Matthew Flinders Memorial

Matthew Flinder Memorial, Augusta, Public Art

Public Art : Matthew Flinders Memorial

Sculptor : None Required

Description : The memorial is nothing spectacular just a simple granite stone wall with a bronze plaque attached.

Date Unveiled : Unknown

Location : The Matthew Flinders memorial can be found between Groper Bay and Point Matthew on the Leeiwin Road, Augusta.

History of the Matthew Flinders Memorial : On the 6th of December 1801, somewhere off the coast where the Indian and Southern Ocean meet, Matthew Flinders sited land for the first time in his expedition and named it Cape Leeuwin.
The Cape was originally named "St Allouarn Island" by  Antoine Bruni d'Entrecasteaux in 1791. However at half past seven on the morning of the 6th of December 1801, Flinders noted that there were hills in the background which appeared joined to the mainland. He therefore concluded that couldn't possibly be an island and so declared it "Cape Leeuwin" in honor of the Dutch ship the Leeuwin (Lioness) which charted some of the coastline in 1622.

Who was Matthew Flinders ? : Matthew Flinders (16th March 1774 – 19th July 1814) was a naval navigator, chart maker and explorer who was the first person to circumnavigate the Australian Continent (New Holland) in the ship 'Investigator', in 1802.

Matthew Flinders was born at Donington in Lincolnshire, England on the 16th of March 1774. As a child he dreamed of  becoming an explorer after being enthralled by Daniel Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe. By the age of fifteen he had joined the navy and begun training as a navigator. In 1795 the twenty one year old had his first venture to Australia on the ship, HMS Reliance.

In 1801, the British Government invited Flinders to go back from whence he came, to head an expedition to circumnavigate Australia and chart the coastline (thanks to the lobbying by Sir Joseph Banks). He sailed back to Australia as commander of the 334 ton sloop the HMS Investigator and set sail from Sydney in July, 1802. By June 1803 he returned to Sydney, having charted the east coast, Western Australia’s coastline (to include Cape Leeuwin and King George Sound) and the Gulf of Carpentaria, thus successfully circumnavigating Australia.

Unfortunately fate was about to take a nasty turn. On his journey back to England in 1803, he set ashore in Mauritius for repairs on his schooner. Unbeknownst to him, England was at war with France (Napoleonic Wars) and he was promptly charged as a spy and interned by the French, in Mauritius. For seven long years Flinders remained a prisoner on the island. Unfortunately poor old Flinders never quite recovered from his ordeal. Shortly before his death in 1814 he completed a book, 'Voyage to Terra Australis'. Terra Australis meaning southern land which was derived from the word "auster" which was a Latin name for southern wind. Flinders died at the age of forty on the day his book was published.
It was Matthew Flinders who suggested that the continent take on the name "Australia" which was later adopted in 1824. Click here History of Australia Online to find more info on Matthew Flinders.

Matthew Flinders Trivia : A few months prior to sailing to Australia in 1901, Matthew Flinders married his long time love Ann Chappelle. He was hoping to bring his bride along with him to Australia but as it was against the rules he was forced to leave her behind. It would be 9 years before the couple would see each other again.

Inscription :

On 6 December 1801
Captain Matthew Flinders. R.N.
Commander of H.M.S. Investigator.
Sighted Cape Leeuwin and commenced
the mapping of the Australian coast.

This memorial was erected by the Augusta branch
of the Royal Historical Society

Leeuwin lighthouse, Flinders Bay, Augusta, Western Australia

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