Image Map of New Holland (Australia), 1787

TLF ID R5351

This is a black-and-white map of Australia (labelled 'NEW HOLLAND') and adjacent countries, printed in 1787. The map is entitled 'CHART OF NEW HOLLAND, with the ADJACENT COUNTRIES and New Discover'd Islands, 1787'. The map shows fine details of the Australian coastline, particularly the eastern coastline. An inset on the bottom right of the map shows a detail of Botany Bay and 'Adjacent Harbours'. The map also shows New Zealand, what is now Indonesia, and numerous islands in the Pacific Ocean. It was first published in London by J Stockdale and measures 15.7 cm x 26.2 cm.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset indicates that the continent of Australia was still known as New Holland in 1787 - this name was originally coined by Dutch explorers to refer to the western part of the continent after their explorations there, which commenced in 1606; James Cook claimed the eastern part of the continent in the name of King George III of England in 1770, calling it New South Wales; it was not until about 1820 that the name 'New Holland' stopped appearing regularly on maps that depicted Australia.
  • It demonstrates an increasing knowledge of the shape and outline of the entire coastline of the continent - in the 17th and early 18th centuries it had been primarily the western coastline that was charted, mainly by Dutch explorers on expeditions for the Dutch East India Company, which was interested in identifying trade routes in the Pacific; by the mid-17th century, more than half of the continent had been charted by the Dutch, although no settlement had been established; it was not until 1768, when James Cook was sent to document the movement of Venus across the Sun in the South Pacific, that the eastern coastline of the continent was charted with any degree of accuracy.
  • It includes details of Botany Bay and its surrounding harbours, areas that were particularly important for the English settlement along the eastern coast - it was at Botany Bay that the first British landing along the east coast of Australia took place, when James Cook and his crew from the HMS 'Endeavour' anchored, on 29 April 1770, before sailing north to claim the entire eastern coast.
  • It was printed in London in 1787 - this was the year after the British Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger (Prime Minister from 1783 to 1801 and from 1804 to 1806), had acted to reduce Britain's overcrowded convict population by establishing a penal colony in New Holland through an Act of Parliament; Botany Bay was chosen because of Cook's earlier explorations there in 1770, and because of the recommendation that Joseph Banks had made to a government committee in 1779 proposing Botany Bay as a suitable place for settlement.
  • It was printed in the same year that the First Fleet left Portsmouth for Botany Bay - the Fleet left in May of that year; Captain Arthur Phillip was selected to be in charge of a total of 11 ships carrying 1,464 people, including male and female convicts; when the First Fleet landed at Botany Bay, the area was found to be unsuitable due to sandy infertile soil, an unreliable water source and no safe anchorage; because of this, Captain Arthur Phillip, who was also acting as the first Governor of the new settlement, moved the First Fleet to Sydney Cove on the southern side of Port Jackson, now usually known as Sydney Harbour, on 26 January 1788.
  • It shows the landmasses of New Zealand, New Guinea and various Pacific islands - the increasing exploration of the southern hemisphere by European mariners and explorers resulted in a better understanding of the geography of this region; as a result, maps no longer used 'Terra Australis Incognita' (Latin for 'unknown southern land') as a blanket term to describe a great land mass previously thought to exist in the southern hemisphere.
  • It is an example of 18th-century cartography - cartography is the science of making maps and globes; the earliest known map dates from the 7th century BCE, but the latitude-longitude grid, a familiar feature of modern maps, was developed only in the 2nd century CE, by Claudius Ptolemy (87-150 CE); it would not be until the mid-1700s that an accurate way of measuring longitude was discovered, by the Englishman John Harrison, leading to safer navigation for sea journeys.
Year level

4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • history;
  • studies of society and environment
  • History/Historical knowledge and understanding

    Other details

    • Content provider
    • Copyright holder
    • Organisation: National Library of Australia
    • Remarks: Reproduced courtesy of National Library of Australia
    • Author
    • Date of contribution: 1787
    • Name: J Stockdale
    • Remarks: publisher
    • Publisher
    • Date of contribution: 29 Jun 2011
    • Organisation: Education Services Australia
    • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
    • URL:
    Access profile
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    Learning resource type
    • Image
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    • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2011, except where indicated under Acknowledgements