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Matthew Flinders: Chart of Terra Australis - East Coast. Sheet III

Map: AUNZ2779
Cartographer: Matthew Flinders
Title: Chart of Terra Australis - East Coast. Sheet III
Date: 1814
Published: London
Width: 37 inches / 94 cm
Height: 24 inches / 61 cm
Map ref: AUNZ2779
Chart of the coast of Queensland from the Glass House Mountains to Shoalwater Bay taken from the surveys of Matthew Flinders on H.M.S. Investigator during the first circumnavigation of Australia. The southernmost part of the chart marks the Glass House Mountains, now in the Glass House Mountain National Park, just north of Brisbane. The main emphasis of the map is on the meticulous survey taken by H.M.S. Investigator as it sailed up to Shoalwater Bay. Also shown is Flinders’s earlier voyage on H.M.S. Norfolk. There is a large inset on the lower left showing Port Curtis, Keppel Bay and the Keppel Isles. Port Curtis is now a suburb of Rockhampton in Queensland. Further out, there are several tracks of other ships, braving the dangerous waters near the Great Barrier Reef: these include H.M.S. Porpoise on which Flinders attempted his first journey back to Great Britain. Unfortunately, it ran aground on Wreck Reef and had to limp back to Sydney. Another track shows the route of the Brig Deptford as she carefully sailed near the reef in 1797. The final route shows H.M.S. Cumberland bearing Flinders towards the Torres Straits on his way back to Great Britain for the second time.

Matthew Flinders (1774-1814)

Matthew Flinders was one of the greatest navigators and explorers of the early 19th century. He sailed to the Pacific three times and, on his second voyage, was the first person to record that Tasmania was an island and not part of the Australian landmass.

His third and final voyage was his longest and greatest, being also the first full circumnavigation of Australia. Lasting from 1801-3, Flinders, now in command of the sloop H.M.S. Investigator, began a detailed survey of the coast of the new continent from Cape Leuwin in the southwest. He surveyed the south coast, and then turned north to record the coasts of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory. He reached the northwest coast of the Gulf of Carpenteria, before he was forced to abandon the project due to the increasingly poor condition of his ship. He rounded the west coast and returned to Sydney in 1803.

In Sydney H.M.S. Investigator was condemned as unseaworthy and decommissioned, requiring Flinders to find an alternative route home. He made two attempts to return to Great Britain: the first, on H.M.S. Porpoise, resulted in a shipwreck on the Great Barrier Reef and a heroic 800 mile journey back to Sydney. On his second attempt, on H.M.S. Cumberland, the condition of the ship was so dangerous that they were forced to dock at the French-owned Ile de France (Mauritius) in December of 1803. France and Britain had recently resumed hostilities in the Napoleonic Wars, and Flinders was taken prisoner by the French governor of Mauritius. He was imprisoned for five years and seven months, remaining on the island until 1810 when he was exchanged for a captured French officer by an English fleet blockading the island.

Flinders finally reached Great Britain in October, 1810, and after a period of recovery he began to prepare his papers for publication. His account of the voyage, which was published in 1814, included an atlas of sixteen charts pertaining to his coastal survey. It remains one of the greatest and most important accounts of Pacific exploration. Sadly, Flinders, whose health had been shattered, did not live to see their success, passing away just before the work was issued, at age 40. SL [AUNZ2779]