For this and this only, was the object I had in view in selecting the materials for the present work: once more, as completely and convincingly as I could, to set forth the part borne by the Netherlanders in the discovery of the fifth part of the world. I have not been actuated by any desire to belittle the achievements of other nations in this field of human activity. The memorial volume here presented to the reader aims at nothing beyond once more laying before fellow-countrymen and foreigners the documentary evidence of Dutch achievement in this field; perhaps I may add the wish that it may induce other nations to follow the example here given as regards hitherto unpublished documents of similar nature. Still, it would be idle to deny that it was with a feeling of national pride that in the course of this investigation I was once more strengthened in the conviction that even at this day no one can justly gainsay MAJOR’S assertion on p. LXXX of his book, that “the first authenticated discovery of any part of the great Southland” was made in 1606 by a Dutch schip the Duifken. All that is asserted regarding a so-called previous discovery of Australia has no foundation beyond mere surmise and conjecture. Before the voyage of the ship Duifken all is an absolute blank.
Chronological survey of the Dutch discoveries on the mainland coast of Australia.
If one would distribute over chronological periods the voyages of discovery, both accidental and of set purpose, made by the Netherlanders on the mainland coast of Australia, it might be desirable so to adjust these periods, that each of them was closed by the appearance in this field of discovery and exploration, of ships belonging to other European nations.
The first period, extending from 1595 to 1606, would in that case open with the years 1595-6, when Jan Huygen van Linschoten, in his highly remarkable book entitled Itinerario, imparted to his countrymen what he knew about the Far East; and it would conclude with the discovery of Torres Strait by the Spaniards in 1606, a few months after Willem Jansz. in the ship Duifken had discovered the east-coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria, the latter discovery forming the main interest of this period.
The second period may be made to extend from 1606 to 1622, i.e. from the appearance of the Spaniards on the extreme north-coast of the fifth part of the world, to the year in which the English ship Trial was dashed to pieces on a rock to westward of the west-coast of Australia; the discovery of this west-coast by the Dutch in and after 1616, and of the south-western extremity of the continent in 1622, constituting the main facts of the period.
We next come to the palmiest period of Dutch activity in the discovery of Australia (1622-1688), terminating with the first exploratory voyage of importance undertaken by the English, when in 1688 William Dampier touched at the north-west coast of Australia. This period embraces the very famous, at all events remarkable, voyages of Jan Carstensz (1623), of Pool and Pieterszoon (1636), of Tasman (1642-1644), of Van der Wall (1678), etc.