We now resume the story of Flinders' voyage along the southern coast of Australia, from the time when he made Cape Leeuwin on December 6th, 1801.

That part of the coast lying between the south-west corner of the continent and Fowler's Bay, in the Great Australian Bight, had been traversed prior to this time. In 1791 Captain George Vancouver, in the British ship Cape Chatham, sailed along it from Cape Leeuwin to King George's Sound, which he discovered and named. He anchored in the harbour, and remained there for a fortnight. He would have liked to pursue the discovery of this unknown country, and did sail further east, as far as the neighbourhood of Termination Island, in longitude 122 degrees 8 minutes. But, meeting with adverse winds, he abandoned the research, and resumed his voyage to north-west America across the Pacific. In 1792, Bruny Dentrecasteaux, with the French ships Recherche and Esperance, searching for tidings of the lost Laperouse, followed the line of the shore more closely than Vancouver had done, and penetrated much further eastward. His instructions, prepared by Fleurieu, had directed him to explore the whole of the southern coast of Australia; but he was short of water, and finding nothing but sand and rock, with no harbour, and no promise of a supply of what he so badly needed, he did not continue further than longitude 131 degrees 38 1/2 minutes east, about two and a half degrees east of the present border line of Western and South Australia. These navigators, with the Dutchman Pieter Nuyts, in the early part of the seventeenth century, and the Frenchman St. Alouarn, who anchored near the Leeuwin in 1772, were the only Europeans known to have been upon any part of these southern coasts before the advent of Flinders; and the extent of the voyage of Nuyts is by no means clear.

Flinders, as we have seen, laid it down as a guiding principle that he would make so complete a survey of the shores visited by him as to leave little for anybody to do after him. He therefore commenced his work immediately he touched land, constructing his own charts as the ship slowly traversed the curves of the coast. The result was that many corrections and additions to the charts of Vancouver and Dentrecasteaux were made before the entirely new discoveries were commenced. In announcing this fact, Flinders, always generous in his references to good work done by his predecessors, warmly praised the charts prepared by Beautemps-Beaupre, "geographical engineer" of the Recherche. "Perhaps no chart of a coast so little known as this is, will bear a comparison with its original better than this of M. Beaupre," he said. His own charts were of course fuller and more precise, but he made no claim to superiority on this account, modestly observing that he would have been open to reproach if, after following the coast with an outline of M. Beaupre's chart before him, he had not effected improvements where circumstances did not permit so close an examination to be made in 1792.

Several inland excursions were made, and some of the King George's Sound aboriginals were encountered. Flinders noted down some of their words, and pointed out the difference from words for the same objects used by Port Jackson and Van Diemen's Land natives. An exception to this rule was the word used for calling to a distance - cau-wah! (come here). This is certainly very like the Port Jackson cow-ee, whence comes the one aboriginal word of universal employment in Australia to-day, the coo-ee of the townsman and the bushman alike, a call entered in the vocabulary collected by Hunter as early as 1790.

The method of research adopted by Flinders was similar to that employed on the Norfolk voyage. The ship was kept all day as close inshore as possible, so that water breaking on the shore was visible from the deck, and no river or opening could escape notice. When this could not be done, because the coast retreated far back, or was dangerous, the commander stationed himself at the masthead with a glass. All the bearings were laid down as soon as taken, whilst the land was in sight; and before retiring to rest at night Flinders made it a practice to finish up his rough chart for the day, together with his journal of observations. The ship hauled off the coast at dusk, but especial care was taken to come upon it at the same point next morning, as soon after daylight as practicable, so that work might be resumed precisely where it had been dropped on the previous day. "This plan," said Flinders, "to see and lay down everything myself, required constant attention and much labour, but was absolutely necessary to obtaining that accuracy of which I was desirous." When bays or groups of islands were reached, Flinders went ashore with the theodolite, took his angles, measured, mapped, and made topographical notes. The lead was kept busy, making soundings. The rise and fall of the tides were observed; memoranda on natural phenomena were written; opportunities were given for the naturalists to collect specimens, and for the artist to make drawings. The net was frequently drawn in the bays for examples of marine life. Everybody when ashore kept a look out for plants, birds, beasts, and insects. In short, a keenness for investigation, an assiduity in observation, animated the whole ship's company, stimulated by the example of the commander, who never spared himself in his work, and interested himself in that of others.

