Landings List

A Timeline of unveiling Australia to the world


Includes the ‘AOTM Landings List 1606 – 1814’ from Willem Janszoon* to Louis de Freycinet and Matthew Flinders.

It is a datebase of concise information about  landings on and sightings of Australian coasts from recorded vessels from 1606 to 1814 in chronological order. 

Flags denote the nationality of the ships’ country of origin. Modern flags are used. All vessels’ names are in italics. Information sources are included in the book list.

Approximately 50.000 years ago
The first and original inhabitants of what is now called Australia entered, settled and then spread over the continent to develop many communities in different regions.
Before the fifteenth Century
In the Indian Ocean:  The Indian Ocean was navigated for seven thousand years along its Asian and African  shores.
During  Egypt’s first dynasty (c. 3000 BC), its vessels journeyed to Somalia (Punt).
Coast-bound vessels transported goods between the Harappa civilisation (2600–1900 BC) in India/Pakistan and the Persian Gulf and Egypt.
The monsoon winds also allowed ancient peoples from Taiwan and Borneo to cross the Indian Ocean to settle in Madascar  around 2000 BC. According to one DNA study, there is likely to have been some maritime in-migration from the subcontinent to Australia around 2500 BC, which is thought to have also brought the dingo.
Roman and Greek sailors sailed the Indian Ocean and gained knowledge about the reliable seasonal monsoon winds.
Almost all the small islands, archipelagos and atolls of the Indian Ocean were uninhabited until colonial times, except for the Maldives where an ancient civilization flourished.
In the Pacific: In prehistoric times important human migrations occurred into the Pacific. About 3000 BC the Austronesian peoples of Taiwan developed long-distance canoe travel to the  Philippines, Indonesia  and the rest of maritime Southeast Asia, towards Melanesia and the islands of Micronesia and Polynesia. Long-distance trade developed all along the coasts of both oceans from Mozambique to Japan. Trade and  knowledge extended to the Indonesian islands but apparently not Australia.
New Zealand  was one of the last lands to be settled by humans and  was first settled by Eastern Polynesians between 1250 and 1300.
Fifteenth Century
1404 to 1433
ZhengHe led maritime expeditions from China into the Indian Ocean even reaching the east coast of Africa.
Vasco da Gama led a fleet of four ships with a crew of 170 men from Lisbon on 8 July. By 16 December he rounded Cape of Good Hope. Da Gama became the first European to sail into the Indian Ocean that century, sailed north along the  African east coast calling at a number of ports there, then east to India. The fleet arrived in Kappadu near Callicut, India, on 20 May 1498. One ship arrived back in Lisbon on 10 July 1499,  Da Gama himself with another vessel  on 29 August 1499. The other two ships did not return. The two ships brought cargo that was said to be worth sixty times the cost of the expedition. It provided an incentive to continue the trade there.
Sixteenth Century
Several Portuguese expeditions to India followed and Portugal would trade in India and the Far East throughout much of the 16th century challenged only by pirates in the Atlantic.The Estada da India became the name of both the governing body of a string of Portuguese fortresses and the ‘state’ of Portuguese colonies in Asia.
Binot Paulmier de Gonneville set out to explore the Portuguese route to the Indies. His journal and ship were lost on the way back. Historians think the claim of him having visited the Unknown Southland (Terra Australis Incognita) is based on him having landed in Brazil. There is no evidence he reached the Indian Ocean. It lives on as an unresolved story.
From 1565
Spain founded a colony in the Philipines and and conducted trading voyages across the North Pacific from its colonial settlements in Mexico. Its ships thereby avoiding the Indian Ocean, honouring the Treaty of Zaragoza of 1529 with Portugal.
From 1577 Francis Drake sailed around the world in the Golden Hind, the only ship to return of six involved. He entered the Pacific south of  the Americas in September 1578 and  he started an era of privateering and piracy along the western coast of the Americas pillaging towns and ports on the west coast of South America and capturing a Spanish ship with gold treasure. He sailed through the Moluccas and crossed the Indian Ocean to go home via Cape of Good Hope. On 26 September 1580, Golden Hind sailed into Plymouth with Drake and the 59 men remaining of the six crews.
