Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Not a French connection

This is a picture of Tobias Furneaux, who, despite his surname, was English. The name is thought to have come to England along with William of Normandy in 1066. Furneaux commanded HMS Adventure on Cook's second expedition to the antipodes. On 17 March 1773, he named St Patrick's Head, St Helen's Point, the Bay of Fires and Eddystone Point. In the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Dan Sprod describes him as "an experienced, if somewhat unimaginative, navigator."

Furneaux named the area the Bay of Fires because he saw a large number of small fires as he passed that section of the coast. He also reported the area as being heavily populated, and he was not too wide of the mark as there are many sites with evidence of occupation. Many of these sites are Aboriginal middens (shell and bone deposits) in the sand dunes. These sites are protected and it is important not to disturb these sites.

Furneaux is remembered by name of the Furneaux Islands in Bass Strait. The two largest islands of which are Flinder's Island and Cape Barren Island.

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