Australasia 1803: Expanding from New South Wales

Baudin’s French exploratory expedition to Australia (1800–1804) alarmed the British in New South Wales, who immediately embarked upon efforts to secure their position in the region. In 1802–1803 Matthew Flinders circumnavigated Australia as part of an effort to map the coastline of the continent. Later in 1803 they preempted any plans the French might have for colonization by founding settlements at Sullivan Bay, Victoria, and Risdon Cove, Tasmania. Although both settlements would soon be abandoned, Risdon Cove would be relocated to Hobart to form the basis for modern Tasmania.

Main Events

8 Apr 1802 Encounter Bay

In 1801 Matthew Flinders was given command of HMS Investigator and tasked with charting the coastline of New Holland (Australia) for Britain. En route from London to Sydney, Flinders mapped the southern Australian coastline from Cape Leeuwin to Port Jackson between December 1801 and May 1802. In April 1802 he encountered the French corvette Géographe, commanded by the fellow explorer Nicolas Baudin, in a bay which Flinders would name Encounter Bay. Although the two explorers believed they were at war—both were unaware that the Treaty of Amiens had been signed two weeks earlier—the meeting was wikipedia

22 Jul 1802–9 Jun 1803 Circumnavigation of Australia

Two months after arriving in Sydney and completing his exploration of the southern Australian coast, Matthew Flinders headed north aboard Investigator to survey the coast of what would become Queensland. From there he passed through the Torres Strait to explore the Gulf of Carpentaria, only to discover that his ship was badly leaking. Unable to completely repair it, Flinders nonetheless chose to return to Sydney by rounding the western coast and thus completing the circumnavigation of the Australian wikipedia

8 Sep 1803 Risdon Cove settlement

Following the advice of the explorer George Bass, Lieutenant John Bowen led an expedition with Lady Nelson and the whaler Albion to establish a settlement at Risdon Cove, on the Derwent River in southern Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), in September 1803. Early the next year, Lieutenant-Colonel David Collins arrived from Port Phillip and the failed Sullivan Bay settlement aboard Ocean. Rejecting Risdon Cove for lacking fresh water, Collins moved the settlers across the Derwent to Sullivans Cove, where they established what is now wikipedia

9 Oct 1803–20 May 1804 Sullivan Bay settlement

In an attempt to provide a British base against possible French intrusion into the recently discovered Bass Strait, the convict ship HMS Calcutta and store-ship Ocean, preparing to travel from London to Sydney, were redirected to Port Phillip, in what is now the Australian state of Victoria. The 402 settlers entered Port Phillip in October 1803, choosing a site at Sullivan Bay near present-day Sorrento. However, Lieutenant-Colonel David Collins, the expedition commander, soon rejected the location as lacking fresh water and the British abandoned the settlement. An escaped convict, William Buckley, nonetheless lived on with the Aborigines of the area until 1835, when he reintroduced himself to Europeans during the settlement of wikipedia