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Project Gutenberg Australia gratefully acknowledges the significant contribution of Sue Asscher in preparing many of the eBooks relating to Australian Explorers, which are available from this page.
Journals of Australian Land and Sea Explorers and Discoverers
In March1606 Willem Janszoon, on board the Duyfken, charted about 300 km of the west coast of Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. He is the first authenticated discoverer of Australia. From that time many seafarers made contact with the Australian coast including Torres, Hartog, Pelsaert, Dampier and Cook.
From the landing of the first fleet in 1788, the "new" inhabitants of Australia were desperate to know what lay beyond the mountains which rose about 50 kilometres inland from the coast and which formed a seeminly impenetrable barrier to exploration of the continent. There was a very practical reason for this need to know: their very survival seemed to depend on finding suitable land for grazing and cultivation. Beyond that, however, was the curiosity which has always driven men to discovery.
Gradually the map of the inland of the continent was drawn, first with the discovery, by Blaxland Lawson and Wentworth, of a way across the Blue Mountains, and then by men such as Sturt, Oxley, Eyre, Stuart, Giles, Leichhardt, and Burke and Wills. The outline of the continent was mapped by navigators including Cook, Flinders, King and Stokes.
At the time of their discoveries there was great interest in the exploits of these explorers and it was a was a common practice for them to prepare a journal of their expeditions for publication in England. Then, for more than a century afterwards, their exploits were taught in schools.
A reassessment has since taken place, where settlement is seen as invasion and exploration is seen as expropriation. Of course, these were men of their time and as such behaved in a way which would be unacceptable to us now. However, their courage, determination and curiosity shine through in their writing. Furthermore, in reading their journals we are able to take part in the journeys which they made. Sue Asscher, who prepared many of the ebooks listed below, summed it up very well when she commented "I do love and hate the explorers: they kill anything that moves, turn turtles over, poke through graves, look up grass skirts, take things for further examination never to be returned, scoff at anything superstitious, etc. taking notes all the time...and then call, with a sneer, some native girls who come to take a look at them, the explorers, 'the inquisitive sex'".
We have here at Project Gutenberg Australia, in ebook form, one of the most comprehensive collections in the world of the journals of Australian explorers. Furthermore, the 'HTML' versions contain the illustrations which were included in the original publications. Click on the explorer's name to see an image of the explorer, biographical information, and a sketch map of the routes travelled. Also see the Australian Explorers page for more information about Australian land and sea exploration.
Gregory BLAXLAND (1778-1853)
David CARNEGIE (1871-1900)
William CARRON (1821-1876) (A survivor of Kennedy's Expedition to Cape York in 1848)
James COOK (1728-1779)
William DAMPIER (1651-1715)
Edward John EYRE (1815-1901)
Matthew FLINDERS (1774-1814)
Updated 16 January 2013