George Bass

Bass was born in Licolnshire, England on 3 February 1771. He became apprenticed to a local surgeon, Patrick Francis, and apothocary. He received the bulk of his surgeons training at Surgeons Hall, London which was located next to the Old Bailey. In 1789 he passed the examination to become a member of the Company of surgeons and obtained a position as a surgeon in the Royal Navy on the HMS Flirt. He arrived at Sydney Cove in 1795 with Matthew Flinders. Within a few weeks the two men explored Botany Bay and the Georges River in a small boat, Tom Thumb. Some months later, in a larger boat of the same name, they made a coastal voyage as far south as Port Hacking and also discovered Lake Illawarra.

Late in 1797 Bass investigated reports that coal had been discovered and he located a seam at Coalcliff. On this voyage he continued along the coast and named the Shoalhaven River, Twofold Bay and Furneaux Land (now Wilsons Promontory). From all he observed he deduced that there was a straight between Victoria and Van Diemen's Land. This was proved in 1798 when he sailed with Flinders in a whaleboat named the Norfolk, circumnavigating the island of Tasmania. During this time Bass sent flora to Sir Joseph Banks, the Botanist, for further study. He returned to England in 1799, sailing on Pacific trader Charles Bishop’s ship Nautilus. In 1803 Bass sailed on a trading voyage with Bishop to South America just after his marriage to Elizabeth Waterhouse, the sister of his friend Henry Waterhouse whom he met in his voyages around Australia and Tasmania. Both he and his ship, the Venus disappeared soon after he departed on 5 February the same year.