According to David Odell©1997 The first Phoenician explorer to reach the shores of this continent was believed to be Abd-haddon, in about 415 BC. He was an eccentric and somewhat disenchanted adventurer who led a small fleet consisting mostly of fellow Chaldaeans. The Chaldaeans had been former rulers of Phoenicia but had been replaced by the Persians about 100 years previously (538 BC). Chaldaean colonists had assimilated into the Phoenician mercantile culture but had brought with them a greater emphasis on magic and mysticism, and especially an obsession with astrology. By the late 400s this Chaldaean subculture had become disaffected from mainstream Phoenician life as their position at the peak of the social hierarchy was taken over by Persians and others. A kind of obsession had developed about a new world far to the East of anything previously known, where the Gods kept their storehouse of wisdom. Abd-haddon, with a shrewd eye to possible traffic in spices and dye stuffs and precious stones, led an expedition part-commercial part-zealot to the land beyond the lands of the dawn. There were enough star-gazers on board to ensure a certain amount of confidence in being able to get there and back.

The small group of three or four ships sailed beyond the Pillars of Hercules and around the Horn of Africa, they reached the shores of India and crossed into the Indian ocean and made their way towards the West coast of Australia. It was a remarkable feat of seamanship aided by an extremely lucky series of weather conditions which were capped off by an event that had a profound effect on the entire future of Australia. A day before sighting land, some time in the early hours of the morning, the most spectacular meteor shower ever seen occurred over the West coast of the continent that they were soon to reach. For the astrologers on board this was the last straw; they had already been filled with awe at their first sight of the southern skies and the Great Milky way, they had been euphoric at the (unwonted) success of their predictions about wind and weather conditions, but this finally flipped them into an ecstasy with no return. They were certain that in Australia they would meet with the Gods, that they would themselves become Gods.

When the ships reached land, at a point somewhere between the present day cities of Broome and Port Hedland, the mariners found a vast empty landscape. The local Aborigines had taken the meteor shower as a sign that certain spirits had need of this part of the land for their own rituals of cosmic import and had cleared out to leave them undisturbed. Two factions formed among the new arrivals. The larger group was frightened and homesick and wanted to collect anything that could be found to have commercial value and then return home. In particular they wanted to gather up as many of the meteorites as possible because these, if strange and metallic enough, could be sold at a great price to any burgeoning city in the Middle East wanting to add power to its own special temple and local Godling. The antipodean flora could also fetch a great price if sold as medicine. They also, apparently, somehow got hold of crocus shells, which explains why these together with fronds of dried Eucalyptus leaves have recently been unearthed in clay pots buried near Palmyra in Syria, and dating from around this period.

The smaller group, consisting of most of the star-gazers, wanted to stay and set up special astrological temples in order to communicate directly with the Gods. In fact they insisted on staying. This created a dilemma for Abd-haddon, since if all the star-gazers remained in Australia they would never be able to find the auspicious way home. He eventually reached a compromise by convincing the faction of star-gazers that some of their number should return with him in order to spread word of their discovery amongst their brethren, so that others could come out and join them and found the colony that many of them dreamed of. In return he left a group of slaves with the colonists, highly trained men and even some women (possibly captives taken in India or Sri Lanka), who would ensure the material survival of the group, at least for a short time.

Perhaps the star-gazers that returned with Abd-haddon were a more junior group because they were not as fortunate in their voyage home as they had been on the voyage out and only one of the ships made it back to Sidon. All but a few of the smaller meteorites were lost and just two of the star-gazers remained, but they were still on fire and rapidly spread word of the wondrous place they had been to, which they named, Shamem-hadashti, meaning "new heaven". They were listened to with a certain scepticism, tempered by the evidences they had brought with them, especially some small blue metallic meteorites and a rudimentary star map. As disaffection with Persian rule grew a new faction of believers crystallised around these stories of Shamem-hadashti, but it was not until nearly 50 years later in 361 BC that a new and larger expedition set forth guided by the maps and oral instructions left by the two star-gazers from the Abd-haddon voyage, who were now of course dead. The members of this expedition were proto-colonists and they were fortunate in their timing because shortly after they left Phoenicia revolted against the Persians, a revolt which was ultimately put down in a very bloody fashion by Ataxerxes III, and most of the Chaldaean-Phoenicians back home perished.

Meanwhile back in Australia the original group of "settlers" had died off by this time, but the remnants of their astrological colony were still very much alive. When they had first arrived they had immediately set about building temple-observatories in all of the meteor craters. These were initially made out of wood and consisted of circles of vertical pillars inscribed with the names and rudimentary figures of the Gods, surrounding a strange apparatus consisting of a moveable bed, where the observer would lie and stare up into the heavens where he would gain a fix on any particular star by sliding a network of small wooden struts into place. It was nearly half a year before the local Aborigines returned and when they did they naturally concluded that these structures and the men in them had hatched from the meteorites which they had seen fall and which were now nowhere to be found. As successful traders in many lands the Phoenicians were possessed of a certain innate sensitivity to contact with other cultures, so relations between these colonists and the Aborigines developed with a peacefulness that us descendants of a barbaric European culture are almost incapable of imagining. The two groups grew close after a time through a commerce in myths and stories, in ritual objects and in deep metaphysical visions.

One of the stories that persisted amongst the settler group was of their brethren from the old country that would come and join them, and for this reason their group always remained in the same spot as when they had first arrived. When the second group finally came, at least ten ships surviving from an original fleet of more than twenty, and led by the great Esar-fereng-pal, they found a dying ember of the original colony maintained by a group of mixed descendants blended in with the local Aboriginal culture, which had itself been indelibly changed by contact with the foreigners. The mythology that continued to be unfolded here was a fecund hybrid of Dreamtime and Middle Eastern cosmology. The new arrivals injected a more determined colonising intention into this context, and set up a sort of city on the coast which was called Qarth-sakun-yathon. This flourished for about 150 or 200 years. At its height it traded with the Indonesian islands and from there went forth small groups who penetrated far into the continental interior. Wherever they came into contact with the Aborigines, the Djarinjin, the Yungngora, the Nimingarra and the Pippingarra initially, and then later the peoples of the Central Desert, they left their mark in the form of a subtly altered mythology and the rudiments of a written culture.

In the four centuries that followed there were perhaps three more Phoenician fleets that managed to reach Australia, almost always motivated by a desire to escape cultural oppression by migrating to a place believed to be on a higher metaphysical plane than the known Earth. By the time the Romans took over Phoenicia a sceptical temper had so triumphed that there were no longer any who were game to make the voyage from which so few had returned. For indeed those among the colonists whose hope had been for rich pickings to be traded for wealth back home, were to be disappointed. Ships plying the return route disappeared with few exceptions. Successive waves of migration enriched only the culture of Qarth-sakun-yathon, which was richly fed by refugees from the burgeoning Gnostic sects and by those who had had contact with India. After a while trade stagnated and the city itself melted into its surroundings. All direct filiation with the Mediterranean world ceased.

When the British invaders arrived hundreds of years later they were astonished by the remarkable culture they encountered amongst the Aborigines, especially as their explorations drew them further West. There were enough elements of Middle Eastern mythology in this palimpsest to tease them with similarities to their own professed Christianity. An invasion of religious crackpots and others followed in the wake of James Cook, convinced that they would find the lost tribes of Israel or the hidden records of Christ's novitiate, or such things. And in fact even today it is not unusual for ancient documents of singular interest to be found buried somewhere on the outskirts of the desert colonies. Among the most important migrants drawn by this metaphysical gold rush was the great Australian poet and visionary William Blake who stands as one of the founders of the artistic tradition for which Australia is now so famous.