Prelude: Towards an Outline

Mission Statement: 

  • To provide the historical context in which the five voyages that delivered an outline of North Queensland's coastline before the First Fleet arrived in Sydney harbour.
  • To investigate possible visits to Australia's shores between the arrival of the First Peoples and the first approaches of European explorers.
  • To investigate the circumstantial case for the Portuguese primacy in the "discovery" pf Australia.


Over two thousand years ago, Greek scientists and philosophers realised that the earth is spherical, and had even arrived at a remarkably accurate estimate of the planet's size. They also realised that the world they knew (the oikoumene) accounted for no more than half of the northern hemisphere. Perceptions and Misconceptions investigates notions about what lay in the parts of the planet that Europeans had not yet encountered.

Pre-European Contacts investigates possible visits to Australia's shores before European travellers entered 'the neighbourhood'. Information derived from such visits is seen as shaping the expectations of the European travellers who approached these shores.

Europeans Head Outwards traces the history of European exploration as Portuguese, Spanish, English, French and Dutch travellers moved into previously uncharted waters.

The Portuguese Question examines the circumstantial case for a Portuguese "discovery" of Australia in the first quarter of the sixteenth century.

Spanish, English and Dutch Approaches and French Interest brings European travellers from the respective nations into the waters around Australia.

From there, Five Voyages deals with the expeditions that eventually delivered an almost-complete outline of the Northern coastline. That carries the story as fat as the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788.

© Ian Hughes 2017