From 1595
A ‘first fleet’ of Dutch ships followed a Portuguese route, via the Cape of Good Hope  to the Moluccas. Other expeditions followed.  Several Dutch city based companies were set up and began trading in the Indies, clashing with the Portuguese, which they began to replace there.
Seventeenth Century
The VOC (Dutch East Indies Company) a merger of the Dutch companies that were trading on the Far East received its first monopolycharter and began to set up trading posts around the Indian Ocean, from Japan to Persia.  The (English) East India Company had received its Royal charter 14 months before.
After leaving Banda on 18 November 1605, around March 1606 Willem Janszoon* and his “Supercargo” Jan Lodewijkszoon van Rosingeyn and crew aboard the VOC ship Duyfken, charted about 300 km of the west coast of Cape York Peninsula in Queensland.
It is the first documented landing of Europeans on the shores of Australia.
From 1-9 October Louis Vaez de Torres sailed through the Torres Strait with the ship San Pedro and Los Tres Reyes, the first European recorded to have done so.
Hendrik Brouwer’s route to the Indies was established. It lead eastwards from Cape of Good Hope via the southern latitudes of the Indian Ocean for about 7500 km to turn north to Sunda Strait.
Its  frequent use from 1617 was the cause of a number of unplanned visits to the west coast.
On 25 October Dirk Hartog, skipper of the Eendracht, encountered Dirk Hartog Island off the coast of Western Australia. He moored there for three days while exploring the island before sailing away on 27 October. Before departing a pewter dish, ?the Hartog Plate?, was left recording the details of the visit. This is the second documented landing of Europeans on the coast of continental Australia.
In May Haevik Claeszoon van Hillegom sailed past North West Cape in the Zeewolf.
Lenaert Jacobszoon sailed past North West Cape in July of that year in the Mauritius and found a watercourse, Willems River, also referred to as Jacop Remetsz. River, now known as Yardie Creek. It was named after the Supercargo Willem Janszoon, former skipper of the Duyfken, who thus became the first navigator to enter Australian waters for a second time. He later wrote to the VOC in Amsterdam about the ‘discovery’ during this voyage of an island on the west coast. This island was actually North West Cape.
Frederik de Houtman and Jacob Dedel in command of the Dordrecht (skipper Janszoon Reiner) and the Amsterdam (skipper Korneliszoon Marten) encountered the west coast in the Swan River (Perth) region in July, noting Rottnest Island, which they thought was a cape, before sailing north to the Houtman-Abrolhos Islands, charted for the first time.
Three British ships sight Point Cloates’ of the west coast.
‘t Wapen van Hoorn ran aground near Shark Bay, but was refloated.
The crew of the Leeuwin mapped the south west coast of Western Australia noting a south coast trending eastwards. Cape Leeuwin was named after the ship.
Publication of VOC cartographer Hessel Gerritszoon’s map ”Mar del sur”, the oldest map in existence showing the part of Australia charted by the Duyfken in 1606.
The Tryall was wrecked off the West Australian coast, running aground on the Tryall Rocks. It is the first known European wreck on the Australian coastline. 46 people fled in two small vessels, including the captain John Brookes who was sailing for the (English) East India Company (EIC) and a further 93 were left to perish. ( I do that because sometimes the VOC is also called ‘the EIC’)
In January 1623 Jan Carstenszoon and Willem van Coolsteerdt in the Pera and the Arnhem landed on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula and sailed on to what is now Arnhem Land.
They named the Gulf of Carpentaria after Pieter de Carpentier, Governor-General of the VOC in the Indies.
Claes Hermanszoon in the Leijden landed south of Dirk Hartog Island and Australia’s first European baby was born here. The Leijden returned to the west coast in 1626.
The VOC vessel  Tortelduyff  was found  near the Houtman-Abrolhos Islands and escorted to Batavia. The island is named after it: Turtle Dove Island.
Daniel Janszoon Cock sailed along the coastline between Zuytdorp Cliffs and Dirk Hartog Island in the Leijden but did not land.
Commander Peter Nuyts and Skipper Francois Thijssen in ‘t Gulden Zeepaert charted the south coast of Australia as far as Fowler’s Bay. Their observations resulted inthe first map of any part of the Australian south coast as well as part of the South Australian coast.
