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Title: Narrative of a Survey of the Intertropical and Western Coasts of Australia - Performed between the years 1818 and 1822 — Volume 1
Author: King, Phillip Parker, 1793?-1856
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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THE YEARS 1818 AND 1822.








THE rapidly-increasing importance to which the English Colonies in
Australia have now arrived, rendering every subject connected with that
extensive continent of the greatest interest, whether in respect to its
geography, or the extraordinary assemblage of its animal and vegetable
productions, has induced me to publish such parts of my Journal as may be
useful to accompany the Atlas of the Charts of the Coast recently
published by the Board of Admiralty.

One of the results of this voyage has been the occupation of Port
Cockburn, between Melville and Bathurst Islands on the North Coast, and
the formation of an establishment there which cannot fail to be
productive of the greatest benefit to our mercantile communications with
the Eastern Archipelago, as well as to increase the influence and power
of the mother country in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans; and in
contemplating this new extension of her possessions*, I cannot avoid
recalling to mind a curious and prophetic remark of Burton, who, in
alluding to the discoveries of the Spanish navigator Ferdinando de Quiros
(Anno 1612), says: "I would know whether that hungry Spaniard's discovery
of Terra Australis Incognita, or Magellanica, be as true as that of
Mercurius Britannicus, or his of Utopia, or his of Lucinia. And yet, in
likelihood, it may be so; for without all question, it being extended
from the tropick of Capricorn to the circle Antarctick, and lying as it
doth in the temperate zone, cannot chuse but yeeld in time some
flourishing kingdoms to succeeding ages, as America did unto the
Spaniards."** Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, Part 2 Section 2 Number 3.

(*Footnote. The distance between Melville Island and Hobart Town in Van
Diemen's Land, the former being the most northern, and the latter the
most southern, establishment under the government of New South Wales, is
more than 2700 miles, and comprises an extent of coast nearly equal to
that of the British possessions in India!)

(**Footnote. Since the land that Quiros discovered and called Terra del
Espiritu Santo was, at the time Burton wrote, considered to be the
Eastern Coast of New Holland, I am justified in the use I have made of
the above curious passage.)

Since the return of the Expedition, my time has been occupied in
arranging the narrative, and divesting it of such parts as were neither
calculated to amuse the general reader, nor to give information to the
navigator; but this has been so much impeded by the more important
employment of constructing the Charts of the Survey, as to defer until
the present season the publication of the events of a voyage that was
completed nearly three years ago.

In addition to the Hydrographical Notices in the Appendix, I have
ventured to insert descriptive catalogues of the few subjects of Natural
History that were collected during the voyage; these were supplied by
some friends, to whom I have in another part of the work endeavoured,
inadequately no doubt, to express my sense of the obligation: but since
that part has been printed, my friend Mr. Brown has submitted some
specimens of the rocks of the western side of the Gulf of Carpentaria,
that were collected by him on the Investigator's voyage, to the
inspection of Doctor Fitton, by which means that gentleman's valuable
communication in the Appendix has been most materially improved. I have,
therefore, taken the present opportunity of acknowledging the readiness
with which this additional information has been supplied, and of offering
Mr. Brown my best thanks.

It now only remains for me to add, that the views with which these
volumes are illustrated were engraved by Mr. Finden from my own sketches
on the spot: the charts, which are reductions of those in the Admiralty
Atlas, were engraved by Mr. Walker; and the three plates of Natural
History by Mr. Curtis, from drawings made from the specimens by himself,
by Henry C. Field, Esquire, and by Miss M. Field; to each of whom I take
this opportunity of returning my best thanks, and also of bearing
testimony to the correctness with which the respective subjects have been

London, March 20th, 1826.





Intended mode of proceeding, and departure from Port Jackson.
Visit Twofold Bay.
Natives seen.
Passage through Bass Strait and along the South Coast to King George the
Third's Sound.
Transactions there.
Voyage to the North-West Cape, and Survey of the Coast between the
North-West Cape and Depuch Island, including the examinations of Exmouth
Gulf, Curlew River, and Dampier's Archipelago.
Loss of Anchors, and Interview with the Natives.
Remarks upon Dampier's account of Rosemary Island, and of the Island upon
which he landed.

Examination of Rowley's Shoals, and Passage to the North Coast.
Survey of Goulburn Islands, Mountnorris and Raffles Bays.
Meet a Malay Fleet, and communicate with one of the Proas.
Explore Port Essington.
Attacked by Natives in Knocker's Bay.
Anchor in Popham Bay.
Visit from the Malays.
Examination of Van Diemen's Gulf, including Sir George Hope's Islands and
Alligator Rivers.
Survey of the Northern Shore of Melville Island, and Apsley Strait.
Interview with the Natives of Luxmore Head.
Procure wood at Port Hurd.
Clarence Strait.
Leave the Coast, and arrival at Timor.

Transactions at Coepang.
Procure Water and Refreshments.
Description of the Town and Productions of the Island.
Account of the Trepang Fishery on the coast of New Holland.
Departure from Timor, and return to the North-west Coast.
Montebello Islands, and Barrow Island.
Leave the Coast.
Ship's company attacked with Dysentery.
Death of one of the crew.
Bass Strait, and arrival at Port Jackson.
Review of the Proceedings of the Voyage.

Visit to Van Diemen's Land, and examination of the entrance of Macquarie
Anchor in Pine Cove and cut wood.
Description of the Trees growing there.
Return to the entrance, and water at Outer Bay.
Interview with the Natives, and Vocabulary of their language.
Arrive at Hobart Town, and return to Port Jackson.

Departure from Port Jackson, and commence a running survey of the East
Examinations of Port Macquarie and the River Hastings in company with the
Lady Nelson, colonial brig, and assisted by Lieutenant Oxley, R.N., the
Surveyor-general of the Colony.
Leave Port Macquarie.
The Lady Nelson returns with the Surveyor-general to Port Jackson.
Enter the Barrier-reefs at Break-sea Spit.
Discover Rodd's Bay.
Visit the Percy Islands.
Pass through Whitsunday Passage, and anchor in Cleveland Bay.
Wood and water there.
Continue the examination of the East Coast towards Endeavour River;
anchoring progressively at Rockingham Bay, Fitzroy Island, Snapper
Island, and Weary Bay.
Interview with the Natives at Rockingham Bay, and loss of a boat off Cape
Arrival off Endeavour River.

Transactions at Endeavour River, and intercourse with the Natives.
Examine the River.
Geognostical Remarks.
Leave Endeavour River, and resume the examination of the coast.
Anchor among Howick's Group, and under Flinders' Group.
Explore Princess Charlotte's Bay, and the Islands and Reefs as far as
Cape York, anchoring in the way on various parts of the coast.
The cutter nearly wrecked at Escape River.
Loss of anchor under Turtle Island.
Pass round Cape York and through Torres Strait, by the Investigator's

Cross the Gulf of Carpentaria, and resume the survey of the North Coast
at Wessel's Islands.
Castlereagh Bay.
Crocodile Islands.
Discovery and examination of Liverpool River.
Arrive at Goulburn Island.
Complete wood and water.
Attacked by the natives from the cliffs.
Leave Goulburn Island, and pass round Cape Van Diemen.
Resume the survey of the coast at Vernon's Islands in Clarence Strait.
Paterson Bay.
Peron Island.
Anson Bay.
Mr. Roe examines Port Keats.
Prevented from examining a deep opening round Point Pearce.
Discovery of Cambridge Gulf.
Lacrosse Island.
Examination of the Gulf.
Death of one of the crew.
Leave Cambridge Gulf.
Trace the coast to Cape Londonderry.

Examination of the coast between Cape Londonderry and Cape Voltaire,
containing the surveys of Sir Graham Moore's Islands, Eclipse Islands,
Vansittart Bay, Admiralty Gulf, and Port Warrender.
Encounter with the natives of Vansittart Bay.
Leave the coast at Cassini Island for Coepang.
Obliged to bear up for Savu.
Anchor at Zeeba Bay, and interview with the rajah.
Some account of the inhabitants.
Disappointed in not finding water.
Leave Zeeba Bay, and beat back against the monsoon to Coepang.
Complete wood and water, and procure refreshments.
Return to Port Jackson.
Pass the latitude assigned to the Tryal Rocks.
Arrival in Sydney Cove.

Equipment for the third voyage.
Leave Port Jackson.
Loss of bowsprit, and return.
Observations upon the present state of the colony, as regarding the
effect of floods upon the River Hawkesbury.
Re-equipment and final departure.
Visit Port Bowen.
Cutter thrown upon a sandbank.
Interview with the natives, and description of the country about Cape
Leave Port Bowen.
Pass through the Northumberland, and round the Cumberland Islands.
Anchor at Endeavour River.
Summary of observations taken there.
Visit from the natives.
Vocabulary of their language.
Observations thereon in comparing it with Captain Cook's account.
Mr. Cunningham visits Mount Cook.
Leave Endeavour River, and visit Lizard Island.
Cape Flinders and Pelican Island.
Entangled in the reefs.
Haggerston's Island, Sunday Island, and Cairncross Island.
Cutter springs a leak.
Pass round Cape York.
Endeavour Strait.
Anchor under Booby Island.
Remarks upon the Inner and Outer routes through Torres Strait.

Cross the Gulf of Carpentaria, and anchor at Goulburn's South Island.
Affair with the natives.
Resume the survey of the coast at Cassini Island.
Survey of Montagu Sound, York Sound, and Prince Frederic's Harbour.
Hunter's and Roe's Rivers, Port Nelson, Coronation Islands.
Transactions at Careening Bay.
Repair the cutter's bottom.
General geognostical and botanical observations.
Natives' huts.
Brunswick Bay.
Prince Regent's River.
Leave the coast in a leaky state.
Tryal Rocks, Cloates Island.
Pass round the west and south coasts.
Bass Strait.
Escape from shipwreck.
Botany Bay.
Arrival at Port Jackson.



From a sketch by P.P. King. Published in May 1825 by John Murray, London.


As surveyed in the years 1818 to 1822 by Phillip P. King, R.N.

Watering party attacked by natives.
From a sketch by P.P. King. Published in May 1825 by John Murray, London.

From Spear Point.
From a sketch by P.P. King. Published in May 1825 by John Murray, London.

From a sketch by P.P. King. Published in May 1825 by John Murray, London.

From a sketch by P.P. King. Published in May 1825 by John Murray, London.

At its junction with King's River.
From a sketch by P.P. King. Published in May 1825 by John Murray, London.




Taken from the Gut.
From a sketch by P.P. King. Published in May 1825 by John Murray, London.

Where the Mermaid was repaired.
From a sketch by P.P. King. Published in May 1825 by John Murray, London.




Nearly three centuries* have now elapsed since our first knowledge of the
Great South Land, the Terra Australis Incognita of ancient geographers;
and, until within the last century, comparatively little had been done
towards making a minute exploration of its coasts: during the seventeenth
century several voyages were made by different Dutch navigators, from
whom we have the first-recorded description of its shores; but from the
jealous disposition of their East India Company, under whose orders these
voyages were performed, the accounts of them were so concealed, and
consequently lost or destroyed, that few particulars of a detailed nature
have been handed down.**

(*Footnote. The late Rear-Admiral Burney, in his History of Discoveries
in the South Sea, volume 1 page 380, describes a chart, dated 1542, drawn
by Rotz, in which a coast is continued to the 28th degree of south
latitude; and immediately below the 30th degree, there is the name of
Coste des Herbaiges, answering by an extraordinary coincidence both in
climate and in name to Botany Bay.).

(**Footnote. In the voyages of Gautier Schouten, published at Amsterdam
in 1708, duodecimo volume 1 page 41 et seq., there is the following
curious account of the wreck of a ship on the coast of New Holland:

"Il me semble que je ne dois pas omettre ici une histoire, de la
certitude de laquelle on n'eut pas lieu de douter. Des-que la nouvelle
fut venue a Batavia [Anno 1659], que le vaisseau le Dragon, qui venoit de
Hollande aux Indes, avoit fait naufrage sur les cotes d'une Terre
Australe inconnue, on y envoia la flute la Bouee a la Veille, pour
ramener ceux des gens de l'equipage qui auroient pu se sauver, et les
efets qui auroient ete conservez.

"La flute etant conduite par ceux qui etoient echapez du naufrage dans la
chaloupe, et venus a Batavia en aporter la nouvelle, se rendit au parage
ou le Dragon avoit peri, et alla mouiller l'ancre dans l'endroit qui
parut le plus propre pour son dessein. Aussi tot la chaloupe fut armee
pour aller chercher ceux qui s'etoient sauvez le long du rivage. Elle
s'aprocha d'abord du bris, pardessus lequel les vagues passoient; puis
elle nagea vers le lieu ou l'on avoit dresse des tentes, quand la
chaloupe du vaisseau peri partit, pour ceux qu'elle n'avoit pu recevoir,
et qui devoient attendre la qu'on vint les y prendre.

"L'equipage etant descendu a terre, trouva les tentes brisees en pieces,
et l'on ne decouvrit pas un seul homme dans tout le pais. La surprise ne
fut pas mediocre. On regarda partout si l'on ne verroit point de traces
qui marquassent qu'on eut construit quelque petit batiment: mais il n'y
avoit ni tarriere, ni hache, ni couteaux, ni cloux, etc. Il n'y avoit ni
ecrit ni indication par ou l'on put conjecturer ce qu'etoient devenus les
gens qu'on avoit la laissez.

"La chaloupe etant retournee a bord, et aiant annonce cette nouvelle, il
fut resolu que l'on iroit chercher plus avant dans les terres, et le long
du rivage. Pour cet efet on se divisa en plusieurs troupes, et l'on ne
reussit pas mieux que la premiere fois. On eut beau crier, apeller, tirer
des coups de mousquet, tout fut inutile, et je n'ai pas seu qu'on ait
jamais apris ce qu'etoient devenus ces gens-la.

"On retourna donc au bris, dont on ne put rien tirer, les lames aiant
emporte les bordages, les ecoutilles, et fracasse tout le vaisseau, tant
la mer brise fort en ces parages. Ainsi l'on jugea que le plus expedient
etoit de s'en retourner, puis-qu'on n'avoit rien a pretendre, et qu'on
avoit a craindre les vents forcez et les tempetes, qui selon les
aparences auroient aussi fait perir la flute. Dans ce dessein on alla
faire de l'eau. Ceux qui furent a une petite riviere qu'on avoit vue,
au-lieu de se hater, se promenerent, et coururent en divers endroits.

"Cependant il s'eleva une si terrible tempete, que la flute fut
contrainte de se mettre au large, ou elle atendit encore quelque tems.
Mais comme la chaloupe ne revenoit point, on jugea qu'elle avoit peri;
si-bien qu'on reprit la route de Batavia, ou l'on fit le raport de ce qui
s'etoit passe.

"Quand l'orage eut cesse, l'equipage de la chaloupe se rembarqua pour
retourner a bord. 'Mais il ne trouva plus la flute, ni sur la cote, ni au
large. La tristesse ne fut pas moindre que l'etonnement, et l'on ne seut
quel parti prendre. Enfin il fallut retourner a terre, pour n'etre pas
englouti par les flots. Mais on n'avoit point de vivres, et l'on ne
voioit rien dans tout le pais qui put servir de nouriture. Les montagnes
n'etoient que des rochers; les valees etoient de vrais deserts; les
plaines n'etoient que des sables. Le rivage etoit aussi borde de roches,
contre lesquelles la mer brisoit avec d'efroiables mugissemens.

"Ceux qui etoient la demeurez se trouvoient au nombre de treize hommes,
qui furent bientot fatiguez, afoiblis et attenuez. La faim les pressoit,
le froid et l'humidite les faisoient soufrir, et ils se regardoient comme
condamnez a la mort. Il n'y avoit rien a esperer du bris; les vagues
avoient tout fait rouler ca et la dans la mer. Enfin a force de courir et
de chercher quelque chose qu'ils pussent manger, ils apercurent entre les
rochers qui etoient le long du rivage, de gros limacons, et de plus
petits, qui y venoient de la mer, et dont le gout, qui etoit passable,
parut excellent a des gens affamez. Mais n'aiant point de feu pour les
faire cuire, l'usage continuel qu'ils en firent, commenca de les
incommoder, et ils sentirent bien que ce foible remede ne les empecheroit
pas de mourir dans peu de tems.

"Enfin ne voiant de toutes parts qu'une mort certaine, ils prirent la
resolution de s'exposer a la merci des flots, dans l'esperance que s'il
ne se presentoit rien de plus favorable pour eux sur la mer que sur la
terre, au moins la mort qu'ils y trouveroient, seroit plus promte, et les
delivreroit plutot de leurs miseres. Cependant ils se flatoient encore de
l'esperance de pouvoir aborder en quelque autre pais, ou il y auroit des
choses propres pour la nourriture des hommes.

"Ainsi chacun travailla selon ses forces a calfater la chaloupe, a faire
provision de limacons, a remplir des futailles d'eau. Apres cela l'on mit
le batiment a la mer, et l'on quitta ce lieu, ou l'on n'avoit vu que des
deserts arides et des feux folets, et ou il n'y avoit ni betes ni gens.
On perdit bientot de vue ce pais sterile, le second Pilote de la flute
etant parmi cette troupe desolee, et la guidant par le cours du Soleil,
de la Lune et des Etoiles.

"Cependant ils avoient trois a quatre cents lieues de chemin a faire,
pour terrir a la cote septentrionale de la grande Java. On peut assez
s'imaginer a quelles soufrances ils furent exposez dans un tel batiment,
pendent une telle route, et avec si-peu de vivres, et si-mauvais. Par le
beau tems ils voguoient encore passablement; mais quand la mer etoit
grosse, les lames les couvroient et passoient par-dessus leurs tetes, et
la chaloupe etoit toujours sur le point de se voir submergee.

"Mais la plus cruelle avanture fut que les limacons se corrompirent, et
il n'y eut plus moien d'en manger, si-bien que pour tout aliment il ne
resta que de l'eau. La nuit il faisoit un froid insuportable, et le jour
on etoit brule des ardeurs du Soleil. Toute esperance de salut sembloit
etre retranchee, et les fatigues, aussi-bien que le manque de nourriture,
avoient entierement epuise les forces de ces infortunes, lors-qu'un matin
ils decouvrirent les montagnes meridionales de la grande Java."

This ship was probably wrecked in the neighbourhood of Dampier's
Archipelago, near which there is also an account of the loss of a ship
called the Vianen.)

The first circumstantial account that we have is that of Dampier; who, in
his celebrated Buccaneering Voyage in the year 1688, visited that part of
the North-West Coast, to which the name of Cygnet Bay has been attached:
of this place he gives a faithful and correct account, particularly with
respect to its productions, and the savage and degraded state of its
inhabitants: the same navigator afterwards (in 1699) visited the West and
North-west Coasts in His Majesty's ship Roebuck, in the description of
which he has not only been very minute and particular, but, as far as we
could judge, exceedingly correct.

Within the last fifty years the labours of Cook, Vancouver, Bligh,
D'Entrecasteaux, Flinders, and Baudin have gradually thrown a
considerable light upon this extraordinary continent, for such it may be
called. Of these and other voyages that were made during the 17th and
18th centuries to various parts of its coasts, an account is given by the
late Captain Flinders, in his introduction to the Investigator's voyage;
in which, and in that able and valuable work of the late Rear-Admiral
Burney, A Chronological Account of Discoveries in the South Sea and
Pacific Ocean, the history of its progressive discovery is amply

It was intended that the whole line of the Australian Coast should have
been examined and surveyed by Captain Flinders; but the disgraceful and
unwarrantable detention of this officer at the Mauritius by the French
Governor, General Decaen, prevented the completion of this project.
Captain Flinders had, however, previously succeeded in making a most
minute and elaborate survey of the whole extent of the South coast,
between Cape Leeuwin and Bass Strait; of the East Coast, from Cape Howe
to the Northumberland Islands; of the passage through Torres Strait; and
of the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The French expedition, under Commodore Baudin, had in the mean time
visited some few parts of the West Coast, and skirted the islands which
front the North-west Coast, without landing upon, and indeed scarcely
seeing, any part of the mainland. The whole of the north, the north-west,
and the western shores remained, therefore, to be explored; and in the
year 1817, among the numerous voyages of survey and discovery upon which
a part of the navy of Great Britain was so honourably and so usefully
employed, these Coasts of Australia were not forgotten. An expedition for
the purpose of completing the survey of its North and North-west Coast
was planned, under the joint direction of the Lords Commissioners of the
Admiralty, and the Secretary of State for the Colonies, to the command of
which I had the honour of being appointed.

The arrangements for providing me with a vessel and crew were made by the
latter department; and the Governor of New South Wales was instructed to
give up to my use any vessel in the colonial marine establishment that
should be deemed capable of performing the service; or, in the event of
there being none fit for the purpose, to purchase any suitable one that
might be offered for sale.

For my guidance I received the following instructions from the Admiralty
and the Colonial Department:--

Admiralty Office, 4th February, 1817.


My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty being informed of the
arrangements of Earl Bathurst, His Majesty's principal Secretary of State
for the Colonial Department, for employing you in a survey of the
unexplored parts of the Coast of New South Wales, have commanded me to
express their concurrence therein, and to convey to you the following
instructions, to which you are to conform yourself, in addition to those
which you may receive from the Secretary of State.

The arrangements for providing you with a proper vessel and crew, and
other necessaries for the prosecution of the service having been made by
the Colonial Department, my Lords have no directions to give you on these
subjects, but to recommend you in the conduct and discipline of the
vessel which may be intrusted to your care, to conform, as far as may be
practicable, to the established usages of the navy, and to the
regulations for preserving health, cleanliness, and good order, which
have been established in His Majesty's ships when employed in Voyages of

In order to assist you in the care and use of the timekeepers and
instruments with which their Lordships have directed the Hydrographer of
this department to furnish you, and to follow your orders in all other
particulars relating to the service, my Lords have directed Messrs.
Frederick Bedwell and John Septimus Roe, two young gentlemen, who have
been recommended to them as peculiarly fitted to be of use to you, and
for whose appointment you have expressed your wishes, to accompany you
and to be under your command.

The principal object of your mission is to examine the hitherto
unexplored Coasts of New South Wales, from Arnhem Bay, near the western
entrance of the Gulf of Carpentaria, westward and southward as far as the
North-west Cape; including the opening, or deep bay called Van Diemen's
Bay, and the cluster of islands called Rosemary Islands, and the inlets
behind them, which should be most minutely examined; and, indeed, all
gulfs and openings should be the objects of particular attention; as the
chief motive for your survey is to discover whether there be any river on
that part of the coast likely to lead to an interior navigation into this
great continent.

It is for several reasons most desirable that you should arrive on this
coast, and commence your survey as early as possible, and you will
therefore, when the vessel shall be ready, lose no time in proceeding to
the unexplored coasts; but you are at liberty to commence your survey at
whichever side you may judge proper, giving a preference to that which
you think you may be able soonest to reach; but in case you think that
indifferent, my Lords would wish you to commence by the neighbourhood of
the Rosemary Islands.

Either on your way out, or on returning, you should examine the coast
between Cape Leeuwin and the Cape Gosselin, in M. De Freycinet's chart;
and generally you will observe, that it is very desirable that you should
visit those ranges of coast which the French navigators have either not
seen at all, or at too great a distance to ascertain and lay down

You will provide yourself at Port Jackson with the seeds of such
vegetables as it may be considered most useful to propagate on the coasts
you may visit, and you will take measures for sowing or planting them in
the fittest situations, with a view not only to their preservation, but
to their being within the observation and reach of succeeding navigators.

You will take care to make duplicate copies of all your notes, surveys,
and drawings; and you are to take every possible opportunity of
transmitting one copy to Earl Bathurst, and the other to me for their
Lordship's information; but you need not send duplicates by the same
conveyance. And you will feel the necessity of writing by every
opportunity to acquaint both departments of your progress.

You will remain on this service till you shall have examined all parts of
the coast which have not been laid down by Captain Flinders, M. De
Freycinet, or preceding navigators, or until you shall receive further

I am, Sir,

Your very humble servant,

(Signed) J.W. CROKER.

To Lieutenant P.P. King.


Downing-street, 8th of February, 1817.


As His Majesty's Government has selected you for the command of an
expedition which is to be fitted out in New South Wales, for the purpose
of exploring the yet undiscovered Coast of New Holland, and for
completing, if possible, the circumnavigation of that continent; you will
proceed with all practicable expedition to Port Jackson, and you will, on
your arrival, deliver to Governor Macquarie the accompanying despatches,
which state the object which you have in view, and the means by which it
is to be accomplished. The Governor will place at your disposal any
colonial vessel which you may consider best calculated for the voyage,
and you will concert with him as to the equipment of such vessel, and
avail yourself of his knowledge of the several persons in the colony, in
order to select a crew on whom reliance can be placed for steadiness and
subordination. Besides the persons necessary for the navigation of the
vessel, you will receive on board Mr. A. Cunningham, a botanist, now in
New South Wales, who has received the orders of Sir Joseph Banks to
attend you; and you will engage any other person, if there be such in the
colony, who possesses a competent knowledge of Mineralogy or Natural

It is on every account most desirable that the Expedition should proceed
from Port Jackson as early as possible; you will therefore make every
exertion in your power to accelerate your departure from thence, and your
arrival at the point specified in your Admiralty instructions.

The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty having given you detailed
instructions relative to the naval objects of the Expedition, I have only
to direct your observation to the several points referred to in the
enclosed memorandum, as those upon which it is desirable to procure
information. You will exercise your own discretion as to landing on the
several parts of the coast which you may explore; but on all occasions of
landing, you will give every facility to the botanist, and the other
scientific persons on board to pursue their inquiries; and you will
afford them such assistance in the pursuit as they may require. If the
place selected for landing be in any way remarkable in itself, or
important from being at the mouth of a river, or a harbour, you will take
care to leave some evidence which cannot be mistaken of your having
landed, either by erecting a flagstaff, or sowing some seeds, or by
resorting to any other means which may at the time present themselves.

You will not fail regularly to keep a journal of your proceedings, and to
note down your observations, as they from time to time occur,
transmitting home by every opportunity intelligence of the progress which
you have made, and of the leading events which may have befallen you.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your most obedient, humble servant,

(Signed) BATHURST.

To Lieutenant P.P. King, R.N.


The following will be among the most important subjects, on which it will
be more immediately your province, assisted by your officers, to
endeavour to obtain information on any occasion which may offer.

The general nature of the climate, as to heat, cold, moisture, winds,
rains, periodical seasons; the temperature regularly registered from
Fahrenheit's thermometer, as observed at two or three periods of the day.

The direction of the mountains, their names, general appearance as to
shape; whether detached or continuous in ranges.

The animals, whether birds, beasts, or fishes; insects, reptiles, etc.,
distinguishing those that are wild from those which are domesticated.

The vegetables, and particularly those that are applicable to any useful
purposes, whether in medicine, dyeing, carpentry, etc.; any scented or
ornamental woods, adapted for cabinet work and household furniture, and
more particularly such woods as may appear to be useful in ship-building;
hard woods for tree-nails, block-sheaves, etc., of all which it would be
desirable to procure small specimens labelled and numbered, so that an
easy reference may be made to them in the journal, to ascertain the
quantities in which they are found; the facility or otherwise of floating
them down to a convenient place for shipment, etc.

Minerals, any of the precious metals, or stones; how used, or valued by
the natives.

The description and characteristic difference of the several tribes or
people on the coast.

The occupation and means of subsistence, whether chiefly, or to what
extent by fishing, hunting, feeding sheep or other animals, by
agriculture or by commerce.

The principal objects of their several pursuits, as mentioned in the
preceding paragraphs.

A circumstantial account of such articles growing on the sea-coast, if
any, as might be advantageously imported into Great Britain, and those
that would be required by the natives in exchange for them.

The state of the arts, or manufactures, and their comparative perfection
in different tribes.

A vocabulary of the language spoken by every tribe with which you may
meet, using in the compilation of each the same English words.


On the day that my appointment was dated, I received an order for a
passage in the ship Dick, a transport, hired to convey the 48th regiment
to New South Wales; and on the 17th of February, twelve days after my
appointment, left Gravesend; but from a tedious detention in the Downs,
and a succession of foul winds, did not finally leave Cork, where the
troops embarked, until the 3rd of April.

On the 26th of May, the Dick anchored in the harbour of Rio de Janeiro,
and remained for a fortnight, to procure refreshments for the troops, and
complete her water.

Hence to New South Wales the voyage was performed, without the occurrence
of any incident worth recording. The heads of Port Jackson were seen at
daylight on the 1st of September; but being to leeward of the port, the
ship did not anchor in Sydney Cove until the 3rd, after a passage from
Cork of twenty-two weeks, including the fortnight that was passed at Rio.

The same evening I waited upon his Excellency Governor Macquarie at
Parramatta, and delivered to him his letters and the despatches which
acquainted him with the particulars of my mission; upon which His
Excellency, after expressing himself anxious to give every assistance in
his power in forwarding the service I had to perform, informed me that
there were only two vessels belonging to the colony that could suit my
purpose: one of one hundred tons that had been lately launched, and the
other a brig of seventy tons, the Lady Nelson, that was built at Deptford
in the year 1799, and sent out to the colony, expressly for the purpose
of surveying the coast; she had, however, for the last ten years, been
used as a coal-vessel, and was then hauled upon the slips, undergoing a
repair. Upon examining the two vessels, I found that the former, although
of convenient burden, not only drew too much water, but was in every
other way unsuitable for my purpose; and the latter required much repair
before she could be sent to sea, but as there was no other vessel at Port
Jackson, either for sale or hire, no choice was left but to prepare the
Lady Nelson as quickly as possible; and, as it was found absolutely
necessary to give her a new keel, stern-post, and cut-water, besides new
decks, with many new beams, there was no probability of completing her
for at least four months.

Fortunately, however, this arrangement was shortly afterwards rendered
unnecessary by the arrival from India, of the Mermaid, a cutter of 84
tons burden, built of teak, and not quite twelve months old: her length
was 56 feet; breadth of beam 18 feet 6 inches; and did not, when
deep-laden, draw more than 9 feet; her bottom was rather sharper than was
convenient for the purpose of taking the ground; but, as I could not
expect to find every advantage combined in one vessel that was necessary
for the purpose of surveying, the latter objection was of necessity
overruled; and being in every other respect superior to the Lady Nelson,
and requiring no repairs, she was eventually purchased for the sum of
2000 pounds sterling, and immediately appropriated to my use.

A schooner would have been much more convenient; but, as there was no
opportunity of making such an alteration, it could not be effected. My
statement of the arrangements that were requisite for our accommodation
was approved of by the Governor, who gave the necessary orders to the
Engineer, a captain of the forty-sixth regiment; and the Deputy
Commissary General was instructed to attend to all my demands, and to
supply the requisite quantities of provisions and stores; but,
notwithstanding every wish on the part of His Excellency to forward our
outfit and complete the vessel for sea without delay, it was not until
the 21st of December that the alterations were finished. Had we met with
as much opposition and inattention from the commissariat department as
from the engineer, the vessel would not have been ready for sea for six
months; it is, however, a duty I owe to Deputy Commissary General Allan,
to acknowledge the readiness with which that officer's department
attended to my wants.

The following is a list of the officers and men who formed the crew of
the Mermaid:--

Lieutenant Phillip Parker King.

Master's mates, 2:
Mr. Frederick Bedwell.
Mr. John Septimus Roe.

Botanical collector:
Mr. Allan Cunningham.

Seamen, 12.

Boys, 2.

Total, 18.

In addition to this establishment, I accepted the proffered services of
Boongaree, a Port Jackson native, who had formerly accompanied Captain
Flinders in the Investigator, and also on a previous occasion in the
Norfolk schooner. This man is well known in the colony as the chief of
the Broken Bay tribe; he was about forty-five years of age, of a sharp,
intelligent, and unassuming disposition, and promised to be of much
service to us in our intercourse with the natives: this addition made our
number amount to nineteen, for which we carried provisions for nine
months, and twelve weeks' water.







Intended mode of proceeding, and departure from Port Jackson.
Visit Twofold Bay.
Natives seen.
Passage through Bass Strait and along the South Coast to King George the
Third's Sound.
Transactions there.
Voyage to the North-West Cape, and Survey of the Coast between the
North-West Cape and Depuch Island, including the examinations of Exmouth
Gulf, Curlew River, and Dampier's Archipelago.
Loss of Anchors, and Interview with the Natives.
Remarks upon Dampier's account of Rosemary Island, and of the Island upon
which he landed.

1817. December 21.

At the time that the Mermaid was ready to commence her voyage, it was the
season when the westerly monsoon blows over that part of the sea which
separates the islands of Timor and New Guinea from Australia; it was
therefore necessary, in order to benefit by the direction of the wind, to
commence the survey of the coast at its western extremity, the North-West
Cape: but, to do this, the passage was to be made, by taking the western
route, as it is called; that is, by passing either through Bass Strait,
or round Van Diemen's Land, and steering up the West Coast. In doing
this, the vessel would, doubtless, have to encounter much bad weather;
and, on her arrival might, probably, be more fit to return than to
commence the survey of a dangerous and an unknown coast. The passage to
the northward, through Torres Strait, would have been, on all accounts,
the most advisable route, had the season been more advanced; and, indeed,
it would have been even better to wait until March for that purpose; but
this would be a loss of time in which much might be effected, were we
only fortunate enough to make the western passage without accident: under
all these circumstances, I was induced to prefer the route of Bass
Strait, rather than remain idle, after the vessel was completed.

Before we left Port Jackson, His Excellency the Governor was made
acquainted with my intended mode of proceeding; that, having passed Bass
Strait to King George the Third's Sound, I should there complete my water
and fuel: then, by steering up the West Coast, to commence my survey at
the North-West Cape, and examine the coast easterly until the westerly
monsoon should begin to decline; upon which I proposed to leave the land,
and proceed as far to the eastward as the remainder of the monsoon would
allow; when I might examine the coast back with the easterly monsoon as
long as my stock of water lasted; and lastly, if I could not get a supply
upon the coast, to go to Timor, by which time my provisions would,
probably, be so reduced as to oblige my returning to Port Jackson to
prepare for a second voyage.

December 22.

Having made our final arrangements, we left Port Jackson on the 22nd of
December, with a fresh northerly breeze, which continued until the
evening of the 24th, when we were abreast of Cape Howe. After this a
heavy gale of wind from South-West obliged us to run into Twofold Bay for
shelter, and to repair some trifling damage which we had already

Twofold Bay was discovered by Mr. Bass in 1797; and, although it is for
the most part too open and exposed to easterly winds for large ships, yet
it has a cove on its northern side, in which small vessels find secure
anchorage and a convenient place for stopping at, if bound to the
southward; and hence its name of Snug Cove. It is completely land-locked,
and it also conveniently affords both wood and water, and is neither
difficult to enter nor to leave.

December 26.

When passing Red Point, which is on the south side of the bay, several
natives were seen upon it; one of them came to the verge of the rocks
that overhang the extremity of the point, and made violent gestures, but,
whether they were those of friendship or hostility, could not be
ascertained. Boongaree answered him in the Port Jackson language, but
they were equally unintelligible to each other. The native had a spear in
one hand, and either a throwing stick, or a club, in the other; both of
which, with his legs widely extended, he flourished most furiously over
his head. This man was quite naked, but a woman near him wore a
kangaroo's skin over her shoulders. Several small parties of natives were
seen in the other parts of the bay, but they appeared more anxious to
avoid than to court a communication with us.

On anchoring in Snug Cove, I went on shore with Mr. Roe and Mr.
Cunningham: Boongaree also accompanied us, clothed in a new dress, which
was provided for him, of which he was not a little proud, and for some
time kept it very clean.

Wood was abundant and near at hand, and the water, which is in a morass
at the back of the beach, although shallow, and covered with a species of
azolla, was both good and plentiful.

The soil of the hills, contiguous to Snug Cove, is very good, and covered
with luxuriant grass. The country appeared to be thickly wooded, but near
the water the trees, which were principally species of the eucalyptus and
the casuarina, were small and stunted.

In our strolls during the day along the beach, and over the surrounding
hills, we did not encounter any inhabitants, although recent signs of
them were visible at every step; several beaten paths were observed
leading to the morass from different directions, on the banks of which
were many shells (Haliotis gigantea, Linn.) used by the natives for

In the evening, after hauling the seine on the beach without success, we
were upon the point of embarking, when we discovered, at about seventy or
eighty yards up the hill, the heads of three or four natives peeping
above the long grass, evidently watching our movements, and probably
awaiting our departure to allow them to go to the morass for water.
Wishing very much to communicate with these people, we walked towards
them, but they suddenly rose and scampered up the hill among the trees,
which were so thick as soon to conceal them from our view. Boongaree
called to them in vain; and it was not until they had reached some
distance that they answered his call in loud shrill voices. After some
time spent in a parley, in which Boongaree was spokesman on our part,
sometimes in his own language, and at others in broken English, which he
always resorted to when his own failed in being understood, they withdrew
altogether, and we neither heard nor saw anything more of them.

December 27.

The next morning, the wind being easterly, we left the bay. On passing
Red Point, twenty or thirty natives came to the extreme point of the
cliff, shouting and hallooing and making violent gestures; a large group
of women and children appeared in the background, timidly concealing
themselves behind the trees and bushes; another party was quietly seated
round small fires on the rocks near the sea-beach, apparently engaged in
cooking their fish; and at a little distance from the last group, two
canoes were hauled upon the rocks.

The breeze being fresh from the North-North-East, we made rapid progress;
and at three o'clock p.m., rounded Cape Howe, with every prospect of
passing through Bass Strait before the wind should again veer to the
westward. In passing Cape Howe, we observed large fires burning on the
hills, made by the natives for the double purpose of burning off the dry
grass and of hunting the kangaroos, which are thus forced to fly from the
woods, and thereby fall an easy prey to their pursuers.

December 28.

The next day at noon, Kent's Group, in the eastern entrance of Bass
Strait, was seen; but, at one o'clock, the wind shifted suddenly and blew
a gale from South-West, with heavy rain: after beating against it until
the following day, we bore up and ran under the lee of Great Island,
intending to pass round Van Diemen's Land: at five o'clock, we passed
close to the Babel Islands, on which were heaped incredible numbers of
sea-birds of various descriptions, each species huddled together in
flocks separate from the other. On another part of the island many seals
were seen, by the growl of which, and the discordant screams of the
birds, a strange confused noise was made, not ill adapted to the name the
island bears.

