New Holland (Australia)

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New Holland as mapped on a Coronelli globe commissioned in 1681 Globe Coronelli Map of New Holland.jpg
New Holland as mapped on a Coronelli globe commissioned in 1681

New Holland (Dutch : Nieuw Holland) is a historical European name for mainland Australia. The name was first applied to Australia in 1644 by the Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman. The name came to be applied to the whole "Southern land" or Terra Australis , though the coastline of the continent had still not been fully explored; but after the British settlement in Sydney in 1788 the territory to the east of the continent claimed by Britain was named New South Wales, leaving the western part as New Holland. New Holland continued to be used semi-officially and in popular usage as the name for the whole continent until at least the mid-1850s.

Dutch language West Germanic language

Dutch(Nederlands ) is a West Germanic language spoken by around 24 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is the third most widely spoken Germanic language, after its close relatives English and German.

Australia (continent) Continent on the Earths Southern and Eastern hemispheres

The continent of Australia, sometimes known in technical contexts by the names Sahul, Australinea or Meganesia to distinguish it from the country of Australia, consists of the land masses which sit on Australia's continental plate. This includes mainland Australia, Tasmania, and the island of New Guinea. Situated in the geographical region of Oceania, it is the smallest of the seven traditional continents in the English conception.

Dutch people or the Dutch are a Germanic ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Aruba, Suriname, Guyana, Curaçao, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United States. The Low Countries were situated around the border of France and the Holy Roman Empire, forming a part of their respective peripheries, and the various territories of which they consisted had become virtually autonomous by the 13th century. Under the Habsburgs, the Netherlands were organised into a single administrative unit, and in the 16th and 17th centuries the Northern Netherlands gained independence from Spain as the Dutch Republic. The high degree of urbanization characteristic of Dutch society was attained at a relatively early date. During the Republic the first series of large-scale Dutch migrations outside of Europe took place.



Nova Hollandia during the Golden Age of Dutch explorations and discovery

Melchisedech Thevenot (1620?-1692): Map of New Holland 1644, based on a map by the Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu. Thevenot - Hollandia Nova detecta 1644.png
Melchisédech Thévenot (1620?-1692): Map of New Holland 1644, based on a map by the Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu.

The name New Holland was first applied to western and north coast of Australia in 1644 by the Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman, best known for his discovery of Tasmania (called by him Van Diemen's Land). The English Captain William Dampier used the name in his account of his two voyages there: the first arriving on 5 January 1688 and staying until March 12; [1] his second voyage of exploration to the region was made in 1699. [2] Except for giving its name to the land, neither the Netherlands nor the Dutch East India Company claimed any territory in Australia as its own. Although many Dutch expeditions visited the coast during the 200 years after the first Dutch visit in 1606, there was no lasting attempt at establishment of a permanent settlement. Most of the explorers of this period concluded that the apparent lack of water and fertile soil made the region unsuitable for colonisation.

Abel Tasman Dutch seafarer, explorer and merchant

Abel Janszoon Tasman was a Dutch seafarer, explorer, and merchant, best known for his voyages of 1642 and 1644 in the service of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). He was the first known European explorer to reach the islands of Van Diemen's Land and New Zealand, and to sight the Fiji islands.

Tasmania island state of Australia

Tasmania is an island state of Australia. It is located 240 km (150 mi) to the south of the Australian mainland, separated by Bass Strait. The state encompasses the main island of Tasmania, the 26th-largest island in the world, and the surrounding 334 islands. The state has a population of around 526,700 as of March 2018. Just over forty percent of the population resides in the Greater Hobart precinct, which forms the metropolitan area of the state capital and largest city, Hobart.

William Dampier British scientist, pirate and explorer

William Dampier was an English explorer, ex-pirate and navigator who became the first Englishman to explore parts of what is today Australia, and the first person to circumnavigate the world three times. He has also been described as Australia's first natural historian, as well as one of the most important British explorers of the period between Sir Walter Raleigh and James Cook.

Change of name

After British colonization, the name New Holland was retained for several decades and the south polar continent continued to be called Terra Australis, sometimes shortened to Australia. [3] However, in the nineteenth century, the colonial authorities gradually removed the Dutch name from the island continent and, instead of inventing a new name, they took the name Australia from the south polar continent, leaving a lacuna in continental nomenclature for eighty years. [4] Even so, the name New Holland survived for many decades, used in atlases, literature and in common parlance.

