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Captain Matthew Flinders RN (16 March 1774 – 19 July 1814) was a distinguished navigator and cartographer, who was the first to circumnavigate Australia and identify it as a continent.

Flinders made three voyages to the Southern Ocean (August 1791 - August 1793, February 1795 - August 1800 and July 1801 - October 1810). Between voyages two and three, in December 1781, Flinders fought in the Battle of Ushant (1781) against the French. In voyage two George Bass and Flinders confirmed that Van Diemen's Land now Tasmania was an island. In voyage three Bass and Flinders circumnavigated the mainland of what was to be called Australia.

Heading back to England in 1803, Flinder's vessel needed urgent repairs at Mauritius. Although Britain and France were at war, Flinders thought the scientific nature of his work would ensure safe passage, but a suspicious governor kept him under arrest for more than six years. In captivity, he recorded details of his voyages for future publication, and put forward his rationale for naming the new continent 'Australia', as an umbrella-term for New Holland and New South Wales – a suggestion taken up later by Governor Macquarie.

Flinder's health had suffered, however, and although he reached home in 1810, he did not live to see the publication of his widely-praised book and atlas, A Voyage to Terra Australis.