December 29.

By the following day, we had made some progress along the eastern side of
Van Diemen's Land, but in the evening, the wind shifted to South-East,
and induced us to try the Strait once more. In passing the low
north-easternmost point of the land, called by the French, Cape
Naturaliste, we had nearly run ashore from the darkness of the night, and
the little elevation of the land. Our sounding in seven fathoms was the
first indication of danger; and, on listening attentively, the noise of
the surf upon the beach was distinctly heard.

December 30.

The next morning we passed through Banks Strait, and entered Bass Strait.

1818. January 2.

But the wind was so light and baffling, that we made no progress until
the 2nd of January; when, with a freshening breeze from the eastward, we
moved rapidly on our way, and flattered ourselves with the hope of
clearing the strait before night. In this hope we were not deceived; but
before it was effected, we had very nearly suffered from the careless
look-out of the man at the masthead. At four o'clock we were near Three
Hummock Island, and steered so as to pass close to its northern point, in
order that we might obtain a correct latitude for sights for the
chronometers. Being within half a mile of it, rocks were suddenly seen
outside and so close to us, that it was then too late either to haul up
or bear away; the rocks to windward and the land to leeward preventing
us: nothing was therefore left to us but to proceed and take the chance
of finding sufficient depth of water between the point and the rocks;
providentially there proved to be a passage of one-eighth of a mile wide,
and the cutter passed safely through. These islands were examined by
Commodore Baudin, and an elaborate survey made of them by his officers;
but this danger is not noticed on their plan of the group. The rocks bear
North 30 degrees West (by compass) from the northernmost point of the
island, and North 8 degrees East (by compass) from the northernmost
hummock. I do not think they extend far from the shore.

At sunset, we were in the meridian of Albatross Island, and by midnight
cleared the Strait, when we steered a course for King George the Third's

Upon examining our bread, we found that a considerable quantity was
spoiled from damp and leaks, which necessarily obliged us to go at once
upon a reduced allowance of that article.

January 16.

From a succession of westerly winds, the vessel was driven so near to the
Archipelago of the Recherche, that we were induced to bear up for the
anchorage in Goose Island Bay; but as we steered round Douglas's Isles,
the wind veered back to the South-East, and we might have proceeded: we
were, however, so near the anchorage, that I determined upon occupying it
for the night; and steering in between Middle Island and Goose Island,
the anchor was dropped off the first sandy beach to the eastward of the
highest hill, at the north-west end of the former.

In the evening I landed with the botanist and Mr. Roe, but we found
little that was worthy of our attention. The basis of the island is
granitic, and covered with a shallow soil, formed of decayed vegetable
matter, mixed with sand, which nourishes the stunted vegetation that
thickly clothes the surface, particularly on the north-eastern, which is
its most sheltered side.

No animals were observed, excepting some small quadrupeds, which were
momentarily seen by Mr. Roe, and, from his description, were
kangaroo-rats. On Goose Island, the bird from which it takes its name
appeared to be abundant; but there was too much surf to permit our
landing upon it, and we were not so much in want of fresh provisions as
to induce our risking any damage to the boats: we found the bones of a
whale which had been thrown up on the beach where we landed.

January 17.

The wind in the night veered to North-East by East, to which quarter the
anchorage is much exposed; towards morning it blew fresh, but the anchor
held well. At dawn of day, (17th) we got underweigh and steered through
the islands; at noon, we were abreast of Termination Island, the latitude
of which we found to be 34 degrees 32 minutes. Our friendly wind died
away at midnight, and was succeeded by a short gale from the westward.

January 20.

On the 20th, at daylight, we were close to Bald Island, and in the
afternoon took up an anchorage in King George the Third's Sound, between
Seal Island and the first sandy beach, at the distance of half a mile to
the eastward of a flat rock in seven fathoms, sand and weeds.

In the evening we landed on Seal Island, which we had much difficulty in
effecting on account of the surf. Several seals were upon it, one of
which we killed; and some penguins were also taken. On the summit of the
island or rock, for it scarcely deserves the former appellation, the
skeleton of a goat's head was found, and near it were the remains of a
glass case bottle; both of which, we afterwards learnt, were left on the
island by Lieutenant Forster, R.N., who put into this harbour in 1815, on
his passage from Port Jackson to Europe, in the Emu, hired transport. We
searched in vain for the bottle which Captain Flinders left there,
containing an account of the Investigator's visit; my intention, in
looking for this document, was not of course to remove it, but to
ascertain its existence, and to add a few lines to the memorandum it

Iguanas, geese, penguins, gulls, and seals of the hairy species, were the
sole inhabitants of this rock. After leaving Seal Island, we landed on
the sandy beach abreast of the anchorage; in doing this the boat filled,
and the instruments were so wetted, that they were left on the beach to
dry during our absence. Our ascent, from the hill being steep, and
composed of a very loose drift sand, was difficult and fatiguing; but the
beautiful flowers and plants, with which the surface of the hill was
strewed, repaid us for our toil. These being all new to Mr. Cunningham
fully occupied his attention, whilst I remained upon the summit, from
whence a good view was obtained of the Eclipse Isles, and Vancouver's
breakers, both of which are well laid down by Captain Flinders, whose
correctness I had already many occasions to admire. An abundance of
shells of the helix tribe (Helix bulimus) was found on the top and sides
of the hill; and a calcareous substance was observed protruding from the
ground in every part, as noticed both by Vancouver and Flinders;* the
former also found it on the bare sandy summit of Bald Head, and supposed
it to be coral, a circumstance from which he inferred that the level of
the ocean must have sunk. Similar substances have since been discovered
by Dr. Clarke Abel, near Simon's Town, at the Cape of Good Hope, and are
described by him to be vegetables impregnated with carbonate of lime; but
from the specimens we obtained, it would appear that it is neither coral,
nor a petrified vegetable substance, but merely sand agglutinated by
calcareous matter**.

(*Footnote. Vancouver volume 1 page 49. Flinders volume 1 page 63.)

(**Footnote. Vide Appendix, C.)

January 21.

The next morning we got under weigh, and stood over to the entrance of
Oyster Harbour, off which we anchored to examine the bar; after
satisfying myself on this head, and choosing a spot within the entrance
to anchor at, we got under-sail, and in crossing the bar had not less
than thirteen feet and a half, being nearly about the time of high water;
but between the heads of the harbour it deepened to five, seven, and
eight fathoms. Our anchorage was about twenty-five yards from the eastern
shore, and not more than fifty yards within the narrowest part of the
entrance; it was convenient for our purposes, as the wood was abundantly
procured close to our water-holes, which were dug at the edge of the
sand, within thirty yards of the vessel; so that the people employed in
these occupations could be protected against the natives by the proximity
of the cutter, without preventing the necessary repairs to the rigging
being carried on at the same time by the remainder of the crew on board.

January 21 to 31.

During our stay in Oyster Harbour many parts of the neighbourhood were
visited by us; and on one occasion, Mr. Roe walked round its shores; in
doing which he got into great danger. Upon leaving the vessel, his
intention was only to go to a projecting head on the western side, for
the purpose of taking a sketch; but being tempted to extend his walk, he
had half traversed the shore of the harbour before he thought of
returning. He had already waded over the river that falls into the
North-West corner of the port, which was not more than four feet deep;
and to avoid crossing it again, he preferred returning to the tent, by
making the circuit of the harbour: but after proceeding some distance
further, he unexpectedly met with another river, deeper and wider than
that which he had previously passed; this proved to be the Riviere de
Francois of Captain Baudin; it falls into Oyster Harbour at its
North-East corner, about two miles to the eastward of the Western River.
In attempting to ford this, finding the water deeper than he expected, he
was obliged to swim about two hundred yards; and, from being burdened
with his clothes, narrowly escaped with his life. Fortunately he met with
no further impediment to his return, and reached the tent much fatigued.
We afterwards made an excursion up this river, but from the greater part
of the day being spent in searching for the entrance, which is both shoal
and intricate, we did not succeed in reaching farther than four miles
from its mouth. At the part where we left off our examination, it was
about sixty yards wide, and from ten to twelve feet deep; bounded on
either side by gently rising and well wooded hills; but the soil was
neither rich nor deep. The shoals of the river, which at the entrance
were very extensive, were covered with large flights of water-fowl; among
which curlews and teals were abundant.

Oyster Harbour is plentifully stocked with fish, but we were not
successful with the hook, on account of the immense number of sharks that
were constantly playing about the vessel. A few fish were taken with the
seine, which we hauled on the eastern side of the small central island.
At this place Captain Vancouver planted and stocked a garden with
vegetables, no vestige of which now remained. Boongaree speared a great
many fish with his fiz-gig; one that he struck with the boat-hook on the
shoals at the entrance of the Eastern River weighed twenty-two pounds and
a half, and was three feet and a half long. The mouths of all the creeks
and inlets were planted with weirs, which the natives had constructed for
the purpose of catching fish. Mr. Roe, on his excursion round the
harbour, counted eleven of these weirs on the flats and shoals between
the two rivers, one of which was a hundred yards long, and projected
forty yards, in a crescent-shape, towards the sea; they were formed by
stones placed so close to each other as to prevent the escape, as the
tide ebbed, of such fish as had passed over at high water. This expedient
is adopted in many parts of the continent; it was observed by Lieutenant
Oxley, R.N., the surveyor-general of New South Wales, in his journey on
the banks of the Lachlan River: the same was also seen by me on several
parts of the North-West Coast; and, from its being used on the
South-East, South-West, and North-West Coasts, it may be concluded to be
the practice throughout the country.

While waiting for an opportunity of leaving this harbour, Mr. Roe
assisted me in making a survey of the entrance, in the hope of finding it
more available for large ships; but in vain; for ships drawing more than
twelve feet water cannot pass the bar. The rise and fall of the tide is
not only very inconsiderable, but also very irregular; under some
circumstances we found that it rose three feet, but this was very

Our gentlemen made several excursions into the country in various
directions, in the hope of meeting with natives, but not the least
vestige of their immediate presence was found; they were not however far
from us, for the smokes of their fires were seen every evening; probably
the fear of punishment kept them away, as they had formerly made rather a
mischievous attack upon some of the Emu's crew.

No marks were left of the ship Elligood's garden, which Captain Flinders
found at the entrance of Oyster Harbour;* but a lapse of sixteen years
will in this country create a complete revolution in vegetation; which is
here so luxuriant and rapid that whole woods may have been burnt down by
the natives, and grown again within that space of time; and it may be
thus that the Elligood's garden is now possessed by the less useful but
more beautiful plants and shrubs of the country.

(*Footnote. Flinders Terra Australis volume 1 page 55.)

Excepting the sea-fowl, which consisted of geese, wild ducks, teals,
curlews, divers, sea-pies, gulls, and terns, very few birds were seen,
and those chiefly of the parrot and cockatoo tribe; a species of the
latter was noticed of a rich black plumage, and very like the black
cockatoo of New South Wales. Kangaroos from their traces must be
numerous, but only a very few were noticed; the only reptile that was
found was a black snake, which Mr. Cunningham saw for a moment as it
glided past him. This gentleman made a large collection of seeds and
dried specimens from the vast variety of beautiful plants and flowers
with which nature has so lavishly clothed the hills and plains of this
interesting country.

A small spot of ground near the tent was dug up and enclosed with a
fence, in which Mr. Cunningham sowed many culinary seeds and
peach-stones; and on the stump of a tree, which had been felled by our
wooding party, the name of the vessel with the date of our visit was
inscribed; but when we visited Oyster Harbour three years and a half
afterwards, no signs remained of the garden, and the inscription was
scarcely perceptible, from the stump of the tree having been nearly
destroyed by fire.

A little without the east entrance of the harbour, we saw one of those
prodigious large nests which Captain Flinders observed near Point
Possession; it was built on the summit of an almost inaccessible rock,
exposed to the South-West winds; it measured four feet in diameter at the
top, and nearly seven feet at the base: it appeared to have been deserted
for some time, as the branches and sea-weed, with which it was made, were
strewed about the rock. Captain Flinders thought it probable that the
inhabitant was an eagle; but on our subsequent visit to King George's
Sound in 1821, we saw the same nest occupied by a hawk of a moderate

On the 31st January we were ready to leave the port; but the weather was
so unfavourable that we remained until the following day. In the evening
a boat was sent to Seal Island to deposit a bottle, in which was enclosed
a memorandum informing future navigators of our visit, and intentions
with respect to our further proceedings. When the boat returned she
brought two seals, which had been killed on the island for the sake of
their skins, to be used for the purpose of refitting the rigging.

1819. February 1.

The next day (February 1st) the cutter was warped out of Oyster Harbour;
and, as the wind was from the eastward, we profited by it: after beating
out of the Sound we steered along the coast, and at eight o'clock were
abreast of West Cape Howe.

On rounding Cape Leeuwin, our crew were attacked with a bowel complaint,
and symptoms of dysentery; the want of a surgeon to our establishment was
most anxiously felt, from the fear that, by an unskilful or improper use
of medicines, I might increase, instead of lessen the progress of
complaints, which from the fatigues of such a service, in so warm a
climate and in the unhealthy season, threatened to be frequent and
severe. One or two of the people had complained of this disorder before
we left Oyster Harbour, but it was not until we had sailed, that it
assumed any serious appearance. After two days it happily began to
subside, or I should of necessity have been obliged to resort to some
place for relief, for we had, at one time, only four seamen to keep

February 10.

This sickness prevented our examining any part of the West Coast, as we
passed it; our course was therefore held at a distance from the shore,
and on the 10th the land to the southward of the North-West Cape was
descried at daylight. Its outline was so level as to appear like a thick
fog on the horizon; but, as the sun rose, we were undeceived. At seven
miles from the shore we found no soundings with 80 fathoms; but at eight
o'clock, being three miles nearer, we had 35 fathoms, sand, coral, and
shells. The bottom then gradually shoaled to 22 fathoms; upon which we
steered along the outer edge of a line of breakers that fronted the
shore, and after rounding a projection of the reef, steered to the
East-North-East, towards the extreme of the land.

The coast is here tolerably elevated, and may be seen at the distance of
six or seven leagues; it is composed of a red-coloured, sandy-looking
rock, which is very scantily sprinkled with small shrubs, and appears to
be extremely arid and sterile. The shore is fronted with rocks that
extend for three or four miles into the sea; on the extremity of which
the surf breaks with a continued foam. To the north the land suddenly
terminates with rather a steep slope, but a low sandy plain extends to
the East-North-East for three miles further, the extremity of which is
the North-West Cape. The fall of the high-land was called Vlaming Head,
after the navigator who first discovered this part.

After obtaining the meridional observation, we rounded the Cape, and
steered between it and a patch of breakers which lie at the distance of a
mile and a half from the shore: we were no sooner under the lee of the
land, than the air, before of a pleasant and a moderate temperature,
became so heated as to produce a scorching sensation; and to raise the
mercury in the thermometer from 79 to 89 degrees. We were also assailed
by an incredible number of flies and other insects, among which was a
beautiful species of libellula. The sea swarmed with turtles, sea-snakes,
and fish of various sorts; and the dolphin was eminently conspicuous for
its speed, and the varied beauty of its colours.

From the Cape, the low sandy land trended to the South-South-East for a
mile and a half, and then with the same character to South-South-West 1/2
West, in which direction it was lost in distance; and in the north east,
was a low rocky island.

The wind fell after passing round the Cape, and was so light during the
afternoon that we made no progress, and were obliged to anchor at about
three or four miles to the eastward of the Cape. At nine o'clock the wind
freshened with the flood-tide, which raised a heavy swell in which the
cutter rode very uneasily.

February 11.

And, in the morning, when we attempted to weigh the anchor, the cable
parted, having been cut by rocks. Owing to the bad construction of the
buoy, it did not watch; and, as the tide quickly swept us from the place,
we had no chance left of recovering the anchor. As the sun rose the wind
gradually fell; and, at noon, we were no farther advanced than a mile and
a half to the southward of the north east trend of the Cape. Here the
coast is low and sandy, and is of shoal approach. A small clump of
mangrove-trees on the beach was the first sign of vegetation that we had
seen; and, from the absence of verdure hereabout, is a conspicuous
object. The thermometer stood at 89 degrees. The ebb tide then commenced
and drifted us out near our last night's anchoring ground, and the
evening was spent, without success, in searching for our lost anchor. At
sunset a fresh breeze set in from the South-West, and fearing a
repetition of our loss, we continued under sail during the night, which
was past with great anxiety; and not without reason.

February 12.

For when the day broke, we found ourselves within one mile of the reef
off the South-West end of the island in the north east (which proved to
be Captain Baudin's Muiron Island), and drifting towards it so rapidly,
that in less than half an hour the vessel would have been thrown upon the
rocks. Standing to the eastward we discovered the three sandy islets--h,
i, and k; and at noon, we were near two other sandy islets, y, and z,
which appeared to be the north-westernmost of a group of low, sandy, or
rocky islets, extending to the South-East, beyond the limits of our
masthead view. The islets, y and z, are of circular shape, and not more
than a quarter of a mile in diameter; they are so low as not to be
visible from our deck at a greater distance than seven miles. Their
summits are crowned with a slight shrubby vegetation, the bright verdure
of which, separated from the dark blue colour of the sea by their
glittering sandy beaches, formed a pleasing contrast to the dull,
monotonous appearance of the mainland. These islets are in fact only the
dry parts of a shoal, on which the sand has accumulated, and formed a
soil to receive and nourish the seeds of plants, which have either been
drifted on shore by the tide, or been brought by birds from the

At sunset we anchored under the land, but soon afterwards the wind blew
so fresh, that the fluke of our anchor broke, and we were obliged to drop
another; which was the last we possessed, besides a small stream anchor
that was too light to use, excepting in a calm.

February 13.

The next morning being fine, and favourable for another search after our
lost anchor (the recovery of which from our last night's misfortune had
become of very great consequence) we bore up along the shore, and soon
arrived at the spot; but after some time spent in the search, without
success, we were at last obliged to relinquish the attempt, and gave up
all hope of ever finding it.

February 14.

We then returned into the gulf to prosecute its examination, but as
usual, the wind fell, and the only progress we made was by the assistance
of the flood-tide, which ran until sunset; a fresh breeze then sprung up,
and the night was passed under sail. At daylight the following morning
the cutter was about four miles from the western shore, but the day was
so calm that very little progress was made. The thermometer indicated a
temperature of 97 degrees, which, from the absence of the sea-breeze, and
from our not having an awning to protect us from the sun's rays, was
almost insufferable; and although our crew were happily in good health,
yet my fears were momentarily alive lest any should be taken ill. A
land-wind at night enabled us to make some progress, and before dark we
had reached twenty-five miles into the opening without seeing anything
like its termination; the western side still trended in a southerly
direction, losing itself in distance, and bore the appearance of being an

February 15.

By the next day we descried some hills of peaked shape to the southward,
which was the only indication we had of the termination of the gulf: to
the eastward the islands were very numerous and low; but to the
South-East the land was so continuous as to impress us with the idea of
its being the continent. We steered towards it to satisfy our doubts but
the water shoaled and prevented our approaching it near enough to
ascertain the fact. The gulf was here so much narrower, and the bottom so
uneven and rocky, that an anchorage was now of material importance, but
our poverty in anchors made me fearful of risking our last upon a bottom
of the least questionable nature. Before dark however we were fortunate
in finding a bay on the western shore, in which the anchor was dropped in
three fathoms muddy bottom, at one mile from the shore.

The discovery of this anchorage proved so welcome to our fatigued crew,
that the place was not unaptly named the Bay of Rest. We remained here
three days, in which time I was enabled to lay down my plan of the gulf,
and give some little respite to the people who had been up both night and
day, and most laboriously occupied, since we rounded the North-West Cape.

As soon as the vessel was secured Mr. Bedwell landed on the eastern shore
of the bay, and found it to be of bold approach, but lined with coral
rocks, and covered with dead shells, among which a buccinum of immense
size was noticed. The soil, if such it can be called, is composed of a
red quartzose sand; but on the hills it contained also a small portion of
earth, which gave it a strong resemblance to brick-dust. The country is
slightly sprinkled with a stunted vegetation, and bore a most desert-like
appearance; and on the shore we noticed a few mangrove bushes.

The sea was abundantly stocked with fish and turtle, though it did not
appear to be the season for the latter to lay their eggs. An immense
shark was hooked, but it broke the hook and escaped: its length was about
twelve feet, of an ashy-gray colour, spotted all over with darker marks;
the belly was white, and the nose short; it was altogether different from
any we had before seen. The impression of what appeared to have been an
emu's foot was noticed upon the sand, there is reason, however, to think
we may have been deceived; we never afterwards saw one of those birds on
the north coast.

The country was covered with immense ant-hills; one that Mr. Cunningham
measured was eight feet high, and nearly twenty-six in circumference; but
on breaking it up, he found it to be deserted by its constructors: an
iguana, which was hunted by that gentleman, took refuge in one of these
hills, which proved a safe asylum, for, although he broke a great part
down, it escaped.

February 16.

During the following day, Mr. Bedwell examined the bottom of the bay,
where he found a narrow opening, communicating with an inner basin of
small extent, containing from two to five feet water, well stocked with
fish: during the afternoon Mr. Roe walked over the sand-ridges behind the
beach, and provided me with an outline, and the particular features of a
part of the coast.

The country at the back of the bay was in flames during our stay, which
proved, if a proof were required, that this arid and barren extremity of
Australia is not destitute of inhabitants; and although we saw none, it
is probable that they were not ignorant of our presence, but from
timidity intentionally avoided us. The heat was very great; on board, the
thermometer did not stand higher than 90 degrees, whilst on shore it rose
to 105 degrees, and when exposed to the sun to 119 degrees.

February 18.

On the morning of the 18th we resumed the examination of the inlet, but
having proceeded only six miles farther, there was every appearance
either of its termination, or of its communicating with the sea. The
channel had become narrow and shoal, and as I was not prepared for so
critical a navigation, the further examination was given up, and we bore
up to coast along the eastern shore; but, from the shoalness of the
water, we were obliged to sail at so great a distance that its continuity
was by no means distinctly traced. The inlet was named Exmouth Gulf, in
compliment to the noble and gallant Viscount.

February 19.

Having by night reached a clear space, the cutter was kept under sail;
and the next morning Vlaming Head and Muiron Island were seen, as well as
the islets y and z, and the others to the South-East. The course was then
directed to the eastward, and having reached within four miles of the
coast, the depth of water was only two and a half fathoms. At noon, we
passed between two other islets; and, during the afternoon, steered along
the coast parallel to it, and within a range of low sandy islets, of
similar character with y and z, and the other islets in their vicinity. A
low, sandy projection of the coast was named after Edward Hawke Locker,

Twelve miles to the eastward of Cape Locker the shore is lined with
mangroves, among which a small opening, like a rivulet, was observed. On
attempting to approach it, we were prevented by a reef of rocks that
stretched across its entrance; but we succeeded in finding an anchorage
about three miles to the eastward of the inlet, in two and a half fathoms
at about a quarter of a mile from the shore.

February 20.

The following morning, we ascended it in a boat for four miles. On our
way to the entrance, which was between the reef and the shore, we had
some difficulty, even with the boat, in finding a channel; but when we
were within the heads, we found a regular depth of from ten to twelve
feet, the banks on either side were, for two miles, impenetrably lined
with mangrove bushes, which bore the marks of having been torn down by
freshes or inundations. Beyond this the banks were low and sandy, but the
channel of the river was of mud. At high water we landed to examine the
country, and ascended a sand-hillock, the only elevation we could find,
to procure a view around; it was so low that our prospect was very
limited, yet still it was sufficient to satisfy us of the aridity and
poverty of the soil: the country bore the appearance of having been under
water, which seemed to be occasioned by high tides, for there were large
patches of salt incrustations, which could only have been caused by an
inundation of sea-water. Two or three stunted bushes of a species of
eucalyptus were the only trees seen, excepting the mangroves. The soil is
composed of a mixture of red quartzose sand, mud, and clay, in which the
first bore the greatest proportion.

On no part of the coast did we find the heat so intense and oppressive as
in this river; the thermometer stood at 94 degrees, and the ground was so
heated that we were obliged to beat a bush down to stand upon, whilst we
were taking the bearings of some of the islets in the offing.

Some natives and a dog had very recently been crossing the little creeks
that fell into the river, for the impressions of their feet were observed
below the high-water mark; the mouths of the creeks were planted with
weirs, similar to those in the river at Oyster Harbour.

The river appeared to abound in fish, but the only sort that was caught
was what the sailors called cat-fish; they were of a nauseous taste.
Pelicans and curlews were very numerous, particularly the latter, in
consequence of which the inlet was called Curlew River; but the most
numerous and annoying of the inhabitants of this part were the flies,
from their constantly creeping into the eyes, nostrils, and mouth,
particularly during our meals; and it required some little trouble to
partake of our repast without also conveying with it several of these
troublesome insects.

On our return to the cutter, our party very imprudently bathed, which
occasioned, to some of them, two or three days' indisposition, and it was
fortunate that they did not suffer from a coup de soleil. This
indiscretion was, however, never afterwards permitted.

During the absence of the boat, Mr. Bedwell landed abreast the anchorage,
and walked a mile inland to one of the salt marshes. On his way, he
passed several ant-hills of the same description as those seen by us at
the Bay of Rest. The coast is here protected from inroads of the sea by a
barrier of sand dunes, from ten to twenty feet high, on which were
growing a variety of plants, particularly a species of convolvulus,
which, from the great size and length of its stem, being an inch in
diameter and extending along the beach for more than thirty yards, is
very conspicuous. Behind these dunes the country is flat, and in most
parts below the level of the sea; so that when the tides rise high enough
to pass over the breaks in the dunes, the country is inundated, when, by
the intense heat of the sun, the water is very speedily evaporated, and a
salt incrustation, to a great extent, is formed upon the plains. At the
distance of four or five miles from the beach, a small range of rocky
hills, apparently destitute of vegetation, formed a boundary to the view.
The shore is lined by a barrier of sharp rocks, covered with species of
ostrea and nerita, but although these were the only living testaceous
animals that were found, the beach was covered with a multitude of dead
and imperfect shells of various species.

In the evening, after our return from the river, the weather clouded, but
afterwards cleared up with a change of wind from the South-East, which,
from its heat, and from the listless sensations it caused, resembled the
hot land-wind of Port Jackson: this seems to afford additional ground for
the hypothesis that the interior of this immense island is occupied by
vast sandy deserts.

February 22.

On leaving this anchorage it was low water, when the depth was only six
inches more than the vessel's draught; but the bottom being of mud, it
deepened inch by inch, until we reached four, five, and six fathoms; and
upon this depth we sailed the whole day, passing through a cluster, or
rather range of sandy islets. In the evening we anchored under one of
larger size than usual, about four miles from the mainland, the shores of
which had been traced during the day, without losing sight of any part of
it; it was still low, and bounded either by dunes of sand, or an
impervious forest of mangroves, beyond which no part of the interior
could be seen.

February 23.

The following day was spent in examining a bight, but we were prevented
from penetrating to the bottom by the shoalness of the water. We were,
however, near enough to see large sheets of water over the mangrove belt
that lined the shore, in which many openings were observed that
communicated with it. Beyond the lakes was a range of rocky hills, that
bounded our masthead view. The bight is fronted by a crowded range of
sandy islets, from which we did not extricate ourselves until the next

Having passed out between two sandy islets, our course was held to the
northward, outside of a range of islets, and parallel to the mainland;
which was soon afterwards lost to view by trending to the eastward. At
one o'clock we passed round a larger and a more elevated island, as well
as of a more rocky character than those to the southward; and then
steered to the eastward, towards the next projecting point of the main,
named after my friend Richard Preston, Esquire, on our way to which we
left a small island about one mile to the northward of our track. In the
evening, we steered close round Cape Preston, but were disappointed in an
attempt to find anchorage near it, from the rocky state of the bottom, so
that the night was passed under sail, which, considering the number of
low islets scattered about, was running a dangerous risk, and this was
increased by encountering a severe squall of wind from the South-East,
which blew so insufferably hot that the thermometer stood at 89 degrees,
having been at 91 degrees all the previous day.

February 24.

The next morning it was calm and sultry; at ten o'clock we anchored near
a small sandy isle in the centre of the bay, until the sea-breeze set in,
which was taken immediate advantage of; and after weighing the course was
directed towards a steep rocky head, forming the South-West point of an
island, subsequently called Enderby Island, after a very old and valued
friend. On our way we had to pass round a sandy islet and a rocky reef of
considerable extent; after which we anchored off a sandy beach to the
eastward of Rocky Head.

Soon after anchoring the sky became black and clouded over the land to
the South-East, and assumed a very threatening appearance; heavy, dense
clouds, in which streams of vivid forked lightning momentarily appeared,
were rolling rapidly towards us, and made us fear a repetition of last
night's storm; the stream-anchor, the only resource we had, was therefore
dropped; and, with the topmast struck, we awaited the bursting of the
storm with much anxiety, and just cause of alarm for the safety of the
vessel: the clouds continued to roll towards us, but just as the storm
was on the point of bursting, the clouds suddenly dispersed and in half
an hour the night turned out as fine as it had threatened to be the

February 25.

The next morning I landed with Mr. Roe, and climbed the summit of Rocky
Head before the sun rose; in the ascent we crossed several deep ravines
which, together with the hills, were thickly covered with a wiry grass
(spinifex) growing over and amongst heaps of rocks that were piled up in
all directions as if it had been done purposely; the greater part of the
surface of the island being covered with these stones, we had a
considerable difficulty in advancing, and it was not without some labour
that we arrived at the summit of the hill. Here the view was very
extensive; the coast to the eastward of Cape Preston trends inward and
forms a bay, the shores of which are very low. The land on which we were
appeared to be the south-westernmost island of a considerable
archipelago; and the land to the eastward was observed to be rocky and
high, in comparison to the low sandy country we had been lately passing.

From Dampier's description of Rosemary Island I was, at first, induced to
think that we had landed upon the identical island he visited; but this
error was soon discovered. An island to the northward, on which are three
hummocks, was soon recognised as Captain Baudin's Ile Romarin, it
therefore bears the name of Rosemary Island in my chart, and I have no
doubt of its being that under which Captain Dampier anchored, but not the
one upon which he landed. To the eastward of Enderby Island, a strait of
nearly two miles wide separates it from Lewis Island; and between Enderby
and Rosemary Islands is Goodwyn Island. The shores of the bay were
plentiful in shell-fish, particularly oysters; and beche de mer* were
also abundant in the crevices of the rocks; but there were no traces of
this part of the coast having been visited by the Malays, who annually
visit it to the eastward, for the purpose of taking that animal. The
tracks of natives and their fireplaces were everywhere visible and around
the latter the bones of kangaroos and fishes were strewed.

(*Footnote. Trepang, a species of Holothuria (Priapulus sp., Lam. iii.
76), an animal collected by the Malays for the Chinese market. Vide
Flinders Terra Australis volume 2 pages 231 and 257.)

On the north side of Rocky Head, in a ravine, under the shade of a ficus,
eight or ten gallons of water were found and brought on board; and near
it on a spot of tolerable soil Mr. Cunningham sowed some peach-stones.

February 26.

At daylight we left this anchorage, and proceeded to penetrate to the
eastward towards a deep bight or strait; the wind was, however, so light,
that we were compelled to anchor until the sea-breeze set in, when the
vessel was again under sail, and proceeded onwards. As we advanced, three
natives were seen in the water, apparently wading from an island in the
centre of the strait towards Lewis Island: the course was immediately
altered to intercept them, but as we approached, it was discovered that
each native was seated on a log of wood, which he propelled through the
water by paddling with his hands. Having hove to close by them, they
became much alarmed, and cried out in loud tones which were increased
when our boat was lowered and despatched after them; but it was not
without the greatest difficulty that Mr. Bedwell succeeded in bringing
one on board. On the boat's coming up with the nearest Indian, he left
his log and, diving under the boat's bottom, swam astern; this he did
whenever the boat approached him, and it was four or five minutes before
he was caught, which was at last effected by seizing him by the hair, in
the act of diving, and dragging him into the boat, against which he
resisted stoutly, and, even when taken, it required two men to hold him
to prevent his escape. During the interval of heaving to and bringing him
on board, the cutter was anchored near the central island, where a tribe
of natives were collected, consisting of about forty persons, of whom the
greater number were women and children; the whole party appeared to be
overcome with grief, particularly the women, who most loudly and
vehemently expressed their sorrow by cries, and rolling on the ground,
and covering their bodies with the sand. When our captive arrived
alongside the vessel and saw Boongaree, he became somewhat pacified, and
suffered himself to be lifted on board; he was then ornamented with beads
and a red cap; and upon our applauding his appearance, a smile
momentarily played on his countenance, but it was soon replaced by a
vacant stare. He took very little notice of anything until he saw the
fire, and this appeared to occupy his attention very much. Biscuit was
given to him, which, as soon as he tasted, he spat out, but some sugared
water being offered to him, he drank the whole; and upon sugar being
placed before him, in a saucer, he was at a loss how to use it, until one
of the boys fed him with his fingers, and when the saucer was emptied, he
showed his taste for this food by licking it with his tongue. He was then
taken to the side of the vessel from which his companions were visible,
when he immediately exclaimed, with much earnestness, and in a loud
voice, "coma negra," and repeated the words several times. After he had
been on board for half an hour, during which time he had been greatly
caressed, in order to induce him to give a favourable account of us to
his companions, he was taken half way towards the shore in our boat, and
then launched upon his log, to which was lashed an axe, and around his
neck a bag was suspended containing biscuits, and a little of everything
that he appeared to fancy or be amused with during his short captivity.

As soon as he perceived himself clear of the boat he paddled away, and in
a short time reached the shore and joined his terrified companions; who,
upon his approaching them, ordered him to stand at a distance until he
had thrown away his red cap, the bag, and the axe, and had answered
several questions which they were apparently putting to him. All this
time they had their spears poised and pointed towards him, and stood
huddled together in the greatest alarm; the women were kept away, but
their curiosity was so much excited that, although they were more
terrified than the men, they were seen peeping over the bushes and rocks
which concealed them, and attentively watching what was going on. Our
friend stood in the position of, and as motionless as, a soldier at
drill, and answered all their interrogatories and inquiries without
making the least movement. He was soon allowed to approach nearer, and
then the whole party cautiously advanced, with their spears still poised,
and surrounded him. His body was then carefully examined; and upon the
women and children being allowed to approach, they seated themselves in a
ring and placed him in the middle, when he told his story, which occupied
about half an hour. Upon its being finished, they all got up, and, after
shouting and hallooing to us, they went to the opposite side of the
island, leaving our presents upon the beach, after having carefully
examined them.

Before sunset Mr. Roe and Mr. Cunningham pulled towards the island in the
jolly-boat: on its approach the natives came down and appeared anxious
for the crew to land; but the shore was too rocky to admit of doing so
with security, and after making the natives a few presents, to obtain
which they waded up to their arms in the water, the party returned. The
natives were much amused with Boongaree's appearance, and frequently
addressed him, but his answering them in a strange language surprised
them very much; on his taking off his shirt they shouted loudly, and were
delighted; but on the return of the boat on board without our party's
landing, they were evidently much disappointed.

Our late captive was noticed in the background, but did not approach the
boat: he was, for an Australian, a well made man, and was at least six
feet in height. His hair was long and curly, and in it was stuck a short
sharp-pointed stick; he wore his beard long, no teeth were wanting in his
jaws, and there was no appearance of the septum narium having been
pierced: at every three inches between the upper part of the chest and
navel his body was scarified in horizontal stripes, the cicatrice of
which was at least an inch in diameter, and protruded half an inch from
the body. He could not have been more than twenty-two or three years of
age; and as for the other characteristics of spare limbs, long arms and
large head, he was a perfect facsimile of the inhabitants of the eastern

During the night their fires were seen on the island, and some were also
noticed on the mainland to the southward.

February 27.

Early the next morning the natives came down to the beach, and called out
loudly to us; but the glare of the sun, rising immediately over them,
prevented our distinguishing their movements. After this they
disappeared, and when we visited the island in the afternoon, we found
that they had left it: their shouting to us in the morning was therefore
to inform us of their departure, and was probably intended to convey to
us their farewell.

Upon landing at the island, we directed our steps to their huts, which
were of most miserable construction, being nothing more than a bush stuck
in the ground, and forming only a very indifferent shade. Here we found
the presents, which had been given to our late captive, deposited
carefully on the ground; but the bag, instead of having been opened at
the mouth, was torn asunder near the seam at the bottom; a fishing line
that had been given to him was also left behind, which surprised us the
more because the native had one of his own making attached to his log,
and therefore must have known its use.

It appears that the only vehicle by which these savages transport their
families and chattels across the water is a log of wood; that which we
had brought alongside with our captive friend was made of the stem of a
mangrove tree; but as it was not long enough for the purpose, two or
three short logs were neatly and even curiously joined together end to
end, and so formed one piece that was sufficient to carry and buoyant
enough to support the weight of two people. The end is rudely ornamented,
and is attached to the extremity by the same contrivance as the joints of
the main stem, only that the two are not brought close together. The
joint is contrived by driving three pegs into the end of the log, and by
bending them, they are made to enter opposite holes in the part that is
to be joined on; and as the pegs cross and bend against each other, they
form a sort of elastic connexion, which strongly retains the two
together. When it is used, they sit astride and move it along by paddling
with their hands, keeping their feet upon the end of the log, by which
they probably guide its course. Such are the shifts to which the absence
of larger timber has reduced these simple savages: they show that man is
naturally a navigating animal; and this floating log, which may be called
a marine-velocipede, is, I should suppose, the extreme case of the
poverty of savage boat-building all round the world.

