( ô-strāl′yə )
- A continent located in the Southern Hemisphere between the South Pacific and Indian Oceans.
- Part of the British Commonwealth which comprises this continent and Tasmania. A total of 2,974,581 square miles. Its official name is the Commonwealth of Australia.
Exploration of Australia
Dutch and English sailors mapped much of the Pacific and its silands, especially Captain James Cook who explored the coast of eastern Australia and the Pacific coast of North America as well as discovering the Hawaiian islands. Settlement in Australia by the English soon began after Captain Cook's voyage but interior exploration came at a somewhat later time. The first expeditions to cross and explore Australia was extremely dangerous due to expansive waterless deserts which covered much of the continent's terrain.
Charles Sturt explored the river systems of southeast Australia in 1828-1830 and Thomas Mitchell continued the same type of exploration between 1831-1836. Ludwig Leichhardt crossed tropical northern Australia (1844-1845). He disappeared on a cross-Australian expedition in 1848.
The most significant exploration began in the early 19th century when two explorers opened a route between Sydney (one of the earliest settlements in Australia) and Melbourne. This expedition was headed by English-born Hamilton Hume and Australian-born William Hovell.
Edward John Eyre, an English explorer was the first European to make a major overland journey from east to west. The journey he undertook in 1840-1841 followed closely along the southern coast. The first Europeans to almost succeed in crossing Australia from south to north, using camels, were led by Irish explorer Robert O'Hara Burke and William John Wills, an English explorer.
One expedition began in Melbourne, beginning in 1860 consisted of these explorers, with the destination of the Gulf of Carpentaria which they reached in 1861. However, on their return trip they succumbed to starvation.
John McDouall Stuart of Scotland who had finally succeeded on his third attempt in 1961-1862, to travel between Adelaide to the site of Port Darwin. Charles Stuart of England was also famed for exploring much of Australia during the mid 19th century.
The Stuart expedition across Australia in the 1800's