214 years ago today Matthew Flinders & George Bass embarked on a special journey: They were to prove that Van Diemen’s Land was actually an island. Discovered 150 years earlier by Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman and named after his patron, the Colonial Governor of East India, Antonius Van Diemen, it had originally be thought to be part of New South Wales.

But there was suspicion that there might be a shorter route to England than to sail around the Southern tip of Van Diemen’s Land and Hunter, the Governor of NSW, commissioned Lieutenant Flinders and his friend, surgeon Bass, to set out and find that shortcut. Afterwards they were to circumnavigate Van Diemen’s Land and prove its island status.

The Strait they found to separate the island from the mainland was then named after one of the explorers – Bass Strait – and the largest island in the strait after the other – Flinders Island. Although, the better known island today is probably Kings Island, due to the yummy cheeses that come from there…

Matthew Flinders sailed along the continent’s coastlines again later, but that’s another story… or two…

If you would like to learn more about Matthew Flinders, you should join the Colonial City History Walk!

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