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The first Englishman to write an account of Australia, William Dampier (1652-1715) came to the west coast of the continent in 1688 as a buccaneer aboard the Cygnet. He spent three months on the north-western coast, near King Sound, and, following his return to England, wrote A New Voyage Round The World, published in 1697. Such interest was aroused that two years later he was commissioned in the Royal Navy with the rank of Captain. In command of the Roebuck Dampier explored the western and north-western coasts of Australia, as well as New Guinea and New Britain. Returning to England via the Cape of Good Hope, Dampier was marooned on Ascension Island for five weeks before being rescued.

He published three more books on his voyages and one of these, which discussed the prevailing winds and currents in the Pacific, was of considerable use to future navigators. Dampier was also the captain of the vessel which marooned Alexander Selkirk, the model for Robinson Crusoe (with thanks to wertperch).

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