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Year            Event


1755                James Cook joins the Navy (below decks) as an ordinary seaman after reaching officer rank in the merchant navy.


5 November    Louis de Bougainville leaves France to circumnavigate the world and find the Great Southern land, Terre Australe.


6 June              Bougainville perhaps 140 nautical miles, east of present-day Cooktown.


26 August       Cook leaves England on first voyage of exploration..


19 April           Cook’s Endeavour off Point Hicks, Victoria.

22 December   Philip Gidley King joins the Navy as a captain’s servant.


12 July            Nicolas Marion-Dufresne is killed and eaten by Maori after leaving Mauritius, exploring Tasmania then New Zealand.


1 August         Jean-François La Pérouse leaves France to complete some of Cook’s charting and to explore the Pacific from north to south.


21–26 Jan.       Gov. Arthur Phillip arrives in Botany Bay. Takes possession in Port Jackson for England.

26 January       La Pérouse finally sails into Botany Bay, having been delayed by unfavourable winds.

14 February     King sails to Norfolk Island to take formal possession.


14 July            Fall of the Bastille prison in Paris; beginning of the French Revolution.




28 September  Bruni d’Entrecasteaux leaves France to search for La Pérouse via Cape Town–Cape Leewin on to the Pacific.


5 December     d’Entrecasteaux sights Cape Leewin.


28 February     d’Entrecasteaux leaves for New Zealand after exploring Van Diemen’s Land.

August            James Grant joins the Navy as a captain’s servant.

18 December   François Barrallier evacuated from Toulon to Italy, then England at 20.

1794                John Murray first recognised as a midshipman on the Polyphemus.


7 September    John Hunter and Henry Waterhouse arrive at Port Jackson. Hunter to be Governor. Waterhouse is Captain of the Reliance, Matthew Flinders is Master Mate then Midshipman, George Bass is surgeon.

26 October      Bass and Flinders in the first Tom Thumb explore Georges River etc.

28 November  Hunter, Bass and Lt David Collins explore ‘Cowpastures’, find ‘lost’ First Fleet cattle.


24 March         Bass and Flinders explore to Lake Illawarra in the second Tom Thumb.

June                 Bass in unsuccessful attempt to cross Blue Mountains.

September       Waterhouse and Bass, on the Reliance, sail to Cape Town for supplies, including merino sheep, and Collins returns to England on sick leave via Cape Town.

Population at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island approx. 4100



9 February       Ship the Sydney Cove en route from Calcutta with stores is wrecked at Preservation Island. Three survivors found months later, just south of Botany Bay.

21 June            Hunter sends schooner Francis to reclaim stores from the Sydney Cove.

26 June            Waterhouse and Bass return to Port Jackson with supplies and sheep.

5 August         Bass receives orders from Hunter to explore south to Coal Cliff.

3 December     Bass and six crew undertake whaleboat voyage. They find Westernport.

Population at Port Jackson and Norfolk island approx. 4344.



1 February       Flinders leaves on the Francis to reclaim more stores from Sydney Cove wreck and to explore the surrounds. Not in command of the Francis.

25 February     Bass returns to Port Jackson from Westernport.

7 October        Flinders and Bass, sailing in the Norfolk, circumnavigate Van Diemen’s Land.

9 December     Flinders and Bass confirm ‘Bass’s strait’ exists.

December        Bass climbs Mt Wellington (Hobart). Bishop (eventual business partner of Bass) returns to Sydney with 9000 seal skins. Capt. Reed discovers King Island.

Population at Port Jackson and Norfolk island approx. 4588.



7 January         Flinders and Bass return to Port Jackson after circumnavigating Van Diemen’s Land.

29 May            Bass resigns from the Navy. Sails to England via China in the Nautilus.

8 July              Flinders explores Moreton and Hervey bays.

Population at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island approx. 5088, including 1724 convicts.



March              Waterhouse and Flinders leave Port Jackson for England on the Reliance.

15 April           King and Barrallier arrive in Sydney. King replaces Hunter as Governor in September.

6 November    John Murray arrives as Master Mate on the Porpoise. The ship carried four tons of copper coins for the colony. The first sign of a requirement for cash.

December        Grant, on the Lady Nelson, finds and names Cape Northumberland. The Lady Nelson is the first recorded ship to pass through Bass Strait.

Population at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island approx. 5217.





25 February     Grant and Barrallier spent several days around Pittwater, trying to retrieve ship’s boat stolen from the Lady Nelson.

March              Grant and Barrallier, with Murray, Bowen and Calley, leave Port Jackson on a southern coastal survey including Westernport.

21 March         Grant and Barrallier enter and survey Westernport until 29 April.

30 May            Nicolas Baudin, commander of the French expedition and captain of the Géographe and the Naturaliste (captained by Félix Hamelin) reach Géographe Bay, Western Australia.

10 June            Paterson and Grant explore the Hunter River area on the Lady Nelson.

18 July            Flinders leaves England on the Investigator to explore the Australian coast.

23 August       Barrallier acting engineer/artillery officer.

29 August       Bass and his business partner Bishop arrive at Port Jackson on the Venus with goods for sale.

12 November  Murray and Bowen leave Port Jackson to explore and survey the southern coast.

21 November  Bass and Bishop leave Port Jackson on commercial voyage.

6 December     Flinders arrives at Cape Leewin and commences coastal survey.

7 December     Murray commences a resurvey of Westernport and surrounds.

Population at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island approx. 5945.



5 January         Murray sights entrance to Port Phillip.

14 February     Murray finally enters Port Phillip to explore and survey

8 March           Baudin expedition ships become separated during a gale off Van Diemen’s Land.

8 April             Flinders and Baudin meet at Encounter Bay.

c. 12 April       Milius and crews, including Brevedent, commence resurveying Westernport.

c. 18 April       Hamelin and crew leave Bass Strait for Port Jackson.

24 April           Hamelin arrives at Port Jackson on the Naturaliste.

9 May              Flinders arrives at Port Jackson.

18 May            Hamelin leaves Port Jackson for Mauritius.

20 June            Baudin arrives at Port Jackson on the Géographe.

22 July            Flinders and Murray leave Port Jackson to explore and chart northern Australia.

28 July?           Hamelin returns to Port Jackson due to bad weather.

October           Barrallier appointed Gov. King’s aide-de-camp.

4 November    Barrallier attempts Blue Mountains crossing.

14 November  Bass and Bishop arrive at Port Jackson from England on the Venus.

18 November  Baudin and Hamelin leave Port Jackson with a ship they have purchased, the Casuarina, Louis Freycinet commanding, Brevedent second-in-command. They aim to explore Bass Strait and possibly take possession of some part.

23 November  King sends Lt Robbins and surveyor Grimes to King Island to thwart Baudin’s possible possession plans. Grimes becomes the second person to map Port Phillip, in 1803.

23 December   Barrallier arrives back in Sydney, having failed to cross the mountains.

Population at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island approx. 7014.



5 February       Bass leaves Port Jackson in command of his partially owned ship Venus, and disappears. The ship was stocked with trading goods he was intending to sell in the Spanish-held west coast of South America. The Spanish refused to allow foreign trading in their possessions. Whether Bass’s ship foundered, or Spanish authorities captured him, is open to conjecture.




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