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Matthew Flinders was just 17 when he first saw Terra Australis, and unlocking its mysteries would become the burning motivation for the rest of his short life - at times at terrible cost to himself and others. Flinders joined the Royal Navy as a teenager, journeyed to Tahiti with Bligh's second - and successful - breadfruit voyage, fought the French in the Caribbean and the Atlantic and sailed with Australia's second governor, John Hunter, to the distant colony of New South Wales. The strange, unmapped continent captured his imagination and exploring its uncharted shores became the central goal of his life. Winning the support of the influential Joseph Banks, he received command of HMS "Investigator" on an epic voyage to explore and chart the entire Australian coast. The obstacles were incredible - a rotting ship, the perilous, little-known labyrinth of the Barrier Reef, storms, thirst, scurvy and dysentery, and eventually shipwreck, imprisonment and a nine-year absence from a beloved wife. Yet two centuries ago, Flinders completed the first true circumnavigation of Australia, revealing its vastness and diversity, and giving it the shape - and to some extent the name - we see on maps today. Miriam Estensen has drawn on many sources, some only recently available, to create a vivid picture of the life and voyages of Matthew Flinders and the world and people around him. Above all it is discerning look at the man himself. The story is a tale of high adventure and undeviating commitment, of courage and sacrifice, of triumph and final tragedy.
Allen & Unwin
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