Voyages of Grand Discovery
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In Search of the Great Southland
Past Before Time
Dirk Hartog
Willem de Vlamingh
William Dampier
Nicolas Baudin
Saint Alouran
Matthew Flinders
de Freycinet
Lines of fate
Matthew Flinders RN was well known for his exploration of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). In September 1800 he proposed a new expedition to see if New South Wales was separate to New Holland. The British knew that Baudin was organising a similar expedition. The race was on.

Given command of HMS Investigator and a passport by the French, Flinders arrived at Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia in December 1801. He surveyed and mapped the south coast of Australia, collecting and documenting along the way.

In May 1802, he sailed up Spencer Gulf and St Vincent’s Gulf , proving that New Holland and New South Wales were linked. The search for the Great South Land was over

Matthew Flinders After meeting Baudin at Encounter Bay and charting more of the coast, Flinders sailed round the east coast reaching the Gulf of Carpentaria. Here he was forced to return home with his ship badly rotten.

Flinders ultimately reached the île de France (Mauritius) on another ship, arriving only a few months after Baudin had died there. Flinders was imprisoned for about seven years, using the time to complete his chart of the new continent ‘Australia or Terra Australis’.

He returned home in October 1810. In July 1814, as he lay unconscious and dying, the first copies of his book A Voyage to Terra Australis were delivered and placed in his hand.

Left: Matthew Flinders. Unknown artist, 1801. Miniature watercolour on a locket kept by Ann Flinders. Copy of original Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales (ZML MIN 52)

On going on board I requested to see their passport which was shown to me and I offered mine for inspection, but Captain Baudin put it back without looking at it . . . Captain Baudin . . . finding that we had examined the south coast of New Holland thus far, I thought he appeared to be somewhat mortified.’ Captain’s Fair Log Book, 9 April 1802.

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