After the Dutch era

1744 Chart of Hollandia Nova - Terra Australis by Emanuel Bowen. Bowen- A Complete map of the Southern Continent.jpg
1744 Chart of Hollandia Nova – Terra Australis by Emanuel Bowen.

On 22 August 1770, after sailing north along Australia's east coast, James Cook claimed the entire "Eastern coast of New Holland" that he had just explored as British territory. Cook first named the land New Wales, but revised it to New South Wales. [5] With the establishment of a settlement at Sydney in 1788, the British solidified its claim to the eastern part of Australia, now officially called New South Wales. In the commission to Governor Phillip the boundary was defined as the 135th meridian east longitude (135° east) [6] (map from 25 April 1787), taking the line from Melchisédech Thévenot's chart, Hollandia Nova—Terre Australe, published in Relations de Divers Voyages Curieux (Paris, 1663). [7]

James Cook 18th-century British explorer

Captain James Cook was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy. He made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.

Sydney City in New South Wales, Australia

Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and extends about 70 km (43.5 mi) on its periphery towards the Blue Mountains to the west, Hawkesbury to the north, the Royal National Park to the south and Macarthur to the south-west. Sydney is made up of 658 suburbs, 40 local government areas and 15 contiguous regions. Residents of the city are known as "Sydneysiders". As of June 2017, Sydney's estimated metropolitan population was 5,230,330 and is home to approximately 65% of the state's population.

The following lists events that happened during 1788 in Australia.

The term New Holland was more often used to refer only to that part of the continent that had not yet been annexed to New South Wales; namely it referred to the western half of the continent. In 1804, the British navigator Matthew Flinders proposed the names Terra Australis or Australia for the whole continent, reserving "New Holland" for the western part of the continent. He continued to use "Australia" in his correspondence, while attempting to gather support for the term. Flinders explained in a letter to Sir Joseph Banks:

Annexation acquisition of a states territory by another state

Annexation is the administrative action and concept in international law relating to the forcible acquisition of one state's territory by another state. It is generally held to be an illegal act. It is distinct from conquest, which refers to the acquisition of control over a territory involving a change of sovereignty, and differs from cession, in which territory is given or sold through treaty, since annexation is a unilateral act where territory is seized and held by one state. It usually follows military occupation of a territory.

Matthew Flinders English navigator and cartographer

Captain Matthew Flinders was an English navigator and cartographer who led the second circumnavigation of New Holland that he would subsequently call "Australia or Terra Australis" and identified it as a continent. Abel Tasman had circumnavigated it more widely in 1642-43 and had charted its north coast in 1644.

The propriety of the name Australia or Terra Australis, which I have applied to the whole body of what has generally been called New Holland, must be submitted to the approbation of the Admiralty and the learned in geography. It seems to me an inconsistent thing that captain Cooks New South Wales should be absorbed in the New Holland of the Dutch, and therefore I have reverted to the original name Terra Australis or the Great South Land, by which it was distinguished even by the Dutch during the 17th century; for it appears that it was not until some time after Tasman's second voyage that the name New Holland was first applied, and then it was long before it displaced T’Zuydt Landt in the charts, and could not extend to what was not yet known to have existence; New South Wales, therefore, ought to remain distinct from New Holland; but as it is requisite that the whole body should have one general name, since it is now known (if there is no great error in the Dutch part) that it is certainly all one land, so I judge, that one less exceptionable to all parties and on all accounts cannot be found than that now applied. [8] [9]

Map of a part of New Holland made by William Dampier in 1699 New Holland map by William Dampier 1699 - Project Gutenberg eText 15675.jpg
Map of a part of New Holland made by William Dampier in 1699

His suggestion was initially rejected, but the new name was approved by the British government in 1824. The western boundary of New South Wales was changed to 129° east in 1825 (16 July 1825 - Map). In 1826, to pre-empt a French settlement and claim to the territory, because of the importance of the route to New South Wales the British established the settlement of Albany in south-west New Holland. Governor Ralph Darling of New South Wales put Edmund Lockyer in command of the expedition and gave him the order that if he encountered the French anywhere he was to land troops, to signify to them that "the whole of New Holland is subject to His Britannic Majesty's Government." [10] In 1828 a further settlement was made, this time on the Swan River, and the name Swan River Colony was soon the term used to refer to the whole western part of the continent. The name New Holland was still invoked as the name for the whole continent when Charles Fremantle on 9 May 1829 took formal possession in the name of King George IV of "all that part of New Holland which is not included within the territory of New South Wales." [11] :p11 In 1832, the territory was officially renamed Western Australia .