As in a drama, "comic relief" was occasionally interposed amid more serious happenings. The blacks were friendly, though occasionally shy and suspicious. In one scene the mimicry that is a characteristic of the aboriginal was quaintly displayed. The incident, full of colour and humour, is thus related by Flinders:

"Our friends, the natives, continued to visit us; and an old man with several others being at the tents this morning, I ordered the party of marines on shore, to be exercised in their presence. The red coats and white crossed belts were greatly admired, having some resemblance to their own manner of ornamenting themselves; and the drum, but particularly the fife, excited their astonishment; but when they saw these beautiful red and white men, with their bright muskets, drawn up in a line, they absolutely screamed with delight; nor were their wild gestures and vociferation to be silenced but by commencing the exercise, to which they paid the most earnest and silent attention. Several of them moved their hands, involuntarily, according to the motions; and the old man placed himself at the end of the rank, with a short staff in his hand, which he shouldered, presented, grounded, as did the marines their muskets, without, I believe, knowing what he did. Before firing, the Indians were made acquainted with what was going to take place; so that the volleys did not excite much terror."

Seaman Smith was naturally much interested in the aboriginals, whose features were however to him "quite awful, having such large mouths and long teeth." They were totally without clothing, and "as soon as they saw our tents they run into the bushes with such activity that would pawl any European to exhibit. Because our men would not give them a small tommy-hawk they began to throw pieces of wood at them, which exasperated our men; but orders being so humane towards the natives that we must put up with anything but heaving spears." Furthermore, "they rubbd their skin against ours, expecting some mark of white upon their's, but finding their mistake they appeared surprised."

Pleasures more immediately incidental to geographical discovery - those pleasures which eager and enterprising minds must experience, however severe the labour involved, on traversing portions of the globe previously unknown to civilised mankind - commenced after the head of the Great Bight was passed. From about the vicinity of Fowler's Bay (named after the first lieutenant of the Investigator) the coast was virgin to geographical science. Comparisons of original work with former charts were no longer possible. The ship was entering un-navigated waters, and the coasts delineated were new to the world's knowledge. The quickening of the interest in the work in hand, which touched both officers and men of the expedition, can be felt by the reader of Flinders' narrative. There was a consciousness of having crossed a line separating what simply required verification and amplification, from a totally fresh field of research. Every reach of coastline now traversed was like a cable, long buried in the deep of time, at length hauled into daylight, with its oozy deposits of seaweed, shell and mud lying thick upon it.

