The Tom Thumb was a tiny boat owned by a 24 year old George Bass from Lincolnshire, England, where he first met Matthew Flinders.

Almost immediately, Bass and Flinders left on their first exhibition in 1795 – against the elements in a miniature vessel Bass had bought out with a single mast and sail. They were away nine days and traced George’s River about 32 km further inland than hither known.

The two friends set out again in another Tom Thumb, one of similar size that had been built in the colony to locate a river which had been reported south of Botany Bay. A breeze blew them much further south than intended, almost as far as present day Port Kembla. They suffered shipwreck, had a tense encounter with some Aboriginal people and came across Lake Illawarra.

On their way back north they were almost wrecked by a wild southerly buster. They reached the object of their voyage, Port Hacking, on 31 March 1796.

One of the best museums I have ever visited. Very interactive.

Tracey Slingsby