THE NAMING OF AUSTRALIA
The name Australia was given to the great southern continent by Flinders. When and why he gave it that name will now be shown.
In the first place a common error must be set right. It is sometimes said that the Spanish navigator, Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, named one of the islands of the New Hebrides group, in 1606, Australia del Espiritu Santo. This is not the case. The narrative of his voyage described "all this region of the south as far as the Pole which from this time shall be called Austrialia del Espiritu Santo," from "His Majesty's title of Austria." The word Austrialia is a punning name. Quiros' sovereign, Philip III, was a Habsburg; and Quiros, in compliment to him, devised the name Austrialia as combining the meaning "Austrian land," as well as "southern land."
In 1756 the word "Australasia" was coined. Charles de Brosses, in his Histoire des Navigations aux Terres Australes, wanted a word to signify a new division of the globe. The maps marked off Europe, Asia, Africa and America, but the vast region to the south of Asia required a name likewise. De Brosses simply added "Austral" to "Asia," and printed "Australasia" upon his map.
The earliest use of the word Australia that I have been able to find, occurs in the index to the Dutch Generale Beschrijvinge van Indien (General Description
- See Markham, Voyages of Quiros, Hakluyt Society Vol. I., p. xxx.