Contingent upon discovery was the pleasure of naming important features of the coast. It is doubtful whether any other single navigator in history applied names which are still in use to so many capes, bays and islands, upon the shores of the habitable globe, as Flinders did. The extent of coastline freshly discovered by him was not so great as that first explored by some of his predecessors. But no former navigator pursued extensive new discoveries so minutely, and, consequently, found so much to name; while the precision of Flinders' records left no doubt about the places that he named, when in later years the settlement of country and the navigation of seas necessitated the use of names. Compare, for instance, in this one respect, the work of Cook and Dampier, Vasco da Gama and Magellan, Tasman and Quiros, with that of Flinders. Historically their voyages may have been in some respects more important; but they certainly added fewer names to the map. There are 103 names on Cook's charts of eastern Australia from Point Hicks to Cape York; but there are about 240 new names on the charts of Flinders representing southern Australia and Tasmania. He is the Great Denominator among navigators. He named geographical features after his friends, after his associates on the Investigator, after distinguished persons connected with the Navy, after places in which he was interested. Fowler's Bay, Point Brown, Cape Bauer, Franklin's Isles, Point Bell, Point Westall, Taylor's Isle, and Thistle Island, commemorate his shipmates. Spencer's Gulf was named "in honour of the respected nobleman who presided at the Board of Admiralty when the voyage was planned and the ship was put in commission," and Althorp Isles celebrated Lord Spencer's heir.* (* Cockburn, Nomenclature of South Australia, (Adelaide 1909) page 9, is mistaken in speculating that "there is a parish of Althorp in Flinders' native country in Lincolnshire which probably accounts for the choice of the name here." Althorp, which should be spelt without a final "e," is not in Lincolnshire, but in Northamptonshire.) St. Vincent's Gulf was named "in honour of the noble admiral" who was at the head of the Admiralty when the Investigator sailed from England, and who had "continued to the voyage that countenance and protection of which Earl Spencer had set the example." To Yorke's Peninsula, between the two gulfs, was affixed the name of the Right Hon. C.P. Yorke, afterwards Lord Hardwicke, the First Lord who authorised the publication of Flinders' Voyage. Thus, the ministerial heads of the Admiralty in three Governments (Pitt's, Addington's and Spencer Perceval's) came to be commemorated. It may be remarked as curious that a naval officer so proud of his service as Flinders was, should nowhere have employed the name of the greatest sailor of his age, Nelson. There is a Cape Nelson on the Victorian coast, but that name was given by Grant.

In Spencer's Gulf we come upon a group of Lincolnshire place-names, for Flinders, his brother Samuel, the mate, Fowler, and Midshipman John Franklin, all serving on this voyage, were Lincolnshire men. Thus we find Port Lincoln, Sleaford Bay, Louth Bay, Cape Donington, Stamford Hill, Surfleet Point, Louth Isle, Sibsey Isle, Stickney Isle, Spilsby Isle, Partney Isle, Revesby Isle, Point Boston, and Winceby Isle. Banks' name was given to a group of islands, and Coffin's Bay must not be allowed to suggest any gruesome association, for it was named after Sir Isaac Coffin, resident naval commissioner at Sheerness, who had given assistance in the equipment of the Investigator. A few names, like Streaky Bay, Lucky Bay, and Cape Catastrophe, were applied from circumstances that occurred on the voyage. A poet of the antipodes who should, like Wordsworth, be moved to write "Poems on the Naming of Places," would find material in the names given by Flinders.

Interest in this absorbing work rose to something like excitement on February 20th, when there were indications, from the set of the tide, that an unusual feature of the coast was being approached. "The tide from the north-eastward, apparently the ebb, ran more than one mile an hour, which was the more remarkable from no set of the tide worthy to be noticed having hitherto been observed upon this coast." The ship had rounded Cape Catastrophe, and the land led away to the north, whereas hitherto it had trended east and south. What did this mean? Flinders must have been strongly reminded of his experience in the Norfolk in Bass Strait, when the rush of the tide from the south showed that the north-west corner of Van Diemen's Land had been turned, and that the demonstration of the Strait's existence was complete. There were many speculations as to what the signs indicated. "Large rivers, deep inlets, inland seas and passages into the Gulf of Carpentaria, were terms frequently used in our conversations of this evening, and the prospect of making an interesting discovery seemed to have infused new life and vigour into every man in the ship." The expedition was, in fact, in the bell-mouth of Spencer's Gulf, and the next few days were to show whether the old surmise was true - that Terra Australis was cloven in twain by a strait from the Gulf of Carpentaria to the southern ocean. It was, indeed, a crisis-time of the discovery voyage.

