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Matthew Flinders


FLINDERS, MATTHEW English navigator, was born at Donington in Lincolnshire on Mar. 16, 1774, and entered the navy in 1789. He served in the "Bellerophon" at Ushant in 1794, and from 1795 to 1799 was engaged in explora tion on the Australian coast, including the circumnavigation of Tasmania in 1798. On his return to England he was appointed to the command of an expedition for the thorough exploration of the Australian coasts. The sloop "Investigator" left Spithead on July 18, 18o1, and reached Cape Leeuwin on Nov. 6. On his way round the coast he met the French exploring ship "Le Geographe" on Apr. 8, 1802, in what is now Encounter Bay. The narrative of the French expedition claimed discovery of most of the land west of the point of meeting, and the matter was not cleared up till the publication of Flinders' book in 1814.

Flinders reached Port Jackson on May 9, 1802. On July

22 he set out again to complete the circumnavigation of Australia. He examined the Great Barrier Reef and surveyed the gulf of Car pentaria, and then, finding the "Investigator" to be in a leaky state, sailed round the west and south of Australia back to Port Jackson, which he reached on June 9, 1803, after a voyage in which much suffering had been endured by everyone, particularly from scurvy. He left Port Jackson for England in the "Porpoise" which, together with the "Cato," was wrecked on a coral reef, about Boo miles out, on Aug. 17. The officers and men camped on a small sandbank, while Flinders returned to Port Jackson in a six oared cutter to obtain relief. He got back and took them off on Oct. 8, and on the 11th sailed again in the "Cumberland." Putting in at Mauritius on Dec. 15, he found England and France at war, and his passport from the French government did not cover the "Cumberland." He was detained until June 181o, and reached England in October. His narrative, "A Voyage to Terra Australis, was published on July 19, 1814, on which day Flinders died. This work contains very valuable scientific observations, especially with regard to magnetism, meteorology, hydrography and navigation. He seems to have been the first to discover, and correct for the errors of the compass caused by iron in ships. He also wrote Observations on the coast of Van Diemen's Land, etc., and two papers in the Phil. Trans. in 18o5 and 1806.


Proc. R. G. S. Australasia, South Australia branch, 14 (181a PP. ; E. Scott, Life of Captain Matthew Flinders (Sydney, 1914) ; G. G. McCrae, In Victoria Geog. Journal, 28 (1910-1911), pp. and 29 (1912-1913), pp. 1-19.

port, jackson, england and reached