The sloop was provisioned for twelve weeks, and "the rest of the equipment was completed by the friendly care of Captain Waterhouse of the Reliance." A crew of eight volunteers was chosen by Flinders from the King's ships in port. It is likely that some of them were amongst the six who had accompanied Bass to Westernport, and Flinders to the Furneaux and Kent Islands, but their names have not been preserved.
The Norfolk sailed on October 7, 1798, in company with a sealing boat, the Nautilus. The plan was to make the Furneaux Group, then steer westward through the strait till the open ocean was reached on the further side; and, that accomplished, and the fact of strait's existence conclusively demonstrated, to turn down the western coast of Van Diemen's Land, round the southern extremity, and sail back to Port Jackson up the east coast. This programme was successfully carried out.
An amusing incident, related by Flinders with dry humour, occurred in Twofold Bay, which was entered "in order to make some profit of a foul wind," Bass undertaking an inland excursion, and Flinders occupying himself in making a survey of the port. An aboriginal made his appearance.
"He was of middle age, unarmed, except with a whaddie or wooden scimitar, and came up to us seemingly with careless confidence. We made much of him, and gave him some biscuit; and he in return presented us with a piece of gristly fat, probably of whale. This I tasted; but, watching an opportunity to spit it out when he should not be looking, I perceived him doing
- There are three accounts of the voyage: (1) that of Flinders in diary form, printed in the Historical Records of New South Wales Volume III., appendix B; (2) that of Flinders in his Voyage to Terra Australis Volume I., page cxxxviii; and (3) that of Bass, embodied in Collins' Account of New South Wales. It is probable that Bass's diary was lent to Collins for the purpose of writing his narrative. The original is not known to exist.