But before the gulf was examined, a tragedy threw the ship into mourning. On the evening of Sunday, February 21st, the cutter was returning from the mainland, where a party had been searching for water in charge of the Master, John Thistle. She carried a midshipman, William Taylor, and six sailors. Nobody on the ship witnessed the accident that happened; but the cutter had been seen coming across the water, and as she did not arrive when darkness set in, the fear that she had gone down oppressed everybody on board. A search was made, but ineffectually; and next day the boat was found floating bottom uppermost, stove in, and bearing the appearance of having been dashed against rocks. The loss of John Thistle was especially grievous to Flinders. The two had been companions from the very beginning of his career in Australia. Thistle had been one of Bass's crew in the whaleboat; he had been on the Norfolk when Van Diemen's Land was circumnavigated; and he had taken part in the cruise to Moreton Bay. His memory lives in the name of Thistle Island, on the west of the entrance to the gulf, and in the noble tribute which his commander paid to his admirable qualities. It would be wrong to deprive the reader of the satisfaction of reading Flinders' eulogy of his companion of strenuous years:

"The reader will pardon me the observation that Mr. Thistle was truly a valuable man, as a seaman, an officer, and a good member of society. I had known him, and we had mostly served together, from the year 1794. He had been with Mr. Bass in his perilous expedition in the whaleboat, and with me in the voyage round Van Diemen's Land, and in the succeeding expedition to Glass House and Hervey's Bays. From his merit and prudent conduct, he was promoted from before the mast to be a midshipman and afterwards a master in His Majesty's service. His zeal for discovery had induced him to join the Investigator when at Spithead and ready to sail, although he had returned to England only three weeks before, after an absence of six years.* Besides performing assiduously the duties of his situation, Mr. Thistle had made himself well acquainted with the practice of nautical astronomy, and began to be very useful in the surveying department. His loss was severely felt by me, and he was lamented by all on board, more especially by his messmates, who knew more intimately the goodness and stability of his disposition." (* In a letter to Banks from Spithead on June 3rd, 1801, Flinders had written: "I am happy to inform you that the Buffalo has brought home a person formerly of the Reliance whom I wish to have as master. He volunteers, the captain of the ship agrees, and I have made application by to-day's post and expect his appointmnt by Friday." The reference was evidently to John Thistle.)

Taylor's Isle was named after the young midshipman of this catastrophe, and six small islands in the vicinity bear the names of the boat's crew. It is a singular fact that only two of the eight sailors drowned could swim. Even Captain Cook never learnt to swim!

Before leaving the neighbourhood, Flinders erected a copper plate upon a stone post at the head of Memory Cove, and had engraved upon it the names of the unfortunates who had perished, with a brief account of the accident. Two fragments of the original plate are now in the museum at Adelaide. In later years it was beaten down by a storm, and the South Australian Government erected a fresh tablet in Memory Cove to replace it.

A thorough survey of Port Lincoln was made while the ship was being replenished with water. Some anxiety had been felt owing to the lack of this necessity, and Flinders showed the way to obtain it by digging holes in the white clay surrounding a brackish marsh which he called Stamford Mere. The water that drained into the holes was found to be sweet and wholesome, though milky in appearance. As the filling of the casks and conveying them to the ship - to a quantity of 60 tons - occupied several days, the surveying and scientific employments were pursued diligently on land.

The discovery of Port Lincoln was in itself an event of consequence, since it is a harbour of singular commodiousness and beauty, and would, did it but possess a more prolific territory at its back, be a maritime station of no small importance. Nearly forty years later, Sir John Franklin, then Governor of Tasmania, paid a visit to Port Lincoln, expressly to renew acquaintance with a place in the discovery of which he had participated in company with a commander whose memory he honoured; and he erected on Stamford Hill, at his own cost, an obelisk in commemoration of Flinders. In the same way, on his first great overland arctic journey in 1821, Franklin remembered Flinders in giving names to discoveries.

