Matthew Flinders Sailing Orders 22nd of June 1801
By the Commissioners for executing the office
of Lord High Admiral and the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, &c.
Whereas the sloop you command has been fitted and stored for a voyage to remote parts; And whereas it is our intention that you should proceed in her to the coast of New Holland for the purpose of making a complete examination and survey of the said coast, on the eastern side of which His Majesty's colony of New south Wales is situated; You are hereby required and directed to put to sea the first favourable opportunity of wind and weather, and proceed with as little delay as possible in execution of the service above-mentioned, repairing in the first place to Madeira and the Cape of Good Hope in order to take on board such supplies of water and live stock as you may be in want of.
Having so done you are to make the best of your way to the coast of New Holland, running down the said coast from 130 degrees of east longitude to Bass's Strait; (putting if you shall find it necessary, into King George the third's Harbour for refreshments and water previous to your commencing the survey;) and on your arrival n the coast, use your best endeavours to discover such harbours as may be in those parts; and in case you should discover any creek or opening likely to lead to an inland sea or strait, you are at liberty either to examine it, or not, as you shall judge most expedient, until a more favourable opportunity shall enable you so to do.
When it shall appear necessary, you are to repair to Sydney Cove for the purpose of refreshing your people, refitting the sloop under your command, and consulting with the governor of New South Wales upon the best means of carrying on the survey of the coast; and having received from him such information as he may be able to communicate, and taken under your command the Lady Nelson tender, which you may expect to find at Sydney Cove, you are to re-commence your survey, by first diligently examining the coast from Bass's Strait to King George the third's Harbour; which you may do either by proceeding along shore to the westward, or, in case you should think it more expedient, by proceeding first to King George's Sound, and carrying on your survey from thence eastward.
You are to repair from time to time, when the season will no longer admit of your carrying on the survey, to Sydney Cove.
You are to be very diligent in your examination of the said coast, and to take particular care to insert in your journal every circumstance that may be useful to a full and complete knowledge thereof, noting the winds and weather which usually prevail there at different seasons of the year, the productions and comparative fertility of the soil, and the manners and customs of the inhabitants of sch parts as you may be able to explore; fixing in all cases, when in your power, the true positions both in latitude and longitude of remarkable headlands, bays, and harbours, by astronomical observations, and noting the variation of the needle, and the right direction and course of the tides and currents, as well as the perpendicular height of the tides; and in case, during your survey, any river should be discovered, you are either to proceed yourself in the tender, or to direct her commander to enter it, and proceed as far as circumstances will permit; carefully laying down the course and the banks thereof, and noting the soundings, going on shore as often as it shall appear probable that any considerable variation has taken place either in the productions of the soil or the customs of the inhabitants; examining the country as far inland as shall be thought prudent to venture with the small number of persons who can be spared rom the vessel, wherever there appears to be a probability of discovering any thing useful to the commerce or manufactures of the United Kingdom.
When you shall have completely examined the whole of the coast from Bass's Strait to King George the third's Harbour, you are, at such times as may be most suitable for the purpose, (which may be seen on a reference to Mr Dalrymple's memoir, an extract of which accompanies this,) to proceed to and explore the north-west coast of New Holland, where, from the extreme height of the tides observed by Dampier, it is probable that valuable harbours may be discovered.
Having performed this service, you are carefully to examine the Gulf of Carpentaria, and the parts to the westward thereof, between the 130th and 139th degrees of east longitude; taking care to seize the earliest opportunity to do so, when the seasons and prevalent winds may be favourable for visiting those seas.
When you shall have explored the Gulf of Carpentaria and the parts to the westward thereof, you are to proceed to a careful investigation and accurate survey of Torres' Strait, and hen that shall have been completed, you are to examine and survey the whole of the remainder of the north, the west, and the north-west coasts of New Holland, and especially those parts of the coast most likely to be fallen in with by East-India ships in their outward-bound passages. And you are to examine as particularly as circumstances will allow, the bank which extends itself from the Trial Rocks towards Timor, in the hope that by ascertaining the depth and nature of the soundings thereon, great advantage may arise to the east-India Company's ships, in case that passage should hereafter be frequented by them.
So soon as you shall have completed the whole of these surveys and examinations as above directed, you are to proceed to, and examine very carefully the east coast of New Holland, seen by captain cook, from Cape Flattery to the bay of Inlets; and in order to refresh your people, and give advantage of variety to the painters, you are at liberty to touch at the Fejees, or some other of the islands in the South Seas.
During the course of the survey, you are to use the tender under your command as much as possible; moving the Investigator onward from one harbour to another as they shall be discovered, in order that the naturalists may have time to range about and collect the produce of the earth, and the painters allowed time to finish as many of their works as they possibly can on the spot where they may have been begun: And when you shall have completed the whole of the surveys and examinations as above-mentioned, you are to lose no time in returning with the sloop under your command to England for farther orders, touching your way, if necessary, at the Cape of Good Hope, and repairing with as little delay as possible to Spithead, and transmit to our secretary an account of your arrival.
During your continuance on the service above-mentioned, you are, by all proper opportunities, to send to our secretary for our information, accounts of your proceedings and copies of the surveys and drawings you shall have made, and such papers as the Naturalist and the Painters employed on board may think proper to send home; and upon your arrival in England you are immediately to repair to this office in order to lay before us a full account of your proceedings in the whole course of your voyage; taking care before you leave the sloop to demand from the officers and petty officers the log books and journals which they may have kept and such drawings and charts as they may have taken, and to seal them up for our inspection.
And whereas you have been furnished with a plant cabin for the purpose of depositing therein such plants, trees, shrubs, &c., as may be collected during the survey above-mentioned, you are, when you arrive at Sydney Cove, to cause the said plant cabin to be fitted up by the carpenter on the quarter deck of the sloop you command, according to the intention of its construction; and you are to cause boxes for containing earth to be made and placed therein, in the same manner as was done in the plant cabin carried out by the Porpoise store ship, which plant cabin you will find at Sydney Cove.
You are to place the said plant cabin, with the boxes of earth contained in it, under the charge and care of the naturalist and gardener, and to cause to be planted therein during the survey, such plants, trees, shrubs, &c., as they may think suitable for the Royal Gardens at Kew; and you are, as often as you return to Sydney Cove, to cause the said plants to be deposited in the governor's garden and under his charge, there to remain until you sail for Europe: And so soon as you shall be preparing to return home, you are to cause the small plant cabin to be removed from the sloop's quarter deck, and the one brought out by the Porpoise (which is something larger), to be placed there in its stead. In this lat mentioned cabin the naturalist and gardener are to place the plants, trees, shrubs, &c., which may have been collected during the survey, in order to their being brought home for His Majesty; and you are, so soon as the sloop shall arrive at any port in England, to give notice of her arrival to His Majesty's botanic gardener at Kew, and to transmit to him a list and state of the said plants &c., which the gardener employed under your orders is to furnish you with for that purpose.
Given under our hands the 22nd of June 1801.
(Signed) St. Vincent.
Matthew Flinders, Esq.
Commander of His Majesty's sloop
Investigator, at Spithead.
By command of their Lordships,
(Signed) Evan Nepean