History of the name ‘Coffin Bay’

Coffin Bay, 21 kilometres from the town of Coffin Bay, is part of the Southern Ocean. It was discovered by Lieutenant Matthew Flinders and his crew in the Investigator on the 16th February 1802.

On his return to England in 1810, he named the bay after Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin, who, as Resident Commissioner of Sheerness Naval Dockyards in England, had been responsible for the outfitting of Flinder’s ship the Investigator, for his imminent voyage to Terra Australis.

Due to weather conditions at the time, Flinders and his crew, did not go ashore although they did see the entrance to the bay system and noticed groups of Aborigines with fires on the beach. It was left to others to investigate these hidden bays many years later.

In March 1839, Captain Frederick Lees, in the brig Nereus, eventually charted these bays. The main bay was named Port Douglas, after Captain Bloomfield Douglas, who was Harbour Master in Adelaide at the time.

Evidence was found that whalers had been there as far back as 1804, in fact, rabbits were discovered in the area as it was common practice for whalers to leave rabbits as a food supply in the case of shipwreck or meat for future visits.