1902 Encyclopedia > Geography > La Pérouse. William Bligh. Australian Colonisation. Matthew Flinders.

(Part 37)

La Pérouse. William Bligh. Australian Colonisation. Matthew Flinders.

In 1785 the French Government fitted out a very carefully-prepared expedition of discovery at Brest, which was placed under the command of La Pérouse, an accomplished and experienced officer . After touching at Concepcion in Chili, and at Eastern Island, La Pérouse proceeded to the Sandwich Islands, and thence to the coast of California, of which he has given a very interesting account. He then went across the Pacific to Macao, and in July 1787 he proceeded to explore the Gulf of Tartary and the shores of Saghalien, remaining some time at Castries Bay, so named after the French minister of marine. Thence he went to the Kurile Islands and Kamchatka, and sailed from the far north down a meridian to the Navigator and Friendly Islands. He was in Botany Bay in January 1788; and sailing thence, the explorer, his ship, and crew were never seen again. Their fate was long uncertain. In September 1791 Captain D’Entrecasteaux sailed from Brest with two vessels, to seek for tidings. He visited the New Hebrides, Santa Cruz, New Caledonia, and Solomon Islands, and made careful though rough surveys of the Louisiade Archipelago, islands north of New Britain, and part of New Guinea. D’Entrecasteaux died on board his ship on July 20, 1793, without ascertaining then fate of La Pérouse. It was Captain Peter Dillon who at length ascertained, in 1828, that the ships of La Pérouse were wrecked on the island of Vanikoro during a hurricane.

The work of Captain Cook bore fruit in many ways. His master, Captain Bligh, was sent in the "Bounty" to convey breadfruit plants from Tahiti to the West Indies. He reached Tahiti in October 1788, and in April 1789 a mutiny broke out, and he, with severa1 officers and men, was thrust into an open boat in mid-ocean. During the remarkable voyage he then made to Timor, Captain Bligh passed amongst the northern islands of the New Hebrides, which he named the Banks Group, and made several running surveys. He reached England in March 1790. The "Pandora," under Captain Edwards, was sent out in search of the "Bounty," and discovered the islands of Cherry and Mitre, east of the Santa Cruz group, but she was eventually lost on a reef in Torres Strait. In 1796-97 Captain Wilson, in the missionary ship "Duff," discovered the Gambier and other islands, and rediscovered the islands known to and seen by Quiros, but since called the Duff Group.

Another result of Captain Cook’s work was the colonization of Australia. On January 18, 1788, Admiral Phillip and Captain Hunter arrived in Botany Bay in the "Supply" and "Sirius," followed by six transports, and established a colony at Port Jackson. Surveys were then undertaken in several directions.

In 1795 and 1796 M. Flinders and G. Bass were engaged on exploring work in a small boat called the "Tom Thumb." In 1797 Bass, who had been a surgeon, made an expedition southwards, continued the work of Cook from Ram Head, and explored the strait which bears his name, and in 1798 he and Flinders were surveying the east coast of Van Diemen’s Land. The planting of a colony at Port Jackson led to the dispatch of an expedition to complete the exploration of the Australian coasts. The command was given to Captain Matthew Flinders. He was furnished with a vessel called the "Investigator," and sailed from England on July 18, 1801. Commencing from King George’s Sound, Captain Flinders discovered and made a preliminary survey of all the south coast of Australia to Bass Starit, and the east coast from the barrier reef to Torres Strait, as well as the east coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Flinders met the French expedition under Baudin and Freycinet with the two ships "Géographe" and "Naturaliste," which was engaged upon the same work. He was taken prisoner by the French in 1804 and detained until 1810, so that his work did not appear before 1814.

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