|Click here to go to the harder version of George Bass|
George Bass and Matthew Flinders both arrived in Sydney on the HMS Reliance in 1795. Bass, aged 32, was a ship's surgeon and loved the sea. Matthew Flinders was a midshipman and was aged 21.
Although the government wanted people to find land to settle, they were not prepared to pay for the expedition. This did not stop Bass and Flinders who bought a small boat (2.40 metres long) which they named the Tom Thumb. With a young boy to act as bailer, they explored Botany Bay and the George's River 32 kilometres further than anyone else had been. They returned to Sydney very pleased with their trip.
On their return, Bass and Flinders set off again in the Tom Thumb, to explore the land south of Sydney. Unfortunately, a huge storm drove them further down the coast than they had intended and a huge surf drove the small boat ashore.
They had heard stories that the aboriginals in the area were hostile, and so they decided not to light a fire. This meant that they spent the night cold, miserable and hungry.
They saw some small islands, and as the sea was now calm, decided to try and reach them. However, there was no suitable place to land and they spent another uncomfortable night in the small boat.
The next morning they saw two aboriginals who surprised them by speaking in English. They led them to a creek, which they said was teeming with ducks and fish. However, they were then joined by some more aboriginals who were not so friendly.
Bass and Flinders needed time to dry out their clothes and powder. So they worked out a plan to distract the aboriginals. Bass kept the natives amused repairing a paddle while Flinders gave them a haircut and trimmed their beards.
Very relieved, they put out to sea and a huge storm drove them forward. After 8 days, they reached Sydney, but were not particularly pleased with this expedition.
The following year, Bass set off again in a whale boat and a crew of eight with supplies for six weeks. The party left on 3 December 1797 to explore the coast south of Sydney.
Before travelling further south, they explored the Shoalhaven River, Jervis Bay and Twofold Bay. Rounding the southern-most point of the mainland, Bass reached Western Port Bay. He was forced to stay here for 2 weeks because of bad weather.
On an island, Bass found 7 escaped convicts who had escaped from Sydney some time before. Bass took them back to the mainland, giving them a musket, powder and fishing lines. The convicts intended to travel back to the settlement and give themselves up. However, they never reached it. They either died of starvation or were killed by aboriginals.
Bass returned on 24 February, 1798. He had been away 11 weeks and had explored 1 000 kilometres of coastline, half of which had never been explored before.