Flinders passed the head of the Great Australian Bight on
27 January 1802, and reached the present South Australian/Victorian
border on 19 April 1802.
(Sources. M Flinders, Voyage to Terra Australis, 1814; H. M. Cooper,
The Unknown Coast, 1953).
28 & 29 January 1802
The bay in which we anchored on the evening of January 28
at the extremity of the before known South Coast of Terra Australis,
was named Fowler’s Bay, after my First Lieutenant (VTA).
29 January: Boats
employed landing the botanists to examine the country, and by
the Commander in surveying (FL). Many traces of natives were found.
Island, Petrel Bay 3 & 4 February 1802
Sent the Master (Mr. Thistle) to sound about the Bay, and
the other boats were employed landing the naturalists to examine
the island, and the Commander to survey and observe the situations
of the neighbouring islands (FL). Enough birds (stormy petrels)
were caught to give 4 to each man on the ship. Further landings
4/2/02 - no fresh water found.
Visits only - no landing.
Smoky Bay 6/2/02
Visits only - no landing.
St. Peter Islands
7 February 1802
Sent a boat away early to collect birds and kill seals ... Other
boats landing the naturalist and the Commander, to survey and
examine the country (FL). Shore temperature estimated 120F.
Islands, Petrel Bay 8 & 9 February 1802
Return visit to fish and catch birds (sooty petrels) to supplement
crew’s salt meat diet. 865 birds killed and brought aboard.
Islands 11 February 1802
The naturalist and his party landed to examine the island, and
soon after I landed also for the purpose of taking observations
...‘ A single rat was the sole quadruped seen, but a few hair
seals were killed upon the shore (FL).
Group of Islands 12 & 13 February 1802
Sent a boat away to sound, kill seals, etc. The other cutter employed
landing the scientific gentlemen to examine the island, and the
Commander to survey and take astronomical observations. No fresh
water found. The boats crews killed several (hair)seals ... found
upon the beaches. Families of these animals were usually lying
asleep every two or tree hundred yards, each consisting of a male
- four or five females - and as many young ones ... I approached
several of them very closely, unobserved and without disturbing
their domestic tranquillity (FL).
16 February 1802
Visit only - no landing.
... saw natives on the west side of the bay, and others upon the
east side. Lime juice and sugar served daily as usual, and sour
kraut and vinegar three times a week (FL).
21 February 1802
Boats employed landing the scientific gentlemen to examine this
uncertain land and the Commander to survey and inspect the neighbouring
parts from the hills (FL). Sent the Master Mr. Thistle, over to
the main land to search for water. At 7 pm the boat was seen returning
but suddenly missed, upon which Lieut. Fowler was sent in another
boat, to look for her. At 9 1/2 hours fired a gun, and soon after
the last boat returned without any intelligence of the other boat,
but had near been swamped herself amongst the strong ripplings
of tide (FL).
Memory Cove 22-25 February 1802
22 February: Sent the cutter away in search of the lost boat and
people, and two parties went to walk along the shores upon the
same pursuit. The cutter soon returned towing the wreck of the
other boat bottom upwards; she was stove all to pieces, having
to appearance been dashed against the rocks ... Nothing was seen
of the bodies of the unfortunate people (FL).
23 February: The
Commander took the cutter to search for the unfortunate people
lost in the boat or for pieces of the wreck ... About 4 pm he
returned, having found nothing more than a small keg which belonged
to Mr. Thistle, and two broken remnants of the boat (FL).
24 February: I
though it would avail nothing to remain longer at the Cove, for
there was only a small chance of obtaining their bodies when they
might rise to the surface, from the number of sharks that we have
constantly seen about. I caused a stout post to be erected in
the Cove, and to it was nailed a sheet of copper upon which was
engraven an inscription to their memory (FL).
26 February - 6 March 1802
26 February: Boats employed landing the naturalists to examine
the country, and the Commander to inspect into the bay from Stamford
Hill and to take bearings (FL).
27 February: Sent
a party of people on shore with spades to dig a large hole at
which to water the ship; also sent the time-keepers, astronomical
instruments and two tents on shore under the charge of Lieut.
Samuel Flinders. Moored ship a cable each way, hoisted out the
launch, and sent a raft of empty casks on shore (FL).
28 February: A
cutter employed by the Commander in surveying the bay. Received
17 puncheons of water from the tents. Employed putting provisions
into the after hold and stowing water in the main hold, all the
empty casks being now out of the ship (FL).
1 March: Received
another raft of water from the tents and stowed it away in the
holds. At such times as the pits require to be left to replenish
themselves, a part of the people on shore are employed cutting
fire wood. Mr. Brown and a party visited the large lake (Sleaford
Mere) today... which runs to within a hundred yards of the sea.
They saw a boat’s sail and yard floating near the shore in that
bight, belonging no doubt to our wrecked cutter; no other fragments
were seen (FL).
2 March: A cutter
employed by the Commander in surveying the bay. Employed as before
in watering the ship.
3 March: Sent
Lieut. Fowler in the cutter out of the Bay and round to Memory
Cove and the neighbouring islands in search of the bodies of our
unfortunate shipmates, the boat being armed and provisioned for
two days. (FL).
