Born out of an ancient geographical theory of balance, the term 'antipodes' was first used to refer to the vast uncharted underworld of the southern hemisphere from a northern perspective. The principle behind this belief, as described in the Quarterly Review in the nineteenth century, was 'that all the land, which had till then been discovered in the southern hemisphere, was insufficient to form a counterpoise to the weight of land in the northern half of the globe'. The idea of the antipodes as a counterbalance, though now remembered only as a peculiar, discredited theory, has been surprisingly influential as an imaginative concept. An antipodean expectancy filled minds, maps, novels and utopian plans, laying the foundations for perceptions of Oceania and Australasia that continue to impact on how this part of the world is seen from a distance as well as from within. The region of the antipodes has been occupied by European settlers and their descendants for a relatively short time. And yet, this brief period is set against a backdrop of one of the longest recorded histories of imagining prior to geographical discovery.