It was on March 6th that the exploration of Spencer's Gulf commenced. As the ship sailed along the western shore, the expectations which had been formed of a strait leading through the continent to the Gulf of Carpentaria faded away. The coast lost its boldness, the water became more and more shallow, and the opposite shore began to show itself. The gulf was clearly tapering to an end. "Our prospects of a channel or strait cutting off some considerable portion of Terra Australis grew less, for it now appeared that the ship was entering into a gulph." On the 10th, the Investigator having passed Point Lowly, and having on the previous day suddenly come into two-and-a-half fathoms, Flinders decided to finish the exploration in a rowing boat, accompanied by Surgeon Bell. They rowed along the shore till night fell, slept in the boat, and resumed the journey early next morning (March 11th). At ten o'clock, the oars touched mud on each side, and it became impossible to proceed further. They had reached the head of the gulf, then a region of mangrove swamps and flat waters, but now covered by the wharves of Port Augusta, and within view of the starting point of the transcontinental railway.

The disappointment was undoubtedly great at not finding even a large river flowing into the gulf. The hope of a strait had been abandoned as the continually converging shores, shallow waters, and diminishing banks made it clear, long before the head was reached, that the theory of a bifurcated Terra Australis was impossible. But as Flinders completed his chart and placed it against the outline of the continent, he might fairly enjoy the happiness of having settled an important problem and of taking one more stride towards completing the map of the world.

The Investigator travelled down by the eastern shore, once hanging upon a near bank for half an hour, and by March 20th was well outside. The length of the gulf, from the head to Gambier Island, Flinders calculated to be 185 miles, and its width at the mouth, in a line from Cape Catastrophe, 48 miles. At the top it tapered almost to a point. The whole of it was personally surveyed and charted by Flinders, who was able to write that for the general exactness of his drawing he could "answer with tolerable confidence, having seen all that is laid down, and, as usual, taken every angle which enters into the construction."

The next discovery of importance was that of Kangaroo Island, separated from the foot-like southern projection of Yorke's Peninsula by Investigator Strait. The island was named on account of the quantity of kangaroos seen and shot upon it; for a supply of fresh meat was very welcome after four months of salt pork. Thirty-one fell to the guns of the Investigator's men. Half a hundredweight of heads, forequarters and tails were stewed down for soup, and as much kangaroo steak was available for officers and men as they could consume "by day and night." It was declared to be a "delightful regale."

The place where Flinders is believed to have first landed on Kangaroo Island is now marked by a tall cairn, which was spontaneously built by the inhabitants, the school children assisting, in 1906. An inscription on a faced stone commemorates the event. The white pyramid can be seen from vessels using Backstairs Passage.* (* See the account of the making of the cairn, by C.E. Owen Smythe, I.S.O., who initiated and superintended the work, South Australian Geographical Society's Proceedings 1906 page 58.)

A very short stay was made at Kangaroo Island on this first call. On March 24th Investigator Strait was crossed, and the examination of the mainland was resumed. The ship was steered north-west, and, the coast being reached, no land was visible to the eastward. The conclusion was drawn that another gulf ran inland, and the surmise proved to be correct. The new discovery, named St. Vincent's Gulf, was penetrated on the 27th, and was first explored on the eastern shore, not on the western as had been the case with Spencer's Gulf. Mount Lofty was sighted at dawn on Sunday, March 28th. The nearest part of the coast was three leagues distant at the time, "mostly low, and composed of sand and rock, with a few small trees scattered over it; but at a few miles inland, where the back mountains rise, the country was well clothed with forest timber, and had a fertile appearance. The fires bespoke this to be a part of the continent." The coast to the northward was seen to be very low, and the soundings were fast decreasing. From noon to six o'clock the Investigator ran north thirty miles, skirting a sandy shore, and at length dropped anchor in five fathoms.

On the following morning land was seen to the westward, as well as eastward, and there was "a hummocky mountain, capped with clouds, apparently near the head of the inlet." Wind failing, very little progress was made till noon, and at sunset the shores appeared to be closing round. The absence of tide gave no prospect of finding a river at the head of the gulf. Early on the morning of the 30th Flinders went out in a boat, accompanied by Robert Brown, and rowed up to the mud-flats at the head of the gulf. Picking out a narrow channel, it was found possible to get within half a mile of dry land. Then, leaving the boat, Flinders and Brown walked along a bank of mud and sand to the shore, to examine the country. Flinders ascended one of the foot-hills of the range that forms the backbone of Yorke's Peninsula, stretching north and south upwards of two hundred miles.