The island is composed of a rocky basis, covered by a thin layer of sandy
soil. On the summit of the bluff east end of the island was observed one
of those immense nests that were seen at King George the Third's Sound,
the base of which measured seven feet in diameter. Whilst examining the
nest, some natives were descried on an adjoining island, and as our
principal object was to communicate with these people, we immediately
re-embarked and sailed towards it. On approaching the island, we overtook
two natives on their logs, who, on perceiving that we were pulling
towards them, became frightened, and made violent gestures as if
imploring us to go away. Four or five unarmed natives were standing on
the shore of the island, and watched our proceedings; and, upon our
sheering off and pulling away from the natives upon the logs towards a
sandy beach, the party on the shore walked a few steps towards it also,
and invited us by signs to go ashore. Upon the boat's touching the beach,
I landed, and taking Boongaree with me divested of his clothes, walked
towards the natives, who were standing together, a little in the rear of
one, who was probably their chief. The whole party were trembling with
fear, and appeared quite palsied as we approached and took the chief by
the hand. A little coaxing, and the investiture of a red cap upon the
chief's head, gradually repossessed them of their senses, and we were
soon gabbling each in our own language, and therefore mutually

In a short time I obtained permission, which was asked for and granted by
signs, for the rest of our party to approach. The chief who had been
attired as above-mentioned was thought by Mr. Cunningham to be one of
those who waded into the water to receive the presents from him the
preceding evening: he was very inquisitive about our clothes, and
expressed the greatest astonishment at everything he noticed about us. He
ridiculed our repugnance to partake of a piece of the raw gut of a turtle
which he offered to us, and to expose our folly, ate a piece, which he
appeared to think a dainty, although it was quite fetid from
putrefaction. Our attempts to collect a vocabulary of their language were
quite unsuccessful. An axe, some chisels, and other tools were given to
them, but they expressed no pleasure in receiving the presents, or
astonishment at their effect. On our making signs for water, they all
simultaneously pointed to an island bearing North-East from the one on
which we were.

We now prepared to embark, and walked towards the boat accompanied by
these friendly savages, hand in hand; but as they drew nigh, a
water-spaniel belonging to me leapt out of the boat and began to bark,
which alarmed them so much that some of them ran off, and kept aloof
until we began to play with and caress the dog; and when they recovered
their fright, they were highly amused with his swimming after some pieces
of wood that were thrown into the water.

Boongaree was of course the object of their greatest attention: the
fashion in which his body was scarred was the subject of particular
remark; and when he pointed at the sea, to show them whence he came, they
set up a shout of admiration and surprise.

We now took leave of these friendly Indians, and went through the
ceremony of shaking each other by the hand, a mode of taking leave they
appeared perfectly to understand. No women made their appearance, but
there was every reason to believe that they were close at hand, for
several natives were seen from the cutter concealed close to us, armed
with spears ready to repel any attack we might have made, and to defend
the women and children of their tribe.

The boat was then steered towards the island to which the natives had
directed us; but as we pulled along its shore in search of a
landing-place, a party of twenty or thirty Indians were observed
descending the rocky hills towards the beach, with an evident intention
of preventing our going ashore; and upon our pulling into a small bight,
where there was some appearance of a stream of water, they threatened us
with spears and stones; at the same time loudly vociferating and pointing
to us to retire. Much unintelligible parley now ensued, during which we
endeavoured to convince them that we only wanted fresh water, and had no
intention of molesting them; but although they appeared perfectly to
understand our meaning, they were determined upon resisting our attempt
to land. A stone thrown at us by one of the foremost, who stood half up
to his middle in the water, was an earnest of their hostile intentions if
we persisted, and they were on the point of assaulting us with a shower
of spears, when we pulled out and returned on board, leaving the Indians
masters of the field. There was no mischievous feeling in their conduct
towards us, for we were in their power, and had they been inclined, they
might have speared the whole of our party before a musket could have been
fired by us. Their object seemed to be merely to get rid of us, and in
this they completely and very fairly succeeded, for our party was not
numerous enough to force a landing without resorting to means which would
have entirely destroyed the friendly intercourse we had just held with
the last tribe, and for which we were perhaps solely indebted to the
opportune capture that we made upon our arrival.

In consequence of the communication that we had with these natives, the
group between Lewis Island and the main was called The Intercourse

February 28.

Early the next morning, we left the anchorage, and took up a fresh
station off the North-East end of the island from which we were repulsed.
On our passing the north side of it, we saw no marks of fresh water; if
there be any, it must be from rain-water collected and preserved in the
holes of the rock. As we passed the east point, two natives were observed
crossing over to the main upon their logs, and this was the last we saw
of them.

Hence the strait takes a northerly direction, and was named Mermaid's
Strait, after our little vessel which had thus first sailed through it.
Mr. Roe, in the afternoon, examined an opening in the land to the
eastward of our anchorage; but found it to be overrun with mangroves, and
entirely destitute of fresh water.

1818. March 1.

The next day we steered through the strait. Three openings were observed
on the eastern side, which appeared to be straits separating as many
islands; the northernmost was called Gidley Island. To the north of Lewis
Island is Malus Island, the north east end of which is formed by a high
bluff point, named Courtenay Head; whose summit, from its elevation and
position, appeared to offer so good an opportunity of obtaining a
bird's-eye view of a great part of the Archipelago, that the cutter was
anchored in a bay under its west side; and as soon as the vessel was
secured, we landed and climbed the Head, and were repaid for the trouble
by a very extensive view, and a useful set of bearings of the islands and
rocks in its vicinity.

Malus Island is of the same formation as Enderby Island, and is clothed
with the same kinds of plants. The ravines are deep, and the sides of the
hills are covered with the same stone, of which a pile was erected on the
summit of the head to mark the spot where the circumferentor was placed.
Some turtle tracks were seen upon the beach; and when we returned to the
vessel Mr. Bedwell landed to watch for their coming on shore, but none
appeared, and since we found no eggs, it is probable that the young had
already taken to the water.

March 2.

The next morning we sailed, and attempted to steer round the western side
of Malus Island; but were prevented from passing between it and Rosemary
Island by the shoalness of the water. There is, however, every reason to
believe that in mid-channel the water is deep enough for any purpose; but
as our persisting would have answered no end, we steered across Mermaid's
Strait, and by sunset were abreast of Cape Bruguieres, so named by
Captain Baudin, round which the land trended to East by South, forming
the south side of a shoal strait, separating Gidley Island from Captain
Baudin's Legendre Island: the latter is a narrow, long, rocky island,
lying East-South-East and West-North-West, and is of a lower character
than the islands to the southward of it. We anchored under the North-West
end of this island.

March 3.

But the ground was so uneven and rocky that we considered ourselves
fortunate in recovering the anchor the next morning without breaking it;
for during the night the anchor dragged and hooked a rock; on weighing
it, however, the rock proved to be rotten and broke away. The strait
between Legendre and Gidley Islands is full of shoals, which at daylight
being dry, were covered with immense flights of pelicans and other

During the day and following night we were becalmed off the north side of
Legendre Island.

March 4.

The next day we passed round its South-East end, and, at sunset, anchored
in a deep bay. Off the South-East end of Legendre Island the sea is very
full of reefs and dry rocks, but between Hauy and Delambre Islands there
is a safe channel of nine and ten fathoms deep.

The bay in which we had anchored was called, at Mr. Roe's request,
Nickol's Bay; it is open only to the North-East, and affords safe
shelter, with good holding-ground. At the bottom of the bay, on both
sides of a projecting point of land, on which three round-backed hills
were conspicuous, the coast falls back, and forms two bights, the western
of which is backed by very low land, lined with mangroves; and may
probably contain a small rivulet: the other is smaller, but the land
behind it is higher than in the western bay, which of the two appears to
be of the most importance; but as the tide did not flow at a greater rate
than a quarter of a knot, very little was attached to any opening that
may exist there.

At this anchorage we experienced another squall, similar to that off Cape
Preston, but not so severe; the sand was blown over us from the shore,
although we were at least two miles distant from it.

March 5.

The next morning we steered to the eastward, along the land, and soon
after noon passed round Captain Baudin's Bezout Island; a projecting
point within it was named in compliment to my friend Aylmer Bourke
Lambert, Esquire; behind which a range of hills extends to the
South-South-East for five or six leagues, and then trends to the
eastward, toward a group of islands named by the French Forestier's
Archipelago, the principal of which is Depuch Island. Near this we
anchored in five fathoms sandy ground. Our course from Cape Lambert was
parallel with the beach, and although we were not more than from three to
five miles from it, yet it was so low that it could not be seen from the
deck; and even from the masthead it was but very indistinctly traced; nor
indeed is it quite certain that what we did see was really the shore of
the mainland.

March 6.

The vessel rode out the night rather uneasily on account of the wind
blowing a fresh breeze from the South-East, which freshened up when the
sun rose with such strength from the same direction that we were
prevented from landing upon Depuch Island. We passed the group at one
mile off; it consists of six islands, all of which, with the exception of
Depuch Island, are small and of a low sandy character. Hence the coast
trended to the North-East by East, but it was soon lost to view, for the
wind would not permit our making better than a North-East course. Before
noon we passed within a quarter of a mile of a part of the Geographe's
Bank, which was nearly dry; it lies twenty-two miles North-East from
Depuch Island.

Upon comparing my chart with Captain Dampier's description of the
Rosemary Islands, there appears to be little doubt but that M. De
Freycinet is justified in his conjectures, that the islands, called by
them Romarin and Malus, are those seen by that navigator. My conclusion
results from his description of the place he landed at, for he says:

"We were now on the inner side of the island, on whose outside is the
bluff point: we rode a league from the land, and I presently went on
shore, and carried shovels to dig for water, but found none. There grew
here two or three sorts of shrubs, one just like rosemary, and,
therefore, I call this Rosemary Island. It grew here in great plenty, but
had no smell...In the sea, we saw some green turtle, a pretty many
sharks, and abundance of water-snakes, of several sorts and sizes. The
stones were all of a rusty colour and ponderous."*

(*Footnote. Dampier Octavo 1729 volume 3 page 90.)

The rosemary plants were found by us on Enderby Island, and bore a strong
resemblance to the figure of one given by Dampier, which he thus
describes: Conyza Novae Hollandiae angustis rorismarini foliis: this
plant, found at Enderby Island, may naturally be supposed to grow upon
the other islands, since they are all similar in character. Enderby
Island he certainly did not visit, but I take Malus Island to be that on
which he landed, and the bluff, which he describes as the east end of the
island, is no other than our Courtenay Head, for it is the only land of
that character hereabouts, and is visible from the deck of a large ship,
at the distance of seven leagues. In the bearing that Dampier saw it,
namely, South-East, our Rosemary Island would appear to be joined to
Malus Island, and hence his opinion that it was "an island five or six
leagues in length, and one in breadth."

In one of his draughts (Number 9), he gives a view of the head, bearing
East-South-East, six leagues; and this bearing and distance, applied to
our Courtenay Head, will cross the latitude of 20 degrees 21 minutes,
which is that noted in the draught; and in the next draught (Number 10),
when the head bears South-East by South, two black rocks are inserted,
bearing South-East by East, and a point of land East: the black rocks
readily answer to the two flat rocks of my chart, and the land about
Gidley Island will bear East. No light can be thrown upon the subject
from his drawings of the headlands, since they are too minute to be
compared with nature.

That the Montebello Islands are not the Rosemary Islands is evident, from
their being low, having no bluff head, and from their not being visible
so far as Dampier saw those he described. No other land can answer as to
latitude but Rosemary, Malus, Legendre, or Gidley Islands; but, on the
two latter, there is no decided bluff, and when bearing South-East by
South, no land could be seen bearing East. The rocks of Malus Island, on
which we landed, are "of a rusty colour, and ponderous,"* and the bluff,
as I have before remarked, very conspicuously forms the east end of the

(*Footnote. Vide Appendix C.)

Dampier remarks that Rosemary Island is two hundred and thirty-two miles
east of the meridian of Shark's Bay; this, applied to the longitude of
that place, will make it in 117 degrees 12 minutes, which is only 35
minutes east of my Courtenay Head.

This group was named by the French Dampier's Archipelago, and as there is
ample proof of its being the place which that navigator visited, the name
has been admitted by us; but we have also extended it to the islands
forming the east side of Mermaid's strait, which are laid down by the
French as a part of the mainland.

Examination of Rowley's Shoals, and Passage to the North Coast.
Survey of Goulburn Islands, Mountnorris and Raffles Bays.
Meet a Malay Fleet, and communicate with one of the Proas.
Explore Port Essington.
Attacked by Natives in Knocker's Bay.
Anchor in Popham Bay.
Visit from the Malays.
Examination of Van Diemen's Gulf, including Sir George Hope's Islands and
Alligator Rivers.
Survey of the Northern Shore of Melville Island, and Apsley Strait.
Interview with the Natives of Luxmore Head.
Procure wood at Port Hurd.
Clarence Strait.
Leave the Coast, and arrival at Timor.

1818. March 6.

The south-east wind, which set in on the morning that we left our
anchorage off Depuch Island, continued to blow with thick misty weather,
and made us conjecture that the westerly monsoon was nearly expended; we,
therefore, steered off the coast with the intention of proceeding to the
eastward towards Cape Arnhem, after ascertaining the position of a shoal
that was seen by Captain Rowley, in H.M.S. Imperieuse, in 1800, and of
two others that are described by Captain Horsburgh to be in its vicinity.
They are situated according to the above authorities as follows, namely:

Imperieuse Shoal (south end): latitude 17 degrees 35 minutes, longitude
118 degrees 37 minutes.

Shoal seen by the ship Good Hope (north end): latitude 17 degrees 47 1/2
minutes, longitude 119 degrees 18 minutes.

Shoal seen by Captain Clerke (north part): latitude 17 degrees 28
minutes, longitude 119 degrees 2 minutes.

The last is described by its discoverer, to be 230 miles North 49 1/2
degrees East (Magnetic) from the north part of Rosemary Island, which
would assign to that island a situation in 20 degrees 6 minutes latitude,
and 116 degrees 6 minutes longitude; but on this parallel there is no
land to the westward of 118 degrees 40 minutes. The shoal, according to
Captain Horsburgh's account, is 264 miles North, 49 degrees East (true)
from Trimouille Island, the north-easternmost of the Montebello Group,
which must be the one taken by Captain Clerke for Rosemary Island.

March 6 to 12.

After leaving the land, the weather was very dull and damp for six days,
during which the wind being light and baffling prevented any progress.
Fortunately we were free from sickness, otherwise the heavy rains that
fell would have caused a considerable inconvenience to the crew, by
confining them to the same small cabin with the sick. Happily, however, I
heard of no complaints.

March 13.

And on the 13th at noon, the weather began to clear up with a freshening
breeze from the South-East, and soon veered to a steady wind from

March 14.

We then steered East to make the shoal, and at sunset the next evening it
was seen about three miles off, when we sounded with 170 fathoms of line
without getting bottom.

March 15.

During the night we stood off to the westward, and early in the morning
made the shoal again: at noon, it was close to us, at which time our
latitude was by observation 17 degrees 33 minutes 12 seconds, from which
I deduce the situation of the north end of the shoal to be in:

Latitude 17 degrees 31 minutes 24 seconds:
Longitude 118 degrees 50 minutes 30 seconds:

the longitude being ascertained by chronometers from Depuch Island,
corrected afterwards for our arrival at the north coast.

On rounding the north end of the shoal, soundings were ineffectually
tried for, with 120 fathoms: soon afterwards, we bore up on an eastern
course, and in the evening saw another extensive shoal; within two miles
of the south end of which we sounded with 170 fathoms of line without
reaching the bottom.

The south end of the second shoal, is in:

Latitude 7 degrees 28 minutes 5 seconds:
Longitude 119 degrees 18 minutes 00 seconds:

It stretches in a North-West direction for seven or eight miles, and to
the eastward the breakers extended beyond the masthead horizon; its
limit, therefore, in the latter direction, remained undetermined.

March 16.

The next morning a third shoal was discovered, the south-east end of
which, is in:

Latitude 17 degrees 12 minutes:
Longitude 119 degrees 35 minutes.

These dangerous reefs were named Rowley's Shoals, in compliment to the
discoverer of the westernmost (the Imperieuse), the situation of which is
assigned by me to be 13 minutes 30 seconds to the eastward of Captain
Rowley's account: the middle shoal, seen by us last evening, is certainly
the one that Captain Clerke saw; but the third or north-easternmost,
distinguished by the Mermaid's name, seems to be a new discovery.

On the north end of the Imperieuse shoal rocks were distinguishable, and
some were also seen near its centre above the level of the sea: all other
parts were under water. On the middlemost shoal no rocks were uncovered;
but on the south-east end of the Mermaid's Shoal several were observed.
These reefs are of a coral formation, and are very dangerous to approach
at night, from their vicinity being unfathomable to the depth of 170
fathoms; still, however, the surf that constantly breaks upon them may be
heard at a great distance, and will generally be sufficient to warn the
navigator of his danger.

March 23.

On the 23rd we passed the meridian of Cape Van Diemen, in latitude 10
degrees 48 minutes. The same evening some land was indistinctly seen
bearing South.

March 24.

The ensuing daylight discovered to us several islands in the
South-South-East, having previously shoaled our soundings from 31 to 10
fathoms; and during the morning we steered through them.

The group contains several low coral-formed islands; the
north-easternmost of which proved to be the New Year's Island of
Lieutenant McCluer of the Bombay Marine; they are covered with a shrubby
vegetation, and are severally surrounded by a coral reef: the principal
of them were named Oxley's, McCluer's, and Lawson's Islands, and a larger
and higher island in the South-South-West was named in compliment to my
friend Captain Charles Grant, C.B., of the Royal Navy, under whose
auspices I entered the naval service.

We steered on to the East-South-East through the first part of the night,
with every prospect of reaching Cape Arnhem, where our examination of the
coast westwardly was to commence.

March 26.

But at midnight the wind changed to the eastward, and at daylight (26th),
the land was visible from south to South-West. At ten o'clock we fetched
in close to a low sandy point, and then bore up to the westward along the
coast, which appeared, as it afterwards proved to be, a part of the main.
The low point which commenced our survey was called Point Braithwaite,
and one mile North-West from it is Point Hall: the shore then trends five
miles to the westward to Point Cuthbert, from which a shoal communication
extends towards a rock on which the sea broke: we passed within the rock,
carrying two and a quarter fathoms; and then hauled in for a point of
land, called after my friend Captain G.H. Guion, R.N.; but not succeeding
in finding anchorage under it, we bore away along the shore, and at night
anchored off Point Turner. Between Points Guion and Turner is a deep but
rocky bay, at the bottom of which is an appearance of an opening lined
with mangroves: to the westward of Point Turner is another bay, which
circumstances did not then allow of our examining. From our anchorage the
land was traced as far as North-West, and appeared to be an island
separated from the main by a strait.

March 27.

The next day we passed through it, and anchored in a bay on the
South-West side of the island, at about half a mile from the beach. The
Strait was named Macquarie Strait, after the late Major-General Lachlan
Macquarie, who administered the government of New South Wales for a
period of nearly twelve years.

As the shores of the bay, in which we had anchored, appeared likely to
afford both wood and water, of which articles we were much in want, I was
induced to take advantage of the opportunity, and immediately made
preparation to commence these occupations. In the evening a pit was dug
for water, which oozed so fast into it, that we did not anticipate any
difficulty on that head, and the wood was both plentiful and convenient
to the beach.

It was now about the termination of the rainy season, and everything bore
the most luxuriant appearance; the grass, which covered the face of the
island, was more than six feet high, and completely concealed us from
each other as we walked to the summit of the hill, the sides of which
were very thickly wooded. Upon the edge of the beach, the pandanus, the
hibiscus, and a variety of other tropical trees and shrubs were growing,
and the sand was variegated with the long-stemmed convolvulus in full

The trees upon the hills were principally a small-sized eucalyptus, which
we cut for firewood, but the stem was generally found to be unsound, and
totally useless for any purpose excepting for fuel. Among the flowers
that were strewed about the island was a superb shrubby grevillea, with
scarlet flowers. The casuarina grew also near the sandy beach but it
seemed to prefer the exposed parts near the extremities of the sandy
projections of the land where no other tree would grow. The wood of this
tree appeared to be of a closer grain, and of a darker colour than the
species that is usually found upon the north coast.

The only edible fruit that we found was a small black grape: it bore a
very inferior resemblance to the common sweet-water grape, but the leaf
and habit are altogether different.

The centre of the bay is formed by a sandy beach; it is terminated by
cliffs of about forty feet in height, the upper stratum of which appeared
to be an indurated clay of a very red colour, occasioned by the
ferruginous nature of the rocks and soil; the lower part is a stratum of
the whitest pipe-clay, the upper limit of which, from the surface having
been washed clean by the late rains, was so defined and produced so
striking a contrast in point of colour as to give the whole a most
remarkable appearance.

At the distance of ten miles behind the beach of the mainland, which is
very low, there is a continued ridge of rocky hills which was named
Wellington Range, and behind them is the Tor, a remarkable rock that
stands alone. The range is about twenty-five miles in extent, and its
summit has a very irregular outline; it is visible for eight or nine

March 28.

The morning after our arrival a baseline was measured upon the beach for
the survey of the bay, and whilst we were thus employed our people found
and brought to me several traces of Malays, who, as we are informed by
Captain Flinders, make annual visits to this part of the coast in large
fleets, to fish for beche de mer.

Among the relics were old broken joints of bamboo, which the Malays use
to carry their water in, some worn out cordage and a coconut, which had
perhaps been left behind by accident. The traces appeared to be of so
recent a date, that we conjectured the fleet was but a short distance to
the eastward of the islands, and as the easterly monsoon had commenced,
we were naturally in daily expectation of being overtaken by them. Our
operations, therefore, were hurried, since we could not tell what might
be the result of encountering them, as we were totally incapable of
defending ourselves, should they be mischievously inclined. A look-out
was therefore kept for their approach, and our people were held as much
as possible within sight, so that we might be prepared to weigh and leave
the place as soon as they should make their appearance.

The hole which had been dug for water was half full, but it was so
brackish as to be quite unfit for use.

Upon further search a small pond was found by Mr. Cunningham in a hollow,
at the back of the beach; but in the course of the day a run of water was
discovered by Boongaree, at the north end of the beach, oozing out from
the base of the pipe-clay cliffs, which proved upon examination to yield
better water than the former, besides being very much more convenient to

Our wooding-party commenced operations the day after we arrived, and, on
their returning on board at night, imprudently left their tools on shore.

March 29.

The next day, whilst the people were at dinner, Boongaree, whose eyes
were constantly directed to the shore, espied five natives among the
grass, which was so high as nearly to conceal them, walking towards our
wooding-place; and, as they proceeded, it was perceived that they had
stolen one of our station-flags, four of which had been erected on the
beach to mark the baseline. On reaching the place where our people had
been employed, three of the natives began to throw down a pile of wood
that had been heaped up ready to embark, whilst the fourth crept on his
hands and knees towards the other station-flags, and succeeded in
carrying off two more before he was observed; but as he was on the point
of taking the fourth he was detected, and two muskets were fired at him,
upon which he fled into the woods, followed by his companions, carrying
with them all our wooding tools.

During the morning a canoe, containing six or seven natives, had been
seen on the opposite shore under Point Ross; but it had disappeared, and
had probably brought the party over who had just robbed us. Mr. Bedwell
suggested the idea of their having landed round the south point of the
bay, where, if so, their canoe would be found. He was accordingly
despatched to bring it away as a reprisal for our stolen flags and tools,
and upon his pulling round the point he saw several natives standing by
the canoe, which was hauled up on the beach. On the boat pulling in, one
of the natives poised a spear, but he retreated with his companions into
the wood the moment that our party landed, without throwing it. The canoe
was then launched and brought on board. It appeared to have originally
belonged to the Malays, for it was made from a log of teak; it was
seventeen feet long and two feet broad, and had probably been either
captured or stolen by these natives. During Mr. Bedwell's absence I
landed, to observe some distances between the sun and moon, and this task
was completed without interruption; the thieves were seen all the
afternoon standing among the trees, watching our movements; and upon our
making an excursion in the evening towards the north end of the bay, they
were observed to follow us armed with spears, but they did not show
themselves, since they probably perceived we were prepared to receive

Before dark the canoe was hoisted up to the stern, and our other boats
were secured under it; notwithstanding which the natives swam off, and,
when everything was quiet, cut the whale boat's moorings, without being
detected, and swam away with her in tow; it was, however, discovered in
time, and the boat recovered before the tide had drifted her out of

March 30.

Early the next morning the cutter was removed nearer to the
watering-place that Boongaree had found, and in doing this we were
watched by ten or twelve natives, who were standing as they thought
concealed among the trees. This afforded us so good an opportunity of
expressing our anger at their attempt to steal our boat, and of showing
them that we were not Malays, that we fired a shot from a six-pounder
carronade over their heads, the report of which for a moment scared them;
but their alarm was only momentary, for they soon afterwards recovered
from their fright and continued to watch us as before.

As soon as the vessel was secured, our watering party commenced their
operations, and had been employed for half an hour without interruption,
when the natives suddenly appeared on the brink of the cliff that
overhung the beach, and threw several large stones at our people, which
slightly wounded three of them, before the muskets could be fired, upon
which the Indians retreated into the woods. The attack having been
observed from the vessel, the jolly-boat was dispatched to the shore with
assistance, and with orders to Mr. Bedwell to keep the whale-boat moored
at about fifteen or twenty yards from the beach with muskets ready to
fire, so that with this protection the watering-party were enabled to
continue their task without molestation. In the course of the day the
natives collected again behind the trees, and were at one time advancing
towards the cliffs, but being seen from the cutter a shot was fired over
their heads, which deterred them from coming forward. This hostile
conduct of the natives induced me to give up our intention of wooding at
this island; since the Indians might easily advance under cover of the
thick underwood, and throw their spears before we could be aware of their
approach. As soon, therefore, as our watering was completed, I determined
upon procuring our fuel from an island to the northward, which, during
our visit, we had seen from the North-West point of the bay, and which,
together with the one we were at, were called Goulburn Islands, in
compliment to the then Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies.

1818. April 1 to 4.

During our stay, Sims' Island, named at the request of Mr. Cunningham
after Dr. Sims, the eminent conductor of the Botanical Magazine, was
twice visited. It is situated in front of South-West Bay, is about two
miles and a half in circumference, and formed of a large and coarse
granular quartzose sandstone, large rounded masses of which cover the
surface at its northern end, the summit of which was named Sansom's Head.
Sims' Island furnished a very large addition to Mr. Cunningham's
collection, and among the flowers which it produced was a very beautiful
sweet-scented asclepias. No snakes nor reptiles of any description were
seen, but birds of various sorts were abundant, particularly the white
cockatoo. Of the sea-fowl, a species of tern was the most numerous. An
alligator, about fifteen feet long, swam about the vessel for some time,
which made us afterwards rather cautious of walking through the high
grass; but excepting a dog that followed the natives, no quadrupeds were

Off the north point of the bay, at the distance of a furlong, and
separated from it by a channel of from twelve to fifteen feet deep, are
two rocks of the same formation as those on Sims' Island; on the largest
was deposited a bottle containing a record on parchment of our visit. On
this rock all our observations were taken, excepting a few at the south
end of the sandy beach, before the natives showed themselves: the
longitude of Bottle Rock was subsequently determined to be 133 degrees 19
minutes 40 seconds.*

(*Footnote. Vide Appendix A Section X.)

April 6.

We left South-west Bay on the 4th, and the following morning anchored in
a bay on the west side of North Island, and on the 6th we commenced
cutting our wood from a group of casuarinas that grew close to the beach.

In the afternoon, when our party returned on board to dinner, some
natives were perceived examining our wooding-place, but our late
experience had taught us the precaution of bringing our tools away, to
prevent any further occasion of quarrel. They did not stop long but
walked on, as if they had some other object; at about forty yards farther
they halted again, and concealing themselves as they thought behind a
bank, they watched us for half an hour; after which they walked away and
disappeared among the trees.

April 7.

On our revisiting the shore, we traced their steps through the grass, and
came up with a shallow well containing fresh water, which they had
evidently taken the opportunity of our absence to drink at. Upon further
search we found their encampment; it consisted of three or four dwellings
of a very different description from any that we had before, or have
since seen: they were of a conical shape, not more than three feet high,
and not larger than would conveniently contain one person; they were
built of sticks, stuck in the ground, and being united at the top,
supported a roof of bark, which was again covered with sand, so that the
hut looked more like a sand-hillock than the abode of a human creature:
the opening was at one side, and about eighteen inches in diameter; but
even this could be reduced when they were inside, by heaping the sand up
before it. In one of the huts were found several strips of bamboo, and
some fishing-nets, rudely made of the fibres of the bark of trees.

Mr. Cunningham took the advantage of a good spot of soil in the vicinity
of our wooding-place to sow every sort of seed that we possessed, namely,
peach, apricot, loquat (a Chinese fruit), lemon, seventeen sorts of
culinary seeds, tobacco, roses, and a variety of other European plants;
and in addition to these, the coconut was planted, which we had found
upon the beach of South-West Bay, but it is very doubtful whether any
have succeeded, on account of the custom that the natives have when the
grass is dry, of setting fire to it, so that there is little doubt but
that all the annual plants have been destroyed.

The bay was called Mullet Bay, in consequence of the immense shoals of
that fish which were seen near the shores, and of which Boongaree speared
several with his fiz-gig. The trepang were found about the rocks on the
beach in great numbers, as they were also on the South Island.

April 8.

On the 8th we left Mullet Bay, and made an unsuccessful attempt to beat
round the north end of the island, and to return by steering through the
strait that separates the Northern from the Southern Island: we were,
however, prevented by the freshness of the wind, and the strength of the

April 10.

On the 10th, we bore up with the intention of returning to South-West
Bay. On approaching it, however, we were surprised with the sight of the
Malay fleet steering through Macquarie Strait, towards two of their proas
that had already anchored in a sandy bay on the South-West side of Sims'
Island. It was therefore determined that we should proceed as far to the
westward before nightfall as we could, and as the bay to the South-East
of Sims' Island had not been sufficiently seen by us, we steered off so
as to reconnoitre the proas, and improve the survey at the same time.

As soon as we had reached the island, all the vessels but one had
anchored, and their crews were busily engaged in passing to and from the
shore in small canoes, apparently watering. We passed by at a small
distance with our colours flying, which was answered by each hoisting a
Dutch jack; but one of the proas, which was thought to be the Rajah's
vessel, bore a blue flag in addition. Some stragglers on the rocks who
appeared to take no part in the labours of the rest, and who were
probably the chiefs, waved repeatedly to us to stop; but as their
acquaintance could render us no service, I declined their invitations.
Our presence did not appear to have excited any particular bustle amongst
them, but every precaution was taken on our part to repel any attack. The
proas, which were fifteen in number, appeared to be of twenty-five to
forty tons burden, and the fleet contained altogether at least three
hundred men.

The evening was too far advanced to make any particular examination of
the sinuosities of the bay; but, after passing Sims' Island, our course
was sufficiently near the coast to perceive the general outline of the
beach as far as Point Brogden, off which we were at sunset. To the
eastward of Point Brogden, which is more elevated than other parts, the
coast assumes a cliffy character, and trends to the North-West towards De
Courcy Head, which we reached before dark.

April 11.

During the night we were under weigh, and at daylight were near Grant's
Island, which we had seen on the 24th of last month: we then steered for
the land, and reached De Courcy Head by eight o'clock, and were on the
point of hauling round Cape Cockburn, to explore a bay that trended in on
its western side, when the Malay fleet which we passed the preceding
evening were seen standing towards us. Not liking to enter it until they
had passed by, we made a trip off shore, but to our great mortification,
no sooner had they reached the cape, than they hauled in to the bay, and
anchoring there, prevented, for the present, our visiting it; we had no
wish, in our defenceless state, to form a better acquaintance with so
suspicious a crew.

As the land to the westward of Cape Cockburn trended deeply in to the
South-West, and formed a deep bay, we steered on to examine it, whilst
the Malays occupied the anchorage in what we afterwards called Malay Bay;
then passing through a strait separating Point Annesley from Valentia
Island, we entered Mountnorris Bay, and after coasting for some distance,
until the bottom of the bay was visible, we anchored near the eastern
shore, and passed the night.

The coast from Valentia Island to our anchorage is principally formed by
sandy beaches, the continuity of which is broken by projecting rocky
heads, one of which is Point Coombe. Valentia Island is low and thickly
wooded, and partakes of the monotonous appearance of the mainland, which
is equally covered with low, small, and apparently-stunted trees.

April 12.

At day-dawn the Malays were observed making a move, and as each proa got
under sail, it steered towards us. The anchor was, therefore, immediately
weighed, and we prepared to receive them as formidably as our means
allowed. Their number was now increased to twenty-one vessels, by their
having hoisted out six large canoes; but as they approached there was no
appearance of any hostile intention, since some of them steered across
the bay, and only a few continued to direct their course towards us. One
of the canoes came near with the intention of visiting us, but not liking
too intimate an acquaintance with them, we pointed to our carronade, and
beckoned to them to go away, which they immediately did. One of the proas
soon afterwards passed by with Dutch colours displayed, to which its crew
repeatedly pointed, at the same time hailing us in an unintelligible
jargon, of which Macassar and Trepang were the only words that were
distinguished. They also pointed to the North-West, but whether this was
intended to convey to us the direction of the place whence they came, or
the course they were about to steer, was not very evident. In a short
time the fleet had passed by, and as we were under weigh we returned to
the examination of Malay Bay, in which nothing worthy of note was found.
It affords good anchorage during the easterly monsoon on a muddy bottom
in from four to five fathoms, but its shores are low and its beaches
rocky, and so uninteresting, that we returned to our previous anchorage
in Mountnorris Bay.

April 13.

The next day we landed on Copeland Island and from its summit obtained
extensive bearings for the survey of the bay. The island is surrounded by
a coral bank; its north side is formed by a perpendicular argillaceous
cliff of a bright yellow colour, and is a conspicuous object to vessels
entering the bay. Behind the cliff to the south the land gradually
declines and runs off to a low point; the whole surface of the island is
covered with trees, among which a beautiful hatchet-shape-leafed acacia
in full bloom was very conspicuous. The other trees were principally of
the eucalyptus family; but they were all of small size. On the west side
of the island was a dry gully, and a convenient landing-place, near to
which a bottle was deposited, containing a parchment record of our visit,
and of the names bestowed upon the bays and islands hereabout.

Three natives were observed walking along the sandy beach, at the bottom
of the bay; but they passed on without taking the least notice of our

We left the anchorage on the 13th, and crossed the bottom of the bay
within Copeland Island: then steering up the west side we passed a large
opening, trending to the North-West. Here we were detained for some time,
by grounding upon a sandbank. But by keeping the sails full, the vessel
dragged over it, and we resumed our course to the northward, along the
west side of Mountnorris Bay; and, at sunset, anchored between it and
Darch's Island, which protected us from both the wind and swell, during a
very squally night. Darch's Island, so named after my esteemed friend,
Thomas Darch, Esquire, of the Admiralty, is, like Valentia Island, very
thickly wooded. Its eastern side is a continued bluff cliffy shore, but
the north and south ends are low, and terminate with a shoal; which, off
the former, is of rocks; and near its extremity is a single mangrove
bush, which was seen and set from Copeland Island's summit.

April 14.

The next morning, at daylight, we passed round the north extremity of the
island, which was named Cape Croker, in compliment to the first secretary
of the Admiralty; and anchored on the north side of a bight round the
cape, which was subsequently named Palm Bay.

In the afternoon we landed, and ascending the hill or bank behind the
beach, obtained a view of the coast of the bay: a distant wooded point,
called, from its unusual elevation, High Point, bounded our view to the
south; but to the South-West some patches of land were indistinctly
visible. Tracks of natives were seen in many places, and the marks of
footsteps on the beach had been very recently impressed. On the bank a
circular spot of ground, of fifteen yards in diameter, was cleared away,
and had very lately been occupied by a tribe of natives. The island is
thickly wooded with a dwarf species of eucalyptus, but here and there the
fan palm and pandanus grew in groups, and with the acacia, served to vary
the otherwise monotonous appearance of the country. The soil, although it
was shallow and poor, was covered with grass, and a great variety of
shrubs and plants in flower, which fully occupied Mr. Cunningham's
attention. As we proceeded through the trees, a group of lofty palms
attracted our notice, and were at first supposed to be coconut trees that
had been planted by the Malays; but on examining them closer, they proved
to be the areca, the tree that produces the betel-nut and the toddy, a
liquor which the Malays and the inhabitants of all the eastern islands
use. Some of these palms were from thirty to forty feet high, and the
stem of one of them was bruised and deeply indented by a blunt

Having spent several hours on shore, without finding anything very
interesting or at all useful to us, we returned on board, when we found
that we had been watched by three natives, who had walked along the
beach, but on coming near us, had concealed themselves among the trees,
from which they had, probably, observed all our movements whilst we were
on shore. They were perhaps deterred from approaching us from our
numbers, and from the muskets which each of us carried; for our
experience of the disposition of the natives at Goulburn Island had
taught us prudence, and no boat was, after that affair, permitted to
leave the vessel without taking a musket for each man. It was, however,
fortunate for us that we were not often obliged to resort to them for a
defence, for the greater number of the twelve that we possessed were
useless, notwithstanding they were the best that could be procured at
Port Jackson when the vessel was equipped.

The rocks on the beach and the stones which are scattered about the
surface of the ground are all of a ferruginous nature, and appear from
their colour and weight to contain a large portion of iron; but the
needle of the compass was in no way affected by being placed near them.
The soil is also highly coloured by the oxide of iron, and it is this
that gives the cliffs of this part of the coast, particularly the upper
portion of them, the red appearance that they almost universally possess.

April 15.

The next day we went to High Point, which was found to be the east head
of a moderate-sized port, affording good anchorage and perfect security
during either monsoon. A sufficient inducement to bring the cutter thus
far presented itself; and as it was near sunset, our remarks were merely
confined to bearings from the point.

April 16.