Even as late as 1837, in official correspondence between the British government in London and New South Wales, the term "New Holland" was still being used to refer to the continent as a whole. [12] [13]

In the Netherlands, the continent continued to be called Nieuw Holland until about the end of the 19th century. The Dutch name today is Australië.

In literature

Replica of an East Indiaman of the Dutch East India Company/United East India Company (also known by the abbreviation "VOC" in Dutch). The VOC was a major force behind the early European exploration and mapping of Australia and Oceania. Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie spiegelretourschip Amsterdam replica.jpg
Replica of an East Indiaman of the Dutch East India Company/United East India Company (also known by the abbreviation "VOC" in Dutch). The VOC was a major force behind the early European exploration and mapping of Australia and Oceania.

In Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, the title character, travelling from Houyhnhnms Land, spends a few days on the southeast coast of New Holland before he is chased away by the natives.

The American author Edgar Allan Poe used the name New Holland to refer to Australia in his prize-winning 1833 short story "MS. Found in a Bottle":

the hulk flew at a rate defying computation (...) and we must have run down the coast of New Holland. [14]

In 1851, Herman Melville wrote, in a chapter of his novel Moby-Dick entitled "Does the Whale's Magnitude Diminish? – Will He Perish?":

...may the great whale outlast all hunting, since he has a pasture to expatiate in, which is precisely twice as large as all Asia, both Americas, Europe and Africa, New Holland, and all the Isles of the sea combined. [15]

In 1854, another American writer, Henry David Thoreau, used the term New Holland (referring to the territory of the "wild" indigenous Australians) in his book Walden; or, Life in the Woods , in which he writes:

So, we are told, the New Hollander goes naked with impunity, while the European shivers in his clothes. Is it impossible to combine the hardiness of these savages with the intellectualness of the civilized man? [16]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Terra Australis fictional continent

Terra Australis was 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 Southern Hemisphere. 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.

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Willem de Vlamingh Dutch explorer

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MelchisédechThévenot was a French author, scientist, traveler, cartographer, orientalist, inventor, and diplomat. He was the inventor of the spirit level and is also famous for his popular 1696 book The Art of Swimming, one of the first books on the subject and widely read during the 18th century. The book popularized the breaststroke. He also influenced the founding of the Académie Royale des Sciences.

Point Hicks point in Australia

Point Hicks or Tolywiarar, is a coastal headland in the East Gippsland region of Victoria, Australia, located within the Croajingolong National Park. The point is marked by the Point Hicks Lighthouse that faces the Tasman Sea.

Cape Howe point in Australia

Cape Howe is a coastal headland in eastern Australia, forming the south-eastern end of the Black-Allan Line, a portion of the border between New South Wales and Victoria. Cape Howe was also the original name of West Cape Howe, a coastal headland near Albany, Western Australia that forms the westernmost extent of the Great Australian Bight.

Rame Head (Victoria)

Ram Head or since 1970 Rame Head is a coastal headland in eastern Victoria, Australia. It is within the Croajingolong National Park.

HMS <i>Roebuck</i> (1690)

HMS Roebuck was a fifth-rate warship in the Royal Navy which, under the command of William Dampier, carried the first English scientific expedition to Australia in 1699. The wreck of the ship has since been located by a team from the Western Australian Maritime Museum at a site on the coast of Ascension Island where it foundered more than 300 years ago.

First voyage of James Cook combined Royal Navy and Royal Society expedition to the south Pacific

The first voyage of James Cook was a combined Royal Navy and Royal Society expedition to the south Pacific Ocean aboard HMS Endeavour, from 1768 to 1771. It was the first of three Pacific voyages of which Cook was the commander. The aims of this first expedition were to observe the 1769 transit of Venus across the Sun, and to seek evidence of the postulated Terra Australis Incognita or "unknown southern land".