They called the coast Nuytsland.
The Governor General of the Dutch ‘United East-Indies Company’ (VOC), Jan Pieterszoon Coen, was aboard the Galias when they nearly collided with the Albrolhos Islands in Western Australia. He recommended to the VOC that they map the continent.
Supercargo J. van Roosenburgh, with skipper David Pieterszoon de Vries, sailing in ‘t Wapen Van Hoorn, undertook further charting in the area around Dirk Hartog Island, adding to that done by the Eendracht in 1616.
Gerrit Frederikszoon de Witt sailed the Vianen along the North West Coast and charted 370 kilometres of the West Australian coastline.
The land charted was recorded on a 1628 VOC map as ‘G.F. de Wits Landt’.
June: The Batavia, with Commandeur Francisco Pelsaert on board, was wrecked on the Houtman-Abrolhos Islands and the Batavia Mutiny followed. First recorded armed conflict between Europeans in Australian history took place when the resistence to the Mutiny (the defenders), led by Wiebbe Hayes, built a ‘fort’ and held off attacks by the mutineers. After sailing in a small boat to Java for help, Pelsaert returned in the Sardam, put down the Mutiny, rescued the survivors, conducted trials and executed the sentences of the Mutineers.
November: Wouter Loos and Jan Pelgrom De Bye – two of the mutineers from the Batavia Mutiny – were provided with a small boat and the means of survival and left to fend for themselves at the mouth of the Hutt River. They were the first European settlers in Australia.
VOC ship Grooten Broeck  sailed along the west coast from Cape Leeuwin to Dirk Hartog Island ‘and then on to Batavia.
Wijbrandt Geleynszoon de Jongh in the Amsterdam charted the Western Australian coast around latitude 25 degrees S.
G.T. Pool and Piet Pieterszoon charted part of the Gulf of Carpentaria in the Klein Amsterdam and the Wesel.
Abel Janszoon Tasman in the Heemskerck, accompanied by Gerrit Janszoon the skipper of the Zeehaen, claimed Antonio Van Diemensland (now Tasmania), by having his Chief carpenter Pieter Jacobszoon swim ashore, plant a  pole marked ‘VOC’ with their Prince’s flag at North Bay, as the strong surf did not allow the launch to land. After returning to the ships they sailed to New Zealand, becoming the first to visit and chart part of New Zealand. They returned to Batavia via the Tongan and Fiji Islands and the north of New Guinea.
Abel Janszoon Tasman with the ships Limmen, Zeemeeuw and Braq charted 4000 km of the North Australian coast, but did not find the entrance to Torres Strait. In doing so he became the first navigator to have circumnavigated the continent in the course of the two voyages. More Details
Robert Dudley published the first map by an Englishman (in Latin) that includes part of the Australian coastline.
Jan Janszoon Zeeuw in the ship Leeuwerik charted  the Western Australian coastline at approximately 25-26 degrees S.
28 April: The Vergulde Draeck captained by Pieter Albertszoon was wrecked around 95 kms north of Perth. 7 men sailed to Batavia for help in a small boat. The 68 passengers and crew initially stranded on the coast were never seen again, despite the efforts of several VOC search parties.
The Goede Hoop and Witte Valcq searched for the missing 68 passengers and crew from the Vergulde Draeck. Because of bad weather only the Goede Hoop landed men to conduct a search. This was unsuccesful and a further 11 men were lost in the process. The captain and crew of the Vergulde Draeck were not found.
Flyboat Vincq, skippered by Joost Janszoon, also searched for the Vergulde Draeck survivors on its journey from Cape of Good Hope to Batavia, again without result.
Samuel Volkersen, in command of the Waekende Boey, and Aucke Pieter Jonck in the Emeloordt, continued the search for the missing Vergulde Draeck crew. Crew from the Waekende Boey landed both the mainland and on Rottnest Island. The first drawings of the Australian coast arose from this voyage.
Abraham Leeman and thirteen others, having been abandoned by Volkersen on the Green Islets off the central west coast of Western Australia, sailed back to the east end of Java in a small boat with almost no food or water. Only four survived the ordeal and made their way on foot along the south coast of Java to eventually arrive in Batavia.
