Who Did Discover Australia?: 1817 - 1822 - Philip Parker King (1791 - 1856)

Hydrographer and Explorer. Born: 13th December 1791  Norfolk Island, Australia.  Died: 26th February 1856.
Phillip Parker King was the son of Governor Phillip Gidley King. He was born on Norfolk Island. A naval officer whose principal scientific work was hydrographic surveys of the Australian coast, he continued the work of Mathew Flinders.

In 1817, King married Harriet Lethbridge in the St Mary Magdalene, Church of England, in Launceston, Cornwell, England. He was soon sent to Australia to finish mapping the coastline. Harriet stayed in the family home in Parramatta and visited the Dunheved farm often.

In 1817 he was given command of the Mermaid to explore the north-west coast of Australia. He surveyed the coast towards Arnhem Land. Three other voyages followed over the period 1818-22. He named Port Essington and charted more of the coastline. During his four voyages off the northern and north-western coasts, King named Port Essington and Buccaneer's Archipelago (after Dampier), proved the insularity of Melville Island and charted the coastline. He also surveyed the west coast from Rottenest Island to Cygnet Bay (in King Sound) and the entrance to Macquarie Harbour, Tasmania. Phillip finished his mapping and the family went back to England in 1823.

In 1827, Phillip was sent to South America to map the coastline there. He took his eldest son, who was only eight, with him. The boy was named Philip Gidley King after his grandfather. Harriet didn't see them for five years.

Just after they left, Harriet's brother, Robert Copland Lethbridge, married Phillip's sister Mary King. They came to Australia and Harriet and her sons came with them. Robert and Mary built a home on Mary's grant which was called "Werrington" after a Lethbridge property in Cornwall. Harriet moved into "Dunheved" with her five sons and helped run the farm. Phillip returned to England with his maps in 1832. He then came back to Sydney, bringing his mother with him.

King had become a substantial land owner in New South Wales. He named his 1500 acre grant of 1831 St Stephens. However he spent little time on the estate which was used to raise cattle and breed stud horses. The western side of the King properties was heavily timbered and was known as Kings Wood (Kingswood). The Sydney suburbs of Werrington, Kingswood and Cambridge Park occupy the site of King's estate.


Early Explorers of Australia - Cunningham's journal -King's West Coast Voyage; Cunningham's journal - Voyage of Mermaid; Cunningham's journal - The Voyage of the Bathurst; the Second Voyage of the Mermaid; the Voyage of the Bathurst.