Tom Thumb 2

Background to Tom Thumb 1 & 2

The surgeon on the Reliance was a 24 year old George Bass from Lincolnshire, England, where he first met Matthew Flinders.

Flinders was bowled over by Bass. He was everything that Flinders wanted to be, a man of action and 6ft tall and six inches taller than Flinders.

Almost immediately, Bass and Flinders left on their first exhibition. With Bass’s 14 year old servant, William Martin, the two adventurers headed south to Botany Bay on 26 October 1795  – against the elements in a miniature vessel Bass had bought out with a single mast and sail

Bass had bought out this tiny boat with him on the Reliance. At about 8 ft keel and 5 ft beam (around 2.5 m x 1.5 m), it was dubbed appropriately Tom Thumb. They were away nine days and traced George’s River about 32 km further inland than hither known.

 As soon as the Reliance returned from a voyage to Norfolk Island in March 1796, the two friends set out again in another Tom Thumb, one of similar size that had been built in the colony.

 

 As soon as the Reliance returned from a voyage to Norfolk Island in March 1796, the two friends set out again in another Tom Thumb, one of similar size that had been built in the colony.

On March 25 at 3 am, Bass,  Flinders and Martin, set out to locate a river which had been reported south of Botany Bay.

A breeze blew them much further south than intended, almost as far as present day Port Kembla. They suffered shipwreck, had a tense encounter with some Aboriginal people and came across Lake Illawarra.

On their way back north they were almost wrecked by a wild southerly buster. They reached the object of their voyage, Port Hacking, on 31 March 1796.

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