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Survey Torres Strait
Title : Survey Torres Strait Survey Torres Strait
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Creator : Flinders, Matthew, 1774-1814
Source : Voyage to Terra Australis..., p. 10
Place Of Creation : London
Publisher : G. and W. Nicol
Date of creation : 1814
Format : Book
Catalogue record
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Description :

Flinders' instructions continue: he is to carefully survey the Gulf of Carpentaria, and then Torres Strait, before carrying out a complete examination of the north, west and north-west coasts of Australia and a search for the Trial Rocks offshore. Torres Strait had been discovered in 1606 by the Spaniard Luis Vaez de Torres, but the Spanish had kept the discovery secret. Captain James Cook had navigated a passage through the strait in 1770, and William Bligh in 1789 in the ship's cutter after he was cast adrift by the mutineers of the Bounty. These however had been the only recorded passages through the strait, which was notorious for the islands, reefs and shoals throughout its length and breadth. Flinders was to examine it thoroughly to determine if it was a useful shortcut to India and the East Indies from Sydney.

He was also to search for and chart the Trial Rocks, somewhere off the north-west coast of Australia. The English ship Trial had been wrecked there in 1622 and the rocks had not been found since. They are now considered to have been part of the Montebello Islands, with the ship well off its perceived course.

After carefully charting Torres Strait and the Gulf of Carpentaria, Flinders was forced to break off his careful examination of the north Australian coast, due to the leaky condition of his ship Investigator. His survey stopped at the Wessel Islands. He planned to have the ship repaired or replaced in Sydney, and then to return to the coast and complete his survey. However there was no suitable vessel in Sydney at the time, and Flinders was compelled to return to England to seek another ship. On his return he was detained on Mauritius by the French, who were again at war with England. It would be over six years before he reached England. He never completed his Australian survey, but he did show that there was another navigable passage through Torres Strait.
Related names :

Flinders, Matthew, 1774-1814

Coverage year : 1801
Place : Australia
Further reading :

Flinders, Matthew, A voyage to Terra Australis ... Adelaide: Libraries Board of South Australia, 1966

Estensen, Miriam Discovery: the quest for the great south land St Leonards, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin, 1998

Schilder, Gunter Australia unveiled: the share of the Dutch navigators in the discovery of Australia Amsterdam: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, 1976

Terra Australis to Australia edited by Glyndwr Williams and Alan Frost Melbourne: Oxford University Press in association with the Australian Academy of the Humanities, 1988

Internet links :
Exhibitions and events :

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



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