Matthew Flinders


1799 - 1999

DID YOU KNOW ...........

1770 Captain Cook' the Endeavour, sailed up the east coast of The Great South Land.. He named Point Lookout (on Stradbroke Island) and Cape Morton (on Moreton Island), believing both to be part of the mainland.

"Morton" was named for Lord Morton, President of the Royal Society, but the "e" was added in error in 1773, when John Hawksworth, wrote "An Account of a Voyage Around the World by Lieutenant James Cook".

Cook named Glass House Bay because the background peaks reminded him of the glass houses of England. He suggested that later explorers search for a river flowing into Glass House Bay (renamed Moreton Bay by Flinders in 1799)

Eighteen year old Midshipman Matthew Flinders sailed to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) with Captain William Bligh in the "Providence", in 1792.

Master's Mate Matthew Flinders, now twenty-one years old, left England for the colony of New South Wales in the "Reliance", in 1795.

Just fiftteen years after Capt. Arthur Phillip brought the convicts to Sydney Cove, the penal colony had big problems. It was short of food and the few available boats were needed to obtain supplies from Africa and other faraway places.

The colony was hemmed in by the sea to the East, the Blue Mountains to the West, and more arable land was needed to feed the prisoners and their minders.

With no larger boat available, Matthew Flinders, with his friend Dr. George Bass, set out in the tiny Tom Thumb, with a young boy as crew, to explore the coast south of Port Jackson. The Tom Thumb was only eight feet long, but the discoveries of the young explorers helped open up the country.

The Norfolk began as the longboat from the HMS Sirius, wrecked on Norfolk Island in 1790. It became the hull of the 25ton sloop which was planked with Norfolk Island pine, and fitted with sails, and used by Bass and Flinders to circumnavigate Tasmania, in 1798, proving it to be an island.

In July, 1799, Governor Hunter sent Flinders in the "Norfolk" to explore north of Port Jackson Midshipman Samuel Flinders, Matthew's young brother accompanied him in the Norfolk. Bongaree, an aboriginal from Broken Bay was invited along, because Flinders had been impressed by his good disposition and manly bearing.

Flinders headed for Cook's Glass House Peaks, sailing around Cape Moreton to Bribie Island. An incident with the aborigines m the south western side of Bribie caused Flinders to name the spot Skirmish Point.

The abundance of pumice stone in the area led him to name Pumice Stone River (now known as Pumicestone Passage)

Flinders named Red Cliff Point (now Woody Point).

Mud, St. Helena, Green, King, Peel and Coochiemudlo Islands were noted by Flinders who did not name them, 'instead he numbered them one to six.

Flinders landed on Coochiemudlo, his sixth Island, on July 19, to take his bearings. Every year the folk of Coochiemudlo hold a re-enactment of this event.

Shallow water and tricky shoals prevented Flinders from entering the Brisbane River, although he and Captain Cook believed it existed. John Oxley was to discover this river in 1824, with the help of Pasons, Phamphlett and Finnegan, ticket-of-leave timber-cutters blown off-course from Sydney, and wrecked on Moreton Island.

The Norfolk had a leak, so it was beached on Bribie Island for repairs. When refloated, Flinders crossed the Pumice Stone River (Channel), and landed near Donnybrook. With two crewmen and Bongaree, he rowed up Elimbah Creek, then walked to Beerburrum Mountain. From the top of Beerburrum Flinders had a grand view of the Bay.

That night he camped beside a waterhole near today's Flinders' Park, on the Bruce Highway. Flinders met some friendly aborigines, and exchanged various items with them. After a long hike back to the boat, the mountaineers enjoyed a fine meal of roast black swan

Bad weather prevented the Norfolk's departure for two days, when they saw some native corroborees, and noted the names of Yelbelbah, Yewoo and Bonmarigo. They also recorded their amazement that the natives were naked.

Flinders renamed Cook's Glass House Bay. Moreton Bay, because it was really part of the much larger Moreton Bay, which name Cook had given to Rous Channel.

Sailing out of the Bay, Flinders named Moreton Island, as he believed Cook would have done if he had realised it was an island.

The Norfolk proceeded to Captain Cook's Bustard Head and Hervey Bay before returning to Port Jackson.

 Matthew Flinders was only twenty-five years old.

 • Flinders circumnavigated Van Diemen's Land in the Norfolk with Dr. George Bass, proving it to be an Island separated from the mainland by Bass Strait. This discovery enabled sailing ships to clip three weeks off their south-about voyage to Port Jackson.

• Discovered and mapped Moreton Bay and some of our Islands and climbed Mt. Beerburrum

• Circumnavigated Australia in the Investigator, carefully charting the coastline with great accuracy.

• Flinders discovered that variations in barometric pressure preceded the changing of direction of the prevailing winds.

He discovered the Variation of the Compass and that the variation was proportional to the sine of the angle of deviation of the ships head from the magnetic pole, and that the iron in ships affected their compass bearings.

Matthew Flinders first called our homeland "Australia", and wanted to use this term in his book "Voyage to Terra Australis", published in 1814, on the day he died, aged 40 years. Sir Joseph Banks and others insisted the old term "Terra Australis" be used, but later Flinders' choice of the name "Australia" was officially adopted.

Compiled by Jackie Butler (Phone 3396 9472)

Hon Secretary Wynnum Manly Historical Society

102 Moreton Avenue Wynnum 4178.

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