Essay Preview: Australia
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ÐÐŽÐ§The Portuguese were the first to discover the East Coast of AustraliaÐÐŽÐÐ
In Australian history books, it has been thought for hundreds of years that Captain Cook from England was the first to discover the east coast of Australia on 28th April 1770. However latest evidence shows that this historic event is inaccurate. A number of relics and remains have been found which indicate the Portuguese arrival at Australia in the early to mid 1500ÐÐŽÐ¦s, 200 years before Cook.
These clues include the Mahogany Ship, a Portuguese caravel that was shipwrecked six miles west of Warrnambool; a stone house at Bittangabee Bay; the Dieppe map, a secret map drawn by the Portuguese; a cannon and five keys found in Geelong.
The shipwreck of Mahogany Ship remains WarrnamboolÐÐŽÐ¦s first shipping disaster.
The Mahogany Ship is believed to be a Portuguese caravel lost in 1522 in Warrnambool under the command of Cristovao de Mendonca. Prince Henry, the ruler of Portugal at that time, had sent Mendonca and his crew to Australia in order to discover unfound land on the other side of the world that he had located on the French Map, the Dieppe Map that the Portuguese had stolen and copied.
Many people believed that the world was a flat saucer but Prince Henry believed that the world was a sphere. Prince Henry wanted to find out if there was in fact such land over the other side of the world as Australia, if it was inhabited and if there was any treasure or valuable things there.
This journey had to be kept a secret because the Portuguese were breaking an agreement that they had made with the Spanish. The agreement stated that the Spanish and Portuguese had half of the world each to explore but they could not explore past their boundaries.
Mendonca and his crew set out from Portugal in the 1500ÐÐŽÐ¦s to find out about this new territory. Unfortunately the Mahogany ship was shipwrecked at Warrnambool in Victoria, Australia. Twenty-seven people reported that they saw the Mahogany Ship sink however no one ever found the remains of the caravel. It has been believed that a great storm last century had buried the ship in sand, under sand dunes, but also the last timbers might have been burnt by whalers and locals who were in need of firewood.
In July 1999, Mr. Des Williams discovered some wood buried three metres underneath the sand dunes between Warrnambool and Port Fairy. It has been recognised by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) as White Oak. According to the investigation by the CSIRO, the wood could have originated from the USA or Europe which is common timber to be used on building ships. Could this wood possibly be the White Oak that had been used to build the Mahogany Ship?
Bittangabee Bay is south of Eden on the southern coast of New South Wales, now in Kanangra-Boyd National Park. Portuguese came to Bittangabee Bay to rest and recover their ship, which had been damaged on the way to their discovery of Australia. A reading from a bushwalkers newsletter published in April 1974 indicated that there are remains of an enormous, old stone blockhouse, 19×12 metres high. On what used to be the gateway to this stone blockhouse, there was a carving with the date 15?4. The third figure has worn away over time but if the unknown number is a two, it will tie in with the presence of Cristovao de Mendoncas caravels.
There are many large trees that have grown inside these walls. The largest tree was a Gippsland Grey Box about 1.8 metres in perimeter and around 1.2 metres tall.
The Forestry Department estimates that the tree was about 100 years old. Long before this tree grew, the roof would have fallen in and the stones on the wall slowly would have started to rot away, which shows that this blockhouse must be older than the 100 year old Grey Box. Many relics were also found at Bittangabee Bay that are believed to have belonged to the Spanish. One of these items was Spanish Doodles that was found near Eden (see picture).