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Series 68: Reports concerning the wreck of HM Ships Porpoise and Cato, 1805
The documents in this series were previously located at ML A78-3. These papers, purchased in 1884 from Lord Brabourne by Sir Saul Samuel, the Agent-General for New South Wales, were transferred to the Mitchell Library in 1910. They were part of the accession which became known as the Brabourne collection.
The Investigator, as Flinders had always maintained, returned to Port Jackson having proved unfit to complete the requirements of its intended voyage. Rather than wait for a replacement vessel to arrive from England, Governor King placed HMS Porpoise at Flinders' disposal for the return voyage with Lieutenant Robert Fowler, also formerly of the Investigator, in command.
William Westall chose to sail with Flinders, the only civilian member of the Investigator expedition to do so.
Sailing in company with the smaller Cato, both vessels were lost on Wreck Reef off the Queensland coast, on 17 August 1803. Most of the charts, logs and drawings were saved, having sustained some water damage, but all the live plants, seeds and Robert Brown's dried specimen collection were lost.
At the site of the wrecks some pieces of timber believed to belong to a European vessel were sighted raising speculation about the fate of the French expedition under the command of La Perouse lost in 1788, and the wreck of HMS Pandora, Edward Edwards, in 1791.