Jacob Pieterszoon Peereboom in the Elburgh made landfall near Cape Leeuwin and later sailed into Geographe Bay. He briefly encountered some Aboriginal people and observed their huts and tools.
The Immenhorn, also known as the Emmenhorn, skippered by Dirk Dirkszoon Jonas, sailed from Cape Town on 18 February to the coast of Western Australia to search once more for the 68 marooned survivors from the Vergulde Draeck. It sailed up the coast, probably in late March or early April but was not able to land a shore party. Upon reaching Batavia the VOC decided to abandon its search for the Vergulde Draeck survivors.
Jan van der Wall charted the north west coast from North West Cape to Roebuck Bay in the Vliegende Zwaan.
Captain Daniel sailed in the New London around the northern part of the Abrolhos Islands and provided the first description of part of Australia in English as well as the first map of part of Australia in English.
On 4 August, Duquesne-Guitton sailing in the L’Oiseau while en route from Cape of Good Hope to the Kingdom of Siam (taking French Ambassador, Claude Ceberet to set up an Embassy), sighted and sailed up the WA coast in the vicinity of the Swan River. It is the first recorded French contact with Australia.
 Captain Read sailed the Cygnet, with William Dampier among the crew,  into King Sound or Collier Bay in Western Australia and stayed two months. While repairing their ship,  the crew had contact with Nimanburu people.
Searching for the Ridderschap van Holland, Willem de Vlamingh, in command of the Geelvinck, Nijptang and t Wezeltje, carried out detailed charting of many West Australian coasts. His crew travelled 80 kms inland on the Swan River, with the ship’s artist Victorszoon creating watercolours of the coast. De Vlamingh replaced Hartog’s pewter plate on Dirk Hartog Island with his own, and then charted Christmas Island on his return trip.
6 Aug: William Dampier in the Roebuck, named Shark Bay on the Western Australian coast after seeing many sharks, then also landed on Dirk Hartog Island. He was attacked by Karradjeri people at Lagrange Bay, south of Broome.
Eighteen century
Maarten van Delft, Andries Rooseboom, and Pieter Hendrikszoon , in the Nieuw Holland, the Waijer, and the Vosschenbosch visited the Tiwi islands and charted part of the north coast, from Arnhem Land as far west as the north Kimberley region and recorded extensive contacts with the Tiwi, Yolgnu and other Aboriginal groups.
The Zuytdorp was wrecked on the West Australian coast, 60 kms north of the mouth of the Murchison River. After some time, the survivors moved away, never to be seen again by Europeans. In 1927 remnants of the wreck were first reported. Coins helped to identify the wreck.
Jan Steyns’ Zeewijk was wrecked in June on the Pelsaert Group of the Abrolhos Islands. A boat was sent to raise the alarm but it disappeared. The crew of the Zeewijk then built a – called Sloepie –longboat from the and sailed back to Batavia wreckage. it was the first European sailing vessel built in Australia.
Under instructions from the Dutch Governor of Timor, to search for turtle grounds south of Timor, an unnamed Chinese trader encountered the north west coast of Australia, sailing along it for several days.
Jan Etienne Gonzal, in command of Rijder, and Lavienne Lodewijk van Asschens in the Buijs, explored the Gulf of Carpentaria, at times having extensive interaction with Indigenous Australians . While awaiting van Asschens, Gonzal unwittingly sailed through Torres Strait and back again, the first to do so since Torres, and 14 years before Cook.
Louis Antoine de Bougainville sailed in the Boudeuse and Etoile and was stopped 100 kms short of the east coast of Australia by the Great Barrier Reef.
James Cook charted the east coast of New Holland from Bass Strait to Possession Island in the Endeavour. He made landfall at several places including Botany Bay before sailing through Torres Strait. He claimed possession of the whole eastern coast for Great Britain from Point Hicks to Possession Island (near Cape York) giving it the name of New South Wales.
Francois Alesno de St Allouarn sailed the Gros Ventre along the West Australian coast from Cape Leeuwin to Shark Bay, where his officer Jean Mengaud de la Hage left a bottle claiming Australia for France, before sailing on to Melville Island.
