This is Volume II in 'A Voyage to Terra Australis' and was written by the British navigator Matthew Flinders. It recounts his exploration of the Australian coastline in command of HMS INVESTIGATOR in 1801-1803. Flinders circumnavigated Australia confirming it was one continent separated from the island of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). On his return voyage to England he was imprisoned by the French for seven years on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, during which time he compiled this two volume narrative and atlas. Flinders died on 19 July 1814 in London - the day his work was published.
SignificanceThis famous book represents Flinders' exploration and charting of Australia's coastline between 1801 and 1803. His work substantially increased the knowledge, detail and accuracy of cartographic maps depicting Australia, so much so that they were still being used well into the 20th century.
HistoryPrior to Matthew Flinders' circumnavigation of the Australian coastline in 1801-1803 cartographic maps and charts of the continent were incomplete and inaccurate. Many believed Australia to be two individual land masses separated by an inland sea.
With the backing of the notable and highly respected Sir Joseph Banks, Flinders was appointed in 1801 to take command of an expedition to 'New Holland for the purpose of making a complete examination and survey' of the southern coast, the north-west coast, the Gulf of Carpentaria and parts westward, Torres Strait and if time permitted 'the whole of the remainder of the north, the west and the north-west'.
Flinders' exploration of Australia's coastline and the subsequent publication of 'A Voyage to Terra Australis', a two volume narrative with accompanying atlas greatly enhanced peoples' understanding of Australia's geography. Now respected as one of the greatest maritime explorers of his time, Matthew Flinders provided accurate and detailed charts of Australia and charted substantial areas of its unknown coast.
'A Voyage to Terra Australia' also contained information about the settlement of Port Jackson, the Indigenous Australian population, a summary of earlier voyages of discovery to Terra Australis, details of his imprisonment on Ile de France (Mauritius), records on navigational science and the botany of the continent. He recorded that 'Botany Bay proved to be an unfavourable situation for the new colony; it was, therefore, abandoned in favour of Port Jackson, which lies three leagues to the northward, and was found to be one of the finest harbours in the world.'