I imagine that most people would think that the claim Australia did not exist before 1788 could only issue from the mouth of an imbecile – and a racist imbecile at that. But, no, I reject both titles. It’s simple really. Australia as a nation did not exist before 1788 if one understands a nation as being a moral incorporation of people, and not a mass of land decided by geographical coordinates.
Of course, the land mass that today is inaccurately called ‘Australia’ did exist before 1788 under various titles known only to the civilized world far to the north. People from that civilized world either by accident or design came across that mass of land. In that context they discovered it. ‘Discovery’ is the right word.
My full argument for the origin of Australia as a people is in the first eleven pages of chapter 2 of my book: Prison Hulk to Redemption: Part One of a Family History 1788-1900. Those pages are reproduced here: Prison Hulk to Redemption pdf chapt 2