrated as this example from 1599.

Leaving home

It was a six-week journey by sea from Australia to Egypt and after the excitement of enlistment, training and farewells some feelings of boredom were inevitable among the troops. 

Mapping the war

The Library holds hundreds of maps documenting the progress of the war. 

Matthew Flinders: placing Australia on the map

Flinders proved that Tasmania was an island, traced the coasts of the Australian continent and was the first person to use ‘Australian’ to describe the inhabitants of this land. He named nothing after himself.

French in Australia

The history of the French in Australia dates from the arrival of the La Perouse expedition at Botany Bay in January 1788, just days after the landing of the First Fleet.

Antarctica: modern adventures

Like many other nations, Australia was looking to the future after the turmoil of the Second World War. Several countries saw Antarctica as a potential source of territory, fishing and mineral resources.

Early Antarctic adventures

The subject of much speculation, the idea of an unknown southern land began with the ancient Greeks.

Looking north: Sydney's Upper North Shore

The Upper North Shore is one of the jewels of Sydney. Follow the development of this region from isolated bush and farmland to a prosperous residential area.

Hume and Hovell

The story of the intrepid adventurers who explored and opened up inland Australia.

Hunter Valley

Caergwrle (pronounced Ka-girlie) is situated on the Allyn River, in one of the most beautiful rural areas of the Hunter Valley.

Papua New Guinea (PNG): Forty years of independence

Although European navigators visited and explored the Papua New Guinea islands for 170 years, little was known of the Papua New Guinea inhabitants until the late 19th century.

Aviation in Australia

Aviation in Australia traces the history of flight from its infancy through to the twentieth century. 

The Dixson map collection

Explore the extensive collection of 16th to 20th century maps donated by Sir William Dixson.

From Terra Australis to Australia

Discover the original journals, logbooks, letters, paintings and drawings covering the voyage of the First Fleet, the mutiny on the Bounty and Matthew Flinders' journeys.

Thomas Livingstone Mitchell: mapmaker

A larger-than-life character whose passions included the study of fossils, poetry and the mechanical and scientific arts, Mitchell looms large in Australian colonial history.

The Spanish quest for Terra Australis

Spanish explorer Pedro Fernandes de Queirós' quest to discover Terra Australis is documented in a number of rare 'memorials' held by the Library.

Eora

Delve deep into the stories and lives of Indigenous Sydney before European settlement.

Lasseter's lost reef

Nothing captures the Australian imagination quite like the thought of striking it lucky. So it’s no surprise one of our greatest legends involves a search for a mysterious vein of gold.

Captain Cook’s voyages of discovery

Terra Australis Incognita – the unknown southern land. The existence (or not) of this mysterious, mythical place had been puzzled over since it was first hypothesised by the ancient Greeks and Romans

Leichhardt’s continental treks

On an expedition to cross the Australian continent from East to West, the celebrated explorer Ludwig Leichhardt (1813-1848) and his party disappeared.

The Tasman Map: two voyages to the southern ocean between 1642 and 1644

The story of the Tasman Map is a tale of mystery, discovery and a chance finding on the Nullarbor Plain.

Crossing the Blue Mountains

None of the settlers in Sydney knew what lay west of the Blue Mountains in the early 1800s. This vast natural barrier that stretched north and south beyond sight had thwarted all attempts to cross or go around it.