Fascinating map of Australia, with a massive area labeled Terra Incognita (unknown lands), illustrating a scheme for dividing up Australia suggested by Captain James Vetch in 1838.
James Vetch (1789-1869) mapped political and social utopian projects onto the maps of Australia which had their origin and rationale in objectives for reform in the UK.
By 1838 the coastline of the Australian continent had been well defined by the explorations of James Cook, Matthew Flinders and Phillip Parker King. As for the interior of Australia, little was known except for the area south of a line from Moreton Bay to Victoria, focused upon the the southeastern part of Australia. This knowledge had been obtained from the journeys of exploration of men such as John Oxley, Charles Sturt, Thomas Mitchell, Allan Cunningham and George Evans.
There were many proposals for the subdivision of the Australian continent dating back to the 1830s. This proposal by Captain James Vetch was published by the Royal Geographical Society in their journal of 1838. Vetch tried to give each colony equal areas, possess a tract of sea coast with possible harbour sites and be as compact as possible.
The boundaries of his proposed colonies were defined using lines of latitude and longitude. This was generally used by colonial administrators when there was either no natural features such as rivers and ranges or due to exploration of the country not being well enough advanced to know if there were any natural features. The benefit of such a proposal was uniformity. The downside was a lack of natural landmarks. While Vetch's boundaries did not succeed, they provide a fascinating early look at the evolving understanding of the Australian continent.
A very unique map. The second time we have seen this map on the market.