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fertile, lightly wooded plains ; some parts of the coast belt, however, are barren sandy tracts, studded here and there with huge hillocks of sand. In the interior, beyond the mountains, there are many beautiful fertile plains of considerable extent.
The rivers are few in number, and while subject to great floodings in the winter, fall very low in the summer; indeed, these condary water-courses are, in the summer, frequently quite dried up.
The result of this general deficiency of irrigation throughout the country, is a scanty vegetation. No dense forests exist as in America. There are many barren spots, and the herbage generally is thin, the grasses, although highly nutritious, growing in detached clumps.
We know not what European or Asiatic navigators first visited the coast of this vast land, and it is even impossible to determine, with any degree of certainty, as to when or by whom it was discovered; so inconsistent and contradictory are the statements of the several
navigators who lay claim to this distinguished honour. Probably the Chinese, in remote times, annually visited, as indeed they do now, the northern coast, to fish for the “ trepang," or the “sea slug,” a nutritive edible which exists there in abundance, and is accounted a luxury by that singular people. Be this as it may, European nations certainly had some idea in the early part of the sixteenth century of the existence of a continent in the southern ocean, as there are two charts in the British Museum, constructed about the year 1540, in both of which is rudely delineated a part of the coast line of a great south land; in one it is named Java le Grande, and in the other, La Terre Australe.
Though the Dutch were the first to announce the existence of this great island, the Spaniards were the first to visit it. New Guinea was coasted in 1526, by Don Jorge de Menezes, and by Alvarez de Saavedra ; and in 1543 by Ruy Lopez de Villabolos, who also ranged other adjacent coasts. In December, 1605, Fernandez de Quiros, and Luis Vase de Torres, sailed from Peru in search of the Terra Austral. Quiros discovered what he supposed to be a part of the south continent, and named it Australia del Espiritù Santo. Torres, who had separated from Quiros, coasted along the Louisiad Archipelago, sighted Cape York, and navigated the dangerous channel that separates Australia from New Guinea, and which the distinguished hydrographer, Mr. Dalrymple, generously named Torres Strait. In the same year (1605) a Dutch vessel, the 'Duyfhen,' sailed along the western shore to 13° 45' S. lat. ; and in 1623, Jans Castens, with the Dutch yachts, the ‘Pera' and the ' Arnhem,' explored that part of the northern coast named Arnhem. Other Dutch ships are reported to have neared the west coast about this period; but, as the accounts of these early voyages are vague and discrepant, probably some of the navigators mistook the coast of some of the neighbouring islands for that of Australia. However this may be, it is evident, from a paragraph in a chart by Eesal Gerrits, dated 1627, that the Dutch of that period attributed the first discovery of Australia to Dirk Hartog, who, in 1616, commanded the · Endraught, and sailed along the western coast from 26° 3' to 23° S. lat., which he named Landt de Endraght. Hartog certainly visited Australia, as upon an island at the entrance of Shark's Bay, there was found, in 1697 and in 1801, a plate with an inscription, in which it is mentioned that Hartog left it there on the 27th of October, 1616.
In 1619, Captain Odel, a Dutchman, sailed along the coast from 29° to 26° 30' S. lat., and to this tract he gave his name. About the same time the 'Leuwin,' a Dutch ship, coasted the land from 550 to 34° 19' S. lat., 115° 6' E. long., giving its name to the cape. In 1627, Pieter van Nuyts sailed in the
Zeepaard,' along the southern coast, for about 1000 miles: the land he traced is named Nuytsland. In the following year, the · Vianen,' a Dutch ship, coasted along what was subsequently called De Witt's Land; and in 1644, Captain Abel Jans Tasman discovered and named that portion of the coast called Tasman's Land. In 1688, the English circumnavigator, Dampier, visited the northern coast to procure refreshments and to careen his vessel. In 1696, William de Vleming discovered and named Swan River; and in 1699, the observant Dampier, who had left England on a voyage of discovery, again visited Australia. He sailed along the coast from 27° 40' S. lat., to 16° 9' and discovered and named Shark's Bay.
From this period no further discoveries were made till 1770, when Captain Cook discovered the east coast, which he surveyed from Cape Horn to Cape York, and named New South Wales. In September, 1791, Captain George Vancouver sighted the coast at Cape Chatham, and two days afterwards discovered and named King George's Sound, now part of Western Australia, the most ill-founded and least
prosperous of the Australian colonies. In 1798, Mr. Bass, a surgeon, in concert with Lieutenant