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Australia circumnavigated: General chart of Terra Australis
Title : Australia circumnavigated: General chart of Terra Australis Australia circumnavigated: General chart of Terra Australis
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Creator : Flinders, Matthew, 1774-1814
Source : Australiana facsimile editions ; no. 37
Place Of Creation : Adelaide
Publisher : Libraries Board of South Australia
Date of creation : 1966
Additional Creator : Libraries Board of South Australia G. & W. Nicol (Firm)
Format : Book
Catalogue record
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Description :

Matthew Flinders's general chart of Terra Australis or Australia shows the route of his circumnavigation of the continent and the sections of coast which he had surveyed. Those parts of the coastline known from the work of earlier surveyors are shown as dotted lines, or as blank sections notably in northern Queensland and on the Western Australian coast.

Flinders surveyed the southern coastline from December 1801 to April 1802, discovering the South Australian gulfs and Kangaroo Island. In 1798 he and George Bass had surveyed parts of the southern New South Wales coastline and in 1798/9 he and Bass had circumnavigated Tasmania and proved it an island. These discoveries are reflected in Flinders's chart. Flinders stopped his detailed survey of the Australian coast at the north eastern shore of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory because of the leaking condition of his ship Investigator. He intended to return with another ship and complete his survey but this never happened. His charts were finally published in 1814.

View a "zoomable" version.

Flinders wanted to name the newly defined continent 'Australia', and had used the name as early as 1804, calling his draft of his chart 'General chart of Australia or Terra Australis'. This draft was drawn up while he was detained on Mauritius by the French, and was forwarded to Sir Joseph Banks in London, with a covering letter in which he asked that his suggestion of the name of Australia be submitted to the Admiralty and 'the learned in geography' for approval. The use of the name was not approved at that time, and 10 years later, the map was published in the atlas that accompanied A Voyage to Terra Australis .... as 'General chart of Terra Australis or Australia'.

Flinders was not the first to use the name Australia for the continent of New Holland/New South Wales. The name had been used as early as 1625 by Samuel Purchas, and was actually a misprint for Austrialia del Espiritu Santo the name given by Fernandez de Quiros to the New Hebrides islands. He believed he had discovered a continent and named it for King Philip III of Spain, Archduke of Austria. The name Australia was used in other guises for the next 100 years or so, but was only specifically applied to Australia in 1794 by George Shaw in his book Zoology of New Holland. He writes of the 'vast island or rather continent of Australia, Australasia, or New Holland...'. Flinders may not have been the first to use the name, but he popularised it and Governor Lachlan Macquarie used the name and it was in common usage by the 1820s.

Related names :

Flinders, Matthew, 1774-1814

Banks, Joseph, Sir, 1743-1820

Coverage year : 1801-1803
Place : Australia
Further reading :
Healey, John, 'Who invented "Australia"?', History SA: newsletter of the Historical Society of SA Inc., No. 163, November 2002, pp. 8-11 and No. 164, January 2003, pp. 12-16
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
Ingleton, Geoffrey C. Matthew Flinders, navigator and chartmaker Guildford, Surrey: Genesis Publications in association with Hedley Australia, 1986
Internet links :
Exhibitions and events :

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



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