Terra Australis (Latin, "land of the south") was a theorized continent appearing on European maps from the 15th to the 18th century. The theorized continent was also called Terra Australis Incognita. Terra incognita, Latin for "unknown land", was also used in reference to "the unknown land of the South".
Terra Australis was depicted on the mid-16th century Dieppe maps. There was much interest in Brazil and Terra Australis among Norman and Breton merchants at that time, and the colony of France Antarctique was established in Brazil in 1555. In 1566 and 1570, Francisque and Andre d'Albaigne presented Gaspard de Coligny, Admiral of France with projects for establishing relations with the Austral lands. Although The Admiral gave favourable consideration to these initiatives, they came to nought when Coligny was killed in 1572 during the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre.
Juan Fernandez, sailing from Chile in 1576, claimed he had discovered the Southern Continent. In the 1760s, Alexander Dalrymple accepted this claim and prompted the British government in 1769 to order James Cook in HMS Endeavour to seek out the Southern Continent to the South and West of Tahiti.
Isaac and Jacob Le Maire established the Australische Compagnie (Australian Company) in 1615 to trade with Terra Australis, which they referred to as "Australia".
In 1801, Matthew Flinders took command of an expedition to investigate the coastline of Australia, which he circled in an anti-clockwise direction, threading the Great Barrier Reef through what is now called Flinders Passage and surveying the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north. His charts of the coastline were remarkably accurate. After completing his work in 1803, he sailed for England. His ship was wrecked on an uncharted reef, however, and he returned to Australia in the ship's cutter, a remarkable 1,100 km (700 mile) journey.
Lands noted by Marco Polo in the 13th century had been subsumed under Terra Australis. Polo had proclaimed amazing riches in the kingdom of Lokak: "Gold is so plentiful that no one who did see it could believe it." Lokak was probably Thailand or Malaysia but the Europeans found very little gold in those lands and so the realm was pushed further south. In Ortelius atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum published in 1570, Terra Australis extends north of the Tropic of Capricorn in the Pacific Ocean.
The July 27, 1668 English edition.(The Isle of Pines, or, A late discovery of a fourth island near Terra Australis Incognita)(Book review)
Jan 01, 2006; The ISLE of PINES, OR A late Discovery of a fourth ISLAND near Terra Australis, Incognita BY Henry Cornelius Van Sloetten....
Terra Australis incognita; the Spanish quest for the mysterious Great South land.(Brief Article)(Book Review)
May 01, 2008; 1741750547 Terra Australis incognita; the Spanish quest for the mysterious Great South land. Estensen, Miriam. Allen & Unwin 2006...
Transcription of the June 27, 1668 title page.(The Isle of Pines, Or, a Late Discovery of a Fourth Island in Terra Australis, Incognita)(Brief article)(Book review)
Jan 01, 2006; The ISLE of PINES, OR, A late Discovery of a fourth ISLAND in Terra Australis, Incognita. BEING A True Relation of certain...