This is the title
of a book released by the Western Australian Museum in late 2005. It
is based on papers presented at the 'Investigator 200 Symposium' in
Albany, Western Australia, December 2001.
The symposium commemorated
the bicentenary of the arrival of Matthew Flinders on HMS Investigator
at King George Sound in December 1801 to begin his survey of the coast
of New Holland. The symposium was organised by the Australian Systematic
Botany Society, the Wildflower Society of Western Australia and the
Western Australian Herbarium. Some of our local Canberrans were among
There is a diversity of papers
in the volume, which is well-illustrated with colour portraits, maps,
photographs and paintings of plants and wildlife. Although the emphasis
in most chapters is on the activities in south-west Australia, a number
cover later aspects of the expedition, as well as the activities of
Robert Brown and Ferdinand Bauer after Flinders left Sydney in 1803.
In 1800 Flinders wrote to Sir Joseph
Banks, with a proposal for a coastal survey of the largely uncharted
landmass of New Holland and New South Wales, to prove whether it was
one or several large islands. Banks, the wealthy, eminent president
of the Royal Society, a famous patron of the natural sciences and of
the colony of New South Wales, approved and persuaded the British Government
to mount a scientific expedition. Flinders, aged 27, was appointed captain
of the Investigator in 1801.
Flinders compiled the first complete
chart of the continent. He also advocated the use of the name 'Australia'
for the first time, but was forced to reverse the title of the map for
commercial reasons. The map of Australia stands as a memorial to Flinders.
'He defined the outline, suggested the name, and personalised the resulting
chart by adding hundreds of place names associated with his own life.
No other national map is so intimately bound up with the life of one
individual', stated Paul Brunton in the State Library of NSW 2001 exhibition
catalogue, Matthew Flinders: the Ultimate Voyage.
a genus of mostly rainforest trees, was named in 1814 by Robert Brown
to honour Flinders. Plants can be found at the ANBG in the rainforest
and its verges.
Flinders finally returned home
in 1810, after a shipwreck and imprisonment on Mauritius, in failing
health, and lived just long enough to write the account of his great
voyage. The work, titled A Voyage to Terra Australis, was published
the day before he died, aged 40 years.
The 'scientific gentlemen' of the
voyage had a more general brief - to collect, classify and document
the natural history of this land. The importance of the scientists and
artists on board is indicated by their salaries. Flinders was paid £250
per annum as commander, whereas the naturalist was paid £420
and the artists, £315
each. In excess of 4,567 plant specimens were collected by Brown and
Good, and Bauer made 2073 field sketches.
Robert Brown, aged 27, was the
botanist, an unknown personality at that time. This was Brown's only
expedition. From these collections Brown described 464 genera and 2040
species, and of these, 150 genera and 1500 species were new to science.
Some of the botanical results of the voyage are published in Brown's
Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van-Diemen, this
being the only part published. The plants collected by Robert Brown
and Peter Good and the bulk of the records are in the Natural History
Museum in London.
Brown's diary was published by
the Australian Biological Resources Study in 2001 as Nature's Investigator:
the Diary of Robert Brown in Australia, 1801 - 1805, compiled by
T.G. Vallance, D.T. Moore and E.W. Groves.
Ferdinand Bauer, the natural history
artist, at 41, was the oldest of the scientific party. Bauer published
15 of his watercolours between 1813 and 1816 in Illustrationes Florae
Novae Hollandiae. The copper plates used for the Illustrationes
and the original water-colours are held at the Natural History Museum
in London, and more than 2000 field sketches from the expedition are
located at the Natural History Museum of Vienna. He is commemorated
in the genus name Bauera.
William Westall, the landscape
painter, aged 19, was the youngest of the scientific gentlemen. By the
1770's carrying artists on voyages had become British Admiralty policy.
An 18th century version of official photographers, these artists provided
pictorial records of the location, proof that the personnel were present,
and showed what these foreign places were like. Westall drew only 27
coastal profiles. He also made sketches, of which 160 are held by the
National Library of Australia. Westall later made none paintings that
were engraved for Flinders' 1814 Voyage to Terra Australis.
Peter Good, the gardener, played
a major role in the collection and preparation of seeds, herbarium specimens
and live plants. Good is best known through the plants grown from these
seeds. Robert Brown commemorated Good by naming the plant genus Goodia
after him. Further information can be found in Good's journal, described
as a lively, vivid account of the voyage. The journal has been transcribed
by the Natural History Museum and is available for loan from the ANBG
Another person of note on board
the Investigator was Flinders' cousin, John Franklin, aged 15,
later to be governor of Tasmania and a famed Arctic explorer.
The Gardens' Library has many other
books relating to exploration of Australia and biographies of the various
botanists and artists. Titles are listed in our catalogue which can
be accessed via the ANBG homepage,
Other titles of interest which
may be found in your local library include Ernestine Hill's popular
biography of Matthew Flinders titled My Love Must Wait. It describes
the poignancy of the long separation from his wife Ann. There's also
Flinders' essay about his much loved cat named Trim, the first cat to
circumnavigate Australia. It is titled A Biographical Tribute to
the Memory of Trim.
Some source material may now be
accessed via the internet. The Matthew Flinders collection of the State
Library of New South Wales, including facsimiles of manuscripts and
full transcriptions is at http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/flinders.