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Alan K | all galleries >> Melbourne >> Miscellaneous Melbourne (Gallery) > 3845 Flinders Did Not Travel Like This
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04-JUL-2009 AKMC

3845 Flinders Did Not Travel Like This

Swanston And Flinders Streets, Melbourne

Does anyone think that the great figures of history REALLY travelled as shown in some of these heroic depictions? Leutze's Washington crossing the Delaware, David's Napoleon Crossing The Alps... Gilbert's Matthew Flinders?

Unlikely. In the first place it would be a bit slack to be standing grandly in the prow while your crew did all the hard yakka of getting the boat ashore or launched (it's not clear which here), and in the second it would take only one unexpected shift in the boat to plant you face first in the mudflats. I think we may therefore take the pose as poetic licence.

Australia has had a significant number of exceptional explorers (since we were at the end of the Earth at that time, you were either exceptional or you didn't come back), and British naval captain Matthew Flinders was one more of them. Flinders joined the Royal Navy at age 15 in 1795. He first came to Australia as a 21 year old on the ship carrying the second governor of the colony, John Hunter. It was on that voyage that he met George Bass, a doctor and his later exploration companion. Bass and Flinders charted some of the waters to the south of Sydney in a small open boat called the Tom Thumb.

Flinders later found that Tasmania was separate from the mainland of Australia, and the body of water that separated the two was named Bass Strait after his friend and colleague. Flinders went on to circumnavigate Australia, but his career was cut shorter than it should have been by being imprisoned by the French in Mauritius after he was given yet another piece of... ship... to sail back to England in and was forced to put into the French port for repairs. (Flinders had not been lucky with the ships that he had been given; most of them seemed to be deficient in some manner or other.) He was only 40 when he died in 1884 as a result of ill health.

This statue was erected in 1925. It was created in bronze by Charles Web Gilbert, who died the same year. It stands outside St Paul's Cathedral on the corner of Swanston and Flinders Streets, the latter of which was of course named after the man himself.

Canon EOS 40D ,Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
1/20s f/8.0 at 24.0mm iso200 full exif

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