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Image Map of Australian colonies, c1859-61

TLF ID R5355

This is a hand-coloured map of Australia, printed between about 1859 and 1861, showing boundaries for what were then the colonies of Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. There is an area labelled 'North Australia', which includes the present-day Northern Territory and Queensland within the same boundary, without the present-day dividing border. The map is coloured to show colonial boundaries in yellow, the coastline in pink and the ocean in blue. Tasmania is labelled 'VAN DIEMEN'S LAND OR TASMANIA'. The map was first published in London by Peter and Galpin Cassell, probably from a Maclure, MacDonald and MacGregor steam lithograph. It measures 29.0 cm x 41.7 cm.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset shows colonial borders in about 1859 - the development of borders was a slow process, with borderlines changing over time because of inaccuracies with the astronomically located positions in Sydney and Melbourne that were used as fixed points for determining other positions; ultimately, many borders were fixed according to physical features such as rivers or property fences; on this map the divisions of WA and Victoria are close to those of today, although those of SA and NSW were still to undergo considerable changes until Federation.
  • It was drawn at a time when what is now the NT was part of NSW - the first English settlement in North Australia had taken place in 1824 at Port Essington as a result of fears that a French colony would be established there; the settlement was not a success and future settlements were not attempted again until 1869; during the years 1859 to 1861, when this map was printed, what is now the NT was part of NSW (1825-63) before coming under the province of SA (1863-1911); a strip of land formerly belonging to NSW and positioned between the South Australian and Western Australian borders was also ceded to SA at that time.
  • It shows a border between Queensland and NSW - Queensland officially formed its own government on 6 June 1859, on issue of Letters Patent by Queen Victoria; before this time, Queensland had come under the general governance of NSW, its main town being a penal settlement founded at Moreton Bay; the western border between Queensland and the NT was not established until a survey had taken place, between 1883 and 1886, dividing up the areas governed by NSW; this northern section of NSW was eventually divided between the NT, SA and WA.
  • It shows that Tasmania was still also known as Van Diemen's Land in about 1859, despite having been renamed Tasmania in recognition of Abel Tasman (1603-59) in 1856, several years before this map was printed - Tasman was the first European to explore the region, in 1642; he named it 'Anthoni van Diemens Landt' in recognition of Anthony van Diemen, Governor-General of the Dutch East India Company, who encouraged exploration of the southern hemisphere; Tasmania was believed to be part of the mainland of Australia until Matthew Flinders (1774-1814) circumnavigated the island in 1798.
  • It demonstrates that by about 1859 the continent was known as 'Australia' - this name had been made popular through Matthew Flinders' 1814 book, 'A voyage to Terra Australis'; Flinders promoted the name 'Australia' even though British authorities preferred 'Australis', a Latin word meaning 'southern', from the common designation 'Terra Australis Incognita' ('unknown southern land'); three years after Flinders had used the term 'Australia', the NSW Governor, Lachlan Macquarie, proposed that the name be formally adopted, although it was not until 1829 that the name 'Australia' was officially used by the British Government.
  • It is printed from a lithograph by the firm Maclure, MacDonald and MacGregor - lithographs were invented in 1796 by the Austrian inventor Alois Senefelder (1771-1834), who discovered a way of etching ink onto a smooth surface, originally often limestone; this technique was particularly important for printing artworks and maps, because the artist was able to draw directly onto the stone plate; by 1820 it was possible to use these plates to print multiple colours, although many maps, including this one, were still coloured by hand.
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
    • Name: Peter Cassell
    • Remarks: publisher
    • Author
    • Name: Galpin Cassell
    • Remarks: publisher
    • Author
    • Name: Maclure, MacDonald and MacGregor
    • Remarks: publisher
    • Publisher
    • Date of contribution: 29 Jun 2011
    • Organisation: Education Services Australia
    • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
    • URL:
    Access profile
    • Colour independence
    • Device independence
    • Hearing independence
    Learning resource type
    • Image
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    • Firefox - minimum version: 3.0 (MS-Windows)
    • Safari - minimum version: 3.0 (MacOS)
    Operating systems
    • MacOS - minimum version: X
    • MS-Windows - minimum version: 2000 - maximum version: Vista
    • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2011, except where indicated under Acknowledgements