Search the Collection
Advanced Search
Image Not Available

Cannon ball from CATO or HMS PORPOISE

Date: 1802
Overall: 112 x 112 x 112 mm, 5.1 kg, 112 mm
Medium: Iron
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from A B Rutherford
Object Name: Cannon ball
Object No: 00001319

User Terms

    Matthew Flinders, in command of HMS INVESTIGATOR in 1801-1803, was the first European to successfully circumnavigate Australia. This cannon ball is from one of the ships, HMS PORPOISE or CATO, wrecked off the coast of Queensland (Wreck Reefs) in 1803 when Flinders was returning to England from Australia.
    SignificanceThis relic represents part of the narrative of Matthew Flinders and the important role he played in charting the Australian coastline.
    HistoryMatthew Flinders was born in 1774 at Donington, Lincolnshire and joined the Royal Navy in 1789. He sailed as a midshipman with Captain William Bligh on the second breadfruit expedition to the Pacific in 1791-93 and took part in the British naval action the 'Glorious First of June' in 1794.

    In 1795, he sailed as master's mate in the RELIANCE to the colony of New South Wales and commenced a series of investigative surveys. With George Bass, in 1796 he explored the reaches of Botany Bay in the first TOM THUMB, an 8-ft open boat, then in 1798 he explored Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) in the FRANCIS. In command of the NORFOLK he proved conclusively that there was a strait between the mainland and Van Diemen's Land. In 1799 he charted areas around present-day Moreton and Hervey Bays in Queensland and returned to England in 1800.

    With the backing of Sir Joseph Banks, Flinders was appointed in 1801 to take command of an expedition 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'. Many still believed Australia to be two individual land masses separated by an inland sea.

    Flinders's exploration of the Australian coastline in INVESTIGATOR and the subsequent publication of his 'A Voyage to Terra Australis', a two volume narrative with accompanying atlas, greatly enhanced Australian geography.

    Flinders was returning to England as a passenger on HMS PORPOISE which was accompanied by CATO and BRIDGEWATER when in August 1803, the ships were wrecked on uncharted reefs (now called Wreck Reefs) off the Queensland coast. With 13 men he sailed back to Sydney in the ship's cutter to get help - a remarkable 1,127 km (700 mile) journey.

    He then returned to Wreck Reefs to rescue the survivors and continued to England, but was forced to stop in December 1803 at Ile de France (Mauritius) for supplies and repairs. As England was once more at war with France, Flinders was detained as a suspected spy for seven years. During this time he completed work on his charts and narrative and wrote a paper on a method of compensating for compass deviations caused by iron in a ship.

    Flinders was eventually released in 1810 and returned to England to complete his experiments on compass deviations, his great work 'A Voyage to Terra Australis' and his survey charts. The book was published on the day he died, 19 July 1814, aged 40.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Cannon ball from CATO or HMS PORPOISE

    Assigned title: Cannon ball from HMS PORPOISE or CATO

    Discuss this Object


    Please log in to add a comment.