Tracks of McKinlay and party across Australia/Dates of Australian Discovery, Exploration, and Settlement





The reader may be interested in possessing for reference a concise view of the leading occurrences in the progress of the exploration of Australia, and the settlement of its colonies. There are now five of these colonies, which, in their order as to time of establishment, are as follows:—New South Wales, West Australia, South Australia, Victoria, and Queensland. We confine ourselves to a consideration of Australia, without alluding to Tasmania, New Zealand, and other adjacent islands that are comprised under the wider area of Australasia.



1601.—Earliest authenticated discovery of Australia, by Manoel Godinho de Heredia, a Portuguese. This discovery was usually ascribed to the Dutch, in the year 1606, until Mr Major, two years ago (in 1861) had deduced the earlier date from a manuscript he found in the British Museum.

1770.—The Eastern coast made known by Cook, and called New South Wales.

1798.—Discovery by Bass that Van Diemen's Land is not a continuation of Australia, but is separated by a strait, which has since borne his name, Bass's Strait.

1802.—Completion of the coast outline by Flinders, by the discovery of Spencer Gulf, Port Phillip, and the intervening coast.

1828-31.—The Darling and the Murray, forming the largest river system of Australia, discovered by Sturt.

1840.—The Australian Alps, the highest mountain range of Australia, explored by Strzelecki.

1840.—Eyre's difficult and hazardous journey overland, from the colony of South Australia to that of West Australia.

1844-5.—Leichhardt's important journey overland from New South Wales to Port Essington in North Australia.

1845.—Sturt reaches from the colony of South Australia, the middle of Australia; dispels the notion of a great inland sea, till then prevalent, and substitutes that of a great interior desert. This unprecedently bold expedition, in connection with his previous explorations, have deservedly procured for him the distinctive title of the "Father of Australian discovery."

1860.—Stuart reaches from South Australia, the central point of Australia (Central Mount Stuart), and passes on almost to the opposite sea. He, in turn, dispels the notion of a great central desert.

1861.—Burke and Wills, from Victoria, reach the Gulf of Carpentaria, thus first crossing Australia from sea to sea.

1862.—Stuart, McKinlay, and Landsborough all accomplish this year the expedition across Australia from sea to sea.


1788.—Foundation of the colony of New South Wales, 26th January, when Sydney was founded.

1793.—Introduction of the fine-woolled Merino sheep by Mr. John McArthur, a step of unsurpassed importance to the whole of Australia.

1829.—Foundation of the colony of West Australia.

1835.—The Port Phillip District (afterwards the colony of Victoria) colonized from Tasmania; and the site of Melbourne, the capital, occupied.

1836.—Foundation of the colony of South Australia.

1840.—Cessation of transportation to New South Wales. (The colony had been founded in 1788 as a penal settlement to the mother country.)

1843.—Representative political institutions conferred upon the Australian colonies (an Assembly consisting of one third nominees of the Governor, who is always nominated by the Crown, and of two-thirds elected by the colonists.

1850.—West Australia made a penal, settlement of the mother country.

1851.—Discovery of the Australian Gold Fields by Hargreaves, 12th February. Their existence was inferred, on scientific grounds, seven years previously by Sir R. I. Murchison.

1851.—The colony of Victoria established by separation of the district of Port Phillip from New South Wales, 1st July.

1851.—Ballarat, the earliest known of the great gold fields of Victoria, discovered in September.

1855.—Branch of the Royal Mint established at Sydney; came into operation on 13th May.

1855.—Responsible self-government conceded to the Australian colonies, West Australia excepted for the present. (Government by ministries with ministerial responsibility, as in the Home Government.)

1859.—The colony of Queensland established, by separation of the Moreton Bay District from New South Wales, December.