Discovering the Great South Land
This is the story of the evolution of the sailing ships that gradually linked Australia to Europe. The book explains how the navigational problems of Australia's huge coastline were conquered by ships that were at the cutting-edge of technology for their time. The story covers the period from antiquity until the arrival of Britain's First Fleet at Botany Bay in January 1788, and highlights the rapid improvement of ship construction after the European Renaissance-which began the trend toward reasoned experiment, replacing ignorance and dogma, and made the return of long voyages possible. The author has been able to draw upon his experience in measurement technology, showing that the improvements in ship design after the Middle Ages arose principally from the invention of increasingly precise measuring instruments such as the accurate clock and the lenses used in microscopes and telescopes. The ship's wheel, copper hull sheathing, antiscorbutic diet to counter scurvy, and the sextant were all invented not long before the British colonized Australia. The book contains numerous maps and illustrations that highlight the maritime technology inherited by the British-from the ships of Scandinavia, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, and France-which pioneered the ocean pathway to Australia.
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