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Archaeologists find remains of British explorer who discovered Australia

Capt Flinders is famous for sailing the HMS Investigator around Australia with Englishman George Bass and Indigenous man Bungaree between July 1802 and May 1803.

That voyage proved to the Europeans that Australia was a single continent, rather than two separate landmasses previously called New Holland and New South Wales.

Capt Flinders is also widely credited with popularising the name Australia as well, even though he was not the first to coin the term.

The navigator and scientist was born in March 16 1774 in Donington, Lincolnshire and was educated at Donington Grammar School.

From a young age, Flinders, had a passion to set sail and explore the world after reading Robinson Crusoe

His father was Matthew Flinders, a surgeon and his mother was named Sussanah.

The precocious teenager had a yearning for adventure and after reading Robinson Crusoe, wanted to take to the high seas, so joined the navy at the age of fifteen in 1789.

He set sail in 1791 under the direction of William Bigh on a voyage to transport breadfruit from Tahiti to Jamaica and then in, after returning to England, saw action at the naval battle of the Glorious First in June 1794.

In a voyage on the HMS Reliance in 1795, and on his first voyage to New South Wales, Flinner was noted as a brilliant cartographer and navigator.

Flinders was promoted to lieutenant in 1798 and visited the Furneaux Islands, with a visit to Norfolk Island following soon afterwards.

He sailed back to England in 1800 and in 1801 published  Observations on the Coasts of Van Diemen’s Land, on Bass’s Strait and its Islands, and on Part of the Coasts of New South Wales.

Flinders was given the command of HMS Investigator in January 1801 and set sail for New Holland later that year, but prior to leaving married Ann Chappelle.  

He set sail in July 1801 and landed in Cape Leeuwin in December of that year before extensively surveying the southern Australian mainland. 

Flinders moved extensively along the coast, before heading to Sydney in 1802, with the ship running low of supplies and also leaking. 

He left Australia soon after the circumnavigation as a passenger on HMS Porpoise in 1803.

But the ship was wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef and he ended up sailing a cutter more than 1000km back to Sydney to arrange for a rescue of the crew.

Capt Flinders again tried to sail back to England later that year, this time in command of HMS Cumberland, but he ended up being imprisoned by suspicious French officials on Mauritius for six years.

He finally made it back to England in 1810 where he began preparing his circumnavigation voyage journal for publication.

By then he was in very poor health.

Capt Flinders finally published A Voyage to Terra Australis on July 18, 1814. He died the following day aged 40.


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