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Flinders' instructions
Title : Flinders' instructions Flinders' instructions View More Images
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Creator : Flinders, Matthew, 1774-1814
Source : Voyage to Terra Australis..., p. 12
Place Of Creation : London
Publisher : G. and W. Nicol
Date of creation : 1814
Format : Book
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
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Description :

The detailed instructions Matthew Flinders received prior to sailing from England on his voyage of discovery included directions for exploring the unknown south coast, and the search for a strait or an opening to an inland sea. These instructions were drawn up for him by Sir Joseph Banks, under the signatures of the Lords of the Admiralty, St Vincent, Troubridge and Markham. However, while free to speculate on the possibilities of unexplored coasts, the instructions were very clear on Flinders' duties and responsibilities.

Flinders' instructions conclude that when he returns to England he is to contact Kew Gardens and supply it with a list of the plants in the plant cabin together with a report on their condition. These instructions are dated 22 June 1801 and are signed by St. Vincent, T. Troubridge and J. Markham, Lords of the Admiralty.

In an epic voyage of discovery lasting from 1801 to 1803, Matthew Flinders was the first to circumnavigate the island continent known as New Holland. On 18 July 1801, Flinders sailed from Portsmouth in HMS Investigator to explore the continent's 'unknown coast', sighting Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia, on 6 December. By 27 January 1802, the Investigator was near the head of the Great Australian Bight. From February to March 1802, the British crew surveyed Spencer's Gulf, explored Kangaroo Island, and charted St Vincent Gulf. In April the Investigator revisited Kangaroo Island, and on April 8 and 9, unexpectedly met the French expedition under the command of Nicolas Baudin at the location which became known as Encounter Bay. Despite their countries being at war, the captains exchanged information in a spirit of cooperation.

Flinders continued to journey eastwards, leaving present day South Australian waters on 19 April, and reaching Port Jackson in May 1802. After the ship had been refitted and the crew rested, the English expedition sailed north to survey the eastern coast of the continent, adding to Cook's earlier charts, and then chart the Gulf of Carpentaria. The pressing need for further ship repairs forced Flinders to sail to Timor. He stopped his survey of the north Australian coastline at Wessel Islands. The Investigator then continued on around the western and southern coasts of New Holland, arriving back in Port Jackson [Sydney] in June 1803, thereby completing the circumnavigation.

The instructions in A voyage to Terra Australis ... continue with the beginning of the passport for Flinders' ship Investigator which was issued by the French government.

The French government had applied for and obtained in 1800 a passport for their expedition of discovery led by Nicolas Baudin. This would ensure that the vessels fitted out by the French, Le Geographe and Le Naturaliste, would have safe passage in a period when England and France were at war. In due course, when Flinders' expedition was being fitted out a year later, the English government applied for and were granted a passport for Flinders. It was however made out for his ship Investigator, rather than for the captain, Flinders, and this would later cause difficulty for him when he reached Mauritius in 1803 in the Cumberland. He was returning to England in this small vessel, in order to obtain a replacement for the Investigator, which had been condemned because of its leaky condition and rotten timbers.
Related names :

Flinders, Matthew, 1774-1814

Baudin, Nicolas, 1754-1803

Investigator (ship)

Coverage year : 1801
Period : Pre-1836
Place : Australia
Further reading :

Ingleton, Geoffrey C. Matthew Flinders, navigator and chartmaker Guildford, Surrey: Genesis Publications in association with Hedley Australia, 1986

Brown, Anthony J. Ill-starred captains: Flinders and Baudin Hindmarsh, S. Aust.: Crawford House Publishing, 2000

The Encounter, 1802: art of the Flinders and Baudin voyages [compiled by] Sarah Thomas Adelaide: Art Gallery of South Australia, 2002

Fornasiero, F. J. Encountering Terra Australis: the Australian voyages of Nicolas Baudin and Matthew Flinders Kent Town, South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2004

Internet links :
Exhibitions and events :

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



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