Matthew Flinders

Matthew Flinders returned to England in 1800 where he wrote and published a book about his and Bass'' explorations. Then in 1801 Flinders was put in charge of an expedition to sail around the Australian coastline to chart those parts of it that were still unknown. The Investigator set sail in July 1801 from England and first reached Australia at the south western tip. It continued sailing close to the shore through what is now called the Great Australian Bight. As Flinders sailed past the towering cliffs that form much of Australia’s southern coastline, he imagined that there was a vast inland sea in the middle of the continent. This theory later dominated Australian land exploration. The Investigator then landed on a large island just south of the Spencer Gulf. The crew found huge numbers of kangaroos which provided for some fresh meat.

Subsequently the island is now called Kangaroo Island. It finally made it to Sydney in 1802 where it remained for repairs. It continued its expedition and completed its circumnavigation in almost 3 years. After returning to Sydney in 1803, Flinders sailed for England as a passenger on a ship called the Porpoise but the ship was wrecked on a coral reef off the Queensland coast. Flinders took control of the ship''s lifeboat and sailed to Sydney to get help for the shipwrecked passengers. He was given command of a small schooner the Cumberland and set sail again. But as he crossed the Indian Ocean, the Cumberland started to leak badly and Flinders was forced to dock in at the island of Mauritius which was a French colony. At the time England and France was at war with each other and the French governor of the island arrested Flinders as a spy and imprisoned him for six years.

Flinders eventually arrived back in England in 1810 at the age of 36, however his health was bad and he only lived for another four years.