Marc-Joseph Marion Dufresne sailed the Mascarin and the Marquis de Castries to Tasmania (Marion Bay and Blackman Bay) making the first direct European contact with the Tasmania Aborigines. Conflict with them brought about the death of the first Tasmanian Aborigine ”in defence of his home land”. After landing in New Zealand, 28 of the crew, including Marion, were killed and eaten by Maoris.
Tobias Furneaux in HMS Adventure, upon parting from Cook during his 2nd voyage in the Resolution, charted the east coast of Tasmania, recorded the position of the Furneaux Islands and landed at Adventure Bay; he then sailed to New Zealand.
James Cook on his second voyage to the Pacific, then master of the HMS Resolution, sighted and landed on the then uninhabited Norfolk Island. He was the first European to do so.
The island had been inhabited by East Polynesian seafarers for several generations evidently for a period from before the 15th century .
James Cook in HMS Resolution, on his third voyage, with Captain Clerke in Discovery, visited Australia for the second time. Due to damage to his mast and rigging Cook had sought refuge at Adventure Bay on 26 January 1777. They made repairs, and wooded and watered. There was also a brief encounter with some of the Paredarerme people. They departed on 30 January.
Arthur Phillip in the Supply, Sirius and nine other vessels comprising the ‘First Fleet’ began arriving at Botany Bay from 18 January. After exploring Cook’s Port Jackson from 22-23 January, the Fleet moved up the coast to Sydney Cove to establish a colony on 26th January.
Jean François Galaup Comte de La Pérouse sailed La Boussole and L’Astrolabe into Botany Bay and landed there as the First Fleet was moving to Sydney Cove. After moving north into the Pacific they disappeared near the Solomon Islands. Later it was discovered that the ships had been wrecked on the reefs at Vanikoro.
Lt. Ball in Supply, while voyaging between Port Jackson and Norfolk Island, discovered the uninhabited Lord Howe Island and the nearby Ball’s Pyramid.
William Bligh, set adrift in a long boat from Bounty by mutineers, found his way through the Great Barrier Reef, landed on and named Restoration Island end sailed northwards charting the coast. Then he sailed through Torres Strait to Timor, eventually reaching Manilla.
John Henry Cox in the Mercury (aka Gustaf III), on a Swedish privateering expedition to NW America, called at Amsterdam Island in the southern Indian ocean and charted Maria Island in southern Tasmania.
George Vancouver in Discovery and Chatham named various landmarks on the south coast of Western Australia, including King George Sound and landed where today Albany is located. He observed Aboriginal occupation.
Edward Edwards returned from Tahiti with some of the Bounty Mutineers in the Pandora, charted a stretch of the Great Barrier Reef east of Torres Strait and was then wrecked on Pandora reef. The survivors sailed to Timor in the ship’s boats.
John McCluer, in command of the English East India Company ships, Panther and Endeavour, after surveying the coasts of Papua and New Guinea, turned west to Benkulen in Sumatra via the northern Australia coast. This was the first English contact with Australia’s north coast.
Antoine Bruny d’Entrecasteaux sailed around Australia in the Recherche and the Espérance in search of La Pérouse. He visited Tasmania twice, charting part of it and having lengthy contact with Tasmanians.
The Italian-born captain Alessandro Malaspina on both an intelligence and scientific mission sailed in charge of the Spanish naval vessels Descubierta and Atrivida from the Philippines to Australia and landed 13 March in Sydney. He left 11 April for Tonga.
Sir John Hayes captained a private expedition to Tasmania and New Guinea; he explored and named the Derwent River and Risdon Cove and visited Adventure Bay, with the vessels Duchess of Bengal and Duke of Clarence from 24 April to 9 June.
William Robert Broughton, in command of His Majesty’s Frigate Providence, visited and surveyed Port Stephens in August 1795. Providence Bay, between Port Stephens and Broughton Islands, was subsequently named after this ship, which he had served on, under the command of William Bligh on his second breadfruit voyage to Tahiti in 1790-92. Salamander Bay is named after the Salamander, a convict ship that was the first European vessel to enter Port Stephens, in October 1791.
