Pyramids in the Pacific

"Great thanks be given to him who writes the

universal history of mankind, for he has engaged

his honour and effort to serve the general good with

his own labours and energy. In his history, he shows his

readers the finest fruits of experience and thus teaches

something really useful without the readers' having to

face dangers to aquire the lessons"

Diodorus Siculus

Biblioteca Historica

1st century BC

Rewriting Australian History

I often feel like Diodorus' idea of the historian who saves his readers from the dangers that he faces in gathering information for their benefit. In the course of a lifetime of investigation I have had to scale mountains, negotiate snake infested swamps and grasslands; and on occasion experience heat, thirst, exhaustion and flies in the course of gathering much of the evidence that I am about to present to my readers.

Such are the joys of field research. The traveller of antiquity went armed. Pirates and robbers were commonplace, as were all manner of other dangers.

We will never know all the dangers that were faced by such famous historians and chroniclers of the classical ages as Herodotus, Pliny the Elder, Lucian and Pausanius in their travels. Like many historians in our own times they were not without their critics. Herodotus recorded many wonders which in his day were unacceptable. Then as now there were controversial subjects. Atlantis is a prime example.

The many weird giant beings and other assorted monsters said to lie far beyond the limits of the {then} known world. These are some of the many great mysteries with which this book is concerned.

Ancient critics scoffed at such tales, yet in modern times the weird monsters of antiquity have been shown to have been birds and animals either now long extinct or still living. The 'giant Rukh' of Sinbad was probably the now extinct Aephaeornis or 'Elephant Bird' of Madagascar; or even perhaps the 'giant Emu' of Australia; while the pouched animals of Lucian and other ancient chroniclers were obviously Australian marsupials.

The kangaroo and koala were described by Chinese writers centuries before the first European explorers reached our shores.

For generations Australian school children have been taught that the British, beginning with Captain James Cook's 'discovery' of our east coast in 1770, were our first colonists, even though Dutch explorers had found our northern shores early in the 17th century. However, although the harsh environment of Australia discouraged other nations from colonisation, it was the hardy British who succeeded in taming this continent. Yet there has always been something wrong with this all-too simplified version of our history of discovery and exploration.

Only within recent years have many of our traditionally conservative historians come to accept the growing evidence that shows Portuguese and Spanish explorers preceded the Dutchmen throughout the 16th century. Certainly Chinese and other Asian seafarers were frequent visitors to Australia for centuries before the earliest European voyages into the Pacific.

It is interesting to speculate how our history would have turned out if Cook's ship the Endeavour had been sunk when it struck the Great Barrier Reef and all hands lost. In fact, had any one of the ancient races revealed in this book remained to permanently settle this land our history would have indeed have resulted in a very different outcome.

Similar thoughts were entertained in the 1800's by that foremost Australian historian, George Collingridge {1847-1931}. It is to this great forthright scholar that we must give long overdue credit for being the first historian to make Australians aware that Portuguese and Spanish explorers had preceded the Dutch and British to our shores. Yet for all his scholarly research, his findings were met with hostility from the conservative academic establishment of his day.

For George Collingridge lived in the age of Queen Victoria and the glorification of British power and achievement; and to say that James Cook was not the 'first' discoverer of Australia {having claimed it for England} let alone our east coast, was considered something akin to treason in the eyes of a good many Australians who still considered themselves 'British'.

His lectures on the subject were met with heckles and insults and he was ignored by his fellow historians. The 'experts' of his day chose to ignore the early Portuguese, Spanish and French writings and charts describing Australia, upon which Collingridge based his argument. His scholarly book, "The Discovery of Australia" {1895} contains a wealth of this material, aroused further controversy.

Born in England, he spent his boyhood in France before emigrating to Australia in 1879. An artist and teacher of painting, he was a self-taught expert on cartography. He had knowledge of French and Portuguese that aided him in his decipherment of Portuguese references in the famous 16th century French Dieppe maps which describes the Australian continent.

George Collingridge was never a wealthy man, and his later years apart from teaching the odd art student, he could be found at a teashop in the northern Sydney suburb of Hornsby, where he displayed and sold his painted reproductions of the Dieppe maps, and explain to anyone who would listen, the evidence he had gathered that showed the Portuguese had explored our coastline early in the 16th century. For his researchers he was honoured overseas with the Order of Isabela La Catolica from Spain and was made Knight of Santerem by Portugal. He deserved better from Australia.


