One thing Willow needs to understand is that although she may be the star of my world, there are many other cats who have travelled Australia and she certainly wasn’t the first.
So, whenever Willow becomes a little too high and mighty about our whole travelling around Australia thing, I pull out a certain little book for a slice of humble pie.
Once upon a time there was this English bloke named Matthew Flinders who, alongside his trusty sidekick Trim the cat, voyaged to Australia not once, but twice.
As a spirited explorer and cartographer, in 1801 Ol’ Matty boy was put to the task of charting the coastline of what was then known as New Holland. He is most celebrated for his second voyage in which Matty and Trim set sail on the HMS Investigator to circumnavigate the island continent.
Together, they conquered the challenges that came their way, from treacherous waters to that time they were down to their last can of tuna. But Matty was on a mission, and by jingo, he accomplished it! He became the first bloke to circumnavigate the whole of Australia, putting it on the map for good.
Now, Trim wasn’t just any old ship’s cat. He brought joy to the crew and was a symbol of hope when times got tough. His cunning antics and daring escapades were chronicled by Matty himself, making Trim a legend in his own right.
It’s safe to say that Trim stole the show – as cats often do – and, in my opinion, I do wonder if anyone would even remember Matty’s voyage if it wasn’t for this whiskered rascal?
As beautiful as their tale is, during their return to England things went pear-shaped when they were captured by the French in Mauritius. Unfortunately for Matty, he was locked up for 7 years and never saw his faithful companion again.
It was during his captivity that Matty penned A Biographical Tribute to the Memory of Trim. In sharing the tale of his pawesome pal he offered a rare insight into his life and personality that wasn’t often depicted amongst explorers in that day, revealing himself as an affectionate and humorous man.
The best and most illustrious of his Race
The most affectionate of friends,
faithful of servants,
and best of creatures
He made the Tour of the Globe,
and a voyage to Australia,
which he circumnavigated; and was ever the
delight and pleasure of his fellow voyagers.
Matty was eventually released by the French, and upon his arrival back in England was reunited with his wife, Ann, who was all like ‘What time do you call this? You were meant to be home 6 years ago!’
I do recommend, if you can, getting your paws on a copy of Matthew Flinders’ A Biographical Tribute to the Memory of Trim, it is a short but heartwarming read as he pays homage to the adventurous and loving spirit of his feline friend.
On a beautiful morning in Port Lincoln, South Australia, Willow, Steph, and I were able to pay our respects to this remarkable cat when we visited their statues on the main street. Willow, putting rivalry aside, leant out to give Trim some nose boops, in the most reverent of gestures.
Yes, it’s true that Willow isn’t the first cat to travel around Australia, but if we’re going to be counting points here I must add one thing, we’ve never been captured by the French!