Maslen's mythical map | State Library of New South Wales

Maslen's mythical map

Belief in an inland sea reached its peak when Thomas J. Maslen published this map in 1827. Maslen was a former officer of the East India Company. He included this map in his book The Friend of Australia, which provided detailed instructions for conducting surveys and expeditions, and suggested the use of camels for exploration.

Get the latest Flash player to view this interactive content.

Get Adobe Flash player

European settlers found it difficult to accept that a continent as large as Australia could have no great rivers comparable to those of Africa or North and South America.

Early coastal exploration had failed to discover a river that gave access to the interior. Maslen's map showed the Macquarie and the Castlereagh Rivers, discovered by Oxley and Evans, as the headwaters of a mighty river flowing across the Delta of Australia and into the Indian Ocean from the north-western coast. He labelled the north of the continent Australindia and the south Anglicania.

This map presents the interior of Australia as it was popularly believed to be in 1827. By the middle of the century, however, a truer picture had emerged. The inland sea was myth, and in time, the 'Dead (Sea) Level' of the continent would come to be more accurately known as the 'Dead Heart' of Australia.