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Banks suggests Mungo Park to explore Australia
Title : Banks suggests Mungo Park to explore Australia Banks suggests Mungo Park to explore Australia
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Creator : Banks, Joseph, Sir, 1743-1820
Source : Historical records of Australia, Series 1, volume 2, p. 232
Place Of Creation : Sydney
Publisher : Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament
Date of creation : 1798
Format : Book
Catalogue record
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Description :

Banks continues his letter to the Under Secretary of State, John King, about the exploration of the Australian interior and suggests Mungo Park the African explorer as a suitable leader. Park should search for the large rivers that the Australian continent should contain. Banks expounds on the virtues of Park as the leader of such an expedition: he is a proven leader and well practised in establishing his position by astronomical observation. He is also 'very moderate in his terms' and the conditions of his employment. Further says Banks, Matthew Flinders would be happy to serve under him.

Banks then describes the type of vessel that should be used and the size of the crew. Banks would of course supply the instructions for the expedition. Mungo Park did not take up this proposal, and drowned in Africa in 1806. Matthew Flinders with his friend George Bass made a number of small boat voyages along the eastern coast of Australia, and also circumnavigated Tasmania proving it to be an island in 1798-99. In 1801 Flinders approached Joseph Banks for his support in a major voyage of discovery of the Australian coast, including the unknown southern coast. Flinders did not however discover the mouths of any major rivers.

Sir Joseph Banks had accompanied Captain James Cook on the voyage of discovery of 1768 that resulted in the charting of the east coast of Australia. After his return to England in 1771 he became an authority on the southern continent, particularly so after his election as President of the Royal Society in 1778. In 1779 he had recommended Botany Bay as the site for a penal colony. He was a great supporter of the colony of New South Wales when it was finally settled in 1788 and sent out collectors to continue the search for plant specimens. He also supported explorers such as Matthew Flinders. Banks' belief that a land mass the size of Australia must have rivers of great size, that were navigable and lead to the centre of the continent was a spur for explorers long after his death in 1820, and was not wholly disproven for another 50 years.
Related names :

Banks, Joseph, Sir, 1743-1820

Park, Mungo, 1771-1806

Flinders, Matthew, 1774-1814

Coverage year : 1798
Place : Australia
Further reading :
O'Brian, Patrick, Joseph Banks, a life London: C. Harvill, 1987
Carter, Harold B. Sir Joseph Banks, 1743-1820 London: British Museum (Natural History), 1988

Maiden, J. H. Sir Joseph Banks, the "father of Australia" Sydney: William Applegate Gullick, Govt. Printer; London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. Ltd., 1909
Internet links :
Exhibitions and events :

State Library of South Australia: Mortlock Wing. Taking it to the edge August 2004-



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