Captain Hook Wasn’t First White Dude in Australia

James Cook of the British Royal Navy was one of the most famous and celebrated sea captains of the 18th century. And rightly so! He mapped huge areas of the world that were previously unknown or very little-known in Europe. He was the first European to land in Hawaii, and, in 1770, was one of the first Europeans to land on the eastern coast of Australia. He was almost certainly the first to approach it by first crossing the Pacific, rather than coming at it from the west. His career contributions to science and cartography are immense.

But he didn’t do what he is perhaps most famous for doing. He wasn’t the first European to discover Australia.

There had been dozens of European landings in Australia and some explorers had even mapped it. Willem Janszoon, a Dutch navigator and another amazing explorer, landed there in 1606, 164 years before Cook arrived. Janszoon had been doing extensive exploration of what is now Indonesia and New Guinea when he found north eastern Australia. In fact, he initially thought that it might have been part of New Guinea. During a second voyage in 1618, Janszoon confirmed that Australia was a separate land mass.

Australia History Explorer|Professor Buzzkill Captain Cook