5 – Captain Cook Was the First European to Discover Australia’s East Coast
This is certainly one of the most prevailing exploration myths as some historians seem keen to ignore evidence which suggests Captain James Cook was not the first European to discover Australia. It is bizarre to find that Cook is treated reasonably well by history given the fact he was, by all accounts, a deeply unpleasant individual who had no hesitation in whipping subordinates nor did he care about native villages as he burned them down.
He is said to be the first European to discover the Eastern coastline of Australia when he arrived in 1770 but that is not the case. Certainly, the idea that no other European had landed in Australia before him is complete nonsense. A Dutch navigator named Willem Janszoon arrived and landed at what is today known as the town of Weipa. Several other Europeans followed suit before Cook made his mark.
Spanish explorers had been sailing in the Pacific Ocean for 300 years before Cook’s arrival in Australia and it seems impossible to suggest that they didn’t discover such a vast land mass during that time. The Dieppe Maps are possibly the most compelling proof of this fact. These maps were created in the French town of Dieppe during the 16th century and clearly show almost all of the continent’s coastline including the east coast. It is also likely that the Dieppe maps were actually copies of Portuguese maps. As well as using copies of Abel Tasman’s maps, Cook probably used stolen Spanish maps to make his way around the Pacific Ocean.
Additionally, a number of artifacts that pre-date Cook’s arrival have been found but are largely ignored by mainstream Australian historians and archaeologists. In 2014, a teenage boy found a 16th century swivel gun in Darwin and a skull belonging to a 16th century European male was discovered in New South Wales. Other artifacts include a rapier sword blade and ship’s bell from the 16th century and African coins from the 12th century. In other words, the evidence suggests that Cook was beaten to the punch by a number of explorers. Of course, this could be seen as irrelevant because Australian Aborigines have inhabited the land for approximately 50,000 years!