Australia was ruined the moment Europeans set foot there

Nicholas Shakespeare at The Spectator:

Many believed in Australia for 1,000 years before its discovery. There had to be a commensurate weight The-Bounty— somewhere Down Under — to counter the northern land mass; an ‘unknown Southland’ which was crucial to maintaining the balance of the world. To confuse matters, this theoretical continent was dubbed for a while Austrialia del Espiritu Santo — in honour of the House of Austria.

A socially awkward Lincolnshireman, Matthew Flinders, in 1804, was the originator of Australia as the name for what had for centuries been called New Holland, but two French sailors, an aristocratic cartographer, Louis Freycinet, and a manipulative, one-eyed anthropologist, François Péron, showed for the first time the continent’s actual shape.

From the late 1700s, galvanised by the loss of their American colonies, the French dispatched seven expeditions in 30 years to seek a huge landmass known as Gonneville Land, named after a French sailor blown off course in 1503. None of these expeditions had marvellous outcomes for their commanders. Marion was eaten by Maoris, Kerguelen convicted of fraud, D’Entrecasteaux died of scurvy, while the most famous, La Pérouse, vanished without trace.

more here.