Terra Nullis – Commonwealth of Australia – Myth

Did Capt. James Cook declare ‘Terra Nullis’ at Botany Bay in 1770 which led to the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia, a colony based on a myth.

From Wikipedia:

Terra nullius (/ˈtɛrə.nʌˈlaɪəs/, plural terrae nullius) is a Latin expression meaning “nobody’s land”. It was a principle sometimes used in international law to justify claims that territory may be acquired by a state’s occupation of it. It denotes land that has never been a part of a sovereign nation-state, such as Bir Tawil. International law adopts much of Roman property law in regard to acquisition of sovereignty due to the underlying European civil law at the time of early discovery voyages such as Christopher Columbus. The Roman law concepts acquisition of ownership (in international law, termed state’s sovereignty) of vacant territory or terra nullius therefore continues to apply in the modern age. This concept was often applied historically to land already possessed by indigenous populations and is subject to ongoing academic and political debate.

He could not have claimed ‘Terra Nullis’ because the land was obviously inhabited as this would have flown in the face of International Law at the time. The acquisition of sovereignty, like many other things, is guided under International Law which allows for a country, Great Britain, to acquire sovereignty through ‘Effective Occupation’.

Effective occupation is the control of free newly discovered territory exercised by a power with no sovereign title to the land, whether in defiance or absence of a proper sovereign.

Of course Terra Australis was occupied by an advanced civilisation of sovereign people.


The video above gives a small glimpse of the depth of culture that most early settlers didn’t, couldn’t or wouldn’t see for a myriad of reasons.

When Britain lost its colony in the Americas, they were looking for new land to deport convicts to. Terra Australis provided this opportunity and the First Fleet of convicts set sail to establish a new colony.


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