Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/191

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LIFE OF MATTHEW FLINDERS

The naming of Mounts Heemskirk and Zeehan, the latter since become a mineral centre of vast wealth, were the most noteworthy events of the run down the western coast. They were named by Flinders after the two ships of Tasman, as he took them to be the two mountains seen by that navigator on his discovery of Van Diemen's Land in 1642.

The Derwent, whose estuary is the port of Hobart, was entered on December 21. Bass's report on the fertility of the soil led to the choice of this locality for a settlement four years later.

On the last day of the year the return voyage was commenced, and on January 1st, 1799, the Norfolk was making for Port Jackson with her prow set north-easterly. The winds were unfavourable, and prevented Flinders from keeping close inshore, as he would have liked to do in order to make a survey. But the prescribed period of absence having expired, and the provisions being nearly exhausted, it was necessary to make as much haste as possible. On January 8th the Babel Isles were marked down, and named "because of the confusion of noises made by the geese, shags, penguins, gulls, and sooty petrels." Anyone who has camped near a rookery of sooty petrels is aware that they are quite capable of maintaining a sufficiently "babelish confusion"—the phrase is Camden's—without any aid from other fowls.

A little later in the month (January 12) the Norfolk sailed into harbour, and was anchored alongside the Reliance. "To the strait which had been the great object of research," wrote Flinders, "and whose discovery was now completed, Governor Hunter gave at my recommendation the name of Bass Strait. This was no more than a just tribute to my worthy friend and companion for the extreme dangers and fatigues he had undergone in first entering it in the whaleboat, and to