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Matthew Flinders: Chart of Terra Australis - South Coast. Sheet VI

Map: AUNZ2797
Cartographer: Matthew Flinders
Title: Chart of Terra Australis - South Coast. Sheet VI
Date: 1814
Published: London
Width: 18 inches / 46 cm
Height: 26 inches / 67 cm
Map ref: AUNZ2797
Highly detailed chart van Diemen's Land, now Tasmania from the surveys made by H.M.S. Norfolk under the command of Matthew Flinders.

Although it is included in the atlas volume of Flinders’s circumnavigation, the manuscript for this map was actually provided from an earlier voyage which Flinders undertook as commanding officer of the sloop H.M.S Norfolk. This voyage took place in 1798-99 and was significant in that it discovered that Tasmania was a separate island and not connected to Australia as previously believed. Flinders named the newly discovered Straits after his good friend, naval surgeon, George Bass and to this day, they are known as the Bass Straits.

The voyage of the Norfolk was not as painstaking in its surveys of the coast as that of the Investigator, although Flinders did sail into the mouth of the Derwent River and made a very detailed survey of the channels; this was later to be the site of Hobart, capital of the island. Flinders also credits earlier explorers whose work he added to the map below the title

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 [AUNZ2797]