On preparing to weigh the next morning, four Malay proas were observed
steering across the bay out of an opening which trends round the south
head of Palm Bay, and which proved to be a strait communicating with
Mountnorris Bay. It was named after my friend James Bowen, Esquire, one
of the Commissioners of the Navy. As soon as the proas had reached a
sufficient distance to leeward, we got under sail; and on rounding the
south point of the bay, and opening the strait, the remaining proas of
the fleet that we had previously seen, were observed at anchor close to a
sandy beach on the north shore, and their canoes to the number of twenty
were fishing on the opposite side of the strait. The latter, on observing
us, hoisted their sails, and returned to their proas; but as it was not
considered prudent to examine the port until they had passed by, its
exploration was deferred, and we returned to our anchorage in Palm Bay.
We had not, however, to wait long, for the proas left Bowen's Strait the
next morning, and crossed the bay to the westward. Our anchor was weighed
immediately, and we steered towards their sternmost vessel, in order to
communicate with her, and to show her a letter with which we had been
kindly provided by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, written in the Malay
language, and explanatory of our occupation. On running alongside the
proa, the letter was displayed, but they appeared frightened and
unwilling to bring to, and repeatedly pointed towards the headmost proa
in which their Rajah sailed.

Since our object could not be effected without communicating with their
Rajah, and as another opportunity might offer at some future time of
communicating with these people, it was abandoned for the present; and we
steered into the bay, and anchored within a small island at the entrance,
in time to observe the sun's meridional altitude. The evening was spent
in pulling round the bay, the shores of which are low, and so overrun
with mangroves, that landing was in most parts impracticable; but a small
break in them being observed under a cliff, we put ashore to examine the
country. Here we found two streams of fresh water, one of which ran over
the beach with some force; but they appeared to be only the drainings of
the country, and to be merely of temporary duration. The soil was here
very good, but the trees and underwood were so thick that we did not
venture far from the boat. A native's basket was found, and the usual
signs of their having lately been hereabouts. We also landed on a
projecting point, at the bottom of the bay, to obtain bearings; and a
second time under a remarkable cliffy point on the west side, from the
summit of which another set of bearings were obtained, which completed
the survey of the port; and we named it Raffles Bay, in compliment to Sir

At night, the seine was hauled under High Point, and procured us a good
mess of fish.

April 19.

We left Raffles' Bay on the 19th in the morning, and ran along the
western shore to the North-West point which we passed round; and,
steering between it and a low sandy island, entered a bay, at the bottom
of which was an opening, but we were prevented from entering it by shoal

The next point to the westward is Point Smith, and at the distance of a
mile from it, is a ledge of rocks on which the sea constantly breaks. We
passed close round the reef, and hauled into a very considerable opening
about six or seven miles wide, and at least five or six leagues deep. At
the bottom of this inlet was some higher land than usual, and among it
two flat-topped hills were very conspicuous. The eastern shore of the
port, for such it proved to be, is formed by a succession of rocky
points, between which were ranges of red cliffs, much higher than any we
had yet seen, and, if possible, more thickly wooded. As the day was far
spent, we anchored on the east side under one of the cliffs, and during
the night, the dismal howling of native dogs was heard close to the
vessel, a noise that was very frequently heard by us whenever we
anchored, and passed a calm night near the shore.

April 20.

The next morning, before we got under weigh, we landed at the mouth of a
small salt-water inlet, which trended in among the mangroves: having
climbed a hill, we had a distinct view of the bottom of the port, which,
at the distance of eight miles higher up, closed to a narrow opening, and
then widened to a spacious inner harbour. The country is here thickly,
and in some parts almost impenetrably, clothed with eucalyptus, acacia,
pandanus, fan palms, and various other trees; whilst the beaches are in
some parts studded, and in others thickly lined with mangroves. The soil
is chiefly of a gray sandy earth, and in some parts might be called even
rich; there were, however, very few places that could bear so favourable
a character. The climate seems here to favour vegetation so much that the
quality of the soil appears to be of minor importance, for everything
thrives and looks verdant.

Having returned on board we got under weigh, and steered for the narrow
opening at the bottom of the port. On reaching it, the water deepened,
but we were obliged to anchor, and sound the channel, before we succeeded
in entering the inner harbour, which we found to be a spacious sheet of
water, divided into two bays by a projecting cliffy point, which from its
situation was called Middle Head. There we remained at anchor until the
23rd, during which time the shores of the inner harbour were examined,
and visits made to various parts of it.

The shores of the inner harbour are thickly wooded to the beach, which is
fronted by mudflats, that at low water are dry for a considerable

On the western point of entrance, we found the remains of a wrecked
canoe, and upon further search Mr. Bedwell discovered a spear which was
altogether different from any that we had before seen; it was headed with
a sharp pointed splinter of quartz, about four inches long, and an inch
and a half broad; the shaft was of the mangrove-tree, seven feet eight
inches long, and appeared, from a small hole at the end, to have been
propelled by a throwing-stick; the stone head was fastened on by a
ligature of plaited grass, covered by a mass of gum: it was the most
formidable weapon of the sort we had ever yet seen.

April 22.

At the bottom of the western basin one of our people found the skeleton
of a human body; and the skull and some of the bones were brought on
board, but they were too imperfect to be worth preserving. The traces of
natives were found every where, but they did not show themselves. In one
of our excursions a tree was observed that had been cut down by some
sharp instrument, and we had afterwards reason to believe that the
natives were possessed of iron tools, which they might have obtained from
the Malays. A curious mound, constructed entirely of shells, rudely
heaped together, measuring thirty feet in diameter, and fourteen feet in
height, was also noticed near the beach, and was supposed to be a
burying-place of the Indians.

April 23.

Upon leaving the inner harbour we anchored in Knocker's Bay, on the west
side of the port, which received the name of Essington, a tribute of my
respect for the memory of my lamented friend, the late Vice-Admiral Sir
William Essington, K.C.B.: and in the afternoon we set off to examine an
opening in the mangroves at the bottom of the bay. After pulling through
its various winding channels for about a mile, where it was scarcely
broad enough for the boat to pass, its further investigation was given
up, and we commenced our return, but the mangroves were so thick, and
formed so impervious a net-work, that we had great difficulty in
effecting it. When about halfway towards the mouth, we found the boat
impeded by the roots of a mangrove bush; and whilst the boat's crew were
busily employed in clearing the rudder, we were suddenly startled by the
shout of a party of Indians, who were concealed from our view by a
projecting bush, not more than eight or ten yards from us: our situation
was rather alarming, from the boat being so entangled, and the river not
being broad enough for the oars to be used. No sooner had the natives
uttered the shout, than they leaped into the water armed with spears and
clubs; but the moment they made their appearance round the tree, two
muskets loaded with ball, and a fowling-piece with small shot, were fired
over their heads, which had the desired effect, for they gave up their
premeditated attack, and quickly disappeared among the bushes on the
opposite side, where they remained screaming and vociferating loudly in
angry threatening voices, whilst we were clearing the boat from the
bushes that obstructed our progress. Having at last effected this, we
proceeded on our way down the rivulet, and at the same time the natives
were observed through the bushes to hasten towards a low part, which we
were obliged to pass before we could reach the bay. But as we were aware
of their intention we were prepared for the event, and as was expected,
we were assailed by a shower of spears and stones from the natives, who
were concealed behind the mangroves. Happily, however, we received no
damage, although the spears and stones fell about us very thickly, and
several of the former struck the boat. A volley of musketry was fired
into the mangroves, but we could not ascertain whether any of the balls
took effect, since we could not see our assailants. A wound from one of
their stone-headed weapons, from our want of surgical knowledge, must in
such a climate have proved fatal, and we considered our escape truly
providential. As soon as we were out of the reach of their spears, which
they continued to throw until it was of no use, we hoisted the sail, and
steered round the shores of the bay. We had not proceeded far before
their canoe was observed secured to the beach by a small rope, which
offered so good an opportunity of punishing these savages for their
treacherous attack, that we landed and brought it away; and upon
examining its contents, we found not only their clubs, but also a large
quantity of bivalve shellfish, (Arca scapha?*) so that we had not only
deprived them of their boat, but of their supper, and three very
formidable clubs. This must have been a very serious loss to such simple
savages, but one that they richly deserved. The canoe was nearly new, it
measured eighteen feet in length, and two in breadth, and would easily
carry eight persons; the sides were supported by two poles fastened to
the gunwhale by strips of a climbing plant (Flagellaria indica), that
grows abundantly hereabouts, and with which also the ends of the canoe
were neatly, and even tastefully joined; the poles were spanned together
on either side by rope constructed of strips of bark. The canoe was made
of one sheet of bark, but in the bottom, within it, short pieces were
placed cross-ways, in order to preserve its shape, and increase its
strength. The description of a canoe seen by Captain Flinders at Blue Mud
Bay, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, differs very little from the above.**

(*Footnote. Lamarck tome 6 part 1 page 42. Chemn. Conch. 7 page 201. t.
55 f. 548.)

(**Footnote. Flinders Terra Australis volume 2 page 198.)

Whilst we were bringing away the canoe the natives, who had followed us
along the shore, were heard close by among the trees, loudly
vociferating, in which the ward ca-no-a was thought to be frequently

April 24.

The next morning we sailed out of Knocker's* Bay, and anchored a little
within Point Smith, preparatory to our resuming our examination of the
coast. The heat was now by no means oppressive, for although the
thermometer ranged between 79 and 86 degrees, yet its effect was lessened
by the constancy of the breeze, which tended materially to preserve the
health of the crew, who were happily all quite well.

After anchoring, a squall that had been gathering all the afternoon burst
overhead, and was accompanied by heavy rain and strong gusts of wind,
during which a canoe that had been previously observed near the beach
drifted past the cutter; it was sent for and brought alongside, but the
next morning before we got under weigh, it was taken on shore, and hauled
up on the beach out of the reach of the water, and in it were deposited
several iron tools, to show the natives that our intentions were

During our examination of Port Essington, we found no fresh water, but
our search for it did not extend beyond the precincts of the sea-beach,
since we were not in want of that article, having so lately completed our
stock at Goulburn Island; but from the number of natives seen by us, and
the frequency of their traces, which were encountered at every step we
took, there must be fresh water; and had we dug holes, we should
doubtless have succeeded in finding some, particularly in the vicinity of
the cliffs.

Wood is abundant and convenient for embarking, but the trees are
generally small: the waters are well stocked with fish.

As a harbour, Port Essington is equal, if not superior, to any I ever
saw; and from its proximity to the Moluccas and New Guinea, and its being
in the direct line of communication between Port Jackson and India, as
well as from its commanding situation with respect to the passage through
Torres Strait, it must, at no very distant period, become a place of
great trade, and of very considerable importance.

April 25.

Early the following morning we sailed out of Port Essington, and passing
round its western head, which was named out of respect to my friend
Admiral Vashon, we hauled into a bay where a Malay encampment was
observed upon the beach, with several proas at anchor close to it; but,
as the place offered us no inducement to delay, we steered round the next
head, and hauled into another bay, apparently about four miles deep and
two broad. The coast here appeared to take a decided turn to the
southward, and, as some land was observed on the western horizon, we
rightly concluded that we had reached the entrance of the Great Bay of
Van Diemen, the examination of which formed a prominent feature in my
instructions. The bay was named Popham Bay, and the extremity of the land
in sight received the appellation of Cape Don; the former after the late
Rear-Admiral Sir Home Popham, K.C.B., and the latter in compliment to
Lieutenant-General Sir George Don, K.C.B., the Lieutenant-Governor of the
fortress of Gibraltar. The two flat-topped hills, seen from Port
Essington, were also observed over the bottom of the bay, and being
conspicuous objects, were named Mounts Bedwell and Roe, after the two
midshipmen who accompanied me.

As we steered into the bay another division of the Malay fleet was
perceived at anchor on the eastern shore, close to an encampment: the
number of the proas were four; and as we considered ourselves a match for
this number, we determined upon remaining the night, and therefore
anchored about two miles without them, with our ensign hoisted at the
masthead over a large white flag, which was answered by each proa
instantly displaying Dutch colours.

Soon afterwards a canoe came from the proas, but it required some
persuasion to entice them alongside; when they did come, we showed them
Sir Stamford Raffles' letter, which they could not read, but on our
showing them our rough chart they instantly comprehended our employment,
and without further hesitation, two of them came on board. The canoe was
fitted for fishing; it was paddled by a man and five boys, and was
steered by a younger man, who, from his dress and authority, appeared to
be of some consequence amongst them. During their visit their curiosity
was much excited by everything they saw; and, having drank pretty freely
of our port wine, they talked incessantly. They remained with us three
hours, during the greater part of which their canoe was absent catching
fish. One of our visitors was very communicative, and by means of signs
and a few words of the Malay language, which we understood, he explained
that their Rajah's proa was armed with two small guns, and carried a
compass. On looking at our binnacle, they pointed to the north-west
rhumb, and made us easily understand that it was the course they always
steered on their return to Macassar.

Upon mentioning the natives of the coast and showing them the
stone-headed spear that we had found, they evinced their dislike to them
very plainly, they called them Maregas, Marega being, as we afterwards
found, their appellation for this part of the coast.

It was now growing late, and as the canoe had not returned, they hailed
their companions several times, but not being answered, they asked for a
musket, and fired it in the direction of their boat; this had the desired
effect, and it very shortly came alongside, but the crew had not been
successful, for they had caught only two small fishes which were
presented to us: they then took leave, repeatedly assuring us that the
next morning they would pay us another visit.

April 26.

But, without waiting for the honour they intended us, we got under weigh
early and left them to comment as they pleased upon our disappointing
them of the gunpowder, which, to get rid of them, we had promised to give
them the next morning.

Being under sail, we steered to the West-South-West, until the land
opened round Cape Don in an east-northerly direction for eight miles, and
then the coast trended to the south-eastward under Mounts Bedwell and
Roe, where the land was lost to view. To the westward the land was
observed trending in a north and south direction, and bore the appearance
of being an island.

The ebb now commenced setting out, and although we were going three knots
through the water, we made no progress over the ground. Seven miles West
by South from Cape Don we sounded in fifty fathoms on a bottom of
branch-coral, and four miles more to the westward we had but nineteen
fathoms. When the flood commenced, it was too dark to profit by it.

April 27.

And no progress was made until the next morning, when, having a fresh
breeze, we reached an anchorage in a bay on the north side, and close
under the base of Mount Bedwell. On our way we steered through strong
tide-ripplings in which, at times, notwithstanding the strength of the
breeze, the cutter was quite ungovernable. Off the bay is a low mangrove
island which I had the pleasure to name after the Reverend James W.
Burford, of Stratford, Essex, and the bay in which we had anchored was
called after W. Aiton, Esquire, of the Royal Gardens at Kew.

The bottom of Aiton Bay is shoal and apparently terminates in an inlet or
creek; at low water the tide left a considerable space dry that appeared
to extend from shore to shore.

Our distance from the beach was so short that the howlings of dogs were
distinctly heard, and other noises were distinguished which some of us
thought were made by natives, but they were more probably the screams of

April 28.

At daylight the next morning we steered round the land, and passing under
the base of Mount Roe, we entered a strait that separates it from
Greenhill Island; which is remarkable for having its north-west end
terminated by a conspicuous bluff. The coast now took an easterly
direction as far as the eye could reach, with a channel of from three to
eight miles broad between it and a range of islands (which were named in
compliment to the late Vice-Admiral Sir George Hope, K.C.B., then holding
a seat in the Board of Admiralty). At noon the tide began to ebb, when we
anchored near the land at about six miles east of Mount Roe.

The thermometer now ranged between 80 and 90 degrees, but the heat was by
no means oppressive.

April 29.

By the next day at noon we had penetrated four leagues within Sir George
Hope's Islands, when the water became so shoal that we could not approach
an opening that was seen in the land to the south-eastward; after trying
in several directions, the cutter was anchored, and Mr. Roe was sent to
sound in a south direction in search of a passage out; but, as it
appeared to be shoal and some parts were already dry, it was decided that
we should return by the way we came; since our object was not so much to
lay down the extent of the banks and directions of the channels, as to
find rivers, and trace the coastline. The opening to the South-East of
our anchorage certainly appeared to be sufficiently interesting to
examine, but we had formed very sanguine expectations of discovering
something of much greater importance at the bottom of the bay, and we
were naturally anxious to reach it as soon as possible.

On constructing the chart of this part of the coast, it appeared that the
land to the eastward of this anchorage is an isthmus four or five miles
in breadth, separating the body of water from the bottom of Mountnorris
Bay. The peninsula thus formed was honoured by the appellation of
Cobourg, after His Royal Highness Prince Leopold.

During the day large smokes were observed on the south horizon, without
any appearance of land near them.

1818. May 1.

On our way out we anchored under one of Sir George Hope's Islands, which,
on the occasion of our landing upon it the next morning (1st May), was
called May-day Island: it is about two miles long, and nearly the same
distance across; its formation appears to have been originally of sand
that has accumulated upon a rocky basis, and has gradually grown into an
island; it is thickly covered with a forest of dwarf trees and
impenetrable brushwood. Some recent impressions of a human foot on the
sand below high-water mark were seen, and several old fireplaces, and one
or two of more recent date were observed, around which were strewed the
remains of shell-fish repasts; the natives, however, did not make their

When returning on board we endeavoured to pass out between May-day and
Greenhill Islands, but a bar of sand that appeared to stretch across
obstructed our progress: the weather being fine and the sea very smooth,
we endeavoured to force her over, but as we did not succeed, we anchored
for the night near our former position, to the eastward of Mount Roe.

May 2.

The next day we passed out between the Mount and Greenhill Island, and at
night anchored on the south side of May-day Island, at eight miles
distance from it.

May 3.

The following day we made some progress to the South-East, and by the
afternoon obtained a glimpse of some land bearing between South 3 degrees
West and South 18 degrees East.

May 4.

And at sunset the next evening the lowland was traced as far to the
southward as South-South-East, upon which several detached hills were
seen which probably may have some connexion with Wellington Range.

May 5.

The next day the cutter was anchored within a mile and a half of the
south point of a considerable opening, which the boats were prepared to

May 6.

And at daybreak we commenced its exploration, but the greater part of the
tide was expended before we reached the entrance, which is fronted by a
bank of mud on which there was not more than twelve feet water; the
depth, however, increased after we entered the river to four and five
fathoms; and as we proceeded up we found the channel to be seven and
eight fathoms deep. The banks on either side were very low; they were
composed of a soft mud, and so thickly lined with mangroves as to prevent
our landing until we had pulled up for seven or eight miles. At ten
o'clock the flood ceased and the ebb, setting with considerable strength,
prevented our proceeding higher up: here we landed, and after spending
some time in taking bearings and examining the country, we returned to
the cutter, which we reached early in the afternoon.

The banks where we landed were about two hundred yards apart, but were so
low and without a hillock to ascend or a tree to climb to enable us to
obtain a view of the country, that we could form but a very slight
opinion of the place. A sugar-loaf-shaped hill, which was also visible
from the anchorage, bore South 80 degrees East; at the distance of a
league was a rocky hill that bore North 88 1/4 degrees East; and, five or
six leagues off, was a range of hills extending from East by South to
South 27 degrees East. In all other directions the eye wandered over a
dreary, low, and uninterruptedly flat country; which in most parts is
covered with an arundinaceous grass.

The mangrove bushes on the banks of the river, which was quite salt, were
crowded with the nests of an egret, in which the young birds were nearly
fledged. Hawks, wild ducks, pelicans, and pigeons, were also abundant,
and an immense flight of white cockatoos hovered over the mangroves, and
quite disturbed the air with their hideous screamings. A small black
water-bird, about the size of a pigeon, with a white neck and a black
ring round it, was observed, but not near enough to enable us to
ascertain its species. On our course up and down the river we encountered
several very large alligators, and some were noticed sleeping on the mud.
This was the first time we had seen these animals, excepting that at
Goulburn Island, and, as they appeared to be very numerous and large, it
was not thought safe to stop all night up the river, which we must have
done had we remained for the next flood-tide.

No inhabitants were seen, but the fires that were burning in all
directions proved that they could not be far off.

May 7.

The next morning we were underweigh and steering along the coast to the
westward towards a low but extensive island; and, as we approached, we
found that it fronted a very considerable opening in the land, extending
into the interior under the eastern base of Mount Hooper. The channel
between the island and the main appearing clear, we did not hesitate to
pass through, and within half a mile of the island, where the channel was
evidently the deepest, we sounded in eight and nine fathoms. As soon as
we entered the opening it assumed a similar appearance to that of the
river we examined yesterday, but it was very much more considerable and
excited very sanguine hopes in our minds. Besides the low island
above-mentioned there is another of smaller size between it and the west
point of entrance; so that there are three entrances. The islands were
called Barron and Field Islands, after my friend, then presiding as Judge
of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

As we proceeded, the depth continued to be so even, and to shoal so
gradually, that we ran up it for six miles, when, as it was near noon, we
anchored and landed on the eastern bank, to observe the sun's meridional
altitude; but, from the muddy state of the banks, we had great difficulty
in reaching the shore. On returning to the vessel, we sailed further up,
and, at high water anchored near the end of the first reach, and made
preparations for its further investigation. The tide then began to ebb at
the rate of three miles per hour, and continued with nearly that velocity
during the whole tide. During the evening our preparations were

May 8.

And, at daybreak the next morning, I set off with Mr. Roe and Mr.
Cunningham for my companions: when we left the cutter the flood was just
making, so that we had the advantage of the whole of the tide, which
lasted until noon, when we landed, and observed the latitude to be 12
degrees 38 minutes 47 seconds. Our situation was within three miles of a
hill bearing South 25 1/2 degrees West, the bearing of which having
previously been taken from the cutter's present anchorage, enabled me to
decide with tolerable accuracy upon the station we had reached.

This river, as far as we had examined it, a distance of thirty-six miles,
differed from the other only in being of larger size. At the place where
the latitude was observed, it was about one hundred and fifty yards wide.
From the anchorage the channel deepened from five to eight fathoms, and
this depth continued tolerably even and regular for nine miles. It then
began to decrease; and, at the furthest part we reached the depth at high
water was two and a half fathoms. The banks, which were in most parts
thickly lined with mangroves, and in no part more than three feet above
high-water mark, are formed of soft mud, which rendered landing, except
at high water, impossible. The country on all sides presented a low level
plain, the monotony of which was occasionally relieved by a few wooded
hills, and some groups of trees, among which the palm-tree was
conspicuous, and tended in a trifling degree to improve the view, which,
to say the best of it, was unvaried and heavy. The low land, at least
that part over which the fires had not passed, Was covered with a thickly
matted broom-grass; and, where it was burnt off, the soil was observed to
be composed of a hard and stiff clay, the surface of which bore the
appearance of having been frequently inundated, either by high tides, or,
more probably, by freshes in the rainy season.

We saw very few birds, and those were chiefly cockatoos; but alligators
were as numerous as in the other river, whence the name of Alligator
Rivers were bestowed upon them.

The water where we landed was fresh enough to be nearly drinkable, and
probably would be quite sweet at half ebb.

May 8.

The ebb-tide did not serve to carry us on board, and the boat's crew were
so fatigued by having been pulling all day, that we were obliged to drop
the grapnel within seven miles of the cutter to await the turn of tide,
so that it was not until midnight that we reached the vessel much

May 9.

The next day we left our anchorage, and took up a station within Field
Island, intending, if possible, to go through the passage between Barron
and Field Islands. At low water the banks dried for a considerable

May 10.

But as there was every appearance of the existence of a narrow passage
between the islands, we ran through the next morning at high water; and,
in passing the narrows, had over-falls between three and fifteen fathoms:
as soon as we reached a favourable bottom, we anchored in four fathoms in
order to await the uncovering of the shoals at low water, so that we
might see our way on, and construct the chart of this entrance with more
correctness. Field Island is low and thickly wooded, and is surrounded by
a rocky shoal which dries at low water, and extends to a considerable
distance off its North-West end. The smoke of a fire having been seen on
the island when we passed, it was presumed to have been at that time
occupied by natives.

Another opening was observed to the westward of the river we last
examined. and as it bore a similar appearance, the name of Alligator
Rivers was extended to it.

May 11.

The next morning we resumed our course to the westward; and, after
coasting along a low shore, anchored at night in the South-West corner of
the gulf, in three and a half fathoms; the land, from being so low, was
scarcely distinct, but it appeared to be sandy.

May 12.

The next day we passed a considerable opening, or, as it was thought to
be, a bight; for many patches of land were observed on the horizon: The
wind blew so fresh from the eastward that I did not venture to run into
it, but steered towards some land to the northward that formed the
northern boundary of the opening, and which proved to be that which had
been seen by us from Popham Bay; and as it afterwards proved to be an
island, it was called after the title of the noble Viscount, now First
Lord of the Admiralty.

The Gulf which we have now explored is that which was discovered by three
Dutch vessels that sailed from Timor in 1705, and to which they gave the
name of The Great Bay of Van Diemen. They entered it but did not reach
its bottom, having been very likely prevented by the strong tides which
in the entrance of Dundas Strait are altogether uncommon. From the nature
of the Alligator Rivers there is no doubt but that there are others of a
similar character that empty themselves into the Gulf between the
easternmost Alligator River and Sir George Hope's Islands, although they
are, probably, of smaller size and of less importance. At midnight the
cutter, drifted by the tide, passed close to the easternmost point of
Melville Island near to which two bright fires were burning.

May 13.

The next morning at eight o'clock we were within two miles of Cape
Fleeming, the north-easternmost extremity of the island; and, bearing up
along the north coast of Melville Island, passed close to Point Jahleel.
On a sandy beach to the westward of the last point two natives were
walking, but they passed on without noticing our presence. Eight miles to
the South-West of Point Jahleel is Brenton Bay, which we had nearly
passed before it was observed: the vessel was brought to the wind.

May 14.

But it was the next morning before we succeeded in fetching into the
opening. It terminates in an inlet which probably runs some little
distance into the interior of the island. It is about five miles deep,
but the depth is so trifling that we were prevented from running into it
far enough to obtain shelter from the wind. In the evening we anchored in
a picturesque bay which, although open to the north, offers a tolerable
shelter during the easterly monsoon: the beach is sandy, but is probably
shoal and of rocky approach. The country appeared verdant, and the hills
are thickly wooded; at the bottom of the bay a shoal opening trends in
between two hills, over which, in the evening, seven natives were
observed to cross in a canoe. This was called Lethbridge Bay. On the
western side of the bay is a range of cliff like the pipe-clay cliff of
Goulburn Island, the upper half being red, and the lower half white; and
four miles off the west point of the bay are two patches of rocks on
which the sea breaks; these were called the Madford Shoals.

May 15.

Twenty-five miles west from Lethbridge Bay is a projecting point from
which the coast takes a north-westerly direction. In passing a breaker
that lies off the point our cook fell overboard, but the boat was quickly
lowered and picked him up; for some time his life was despaired of, but a
little attention, and the warmth of the sun's heat, at last restored him.

On each side of the point which is formed behind Karslake Island is a
bay; and at the bottom of each there appeared to be a shoal opening. The
coast is here higher than usual, and is thickly wooded; but the coastline
to the northward is formed of high cliffs without much wood, and of a
remarkable white colour.

May 16.

The next morning we passed round Cape Van Diemen; and in the evening
anchored off a tabular-shaped hill that formed the south end of a sandy
bay. It was dark when we anchored.

May 17.

The next morning we found that we had anchored in the mouth of a very
considerable river-like opening, the size of which inspired us with the
flattering hope of having made an important discovery, for as yet we had
no idea of the insularity of Melville Island.

The table-shaped hill near our anchorage was named Luxmore Head, and the
bay to the north was called St. Asaph's, in compliment to the Right
Reverend the Lord Bishop of that diocese.

The day being Sunday our intention was, after taking bearings from the
summit of Luxmore Head, to delay our further proceeding until the next
morning, but the circumstance that occurred kept us so much on the alert
that it was anything but a day of rest. Having landed at the foot of the
hill we ascended its summit, but found it so thickly wooded as to deprive
us of the view we had anticipated; but, as there were some openings in
the trees through which a few distant objects could be distinguished, we
made preparations to take their bearings, and while the boat's crew were
landing the theodolite, our party were amusing themselves on the top of
the hill.

Suddenly however, but fortunately before we had dispersed, we were
surprised by natives, who, coming forward armed with spears, obliged us
very speedily to retreat to the boat; and in the sauve qui peut sort of
way in which we ran down the hill, at which we have frequently since
laughed very heartily, our theodolite stand and Mr. Cunningham's
insect-net were left behind, which they instantly seized upon. I had
fired my fowling-piece at an iguana just before the appearance of the
natives, so that we were without any means of defence; but, having
reached the boat without accident, where we had our muskets ready, a
parley was commenced for the purpose of recovering our losses. After
exchanging a silk-handkerchief for a dead bird, which they threw into the
water for us to pick up, we made signs that we wanted fresh water, upon
which they directed us to go round the point, and upon our pulling in
that direction, they followed us, skipping from rock to rock with
surprising dexterity and speed. As soon as we reached the sandy beach on
the north side of Luxmore Head, they stopped and invited us to land,
which we should have done, had it not been that the noises they made soon
collected a large body of natives who came running from all directions to
their assistance; and in a short time there were twenty-eight or thirty
natives assembled. After a short parley with them in which they
repeatedly asked for axes by imitating the action of chopping, we went on
board, intimating to them our intention of returning with some, which we
would give to them upon the restoration of the stand, which they
immediately understood and assented to. The natives had three dogs with

On our return to the beach the natives had again assembled, and shouted
loudly as we approached. Besides the whale boat, in which Mr. Bedwell was
stationed with an armed party ready to fire if any hostility commenced,
we had our jolly-boat, in which I led the way with two men, and carried
with me two tomahawks and some chisels. On pulling near the beach the
whole party came down and waded into the water towards us; and, in
exchange for a few chisels and files, gave us two baskets, one containing
fresh water and the other was full of the fruit of the sago-palm, which
grows here in great abundance. The basket containing the water was
conveyed to us by letting it float on the sea, for their timidity would
not let them approach us near enough to place it in our hands; but that
containing the fruit, not being buoyant enough to swim, did not permit of
this method, so that, after much difficulty, an old man was persuaded to
deliver it. This was done in the most cautious manner, and as soon as he
was sufficiently near the boat he dropped or rather threw the basket into
my hand and immediately retreated to his companions, who applauded his
feat by a loud shout of approbation. In exchange for this I offered him a
tomahawk, but his fears would not allow him to come near the boat to
receive it. Finding nothing could induce the old man to approach us a
second time, I threw it towards him, and upon his catching it the whole
tribe began to shout and laugh in the most extravagant way. As soon as
they were quiet we made signs for the theodolite stand, which, for a long
while, they would not understand; at one time they pretended to think by
our pointing towards it, that we meant some spears that were lying near a
tree, which they immediately removed: the stand was then taken up by one
of their women, and upon our pointing to her, they feigned to think that
she was the object of our wishes, and immediately left a female standing
up to her middle in the water and retired to some distance to await our
proceedings. On pulling towards the woman, who, by the way, could not
have been selected by them either for her youth or beauty, she frequently
repeated the words "Ven aca, Ven aca," accompanied with an invitation to
land; but, as we approached, she retired towards the shore; when suddenly
two natives, who had slowly walked towards us, sprang into the water and
made towards the boat with surprising celerity, jumping at each step
entirely out of the sea, although it was so deep as to reach their
thighs. Their intention was evidently to seize the remaining tomahawk
which I had been endeavouring to exchange for the stand, and the foremost
had reached within two or three yards of the boat when I found it
necessary, in order to prevent his approach, to threaten to strike him
with a wooden club, which had the desired effect. At this moment one of
the natives took up the stand, and upon our pointing at him, they
appeared to comprehend our object; a consultation was held over the stand
which was minutely examined; but, as it was mounted with brass and,
perhaps on that account, appeared to them more valuable than a tomahawk,
they declined giving it up, and gradually dispersed; or rather pretended
so to do, for a party of armed natives was observed to conceal themselves
under some mangrove bushes near the beach, whilst two canoes were plying
about near at hand to entice our approach; the stratagem, however, did
not succeed, and we lay off upon our oars for some time without making
any movement. Soon afterwards the natives, finding that we had no
intention of following them, left their canoes, and performed a dance in
the water, which very conspicuously displayed their great muscular power:
the dance consisted chiefly of the performers leaping two or three times
successively out of the sea, and then violently moving their legs so as
to agitate the water into a foam for some distance around them, all the
time shouting loudly and laughing immoderately; then they would run
through the water for eight or ten yards and perform again; and this was
repeated over and over as long as the dance lasted. We were all
thoroughly disgusted with them, and felt a degree of distrust that could
not be conquered. The men were more muscular and better formed than any
we had before seen; they were daubed over with a yellow pigment, which
was the colour of the neighbouring cliff; their hair was long and curly,
and appeared to be clotted with a whitish paint. During the time of our
parley the natives had their spears close at hand, for those who were in
the water had them floating near them, and those who were on the beach
had them either buried in the sand, or carried them between their toes,
in order to deceive us and to appear unarmed; and in this they succeeded,
until one of them was detected, when we were pulling towards the woman,
by his stooping down and picking up his spear.

Finding that we had no chance of recovering our loss, we returned on
board, when the natives also withdrew from the beach, and did not
afterwards show themselves.

May 18.

The next morning we weighed with the flood and worked up the opening
against the wind for sixteen or seventeen miles, when the tide turned,
and we anchored in eleven fathoms. In most parts the banks were
inaccessible, being nearly overrun with mangroves; but the low appearance
of the country within and the mischievous disposition of the natives made
me less anxious to examine into the thick woods that surrounded us on all
sides. Wherever a clear space presented itself, the sago palm was seen
mixed with the fan palm, the pandanus and other trees, among which the
eucalyptus as usual appeared to be the most abundant.

May 19.

At eight o'clock the next morning we were again underweigh; and, with the
flood-tide in our favour, made rapid progress. The opening had, however,
become so much contracted, that it was found prudent to have a boat
hoisted out, with the kedge and a hawser ready if the vessel should get
on shore. After proceeding two miles further, it took a more easterly
course, and as we advanced the general direction of the reaches were east
and south. Our speculations ran high with regard to what it might be, and
the probability of its being a large river appeared to our sanguine minds
so certain that we never once fancied it could be otherwise; when
suddenly the open sea appeared, and, demonstrating it to be merely a
strait, at once dispelled our hopes.

Upon reaching between the two heads which form the south entrance of this
Strait, the tide turned, and, beginning to run so swiftly back that we
were prevented from getting out, obliged us very reluctantly to return to
an anchorage within, which was not easily found, as the bottom was rocky
and thickly studded with shoals. The anchor was at last dropped at three
miles within the entrance near an open cliffy bank, on which there were
two canoes hauled up, but no sign of their owners.

The night was squally, and the tide ran at the rate of nearly four knots.

May 20.

At low water the next morning the shoals were exposed, and showed us the
dangers we had unknowingly encountered in passing over them when they
were covered. The passages between them were found to be so intricate
that, after sounding them for some time, we gave up all idea of passing
out by the south entrance.

May 21.

And, returning by the way we came, the next day anchored near our former
position in St. Asaph Bay.

The Strait was named Apsley; and the land on the western side which had
thus been proved to be insulated was named in compliment to the Right
Honourable Earl Bathurst, his Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for
the Colonies.

May 22.

The day following we coasted the North-West side of Bathurst Island; and
at sunset anchored off a point from which a reef projects for a
considerable distance into the sea.

May 23.

The next day we anchored off an opening at the bottom of an extensive
bay, in three and a half fathoms.

It happened to be high water when we anchored; and, although we were
three miles from the shore, the tide of ebb reduced the depth so much
that there was reason to apprehend the cutter's being left dry at low
water; the depth was, however, ten feet and a half, which was only
eighteen inches more than the cutter's draught.

May 23.

The opening off which we had anchored was formed between two low, sandy
points, and trended in to the South-East; on the land at the back was a
long round-backed hill, which, when viewed from the northward, had a
flat-topped appearance.

May 24.

Having sounded the space between the anchorage and the shore, it was
found that we were on the outer edge of a bar, within which the water
deepened to five fathoms, and in the entrance there was as much as eleven
and twelve fathoms; we therefore weighed the anchor, and, the wind
blowing out, worked up towards the opening, which, as the tide was
flowing, it did not take long to effect. On passing the bar, we had not
less water than eleven feet (low water soundings), after which the depth
gradually increased. An anchorage was taken up in the evening within the

May 25.

And the next day, after an attempt to reach further up, in which we only
succeeded to the distance of a mile, the examination was completed by our

It was found to run in, gradually narrowing and decreasing in depth for
eight miles, and to terminate in two salt-water creeks. The banks on both
sides were impenetrably lined with mangroves, which effectually defied
our attempts to land. Several creeks, communicating with the low
inundated land behind the mangroves, joined the main stream at intervals
on both sides; but they were not interesting enough in their appearance
to detain us. We returned to the cutter at night.

May 26.

And the next day shifted our berth to an anchorage close to the shore on
the north side of the entrance, for the purpose of wooding, where the
trees were so convenient and close at hand that we completed our stock
before dark.

During the evening, whilst we were occupied at the wooding-place, a party
of natives were observed running towards us along the beach on the south
side without the port, apparently returning from a hunting excursion, for
the woods on the south side of the bay had been on fire for the last two
days. As they approached they retired behind the beach among the trees,
and, upon their reaching the opposite side of the entrance, crept upon
their hands and knees behind the bushes, where they remained, as they
thought, concealed until the evening. A little before dark they were
observed to creep out and range themselves upon the beach, as if
meditating upon their plans for the night, but by this time it was so
dark that we could not see what they afterwards did; in order to deter
them from approaching us, a musket was fired over their heads, and if
this had the desired effect, it was a happy circumstance for them, for an
immense shark was caught in the middle of the night, which, from the
extraordinary capacity of its mouth and maw, could have swallowed one of
them with the greatest ease. On opening the animal, we fully expected to
discover the limbs of some of the natives, who we assured ourselves had
crossed over to our side the water; but we only found a crab that had
been so recently swallowed that some of our people made no hesitation in
eating it for their supper. The night passed without our being disturbed
by or hearing anything of the natives.

May 27.

But, at daylight, on looking at the place where they had been concealed
during the last evening, a canoe, which had been observed hauled up among
the bushes, was missing, and we concluded that they were close to us;
this proved to be the case, for no sooner had we cleared the point, than
the natives sallied forth from the thicket, and, running up to their
middles in the water to within thirty yards of the vessel, set up a loud
shout which startled us not a little; for, busied as we were in securing
the anchor and making sail, our attention at the moment was otherwise
directed; and the first intimation that we had of their vicinity was from
the noise they made, which was accompanied by violent gestures and
pressing invitations for our return; but we continued on our way, and
disregarded all their solicitations. They were evidently very much
disappointed, since they expected to get some axes from us, for they made
the same signs as the Luxmore Head natives had done by repeatedly
imitating the action of chopping. On the south shore there were some
women and children under the protection of two natives, whose voices were
also loudly raised for our recall. The natives on our side were unarmed,
but two bundles of spears were detected, propped up against a tree, close
at hand. After some time they waded back to the shore, and slowly walked
towards our wooding-place, where they, of course, found a chisel that had
purposely been left for them upon the stump of a tree which had been
felled by our wooding-party.

