Maritime history is the study of people and their activities in, on, around and under the waters of the world, from the great oceans to inland waters. Australian maritime history includes Indigenous ‘deep time’ history, as Australian First Nations people made the world’s first sea crossings from Southeast Asia (known as ‘Sunda’) to Australia (‘Sahul’) some 65,000 years before present (BP) when sea levels were 125 metres lower than today – a minimum voyaging distance of 90 kilometres. During human occupation of Australia, rising sea levels flooded over 2 million square kilometres of the now submerged continental shelf between 19,000 to 7,000 BP, significantly impacting First Nations peoples’ culture and territories, and drowning their coastal archaeological record.
For this first chapter of Australia’s incredible maritime history, First Nations peoples have carefully maintained knowledge passed down through generations of ancestors about sea level rise events thousands of years ago, communicating their experiences and histories orally, and through rock art, while archaeological discoveries both on land and underwater are providing further detailed information. More