4 March: Cloudy
weather with spitting rain at times until a little before noon,
when it cleared up and enabled me to observe an eclipse of the
sun at the tents with an achromatic telescope of 46 inches focus
and a power of about 200. Immediately after the eclipse, brought
on board the tents, astronomical instruments etc. from the shore,
and prepared every thing ready for going down to the entrance
of the bay in the morning. This morning some natives were heard
calling, as we supposed to a boat which had just then landed at
the tents, and two of them were seen at about half a mile from
5 March: We ran
down the harbour and anchored under Cape Donington. In the evening
Lieutenant Fowler returned from his search. He had rowed and walked
along the shore as far as Memory Cove, revisited Thistle’s Island,
and examined the shores of the isles in Thorny Passage, but could
find neither any traces of our lost people nor fragments of the
6 March: I landed
at Cape Donington to take some further bearings. The boat was
afterwards hoisted up; and our operations in Port Lincoln being
completed, we prepared to follow the unknown coast to the northward,
as it might be found to trend (VTA).
Banks Group of Islands 6 & 7 March 1802
6 March: Hoisted out the cutter; sounded about the ship and
landed to inspect the neighbouring islands.
7 March: The naturalist
and other gentlemen landed to examine the production of the island,
and the Commander to take bearings, which, from the number of
small islands was rather perplexing. Sold the effects of Mr. Thistle
and prepared to get under weigh (FL).
& Point Lowly 9 March 1802
At noon, the furthest hummock seen from the anchorage was distant
four or five miles; it stands on a projection of low sandy land,
and beyond it was another similar projection to which I gave the
name of Point Lowly (VTA).
Head of Spencer
Gulf 10-13 March 1802
10 March: The opening in the head of the gulph we entered seems
to be from six to ten miles wide, and it contracts upwards, rapidly.
The scientific gentlemen landed on the east side in order to ascend
the mountains which lie a little distance back, and run parallel
to the shore; and the Commander took the cutter upon a surveying
expedition upwards (FL).
11 March: Party
of scientific gentlemen who visited the eastern hills returned
this afternoon; and at 10 pm the Commander returned from his expedition
up the inlet. No fresh water was found (FL).
Additional remarks: the excursion of the scientists to the highest
top of the ridge of hills proved to be a most laborious one, proving
to be about 15 miles distant. They set off in the morning, and
did not reach its top until 5 in the evening, and were then obliged
to pass the night without water, nor did they find any until the
following day on their way down (FL).
13 March: At 6
am weighed and made sail down the inlet, at 7.45 am the ship took
upon a shoal of soft mud covered with grass. The ship still sticking,
hoisted out the cutter and dropped a kedge astern, with which
we hove her off into deep water (FL).
15 March 1802
Visit only - no landing.
18 March 1802
Visit only - no landing.
19 March 1802
Anchorage only - no landing.
The situation where we anchored late in the evening is well sheltered
from the southerly winds. The fire seen on the land and the howling
of the dogs confirm us in the opinion of its being the main (FL).
21-24 March 1802
21 March: Fresh gales with a heavy sea from the SW saw the looming
of the southern land, high and very near us. Continued our course
to the eastward along the high cliffy shore. No smoke or other
mark has yet appeared by which we can ascertain whether or no
this land is a part of the main (FL). The ship anchored off the
eastern tip of Nepean Bay at 6 pm.
22 March: The
Commander and scientific gentlemen landed to survey and examine
the country, which they find great reason to believe to be an
island notwithstanding its magnitude (FL). It would be difficult
to guess how many kanguroos were seen; but I killed ten, and the
rest of the party made up the number to thirty-one, taken on board
in the course of the day. The whole ship’s company was employed
this afternoon in skinning and cleaning the kanguroos; and a delightful
regale they afforded, after four months privation from almost
any fresh provisions. In gratitude for so seasonable a supply,
I named this southern land Kanguroo Island (VIA).
23 March: The
scientific gentlemen landed again to examine the natural productions
of the island, and in the evening eleven more kanguroos were brought
on board (VTA).
24 March: In the
morning we got under way from Kanguroo Island, in order to take
up the examination of the main coast at Cape Spencer, where it
had been quitted in the evening of the 20th (VTA).
Strait 25-27 March 1802
Many tacks were made; from the northern land across to Kanguroo
Island, and gave opportunities of sounding the intermediate strait.
It was named Investigator Strait, after the ship (WA).
Gulf of St.
Vincent 27 March - 1 April 1802
27 March: Steered towards the unexplored part of the main. 6 pm
fresh breezes with threatening weather. 8 pm saw a fire upon the
land ahead. 12 midnight saw land ahead and several fires upon
28 March: From
noon to six o’clock we ran thirty miles to the northward, skirting
a sandy shore at the distance of five, and thence to eight miles
(VIA). (The ship would have passed the present site of Adelaide
about 3.30 pm).
29 March: The
low eastern shore along which we have run this day is generally
sandy, but is mostly covered with small trees. We noticed much
smoke on the low land, and at noon also great smokes were rising
from the hills further up (FL).
