11 May 2018
Flying from Singapore to Melbourne, I suddenly woke up, looked out the porthole (really?), and there it was: the rugged, beautiful, terrifying NW coast of Australia. Three and a half hours later, as I landed in Melbourne, I realized the scale of the trip I would be doing. I will reach this part of Australia in about 2 months and after 5800kms (3600 miles) of driving!
The first recorded European expedition to land on the western coast of Australia was Dirk Hartog (1616), who landed in Shark Bay, and proceeded north from there. Of course, this land was inhabited by Aboriginals for at least 30,000 years and possibly as long as 60,000 years prior to that. Much more on the Aboriginals later, as I find out more about the Indigenous Australians. Note: When I was at school in the 60s, we heard scandalously very little about Aboriginals in history lessons, and frankly knew more about white explorers, and indeed sheep and wheat production.
Much later (1688), the explorer/naturalist/buccaneer William Dampier, became the first Englishman to reach and map parts of Australia, including the NW coast. He was also the first person to make three (yes, three) circumnavigations of the globe.
Fascinating factoid about Dampier: He introduced the following words into the English language: avocado, barbecue, breadfruit, cashew, catamaran, and chopsticks.