There is a strong case for the Portuguese being the first Europeans to arrive in Australia. However, records of such Portuguese activity have been lost through the years.
The first recorded arrival of Europeans was Willem Jansz/Janszoon, a Dutchman who was seeking new trade routes and trade associates. Travelling in a small ship called the Duyfken, he became the first recorded European to step foot on Australia's shores on the western shore of Cape York Peninsula, on 26 February 1606. However, he believed the Cape to be part of New Guinea, from whence he crossed the Arafura Sea, so he did not record Australia as being a separate, new continent.
As for when permanent European settlement in Australia commenced - that occurred with the arrival of the First Fleet on 26 January 1788.
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