Matthew Flinders


Matthew Flinders (1774-1814) was an English navigator and hydrographer. He was the first person to map the coastal outline of Australia in 1801-1803, following his circumnavigation of the 7.692 million square kilometres (2.96 million square miles) continent. To Dutch navigators, the landmass was known as New Holland (specifically, the western and northern coastline), but for centuries, the unknown southern land had been referred to as Terra Australis Incognita. Flinders gave shape to Australia, revealing it to the world through his charts and maps, and has been given credit for suggesting the name 'Australia'.

More about: Matthew Flinders


  • 1774
    Matthew Flinders is born in Donington, Lincolnshire.
  • 1789
    Matthew Flinders enlisted in the Royal Navy at the age of 15.
  • 1792
    Matthew Flinders sails with Captain Bligh to Van Diemen’s Land on Bligh's Second Breadfruit Voyage.
  • 1798
    Matthew Flinders proves that Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) is an island separated from mainland Australia by Bass Strait.
  • 1801 - 1803
    Matthew Flinders surveys and maps the Australian coastline. He is accused of espionage and imprisoned on Mauritius for nearly seven years.
  • 1810
    Matthew Flinders returns to England to prepare reports and charts for his publication, A Voyage to Terra Australis.
  • 19 Jul 1814
    Matthew Flinders dies at age 40.