The historical detail for the reasons I claim Australia did not exist before the 26th of January 1788 is in chapter 2 (the relevant section below) of my book Prison Hulk to Redemption. The philosophical arguments about what it means to be a people are in my essay Edmund Burke on what it means to be a people. Both should be in read in combination to appreciate the full argument.
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A brief account of the early years of the Colony
On the 28th of April 1770, the then Lieutenant James Cook steered his ship, Endeavour, into a broad open bay and dropped anchor at its southern shore. He named it Stingray Bay because of the abundance in its waters of stingrays on which his crew gorged. He later crossed out Stingray Bay in the ship’s logs and entered Botany Bay in tribute to Botanist Joseph Banks, the ship’s eager scientist. Banks had put together an impressive collection of specimens of unknown plants and animals after trekking around the land bordering the bay’s shores.
Cook and Endeavour were on their way back to England after carrying out the official task of observing the transit of Venus from the island of Tahiti. There were also unofficial tasks one of which was to investigate the existence of the South Land whose ancient mythology promised great riches of all kinds. From Roman times, it had been called Terra Australis Incognita – Unknown South Land. The search for the mysterious land of the south had occupied the Portuguese, the Dutch, the Spanish, and lately the English in the person of William Dampier (1688 and 1689). Dampier added little to the findings of the Dutch seamen.Continue reading Australia did not exist before the 26th of January 1788