Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/121

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interpreted to mean that the Governor put hindrances in their way. They were under his orders, and his positive discountenance would have been effectual to block their efforts. They could not even have obtained leave of absence without his approval. But John Hunter was not the man to prevent them from putting their powers to the test.

No sooner had the two friends reached Sydney than they began to look about them for means to undertake the exploratory work upon which their minds were bent. Bass had brought out with him from England a small boat, only eight feet long, with a five foot beam, named by him the Tom Thumb on account of her size.[1] In this diminutive craft the two friends made preparations for setting out along the Coast. Taking with them only one boy, named Martin, with provisions and ammunition for a very short trip, they sailed the Tom Thumb out of Port Jackson and made southward to Botany Bay, which they entered. They pushed up George's River, which had been only partly explored, and pursued their investigation of its winding course for twenty miles beyond the former limit of survey. Upon their return they presented to Hunter a report concerning the quality of the land seen on the borders of the river, together with a sketch map. The Governor was induced from what they told him to examine the country himself; and the result was that he founded the settlement of Bankstown, which still remains, and boasts the distinction of being one of the pioneer towns of Australia.

  1. Flinders' Papers "Brief Memoir" manuscripts page 5. Some have supposed the measurements given in Flinders' published work to have been a misprint, the size of the boat being so absurdly small. But Flinders' Journal is quite clear on the point: "We turned our eyes towards a little boat of about 8 feet keel and 5 feet beam which had been brought out by Mr. Bass and others in the Reliance, and from its size had obtained the name of Tom Thumb."