"A passion for exploring new countries" Matthew Flinders & George Bass by Josephine Bastian (Australian Scholarly Publishing)
This is a story of Australia’s early explorers, George Bass and Matthew Flinders — first to circumnavigate the coast of mainland Australia and Tasmania — and the challenges they faced in their journeys, in their personal relationships and with the politics of the young colony. Josephine Bastian handles history with a light hand and draws the characters of the two explorers with such empathy that they become much more than cameos of history. Flinders is an identifiably Australian figure — likeable, at times naive, inventive and always undaunted — while Bass emerges as self-centred, opportunistic, and frankly unlikeable.
The result is a work which could be a template for the telling of Australian history. Bastian’s understated tone allows the era and its characters to infuse the story-telling; her focus on relationships, both intimate and political, places historical figures in a human context, and her dispassionate approach archives not just the achievements but the many failures of their voyages.