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.
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.
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.
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.
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.