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Early European Exploration

- Portuguese and Spanish Sailings -

- Dutch Interest -

- British Expeditions and Claims -

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Although Australia was not known to the Western world, it did exist in late medieval European logic and mythology: A great Southland, or Terra Australis, was thought necessary to balance the weight of the northern landmasses of Europe and Asia. Terra Australis often appeared on early European maps as a large, globe-shaped mass in about its correct location, although Europeans recorded no actual discoveries until much later. Indeed, the European exploration of Australia took more than three centuries to complete; thus, what is often considered the oldest continent, geologically, was the last to be discovered and colonized by Europeans.

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