As soon as we crossed the bar we anchored, in order to obtain some lunar
distances to fix the longitude of the port, as well as to bring up and
complete the chart of this part of the coast. During the day, the natives
remained at our wooding-place, and set the bushes on fire, the smoke of
which enveloped the horizon and the neighbouring coast.

The names of Port Hurd and Mount Hurd were given to the harbour and the
round-backed hill, after the late Captain Thomas Hurd of the Royal Navy,
the Hydrographer of the Admiralty; the outer bay was called Gordon Bay.

May 28.

We left Gordon Bay the next morning, and passed round its low South-West
extremity, which proved to be Captain Baudin's Cape Helvetius. From this
point the coast trends to the southward to Cape Fourcroy. In this
interval the shore is formed by cliffs of a very dark red colour, and,
half way between, is a projecting sandhill of remarkable appearance.

May 29 and 30.

During this and the following day we made very little progress. On the
30th at daylight we had a southerly wind; by eight o'clock we saw the
land in patches to the northward, and some low islands bearing east. The
land to the north was a part of the south side of Melville Island. The
wind being fresh from the eastward we attempted to beat to windward, with
the intention of anchoring near the islands, but the bottom was too rocky
to admit of it. We then endeavoured to pass between them and Melville
Island, but the ground was also so rocky and irregular that we desisted;
and after an unsuccessful attempt to reach the southern pass, we steered
off to the westward. This group was called Vernon's Islands. They are
situated in mid-channel of the Strait that separates Melville Island from
the main, which was named in honour of His Royal Highness the Duke of
Clarence. The group consists of four low islands; they are each
surrounded by a belt of mangroves, and are probably connected by reefs to
the south shore.

May 31.

The next morning after a stormy night we steered to the northward, and
made the south entrance of Apsley Strait, which was recognised by the
peculiar shape of Buchanan's Islets lying off it, one of which has a
flat-topped summit.

The time had now arrived for our leaving the coast: our provisions were
drawing to an end, and we had only a sufficiency of bread to carry us
back to Port Jackson, although we had been all the voyage upon a reduced
allowance: our water had also failed, and several casks which we had
calculated upon being full were found to be so bad that the water was
perfectly useless: these casks were made at Sydney, and proved, like our
bread casks, to have been made from the staves of salt-provision casks:
besides this defalcation, several puncheons were found empty, and it was
therefore doubly necessary that we should resort to Timor, without any
more delay.

We therefore bore up, and at four o'clock the coast was lost sight of

Latitude: 11 degrees 43 minutes 45 seconds.
Longitude: 129 degrees 47 minutes 0 seconds.

From this, having ran four miles and a half on a North-West course, we
passed over a small coral bank in thirteen fathoms; at eight o'clock, we
were in forty-two fathoms sandy mud.

1818. June 1.

But between midnight and four a.m., we passed over another coral bank, on
which the least water was eighteen fathoms.

June 2.

On the 2nd June, two small birds were caught; they proved to be the Java
swallow (Hirundo esculenta), the nest of which is esteemed as a great
delicacy, and is an article of trade between the Malays and Chinese.
Large quantities of pumice-stone were also seen floating on the water; on
one piece was found a sea centipede (Amphinome sp.), about four inches
long, covered with fine bristly hair; it was feeding upon two barnacles
(Lepas anatifera) which had attached themselves to the stone.

June 3.

This morning the high land of Timor was seen from North-North-West to
North-West 1/2 West; and at sunset the highest part bore North 70 degrees
West, 30 leagues off.

June 4.

At daybreak the 4th we were off the South-West point of the island, and
at nine o'clock entered the Strait of Samow; but, from light winds, we
did not get through it until after noon: at half past two o'clock we
anchored off the Dutch settlement of Coepang, at one-third of a mile from
Fort Concordia, the flag-staff of which bore South-South-East, in four
fathoms and a quarter brown sand and mud.

Transactions at Coepang.
Procure Water and Refreshments.
Description of the Town and Productions of the Island.
Account of the Trepang Fishery on the coast of New Holland.
Departure from Timor, and return to the North-west Coast.
Montebello Islands, and Barrow Island.
Leave the Coast.
Ship's company attacked with Dysentery.
Death of one of the crew.
Bass Strait, and arrival at Port Jackson.
Review of the Proceedings of the Voyage.

1818. June 5.

As soon as we anchored, I waited upon Mr. Hazaart, the Dutch Resident,
who received me politely, and proffered his personal assistance in
expediting the objects which we had in view. A house was offered for my
use, but as I purposed to make my visit as short as possible, it was

June 5 to 13.

The first object was to commence our watering, but the operation was
tedious, and attended with much delay, since it was necessary to send the
casks above the second bridge which crosses the river at the upper end of
the town at about half a mile from the entrance; when we had first to
wait for low tide, before the water was fresh enough to be used; and then
for half flood, before the boat could get out of the river to go on board
with her load. One turn, therefore, was as much as could be made during
the day, for it was requisite to use this precaution in filling our
casks, in order to ensure their contents being untainted by the salt

Our fuel had been completed at Port Hurd or we could have procured an
abundance at a convenient place about two miles to the westward of the

Our next object was to procure fresh provisions; but, as there was some
difficulty in obtaining a constant supply, Mr. Hazaart kindly presented
the ship's company with two karabows (young buffaloes) and a sufficiency
of vegetables to last until our own stock was provided; but in procuring
it we found much difficulty for want of money, and should not have been
able to have furnished ourselves with it had not Mr. Hazaart, at his own
personal inconvenience, given me money for a private bill, with which the
ship's provisions were purchased.

A small mountain sheep weighing from twelve to twenty pounds cost five
shillings: pigs, according to their size, from five to ten shillings
each: a karabow, weighing two hundred pounds, was charged twenty
shillings; and fowls were from four-pence to five-pence each. Of
vegetables we found an abundance, particularly of pumpions and cabbages,
in the market; but, as it was not the season for fruit, we only procured
some shaddocks, a few bad oranges, and some indifferent limes. At the
Chinese shops we procured rice, sugar-candy and coffee, but all these
articles were dear, and of very inferior quality: this supply was,
however, very acceptable to us; and, had we not afterwards discovered
that everything could have been procured at half the price, we should
have been well satisfied with our bargains.

A fleet of Malay proas were lying at anchor in the bay, and two small
trading vessels were in the river, one of which was undergoing a repair
that was very creditable to the shipwrights of this place.

The only exports that the island produces are bees-wax, honey and
sandal-wood; these are purchased and exported by the Chinese merchants,
who are plentifully distributed over the town, and form the greater
proportion of its population.* Its imports are very trifling, for the
Batavian government annually supplies the establishment of Coepang with
all its wants. The port-charges of twenty dollars for every one hundred
tons burden are so exorbitant that no merchant vessels that have not some
particular object in view, will visit this place; so that it has very
little communication with other parts, excepting through the Chinese
traders, who are constantly in motion. In fact it is, to use the
Resident's own words in describing it to me, "a poor place," and it seems
to be the policy of the Dutch government to keep it so, for no vessel is
allowed to trade with Coepang without having first visited either Batavia
or Amboyna, for the purpose of procuring permission.

(*Footnote. M. Arago, in his account of Captain de Freycinet's late
voyage round the world, estimates the inhabitants of Coepang at 1500, of
which 1000 are slaves, and 300 Chinese.)

The town is situated principally on the east bank of the river; which,
rising in the mountains, runs through a torrent-worn course until it
reaches the valley in which the town is built; here the tide meets it,
and at low water its bed is nearly dry: it communicates with the sea by a
shoal bar immediately under a rocky eminence on which the Fort of
Concordia is constructed. This fort, from its favourable situation,
protects the harbour and outer anchorage, as well as commands the town.

From the anchorage, Coepang presents a very picturesque and lively
appearance. The houses, a few of which are built of stone, are roofed
either with red tiles or thatch, and are shaded from the heat of the sun
by thick groves of trees; among which the breadfruit-tree, the Jaca, and
a species of hibiscus, were observed. The principal street, as is common
in most Dutch towns, is shaded by an avenue of trees, which forms an
agreeable walk, and is a great ornament to the place: at the upper end of
this street is the Company's garden, but its ruinous state shows that it
has long since ceased to be cultivated for the purpose for which it was
originally intended.

From the crowds of people in the streets a stranger would imagine it to
be a place of great trade, but the only employments of the inhabitants
seem to be those of fishing, making straw hats and carrying water; the
last occupation is principally performed by the women, who convey it in
vessels made of the broad part of the leaf of the fan palm, each
containing from two to three gallons. At the door of every house was seen
either a man or a woman plaiting straw hats, but this might only have
been occasioned by our great demand for them, for we purchased all that
could be made whilst we remained.

The detail of the coasts of the island, particularly of its south-eastern
side, on which there are many indentations and bays, is very little
known; the natives are reported generally to be favourably inclined to
Europeans, but it would be dangerous for an unarmed vessel to place too
much reliance upon the faith of a Timorean, whose thirst for powder might
induce him to commit any mischievous act to obtain it. The mountaineers
are described to be a warlike race of men, but since the cession of the
island to the Dutch by the King of Ternate, to whom it appears to have
originally belonged, they are distributed under the sovereignty of
different rajahs, to whom they pay implicit obedience; and are, in fact,
little better than mere slaves. On all parts of the coast good wholesome
water may be procured, excepting at Sesally on the north coast where it
is said to be of a noxious quality, occasioned by a tree or plant that
grows on its tanks, and taints the stream. Whatever suspicion there may
be attached to the truth of this story, there is no doubt of its being
far from wholesome; for it is avoided as poisonous by the people who
reside near it. I was curious to discover whether it was occasioned by
its flowing near one of the far-famed Poison trees (Upas antiar) of Java,
but my informant could not satisfy my inquiry.

The island is very mountainous, and some of its summits, as Captain
Flinders observes, may probably rival the Peak of Teneriffe. The country
slopes off towards the sea, and appears to be fertile and populous. The
recesses of the mountains and the rivulets that derive their sources from
them are said to be rich in gold and silver, and they are also reported
to yield copper and iron; it is, however, with great difficulty that gold
is procured, on account of a superstitious feeling on the part of the
mountaineers, who think it necessary to sacrifice a human life for every
bottle of gold dust that is collected; and this barbarous custom, we were
informed, is rigidly enforced by the chiefs, who, of course, take good
care that the lot does not fall upon their own heads. Gold is however
sometimes found in the bed of the river near Coepang, particularly after
occasional freshes from the mountains, and during the rainy season; but
it is detected in so small a quantity as hardly to repay the searchers
for their trouble.

Some years since, during the early possession of this part of the island
by the Dutch, sixty soldiers were sent into the country to search for
gold, but they were all killed by the mountaineers and since then no
further attempt has been made; indeed it would take a very considerable
force to effect it, on account of the warlike character of these people.
Their defensive mode of warfare is to distribute themselves in all
directions among the trees and rocks, from which, by their numbers and
unerring aim, they might easily destroy a much larger force than the
Dutch could afford to send against them from any of their possessions in
the east. The policy of the Dutch Government appears to be that of
keeping the world in ignorance of the importance and of the riches of
Timor; their object is, in fact, to retain possession of it at as little
expense as possible, merely to prevent any other country from occupying
it. Much jealousy exists between them and the Portuguese settlement of
Diely, on the northern side about fifty leagues from Coepang; and our
friend Mr. Hazaart was, at the time of our visit, in correspondence with
the government of Batavia to explain some political interference, on his
part, with that settlement.

The establishment at Coepang consists of the Resident, his Secretary, and
forty Javanese soldiers; besides which it possesses a militia consisting
of 1000 men who bring their own provisions and arms to the field; and by
this force the whole of the south-western part of the island, containing
a population of perhaps 50,000 people, is kept in subjection. To solve
this riddle, for such it must naturally appear to be, it should be
explained that the Dutch have been accustomed to act in the character of
mediator between the several rajahs; and whilst the Resident settles the
disputes, he takes care at the same time to keep up the balance of power
amongst these petty kings, who are constantly encroaching upon the
territories of each other, by calling to his aid and uniting the forces
of the other rajahs; through which policy he protects the oppressed, and
maintains his own power. A formidable chief, Louis, had, however, lately
become very troublesome, and was not so easily kept in subjection. A
short time previous to our arrival, he had been making some inroads upon
his neighbour, and Mr. Hazaart was collecting a force to oppose and drive
him back. Whilst we were at Coepang several rajahs had arrived from the
country to tender their services in marching against the usurper whom the
Resident, in his description of him to me, designated by the name of
Bonaparte. For this protection on the part of the Dutch, every rajah pays
an annual tribute, according to the extent of his territories; the net
amount of which, exceeding the sum of 10,000 rix dollars, very nearly if
not quite defrays the expenses of the establishment.

Captain Dampier visited this place in 1699 when he commanded the Roebuck;
and at first found great difficulty in obtaining refreshments. He has
given a very good and correct description of the island; and his account
offers much valuable information even as to its present state.* Since
that period it has certainly advanced a few paces in civilization; but in
other respects as to its natural and artificial productions it is
perfectly conformable to that account.

(*Footnote. Dampier volume 3 pages 157 to 179.)

Coepang is also known by its hospitable reception of Lieutenant (the late
Admiral) Bligh, after the mutiny of the Bounty's crew; and in 1802 it was
visited by Captain Flinders and Commodore Baudin: each of these
navigators have spoken warmly of the hospitality they experienced, and I
should be doing an injustice to Mr. Hazaart if I omitted a due
acknowledgment of his kind attention to our wants, and of the prompt
assistance he afforded us in our operations.

The presence of a fleet of Malay proas in the roads has been before
mentioned; it had just returned from an unsuccessful voyage on the south
coast of Timor in search of trepang. Dramah, the principal rajah of this
fleet, gave me the following information respecting the coast of New
Holland, which he had frequently visited in the command of a fleet that
annually frequents its shores.

The coast is called by them Marega, and has been known to them for many
years. A fleet to the number of 200* proas annually leaves Macassar for
this fishery; it sails in January during the westerly monsoon, and coasts
from island to island, until it reaches the North-East end of Timor, when
it steers South-East and South-South-East, which courses carry them to
the coast of New Holland; the body of the fleet then steers eastward,
leaving here and there a division of fifteen or sixteen proas, under the
command of an inferior rajah, who leads the fleet, and is always
implicitly obeyed. His proa is the only vessel that is provided with a
compass; it also has one or two swivels or small guns, and is perhaps
armed with muskets. Their provisions chiefly consist of rice and
coconuts; and their water, which during the westerly monsoon is easily
replenished on all parts of the coast, is carried in joints of bamboo.

(*Footnote. This number is perhaps very much exaggerated.)

The method of curing the trepang is thus described by Captain Flinders:
"They get the trepang by diving, in from three to eight fathoms water;
and where it is abundant, a man will bring up eight or ten at a time. The
mode of preserving it is this: the animal is split down on one side,
boiled, and pressed with a weight of stones; then stretched open by slips
of bamboo, dried in the sun, and afterwards in smoke, when it is fit to
be put away in bags, but requires frequent exposure to the sun. A
thousand trepang make a picol, of about 125 Dutch pounds; and 100 picols
are a cargo for a proa. It is carried to Timor and sold to the Chinese,
who meet them there; and when all the proas are assembled, the fleet
returns to Macassar. By Timor, seemed to be meant Timor-laoet; for when I
inquired concerning the English, Dutch, and Portuguese there, Pobasso
(the rajah in command) knew nothing of them: he had heard of Coepang, a
Dutch settlement, but said it was upon another island.

"There are two kinds of trepang. The black, called baatoo, is sold to the
Chinese for forty dollars the picol; the white, or gray, called koro, is
worth no more than twenty. The baatoo seems to be what we found upon the
coral reefs near the Northumberland Islands; and were a colony
established in Broad Sound or Shoalwater Bay it might perhaps derive
considerable advantage from the trepang. In the Gulf of Carpentaria we
did not observe any other than the gray slug."*

(*Footnote. Flinders volume 2 page 231.)

After having fished along the coast to the eastward until the westerly
monsoon breaks up, they return, and by the last day of May each detached
fleet leaves the coast without waiting to collect into one body. On their
return they steer North-West, which brings them to some part of Timor,
from whence they easily retrace their steps to Macassar, where the
Chinese traders meet them and purchase their cargoes. At this time (1818)
the value of the trepang was from forty to fifty dollars a picol;* so
that if each vessel returns with 100 picols of trepang, her cargo will be
worth 5000 dollars. Besides trepang, they trade in sharks' fins and
birds' nests, the latter being worth about 3000 dollars the picol.

(*Footnote. The value of the trepang in 1822 was much less; the price had
fallen to twenty-five dollars the picol.)

Dramah informed me that there are several rivers upon the coast, but that
in procuring water from them they are generally attacked by the Maregas,
whom they describe as treacherous and hostile, and by whom they are
frequently defeated; for the Indians attack them only when they are
unprepared. Their small canoes are frequently stolen from them, which
accounts for the one we captured from the natives of Goulburn Island.

A perpetual warfare exists between them, so that it would be a difficult
matter for us to procure a friendly communication with a people who
cannot, of course, discriminate between us and the Malays. I regretted to
hear this, for our force was so small that I feared we should, in our
future visits to the coast, be frequently attacked, and perhaps be under
the necessity of convincing them of the destructive power of our weapons,
which they must first experience before they can dread their fatal

During our stay at Coepang the thermometer ranged between 75 and 91
degrees. The latitude of the flag-staff was observed by several
observations to be 10 degrees 9 minutes 40 seconds. No observations were
taken for the longitude, on account of my being confined to my bed with
an attack of ague, the effects of which remained upon me for some time
afterwards; but the result of those made by Captain Flinders and
Commodore Baudin were so satisfactory that I had no hesitation in taking
the mean of the two, 123 degrees 35 minutes 46 seconds, for the
correction of my chronometers, and for the purpose of comparing with the
longitudes I had assigned to several parts of the coast that we had just

Before we sailed from Coepang the departure of a vessel for Batavia
furnished me with the opportunity of acquainting the Lords Commissioners
of the Admiralty of my progress; and the letter fortunately arrived in
time to contradict a report that had reached England of our "having been
wrecked on the South Coast at Cape Northumberland, and that all hands had
perished." This report could never be satisfactorily traced to its
author, but it was supposed to have been spread by the man who commanded
the Mermaid before she was purchased by the government, in revenge for
his having lost his employment.

On the 13th we completed everything, and embarked our stock.

June 14.

And the next morning at daylight we left the bay, and, passing round the
islands of Samow and Rottee, steered South-West by South (which was as
close to the wind as we could steer to make a direct course) across the
sea, which might, with some degree of propriety, be called the Great
Australian Strait; but this course was too westerly to admit of our
reaching the coast so far to the westward as was wished.

June 19.

On the 19th we passed over a coral bank with twenty-six fathoms in
latitude 19 degrees 30 minutes and longitude 116 degrees 15 minutes 30

The thermometer now ranged no higher than 76 1/2 degrees and obliged us
to resume our warmer clothing.

June 20.

At eight o'clock the next morning land was seen bearing South-West by
West, and proved to be that laid down by Captain Baudin, to the southward
of the Montebello Islands; one of which, Trimouille Island, was also
visible in the North-West. We bore up at noon, intending to pass round
the south end of the land, seen in West-South-West; but after running
about five miles further the land proved to be an island, and was called
after John Barrow, Esquire, one of the Secretaries of the Admiralty. We
were prevented from steering round it by a very extensive shoal that
stretches off its south end towards a low sandy islet, which proved to be
one that had been seen by us last February. Several attempts were made to
find a channel through the reef, but without success; and at sunset we
anchored to the north-west of the islet, from which several islands were
recognised by us, particularly a large one to the westward of Cape

As this part of the coast had been previously seen by us, we did not
delay any longer.

June 21.

But the following morning steered to the northward.

June 22.

The next day we passed round Trimouille Island and left the coast.

Off the North-West end of Trimouille Island is a considerable reef.
Hermite Island was not seen, but a small lump on the horizon, to the
south of the former, was probably Lowendal Island. As we did not see the
western side of Barrow's Island, that coast is laid down from M. De
Freycinet's chart; the land, although low, is considerably higher than
the usual elevation of the neighbouring islands, but it appeared to be
equally arid and sterile. Trimouille Island appears scarcely better than
a cluster of dry rocks.

Off these islands we had much calm weather, during which we were
surrounded by myriads of fish, of which sharks, and small whales, called
by the whalers fin-backs, were the most conspicuous. The smaller kinds
consisted of bonetas, barracoutas, porpoises, and flying fish. A
voracious dolphin was harpooned, in the maw of which was a barracouta in
a half-digested state, and in the throat a flying fish, bitten in half,
waiting its turn to be swallowed; for its tail had not disappeared out of
the dolphin's mouth.

June 24 to 26.

For a few days we had light south-westerly winds, but they soon gave
place to the South-East trade, which carried us quickly to the
South-West. The situation assigned by the Dutch sloop to the Tryal Rocks
was passed, without our noticing any indication of their existence.

June 30.

On the 30th we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, between the 106th and
107th degree of east longitude; the South-East trade then died away, and
was succeeded by light baffling winds, between South-West and South, and
from that to East, attended with very cloudy damp weather, and frequent
squalls of heavy rain. This unwholesome state of the air increased the
number of our sick, for soon after leaving Timor the crew were attacked
by dysentery brought on by change of diet; and at one time the disease
wore a very alarming appearance.

1818. July 7.

Having reached with difficulty the latitude of 27 degrees 37 minutes and
longitude 104 degrees 51 minutes, a breeze freshened up, and gradually
veered from South-South-East to East, and East-North-East.

July 9 to 13.

Between the 9th and 13th (on which day we passed the meridian of Cape
Leeuwin) we had variable winds between North-East and North-West: on the
9th the wind blew a heavy gale, in which our jolly-boat was washed away,
and obliging us to bear up to the South-East prevented our seeing the
land about Cape Chatham, as had been intended.

July 14 to 23.

Between this and King's Island we had strong gales from the westward,
veering, at times, between north and south, with thick and sometimes
rainy weather. During the southerly winds the air was very cold, and
lowered the mercury to 47 and 49 degrees; but when the wind veered to the
north it rose to 55 degrees, and gave us considerable relief.

On the 23rd soundings were struck off King's Island

July 24.

And the next morning we entered Bass Strait by passing round the south
end of the island. Here George Speed, one of our seamen, breathed his
last; his death was occasioned by an excessive indulgence in the
vegetables and fruits obtained at Timor, and he had been sick ever since
we left that place; first with dysentery, and then with an intestinal

The weather was so bad when we passed through the south entrance to the
Strait that we could make no very particular observation upon Reid's
Rocks, but they appear to be correctly placed by Captain Flinders.

July 26.

We did not get through the Strait until the 26th. In passing the Pyramid
it was found to be placed five miles too much to the northward in Captain
Flinders' chart.

The weather was now thick with heavy rain, and the wind blowing a gale
from West-South-West. I became very anxious to arrive at Port Jackson;
for we had but five men who could keep watch. The damp weather had
attended us with little intermission since our passing Cape Leeuwin, and
our people had been constantly wet with the continued breaking over of
the sea: indeed the decks had only been twice dry, and that even for a
few hours, since we left that meridian.

July 27.

On the 27th, by sunset, we were abreast of Cape Howe.

July 29.

And on the 29th, at noon, the lighthouse on the south head of the port
was joyfully descried. At eight o'clock in the evening we entered the
heads, and anchored in Sydney Cove at midnight, after an absence of
thirty-one weeks and three days.

Upon reviewing the proceedings of the voyage, the result of which bore
but a small proportion to what we had yet to do, I saw, with no little
satisfaction, that I had been enabled to set at rest the two particular
points of my instructions, namely, the opening behind Rosemary Island,
and the examination of the great bay of Van Diemen.

Upon rounding the North-West Cape, we had been unfortunate in losing our
anchors, which very much crippled our proceedings, and prevented our
prosecuting the examination of the coast in so detailed a manner as we
otherwise might have done; for we possessed no resource to avail
ourselves of, if we had been so unfortunate as to get on shore. A series
of fine weather, however, on the first part, and a sheltered coast with
good anchorage on the latter part of the voyage, enabled us to carry on
the survey without accident; and nearly as much has been effected with
one anchor as could have been done had we possessed the whole. It
prevented, however, our examining the bottom of Exmouth Gulf, and our
landing upon Depuch Island. The latter was a great disappointment to us,
on account of the following description which M. Peron gives of the
island, in his historical account of Baudin's Voyage, from the report of
M. Ronsard, who visited it.

"Au seul aspect de cette ile, on pouvoit deja pressentir qu'elle etoit
d'une nature differente de toutes celles que nous avions vues jusqu'a ce
jour. En effet, les terres en etoient plus hautes, les formes plus
prononcees: a mesure qu'on put s'en rapprocher, la difference devint plus
sensible encore. Au lieu de ces cotes uniformement prolongees, qui
n'offroient aucune pointe, aucun piton, aucune eminence, on voyait se
dessiner sur cette ile des roches aigues, solitaires, qui, comme autant
d'aiguilles, sembloient s'elancer de la surface du sol. Toute l'ile etoit
volcanique; des prismes de basalte, le plus ordinairement pentaedres,
entasses les uns sur les autres, reposant le plus souvent sur leurs
angles, en constituoient la masse entiere. La s'elevoient comme des murs
de pierre de taille; ailleurs, se presentoient des especes de paves
basaltiques, analogues a ceux de la fameuse Chaussee des Geans. Dans
quelques endroits on observoit des excavations plus ou moins profondes;
les eaux des parties voisines s'y etoient reunies, et formoient des
especes de fontaines, dans chacune desquelles nos gens trouverent une
tres-petite quantite d'excellente eau ferrugineuse. Dans ces lieux plus
humides, la vegetation etoit plus active; on y remarquoit de beaux
arbustes et quelques arbres plus gros, qui constituoient de petits
bosquets tres-agreables; le reste de l'ile, avec une disposition
differente, offroit un coup d'oeil bien different aussi: parmi ces
monceaux de laves entassees sans ordre, regne une sterilite generale; et
la couleur noire de ces roches volcaniques ajoutoit encore a l'aspect
triste et monotone de cette petite ile. La marche y est difficile, a
cause des prismes de basalte qui, couches horizontalement sur le sol,
presentent leurs aretes aigues en saillantes et dehors."

M. Peron then quotes M. Depuch's (the mineralogist to the expedition)
report: "La couleur de ce basalte est d'un gris tirant sur le bleu; sa
contexture est tres-serree, son grain fin et d'apparence
petro-silicieuse; de petites lames brillantes et irregulierement situees
sont disseminees dans toute la masse; il ne fait aucune effervescence
avec les acides, et n'affecte pas sensiblement le barreau aimante; sa
partie exterieure a eprouve une espece d'alteration produite par les
molecules ferrugineuses: cette decomposition n'atteint pas ordinairement
au dela de 3 ou 4 millemetres de profondeur."

M. Peron then continues M. Ronsard's report: "M. Ronsard croit devoir
penser, d'apres la conformation generale et la couleur de la partie du
continent voisine, qu'elle est d'une nature semblable et volcanique.
C'eut ete, sans doute un objet d'autant plus important a verifier, que,
jusqu'alors, nous n'avions rien pu voir de volcanique sur la Nouvelle
Hollande, et que depuis lors encore, nous n'y avons jamais trouve aucun
produit de ce genre; mais notre commandant, sans s'inquieter d'une
phenomene qui se rattache cependant d'une maniere essentielle a la
geographie de cette portion de la Nouvelle Hollande, donna l'ordre de
poursuivre notre route."

(*Footnote. Peron Voyage de Decouvertes aux Terres Australes volume 1
page 130.)

The rise of the tide was found by the French officer who landed upon it
to be at least twenty-five feet, which fact of itself was sufficient to
have induced us to examine into the cause of so unusual a circumstance;
for the greatest rise that we had hitherto found was not more than eight
or nine feet.

The hills at the back of this group of islands, which Commodore Baudin
called L'Archipel Forestier, recede from the coast in the shape of an
amphitheatre, which made me suppose that the coast trended in and formed
a deep bay; but this still remains to be ascertained, and we quitted the
place with much regret: for it unquestionably presented a far more
interesting feature than any part that we had previously seen.

On our passage to the north coast we saw the Imperieuse and Clerke's
Shoals, and also discovered a third, the Mermaid's.

On the north coast we found some deep bays and excellent ports, and at
the bottom of the great bay of Van Diemen we discovered several rivers,
one of which we ascended for forty miles. The thickly-wooded shores of
the north coast bore a striking contrast to the sandy desert-looking
tract of coast we had previously seen, and inspired us with the hope of
finding, at a future time, a still greater improvement in the country
between the two extremes.

Mr. Cunningham made a very valuable and extensive collection of dried
plants and seeds; but, from the small size of our vessel, and the
constant occupation of myself and the two midshipmen who accompanied me,
we had neither space nor time to form any other collection of Natural
History than a few insects, and some specimens of the geology of those
parts where we had landed.

Visit to Van Diemen's Land, and examination of the entrance of Macquarie
Anchor in Pine Cove and cut wood.
Description of the Trees growing there.
Return to the entrance, and water at Outer Bay.
Interview with the Natives, and Vocabulary of their language.
Arrive at Hobart Town, and return to Port Jackson.

1818. December.

The construction of the charts of the preceding voyage, together with the
equipment of the vessel, fully occupied me until the month of December;
when, having some time to spare before we could leave Port Jackson on our
second voyage to the north coast, in consequence of its being the time
when the westerly monsoon prevails, I acquainted His Excellency the
Governor of my intention of surveying the entrance of Macquarie Harbour,
which had lately been discovered on the western coast of Van Diemen's
Land. To make my visit there as useful as possible to the colony, a
passage was offered to Mr. Justice Field, the Judge of the Supreme Court,
who was at that time about to proceed to Hobart Town to hold his court;
and as it was probable that his business would terminate about the time
of our return, it was arranged that the Mermaid should also convey him

December 24.

We left Sydney Cove on the 24th December.

December 25.

But did not clear the heads of the port until eight o'clock on the
following morning, when we sailed with a fresh wind from the North-East.

Red Point was passed soon after noon, at the back of which some of the
lately settled farms in the Five Island District were plainly
distinguished. The hills here recede from the coast, and form an
amphitheatre of rich grazing land, on which is the Lake Alowrie and Tom
Thumb's Lagoon of Captain Flinders.

Off Red Point, so named by Captain Cook (but which by the natives is
called Illawarra), are five small rocky islands. This group gives a name
to the district, which has proved a valuable acquisition to the colony.

About ten miles to the southward of Red Point the hills again approach
the coast; which then becomes steep and thickly wooded, until near to
Shoal Haven; when they again fall back, and form another large tract of
low country, which as yet is little known.

December 27.

On the 27th after sunset we passed Cape Howe and crossed the entrance of
Bass Strait with a heavy gale from the South-West.

1819. January 1.

At daylight on the 1st of January Schouten Island, on the east coast of
Van Diemen's Land, was seen; before dark Cape Pillar made its appearance.

January 2.

And at two o'clock the next afternoon the Mermaid was anchored off Hobart

On our arrival I learnt that a part of my object had been already
accomplished by a Mr. Florance, who had just returned from a partial
survey of Macquarie Harbour; but upon examining his chart I found it to
be merely a delineation of its coastline; without noticing the depth of
water or any of the numerous shoals which crowd the entrance of this
extraordinary harbour.

January 10.

As the most essential part therefore remained still to be performed, we
left Hobart Town on the 10th of January, and passed through
D'Entrecasteaux Channel; which is by the colonists at the Derwent
improperly called The Storm Bay Passage. By eight p.m. we were abreast of
the South Cape, when the wind veered round to the North-West, and
compelled us to stand to the southward.

January 12.

At daylight on the 12th we were abreast of the range of hills, one of
which Captain Flinders had named Mount Dewitt; and our course was held
parallel to the shore with a fresh breeze from South-South-East and fine
weather. Soon after noon we passed Point Hibbs; and at four o'clock
hauled round the point of land which forms the western head of the outer
road of Macquarie Harbour, which I named Cape Sorell, in compliment to
the Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land. Between this Cape and Point
Hibbs the coast is very rocky, and ought not to be approached. Off the
Cape, at the distance of a quarter of a mile, is a detached rock on which
the sea continually breaks.

It was dark before we reached an anchorage off the bar of the harbour;
having had to work against a strong South-South-East wind blowing
directly out. The anchorage was rather exposed to the North-West; but as
the weather had a settled appearance I was reconciled to remain for the
night, which turned out fine.

January 13.

At daylight the bar was sounded, and a buoy placed on its deepest part to
indicate the channel; on which, at that time of tide (about half-flood)
there was nine feet water: this was sufficient to allow us to pass it;
but in order to prevent delay, I caused the cutter to be lightened as
much as possible; and having reduced her draught to seven feet and a half
by emptying the water-casks, she was warped over the bar to an anchorage
between it and the entrance. As the cutter passed the shoalest part she
struck twice, but so lightly as to occasion neither damage nor delay.

January 13 to 16.

An anchorage was taken up in Outer Bay in order to sound the bar whilst
the weather was so favourable for the purpose, which employed us until
the 16th, when a westerly wind enabled us to enter the harbour; but, from
baffling winds and the ebbing tide, and the width of the entrance being
only seventy yards, we found a considerable difficulty in effecting it.
The anchor was dropped as soon as the cutter was inside, and she was
afterwards warped to a more convenient situation out of the strength of
the tide.

Here we remained during the evening, in order to obtain bearings from two
contiguous stations on the hills. Near one of them we found lying on the
rocks a bundle of garments, which, upon examination, were found to be of
colonial manufacture; they bore no marks of ever having been worn, and as
I afterwards found had been given by Mr. Florance to the natives; who,
disliking the confinement of clothes, had abandoned them as useless.

The next day we were employed in moving the vessel up the harbour to
Mount Wellington and in the examination of Channel Bay. In doing this a
brig passed us on her way out; she proved to be the Sophia of Hobart
Town, commanded by Mr. Kelly, the original discoverer of the place. He
had just procured a load of pine logs from Pine Cove at the North-East
corner of the harbour, and was now homeward bound. In the afternoon we
anchored off Round Head and Mr. Kelly came on board to assist me in
buoying and examining the channel, which bears his name in my plan, and
in which the deepest water in one part is but eight feet. In order that
the cutter might pass through this, for it was the only one that
communicated with the harbour, we were obliged to buoy it, since the
breadth was not more than thirty-five yards, and only six inches deeper
than the cutter's draught of water.

January 19 to 21.

While our people were at dinner, a party of natives came to the verge of
Round Head, and remained for some time calling to us. As soon as we had
dined, we landed, with the intention of communicating with them; they had
however left the place, and we returned on board without seeing them: the
following day, when I was away with the boat sounding the channels
towards Betsey's Island, they came down again, but seeing no boat near
the vessel they walked round to the Sophia, which was still at anchor
near Mount Wellington: we afterwards found that they had been induced to
go on board the brig, and were much pleased with their visit, and
gratified with the presents which Mr. Kelly gave them.

On the 21st with a breeze from the North-West we got under weigh and
passed through Kelly's Channel; but at eleven o'clock the wind fell, and
we were obliged to anchor upon the edge of the bank off River Point; we
had not, however, to wait long, for the breeze freshened up again, and we
arrived at Pine Cove in time to land and examine the place before sunset.

January 21 to 24.

On our way to the shore in our boat we disturbed two flights of black
swans who flew away at our approach. Having landed at the bottom of the
cove where the Sophia had obtained her cargo, we found the Huon
pine-trees, interspersed with many others of different species, growing
in great profusion, within three yards of the edge of the water, upon a
soil of decomposed vegetable matter, which in many parts was so soft that
we often suddenly sank ankle-deep, and occasionally up to the knees in
it: this swampy nature of the soil is to be attributed to the crowded
state of the trees; for they grow so close to each other as to prevent
the rays of the sun from penetrating to the soil.

The ground is also strewed with fallen trees, the stems of which are
covered with a thick coat of moss, in which seedlings of all the
varieties of trees and plants that grow here were springing up in the
prostrate stem of perhaps their parent tree; and it was not rare to see
large Huon pines of three feet in diameter rooted in this manner on the
trunk of a sound tree of even larger dimensions that had, perhaps, been
lying on the ground for centuries; while others were observed, in
appearance sound, and in shape perfect, and also covered with moss,
which, upon being trod upon, fell in and crumbled away.

The fructification of this tree, so called from the river, which was
named after Captain Huon Kermadie, who commanded L'Esperance under the
order of Admiral D'Entrecasteaux, never having been seen, its detection
was matter of much curiosity to Mr. Cunningham, who diligently examined
every tree that had been felled. It was, however, with some difficulty
that he succeeded in finding the flower, which was so minute as almost to
require a magnifying lens to observe it; it is a coniferous tree and was
supposed by Mr. Cunningham to be allied to dacrydium. Several saplings of
this wood were cut for studding-sail booms and oars, as also of the
Podocarpos aspleniifolia, Labillardiere; this latter tree is known to the
colonists by the name of Adventure Bay Pine, and grows on Bruny Island in
Storm Bay; but it is there very inferior in size to those of Pine Cove.

The Carpodontos lucida, or Australian snowdrop, of which Labillardiere
has given a figure in his account of Admiral D'Entrecasteaux's voyage,
was in full flower, and had a most beautiful appearance.

The following is a list of the several species of trees that grow in this
Cove, for which I am indebted to Mr. Cunningham:

COLUMN 1: Natural Orders, Jussieu.
COLUMN 2: Linn. Sex. Syst.
COLUMN 3: Name used by Colonists.
COLUMN 4: Ordinary Dimensions. Height in feet.
COLUMN 5: Ordinary Dimensions. Diameter at the Base.

