About the book

Matthew Flinders and George Bass, two obscure young men from Lincolnshire, arrived in Sydney in 1795 determined to achieve greatness. Flinders wanted to be an explorer ‘second only to Cook’, Bass a naturalist, another Sir Joseph Banks, and a rich Sydney trader. For eight years these two pursued their destiny. Their voyages changed the map of Australia, and Flinders gave it its name. But then it was all over. This book is historically rigorous, yet its protagonists’ fascinating and contrasting characters and the extraordinary events of their lives make it as gripping as any novel.

A Passion for Exploring Book cover of New Countries: Matthew Flinders and George Bass by Josephine Bastian
Published by: 
Australian Scholarly Publishing

About the author


Josephine Bastian is the daughter of a Danish goldminer and a school teacher of Irish descent. She spent her childhood in the bush and lived for several years on the goldfields near Mudgee, NSW, where her mother started a one-teacher school. She attended the University of Sydney on a government scholarship and subsequently took a higher degree at London University. She has travelled widely, and worked in several countries as teacher, author and editor; her writing includes articles, radio documentaries and history.

Image of author Josephine Bastian

Judges’ comments

The passion of Bastian’s title operates as a theme throughout this important book. The narrative that emerges is a much more intimate story about the relationship of Flinders and Bass than has previously been told. Setting these men against the context of their families and those they left behind, importantly the author considers the effect of these tumultuous lives on others. With a strong sense of the value of archival research, the author’s fresh approach uses new material and brings the context of exploration and the Imperial need for mapping to light. The people and their relationships are seen as constrained and contained by the larger project.

Grounded in diaries and primary sources, the author gives a wonderful insight into this period in Australia’s history. The book is very readable and accessible and deserves to be read and appreciated by a large audience. It explains and reminds the reader of the incredible energy, dedication, and sacrifice of the explorers of this time as they attempted to map, understand and claim new lands.