Having completed two successful voyages with Matthew Flinders, George Bass, former ship's surgeon, was given command of an open whaleboat and a crew of six to explore the coast of New South Wales south of Sydney. He left Port Jackson in December, 1797, and followed the coast southwards, completing the detail omitted from Cook's chart and charting about 300 miles of new coastline. Rounding the south-east corner of the continent, he sailed into Western Port. His study of the currents, winds, and tides in this new area prompted him to suggest that Van Diemen's Land, as Tasmania was then known, was separated from the mainland by the strait which now bears his name. His last exploratory voyage, once again in company with Flinders, was to chart the coastline of Van Diemen's Land. Bass subsequently became engaged in trade and disappeared without trace on a voyage to south America.



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