Leeuwin (galleon) galleon from Netherlands

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This is a list of Australian places named by James Cook. James Cook was the first navigator to chart most of the Australian east coast, one of the last major coastlines in the world unknown to Europeans at the time. Cook named many bays, capes and other geographic features, nearly all of which are still gazetted, and most of which are still in use today, although in some places the spelling is slightly different. This is a list of the placenames he used in his first voyage listed from south to north as described on his 1773 chart and in his journals.

Name of Australia

The name Australia is derived from the Latin australis, meaning "southern", and specifically from the hypothetical Terra Australis postulated in pre-modern geography. The name was popularised by the explorer Matthew Flinders from 1804, and it has been in official use since 1817, replacing "New Holland" as the name for the continent.

<i>A Voyage to Terra Australis</i> 1814 book by Matthew Flinders describing his circumnavigation of the Australian continent

A Voyage to Terra Australis: Undertaken for the Purpose of Completing the Discovery of that Vast Country, and Prosecuted in the Years 1801, 1802, and 1803, in His Majesty's Ship the Investigator was a sea voyage journal written by English mariner and explorer Matthew Flinders. It describes his circumnavigation of the Australian continent in the early years of the 19th century, and his imprisonment by the French on the island of Mauritius from 1804–1810.

Emanuel Bowen British engraver

Emanuel Bowen (1694?–1767) was an English map engraver, who worked for George II of England and Louis XV of France as a geographer.

European exploration of Australia

The European exploration of Australia first began in February 1606, when Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon landed in Cape York Peninsula and on October that year when Spanish explorer Luís Vaz de Torres sailed through, and navigated, Torres Strait islands. Twenty-nine other Dutch navigators explored the western and southern coasts in the 17th century, and dubbed the continent New Holland.


  1. Abbott, J.H.M., William Dampier, Sydney, 1911, pps:55-62.
  2. Dampier, William,(1981) A voyage to New Holland : the English voyage of discovery to the South Seas in 1699 edited with an introduction by James Spencer. Gloucester : Alan Sutton. ISBN   0-904387-75-5
  3. Barth, Cyriaco Jacob zum (1545). Sphere of the Winds. Frankfurt: Astronomia: Teutsch Astronomei, National Library of Australia, nla.obj-230899009.
  4. Cameron-Ash, M. (2018). Lying for the Admiralty: Captain Cook's Endeavour Voyage. Sydney: Rosenberg. p. 19-20. ISBN   9780648043966.
  5. See Captain W. J. L. Wharton's preface to his 1893 transcription of Cook's journal. Available online in the University of Adelaide Library's Electronic Texts Collection.
  6. "Governor Phillip's Instructions 25 April 1787 (UK)". Documenting a Democracy. National Archives of Australia. Archived from the original on 15 June 2006. Retrieved 2006-05-28.
  7. Sir Joseph Banks, 'Draft of proposed Introduction to Captn Flinders Voyages', November 1811; State Library of New South Wales, The Papers of Sir Joseph Banks, Series 70.16; quoted in Robert J. King, "Terra Australis, New Holland and New South Wales: the Treaty of Tordesillas and Australia", The Globe, no.47, 1998, pp.35–55, p.35.
  8. Flinders to Banks, Isle of France (Mauritius), 23 March 1804, Royal Greenwich Observatory, Herstmonceux-Board of Longitude Papers, RGO 14/51: 18 f.172).
  9. Flinders, Matthew. "Letter from Matthew Flinders originally enclosing a chart of 'New Holland' (Australia)". Cambridge Digital Library. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  10. "King George's Sound Settlement". State Records. State Records Authority of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  11. The Western Australian Year Book No. 17, 1979. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Western Australian Office, 1979. ISSN   0083-8772.
  12. Scott, Ernest (1914). "The Naming of Australia". The Life of Captain Matthew Flinders. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 425. ISBN   9781108040617 . Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  13. Richards, J., The Secret War: A True History of Queensland's Native Police, 2008, p. 49)
  14. MS. Found in a Bottle
  16. (page 8)