At dawn on March 31st the Investigator was got under way to proceed down the eastern side of Yorke's Peninsula. The wind was contrary, and the work could be done only "partially," though, of course, sufficiently well to complete the chart. The peninsula was described as "singular in form, having some resemblance to a very ill-shaped leg and foot." Its length from Cape Spencer to the northern junction with the mainland was calculated to be 105 miles. On April 1st Flinders was able to write that the exploration of St. Vincent's Gulf was finished.

The general character of the country, especially on the east, he considered to be superior to that on the borders of Spencer's Gulf; and the subsequent development of the State of South Australia has justified his opinion. He would assuredly have desired to linger longer upon the eastern shore, could he have foreseen that within forty years of the discovery there would be laid there the foundations of the noble city of Adelaide, with its fair and fruitful olive-groves, vineyards, orchards and gardens, and its busy port, whither flow the wheat of vast plains and the wool from a million sheep leagues upon leagues away.

A second visit to Kangaroo Island was necessitated by a desire to make corrections in the Investigator's timekeepers, and on this occasion a somewhat longer stay was made. The ship arrived on April 2nd, and did not leave again till the 7th.

Very few aboriginals were seen upon the shores of the two gulfs, and these only through a telescope. At Port Lincoln some blacks were known to be in the neighbourhood, but the expedition did not succeed in getting into contact with them. Flinders scrupulously observed the policy of doing nothing to alarm them; and his remarks in this relation are characterised by as much good sense as humane feeling. Writing of a small party of natives who were heard calling but did not show themselves, probably having hidden in thick scrub to observe the boat's crew, he said:

"No attempt was made to follow them, for I had always found the natives of this country to avoid those who seemed anxious for communication; whereas, when left entirely alone, they would usually come down after having watched us for a few days. Nor does this conduct seem to be unnatural; for what, in such case, would be the conduct of any people, ourselves for instance, were we living in a state of nature, frequently at war with our neighbours, and ignorant of the existence of any other nation? On the arrival of strangers so different in complexion and appearance to ourselves, having power to transplant themselves over, and even living upon, an element which to us was impossible, the first sensation would probably be terror, and the first movement flight. We should watch these extraordinary people from our retreats in the woods and rocks, and if we found ourselves sought and pursued by them, should conclude their designs to be inimical; but if, on the contrary, we saw them quietly employed in occupations which had no reference to us, curiosity would get the better of fear, and after observing them more closely, we should ourselves risk a communication. Such seemed to have been the conduct of these Australians;* and I am persuaded that their appearance on the morning when the tents were struck was a prelude to their coming down; and that, had we remained a few days longer, a friendly communication would have ensued. The way was, however, prepared for the next ship which may visit this port, as it was to us in King George's Sound by Captain Vancouver and the ship Elligood; to whose previous visits and peaceable conduct we were most probably indebted for our early intercourse with the inhabitants of that place. So far as could be perceived with a glass, the natives of this port were the same in personal appearance as those of King George's Sound and Port Jackson. In the hope of conciliating their goodwill to succeeding visitors, some hatchets and various other articles were left in their paths, fastened to stumps of trees which had been cut down near our watering pits." (* The only occasion, I think, where Flinders uses this word. He usually called aboriginals "Indians.")

