GEORGE BASS.

Born l763, son of a farmer at Aswarby, Lincolnshire, England. His father died when Bass was still a child. His mother encouraged him to take up a medical career, which training he completed in Boston Hospital.

George Bass came to Sydney in 1795 on the 'Reliance' on which also were the newly appointed Governor, Hunter, and Matthew Flinders. Bass brought out with him on the 'Reliance' a small boat (eight feet with five foot beam). This became the famous 'Tom Thumb'.

By the end of 1795 Bass and Flinders in the 'Tom Thumb' had explored the whole of Botany Bay and the Georges River for several miles.

In January 1796 Bass and Flinders, and a boy named Martin took the 'Tom Thumb' southward along the coast to a point beyond the Five Islands.

In the same year Bass explored the mountain barrier to the west of Sydney. He followed the Grose River for fifteen days but was forced to give up because of the lines of cliffs.

Early in 1797 Bass was sent south to check on a report of coal made by shipwrecked sailors. "He came back with the news that a seam, six feet thick, ran along the face of the cliffs for eight miles."  The place was named Coalcliff.

Also that year he crossed the Nepean River, traced its course for several miles, then cut across land to the east coming out to the sea at Wattamolla.

"On 3rd December 1797 Bass set out with a crew of six naval volunteers in a whaleboat twenty-eight feet seven inches long  with provisions for six weeks. At noon on 6th December they sought shelter from a strong southerly in a bight. This spot we now know as the water between Blowhole Point and Black Beach, Kiama. Bass commented on the location in the following terms: "At 1 the air of wind freshened up into a breeze, and at the same time southerned so much so that we could not lay along the land; we therefore went into a bight and anchored.

"The shore in this bight, and also for some distance on each side of it, bears evident marks of volcanic fire. Several of the little heads and points are of a basaltic nature; some irregular, others columnar basalts. Upon landing, I perceived, near the extremity of one of the heads, the rocks laying scattered about in a very regular manner, and upon examination it appeared that a volcanic eruption had formerly taken place there. The earth for a considerable distance round, in the form approaching that of a circle, seemed to have given way; it was now a green slope. Towards the centre was a deep ragged hole of about 25 or 30 feet in diameter, and on one side of it the sea washed in through a subterraneous passage with a most tremendous noise.

The pieces of rock that lay scattered abort had all been burnt, but some were in a state of scoria.

Nothing can be said as to the soil, for the easternmost part of the Blue Mountains comes to the sea here. At 10 p.m. the wind coming at east, we stood to the southward."

Continuing down the coast Bass discovered and. named the Shoalhaven River and Twofold Bay. He rounded Wilson's Promontory and sailed westward until he reached Western Port, Victoria. Here the swell of the sea coming from the west convinced him he had found a  strait separating Van Diemen's Land from the mainland. From that point he turned back, arriving in Sydney after a journey of 600 miles in an open boat in a period of eleven weeks.

In October, 1798 Bass and Flinders set out in the 25 ton sloop, 'Norfolk'. They explored the islands of Bass Strait, found the Tamar Estuary, and charted the west coast and southern Tasmania and the Derwent River. On their return to Sydney on Flinders' suggestion, the strait was officially named Bass Strait. The two voyages made by Bass in the area had shortened the t-rip from England to Sydney by a week and had discovered several safe anchorages for ships caught in severe storms.

"Bass returned to England and secured command of a trading vessel, which he brought to New South Wales to carry salt pork from TAHITI TO Sydney. He sailed to Chile in 1803 on board an armed merchantman. At Valparaiso the town governor refused to permit the vessel to trade. Bass, who was then in command, threatened to bombard the town if the refusal was not withdrawn.

The order was rescinded, but watching their chance, the authorities seized Bass when he was off his guard. It was reported that he was sent to work in the slave-labour silver mines in the interior,' where he died."