In 1800, Matthew Flinders was a young naval lieutenant with a passion for exploring. He sailed around the Australian coast with a friend called George Bass in a small boat they named ‘Tom Thumb’. Once, on going ashore, they were menaced by hostile natives but Flinders won them over by trimming their hair and beards! Later, in 1801, finders sailed in HMS Investigator, sounding and charting the Australian coast and filling in many of the gaps left by Captain Cook. Eventually his ship became unseaworthy and had to be broken up, so the crew was divided between HMS Porpoise and the Cato. The ships sailed for Sydney but both were wrecked on a reef off the coast of Queensland. Only three men were drowned and the remainder were rescued after two months’ existence on a small sandbank. On his return to England, Flinders wrote A Voyage to Terra Australis which became a classic of exploration.
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