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It is not known whether the Portuguese were the first Europeans to land in Australia, but they certainly weren't the first to land on the continent. The Aborigines made it to Australia anywhere between 6,000 and 50,000 years ago. No written records exist, so one can only speculate on when they first arrived, but it was certainly before the Portuguese.

The Asian people also visited the northern coast regularly for hundreds of years before Europeans set foot on the continent, to collect sea-slugs (trepang), a valued delicacy in Asia.

It is believed that the Portuguese were the first to sight the Australian continent, but there are no records within Portugal itself to substantiate the claim, or whether they landed on the shore. The sources for this claim are the Dieppe Maps, which date between 1542 and 1587, and which were drawn up by a group of French cartographers using a Portuguese source. These maps name a large land mass believed to be the Australian continent as Java-la-Grande. There is some speculation that the maps, not being to scale, actually represent an exaggerated western Java, possibly even Vietnam.

Willem Jansz/Janszoon was a Dutchman who was seeking new trade routes and trade associates. Commanding the Duyfken, he became the first recorded European to step foot on Australia's shores on the western shore of Cape York Peninsula, on 26 February 1606. However, he believed the Cape to be part of New Guinea, from whence he crossed the Arafura Sea, so he did not record Australia as being a separate, new continent.

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Q: Were the Portuguese the first to land in Australia?
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