Riding the wave


Matthews Flinders

After the discovery, in 1642, over 150 years had to pass before the coasts of the southern continent awakened the interest of Europeans: after the loss of the American colonies, England was trying to conquer new areas and, after the favourable reports of James Cook, in 1788 sent the first settlers, i.e. convicts of both sexes, who were offered that adventure as an alternative to gaol at home.

In 1795 Matthew Flinders was designated to complete the reconnaissance of New Wales, aboard the "Reliance", and he returned there in 1801 with the "Investigator"- on which was at his first boarding John Franklin - thus completing the survey and the entire circumnavigation of the island.

Matthew Flinders is credited with having discovered the method to correct the deviation of the compass on iron ships.

In 1803 he was imprisoned on the island of Mauritius by the French at war with England, and could only return to england in 1810, publishing the report of his navigation - A Voyage to Terra Australis - in 1814.

His report includes the view of Port Bowen, as it appeared to him on the morning of August 24, 1802.

Bowen, Australia. Matthew Flinders, 1802
(Birmingham Central Library)