On This Day

Matthew Flinders

Explorer and Cartographer Matthew Flinders

Profession: Explorer and Cartographer


Biography: Matthew Flinders, one of Australia's greatest explorers, was the first to circumnavigate the continent and it was he who advocated strongly for the land mass to be called Australia.

Born in England he served as a sailor in the British navy from the age of 15. Finders served under William Bligh in Tahiti in 1791 and also fought against the French. He first sailed to Australia in 1791 and assisted George Bass in proving that Tasmania, then called Van Diemen's Land, was actually a separate island by voyaging around it.

Flinders was promoted to command his own expedition and set out in 1801 to survey and chart the unknown coasts of Australia. Accompanied by the Aboriginal translator Bungaree he completed the first circumnavigation of the continent in 1803, despite a leaky ship.

Sailing for England he was arrested as a spy on the island of Mauritius and held there for six years, where he wrote up his findings in the later celebrated "A Voyage to Terra Australis" (1814). Eventually returning to England, Flinders was never able to return to Australia and continue his work, dying in a weakened state aged just 40 years.

Born: March 16, 1774
Birthplace: Donington, England, United Kingdom
Star Sign: Pisces

Died: July 18, 1814 (aged 40)
Cause of Death: Kidney disease

Historical Events

  • 1803-06-09 British explorer Matthew Flinders arrives in Sydney becoming the first person to circumnavigate Australia, proving it is one continent
  • 1814-07-17 Matthew Flinders publishes "A Voyage to Terra Australis", detailing his circumnavigation of Australia, first to name the continent Australia. He dies a day later.

Biographies and Sources

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