The Investigator tree: eighteenth century inscriptions, or twentieth century misinterpretations?

Document Type


Publication details

Stubbs, BJ & Saenger, P 1996, 'The Investigator tree: eighteenth century inscriptions, or twentieth century misinterpretations?', Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 93-107.


In 1841, John Lort Stokes, commanding H,M.S. Beagle. was exploring Australia's northern coastline. and in July he arrived at the small island in the Gulf of Carpentaria (Lat. 170'6'S Long. 139"3TE) which Matthew Flinders, nearly forty years before. had named Sweers. On the western side of this island Stokes discovered a tree with the name of Flinders's ship, the Investigator; carved along the trunk in large letters. This discovery excited Stokes who wrote of it thus: It was ... our good fortune to find at last some traces of the Investigator's voyage, which at once invested the place with all the charms of association, and gave it an interest in our eyes that words can ill express. All the adventures and sufferings of the intrepid Flinders vividly recurred to our memory. I This tree later became known, in consequence of its historic inscription. as the Investigator Tree.

Additional information

Expanded version of a paper presented at the History of Natural History in Queensland. Symposium (1995: Queensland Museum)

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