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Dr. George Bass


Born Bass was born on 30 January 1771 at Aswarby, a hamlet near Sleaford, Lincolnshire
Early Years He was the son of a tenant farmer, George Bass, and a local beauty named Sarah Nee Newman.
His father died in 1777 when Bass was 6.

George Bass had attended Boston Grammar School and later trained in medicine at the hospital at Boston, Lincolnshire.

At the age of 18 he was accepted in London as a member of the Company of Surgeons, and in 1794 he joined the Royal Navy as a surgeon.

Arrival in Australia

He arrived in Sydney in New South Wales on HMS Reliance on 7 September 1795.

Also on the voyage were Matthew Flinders, John Hunter, Bennelong, and his surgeon's assistant William Martin.

Tom Thumb
1795 & 1796

Bass had brought with him a small boat with an 8-foot (2.4 m) keel and 5-foot (1.5 m) beam, which he called the Tom Thumb because of its size.

In October 1795 Bass and Flinders, accompanied by William Martin sailed the Tom Thumb out of Port Jackson to Botany Bay and explored the Georges River further upstream than had been done previously by the colonists.

Their reports on their return led to the settlement of Banks' Town.

In March 1796 the same party embarked on a second voyage in a similar small boat, which they also called the Tom Thumb.

During this trip they travelled as far down the coast as Lake Illawarra, which they called Tom Thumb Lagoon.

They discovered and explored Port Hacking.

To Cape Howe, Victoria

In 1797, without Flinders, in an open whaleboat with a crew of six, Bass sailed to Cape Howe, the farthest point of south-eastern Australia.

From here he went westwards along what is now the coast of the Gippsland region of Victoria, to Western Port Bay, almost as far as the site of present-day Melbourne.

His belief that a strait separated the mainland from Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania) was backed up by his astute observation of the rapid tide and the long south-western swell at Wilsons Promontory.

Bass discovered the Kiama area and made many notes on its botanical complexity and the amazing natural phenomenon, the Kiama Blowhole.

Tasmania 1788

In 1798, this theory was confirmed when Bass and Flinders, in the sloop Norfolk, circumnavigated Van Diemen's Land.

In the course of this voyage Bass found and explored the estuary of the Derwent River, where the city of Hobart would be founded in 1803.

When the two returned to Sydney, Flinders recommended to Governor John Hunter that the passage between Van Diemen's Land and the mainland be called Bass Strait.

Died 1803

Bass set sail on his last voyage in the Venus on 5 February 1803 and was not seen again.

His plan was to go to Tahiti again, and perhaps on to the Spanish colonies on the coast of Chile to buy provisions and bring them back to Sydney.


'A World of Trivia', 'Dear Grandpa Pencil' and 'A Cheapskate's Guide to Exploring Tasmania By Car'
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Published by Robin A Cartledge ~ ABN 19 924 273 138 ~ Low Head, Tasmania ~ Contact/Comment