Captain James Cook discovered Australia in 1770. Australia was first sighted by crew members on his ship on April 19th, 1770. On August 22nd, 1770, Captain Cook claimed the entire east coast of Australia for Great Britain.
Captain James Cook originally named eastern Australia "New South Wales." The captain and his crew first stepped foot on Australian soil a few miles south of what is now Sydney, Australia. The place of anchorage was named Botany Bay, due to the vast, thick forestry that surrounded the coast. Captain James Cook and his crew returned to Great Britain in July of 1771 to deliver the news of their discovery.