In 1798, George Bass and Matthew Flinders sailed the sloop Norfolk from Sydney to solve a riddle – was Van Diemen’s Land joined to the mainland of Australia, or was Tasmania an island?
The explorers proved that it was in fact, an island, and became the first Europeans to circumnavigate Van Diemen's Land, sailing through was it today known as Bass Strait.
The voyage by Bass and Flinders also explored the theory held by Bass that there may be a strait of water between what was then New South Wales and Van Dieman’s Land.
At that time, the island was thought merely to be a peninsula of the mainland.
The discovery of the strait which now bears the name 'Bass’ is known as one of the major European discoveries.
Another was the Tamar River, where the men spent about two weeks sailing up as far up as 'Crescent Shore'; close to today’s Swan Point.
The modern-day Norfolk is a close replica of the original vessel which was built on Norfolk Island.
Work on the construction of the replica began in 1994 and was carried out by a group of volunteers assisting the builder.
The replica Sloop Norfolk on display here at the Bass and Flinders Museum is built from three endemic Tasmanian timbers; Huon pine (planking), Celery Top pine (keel, frames, mast, and spars), and decorated with Blackwood.
Some traditional boat building methods were used in the vessells construction, i.e trunnels used throughout the hull.
The oars were crafted from Silky wattle, a now rare timber in Tasmania.
Honestly wasn't expecting much when we went in but were blown away by the friendliness of the staff and their excitement to share the story of Bass and Flinders with us. There's a full sized replica of the Norfolk ship inside (You have no idea looking on the outside of the centre) which you can go in and explore and a few other things to look at. I highly recommend going to the Bass and Flinders centre if you're up in George Town, it was a favorite of mine on the trip and I'd go back again.