Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
These two young seamen were fond of going on boating expeditions while their ship was lying idle in harbour. In this way they set an example which is probably being followed by the Sea Scouts of Sydney of today in exploring the creeks and channels of Sydney Harbour. They had a little boat which they called the Tom Thumb, and they not only explored the harbour, but they gaily sailed out on to the ocean and explored other inlets along the coast, including Botany Bay.
They made maps of these, giving the outline of the shore, and then with a lead line, marked off in fathoms and half and quarter fathoms (a fathom is six feet), they found the depth of water every here and there, and marked it on the correct spot in their map, and thus made a chart of it.
Of course the low-water depth only was shown, because the captain of a vessel only wants to know what is the lowest water that he will find in an anchorage or channel.
As Bass and Flinders proved, this kind of work is very interesting, and it may be of great value to other people. They were very nearly lost in a storm one day, and had to run before a terrific gale in continual danger of being swamped, and it was more by good luck than management that they at last ran between some rocks into a sheltered bay where they were able to land and dry themselves, for everything in the boat was soaked. They had even to spread their gunpowder out on the rocks, in the sun, in the hope of getting it dry again.
Just then a number of natives came down on them, but fortunately they were pretty friendly, and Flinders soon made them still more so, because among other things which, as a handy sailor, he could do, was he could cut hair.
These Australian blacks have long, bushy hair which they have no means of cutting, and when Flinders produced a pair of scissors and snipped off some of their locks they were hugely delighted and became most kind and friendly.
On one occasion Bass went by himself, on an expedition along the coast to the southward, and then it was that he discovered that Tasmania was not, as had always been supposed, a part of the mainland, but that it was an island and divided front it by a wide strip of sea, and this accordingly received the name of Bass Strait.
How Australia Nearly Became French
When it became more generally known that Tasmania was separate from Australia, the French had an idea of coming and seizing it for France, but an officer with some soldiers and a number of convicts from Sydney were sent there to occupy it, and they established themselves near the great harbour in the south. When settlers came later and made a town near them, it was called Hobart, after Lord Hobart, the Secretary of State in England for the Colonies.
But this was not the only attempt of the French to make Australia theirs.
Flinders spent a long time exploring and charting the Australian coasts in a small ship called the Investigator. When he had completed his charts and notes he took ship for England in order to take them home and get them properly drawn up and printed, but on the way he was taken prisoner by the French, with whom we were then at war, and was kept for seven long years at Mauritius.
His charts were stolen from him when he was first captured, and when at last he was released and allowed to go home, he found that they had been printed and published in France, but with French names put in in place of the English ones, and the country which he had called Australia (South Land) was there named “Napoleon’s Land.”
However, when the French came to see this land of Napoleon, they found the Union Jack flying over it, so they left it alone.