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Conference program

The program will be updated shortly.

Due to the current COVID-19 situation in Sydney we have decided to postpone the conference until early 2022. We will update website as soon as a date and program has been confirmed.

Preliminary program

Notes from a Pacific navigator — John Webster Te Kapene Thatcher

A presentation on mapping the heavens and the navigational knowledge required to cross the Pacific without conventional instruments.

Positioning the earth in the eighteenth century: mapping the cosmographical and terraqueous globes — Matthew Edney

Archetypes of the global imaginary, world maps enable readers to ‘see’ the earth in a manner that cannot be achieved in reality. This paper contrasts two global imaginaries and reinterprets the supposed Enlightenment reformation of mapping as entailing not the displacement of imagination by experience but a shift in cultural dominance from one imaginary to the other.

The cartographic search for a Southern Pacific Ocean coastline - Dr Robert Clancy

This presentation follows the cartographic record of discovery, pushing the limits of the Pacific ever south to the Antarctic coastline. Milestones include Spain’s foray into the southern Pacific with voyages by Mendana (1567, 1595) and de Queirós (1605); Dutch exploration south of Tierra del Fuego by Le Maire and Schouten (1616); and Cook’s circumnavigation confining any southern land to within the Antarctic Circle (1772–75).

Marco Polo and maps of the sixteenth century — Richard Pegg

Marco Polo (1254–1324) shared a prison cell in Genoa with Rustichello da Oisa (fl. late 13th c), who penned The Travels of Marco Polo in around 1298. It represents the first descriptions of a range of countries and civilisations across Asia as seen by a European, during more than sixteen years of travel. The subsequent numerous editors and copyists, some 140 extent manuscripts thus far, have misspelt toponyms and modified texts in ways we can never clarify. Two hundred years later, in the sixteenth century when the Age of Discovery produced maps of the world, Polo’s toponyms and descriptions were an accepted source of reference for mapmakers.

Magellan’s Straits or round the Horn?: The British discourse on passing from Atlantic to Pacific, 1670–1770 — Katherine Parker

Perhaps the most ubiquitous and quotidian legacy of Magellan’s ground-breaking circumnavigation is the eponymous toponym used for the straits between Atlantic and Pacific. While he was the first known European to traverse them, Magellan was certainly not the last, and these later navigators left their own marks on the understanding of these strategic waterways. This paper will investigate the mapping and description of the straits by English/British voyages.

The Spanish contribution to the exploration and mapping of the South Pacific (1770–75) at the time of Captain James Cook: Knowledge exchange in the South Sea — Mirela Altic

This paper analyses the Spanish contribution to the exploration of the South Pacific at the time of Captain James Cook, focusing on three expeditions. The expedition of Captain Don Felipe González de Ahedo arrived on Easter Island in 1770, two years before James Cook. González claimed the island in the name of the Spanish Crown and, with the help of his navigator Juan Hervé, conducted detailed mapping of the island. The said navigator would play a key role in the next two Spanish expeditions sent to the South Pacific by the Viceroy of Peru, Manuel de Amat y Junyen.

Magellan, the Pacific Ocean and the search for the anti-meridian — Dick Phflederer

For many, the key achievement of the 1519–21 voyage of Ferdinand Magellan and his fleet of five ships is embodied by the fact of circumnavigation. But in fact, circumnavigation was never an objective of the Magellan–Faleiro project. The two key goals of the voyage were: 1) to establish that the Moluccas were located within the Spanish hemisphere as defined by the Treaty of Tordesillas; and 2) to demonstrate outbound and return itineraries that did not require entering Portuguese-controlled waters.

Why map whales? — Stephen Martin

Martin uses several whaling maps and projects relating to whaling maps to discuss the motivations and purposes of mapmakers creating maps that show whaling grounds, migration routes and sites of whaling stations. Depicting territorial or commercial claims, historical or scientific sources, these maps reveal fascinating insights into the story of whales and whaling in the Pacific.

‘To send a small establishment thither’: The role of Norfolk Island in the establishment and survival of the New South Wales colony — Ian Hoskins

This paper uses the State Library’s map collection and other documentary sources to explore the foundational role of Norfolk Island. The island was regarded from the outset as a part of the British colony and Governor Phillip was directed to ‘send a small establishment thither’ as soon as practical. Tiny unpopulated Norfolk, thereby, became the first Pacific satellite for the colony, and the first step in the new connection of the continent to its Pacific region.

Highlights from the Stokes collection — Erica Persak

The Kerry Stokes Collection has a strong commitment to the narrative of Australia’s foundation and subsequent development. The cartographic items in the collection range from globes, atlases, manuscript and published maps. The maps in the Kerry Stokes Collection chronicle the early discovery and exploration of Australia. The collection documents European contact with Australia and specifically with Western Australia, and contains seminal maps that record Dutch, and nineteenth century French and English contact with the western edge of the continent.

Early cartographic visions of the Pacific — Catherine Akeroyd

Catherine will examine some of the imagery in the Pacific on a selection of sixteenth and seventeenth century maps to illustrate how scientific, cultural, and political arguments were advanced to claim the Spice Islands, commemorate Magellan’s accomplishment, advertise the mapmaker’s technical skills, and proclaim that the way was open for commercial and colonial activities.

Cook and the Pirates — Isabella Alexander and Mark Leeming

This paper explores the manner in which the courts sought to tread a finer line between allowing the new knowledge generated by the voyages (and paid for out of the public purse) to be circulated; and upholding the property rights of copyright owners.













Chairman of organising committee

Maggie Patton
Manager, Research and Discovery, State Library of New South Wales

Representing international partners

Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM DSc FRACP FRS(N)



State Library of New South Wales
1 Shakespeare Place
Sydney NSW 2000

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The conference is being organised by the State Library of New South Wales in collaboration with the Australian and New Zealand Map Society, the Society for the History of Discoveries and the International Map Collectors Society.

Australian and New Zealand Map Society logo.

Society for the History of Discoveries logo.

International Map Collectors Society logo.

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