Nineteenth Century Exploration of Australia
An Australian History Resource
Created by Charles H. Smith & Jennifer Rakestraw

Links to Information
on the Explorers

Or. . . Click here
to read Wallace's
original 1893 account!

Keywords for site: history of Australia, Australian history, exploration of Australia, Australian exploration, Australian explorers, Australian maps, Alfred Russel Wallace 

     Although Australian coasts were charted in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the first permanent European settlement established in New South Wales in 1788, exploration of the interior of the continent was entirely a nineteenth century phenomenon. During the 1800s a great number of intrepid (but sometimes foolhardy) adventurers, prospectors, surveyors and naturalists crisscrossed the continent in all directions, more than a few of them losing their lives along the way.
     This website comes about as something of an accident. While involved in research on the naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), I happened upon a wonderful map published in 1893 for inclusion in Wallace's regional study Australasia, Volume 1: Australia and New Zealand. Prepared by the master London atlas-maker Edward Stanford, it neatly summarizes the routes taken by the period's major explorers of the Interior. The map was so charming that I decided to make it the central feature of an Australia exploration-focussed service; to reveal its detail we have reproduced it in three overlapping panel sections that, hopefully, retain most of its original feel.
     The three sections of the map can be accessed by clicking on the thumbnail versions below. Each map section includes a copy of the key used to distinguish the explorers' routes. One can move directly from section to section by clicking on the arrows placed at the top of their left/right margins.
     We have also sought out Web-based information on the explorers. Links to such appear both in the left-side panel on this page, and at the bottom of each map section (for those explorers whose routes are actually found on that particular section). Since so little online material exists for some individuals, however, we have supplemented this information with related text from 1893 Wallace included in the part of his book reviewing Australian history. To read this, click here.
     A caveat . . . History has of course moved on since 1893, and in the interim additional information has come to light regarding both the routes taken by these explorers, and the details of their travels. Thus, don't think that the story ends here!   --C.H.S.
     For contact information and links to other websites created by Charles H. Smith, click here.


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Some Nice Things That Have Been Written About Nineteenth Century Exploration of Australia

"Created by Dr. Charles H. Smith and Jennifer Rakestraw, this well-crafted site is built around an Australian map that details the routes taken by nineteenth century Australian explorers. The map has been reproduced into three online sections -- western, central, and eastern -- and each section contains a list of explorers who navigated that region of the continent. Also included are Internet links to all of the explorers, which can be accessed from the left-side panel on the home page or at the bottom of each map section." --The Scout Report, August 9, 2002.

"A wonderful overview of this period in Australian history.", Australia People History Social Studies.

"Website, created by Charles H. Smith and Jennifer Rakestraw, has excellent links to information about various Australian Explorers. Well worth visiting." --Sandra's Australian History Website.

"An excellent resource for History students or anyone wanting to know about the colonisation of Australia." --Dapto High School (Australia), Subject-Specific Links.

"Outstanding resource examining nineteenth-century Australian explorers and contemporary texts from the period." --Expand the World, History and Culture Links.

"The centre piece of this excellent site is a map of Australia split into three sections (western, central and eastern), charting the journeys of 19th century explorers from the coastal regions and deep into the outback. The route of each of these remarkable men is marked in great detail, and the biographies are linked to other sites. The site's creators, Dr Charles Smith and Jennifer Rakestraw, should be proud of their work, which rightly won the golden web award for 2002-3, putting to shame some of the maps from far bigger information providers. Their secret is to reproduce the e-map from a Victorian original." --'Internet Developments,' Information World Review Issue 183 (Sept. 2002), p. 26.

"A very useful resource." Australia, Australian History Links

"Excellent site for anyone interested in this topic. Good resource for writers.", Write Australia Links.

All pages at this site copyright 2002-2014 by Charles H. Smith and Jennifer Rakestraw. All rights reserved.