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I call the Whole Island Australia: Matthew Flinders and the naming of Australia
Issue: Winter 2009
Portrait of Matthew Flinders, painted by Toussaint Antoine de Chazal de Chamerel, in 1806–07 while detained on Mauritius. Courtesy Art Gallery of South Australia
In completing his circumnavigation of Australia, Matthew Flinders established that the southern landmass was indeed an island. The first accurate and nearly complete chart of it was drawn up by him in 1804 while he was a prisoner of the French on Mauritius. The name he bestowed on the island continent was ‘Australia’, with a second option of ‘Terra Australis’. In this article, historian Anthony Brown follows the events that led to Flinders’ completion of the chart and his claim to the naming rights of our country.
By Anthony Brown