Aussie Educator

Australian Exploration

Due to current circumstances, this page has been updated but will no longer be added to or maintained until further notice.

Being at the end of the world and with such a large and often desolate landscape, exploration was essential both for discovery and development. Early sea explorers came from several nations, but the British created the colonies. Increasing population, commercialism, inquisitiveness, and often mislaid beliefs such as an Inland Sea, possible gold reefs and more, saw people opening up new areas and connecting settlements.

This page covers sea and land exploration, before and after settlement, the explorers involved, Aboriginal assistance and more. Australian information is supplied where possible.

There are also journals, databases, primary documents, reference material and other information where these are seen as relevant.

Pre 1788 Exploration

Chinese Exploration of Australia

Did the Chinese actually explore the Australian coast ?

Cook, Captain James

Dampier, William

Dutch Explorers

  • They Set Sail from Holland
    ‘Dedicated to the Dutch who sailed and explored the shores of Australia’. Specific information, linked pages.
  • The Voyagie [VOC]
    The Duyfken and other Dutch voyages. Linked to events surrounding the building of the replica.

Tasman, Abel Janzsoon

Top of Page

Land Exploration

Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth

Burke and Wills

A major exploration and an avoidable tragedy.

  • Burke and Wills
    Journey from Melbourne to the northern coast. Two versions available. This is the easier of the two.
  • Burke & Wills - Terra Incognita
    State Library of Victoria. Background, preparations, the explorers, expedition, aftermath, archival information.
  • Welcome to Burke & Wills Web
    Everything you want to know, see and learn. Information, documentation, books, memorials, bibliography, links, downloads of relevant material in various formats.

Eyre, Edward John

Hume & Hovell

Kennedy, Edmund

Leichhardt, Ludwig

Mitchell, Major Thomas

Oxley, John

Stuart, John McDouall

Sturt, Charles

Top of Page

Sea Exploration, 1788 -

Major sea explorers in Australia.

Bass, George

Flinders, Matthew

  • The Flinders Papers
    ‘Transcripts of over 150 documents about Flinders’s life and work’. Section “About Flinders” is good.
  • Matthew Flinders
    Electronic archive at the State Library of New South Wales.

French Explorers

In some instances, these explorations overlapped 1788.

Top of Page

Other Information

General Sites

  • Australian Discovery
    Edited by Ernest Scott, available online. Initial discoveries, land exploration. In 2 volumes.
  • Australian Discovery -
    “1606 and all that - early maritime contact with Australia”. ‘Its aim is to help Australians to know their early Maritime Contact History better’.
  • Australian Explorers
    Primary level. Information about major explorers, other links.
  • Australian Explorers [2]
    Explorers from Batman [John] to Wilkins. Wikipedia.
  • Australia on the Map
    ‘Our focus is particularly on the many Mariners who [whether by accident or design] charted our coasts - and put Australia on the Map’. Journeys, events, conferences, links, more.
  • Updated ! Early Explorers []
    Traversing the Continent. General introduction, then a series of information on major explorations. Embedded links to further information.
  • Encounters with Aborigines, 1606-1756
    ‘From the book - “Before the First Fleet” by John Kenny’.
  • Landings List 1606 - 1814
    ‘Database of selected landings on the Australian coast from 1606 to 1814 in chronological order with brief narrative of the essentials’.
  • Nineteenth Century Exploration of Australia
    Based on a map produced in 1893. Information on explorers.
  • South Seas
    ‘Voyaging and Cross-Cultural Encounters in the Pacific [1760-1800]’. Accounts, maps, cultural atlases, Indigenous histories, European reactions, reference works, research.
  • Taking It To The Edge, Coast : Flinders and Baudin
    From the State Library of South Australia. Maps and information.
  • The History of Australian Exploration from 1788 to 1888
    ‘Compiled from State Documents, Private Papers and the most authentic sources of information. Issued under the auspices of the Government of the Australian Colonies’. By Ernest Favenc, 1888. The file is also available for download.


Original journals, descriptions, etc., either online or in ebook format.

Top of Page