30 March: The
cutter taken by the Commander, accompanied by the Naturalist,
to examine the head of St. Vincent Gulf (FL). (Flinders and Brown
set out to climb Hummock Mount, but finding it could not be reached
in time to admit of returning on board the same evening, they
turned back after ascending a nearer hill).
31 March: Made
sail down the inlet, with light winds (FL).
1 April: The land
has a pleasant appearance, being grassy hills of a gentle ascent
with clumps of trees interspersed. Lower down near the entrance
on the west side the shore is very low, being a sandy beach from
which extends a sandy spit to some miles distant (Troubridge Shoals).
6 pm steering to the southwest for Kanguroo Island, the former
anchorage being in sight, and bearing south (FL).
2-6 April 1802
2 April: The objects I had in mind in coming to Kanguroo Island
a second time were - first to get a known place of shelter for
the night - 2nd to get a few more fresh meals for the ships company,
and 3rd to ascertain generally whether our time keepers were still
keeping the rates found for them in No. 10 Bay (Port Lincoln).
The kanguroos were not now found in anything like the numbers
that they were at the first anchorage; and besides, we now find
them much shyer than before (FL).
3 April: Hoisted
out the launch and sent an officer in her to the eastern part
of the island to kill seals and kanguroos. The launch returned
in the evening with several seal skins for the service of the
rigging; she left a party of gentlemen to examine that part of
the island (FL).
4 April: The Commander
went away in the cutter accompanied by the Naturalist, to examine
the head of the large bight in which the ship lies. Carpenters
with some hands on shore cuffing fire wood (FL).
The object of my excursion in the cutter was both to examine the
head of the great bay or bight, and also to ascend a hill towards
the centre of the island. (FL).
(On this excursion Flinders and Brown climbed Prospect Hill, discovered
the island was ‘separated into two parts of very unequal size,
connected by an isthmus whose breadth is about two miles’, and
explored Pelican Lagoon).
5 April: Sent
the launch to the eastward to fish, and to bring on board a party
that went to shoot kanguroo. At 11 am the Commander and Naturalist
returned on board. At dusk the launch returned with the shooting
and fishing parties, who had but little success; one of the boat’s
crew returned very lame, having been bitten by a seal. Hoisted
in the launch and prepared to go to sea in the morning (FL).
6 April: At 2
pm the rising of a breeze made it advisable to get under way from
Kanguroo Head and we proceeded for the eastern outlet of the Investigator’s
Strait, in order to prosecute the discovery beyond Cape Jervis.
8 & 9 April 1802
8 April: Interview with Le Géographe. The French expedition on
discovery to New Holland, under Captain Baudin, had frequently
furnished us with a topic of conversation, but when we first ascertained
that it was a ship seen ahead, it was much doubted whether it
was one of the French ships, or whether it was an English merchant
ship examining along this coast for seals or whales. On going
on board I requested to see their passport which was shown to
me and I offered mine for inspection, but Captain Baudin put it
back without looking at it. He informed me that after exploring
the south and east parts of Van Diemen Land, he had come through
Bass Strait, and had explored the whole of the coast from thence
to the place of our meeting. He had parted with the Naturaliste,
his consort, in a gale of wind in the strait and had not since
seen her. Captain Baudin was sufficiently communicative of his
discoveries about Van Diemen Land and of his remarks upon my chart
of Bass Strait, many parts of which he condemned, but I was gratified
to hear him say that the north side of Van Diemen Land was well
laid down (FL).
9 April: Captain
Baudin was much more inquisitive this morning concerning the Investigator
and her destination than before, having learned from the boat’s
crew that our business was discovery; and finding that we had
examined the south coast of New Holland thus far, I thought he
appeared to be somewhat mortified. I offered to convey any information
he might wish to the Naturaliste, in case of meeting with him;
but he only requested me to say, that he should go to Port Jackson
so soon as the bad weather set in (FL).
(The two ships parted company at 8 am, Flinders sailing south-east
for Western Port and Bass Strait, and Baudin heading west for
Kangaroo Island and the two Gulfs).
(near Robe) 13 April 1802
Saw a broad patch of rocks above water to which we drew near at
Additional Remarks: The rocks from whence we tacked at 11.30 am,
I judge to be those of which M. Baudin gave me information (FL).
(In his Log Book Flinders gave these rocks the name Le Géographe’s
Rocks, but changed it to Baudin’ Rocks in his published Voyage).
Quotations are from extracts of Investigator’s Fair Log (FL) published
in H M Cooper’s 'The Unknown Coast', being the explorations of
Captain Matthew Flinders RN along the shores of South Australia
1802 (Adelaide, 1953), and M. Flinders 'Voyage to Terra Australis'
(VIA) Vol. I (London, 1814; facsimile edn. published by The Libraries
Board of South Australia, 1966).
In his Logs Flinders
used both Log (naval) Time, which ran from noon to noon, and Civil
Time (from midnight to midnight) when anchored for any considerable
period. Where necessary dates given in Log time have been adjusted
to Civil Time to ensure uniformity.
('Historical Records of New South Wales', Vol. 5,1803-5, p. 826)
Text © by:
Mr Anthony J Brown