Coniferae : Dacrydium sp.? : Huon Pine : 40 to 60 : 2 feet to 5 feet.

Coniferae : Podocarpos aspleniifolia, Labillardiere : Adventure Bay Yew,
or Pine : 40 to 50 : 12 to 16 inches.

Cunoniaceae : Weinmannia, sp. : Native Beech : 20 to 25 : 4 to 5 inches.

Amentaceae : Fagus : Native Birch : 40 : 12 to 14 inches.

Proteaceae : Cenarrhenes nitida. Labillardiere : Stinking Native Laurel :
20 to 25 : 8 inches.

Hypericineae : Carpodontos lucida. Labillardiere : Snowdrop Tree : 25 to
30 : 4 to 6 inches.

Mimoseae : Acacia melanoxylon. Brown. : Blackhearted Wattle, or Native
Ash : 40 : 8 to 10 inches.

Atherospermeae : Atherosperma moschata. Labillardiere : Sassafras : 30 to
35 : 5 to 8 inches.

Diosmeae : Zieria arborescens : Rue Tree : 12 to 16 : 3 to 4 inches.

Escalloneae Brown. : Anopteros glandulosa. Labillardiere :  Rose Bay : 15
to 20 : 3 to 5 inches.

Annonaceae : Tasmania Australis. Brown. : Spice Bark, or Tasman's Bark :
20 to 25 : 4 to 6 inches.

January 21 to 24.

On the 24th, having nearly expended our time and having ascertained the
forms of the shoals and completed the soundings of the channels in the
entrance of this truly remarkable harbour, we left Pine Cove on our
return: having a favourable wind we ran through Kelly's Channel and
anchored in Outer Bay, between Entrance Island and the bar, in order to
complete our water at the stream that runs over the beach, and to obtain
some sights on the Island for the rates of the chronometers. On
anchoring, several natives were seen on the beach calling to us, but the
wind was too fresh to allow of our communicating with them that day.

January 25.

But early the next morning, our boat being sent on shore with our empty
baricas and some casks for water, our party was amicably received by a
tribe of natives, consisting of six men and four old women; they came
forward unarmed, but as we afterwards found, their spears were concealed
close at hand.

Some presents were distributed amongst them, of which the most valuable,
in their estimation, were empty wine-bottles, which they called moke,
this word was however used by them for water also, so that it was
doubtful whether the word meant the article itself or the vessel that
contained it. Our familiarity increased so rapidly that by the time that
we had dug two wells to receive the water which was flowing over the
beach, they had become very inquisitive, and made no hesitation in
searching our pockets, and asking for everything they saw. One of the
men, upon being detected in the act of pilfering a piece of white paper
from Mr. Cunningham's specimen box, immediately dropped it, and drew
back, much alarmed for fear of punishment, and also ashamed of having
been discovered; but after a few angry looks from us, the paper was given
to him, and peace was soon restored.

Our dog, being a subject of much alarm, was fastened to the stern of our
boat; a circumstance which prevented their curiosity from extending
itself in that direction, and thus our arms were kept in convenient
readiness without their knowledge.

As soon as our boats were loaded and we had embarked the natives retired
to a bush; behind which we observed the heads of several children and
young women. As many as sixteen were counted; so that this tribe, or
family, might be composed of from twenty-five to thirty persons, of which
we only saw six who were grown men.

They were stouter and better proportioned than the natives of New South
Wales; and, unlike them, their hair was woolly: the only covering in use
amongst them was a kangaroo-skin, which they wore as a cloak over their
shoulders. On the return of the boat after breakfast, they did not make
their appearance, and it turned out that they had crossed over to the
sea-side in search of shellfish; but on the boats going in the afternoon
for a third turn of water, two natives whom we had seen in the morning
came towards us: one of them submitted his head to the effects of Mr.
Cunningham's scissors, which had, much to their gratification and
delight, clipped the hair and beard of one of our morning visitors: a
slight prick on the nose was not ill-naturedly taken by him, and excited
a laugh from his companion.

During the day the following specimen of their language was obtained by
Mr. Cunningham:--

Arm : Yir'-ra-wig.
Nose : Me-oun.
Fingers : War'-ra-nook.
Eyes : Nam'-mur-ruck.
Elbow : Nam-me-rick.
Ear : Goun-reek.
Hair of the head : Pipe, or Bi-pipe.
Beard : Ru-ing.
Nipple : Ner-ri-nook.
Knee : None.
Toes : Pe-une.
Teeth : Kouk.
Tongue : Mim.
Neck : Treek, or Lan-gar-ree.
Navel : Wy-lune.
Fire : Lope.
A gull (or a bird) : Tir-ru-rar.
Toe-nails : Wan-dit.
Stone : Jal-lop, or Lone.
Kangaroo : Rag-u-ar.
Kangaroo-skin : Lan-num-mock.
Water, or a vessel to carry it in : Moke.
Yes : Wa-ak.
Come here, or come back : Ar-gar.


Banksia australis : Tan-gan.
Archistroche lineare : Ta-bel-lak, or Le-vi-lack.
Corrrea rufa : Nirr.
Mesembryanthemum aequilaterale : Nu-ick.
Acacia sophora : Gur-we-er.
Melaleuca : Rone.
A tree : Pill-i-a ere-wig.

January 26.

Early the next morning we sailed over the bar, though not without
grounding, for the wind being from the westward we were obliged to make
several tacks, by which we necessarily approached the edge of the banks;
this accident however did not detain us and by one o'clock we passed
round Cape Sorell.

January 29.

On the 29th at eight a.m. the Mewstone was passed and the wind being
fresh from South-West we rounded the South-East Cape at nine o'clock, and
at sunset we were off Cape Frederick Hendrick, which is the northern head
of Adventure Bay: between this and Quoin, or Sloping Island, we stood off
and on during the night. At daylight we entered the Derwent River and
anchored off Hobart town at seven o'clock in the morning.

1819. February 7.

Here we remained until the 7th of February on which day the judge
embarked and we left the place on our return to Port Jackson.

February 14.

On the 14th at dusk we passed Botany Bay, and it was dark when we were
abreast of Port Jackson; but, being sufficiently acquainted with the
place, and favoured by the wind, we did not hesitate to enter; and
anchored off Sydney Cove at nine o'clock in the evening.

Departure from Port Jackson, and commence a running survey of the East
Examinations of Port Macquarie and the River Hastings in company with the
Lady Nelson, colonial brig, and assisted by Lieutenant Oxley, R.N., the
Surveyor-general of the Colony.
Leave Port Macquarie.
The Lady Nelson returns with the Surveyor-general to Port Jackson.
Enter the Barrier-reefs at Break-sea Spit.
Discover Rodd's Bay.
Visit the Percy Islands.
Pass through Whitsunday Passage, and anchor in Cleveland Bay.
Wood and water there.
Continue the examination of the East Coast towards Endeavour River;
anchoring progressively at Rockingham Bay, Fitzroy Island, Snapper
Island, and Weary Bay.
Interview with the Natives at Rockingham Bay, and loss of a boat off Cape
Arrival off Endeavour River.

1819. February 15 to May 7.

Between the period of my return from the Derwent and the second week of
March we were prevented from making any preparation for our second voyage
to the North Coast by an unusual continuance of the heavy rains incident
to that season; which caused three floods on the Hawkesbury and Nepean
Rivers and did considerable damage to the ripening crops. This
unfavourable weather so retarded our equipment that it was the middle of
April before we were ready for sea; after which time we experienced
further detention from not being able to complete our crew.

May 8.

But at length we sailed from Port Jackson on the 8th of May.

As it was my intention to take the northerly passage through Torres
Strait, I proposed, in my way up the East Coast, to examine Port
Macquarie; and, in order that his Excellency the Governor might be
informed of the result of our proceedings as soon as possible, Lieutenant
Oxley, R.N., the Surveyor-general of the colony, accompanied me in the
Lady Nelson, colonial brig.

May 9.

By noon the following day the church of King's Town,* in Port Hunter, was
seen. Between Cape Hawke and the Brothers we passed Wallis, Harrington's,
and Farquhar's Lakes: and, on the north side of the northernmost Brother,
we saw the entrance of Camden Haven; which, although deeper than the
Lakes, is only accessible for very small vessels.

(*Footnote. Now more generally known by the name of Newcastle.)

May 10.

The next morning we anchored off Port Macquarie; and whilst the Lady
Nelson was beating up to an anchorage Lieutenant Oxley accompanied me in
the whale-boat to examine the entrance.

In pulling in we got among the sand rollers on the north side, on which
the sea broke so heavy as at one time to endanger the boat's upsetting;
but fortunately we escaped with only the loss of an oar; after contending
for some time against the tide, which was ebbing with great strength, we
landed on the south side; when we were met by five natives, who had been
watching us all the morning, and had not been backward in their
invitations and entreaties for us to land. At first they kept aloof until
approached by Lieutenant Oxley, whom they soon recognised: after a short
interview in which they appeared to place the greatest confidence in all
our movements, we ascended the hill to observe the channel over the bar;
the water of which was so clear that the deepest part was easily seen. As
this was the principal object we did not delay longer on shore than was
necessary, and upon our return sounded the depth of water upon the bar
and in the channel, the particulars of which are detailed upon the plan
of the harbour.

May 11.

The next morning the two vessels were warped into the port; and by eleven
o'clock were anchored within a few yards of the south shore, and secured
to trees near the beach, close to a fresh-water stream which ran into the

May 12.

The following day we pulled three or four miles up the river; on the way
up two natives were seen in a canoe but on our approach they landed to
avoid us and quickly disappeared. The boat was kept in mid-stream and we
passed by without taking any notice of them. Half a mile further on we
put ashore on the south bank and took bearings to fix the position of our
station and the direction of the next reach upwards, which appeared to be
about three miles long and half a mile broad. We then returned to the

May 14.

And on the 14th Lieutenant Oxley and Mr. Roe accompanied me in one of our
boats upon the examination of the river.

After reaching our former station on the south bank we proceeded up the
long reach towards Black-man Point, on which a tribe of natives were
collected: the river is here divided into two streams; we followed that
which trended to the westward as it appeared to be the most considerable.
At the end of the next reach the river is again divided into two
branches, and as the southernmost was found upon trial to be the
shoalest, the other was followed. On our left was a small contracted arm,
which probably communicates with the lagoon on Rawdon Island; here we
landed to examine the trees which so thickly and beautifully cover both
banks: several sorts of large growth were noticed, among which was a tree
of the trichillieae, natural order Jussieu (Trichillia glandulosa), which
the colonists have flattered with the name of rosewood, and a ficus of
gigantic growth, both of which are very abundant. We landed at Point
Elizabeth and walked a mile back through a fine open country, well
timbered and richly clothed with luxuriant grass and apparently much
frequented by kangaroos.

From the edge of the bank Mount Cairncross, a remarkable round-topped
hill which is conspicuously seen from the coast over the entrance of the
port,* appeared over the next reach, and formed a rich picturesque
back-ground for the view.

(*Footnote. See Illustration: View of the Entrance of Port Macquarie.)

After refreshing ourselves, we re-embarked, and passed on our right a
shoal inlet, in which we saw a native's weir, for the purpose of taking
fish; it was formed by sticks stuck in the mud, and so close as to
prevent the retreat of such as were inside: three miles above this we
landed on an open grassy spot on the south bank, and pitched our tent for
the night.

About half an hour before we landed we heard the voices of natives in the
woods; who, after we passed by, embarked in two canoes and followed us
for some distance, but the near approach of night obliged us to look out
for a convenient spot to encamp upon; so that the natives, finding they
were unattended to, soon gave up their pursuit.

In the morning, before we embarked, our barica was filled at a water-hole
close at hand; on walking about a quarter of a mile back, we came to the
borders of a large circular plain, about one mile in diameter, covered
with reeds and other indications of its being a morass or lagoon.

We then pursued our way up the river; it soon trended sharply round to
the South-East and joined the main stream which we had unknowingly left
the preceding evening. There we had to unload and drag the boat over a
fall; but, as the ascent was not more than ten or twelve inches, no
difficulty was experienced in effecting it. Whilst thus employed, we were
visited by ten natives, some of whom, by being painted and ornamented in
a remarkable manner, were recognised as those who followed us last
evening: their timidity was at first very great, but our conduct gave
them confidence, and they very soon came to the boat, and assisted in
launching her into deeper water, for which service they were presented
with fishing hooks and lines, which they gladly received. Everything we
said or did was repeated by them with the most exact imitation; and
indeed they appeared to think they could not please us better than by
mimicking every motion that we made. Some biscuit was given them which
they pretended to eat, but on our looking aside were observed to spit it
out. They wished much to take us to their huts; but, the day being much
advanced without our having made any progress, we were obliged to decline
their invitation; and as soon as the boat was reloaded we took leave of
these friendly Indians, whose voices we heard until a turn of the river
hid their persons from our view. About two miles higher, at King's
River,* Lieutenant Oxley landed and recognised his former tracks which
were now much overgrown and nearly effaced; the marks of the axe were,
however, sufficiently evident for us to follow them for half a mile along
the banks of the river, when we re-embarked, and continued our course

(*Footnote. See Illustration: View of the River Hastings at its Junction
with King's River.)

The river now became much narrower, not being more than seventy or eighty
yards wide; four miles higher up we landed and joined Mr. Cunningham, who
was botanizing in the Lady Nelson's boat: this gentleman had overtaken us
about an hour before and passed on to look for a convenient place to
encamp for the night; but for want of a better situation, was obliged to
land in a brush, the banks of which were so thickly lined with trees and
climbing plants that we should have passed it if the station had not been
indicated to us by his boat made fast to the landing place.

Some rain fell during the night, but this inconvenience was trifling
compared to the discordant screams of a bird which had roosted over our
fires, and which the people called the cat-bird. The trichillia and the
ficus, before noticed, are abundant on these banks, and are all
intricately connected with each other by climbing plants which grow to an
incredible size, and hang down in rich clusters from the summit to the
root of the tree, tending considerably to beautify the richness of the

The woods included every tree of the soil and climate, excepting a white
and straight stemmed eucalyptus, which is common at Hunter's River, and
there called the Flooded Gum; it is used and reckoned valuable for spars,
but the few specimens that I have seen of it have been very brittle and
bad. Some of these trees were observed by us to be from fifty to sixty
feet high, perfectly straight, and without a fork for forty feet.

May 13.

The next morning our boats in company proceeded for two miles farther up;
in this space we crossed four falls, the last of which, running with
great rapidity, occasioned some difficulty and trouble in passing over
it: a little above this fall our exploration terminated, and we stopped
to examine the timber. Several cedar-trees (Cedrelea toona), of large
growth, were observed; one of which, being measured, was found to be ten
feet in diameter at the base.

The upper part of the river is studded with islets covered with the
Casuarina paludosa which is abundant in the swamps and low grounds at
Port Jackson, where the colonists call it the Swamp Oak. The river
appeared to be subject to inundations, for marks of floods were visible
in all parts, and some considerably beyond the banks.

On our return we landed at a high rocky head on the north bank, from
which a tract of open country appeared to recede. From hence Brown's
Bluff bore South 32 degrees West. This Bluff is a remarkable hill, and is
distinctly seen from the coast: its position was fixed by Mr. Oxley on
his last journey, who passing within a few miles, rode to its summit to
gain a view of the country, which he described as very extensive and
beautiful, and as having abundantly repaid him for his labour.

As we had before passed through the Loudon Branch, we now followed the
main stream, and on our way landed on the south bank, upon a piece of
open forest land, abundantly clothed with luxuriant grass and
moderate-sized timber. The water here began to taste brackish, but it was
quite fresh about a quarter of a mile higher up, above a spit of rocks
which nearly crosses the channel, leaving a passage of ten feet water,
over which there is a trifling fall. About three-quarters of a mile lower
down we landed on the north bank, on Rawdon Island, on the edge of the
swamp seen near our tent in the Loudon Branch.

We also landed at Black-man Point, and had an interview with twenty-five
natives; amongst whom we recognised several that had visited us at the
anchorage, and who appeared delighted and happy at meeting us again:
after spending half an hour with them we re-embarked, and arrived on
board by sunset.

Between this and the 20th our time was busily spent in laying down and
making further observations upon the soundings of the port and bar.

May 21.

On the 21st at highwater, having completed our object, we left the
harbour; and in steering over the bar found eleven feet water at about
thirty-five yards from the sunken rocks. The Lady Nelson, in following,
kept more over towards the north side of the channel and, being near the
edge of the sand rollers, had but nine feet.

On reaching the offing Lieutenant Oxley embarked in the Lady Nelson to
return to Port Jackson, and soon afterwards the two vessels parted

In consequence of the report made by Lieutenant Oxley to the Governor
upon the result of the expedition, an establishment has been since formed
at this harbour; which at present is used only as a penal settlement:
hitherto no settlers have been permitted to take their grants at Port
Macquarie; but when this is allowed it will, from the superiority of its
climate and the great extent of fine country in the interior, become a
very important and valuable dependency of the colony of New South Wales.

The natural productions of this place are, in a great measure, similar to
those of the neighbourhood of Port Jackson; but many plants were found
which are not known in the colony; and as these grow in all parts within
the tropic, the climate of Port Macquarie may naturally be suspected to
be favourable to the cotton-plant and the sugar-cane, neither of which
have yet been cultivated to the southward: among these plants, we found
the Pandanus pedunculatus, which Mr. Brown found in the Gulf of
Carpentaria, and many other parts within the tropic, in Captain Flinders'
voyage. The face of the hill on the south side of the entrance possesses
some good soil; and at the time of our visit* was covered with a
profusion of herbage, and studded with groups of banksia, which the
colonists call the honeysuckle; the wood of which is useful in
ship-building on account of the crooked growth of its stem.

(*Footnote. It is on this hill that the penal settlement of Port
Macquarie is now built, the situation having been selected at the
recommendation of Lieutenant Oxley. It was settled by Captain Allman of
the 48th regiment in the early part of the year 1821.)

The banks of the river on both sides were thickly wooded; in most parts
the country is open and grassy and is profusely timbered with the
varieties of eucalyptus that are common at Port Jackson. There is however
a great extent of brushland in which the soil is exceedingly rich, and in
which the trees grow to a large size; these, being covered with
parasitical plants and creepers of gigantic size, render the forest
almost impervious: it is in these brushes that the rosewood and
cedar-trees grow, and also the fig-tree before alluded to; this last tree
is of immense size and is remarkable for having its roots protruding from
the base of the stem, like huge buttresses, to the distance of several

The natives are numerous, but they appear to depend more upon hunting
than the sea for their subsistence. This I judged from the very inferior
state of their canoes which are very much less ingeniously formed than
even the frail ones of the Port Jackson natives; being merely sheets of
bark with the ends slightly gathered up to form a shallow concavity, in
which they stand and propel them by means of poles. Their huts are more
substantially constructed and more useful as dwellings than any to the
southward, and will contain eight or ten persons; while those to the
southward are seldom large enough to hold three; they are arched over and
form a dome with the opening on the land side; so that they are screened
from the cold sea-winds, which, unless they blow in the character of the
sea-breeze, are generally accompanied by rain. Kangaroos are very
numerous, and from their traces appeared of large size; but we saw
neither emus nor native dogs.

As a port this place will never be the resort of vessels of larger
burthen than 100 tons, there not being more than ten feet water on the
bar; which on account of the swell will not admit vessels of a greater
draught than nine feet: this is a great drawback upon its prosperity; but
the small coasting vessels from Sydney will be sufficiently large for the
purposes of conveying produce to Port Jackson. It cannot long remain as a
penal establishment for its utility in that respect is already lost,
since the convicts find their way back to the colony as soon as an
opportunity offers of escaping; and then, for fear of detection, remain
concealed in its outskirts, and are necessarily driven to plunder and rob
for subsistence.

A very great advantage attending the settling of this part is its free
communication with the interior, and with that vast space of fine country
situated between Lieutenant Oxley's Track on the parallel of 30 degrees,
and Bathurst. This region has lately (1823) been travelled over by my
indefatigable friend Mr. Cunningham and found to possess a large portion
of excellent soil and rich pasturage; it contains altogether at least
twelve millions of acres in which it would be difficult to discover a bad
tract of country of any extent; but as one-fourth part is the general
calculation in the colony for waste land, nine millions of the richest
country will be left for future colonization: many years however must
elapse before it can be occupied.

The description of the interior of New South Wales is so foreign to my
object, and so irrelevant to the subject before me that I must entreat
the indulgence of my reader for this digression; and return to the
Mermaid, already described as having left the port and parted company
with the Lady Nelson, conveying my friend Lieutenant Oxley to Port
Jackson, and leaving us to resume our voyage.

As soon as we had obtained an offing the wind freshened up to a strong
breeze from the westward, attended with squally and unfavourable weather;
but we were enabled to make some useful observations upon the coastline
as far as the next point to the southward of Smoky Cape; when night
obliged us to steer more off shore.

The country behind the beach was lined with natives' fires which were
kindled as we passed to attract our notice. To the southward of Smoky
Cape the land is very low and probably occupied by large lagoons.

May 22.

The next evening Mount Warning was seen from the deck although we were at
least seventy-eight miles from it.

May 23.

On the 23rd at noon our latitude was 28 degrees 9 minutes 5 seconds, when
the Mount bore South 58 degrees West (Magnetic). At sunset the wind died
away; and, from the land in the vicinity of the mountain indicating every
appearance of the existence of either a large sheet of water or an
opening of consequence, I was induced to remain two days to examine the
beach more narrowly; but, after beating about with a strong
south-easterly current which prevented my tracing the beach to the
northward of the Mount, and having only seen an inconsiderable opening
that communicates by a shoal channel with a small lagoon at the back of
the beach, I gave up the search; still without satisfying myself of the
non-existence of an inlet, which, if there be one, probably communicates
with the sea nearer to Point Danger.*

(*Footnote. Lieutenant Oxley has since (1823) discovered this to be the
case, for he found a stream emptying itself into the sea, by a bar
harbour close to Point Danger. Lieutenant Oxley called it the Tweed.)

Mount Warning is the summit of a range of hills which is either distinct
from others near it or separated from them by deep ravines. It is very
high and may be seen twenty-eight leagues from a ship's deck.
West-North-West from it is a much higher range but, having a more regular
outline than the mount, is not of so conspicuous a character. Several
detached ranges of hills lie between Mount Warning and the beach; they
are thickly covered with timber, amongst which was a pine, supposed to be
the same that Captain Flinders found growing on Entrance Island in Port
Bowen, which is 6 1/2 degrees more to the northward.* Mount Warning is on
the same parallel as Norfolk Island, where the Araucaria excelsa grows in
remarkable luxuriance and beauty and attains a very large size; if this
be the same tree, it is of very stunted growth.**

(*Footnote. Flinders volume 2 page 36.)

(**Footnote. Lieutenant Oxley, in his late expedition to Moreton Bay
(1823), found reason to doubt whether the pine that he found in the
Brisbane River was the Araucaria excelsa of Norfolk Island.)

The country in the vicinity of Mount Warning appears to be productive and
wooded; for although the hills are steep and rather precipitous, yet
their verdant and agreeable appearance augurs favourably for the
fertility of the valleys between them.

May 25.

Light winds retarded our progress along the coast until the evening of
the 25th, when the wind freshened up from the westward, and by the
following sunset we were abreast of Cape Moreton.

May 27.

The following morning part of the sandy peninsula was in sight.

May 28.

But we did not pass round Breaksea Spit until the next day. We then
steered across Hervey's Bay towards Bustard Bay and passed a small island
that was discovered by the ship Lady Elliot in 1816 and that had not yet
a place upon the chart of this part of the coast.

(*Footnote. See Appendix A Part 2.)

May 29.

The next day at noon we were off Bustard Bay and passed half a mile
without the dry rock which lies off its north end.

The course was now directed for Gatcombe Head of Port Curtis, whither it
had become necessary to proceed, to repair some little damage that we had
met with during the preceding night; as we proceeded a shoal opening
presented itself round the north head of Bustard Bay, probably
communicating with the inundated lands at the back: here the coast is
lined with rocky hills, on which we saw no timber but what was stunted.

The trending in of the land round the next point led us to the discovery
of a considerable inlet which had escaped Captain Flinders' observation.
On hauling round the point and steering towards what had at first the
appearance of being the principal opening, another presented itself to
the eastward, divided from the first by a projecting point (Middle Head);
which appeared to be well furnished with grass and trees, and was as
picturesque as it was prominent.

As this latter opening appeared to be more considerable than that which
trends round the west side of Middle Head and had at first occupied our
attention, we proceeded to examine it; and without difficulty found the
channel, with good and well-sheltered anchorage within the entrance. In
working in, the cutter took the ground on the south side of the port, but
was got off again without suffering any damage.

May 30.

In the morning we landed and ascended a hill on the west side of the bay,
whence we had an extensive prospect; but it did not impress us with any
better opinion of the utility or merits of the bay than that it would
afford shelter to moderate-sized vessels. It is a large sheet of water,
full of shoals, and probably communicates with the sea by a small opening
near the point
next to the northward of Bustard Bay; the dry rock off which was
distinctly seen over the land. There was also an appearance of its
communicating with the swamps at the head of Bustard Bay; but in that
direction the trees prevented my ascertaining it with certainty: the
opening to the westward of Middle Head appeared to trend to the
South-West through a low marsh; and to the southward and south-eastward
the face of the country is irregular and mountainous. The hills which
surround the bay are rocky; and although they are not deficient in wood
and grass the soil is very shallow; and the trees, principally of
eucalyptus, are of stunted growth.

1819. June 1.

Thick and rainy weather prevented our leaving this port, which was named
Rodd's Bay, until the 1st of June. At four o'clock in the afternoon we
hauled round Cape Capricorn and at dark anchored on the bank between that
projection and Cape Keppel.

June 2.

The next morning we resumed our course to the northward and passed inside
of Hummock Island and between Keppel's great Island and the First Lump.

As we passed Port Bowen we were near enough to the shore to observe the
anchorage under Entrance Island. In the evening we anchored about one
mile from the Pine Islets in the mouth of the opening round Island Head,
in four and three quarters fathoms, fine sand.

June 3.

At daylight the next morning we were steering a course for the Percy
Islands; on our way to which we passed three or four miles to the
eastward of the 3rd Northumberland Island, which is a steep rock crowned
with pine-trees.

At eleven o'clock we were half a mile from a low rock that has not
hitherto been noticed in the charts: it lies five miles North 15 degrees
East from the 3rd island; and being very low is dangerous for vessels
passing near it in the night; but with the 3rd island in sight it may be
easily avoided.

Steering on we passed inside the rock that lies off the west end of the
Percy Island, Number 1; and anchored in its westernmost sandy bay, to the
westward of the small Pine Islet, at about a quarter of a mile from the
shore, in two and a half fathoms. The bank being very steep, the
anchorage was not considered secure; but as the wind blew off the land
and the weather was fine I was reconciled to remain. Upon examining the
beach it was found that our water might be very conveniently completed at
a stream which ran over its east end. I therefore determined upon taking
this opportunity of filling our casks, as well as of repairing our small
whale-boat; whilst the sailmaker was employed in altering a tent, and a
part of our crew in cutting wood.

The birthday of our late venerable and good king was passed at this

June 5.

And the following morning (5th), our tasks being completed, we left the

This island having been already described by Captain Flinders, little is
left for me to say. The hills are intersected by numerous gullies and are
consequently supplied with streams: but the most convenient
watering-place for ships is the one we used, except during a northerly or
a westerly wind, when the practicability of landing on any part of the
north side of this island is very questionable; for the task was
difficult even with the wind blowing off the shore. Tracks of natives,
but not of recent date, were noticed. In our walks over the hills we saw
abundance of quails but no animals were observed; very few sea-birds
frequented the beaches perhaps on account of the contiguity of the
barrier reefs, upon which they can much more plentifully procure their

On the hills, which are very rocky, the grass grew luxuriantly, although
the soil is shallow and poor; but in the gullies Mr. Cunningham found
some good loamy ground, in which he sowed a few peach-stones, which would
doubtless thrive, were it not for the fires of the natives.

We saw very few pine-trees that exceeded forty feet in height, and the
cones were not yet formed. Mr. Cunningham remarked a great similarity
between the botanical productions of this part and of the north coast,
although there is a difference in latitude of ten degrees.

After weighing, the wind, which was at South-West, gradually died away.
During the evening we passed Beverly Group (the Five Island cluster of
Captain Flinders) and at sunset anchored in sixteen fathoms fine sand and
shells, near Double Isle.

June 6.

The whole of the next day and night was spent in endeavouring to approach
the main, but we made very little progress. During the day natives' fires
were burning on many of the islands and the coast of the main was
enveloped in smoke.

June 7.

At daylight on the 7th the cutter was about eight miles East by South
from Point Slade, with a projecting bluff cape in sight, which proved to
be Captain Cook's Cape Hilsborough.

The country in the vicinity and particularly to the southward of the Cape
is rocky and mountainous; but the lower grounds are verdant and well
clothed with timber; and, judging from the numerous fires along the
coast, it must be very populous; the islands near it are rocky and very
barren, but many of them being wooded with pine-tree have a picturesque

In the evening, having passed round the Cape, we anchored in Repulse Bay,
at about three miles from the shore, which is here low and fronted by a
chain of low islands, apparently connected by reefs. Water was seen over
the low land at the bottom of the bight in the South-West side of the
bay, and is probably a lagoon.

June 8.

The next morning we steered to the North-West to look at the head of
Repulse Bay; the bottom of which appears to be correctly described by
Captain Cook as being bounded by low land. I obtained a view of it from
the summit of one of the islands, named in my chart the Repulse Isles,
off which we anchored in the afternoon.

These islets are furnished with a very poor and shallow soil. On the
sides of the hills we noticed a species of xanthorrhoea, remarkable for
its stunted growth and for the curly habit of its leaves. Pumice-stone
was found at the foot of the hills, washed up, perhaps, by the tide; and
on the beach was a European ashen oar. Under the projecting rocks several
firing and sleeping places were observed which had been recently occupied
by the natives.

June 9.

The following morning we sailed and steered for Whitsunday Passage; a
little before noon, I landed with Mr. Roe and Mr. Cunningham in a small
bight round the north side of Cape Conway, for a meridional observation
and bearings.

This Cape is formed by steep rocky hills, rising to the height of nearly
800 feet above the sea; the sides of which were so steep and so
impenetrably covered by a thick underwood that we could not accomplish
its ascent; we were therefore obliged to confine our observations to the
beach. Tracks of natives were observed, and either a wrecked or a
worn-out canoe, made of bark, was lying near the ruins of two or three
bark huts.

Excellent water, supplied by a stream from the hills, was found just
within the beach, which is very steep and affords easy landing. In
moderate weather a ship may water here with great facility.

When we returned on board, the cutter was becalmed nearly abreast of
Pentecost Island, and was rapidly drifting in a direction towards the
west shore, on which course we soon shoaled the water from twenty-eight
to ten fathoms. The vessel being quite ungovernable, the boat was sent
ahead to tow her round, which we had scarcely time to do, before she was
carried by the tide over a bank of hard sand on which the least water was
three fathoms; fortunately for us it was nearly high water, or we should
have been left dry: its western edge was so steep that we were very
quickly in deep water again. We anchored at sunset in the centre of a
tide eddy under Pine Head, in sixteen fathoms sand and shells: the night
was passed without accident.

June 10.

The next morning we landed on the Island of which Pine Head is the
south-easternmost extremity and from its summit obtained an extensive set
of bearings.

The island possesses the same rocky character with the rest of this
group; but the soil, although shallow, nourished some luxuriant grass
which reached up to our middle and concealed the rocks that are
plentifully strewed over the ground. The trees are low and stunted, but
the steep slope of the head is covered with pines and forms one of the
most remarkable features of Whitsunday Passage.

Whilst we were on shore Mr. Bedwell shortened in the cable preparatory to
weighing; but on doing it the anchor tripped, and it was with difficulty
that the cutter was kept clear of the rocks, close to which she was
drifted by the eddies. On arriving on board, we steered to the northward
through Whitsunday Passage and afterwards stood towards Captain Cook's
Cape Gloucester, the extremity of which turned out to be an island
(Gloucester Island) of five miles long: it is separated from the real
Cape by a Strait, a mile and a half wide.

June 11.

On passing round Gloucester Island we saw Holborne Island which Captain
Cook discovered and named. We then hauled into Edgecumbe Bay, but as the
night was advancing had not time to explore its shores. We therefore
passed round Middle Island, which had escaped Captain Cook's observation,
and steered to the North-West, parallel with the shore of the main, which
appeared to be very low.

June 12.

The next morning we were steering towards Mount Upstart, and at noon
passed within two miles of its extremity. Behind the Mount, which rises
with remarkable abruptness from the low land in its rear, are two
prominent hills; the highest of which, Mount Abbott, has a peaked summit;
the irregular and mountainous appearance of the range upon which this
Mount stands, and a very evident break in the hills on its western side,
would lead one to suspect the existence of a river, of which the bay on
the western side of the Mount may be the mouth. There is also a bay on
the eastern side of Mount Upstart, which also has a river-like
appearance. In fact, it is not at all certain whether Mount Upstart may
not be an island, and the bay behind it the mouth of a considerable

The variation observed by Captain Cook off Mount Upstart was 9 degrees
East; but by an Azimuth observed by me close to the Cape, it was found
not more than 6 degrees 16 minutes East. The result of Captain Cook's
observation must therefore be attributed to some other cause than, as he
supposed, to a magnetical power in the hills of this promontory.

June 13.

At daylight of the 13th we passed within four miles of the extremity of
Cape Bowling-green, which, although it is very low and sandy, is not
destitute of wood or verdure; between Cape Bowling-green and the back
mountainous ranges, a distance of nearly thirty miles, the country
appears to rise gradually, and gave us reason to regret that the nature
of my instructions did not warrant our making a more particular
examination of this part of the coast, for it appears to offer a much
greater degree of interest and importance than any part of the southward
without the tropic. Indeed, this bay appeared to be equally promising in
its appearance with those near Mount Upstart; and the peculiar feature of
Cape Bowling-green, jutting out into the sea between them, considerably
increases the probability of there being more than one or two rivers of
importance hereabouts. The barren range, which has almost uninterruptedly
continued from the back of Cape Palmerston, a distance of 150 miles, here
ceases or retires, and leaves a gap of ten or twelve miles wide of low
land; to the North-West of which, Mount Eliot, a hill of considerable
height, rises rather abruptly; and, as the shores of the bay were not
distinctly traced, there is fair reason for presuming that there is a
river at its bottom.

June 14.

The next morning we steered round Cape Cleveland and passed close to some
straggling rocks on a reef that extends for four miles to the eastward of

Cape Cleveland is the extremity of a mountainous projection, and like
Mount Upstart rises abruptly from low land, by which it is separated from
the lofty range of Mount Eliot. The wooded and uneven character of the
land on its west side indicated so great a likelihood of our finding
fresh water that I was induced to despatch Mr. Bedwell to the shore to
ascertain whether a delay might be made profitable by completing our hold
with wood and water. His return bringing a favourable report, the cutter
was anchored in three fathoms, at about one mile from the extremity of
the Cape, bearing North 60 1/2 degrees  East.

June 14 to 15.

Wooding and watering parties immediately commenced operations, which
occupied them that and the following day.

June 15.

On the afternoon of the second day, I landed with Mr. Cunningham and Mr.
Roe to ascend one of the hills that overlooks the bay. After two hours'
climbing over huge rounded masses of granite, and penetrating through
thick bushes of underwood, we arrived only at a summit considerably
beneath the one we wished to reach; but as it was too late in the day to
proceed further we halted; and I took a set of angles and made some
memorandums for the sketch of the bay. A remarkable observation was here
made upon the magnetic influence of this land; the variation was observed
to be 10 degrees 32 minutes West, but on removing the compass eight yards
off, it only gave 2 degrees 50 minutes East. This in some degree
corresponds with Captain Cook's record of the irregularity of his compass
when he passed near this part of the coast, in consequence of which he
called the peaked island to the westward of the cape, Magnetical Island:
this irregularity, however, was not noticed by me in my observations near
the same spot; and the difference observed by him may very probably have
been occasioned by the ship's local attraction, which in those days was
unknown. The view obtained from this station was neither so useful nor so
extensive as I had expected: the coast for six miles back is low and
occupied by a large body of water; beyond which is a range of flat-topped
and precipitous rocky hills that appear to be inaccessible, and to form
almost an impenetrable barrier between the sea-coast and the interior.
From the hazy state of the atmosphere the Palm Islands were not visible:
sunset being near at hand we were obliged to hasten our descent, which,
by following the course of a torrent-worn gully, proved to be much
shorter and easier than, from our rugged and difficult ascent, we were
led to apprehend.

At the bottom of the hill the small stream that was trickling down the
gully, by which we descended, joined another of larger size running over
the beach into the sea, at about a quarter of a mile to the southward of
that from which we watered. At the junction of these streams we
discovered a native path winding among the high grass, which speedily
brought us to our boat.

June 16.

We remained at the anchorage the following day in order to obtain some
lunar distances; and in the evening Mr. Bedwell sounded across the bay
towards the south end of Magnetical Island, and also the channel between
that island and the main. The soundings therefore laid down are from his
report, from which it appears that there is a good and clear passage
through, and excellent anchorage upon a muddy bottom all over the bay.

No natives were seen during our visit, but the remains of nine huts were
counted in different parts of the bay, near the edge of the beach. The
inhabitants were not however far off, for the tracks of human feet as
well as those of a dog were noticed very recently imprinted on the
gravelly bed of the fresh-water stream; and we were probably watched by
them in all our proceedings. Near the extremity of the Cape some bamboo
was picked up, and also a fresh green coconut that appeared to have been
lately tapped for the milk. Heaps of pumice-stone were also noticed upon
the beach; not any of this production, however, had been met with

Hitherto, no coconut trees have been found on this continent; although so
great a portion of it is within the tropic and its north-east coast so
near to islands on which this fruit is abundant. Captain Cook imagined
that the husk of one, which his second Lieutenant, Mr. Gore, picked up at
Endeavour River, and which was covered with barnacles, came from the
Terra del Espiritu Santo of Quiros;* but, from the prevailing winds, it
would appear more likely to have been drifted from New Caledonia, which
island at that time was unknown to him; the fresh appearance of the
coconut seen by us renders, however, even this conclusion doubtful;
Captain Flinders also found one as far to the south as Shoal-water Bay.**

(*Footnote. Hawkesworth volume 3 page 164.)