More wild life was seen at Kangaroo Island than in the gulf region. Thirty emus were observed on one day; kangaroos, as has been remarked, were plentiful; and a large colony of pelicans caused the name of Pelican Lagoon to be given to a feature of the island's eastern lobe. The marsupial, the seal, the emu, and the bag-billed bird that nature built in one of her whimsical moods, had held unchallenged possession for tens of thousands of years, probably never visited by any ships, nor even preyed upon by blacks. The reflections of Flinders upon Pelican Lagoon have a tinting of poetic feeling which we do not often find in his solid pages:

"Flocks of the old birds were sitting upon the beaches of the lagoon, and it appeared that the islands were their breeding places; not only so, but from the number of skeletons and bones there scattered it should seem that they had for ages been selected for the closing scene of their existence. Certainly none more likely to be free from disturbance of every kind could have been chosen, than these inlets in a hidden lagoon of an uninhabited island, situate upon an unknown coast near the antipodes of Europe; nor can anything be more consonant to the feelings, if pelicans have any, than quietly to resign their breath whilst surrounded by their progeny, and in the same spot where they first drew it. Alas, for the pelicans! their golden age is past; but it has much exceeded in duration that of man."

The picture of the zoological interests of Kangaroo Island is heightened by Flinders' account of the seals and marsupials. "Never perhaps has the dominion possessed here by the kangaroo been invaded before this time. The seal shared with it upon the shores, but they seemed to dwell amicably together. It not unfrequently happened that the report of a gun fired at a kangaroo, near the beach, brought out two or three bellowing seals from under bushes considerably further from the water side. The seal, indeed, seemed to be much the more discerning animal of the two; for its actions bespoke a knowledge of our not being kangaroos, whereas the kangaroo not unfrequently appeared to consider us to be seals." In the quotation, it may be as well to add, the usual spelling of "kangaroo" is followed, but Flinders invariably spelt it "kanguroo." The orthography of the word was not settled in his time; Cook wrote "kangooroo" and "kanguru," but Hawkesworth, who edited his voyages, made it "kangaroo."

The quantity of fallen timber lying upon the island prompted the curiosity of Flinders. Trunks of trees lay about in all directions "and were nearly of the same size and in the same progress towards decay; from whence it would seem that they had not fallen from age nor yet been thrown down in a gale of wind. Some general conflagration, and there were marks apparently of fire on many of them, is perhaps the sole cause which can be reasonably assigned; but whence came the woods on fire? There were no inhabitants upon the island, and that the natives of the continent did not visit it was demonstrated, if not by the want of all signs of such visits, yet by the tameness of the kangaroo, an animal which, on the continent, resembles the wild deer in timidity. Perhaps lightning might have been the cause, or possibly the friction of two dead trees in a strong wind; but it would be somewhat extraordinary that the same thing should have happened at Thistle's Island, Boston Island, and at this place, and apparently about the same time. Can this part of Terra Australis have been visited before, unknown to the world? The French navigator, Laperouse, was ordered to explore it, but there seems little probability that he ever passed Torres Strait.

"Some judgment may be formed of the epoch when these conflagrations happened, from the magnitude of the growing trees; for they must have sprung up since that period. They were a species of eucalyptus, and being less than the fallen tree, had most probably not arrived at maturity; but the wood is hard and solid, and it may thence be supposed to grow slowly. With these considerations, I should be inclined to fix the period at not less than ten, nor more than twenty years before our arrival. This brings us back to Laperouse. He was in Botany Bay in the beginning of 1788, and, if he did pass through Torres Strait, and come round to this coast, as was his intention, it would probably be about the middle or latter end of that year, or between thirteen and fourteen years before the Investigator. My opinion is not favourable to this conjecture; but I have furnished all the data to enable the reader to form his own opinion upon the cause which might have prostrated the woods of these islands."

The passage is worth quoting, if only for the interesting allusion to Laperouse, whose fate was, at the time when Flinders sailed and wrote, an unsolved mystery of the sea. Captain Dillon's discovery of relics at Vanikoro, in 1826, twelve years after the death of Flinders, informed the world that the illustrious French navigator did not pass through Torres Strait, but was wrecked in the Santa Cruz group.* (* See the author's Laperouse, Sydney 1912 pages 90 et sqq.) The fire, so many signs of which were observed on Kangaroo Island, was in all probability caused naturally in the heat of a dry summer.

Very shortly after leaving Kangaroo Island Flinders met one of the vessels of the French exploring expedition; and the story of that occurrence must occupy our particular consideration in the next chapter.