28 October to 3 November: George Bass and Matthew Flinders explored the Georges River in the small Tom Thumb I .
25 March to 2 April: Bass, Martin and Flinders took the small boat Tom Thumb II, explored the Port Kembla area and encounter many Aborigines. They charted Lake Illawarra, Wattamolla and Port Hacking.
Sydney Cove beached on Preservation Island off Tasmania while sailing from Bengal. 17 crew members reached the coast of Victoria near Lakes Entrance. They were the first Europeans to land in Victoria and the first Asians, as the group included a number of Bengali sailors. Three survived an epic journey to Port Jackson, including one Bengali. Master Gavin Hamilton suggested there may be a strait between Van Diemen’s Land and the rest of Australia
George Bass in a whaleboat  found coal near Wollongong.
George Bass sailed south from Port Jackson in a whaleboat to Western Port, charted the coast and confirmed that there is a strait between Tasmania and continental Australia.
Matthew Flinders, on his first command, sailed in the Norfolk to Tasmania, circumnavigating and charting it.
Nineteenth Century
The Kingston with Captain Thomas Dennis and the Elligood under Captain Christopher Dickson, both whalers stopped in King George Sound West Australian from 11 August to 5 September, after which they went to Oyster Harbour, where they left an inscribed metal plate, which was later found by Flinders’ crew.
Lt James Grant and John Murray sailed the Lady Nelson from England through Bass Stait to Port Jackson charting some of the last uncharted  Victorian coasts.
Emmanuel Hamelin’s junior officer Louis de Freycinet was with the crewmen who found the pewter plate on Dirk Hartog Island that De Vlamingh left there in 1697 (see above). Hamelin ordered it to be left there. Returning in 1818 Freycinet collected it and took it to Paris.
John Murray took Lady Nelson from Port Jackson , surveyed part of the Victorian coast and charted and named Port Phillip (January 1802).
Nicolas Baudin and Emmanuel Hamelin in the Géographe and the Naturaliste charted part of the West Australian coast, Denial Bay, Spencer’s Gulf and Kangaroo Island on the south coast, and the southern Tasmanian coasts. They return to Mauritius where Baudin died in September. Freycinet took command of the Casuarina, which had been purchased in Sydney, on the voyage back to France.
Matthew Flinders circumnavigated the continent in Investigator and completed charting of the south coast of Australia, as well as completed a more accurate survey of previously charted coasts. He met Baudin at Encounter Bay, South Australia on 8 April 1802.
Matthew Flinders drafted his manuscript map of the Australian coast while a prisoner at Mauritius and later took it to England.
Louis de Freycinet’s map of the Australian coast was published. It is the first full map of Australia. It was also included in his Atlas, published in Paris the following year.
Matthew Flinders published his Narrative in London and his map of Australia. His use of ”Australia” on the map anticipated  its adoption as the name for the continent.
Makassan fishermen collecting trepang from the Arnhem Land and Kimberley coasts, to sell to the Chinese, came from at least the early 18th century. Flinders recorded an encounter with them in his journal.

This ‘Landing List’ includes those navigators who made a recorded contact, including visual contact with Australia during the period, as well as some relevant landmarks in the mapping of Australia.


* Surnames ( Family names) were relatively uncommon in 17th century Holland. Names such as Janszoon or Carstenszoon, Willemsdochter were so called patronymics or names that referred to the first name of the father, and were in common use in 15th, 16th and 17th century Holland. In written form they were then often abbreviated as Jansz. , Carstensz. Willemsdr. etc., they were however usually pronounced in full, including the -zoon or -dochter. Because this form of abbreviation is not recognised as such in the English speaking world it is recommended that the full patronymic is always included in English texts, so the abbreviated patronymic is not perceived as the full name, as often often erroneously happens. They were not family names however. Some people like Abel Janszoon Tasman had a patronymic as well as as family name. Some patronymics were later used as family names although often in a slightly different form thereby becoming ‘frozen or petrified paronymics’ ( e.g. Janszoon to Jansen, Janssen, Jans etc.)

Janszoon is pronounced like Yahns-zone with dialectic differences. The ship Duyfken is acceptably pronounced dive-ken or dove-ken rather than doif-ken.