(**Footnote. Flinders volume 2 page 49.)

Several kangaroos were started by our wooding party but none were taken.
In the gullies Mr. Cunningham reaped an excellent harvest, both of seeds
and plants.

Here as well as at every other place that we had landed upon within the
tropic, the air is crowded with a species of butterfly, a great many of
which were taken. It is doubtless the same species as that which Captain
Cook remarks as so plentiful in Thirsty Sound; he says, "we found also an
incredible number of butterflies, so that for the space of three or four
acres, the air was so crowded with them, that millions were to be seen in
every direction, at the same time, that every branch and twig were
covered with others that were not upon the wing."* The numbers seen by us
were indeed incredible; the stem of every grass-tree (xanthorrhoea) which
plant grows abundantly upon the hills, was covered with them, and on
their taking wing the air appeared, as it were, in perfect motion.

(*Footnote. Hawkesworth volume 3 page 125.)

It is a new species, and is described by my friend Mr. W.S. Macleay, in
the Appendix, under the name of Euploea hamata.

June 17.

On the 17th we left the bay and passed round the north end of Magnetical
Island. Several natives were seen on a sandy beach at the north end,
where deep gullies indicated the presence of fresh water. Our course was
then directed across Halifax Bay towards the Palm Islands, passing inside
a small rocky islet marked i, on the chart, and another of larger size,
k. In a South by East direction from these islands is an opening in the
land round which the sea was observed to trend; it was supposed to
communicate with the water seen from the heights of Cape Cleveland over
the land at the bottom of the bay; and it is probable, from the mist
which this morning occupied a considerable space of the low land fronting
the hills, that a large body of water exists there. Calms and light airs
detained us until two o'clock, when a fresh breeze sprung up from the
eastward, to which we made sail, but the glare of the sun, shining in the
direction of our course, obliged our hauling up to avoid the risk of
running thus dark with excess of bright upon any rocks or shoals that
might be in our way; and as the low coastline of this part of the bar was
distinctly traced, we steered towards the island marked 2, near which the
cutter was anchored, at eight o'clock, in eleven fathoms' mud.

June 18.

At eight o'clock the following morning we got under sail, but delayed by
light winds we were, at noon, within half a league of the island, 2. As
there was no immediate appearance of a breeze I landed on a steep beach,
at the North-West end of the island, whence the latitude was observed to
be 18 degrees 50 minutes 15 seconds, and from which I obtained a useful
set of bearings. Near our landing-place were some natives' huts and two
canoes; the former appeared to have been recently occupied, and were very
snug habitations. They were of a circular shape, and very ingeniously
constructed by twigs stuck in the ground and arched over, the ends being
artfully entwined so as to give support to each other; the whole was
covered with a thatch of dried grass and reeds; they were not larger than
two people could conveniently occupy. In one of the huts, which was of a
more elliptical shape and of larger dimensions than the other, was a
bunch of hair that had been recently clipped from either the head or
beard. This proves that these operations are not done solely by fire, as
Captain Cook supposed,* but by means of a sharp-edged shell, which must
be both tedious and painful to endure; and we have often witnessed the
delight shown by the natives at the speedy effect a pair of scissors has
produced upon the beard or hair. The canoes were not longer than eight
feet and would not safely carry more than two people; the ends were
stitched together by strips of the stem of the Flagellaria indica.

(*Footnote. Hawkesworth volume 3 page 229.)

Few palm-trees were seen, but at the large islands, according to Captain
Cook's account,* they are probably abundant. A considerable quantity of
pumice-stone was found, as is usual in every place that we have landed at
within the tropic, heaped up above the highwater mark. During the
afternoon we had little wind; in the evening we passed a mile and a half
to the eastward of a low and dangerous reef which escaped Captain Cook's
observation; the only part of it that was visible above the water were
two low rocks, but as the tide ebbed the craggy heads of several smaller
ones gradually uncovered, and at low water it is probably quite dry; we
passed it in ten fathoms. It is not probable that its extent is greater
than what is exposed at low water, but from its steepness it is very

(*Footnote. Hawkesworth volume 3 page 136.)

At sunset we anchored about four miles to the eastward of the position
assigned to a reef, on which the ship Lady Elliot struck, in 1815; but
saw nothing of it.

June 19.

At daybreak we resumed our voyage and steered for Cape Sandwich after
passing inside the Palm Island Group. We were now approaching Point
Hillock, which is a point of land projecting for two miles into the sea,
with a small hillock at its extremity; from which Captain Cook named it;
the land rises precipitously behind it to the height of about two
thousand feet and forms a mass of bare rocky hills of a singularly grand
and imposing appearance. It rises nearly perpendicularly from the lower
wooded hills at its base and is as abrupt on its land side as on that
which faces the sea. The summit extends from north to south for seven
miles and forms a narrow craggy ridge on which are several remarkable
peaks. It was called Mount Hinchinbrook and is visible from the deck for
eighteen leagues.

An opening was observed to trend round the rear of the Mount, and
probably separates it from the mainland. We passed half a mile outside
the low rock off Cape Sandwich, within a group of low rocky isles
(Brooke's Islands) and then steered towards a peaked hill, which was soon
afterwards found to be on the island laid down by Captain Cook in
Rockingham Bay, it now received the name of Goold Island. We then entered
Rockingham Bay and anchored at two miles off Goold Island.

On passing Cape Sandwich in the afternoon we observed several natives
walking on the shore; and, upon our anchoring, a party was also seen
collected round their huts, on the sandy beach at the west end of Goold
Island; and near them were seven canoes hauled up above the tide mark;
they had kindled a fire to attract our attention, but the day was too far
advanced to allow communicating with them that evening.

June 20.

At daylight the following morning I was much surprised by being told that
five canoes were paddling off to the cutter, four of which only held each
one native, but the fifth being rather larger contained two.

On approaching the cutter they laid off until invited to come alongside;
when they approached without the least alarm or hesitation, and made
signs for something to eat; some biscuit was given to them which they ate
and, unlike all other Australian savages, appeared to relish its taste.
Some little persuasion was necessary to induce them to venture on board;
but as soon as one mounted the ladder the others followed. Their
astonishment was considerably excited at everything that they saw,
particularly at our poultry and live stock. Fishing hooks and lines were
gladly received by them; and in return they gave us their baskets and
turtle pegs; they remained with us for half an hour; upon leaving the
vessel they pointed out their huts and invited us by signs to return
their visit.

As soon as they had left us Mr. Bedwell and Mr. Cunningham went to the
islet off the west end of Goold Island, and on their way met two other
canoes, containing three men, coming to the cutter from another part of
the bay; after a short communication with our party they paid us the
intended visit, and were soon induced to come on board, where they
remained for half an hour without betraying the least fear or anxiety for
their safety: before they took their leave we had clothed them with some
damaged slops; and in order to give each something, the feet of a pair of
worsted stockings were cut off to make socks for one, whilst the legs
were placed on another's arms; a leathern cap was given to each of them,
and thus accoutred, and making a most ridiculous appearance, they left
us, highly delighted with themselves and with the reception they had met

As soon as they reached a little distance they began to divest themselves
of their attire, and we had much amusement in witnessing the difficulty
under which the wearer of a shirt laboured to get it off.

Their canoes were not more than five feet long, and generally too small
for two people; two small strips of bark, five or six inches square,
serves the double purpose of paddling and for baling the water out, which
they are constantly obliged to do to prevent their canoe from sinking; in
shoal water the paddles are superseded by a pole, by which this fragile
bark is propelled. We endeavoured to persuade them to bring off some
spears to barter, for they had no weapon of any description with them,
but they evidently would not understand our meaning. In the evening our
gentlemen proceeded to return these visits, at the spot which was pointed
out by our morning guests: on landing they were met by the natives and
conducted to their huts, where they saw the whole of the male part of
this tribe, which consisted of fifteen, of whom two were old and
decrepit, and one of these was reduced to a perfect skeleton by ulcerated
sores on his legs that had eaten away the flesh and left large portions
of the bone bare; and this miserable object was wasting away without any
application or covering to his sores.

No teeth were deficient in their jaws; all had the septum narium
perforated, but without wearing any appendage in it. The only ornament
they appeared to possess was a bracelet of plaited hair, worn round the
upper arm. An open wicker basket, neatly and even tastefully made of
strips of the Flagellaria indica, was obtained from one of them by Mr.
Roe, in which they carry their food and fishing lines; besides which each
native has his gourd, the fruit of the Cucurbita lagenaria, which grows
plentifully on all parts of the beach, and furnishes a very useful vessel
to these simple savages for the purpose of carrying water.

At the north-east end of the sandy beach a fine stream was noticed, from
which water might with facility be obtained. Near this stream Mr.
Cunningham observed several of their ovens, similar to those used by the
natives of Taheite. A circular hole is dug, at the bottom of which is
placed a layer of flat stones, on which, after they have been heated by
fire, the meat is placed; this is covered by another layer of stones, and
over them they make a fire which very soon cooks their repast. In short,
the natives of this bay seem to be much more ingenious and to understand
better what is useful than the generality of their countrymen.*

(*Footnote. Lieutenant Jeffreys, of the Kangaroo, armed transport, on his
passage to Ceylon in 1815 communicated with these natives; they came on
board his vessel and conducted themselves in an amicable manner towards

June 21.

The next morning we left Rockingham Bay; and steering to the northward
passed within the three easternmost of the Family Islands, as the
Endeavour did, and landed on the north-easternmost of the group, where
the latitude was found to be 18 degrees 2 minutes 9 seconds. This island,
like the rest, is of small extent, and is surrounded by huge detached
rounded blocks of granite, over which it was not easy to pass. It rises
to a peaked summit of a moderate height, but the face of the hill is so
thickly covered with underwood and climbing plants as to render it
perfectly inaccessible.

Dunk Island, a little to the northward, is larger and higher, and is
remarkable for its double-peaked summit. No natives were seen in passing
these islands, but the smoke of their fires, as usual, lined the coast,
which here began to assume a more improved and favourable appearance: the
shore is diversified by projecting wooded hills and intervening sandy
bays; and, at the back, the hills are very high and separated from each
other by deep valleys, where there must be abundance of water and
probably good soil.

In the evening the anchor was dropped to the eastward of the two
southernmost islands of a group which was named after my friend Edward
Barnard, Esquire. We were followed all the afternoon by a large
hump-backed whale, a fish which appears to be numerous on all parts of
this coast within the reefs. The wind blew so fresh during the night that
having only the stream anchor down it had imperceptibly dragged through
the mud for nearly a mile to the north-west.

June 22.

At daylight we got under sail but the weather had clouded in and bore a
very unsettled appearance. After steering outside the easternmost island
of Barnard's Group we passed Double Point; two miles north of which a
small opening was seen trending in to the south-west. Between Double
Point and Frankland Islands Captain Cook did not see the coast, having
passed it during the night; we therefore traced it with some care, but
found nothing worth particular notice, being a continuity of sandy bays
formed by projecting heads, in some of which natives were observed

At 11 hours 30 minutes a.m. we passed Point Cooper. The summit of the
back hills (which were named by Mr. Cunningham's desire after John
Bellenden Ker, Esquire) now began to be enveloped in clouds, and the wind
to increase; and no meridional altitude was obtained, from the
unfortunate state of the weather. At one o'clock we passed between
Frankland's largest Island and a group of four smaller ones which are
connected together by a surrounding rocky reef. At four o'clock we
anchored in a bay on the north-west side of Fitzroy Island, at four miles
from the shore, in eleven and a half fathoms' mud, where we found
complete shelter from the wind which now blew a fresh gale from

June 23.

The weather continued so unfavourable all the following day that we
remained at the anchorage, and made our stay profitable by filling our
water-casks from a hollow at the back of the beach, which is composed
entirely of coral that has been washed up by the surf. The coral was of
various kinds, but a beautiful specimen of Porites clavaria was obtained
by one of our people who dived for it in two fathoms' water, within a few
yards of the shore. In many parts the coral had been consolidated into
large masses of solid rock.

Tracks of natives were seen in many parts of the island; and their beaten
paths were noticed leading from the beach to all parts of it; but it did
not appear that it was inhabited during our visit. This delay gave Mr.
Cunningham a good opportunity of increasing his botanical collection.
Among the various trees which grow upon this island he found a nutmeg
tree (Myristica cimicifera), two species of olive (Olea paniculata and
Notoloea punctata), and three palms, namely the Corypha australis or
large fan palm, the Seaforthia elegans, and another, remarkable for its
prickly leaves. We also found and procured seeds of Sophora tomentosa,
and a plant of the natural order scitamineae, Hellenia coerulea, Brown:
two parasitical plants of orchideae were found growing upon the bark of
trees in the shady place near our watering-place; one was Dendrobium
caniculatum, Brown; the other was also subsequently found at Cape Grafton
and is not yet described; it has oblong, three-nerved, thick and leathery
leaves; we saw no quadrupeds and but very few birds.

June 24.

On the 24th we left Fitzroy Island and, steering round Cape Grafton,
hauled in towards the centre of Trinity Bay. To the west of Cape Grafton
an opening was observed in the beach that bore every appearance of being
the mouth of a rivulet, from the broken and irregular form of the hills
behind it.

At noon our latitude was 16 degrees 28 minutes 48 seconds, and three
small islands were in sight ahead, which we passed to seaward of. They
are laid down by Captain Cook as one island, whereas they are distinctly
three, but all connected by a reef which was covered when we passed. At 2
hours 30 minutes p.m. we anchored under Snapper Island (so called by
Lieutenant Jeffreys), but found the anchorage more open than had been

Snapper Island is high and covered with a thick impenetrable mass of
underwood, but no fresh water was found. The ashes of a fireplace,
strewed around with broken shells, was the only trace seen of natives.
The beach, like that of Fitzroy Island, is composed of dead coral and is
fronted by rocks.

June 25.

We left this anchorage the next morning with a fresh breeze of wind from
south-east; as we steered round Cape Tribulation the sea ran so heavy
that our boat, which was towed astern, filled and overset, and in a
moment went to pieces. The wind had now increased to a gale, and the
weather threatened so much that we were induced to take advantage of a
bight to the northward of the Cape, in which we anchored at three
quarters of a mile from the mouth of a rivulet, the entrance of which was
blocked up by a ridge of rocks on which the water rippled; we were here
tolerably well sheltered by high land from the wind, and the water was
quite smooth.

June 26.

On the following day, the weather continued so unfavourable that we
remained at the anchorage, and Mr. Bedwell was sent to examine the
opening, which was called Blomfield's Rivulet. On his return he reported
the bar to be too shoal to admit an entrance to vessels of greater
draught than four feet, but that having passed it, the inlet runs up a
considerable distance, with soundings from three to four fathoms.

Near the entrance upon the bank of the inlet several huts were noticed,
and near them Mr. Bedwell found a canoe; which, being hollowed out of the
trunk of a tree, was of very different construction to any we had before
seen; its length was twenty-one feet, but its greatest breadth in the
bilge did not exceed fifteen inches, whilst at the gunwale the opening
was only from six to eight and a half inches wide; an outrigger,
projecting about two feet, was neatly attached to one side, which
prevented its liability to overset, and at each end was a projection,
from fifteen to twenty inches long, on which the natives carry their
fire, or sit; nothing was found in the canoe but two paddles and a long

The bay on which we had anchored was called, at first, Shelter Bay; but
it was afterwards changed to Weary Bay in consequence of Captain Cook's
having given that name to the coast in this vicinity.

The weather was so thick and unsettled during the afternoon, that we did
not leave this anchorage until nine o'clock the next morning.

June 27.

When it was found necessary that we should take advantage of the first
safe anchorage, where we might remain during the continuance of the bad
weather, as well as repair our losses and erect the boat that we had on
board in frame, to replace the one we had lately lost; as Endeavour River
would afford us the necessary convenience and shelter it was determined
that we should visit it, and as its distance from Weary Bay did not
exceed ten leagues, there was every reason to expect that we should reach
it early enough to enter before dark. At half past ten o'clock we passed
between the Hope Islands and the Reef, a. The course was then directed
for the hills on the south side of the entrance of Endeavour River, the
highest of which, a conspicuous peaked hill, received the name of Mount
Cook, in memorial of our celebrated navigator, who suffered so much
distress and anxiety at this place. The bay south of it was that which he
first examined for shelter after his ship had been got off the rocks, but
it was found to be shoal and unfit for his purpose.* It was then that
Endeavour River was discovered; and there, as is well known, the ship was
repaired sufficiently to enable her to proceed to Batavia.

(*Footnote. Hawkesworth volume 3 page 149.)

We arrived off the south head of Endeavour River early in the afternoon,
and anchored close to it in three fathoms, with the outer point bearing
South-East. The wind was too fresh to examine the bar until the evening,
and it was then too late to enter.

June 28.

But early the next morning the cutter was warped in, in doing which she
grounded on the north side of the bar in eight feet. As the water was
quite smooth, this little delay occasioned no damage, and by twelve
o'clock she was secured to the shore, within ten feet of a steep beach on
the south side of the entrance; in all probability the very same spot
that Captain Cook landed his stores upon forty-nine years ago.

Transactions at Endeavour River, and intercourse with the Natives.
Examine the River.
Geognostical Remarks.
Leave Endeavour River, and resume the examination of the coast.
Anchor among Howick's Group, and under Flinders' Group.
Explore Princess Charlotte's Bay, and the Islands and Reefs as far as
Cape York, anchoring in the way on various parts of the coast.
The cutter nearly wrecked at Escape River.
Loss of anchor under Turtle Island.
Pass round Cape York and through Torres Strait, by the Investigator's

1819. June 28.

As soon as the vessel was secured, the boat's frame was landed, and three
of our people commenced its erection. Previously however to this, the
precaution was taken of burning the grass, to avoid a repetition of the
revengeful and mischievous trick which the natives formerly played
Captain Cook; for in a fit of rage, at not being allowed to take away
some turtles that were lying on the ships' deck, they set fire to the
grass to windward of the tents, by which many stores and sails were

(*Footnote. Hawkesworth volume 3 page 177.)

The moment that a few embers from our fireplace were scattered under the
roots, the grass was in a blaze, and the flames rushed along with
frightful rapidity and destructive effect. Having thus very soon cleared
sufficient space for our purpose, a sail was suspended between two trees,
to shelter the people from the sun at their work upon the boat, the keel
of which was laid the same evening. In the afternoon we discovered two
streamlets near the tent, from which we obtained our water, and wood was
cut close to the beach.

Near the watering-place were some natives' bark-huts and gourds; and two
or three baskets, made of the leaf of the cabbage palm, were hanging on
the branches of the surrounding bushes. The owners of these implements
were not seen, but it was evident they were near at hand, from the recent
appearance of their traces; the bones of the kangaroo and scales of fish
were strewed about their fireplaces, and close by were ovens similar to
those of Goold Island.

June 29.

The following day Mr. Cunningham, being in search of plants, fell in with
a party of natives consisting of ten or twelve men; two of them carried
each a bundle of spears and a throwing-stick: Mr. Cunningham endeavoured
to persuade the three foremost to approach, but they were alarmed at a
dog that was with him; seeing this he sent away the only man who
accompanied him with the animal, and at last enticed them to draw near.
One of them was an elderly man on whose cheek was a recently-healed
spear-wound; after some little communication they were easily induced to
follow him towards our tent, but the moment they saw the cutter's mast
through the trees they stopped, and could not be prevailed upon to
advance a step nearer; and, after devoting some time in watching us from
the hills, walked away. Upon Mr. Cunningham's making his appearance with
the strangers, I went towards him, to prevail upon them to visit our
encampment, but they seemed more anxious that we should follow them,
intimating by signs that they would give us something to eat; neither
party, however, appearing inclined to yield to the other's invitation,
they soon went away.

June 30.

But the next day twelve natives boldly visited our watering party, and
followed them to the tent, where they remained some time watching our
movements with great attention. They repeatedly made signs for hatchets,
but evinced great aversion to a clasp-knife, although its use was shown
to them. Mr. Bedwell obtained a shield from one of them, of a crescented
shape, and painted with black stripes; it was made from the wood of the
Erythrina indica or coral tree, which grows abundantly near the
anchorage. This interview lasted two hours, at the end of which we parted
mutually satisfied with each other. Mr. Cunningham saw a kangaroo in one
of his walks, but on mentioning the name of the animal, accompanied by a
gesture descriptive of its leap, the natives did not appear to understand
what was meant, although it was from these very people that Captain Cook
obtained the name;* it was therefore thought to be possible, that in the
space of time elapsed since his visit, this word might have become

(*Footnote. Hawkesworth volume 3 page 174.)

1819. July 1.

The next day no natives came near us, perhaps by reason of the rainy

July 2.

But on the 2nd whilst our people were at the watering-place washing their
clothes, they were visited by twelve natives, some of whom were
strangers: one of them, an elderly man, who had his son with him, a
little boy of eight or nine years of age, appeared very morose and
captious: everything was done by our people to amuse and keep them in
good humour; but upon one of the sailors attempting to comb the head of
the youngster, the old gentleman became so violently enraged that Mr.
Bedwell found it necessary to send away the offender, in order to
conciliate them, for the whole party had armed themselves with stones.
Peace was thus restored, excepting with the individual before-mentioned,
who still continued to be very angry and sulky. When the people left off
washing to go on board to dinner they took their clothes with them, much
against the wish of the natives who made signs that they should be left
and intrusted to their care; this was however prudently and cautiously
refused, for the natives had become very inquisitive, and wished to
possess themselves of everything they saw: they then followed our party
to the tent and amused themselves about us during dinner. They appeared
to be particularly struck with the progress that we had made upon the
boat, which had by this time assumed its shape. Some of them wanted to go
on board, but not liking their appearance and fearful of a rupture by
being obliged to refuse them many things that were about the decks, and
which they would certainly ask for, I desired Mr. Bedwell to divert them
from their wish. After dinner our people returned to resume their
washing; and, taking their tubs and clothes, walked towards the
watering-place, which was about three hundred yards off. Soon afterwards
the natives took their leave,  intimating by signs that they were going
to eat; but upon passing by our people at their washing-tubs they
stopped, and endeavoured to persuade one of the sailors, whose fair
complexion led them to imagine that he was of the softer sex, to undress;
the man complied with their request so far as to take off his shirt, but
upon their requiring still further exposure, he declined it rather
unceremoniously, and dressing himself again returned to his occupation.
This opposition to their wishes incensed them so much that they could not
help showing it; they then wanted to take some of the clothes away by
force, and upon being prevented, their conduct evinced strong signs of an
impending rupture; and as two of the natives, one of whom had been on the
most friendly terms with us, had armed themselves with spears, which had
previously been concealed in the mangrove bushes close at hand, one of
our people was immediately despatched to the tent for a musket. The
spears were then divided amongst the natives who fixed them in their
throwing-sticks ready to throw. They then peremptorily insisted that our
people should retire, and leave their clothes behind them, but this being
again refused, they became highly enraged, and running off to a little
distance made a stand, and threw a spear which passed between three of
our people, and broke in the ground: seeing that it had not taken effect,
another spear was thrown which also fell harmless. At this moment the
muskets arrived, and were fired over their heads, upon which they started
off at full speed, and were quickly out of sight. The report of the
muskets soon brought us to the spot, and being informed of the
circumstance, I became alarmed for Mr. Cunningham's safety, who was alone
on an excursion; but as his route was known, Mr. Bedwell and Mr. Roe set
off with six men to protect his return; in this they were fortunately
successful, having met him about two miles off, just as he was about to
take a path that would have led him among the natives; who, had they seen
him, would certainly have revenged themselves for their previous defeat
and disappointment. They met him in the morning as he was going out, and
as they knew the direction in which he went they would certainly have
way-laid him.

Nothing more was heard of the Indians during the day, but this rupture
made us more watchful. A sentry was appointed on shore to protect the
carpenters, and at night four of our people slept close at hand: during
the day a masthead watch was kept to prevent surprise, for the grass
about us was so high that they might have approached unperceived and
wounded some of our people before we could have been aware of their

Our work however proceeded without molestation, and the only
inconvenience experienced was the confinement of Mr. Cunningham to the
vicinity of the tent.

July 2 to 4.

We saw no natives until Sunday the 4th when two, whose faces were not
familiar to us, came down to the end of the dry sand opposite the cutter
and beckoned for us: they had paddled across from the mangroves at the
back of the port to the low sandy point that forms the west end of the
long north sandy beach, behind which they had left their canoe. Mr.
Bedwell was sent to them in our largest boat, but on his approaching
them, and being within ten yards of the beach, they started and ran off
with considerable speed towards their canoe. When about half way to it
they stopped, and, upon looking back and observing that they were not
pursued, beckoned again. Upon seeing this manoeuvre, it was suspected
that they might have a strong party concealed at the back of the point,
to which they were anxious to decoy our people; the boat was therefore
called alongside and armed and again sent after them. By this time they
had embarked in their canoe and were paddling with all their strength
towards the mangroves on the opposite shore, pursued by our boat until it
was stopped by the shoals in the river; the natives, however, easily
shoved their canoe over it with poles and soon arrived at the opposite
bank, where they were met by several other natives, all of whom
immediately retired into the mangrove bushes which concealed them from
our view. This manoeuvre was evidently intended to decoy us into their
power, and served to increase our caution.

Soon afterwards their fires were seen about a mile behind the mangroves
and in the evening the canoe was observed to pass up the river with the
same two natives in it.

July 5.

On the 5th we landed at the long north sandy point, and measured a base
line of 231 chains from the point to the end of the beach, where it is
terminated by a rocky head that forms the base of a steep hill; this we
climbed, and from its summit obtained a very extensive view of the reefs
near the coast; but as the weather was too hazy to allow of our making
any observation upon distant objects, very few of the reefs in the offing
were distinctly seen.

On the beach we passed the wreck of a canoe, large enough to carry seven
or eight persons; it measured nineteen feet in length, and twenty-two
inches in the bilge, and appeared, like that of Blomfield's Rivulet, to
be made of the trunk of the Erythrina indica, hollowed out either by fire
or by some blunt tool. A piece of teak-wood, one side of which bore the
marks of green paint, was found washed up on the beach; it had probably
dropped or been thrown overboard from some ship passing by; several
coconuts which had been evidently washed on shore were also lying above
the tides' mark.

July 6.

The next day our boat was completed and painted. During our stay at this
harbour the weather was such as would have prevented our moving, even had
we no occupation to detain us; for since our arrival the wind had blown
little less than a constant gale from the South-East, accompanied with
thick rainy weather. This day however appearing finer, I ascended the
hill over the tent; but, on reaching the summit, thick weather set in,
and deprived me of a sight of the reefs in the offing for which I had
principally taken the walk. In our descent our dog started a kangaroo,
but it made its escape before we approached near enough to shoot it.

At night, owing to the strength of the tides, the stern anchor came home,
and the cutter swung across the tide.

July 7.

This compelled me to haul out to the bower anchor, and the next morning
the cutter was moored in the stream. In the afternoon we again ascended
the hills over the anchorage and had a more favourable opportunity of
seeing the reefs in the offing, several of which were set.

July 8.

The following morning Mr. Roe and Mr. Cunningham examined the river as
far as the boat could penetrate. From Mr. Roe's report the country was
low and of unpromising appearance. The river took its course by a very
tortuous channel through a low country: for two or three miles from the
entrance its banks are overrun with dense forests of mangroves; but
beyond this they are superseded by red earthy cliffs, on which was
growing abundance of the Hibiscus tiliaceus. Further back the country is
open and grassy, upon which a stunted eucalyptus is common; here Mr.
Cunningham found two species of grevillea, and the sago palm (Cycas
media) which also grows near the mouth of the river, above which the
Seaforthia elegans occasionally raised its towering head, and with its
picturesque foliage served to vary and enrich the scene.

Mr. Cunningham, in return for the plants he collected, sowed peach and
apricot stones in many parts near the banks.

The river is generally very shallow, but at nine miles from the mouth the
water is fresh. At the place where the party turned back the width was
not more than six yards. On their return they examined another arm on the
north side, which proving inconsiderable, and the evening being far
advanced, they did not delay to examine it.

July 10.

On the 10th our boat was launched and preparations were made for leaving
the place which has afforded us so good an opportunity of repairing our

The basis of the country in the vicinity of this river is evidently
granitic; and, from the abrupt and primitive appearance of the land about
Cape Tribulation and to the north of Weary Bay, there is every reason to
suppose that granite is also the principal feature of those mountains;
but the rocks that lie loosely scattered about the beaches and surface of
the hills on the south side of the entrance are of quartzose substance;
and this likewise is the character of the hills at the east end of the
long northern beach, where the rocks are coated with a quartzose crust,
that in its crumbled state forms a very unproductive soil. The hills on
the south side of the port recede from the banks of the river and form an
amphitheatre of low grassy land, and some tolerable soil upon the surface
of which, in many parts, we found large blocks of granite heaped one upon
another. Near the tent we found coal; but the presence of this mineral in
a primitive country, at an immense distance from any part where a coal
formation is known to exist, would puzzle the geologist, were I not to
explain all I know upon the subject. Upon referring to the late Sir
Joseph Banks's copy of the Endeavour's log (in the possession of my
friend Mr. Brown) I found the following remark, under date of 21st and
22nd June, 1770. "Employed getting our coals on shore." This is also
confirmed in the account of the voyage;* and, when it is taken into
consideration that we found it on no other part than the very spot that
Captain Cook's coals must, from our local knowledge of the place, have
been landed, the difficulty ceases; and there remains no doubt but that
it is a relic of that navigator's voyage, which must have been lying
undisturbed for nearly half a century.

(*Footnote. Hawkesworth volume 3 page 155.)

Among the varieties of seeds which were collected at this river were the
following: Grevillea gibbosa; a species of leea; a cassia; a species of
dalea, remarkable for its simple foliage; two species of melaleuca, one
bearing a white, the other a crimson flower; an acacia; two species of
the natural order convolvolaceae, namely, Ipomoea sp. and Ipomoea
gracilis; and a species of the natural order leguminosae allied to
galega; Erythrina indica or the coral-tree; several species of
eucalyptus; a xanthorrhoea; and a great number of other curious plants
which will appear whenever the catalogue of Mr. Cunningham's extensive
botanical collection is published.

July 11.

On the 11th at daybreak it was intended that we should leave the river,
but the weather being very thick and foggy with no wind, we were
compelled to remain. During the morning two natives, whom we afterwards
recognised to be the same that came down to the dry sands last Sunday,
were perceived walking from the north end of the long sandy beach towards
the point; and as they passed abreast of us they frequently hailed. Soon
after they had disappeared round the point they were seen to paddle in a
canoe towards the mangroves on the opposite shore; they were armed with
spears, and were perhaps returning from a hunting excursion. Soon after
this they were again perceived paddling along the edge of the mangroves,
apparently engaged in spearing fish with a fiz-gig; which the striker
used in a similar way to that of the natives of Port Jackson; but from
the leisurely manner in which they proceeded it was evidently their
intention to approach us under pretence of fishing.

They were soon lost sight of by the intervention of the land of the
south-east corner of the port, but in half an hour re-appeared behind the
point which was about fifty yards off. As soon as they found themselves
perceived they uttered some unintelligible words, and made signs of
friendship by patting their breasts; upon which Mr. Roe went in the
jolly-boat, and endeavoured to bring them alongside by keeping their
canoe close to his boat and gently pulling towards the vessel; but upon
their evincing symptoms of fear as they drew nigh he released them, and
beckoned them to follow, which they did for some few seconds; but then
gradually edging off, increased their distance from us; after this Mr.
Roe came on board and by our entirely disregarding their presence and
paying no attention to their movements, the natives assumed confidence
and landed to examine the place where our boat had been constructed,
which they did with great minuteness; upon this some biscuits were thrown
to them from the vessel, which they picked up and pretended to eat.
Finding that we were not inclined to take any further notice of them,
they soon afterwards re-embarked, and, paddling over to the opposite
shore, disappeared round the sandy point.

Early the next morning we succeeded in getting out of the port, but not
without difficulty on account of the baffling winds which blew in eddies
round the hill. After clearing the bar, the weather began to re-assume
its threatening appearance, but tired of the delay of waiting for fine
weather we determined to proceed, and steered for Cape Bedford.

July 12.

Having reached this the course was directed for Cape Flattery, on our way
to which we steered between the Three Isles Group and a low island. On
passing round Cape Flattery our course was directed to Point Lookout, and
within the Turtle Island Group, but to seaward of the islands, q. Shortly
afterwards the islands of Howick's Group were seen to seaward on our bow,
and other low isles ahead; and beyond these was Noble Island. Upon
reaching Howick's Group, a favourable place offering under the lee of the
southernmost island, Number 3, we hauled in and anchored in the strait or
channel that separates it from Number 2. The island, Number 3, being low,
protected us only from the swell, and as the wind blew fresh from the
South-East during the night, with a cross tide, the cutter rode very

July 13.

At four o'clock the next morning the cutter was found to have drifted at
least half a mile to leeward, but whether during the first or middle part
of the night it was not easy to discover; had the island Number 2 been a
quarter of a mile nearer, we should have had little chance of escaping
shipwreck, for the night was very dark, and her distance did not exceed
that when she was brought up by veering cable. As it was we were so near
to the rocks that in making preparations to weigh, we had every reason to
expect at least the loss of our anchor. We succeeded, however, in heaving
short, and hoisting the sails without starting it; but it soon after
tripped, and the cutter at the same time casting the wrong way, I was on
the point of ordering the cable to be cut from the bows, when the wind so
favoured us as to enable the cutter to weather the reef; all sail was
instantly made and happily we succeeded both in clearing the reef, which
we passed at the distance of a cables' length, and saving our anchor,
which was quickly hove up and secured.

After escaping this danger our course was directed to pass outside of
Noble Island, in our way to which four small wooded isles were left
inshore of our track, and named, at Mr. Roe's request, after Captain Sir
Christopher Cole, K.C.B. Between this group and Noble Island two dry
sands were observed. Cape Bowen, so named by Lieutenant Jeffreys, is a
remarkable projection in the hills, but not on the coast, for it rather
forms a bay. To the northward of it the hills fall back with some
appearance of a rivulet, but the sandy beach was traced from the
masthead, and the opening, if any, was suspected to be a stream
communicating with Ninian Bay. To the eastward of our course, abreast of
Point Barrow, is a shoal, s, about three miles long, whose rocks showed
their heads above the water; beyond this the weather was too hazy to
observe anything.

Point Barrow is eleven miles to the northward of Cape Bowen, and is a
narrow promontory forming the south head of a deep bay which I intended
to anchor in and examine; for it bore the name of PORT Ninian in
Lieutenant Jeffrey's chart; but on entering it our soundings rapidly
decreased to three and a half fathoms long before Point Barrow sheltered
us from the wind. After steering over to the north side and ascertaining
that the shoal water extended across the bay we stood out again, and
resumed a course along the most rugged and most stony land I ever saw;
the stones are all of rounded form and heaped up in a most extraordinary
and confused manner, as if it were effected by some extraordinary
convulsion of nature. Might they not have been of diluvian origin? This
promontory was named by Lieutenant Jeffreys, Cape Melville. At half past
one o'clock we passed between the straggling rocks which lie off the Cape
and Pipon Island; and as we hauled round Cape Melville into Bathurst Bay
the soundings suddenly decreased upon the edge of a bank, and our
endeavours to find anchorage here were unsuccessful; we therefore stood
across the bay towards Cape Flinders which is the extremity of a group of
islands of high and rugged character forming the western head of Bathurst

On approaching the Cape we saw with surprise the wreck of a vessel thrown
upon the rocks, with her masts and yards lying around her in the greatest
confusion; her hull was divided; the stem and forecastle deck were lying
in one place, and her stern frame with part of her quarterdeck in
another. At some distance from her there were some things like two boats
hauled up on the beach, but not the least sign of her crew.

As it was too late in the evening to examine any further we passed on,
and, rounding the Cape, anchored on its west side under a flat-topped
hill, in ten fathoms and a half, sandy mud.

July 14.

The next morning Mr. Bedwell and Mr. Cunningham accompanied me to examine
the wreck. On pulling round the Cape we found it impossible to land near
her on account of the surf which, from the freshness of the wind blowing
directly upon the place where she was thrown up, was breaking heavily; we
therefore landed on the opposite side of the bay and walked round to
examine the boats; but on reaching the place we found they were canoes of
the natives, of similar construction to that seen on the beach at
Endeavour River. In one of them was the apparatus for striking turtles
which has been noticed by Captain Cook.* Woodcut 4 is descriptive of the
instrument and of the manner in which it is used.

(*Footnote. Hawkesworth Coll. volume 3 page 232.)

On the branch of a tree near at hand were three turtles' heads; and since
they had been placed there the young branches had expanded, causing us to
wonder at first how the heads could have passed over them. These remains
of a turtle feast did not assimilate with our ideas of the character of
the Aborigines of this country, and it was then thought much more
probable to be a relic of the crew of the wrecked vessel; we have,
however, since frequently noticed the same thing, which could only have
been left by the natives. After examining the canoes we proceeded round
the bay towards the wreck; in our way to it we passed over a long coral
flat which had been left dry by the ebbing tide.

On arriving at the wreck a melancholy scene presented itself. It would
appear that she was thrown upon the rocks before she went to pieces; the
upper part of her stern and hull as far forward as her mizen chains were
entire and lying on the stern frame: about 100 yards off was her stem
with part of her forecastle deck, and some of her bow timbers; these were
the only connected parts remaining; the rest of her timbers, decks,
masts, and yards were lying in a confused heap between them. By creeping
under her stern, upon which her name was painted, she was found to be The
Frederick, which ship we remembered to have sailed from Port Jackson
during the early part of last year; search was made for any articles that
might be useful to the survivors but nothing was found: the only part
belonging to a boat that was noticed was a rudder, from which great hopes
were entertained that the crew were enabled, by means of their boats, to
escape from this inhospitable coast and effect an arrival at some
habitable port. Timor appeared to us to be the only probable place, but
we were there last June and nothing had then been heard of them. That the
crew had been upon the island was certain, for oars and spars were found
erected in the fissures of the rocks at the projections of the cape,
evidently placed there by the crew to attract the attention of vessels
passing. The mizen mast and main topmast had been cut away, and there
were a few marks of the axe upon her mainmast. The natives appeared to
have taken notice of the ironwork, for some spike nails were found about
their fireplaces; these traces, however, were not very recent, nor was it
probable that any natives were upon the island at the time of our visit.