"a prophet is not without honour save in his own land".

Yet times change, also attitudes. Today the political and social climate is a far cry from that other age when Australians were conditioned to think of themselves and their country as just another part of 'old England'. Thus, the time has come for the works of George Collingridge to receive their long overdue recognition. He was 'THE' pioneer researcher of our 'unwritten history'.

His 'discovery of Australia' only touched the belief in a great Southern Continent in the classical Mediterranean world. With "Pyramids in the Pacific" I wish to do justice to the memory of George Collingridge, in revealing the vast amount of evidence concerning the discovery and colonisation of Australia by the civilisations who were exploring the world's oceans in the long centuries before the rise of Portugal and Spain.

In the spirit of the great George Collingridge, it is the purpose of this book to show Australians that our history of discovery and exploration is not as we have been taught, and that Captain James Cook was but the very last of a long line of discoverers of our continent, stretching back not hundreds but thousands of years into stone-age times.

Therefore, the reader will not find an account of early Dutch voyages to our shores, nor those of William Dampier or James Cook, for his phase of our history is already too well known to rate repeating here.

The time has come to rewrite the history of Australia; to show that this land, rather than being a mere backwater of world history, that lay dormant until the coming of European seafarers in the 16th century, assumed a position of considerable importance to the civilisations of antiquity who for untold centuries before the time of Christ had made countless visits to these shores. Conservative historians have always called the period between the 13th and 18th centuries the "great Age of discovery".

It began with Marco Polo's trip in 1271 and ended with the death of James Cook in 1779 at Kealakekua Bay on the main Hawaiian island. In other words, once Man put to sea, the urge to discover what might lay beyond the horizon led him on a voyage of discovery that was to last for thousands of years, in the course of which he discovered and settled the furthest scattered islands of the Pacific and the Indian Oceans.

Yet there was a far earlier "Age of Discovery". It began when people first learnt to build seaworthy craft in pre-Copper Age times increasing as Man discovered metallurgy, through Bronze and Iron Ages, until the fall of the Roman Empire.

A more enlightened view of world exploration would place its beginnings in stone-age times, ending with Raol Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott's race to the South Pole in 1912. It would surely be cultural arrogance on our part to say that only Europeans discovered the oceans and their far flung lands. The early European explorers were in reality only 'rediscovering' the lands they sailed to.

Thus, Mongolian tribes preceded Columbus to the Americas; the Polynesians preceded the Portuguese and Spanish in the Pacific Islands; and the Aborigines were roaming Australia at least 200,000 years before the the arrival of the earliest Europeans.

The true discoverers of any land are those who step ashore first; and as this book primarily concerns Australia, we naturally think of the Aboriginal people. However, even they were mere late-arrivals on the scene, as our first chapter will demonstrate. Many ancient races played a part in the 'unknown' history of Australia, and hundreds of intellectuals, the classical writers of ancient Sumer, Egypt, Greece, Rome, India, Persia and China recorded the information of a vast mysterious southern land supplied to them by bold seafarers who penetrated the farthest reaches of the Indian Ocean.

Their colourful tales spoke of it as a land of unimaginable riches but also of weird animals and monsters that included giant people.

We know that these weird animals and monsters were our unique marsupials and other wildlife. Could these ancient mariners have had contact also with oversized stone-age people described in 'Chapter One' {Pyramids in the Pacific} some of which have still lingered on this continent into historic times.

The mass of historic data that I shall present in this rewriting of our history includes much that will surprise a great deal of many Australians and due to its perhaps sensational content, not find acceptance with those hard-core historians who still cling to the conventional version of our early history. I often feel sorry for them, for my field research is to me far more exciting, for I am am dealing, not with explorers of the last 400 years, but with those sailing the world's ocean's 4,000 and more years ago.

Australia's Foremost Historian

George Collingridge {1847-1931}.

With the evidence I have gathered, I am about to take my readers on along and exciting journey of discovery and exploration, covering untold thousands of years that would, I believe, delight the great George Collingridge.

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