Memorial tablet commemorating Matthew Flinders’ voyage

You are here

Date of creation: 
Marble with wooden frame
H: 865, W: 460, D: 40 mm
Collection Name: 
ID/Accession No: 
Marble plaque commemorating the shores surveyed by Matthew Flinders on 26 February 1802. The plaque was commissioned by Lady Jane Franklin after she visited Spencer Gulf in 1841.

Lady Jane was the wife of explorer and fifth Governor (1827- 1843) of Tasmania, Sir John Franklin. She convinced the then Governor of South Australia Colonel Gawler to commission the tablet as a monument to Flinders. Sir John Franklin (1786-1847) served as midshipman under Matthew Flinders (to whom he was related by marriage) in HMS Investigator during his survey of the Australian coast, 1801-1803. Franklin disappeared in the Arctic in 1847 on an expedition to find the north-west passage.

The inscription reads: 'THIS PLACE/ from which the Gulf and its/ Shores were first surveyed/ on 26. Feb. 1802 by/ MATTHEW FLINDERS R.N./ Commander of H.M.S. Investigator/ the Discoverer of the Country now called South Australia/ was set apart/ on 12. Jan. 1841/ with the sanction of COL. GAWLER. K. H./ then Governor of the Colony/ and in the first year of the government of CAPT. G. GREY/ adorned with this Monument/ to the perpetual Memory/ of the illustrious Navigator/ his honored Commander/ by JOHN FRANKLIN CAPT. R.N./ K.C.H.K.R./ LT. GOVERNOR OF/ VAN DIEMEN'S LAND'.


The tablet is rare remnant of the exploration and discovery of South Australia by European explorers. Matthew Flinders surveyed the shores of what is now known as South Australia on the HMS Investigator in 1802. It illustrates the relationship between the colonies; John Franklin was the then Governor of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) and an explorer himself. It is also indicative of the tradition of historical and exploratory accounts being written by the ‘winners’- such tablets do not recognise, as history did not until relatively recently, the Indigenous history of the region or the French exploration of the southern coast.

Associated locations: Port Lincoln, Tasmania

Add new comment