Flinders Travels


Flinders set out from England over two hundred years ago to map the coasts of Australia. His quest ended in 1803 when his ship was found to be so rotten that it would break up under its own weight if it were beached. That meant he could not undertake running repairs or maintenance of his ship, and if it ran aground accidentally it could have been disastrous.

In Flinders' time there were no radios (much less mobile phones) to call for help, most crew members were unable to swim and onboard safety equipment included only a few small boats with not enough room to hold the entire crew in the event of sinking. Flinders had little choice but to wind up his investigations and limp back to Sydney.


Name three modern explorers. What role do they play in our society? List some of the equipment they use. How is this different to the equipment used by Flinders and his colleagues?

Discuss / Debate: Technology has changed the role of explorers.

Flinders' charts of Bass Strait were so accurate they were used to navigate for more than 100 years. Make your own map using a compass and measuring system. It should be so accurate that another person could find a coin in the area if they were given your map.

Recently there was a meningicoccal scare on a cruise ship and in the past scurvy was a major threat. Find stories in the newspaper related to ocean travel, discoveries, adventures etc. What perils did seafarers of the past face that we still face today? Is there a difference in how we handle these situations?

In the style of a news-sheet write the headlines of Flinders' adventures, as his wife would have seen them back in England. Find pictures in the newspaper, which represent the range of emotions she would have felt.

Given that there were no fridges what foods do you think sailors ate? Flinders cared greatly for his crew, to prevent scurvy he made sure they had limes in the Southern Hemisphere and sauerkraut in the Northern Hemisphere. Plan some recipes for the ships cook using these ingredients.

Write a seafaring tale about one of Flinders' expeditions.

Write a letter home as if you were a scientist on Investigator comment on the unusual fauna and flora that you discover.

Make a table with the places Flinders named and the meaning behind them. Include Lucky Bay, Memory Cove and Cape Catastrophe.

If you were to follow in Flinders' footsteps what lessons would you learn?

There have been a lot of changes to boat building since Flinders journeys in Reliance and Investigator. Design the perfect boat for Flinders' journeys using modern tools and materials. Explain how the boat's structure relates to its purpose. Make a model of a boat. Hold a class regatta to see whose is the most sea worthy and can travel the greatest distance.

There are still areas of the world that have never been explored. Do you think you've got what it takes to be an explorer? What reasons would you to your parents to get permission to travel on a hazardous journey through the Congo or the Amazon?

Look at Flinders' experiences with and treatment of the Aborigines. What were his attitudes towards the Aborigines?


State Library of NSW- Matthew Flinders Collection.

An electronic collection of images, information and documents related to Flinders. Enough things to keep the casual reader occupied for hours and great material for some impressive projects on Flinders.

Australian Explorers

Created by a year 5 teacher Roma Reilly this is great site for easily digestible information on the people who mapped Australia.

Windeward Bound

Official site for the ship that will follow in Flinders' footsteps. You can find details of how to follow the voyage through Trim's on-line diaries.

Flinders Ranges Research: Matthew Flinders

A brief biography of the man after whom the Flinders Ranges were named.


The life of Matthew Flinders

By Ernest Scott.

Written in 1914 this is still a great piece of historical writing. There are some minor inaccuracies and it is slightly unfashionable, or politically incorrect in its attitudes, but it is still solid historically, because of Scott's insistence on going back to primary sources.

Bass and Flinders

By Cathy Dodson, illustrated by Roland Harvey

A wonderful picturebook introduction to the history of early Australian exploration. This book brings the voyages of Bass and Flinders vividly to life.

Terra Australis

By Matthew Flinders, foreword by Tim Flannery.

Matthew Flinders' own account of his voyages of exploration around Australia, and his attempts to return to England after the termination of the voyage of the Investigator. Tim Flannery's introduction provides a good brief biography of Flinders and puts his work in its context.

Explorer: DK Eyewitness Guides

By Rupert Matthews

Flinders is one of the many explorers mentioned in this survey of humanity's quest to explore further and further from home. Going back to ancient times, through the age of sail, to the stars. Generously illustrated.


Matthew Flinders, The Ultimate Voyage - State Library of NSW

A touring exhibition on Matthew Flinders with over 100 rare and stunning 18th century treasures many of which have never been seen by the public. Click on this link for a full intinerary

Windeward Bound Flinders - Re- enactment Voyage

It is too late to get a berth on board the Windeward Bound, but go to the website and you will find the dates it is scheduled to pull into each port all around Australia. There is also a pay to view website and educational program. For details on access for you or your school call (02) 9997 8885 www.windbound.com