Captain Matthew Flinders (16 March 1774 – 19 July 1814) was one of the most successful navigators and cartographers of his age. In a career that spanned just over twenty years, he sailed with Captain William Bligh, circumnavigated Australia and encouraged the use of that name for the continent. He survived shipwreck and disaster only to be imprisoned for violating the terms of his scientific passport by changing ships and carrying prohibited papers. Matthew Flinders carried out several important and daring voyages of discovery along coastal portions of the land now known as Australia. Additionally he was first to prove that the eastern and western sections of Australia were connected, and his work gave the map of Australia its present shape.
Matthew Flinders, an officer of the Royal Navy, first explored parts of the NSW coast south of Sydney with his friend George Bass. The first two trips took place in small open boats (both called Tom Thumb. After a surveying trip south in the Francis, Flinders carried out important work in the Norfolk, including the circumnavigation of Tasmania, also with George Bass.
On return to England, assisted by Joseph Banks, he lobbied for, and gained command of the expedition of his life - the first close circumnavigation of Terra Australis. While supervising the provisioning of the Investigator (a converted collier), he found time to resume his friendship with Ann Chappelle, a relationship that blossomed. Matthew and Ann married, but suffered the pain of long separation as Ann was forbidden by the Admiralty to join the voyage.
After the lengthy trip from England, Flinders explored the southern coast of New Holland, thus beginning the first close circumnavigation of the 'island continent', Australia. At Cape Catastrophe the expedition suffered the loss of the ship's boat and its eight sailors, including Flinders' close associate, John Thistle. Dramatic moments occurred while passing through the Great Barrier Reef, in the...
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