Early map of the world

H. Delachaux, [The world]  1884?, nla.obj-231620173

There have long been claims of non indigenous contact with Australia, with exactly who and when the 'first' was being a subject of much debate.

In a book titled 1421: The Year China Discovered the World Gavin Menzies claims that in the 1420s several fleets of Chinese ships sailed around the world, making contact with many countries before Europeans explored them, including Australia.

Much of his evidence relies on interpreting old maps. The Map Collection holds reproductions of many of these maps and some have been digitised by the Library:

Menzies' theories have provoked much controversy amongst scholars in recent years. The Library holds material describing the arguments for and against these theories.

More information on materials in the National Library concerning claims of the Chinese discovery of Australia is in the Gateways online journal.

The theories of Gavin Menzies are described on his website. The ABC TV program Four Corners also did a report on Gavin Menzies and his book.