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Theory of the Portuguese discovery of Australia (wikipedia.org)
12 points by benbreen on Sept 19, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 3 comments

Anyone even casually interested in Australian history should seriously read "Girt: The unauthorised history of Australia" by David Hunt.

It's absolutely hilarious, and seriously eye opening to read all the interesting stories and facts that we aren't taught about in school. It's very much entertainment, over serious history, but (apparently) it's all quite accurate and has taught me a lot that I never knew about my own country's history.

A fun fact about the name of Australia is that it's kind of a mistake, and the name should have been applied to Antarctica.

Terra Australis (Latin for South Land) is a hypothetical continent first posited in antiquity and which appeared on maps between the 15th and 18th centuries. The existence of Terra Australis was not based on any survey or direct observation, but rather on the idea that continental land in the Northern Hemisphere should be balanced by land in the south. This theory of balancing land has been documented as early as the 5th century on maps by Macrobius, who uses the term Australis on his maps.

In the early 1800s, British explorer Matthew Flinders popularized the naming of Australia after Terra Australis, giving his rationale that there was "no probability" of finding any significant land mass anywhere more south than Australia. The continent that would come to be named Antarctica would be explored decades after Flinders' 1814 book on Australia, which he had titled A Voyage to Terra Australis, and after his naming switch had gained popularity.


As the article notes, hard evidence is unlikely to turn up. The Portuguese would have kept any such discovery secret as a matter of policy and the Great Lisbon Earthquake would have destroyed any maps that had been developed.

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