Portuguese beat Captain Cook to Australia 250 years before, historian says

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The image of Captain Cook stepping onto the shores of Botany Bay has been a staple of British history books for generations but now it seems the explorer may have been beaten to Australia by the Portuguese, who arrived 250 years earlier.

A new appraisal of 16th century maps offers evidence that a small Portuguese fleet charted much of Australia's coast as early as 1522.

It has long been known that Cook was preceded by Dutch navigators, whose ships were wrecked on the coast of western Australia as they made for their colony of Batavia -- present day Jakarta - in the 1600s.

The Portuguese thesis was put forward Monday by historian and journalist, Peter Trickett, in his book Beyond Capricorn. It describes how Portuguese adventurers secretly discovered and mapped Australia and New Zealand 250 years before Captain Cook.

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