A great read bringing to life the hardships & courage of a great explorer. I simply couldn’t put the book down. It’s the first book I have read from Rob Mundle, I will seek out more, the style of his writing is most enjoyable and as I read my minds eye took me to the tremendous journey traversed by these incredible explorers. Well researched, informative and this book is a fine example of an author who is passionate, measured and a great story teller. Thank you Mr Mundle. I recommend this book to all, it is as much a wonderful story as it is an historical account of Flinders travels.
Growing up in South Australia, the name Flinders weaved itself through through my life. I was born at the Flinders Medical Centre and earned a degree from Flinders University. I spent much time at Encounter bay, where Flinders met the French explorer Nicolas Baudin on his circumnavigation of Australia. Many other local places of my childhood were named by Flinders. In school, we learnt of how he completed the map of Australia, and discovered the South Australian coastline.
Yet I really knew quite little of him beyond this. Mundle fills in those gaps, detailing the young Flinders' ambition to become an explorer like James Cook, his hard work as a child to master Euclid's elements and his fortunate apprenticeship with William Bligh on his second voyage to Tahiti. It goes into great detail of Flinders' daring early exploration of the east coast in tiny boats, being wrecked and stranded on the Great Barrier Reef, followed by his appointment to master the barely seaworthy HMS Investigator on an epic voyage around the world to fully map Australia's coastline. And the book finishes of with Flinders' tragic six year detention on Mauritius due to a misunderstanding.
I really loved two things about this book. Firstly it Mundle really brings to life Flinders' passion for exploration and discover and his exacting and caring personality. Secondly, Mundle details the practicalities and every day trials of exploring in turn of the 18th century boats and square rigged ships. They sailed blind, gradually feeling their way through the seas, constantly looking out for reefs. With their limited ability to sail into the wind, a storm could send them crashing onto the coast or rocks. Flinders was also plagued by leaking, rotting ships, which threatened to come apart in any weather. It was amazing that he made it to Australia in the Investigator, let alone circumnavigating it.
Overall this was an entertaining and educational read. Not too short and not too long. I highly recommend it.