The study of the Quaternary events that shaped the surface of Australia cannot be separated from the previous 60 Ma of the Tertiary. This history has only begun to be clearly understood since about 1950. Explorers from the late seventeenth century to the mid-nineteenth century laid the groundwork for the later understanding by their observations, particularly under difficult conditions, and by their attempts to interpret what they recorded. The western and southwestern coasts provided evidence of relative uplift of land, while the northeastern coast (the Great Barrier Reef) indicated evidence of the opposite. Explorers of various nationalities provided the evidence. Knowledge of the dry inland began to emerge from the 1830s, with puzzlement about ‘hard crusts’. Evidence of limited Pleistocene glaciation and relatively young, but quite extensive, volcanic activity took somewhat longer to evaluate. A major interest for European savants was the discovery, in the late 1820s, of cave deposits of extinct vertebrates.