Discovering Australia: what happened?
In the seventeenth century, European ships sailed the seas. In this competition between nations, the Dutch are plagiarizing a large part of the
Indian Ocean Since the powerful Dutch East India Company established its base in Batavia (today
Jakarta), very close to the places where precious spices are produced and traded. Many ships depart from Amsterdam and, after calling in Cape Town, cross the Indian Ocean “through”, that is, from southwest to northeast.
The straight line is not always the shortest
Until 1611, the explorer Hendrik Breuer discovered a twice as fast route to Batavia. Once you have passed the Cape of Good Hope, you no longer have to follow the African coast, but at 34 degrees south latitude, turn east. Thus, we find ourselves at the other end of the Indian Ocean, and there, after turning left, we turn north to get directly to Batavia.
Our geographical regions
But there was a problem… At that time, we knew how to measure latitude: a plain with the sun at its highest point. But longitudes are poorly measured, requiring precise clocks to determine some kind of time difference. On ships, the longitude that decides to dive north has been roughly estimated, and depends on the captain and his watch.
However, this southern route was the origin of the discovery of Australia by Europeans. In 1616, Dirk Hartog left Holland, crossed the Cape of Good Hope and made his way to Java by taking the Highway. He missed his left turn, went too far to the east and caught land at the apex of the stream Shark Bay in central Western Australia. He landed on an island that still bears his name. He plants a post there and attaches a pewter plate bearing an inscription attesting to his passage.
much later, In 1697, Captain Willem de Vlaming dropped anchor off Dirk Hartog Island. There he finds the plate nailed to the shaft, opened, and sealed a new plate with updated inscriptions. This is how these lands were called “New Holland”.
Land ownership: from saucers to bottles
The Frenchman Louis Aleno de Saint-Alorn landed in New Holland in 1772 at Cape Leeuwen, still on the west coast, but to the south. It goes up the coast to the north. At the end of March, he approached Dirk Hartog Island. Not having seen Dutch Plate, he took possession of this enormous sector of New Holland, some 1,000 kilometers away, in the name of King Louis XV.
According to custom, bottles containing scrolls claiming possession of this were buried on the western coast of Australia. To avoid any disagreement, the little chest contains two silver shields with an effigy of the king. Despite this gesture of acquisition, France made no follow-up to this acquisition.
At the other end of what is now Australia, the English got up late. The English captain Arthur Phillip captured the Sydney area in January 1788 and settled there a colony of convicts numbering a thousand people. east New Holland now english.
When do we know Australia is an island?
The realization that it is a single continent dates back to 1802 when Baudin’s expedition was sent
Bonaparte He meets the Englishman Flinders, who leaves a year later.
At the end of 1802, Baudin’s voyage stopped on the small island northwest of Tasmania, the current King Island. Unlike the French, Flinders did not aim to do natural history but to map as quickly as possible in order to assert English supremacy over New Holland. Thanks to Flinders Maps, it’s officially New Holland Australia for the British Admiralty.
During the restoration, Louis-Claude de Freycin stopped by Shark Bay and drops anchor on Dirk Hartog Island. Freycinet finds the dish—then the second—which Vlamingh left… takes it back to France where it is deposited… in
National Museum of Natural History in 1821. It was finally returned to the Australian government in 1947.
For Australia, the Dutch and French were much more “sublime” than the English who wanted a continent for themselves, even if they had a hard time living there: too huge, too barren, too hostile.