population did not much exceed 200,000. A remnant of the race exists in each of the provinces, while a few tribes still wander over the interior.
1. The Discovery of Australia.
It is impossible to say who were the first discoverers of Australia, although there is evidence that the Chinese had some knowledge of the continent so far back as the 13th century. The Malays, also, would seem to have been acquainted with the northern coast; while Marco Polo, who visited the East at the close of the 13th century, makes reference to the reputed existence of a great southern continent. There is in existence a map, dedicated to Henry VIII. of England, on which a large southern land is shown, and the tradition of a Terra Australis appears to have been current for a long period before it enters into authentic history.
In 1503 a French navigator named Binot Paulmyer, sieur de Gonneville, was blown out of his course, and landed on a large island, which was claimed to be the great southern land of tradition, although Flinders and other authorities are inclined to think that it must have been Madagascar. Some French authorities confidently put forward a claim that Guillaume le Testu, of Provence, sighted the continent in 1531. The Portuguese also advance claims to be the first discoverers of Australia, but so far the evidence cannot be said to establish their pretensions. As early as 1597 the Dutch historian, Wytfliet, describes the Australis Terra as the most southern of all lands, and proceeds to give some circumstantial particulars respecting its geographical relation to New Guinea, venturing the opinion that, were it thoroughly explored, it would be regarded as a fifth part of the world.
Early in the 17th century Philip III. of Spain sent out an expedition from Callao, in Peru, for the purpose of searching for a southern continent. The little fleet comprised three vessels, with the Portuguese pilot, De Quiros, as navigator, and De Torres as admiral or military commander.De Torres. They left Callao on the 21st of December 1605, and in the following year discovered the island now known as Espiritu Santo, one of the New Hebrides group, which De Quiros, under the impression that it was indeed the land of which he was in search, named La Austrialia del Espiritu Santo. Sickness and discontent led to a mutiny on De Quiros’ vessel, and the crew, overpowering their officers during the night, forced the captain to navigate his ship to Mexico. Thus, abandoned by his consort, De Torres, compelled to bear up for the Philippines to refit, discovered and sailed through the strait that bears his name, and may even have caught a glimpse of the northern coast of the Australian continent. His discovery was not, however, made known until 1792, when Dalrymple rescued his name from oblivion, bestowing it upon the passage which separates New Guinea from Australia. De Quiros returned to Spain to re-engage in the work of petitioning the king to despatch an expedition for the purpose of prosecuting the discovery of the Terra Australis. He was finally successful in his petitions, but died before accomplishing his work, and was buried in an unknown grave in Panama, never being privileged to set his foot upon the continent the discovery of which was the inspiration of his life.
During the same year in which De Torres sailed through the strait destined to make him famous, a little Dutch vessel called the “Duyfken,” or “Dove,” set sail from Bantam, in Java, on a voyage of discovery. This ship entered the Gulf of Carpentaria, and sailed south as far as Cape Dutch
discoverers. Keerweer, or Turn-again. Here some of the crew landed, but, being attacked by natives, made no attempt to explore the country. In 1616 Dirk Hartog discovered the island bearing his name. In 1622 the “Leeuwin,” or “Lioness,” made some discoveries on the south-west coast; and during the following year the yachts “Pera” and “Arnheim” explored the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Arnheim Land, a portion of the Northern Territory, still appears on many maps as a memento of this voyage. Among other early Dutch discoverers were Edel; Pool, in 1629, in the Gulf of Carpentaria; Nuyts, in the “Guide Zeepaard,” along the southern coast, which he called, after himself, Nuyts Land; De Witt; and Pelsaert, in the “Batavia.” Pelsaert was wrecked on Houtman’s Abrolhos; his crew mutinied, and he and his party suffered greatly from want of water. The record of his voyage is interesting from the fact that he was the first to carry back to Europe an authentic account of the western coast of Australia, which he described in any but favourable terms. It is to Dutch navigators in the early portion of the 17th century that we owe the first really authentic accounts of the western coast and adjacent islands, and in many instances the names given by these mariners to prominent physical features are still retained. By 1665 the Dutch possessed rough charts of almost the whole of the western littoral, while to the mainland itself they had given the name of New Holland. Of the Dutch discoverers, Pelsaert was the only one who made any detailed observations of the character of the country inland, and it may here be remarked that his journal contains the first notice and description of the kangaroo that has come down to us.
In 1642 Abel Janszoon Tasman sailed on a voyage of discovery from Batavia, the headquarters of the governor and council of the Dutch East Indies, under whose auspices the expedition was undertaken. He was furnished with a yacht, the “Heemskirk,” and a fly-boat, the “Zeehaen” (or “Sea Hen”), under the command of Captain Jerrit Jansen. He left Batavia on what has been designated by Dutch historians the “Happy Voyage,” on the 14th of August 1642. After a visit to the Mauritius, then a Dutch possession, Tasman bore away to the south-east, and on the 24th of November sighted the western coast of the land which he named Van Diemen’s Land, in honour of the governor under whose directions he was acting. The honour was later transferred to the discoverer himself, and the island is now known as Tasmania. Tasman doubled the southern extremity of Van Diemen’s Land and explored the east coast for some distance. The ceremony of hoisting a flag and taking possession of the country in the name of the government of the Netherlands was actually performed, but the description of the wildness of the country, and of the fabulous giants by which Tasman’s sailors believed it to be inhabited, deterred the Dutch from occupying the island, and by the international principle of “non-user” it passed from their hands. Resuming his voyage in an easterly direction, Tasman sighted the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand on the 13th of December of the same year, and describes the coast-line as consisting of “high mountainous country.”
The first English navigator to sight the Australian continent was William Dampier, who made a visit to these shores in 1688, as supercargo of the “Cygnet,” a trader whose crew had turned buccaneers. On his return to England he published an account of his voyage, which resulted in his being Dampier. sent out in the “Roebuck” in 1699 to prosecute his discoveries further. To him we owe the exploration of the coast for about 900 m.—from Shark’s Bay to Dampier’s Archipelago, and thence to Roebuck Bay. He appears to have landed in several places in search of water. His account of the country was