Printed from Catalogue on Friday, Apr 02 2021

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1814 - Chart of Terra Australis. Sheet III, South coast (Spencers Gulf, South Australia)

Map makerSizeMap IDCondition
Matthew Flinders 890 x 600 mmD1 / M338 / I309Very good condition. First edition. Left margin cropped to neatline.

Flinders chart of Spencer’s Gulf and the Gulf of St Vincent is important for a number of reasons. This chart’s cartographic importance to the knowledge of the coastlines of Australia is in the same category as that of Cook’s chart of the east coast of Australia. Before Flinders charted the region the map of Australia would depict the southern coastline as a curved or dotted line joining western Australia to the north western tip of Tasmania or it was simply left blank. This piece of coastline would be the last large missing piece to the map of Australia, after which only small unexplored parts were still to be explored.

This chart shows the region from the head of the Great Australian Bight to Encounter Bay, explored by Flinders on the Investigator in 1802. Encounter bay shows the point where Flinders and the Investigator met with the French explorer Baudin who was simultaneously charting the Australian coast at the time. Interestingly after Flinders was imprisoned on Mauritius during his homeward voyage to England, Baudin’s voyage would claim sole achievement of the discovery of the whole region. It was not until Flinders returned to England some six years after his initial imprisonment and the publishing of his charts coupled with the loss of the French in the Napoleonic wars would Flinders claim for the region’s first discovery be established and uncompromised.

Matthew Flinders (1774-1814) was an accomplished navigator and cartographer, having circumnavigated the Australian continent, proved that Tasmania was not joined to the mainland, and played a major part in the naming of Australia. Despite Flinders’ short life he accomplished some exceptional feats. His charts were of a particularly high standard and though published in 1814, many continued to be republished and used until recent years. Flinders’ most famous chart was of the Australian continent, published in 1814, which is famously named ‘General Chart of Terra Australis or Australia’. It was the first prominent chart to specifically label the continent as Australia. Sadly, Flinders journeys were marked by some disappointments including shipwrecks, poor vessels, and most notably his six year imprisonment by the French on Mauritius. His imprisonment meant that he was not the first to publish the newly discovered regions of Australia or a ‘complete’ map of the continent. However in 1814 shortly before his death his famous atlas was released with 16 charts detailing a majority of the Australian coastline.

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