The hills about Cape Flinders and the low shores of the bay in which we
found the wreck furnished Mr. Cunningham with a large collection of
plants and seeds, and among them was a species of melaleuca, not hitherto
known, and which Mr. Cunningham has described under the name of Melaleuca
foliosa; he also found a mimusops, and a grevillea (Grevillea gibbosa)
remarkable for its ligneous spherical capsules: and on the sandy shore at
the south end of the bay we found and procured a large quantity of the
bulbous roots of a crinum (angustifolium?).

July 15.

In a bay to the southward of the cutter's anchorage some mud oysters were
found, which were not ill flavoured. Shellfish was abundant on the flats
in Wreck Bay but we were unsuccessful with the hook and line, although
surrounded by fish of various descriptions.

July 16.

On the 16th, as soon as day dawned, we left this anchorage. At sunset we
anchored at the bottom of Princess Charlotte's Bay, in three fathoms,
from which the low shore was visible as far as west; an opening among the
back hills in the South-East probably affords a fresh stream, but as no
break was observed on the beach we did not examine it further. About four
miles from the anchorage was a small opening in the mangroves, but of too
little importance to take any notice of.

July 17.

At daylight the next morning we were under sail and steering up the west
side of the bay. The coast trends to the northward and continuing low and
wooded is fronted by a sandy beach; several shoals and a range of low
wooded islands, which were called Claremont Isles, now began to show
themselves as we proceeded, and at sunset we anchored for the night under
the island marked 2.

July 18.

The following day we passed onward, leaving several low wooded isles to
seaward, and steered obliquely towards the coast, which still possessed
the same low and wooded appearance as yesterday.

Cape Sidmouth now came in sight, and as we approached it the shoals
became much more numerous and dangerous, from being composed either of
sand or of a brown-coloured rock. In the offing they are all of coral,
the limits of which, from their colour, are so defined that you sail in
perfect security; but near Cape Sidmouth the shoals are not visible until
close by, and we were twice very nearly thrown upon them. As we advanced
we left several low woody isles to seaward of our track; and at sunset
anchored under a larger island than is usual hereabout, which, as it will
always be a stopping place for vessels bound up the coast, was named
Night Island.

July 19.

At nine o'clock the following morning, after a rainy disagreeable night,
we proceeded and steered parallel with the shore. At half past eleven
o'clock we were abreast and inshore of Sherrard's Islets. Steering
onwards we passed within a low sandy island covered with bushes, and to
seaward of a bare rock which lies a mile and a half south of Cape
Direction; round this projection the land trends to the westward and
forms a deep bay with Cape Weymouth, which Lieutenant Jeffreys has named
Lloyd's Bay. Upon rounding Cape Weymouth, the land was observed to trend
deeply in to the westward; and, as the bay appeared to offer shelter, I
was tempted to haul round Bligh's Restoration Island for the purpose of
anchoring; but in this we were prevented by the rocky quality of the
bottom. On our way to Forbes' Islands, which I wished to visit, our
course was intercepted by the reef which extended in a North-West and
South-East direction; we steered along its western side, at a quarter of
a mile from it, until five o'clock, when we hauled round its north end
and again steered for Forbes' Islands; but at sunset, being again impeded
by a shoal that crossed our course, we anchored under its lee in fifteen
fathoms mud, at about three or four hundred yards off its edge.

July 20.

The next morning was so thick and unfavourable that we delayed getting
under weigh until after eight o'clock, when, without its wearing a more
improved appearance, we steered to the north-west towards the mainland.
At ten o'clock, we passed between Piper's Islets and then steering north
passed at about three-quarters of a mile to the eastward of a small rocky
shoal on which were two small trees. This particular is recorded as it
may be interesting at some future time to watch the progress of this
islet, which is now in an infant state; it was named on the occasion
Young Island.

A high lump in the North-North-East was named Haggerston's Island; and to
the northward is a group of isles off Cape Grenville, which was named in
compliment to Sir Everard Home, Bart.

In steering round the group, we came upon Captain Cook's track, but left
it again by bearing away to the westward towards a bay on the north side
of Cape Grenville. Upon reaching within Sunday Island, so named by
Captain Bligh, soundings were struck in seven fathoms, but in three
heaves they decreased to two fathoms hard sand, although our distance
from the shore was at least three miles. We then bore away to the
northward and anchored in five fathoms and a half, at a mile from Sunday
Island, which bore between North 23 degrees and 44 degrees East
(magnetic). The bay I called Margaret Bay; its shores are low and
composed of a remarkable white sand.

July 21 to 22.

We were detained at this anchorage from thick and squally weather for two
days. On the 22nd the gentlemen visited Sunday Island. The island is
composed of a heap of rocks covered with a thickly-matted underwood, and
surrounded by a coral reef; it is about a mile and a half in
circumference and rather higher than the islands in its vicinity. It had
been visited by the natives some time since, but there were no traces of
turtle, nor anything to induce our gentlemen to repeat their visit.

July 24.

Early on the morning of the 24th we left Margaret Bay; and steering to
the northward passed close round the western side of the Bird Isles of
Captain Cook. Eight or ten natives were standing on the sandy point of
the north-easternmost islet, attentively engaged in watching us as we
passed by; and near them were two canoes hauled up on the beach. The
canoes appeared to be of similar construction to that seen at Endeavour
River; but certainly were not more than sixteen or eighteen feet in
length. The late Admiral Bligh, in his account of the Bounty's voyage,
has described one that he saw and measured at Sunday Island, the place we
had just left; it was thirty-three feet long and would hold twenty men;
but from his account it must have been of bark, for he says, "the canoe
was made of three pieces, the bottom entire, to which the sides were
sewed in the common way."* The largest canoe that we have seen did not
measure more than eighteen feet in length.

(*Footnote. Bligh's Voyage to the South Seas page 210.)

After leaving this group we experienced a considerable swell from the
South-East which would indicate this part of the coast to be less
occupied by reefs than it is more to the southward; particularly between
Cape Grenville and Cape Tribulation where the outer or barrier reefs are
nearer to the coast than in any other part.

Our course was held outside of two groups of islets one of which was
called Hannibal's, and the other McArthur's Group. At eleven o'clock a
larger islet was passed by; at half past twelve o'clock we were abreast
of Captain Cook's Orfordness, and of Captain Bligh's Pudding-Pan Hill;
continuing our course parallel to the coast we passed half a mile inside
of Cairncross Island which is about half a mile in length; it has a reef
extending for more than a mile off its
south point, under which a vessel might securely anchor. At 3 hours 30
minutes p.m. Bligh's Turtle Island was seen, for which we steered; but,
attracted by the flattering appearance of an opening in Newcastle Bay, we
hauled in to examine it. As we stood towards it the soundings were very
regular until we were within the projecting points of the coast, when the
quality of the bottom changed from mud to sand; and with this the depth
began to decrease. The opening trended deeply in to the North-West and
bore the character of a river with a good port at its embouchure; the
heads of which were rocky and apparently bold, but the light colour of
the water between them indicated that its entrance was shoal, and would
prove both intricate and dangerous to pass. Sooner however than was
expected the water shoaled to three fathoms; and before it was possible
to avoid it the vessel struck: the helm was put up, but she continued to
beat on a hard sandy bottom as her head paid off. Some time elapsed, for
it was blowing strong, before the main sheet could be hauled in to gybe
the sail; during which the cutter was running along the shoal or bar in
ten feet water, which was not sufficient to float her; for she struck the
ground violently every time that the swell passed by. Upon the main boom
being got over, and the vessel's heel touching the ground at the same
instant, her head flew up in the wind, and she was very nearly thrown
back upon the bank. This was, however, fortunately prevented: in a few
seconds she reached deeper water and we providentially escaped a danger
which had so nearly proved fatal to the vessel and our lives; for had the
cutter remained a-ground on the bank during the night the sea was so
heavy that there would not have been the least vestige of her the
following morning. To commemorate this occurrence, I have distinguished
the opening with the name of Escape River.

Having reached an offing we bore up for Turtle Island, intending to pass
within it and anchor under its lee; but the appearance of the inner
channel being suspicious, the plan was altered and we passed outside. As
soon as we were to the northward of it we hauled in, but were prevented
from anchoring under its lee by a reef that extended for a considerable
distance off its north side. We were now rather critically placed for the
evening was closing in with every appearance of bad weather, and we were
obliged to anchor in a very exposed situation without any protection
either from the wind or sea. During the night the former blew hard from
the South-East with thick rainy weather; and, with tide, raised a short
deep swell, that caused the cutter to ride very uneasily at her anchor.

July 25.

At four o'clock in the morning the ring of the anchor broke and we
drifted a cable's length to leeward before another could be dropped. At
daylight the wind blew so hard as to prevent our picking up the broken
anchor and we proceeded towards Mount Adolphus, passing half a mile to
the eastward of Albany Islands that lie off the south-east end of Cape

As the soundings between Mount Adolphus and the Investigator's track to
the north of Wednesday and Hammond's Islands had not been previously laid
down by Captain Flinders, I determined on passing out that way; and after
clearing the channel between Mount Adolphus and Cape York, steered for
the North-East end of Wednesday Island, leaving the rock, a, a quarter of
a mile to the eastward of our course. Off the extremity of Cape York is
an island of conical shape separated from it by a very narrow rocky
channel. The land to the westward of this projection trends slightly in
and forms a sandy bay fronted by a reef and some rocky islets. The hills
at the back of Cape York are moderately high and rugged, and only covered
with a slight vegetation.

Mount Adolphus is high and flat topped and there was some appearance of a
good anchorage in a bight under its north-west side, where also the side
of the hill appeared to be thickly wooded, and worth a visit, but the
lateness of the hour did not permit the delay.

In passing near the rocky islet which lies off the south-east end of
Wednesday Island we narrowly escaped striking upon some rocks, two of
which were seen about fifty yards off under our lee bow, on which the sea
broke heavily.

As we passed round the north side of Wednesday Island, six natives were
observed running along the beach, waving their arms and hallooing to us:
previous to their appearance a large fire had been kindled by them in the
woods over the beach, evidently with a view to attract our attention, but
in vain, for we were too much occupied for the safety of the vessel to
attend to them.

In passing the rock off the north end of Hammond's Island the tide was
observed to be rushing past it, with great rapidity to the westward.

At half past one o'clock we hauled up towards the south end of Good's
Island, intending to anchor there for the night, that we might have the
whole of the next day to leave the Strait. About half a mile from the
shore the anchor was let go in seven fathoms gravelly bottom, but in
checking the cable the arm of the anchor broke. The strain in bringing up
was not so violent as to have caused the accident, had the anchor been
properly made; but to its ill shape, and being badly wrought, our
misfortune is to be attributed. It was made at Port Jackson. On another
occasion it might have caused the loss of the vessel; but fortunately a
few hours' daylight and a clear run before us enabled us to proceed, and
before sunset we passed Booby Island. A remarkable coincidence of our
losses upon the two voyages has now occurred: last year at the North-West
Cape we lost two anchors just as we were commencing the survey, and now,
on rounding the North-East Cape to commence our examination of the north
coast, we have encountered a similar loss, leaving us, in both instances,
only one bower anchor to carry on the survey.

Booby Island is a mere rock, the retreat of boobies (Pelecanus fiber,
Linn.) and turtles of the hawks-bill species. Some slight vegetation was
perceived upon it but it was so entirely covered with the excrement of
birds that it had the appearance of being white-washed. The number of
these birds was almost incredible, and they hovered over and about us as
we passed, as if to drive us from their haunt.

The loss of two anchors prevented our trusting the third while smarting
under our misfortune, or we should have anchored under Booby Island to
have obtained some sights for the time-keepers, as well as to have
furnished the crew with a fresh meal of turtle.

Eleven weeks had now elapsed since leaving Port Jackson; during which
time I had been able to lay down the different projections of the coast
and our track within the barrier reefs between the Percy Islands and Cape
York; besides having surveyed Port Macquarie, examined Rodd's Bay, and
constructed our boat at Endeavour River.

Until we passed Cape Grafton the weather was generally fine and
favourable for our purpose; but between that Cape and Torres Strait it
had been thick and cloudy with frequent rain; which not only increased
the danger of the navigation, but also considerably retarded our
progress; and, from the continual dampness of the cabins below, which,
from the small size of the vessel and our not possessing the advantage of
a stove to dry them, it was impossible to prevent, occasioned much
sickness; but fortunately it was checked by our reaching a more
salubrious climate. The attention I was obliged to pay to the invalids
took up a great deal of my time which ought to have been otherwise and
more advantageously employed in the object of the voyage. Sailors, of all
other people, are the most incautious and careless in contracting
illness; but when attacked there are none that require more attendance
and nursing; besides, they were unwilling in the first instance to trust
to my ignorance, until increasing sickness obliged them, and then my fear
was that although I might be of service and check the disorder, their
complaint was possibly not understood by me, and that eventually, instead
of curing, I might destroy my patient. And to these fears my mind was so
constantly alive that on some occasions I thought of little else.

Captain Cook thus describes the method by which the natives of Endeavour
River catch turtle: "For striking turtle they have a peg of wood, which
is about a foot long, and very well bearded; this fits into a socket, at
the end of a staff of light wood, about as thick as a man's wrist, and
about seven or eight feet long: to the staff is tied one end of a loose
line about three or four fathoms long, the other end of which is fastened
to the peg. To strike the turtle, the peg is fixed into the socket, and
when it has entered his body, and is retained there by the barb, the
staff flies off and serves for a float to trace their victim in the
water; it assists also to tire him, till they can overtake him with their
canoes and haul him on shore. One of these pegs, as I have mentioned
already, we found in the body of a turtle, which had healed up over it.
Their lines are from the thickness of a half-inch rope to the fineness of
a hair, and are made of some vegetable substance, but what in particular
we had no opportunity to learn." Hawkesworth's Coll. volume 3 page 232.

The above method differs only from that used by the natives of Rockingham
Bay and Cape Flinders; in that the float is another piece of light
buoyant wood--the staff being retained in his hand when the turtle is
struck. The reader will here recognize, in this instrument, a striking
resemblance to the oonak and katteelik, the weapons which Captain Parry
describes the Esquimaux to use in spearing the seal and whale. (Parry's
Second Voyage of Discovery pages 507 and 509.)

Cross the Gulf of Carpentaria, and resume the survey of the North Coast
at Wessel's Islands.
Castlereagh Bay.
Crocodile Islands.
Discovery and examination of Liverpool River.
Arrive at Goulburn Island.
Complete wood and water.
Attacked by the natives from the cliffs.
Leave Goulburn Island, and pass round Cape Van Diemen.
Resume the survey of the coast at Vernon's Islands in Clarence Strait.
Paterson Bay.
Peron Island.
Anson Bay.
Mr. Roe examines Port Keats.
Prevented from examining a deep opening round Point Pearce.
Discovery of Cambridge Gulf.
Lacrosse Island.
Examination of the Gulf.
Death of one of the crew.
Leave Cambridge Gulf.
Trace the coast to Cape Londonderry.

1819. July 26.

On our voyage from Torres Strait to the western head of the Gulf of
Carpentaria, which is Cape Arnhem, no incident occurred of sufficient
interest to be worth recording; but no sooner had we passed Torres Strait
than a very sensible difference was perceived in the temperature: the
thermometer was observed to range between 75 and 83 degrees, which was
about 3 degrees higher than it did on the south side of the Strait; this
change produced a drier air and finer weather and soon restored our
invalids to perfect health.

July 27.

Soon after daylight on the 27th Wessel's Islands, which had been seen the
preceding evening, were descried bearing from West-North-West to
South-West by West; and shortly afterwards lower land was observed more
to the northward, towards the extremity of which we steered.

The eastern side of Wessel's Islands presents a level aspect; only a few
shrubby trees appear at intervals to break the uniformity of its gently
undulating outline. The point, which is named Cape Wessel, is the
extremity of the northernmost island of the group and is separated from
that to the southward of it by a narrow and apparently a rocky strait.

On approaching within a mile and a half of the Cape we passed through a
strong rippling tide without having soundings with fifteen fathoms. Six
natives were seen sitting on the verge of the cliffs that overhang the
Cape, watching us as we passed; and farther on two more were observed
walking on the beach. On the west side of the Cape is a small sandy bay
in which there appeared to be good anchorage.

In passing this bay we fell into another strong tide race, in which the
sea curled and foamed about us as if we were in the midst of breakers;
but, as before, no bottom was found with fifteen fathoms. The water was
very thick, from the mud being stirred up by the violence of the tide,
which must have been setting at the rate of three miles and a half per
hour; for we were going nearly five knots by the log, and yet made
scarcely any way: we were therefore obliged to steer more off, to get out
of the influence of the tide, which proved to be the ebb setting to the

By a meridional observation at noon the latitude of the Cape was found to
be 10 degrees 59 1/4 minutes, which is 19 minutes more northerly than the
land which bounded Captain Flinders' view when he passed by in the
Cumberland. The breadth of these islands is very inconsiderable; for as
we sailed down their western coast the cliffs on their opposite sides
were occasionally discerned; and at one part half a mile appeared to be
the greatest breadth. The low and sandy character of the western sides of
these islands differs much from that of the opposite shore, where the
coastline is formed by steep rocky cliffs whose bases are washed by the
sea. The night was passed at anchor.

July 28.

And the next morning the cutter was, with the assistance of the flood
tide, making quick progress to the southward.

At noon we were abreast of the opening through which Captain Flinders
passed; it was called Cumberland Strait, after his little vessel. At one
o'clock some islands came in sight to the westward of our course
(South-West 1/2 South) between which and the range of Wessel's Islands I
intended to pass; but after standing on for some distance through the
channel against a strong tide setting at the rate of three miles and a
half per hour, it was perceived that the opening formed a communication
with Arnhem Bay. Being convinced of the fact we tacked and passed round
the northernmost extremity of the western range of islands, for doing
which we had nearly paid dear; a strong rippling was perceived to extend
for three miles off the point; but as it appeared to be occasioned by the
tide setting round it we stood on with the intention of going through
them. Near their edge soundings were suddenly obtained with nine fathoms
and successive casts decreased the depth to six, five, and three and
three-quarters fathoms; the helm was put a-lee to return but the wind at
the same moment dying away, the vessel became ungovernable, and was
drifted over the spit; fortunately however we found sufficient depth to
prevent striking. As soon as the danger was passed the water deepened to
nine, and in a few heaves we found no bottom with thirteen fathoms; the
night was passed at anchor.

July 29.

And the next morning we resumed our course to the southward in a parallel
direction with the coast; at noon our observation proved that the rocky
islets round which we passed last evening were those off Captain
Flinders' Point Dale. There was however an error of ten miles in the
latitude, which was so unusual an occurrence in the charts of that
navigator that for some time I doubted the justice of my suspicions; but
on referring to the account of his voyage it appeared that no meridional
observation was obtained by him for the latitude near this channel; and
also that the weather when he passed through was thick and cloudy. This
error therefore, when he was unassisted by an observation for his
latitude in a place where the tide sets at the rate of three or four
knots, did not appear at all improbable; and as my conjectures by
comparing our respective plans were soon afterwards confirmed, we hauled
in for the extremity of the land in sight.

The Strait to the eastward of Point Dale I have named after my friend
Robert Brown, Esquire, the profound botanist of that voyage.

In the evening we anchored about three miles from a low rocky island;
beyond which is an opening like a rivulet, but it was so inconsiderable
in appearance that I was not induced to examine it farther.

July 30.

The next evening we anchored at the bottom of a bay and inside of a group
of islands which appear to be the Crocodils Eylandts of the old charts.
The bay was called after the late Viscount Castlereagh, then Secretary of
State for the Foreign Department. Two or three small openings that were
noticed at the bottom of the bay are probably the embouchures of as many
rivulets. This part of the country is low and of uninteresting aspect;
dwarf timber appears to pervade the summits of the land near the coast,
and of so level an outline that it bears a strong resemblance to a
clipped hedge.

July 31.

At daylight we were enveloped in a dense fog which nearly concealed the
land; but on weighing two conspicuous points were set, by which I was
enabled to connect my survey. Soon afterwards the fog spread so thickly
over us that the land was entirely concealed; and as the water was shoal
we were obliged to anchor until the fog cleared off, when we again got
under weigh and ascertained the form of the south-west corner of the bay;
it is of very shoal approach: our anchorage at night was not more than
four miles and a half to the north-east of that of the evening before.

1819. August 1.

The next day we attempted to steer to sea between the islands but our
course was interrupted by a reef which connected the islets on either
side of us; being thus embayed, we were obliged to anchor, but as the
wind was light no danger was anticipated. Mr. Roe was sent in a boat to
sound about our anchorage: on his return he reported the water to be of
tolerably even depth, excepting to the southward where there was a spit,
on which the least water was four and three quarters fathoms, beyond
which it deepened again.

As the night advanced, the wind freshened from the South-East and
rendered our situation extremely unsafe. When the tide made against the
wind the swell rose and caused our only remaining anchor to drag; more
cable was instantly veered; but as the vessel did not bring up and we
were drifting towards the reef no alternative was left but to weigh and
keep under sail; which, during a long and dark night, and near so
extensive a reef, was running great risk. Our loss of anchors was now
much felt for no sooner were we under sail than the wind died away; and
from the heavy swell the cutter was so ungovernable that the vessel twice
missed stays in endeavouring to tack in shoal water; fortunately the
water deepened again on standing on, or nothing could have prevented our
going on shore. After plying to windward for an hour the weather tide
ceased; when the disadvantage of a lee tide was counterbalanced by
smoother water and a steadier breeze. We passed a very anxious night, but
without encountering any accident.

August 2.

With daybreak the breeze freshened; and at noon we were near the small
easternmost islet of the group. The afternoon was passed in steering
round the northern side of the island; but before sunset we had to alter
the course twice for shoal water, being at one time within half a mile of
a reef that was nearly dry.

During this night the cutter was kept under weigh.

August 3.

And at daylight was considerably to the westward of our reckoning from
the effect of a current. The land to the westward of the Crocodile
Islands trends deeply in, forming a bay in which two low wooded islands
were noticed. As we steered into it the water shoaled; and as there was
nothing to induce our persevering we steered round the next point of
land, and anchored at sunset to leeward of a shoal projecting in a
North-West direction from the point. The coast falls back round this
point and forms an unsheltered bay seven or eight miles deep.

August 4.

The following morning our course was held parallel with the shores of the
bay towards a point of land which afterwards proved to be the eastern
head of a deep opening.

To the northward of this point was an island and farther on to seaward a
dry sandbank. As we approached the point we were obliged to haul off for
there was evidently a shoal communication between it and the island, and
every appearance of its being connected with the sandbank in the offing.
The dark colour of the water on the other side of this line of
communication induced me to stand round the sandbank; when, as was
expected, we entered a deep channel leading towards the most distant
parts of the bight, which afterwards turned out to be the mouth of a
river. The sandbank was called Haul-round Islet and the island Entrance
Island. In passing between the latter and a reef on the western side of
the channel, about half or three-quarters of a mile from the shore, we
had fourteen fathoms mud; after which it gradually decreased in depth;
having reached the mouth of the river we anchored in three fathoms about
four miles within Entrance Island. The remainder of the day, which was
far advanced, was spent in making preparations for our examination of the
river; at low water the tide had fallen ten feet and the cutter took the
ground; but as it was on soft mud it was of little consequence.

August 5.

The following morning as soon as the ebb tide ceased I left the cutter in
a boat, accompanied by Messrs. Bedwell and Cunningham, and proceeded up
the river. The banks on either side were, for ten or twelve miles, so
thickly and impenetrably lined with very large mangroves as to defy all
attempts of landing; above this these trees were less abundant and the
banks were occasionally clear from fifty to two hundred yards in extent;
however the view thus obtained did not impress us with any flattering
idea of the country at the back. On passing the second open bank we
observed a canoe hauled up on the shore, and at a little distance farther
we saw another; these were the first indications we had observed of the
presence of natives, excepting the large fires that were burning a little
way in from the banks.

At the next open bank on the eastern side we put ashore to give the
boat's crew an opportunity of getting their dinner, and as we landed I
discharged my fowling-piece at some birds; upon ascending the bank we
found that the report of the gun had alarmed four natives, two of whom
were females with children on their backs; they were retreating in haste
towards a smoke, the fire of which was concealed from us by high grass:
as soon as they reached the fire they stopped and began to call out in
loud shrill tones, when they were soon surrounded by twenty-five natives
who immediately commenced hallooing and shouting to us in a menacing way;
after some consultation two of them advanced armed with spears; upon
which I ordered a musket to be brought from the boat, which was concealed
from their view by the bank of the river; seeing this the Indians stopped
and retreated to their party, who immediately set up a yell of loud and
angry cries accompanied with the most furious gesticulations. As the tide
was still flowing and I was not very anxious to communicate with these
people, from whose neighbours at Goulburn Island we had already
experienced much treachery, and who, if inclined to be quarrelsome,
might, from the small breadth of the river, considerably annoy and impede
our farther progress, we re-embarked and proceeded up the river under the
momentary expectation of either seeing or hearing them at every bend and
open bank; we were not, however, molested; and at sunset, as we had
reached a considerable distance from their encampment, and had not seen
any alligators, we landed to pass the night upon the shore, and soon
pitched our tent. We had, however, no sooner refreshed and composed
ourselves to rest than we were alarmed by a loud shout, and upon
listening attentively it was again heard. It was now our firm opinion
that we had landed in the vicinity of another tribe, who upon seeing our
fire had alarmed their companions.

The muskets were therefore placed in readiness and a watch set to give
our party warning if they approached. In the middle of the night the
noise was again heard, but upon being repeated several times it was
discovered that we had been deceived by the screams of a bird whose note
exactly resembled the human cry. Our fears of being attacked by the
natives being now dispelled, our party composed themselves again to rest,
but without obtaining any sleep in consequence of the immense swarms of
mosquitoes, which buzzing about in incredible numbers were not to be kept
from stinging us by any measures we could devise. The tent was very soon
deserted and many other places were tried in vain; the only method at all
successful, by which some respite was obtained, was by lying upon the
ground within two feet of the blaze of the fire; the heat and smoke of
which, with the danger of our clothes catching fire, were insignificant
inconveniences compared with the mosquitoes' stings; and those only who
placed themselves in this situation obtained a few hours' sleep.

August 6.

At daylight, begrimed with dirt and smoke, we re-embarked, and pulled
five miles further up the river, when its further examination was given
up; at this place its breadth was about twenty yards, and being high
water the greatest depth was twelve feet; at low water the channel must
be nearly dry. We did not reach the cutter until six o'clock in the
evening, much exhausted for want of rest, and from exposure to a powerful
sun, and a hot land wind that prevailed all day.

This river, which I have named the Liverpool, runs up from a well-formed
port about forty miles, taking in its way a very serpentine course; its
breadth at Entrance Island is about four miles; ten miles from the mouth
its width is about half a mile, after which it very gradually decreases;
at about fourteen miles from our anchorage the water is fresh at half
tide but at low water it might probably be obtained four or five miles
lower down. The bottom is muddy as are also the banks; and in consequence
the latter are only accessible at high tide, at which time they are
seldom more than two or three feet above the water's edge. The country
within is very level, and appeared during the wet season to be
occasionally inundated: the soil where we landed is a sour stiff clay on
which grew an arundinaceous grass.

At one place where the bank was about fifteen feet high and formed of red
clay Mr. Cunningham landed, and collected a variety of interesting
plants. The open banks of the river were covered with salicorniae and
other common chenopodeae; and, in the midst of the usual assemblage of
rhizophoreae, the Avicennia tomentosa, Linn. was observed of remarkable
growth, being in many parts from fifty to sixty feet high, three feet in
diameter at the base, and of a straight tapering poplar shape.

Fish was plentiful and on the muddy banks, as the water fell, we saw
myriads of small amphibious fishes skipping about: they are probably of
the same kind as those seen by Captain Cook at Thirsty Sound and by
Captain Flinders at Keppel Bay,* on the east coast. Captain Cook
describes the species he saw to be a small fish, about the size of a
minnow, furnished with two very strong breast fins, by the assistance of
which it leaped away upon being approached, as nimbly as a frog. The fish
I have just noticed appeared to be of a very similar description,
excepting that it did not seem to avoid the water as that of Thirsty
Sound; for Captain Cook says in a subsequent paragraph that it preferred
the land to water; for it frequently leaped out of the sea, and pursued
its way upon dry ground, and chose rather to leap from stone to stone
than pass through the puddles of water in its way.**

(*Footnote. Flinders Terra Australis volume 2 page 26.)

(**Footnote. Hawkesworth volume 3 page 125.)

The egret that we had seen last voyage in the Alligator River was also
seen here; and white cockatoos were in large flights, but hawks were
unusually rare. The bird, called by the colonists at Port Jackson the
native companion (Ardea antigone, Linn.) was seen where the natives were.
As we returned several alligators swam past the boat; but they were
neither so large nor so numerous as those of the Alligator Rivers; the
largest not being more than twelve or thirteen feet long. Upon seeing
these monsters we congratulated ourselves on our escape, for had we known
of their existence in this river before we passed the night on its bank,
the danger of being surprised by the natives and the stings of the
mosquitoes would have dwindled into insignificance in comparison with the
presence of such voracious animals. On our return down the river a snake
was seen about five feet long, of a light red colour, but it escaped by
gliding into the long matted grass.

August 7.

On the 7th we left the river and proceeded to the westward; round Point
Hawkesbury the land falls back extending first in a south-west, and then
in a west-north-west direction, until it  was lost to our view behind a
point, which we afterwards discovered to be the Point Braithwaite of our
last voyage, the land of which had the appearance of being an island.

The bay thus formed was called Junction Bay; it was not examined, but,
from the direction of its trend, did not appear likely to afford much
interest, and could lead to no opening of importance.

August 8.

At eight o'clock the next morning we were near Goulburn Island, steering
through Macquarie Strait; and at eleven o'clock we anchored in South-west
Bay, near our former watering-place.

As soon as the vessel was secured I went on shore to examine whether
water could be obtained. In this object we were successful; and a basin
was dug to receive the water that drained through the cliffs; but, from
the advanced state of the dry season, it did not flow in half the
quantity that it did last year. The vegetation appeared to have suffered
much from drought and the grass, which at our last visit was long and
luxuriant, was now either parched up by the sun or destroyed by the
natives' fires, which at this time were burning on the low land in front
of Wellington Range.

In the evening I went to Bottle Rock, but found our bottle had been
removed; the rocks were covered with the eggs of terns, of which the
boat's crew collected eight dozen. On our return to the cutter a turtle
was noticed swimming towards the sandy beach at the north end of the bay,
which induced me to send a boat's crew on shore to watch its landing, but
in this they were unsuccessful. At their return at night they reported
having seen the recent marks of natives and of a dog on the beach.

August 9.

The following morning Mr. Bedwell went with a watering party to the
shore; the tide had however reached the hole, and spoilt what had been
collected during the night: after cleaning the hole again he visited our
last year's wooding-place where he found some remains of our cuttings;
but the greater part had been burnt. On his return to the watering-place
the well was full, and the party commenced their occupation: they had
however scarcely been twenty minutes employed before a shower of large
stones was thrown down upon them by a party of natives who suddenly
appeared on the verge of the cliff; but as suddenly retreated upon a
volley of muskets being fired over their heads from our boat, which we
had previously taken the precaution of mooring off the shore as we had
done last year. After this our people continued their work without being
further molested although many other attacks were premeditated by the
natives during the day, they having once or twice approached near the
verge of the cliffs; but their courage forsook them before they were
sufficiently near to throw either spears or stones with effect. A flag
was always hoisted on board whenever they were observed advancing, which
prepared our people on the beach to give them a reception. This signal
was certainly noticed by the natives, for they always stopped short the
moment it was displayed.

The run of water was so trifling that we could not procure more than from
sixty to one hundred gallons per day, for while the high tides lasted the
well in the morning was always found full of salt water. This
inconvenience did not occur last year because it was not found necessary
to dig a hole, the stream being of itself sufficiently abundant for our

August 10 to 16.

The delay however was not lost, inasmuch as it gave an opportunity of
finding new rates for the watches, as well as of obtaining a set of lunar
observations for the longitude.

On the 13th Mr. Bedwell went to Sims' Island for turtle but no recent
tracks were observed, excepting the remains of one that had a week before
furnished a repast to the natives. Near to this place were found
disinterred some of the bones of a human body that had been buried in a
grave close by, not longer than two or three months since. The footsteps
of the followers of the body to the grave were still visible in the sand,
but other steps appeared to have been more recently impressed; which must
have been those of the natives, who had dug the body up either from a
motive of curiosity or revenge.

I cannot account for the absence of many of the bones of the skeleton
unless the natives are cannibals, of which we have hitherto neither had
proofs nor entertained the least suspicion; dogs or birds may certainly
have carried them off, or the natives themselves may have removed them as
trophies or as evidences of their discovery to their companions on the
main. From the quantity of bamboo which was found scattered about the
spot there was every reason to conclude it was the grave of a Malay; and
according to the time of the Malay fleet's passing these islands last
year, they would at this time have quitted it about three months, which
will nearly agree with the appearance of the bones and the grave. On
returning on board our party brought a great quantity of the bulbous
roots of a crinum which grows abundantly among the rocks on Sims' Island.

August 17.

On the 17th our wood and water were embarked; the former having been
obtained from the verge of the cliff immediately over the watering-place
and thrown over, was readily conveyed to the boats. When our party first
mounted the cliffs a throwing stick, a broken spear, and some stones were
found that had evidently been left by the natives in their hasty retreat
when the muskets were fired: the spear was made of the mangrove tree,
hardened and made straight by exposing it to fire; and the throwing
stick, of hard wood, probably either of eucalyptus or casuarina; the
latter weapon was only two feet in length, and not near so large or long
as that used by the natives of Endeavour River. After the first day the
natives did not make their appearance; the smoke of their fires was
however observed over the south point of the island, about two miles off;
but notwithstanding the undisturbed manner in which our occupations
advanced, it was found necessary to keep an armed party always ready, for
there was no doubt that we were narrowly watched and the first unguarded
moment would have been taken advantage of by them for our annoyance, if
not to our loss. This precaution prevented my improving my last year's
survey of the main coast; and as there did not exist any good reason to
attach much importance to the sinuosities of the coast hereabout we did
not remain at this anchorage after our wooding and watering were
completed, from an anxiety to reach those parts which we had not yet
seen, and where we might expect a better chance of finding something of
greater interest.

Mr. Cunningham was confined to the vessel during our stay by a serious
attack of jaundice brought on by the fatiguing examination of Liverpool

The weather during our stay was throughout fine. A breeze usually sprung
up at daylight from South-East; and by noon veered to and blew fresh from
East, sometimes reaching North-East, from which quarter it was generally
strongest; as sunset approached the wind usually died away, and before
dark it was quite calm and continued so until the morning. The
temperature was much lower than we expected to find it, the thermometer
ranging only between 75 and 84 degrees; so that during the day, while the
sea breeze lasted, the heat was not at all oppressive.

August 18.

We left South-West Bay on the 18th at daybreak; but from light airs made
so little progress that it was not until the following afternoon that we
passed between McCluer's and New Year's Islands; between the latter and
Oxley's Island we passed over two coral banks, separated from each other
by a deep channel. On the easternmost bank were nine fathoms, but on the
other we found overfalls between five and seven fathoms. A native's fire
that was burning on Oxley's Island served to fix the position of this
last bank.

August 19.

The next morning we were off Cape Croker and at noon were passing Port
Essington; the projecting heads of which, at the distance of four or five
leagues, have the appearance of being two small islands, for the land at
the back and on either side is too low to be seen. Between Port Essington
and Cape Van Diemen we steered so as to see several parts of the coast of
Melville Island in order to compare their relative meridional distances
with those of last year's survey.

August 22.

The latter projection, which is the western limit of the north coast,
came in sight on the evening of the 22nd when its longitude was found to
be 130 degrees 19 minutes 33 seconds, which is 1 minute 2 seconds to the
westward of last year's observation; the mean therefore may be considered
as its true longitude, which is 130 degrees 20 minutes 30 seconds.

At sunset we were eleven miles from the Cape, bearing South 67 1/2
degrees West.

August 23.

And the next morning it was seen in the South-South-East. After rounding
it a course was steered down the western side of Bathurst Island.

August 26.

But it took us until the 26th before we passed Cape Fourcroy.

August 27.

On the following evening we made the land on the south side of Clarence
Strait in the vicinity of Vernon's Islands: this was the last land seen
by us on leaving the coast in May, 1818.

Between Goulburn Island and this part we had a succession of light
baffling winds, with sultry, damp, and hazy weather, which proved very
unfavourable for our sick, the number of whom was increasing. Mr. Bedwell
was confined to his bed with a serious attack of dysentery, occasioned by
exposure to the sun whilst superintending the shore parties at Goulburn
Island; and the greater part of the crew were affected with ophthalmia,
probably occasioned by the excessive glare and reflection of the sun's
rays from the calm glassy surface of the sea.

August 28.

At daylight on the 28th we found ourselves near the land to the
south-west of Vernon's Islands, which also were in sight. To the south
was a deep opening trending to the south-east of a river-like appearance;
but, as it did not seem to be of sufficient importance to detain us, we
passed on to the westward.

The land hereabouts is low and thickly wooded to the brink of the deep
red-coloured cliffs that form the projecting heads of the coast; the wood
near the sea had not the appearance of being of large growth; but the
abundance and the verdure of the trees gave this part a pleasing and
picturesque character. At the bottom of the opening was a remarkable
flat-topped hill under which the waters of the inlet appeared to flow in
a south-east direction. The entrance may possibly form a convenient port,
for there was no appearance of shoal water near it. The land which forms
its westernmost head appeared at first like an island, but was afterwards
presumed to be a projecting head, separating the opening from a deep
bight which was called Paterson Bay; at the bottom of the bay is another
opening or inlet that may have some communication with the first. The
western side of Paterson Bay is formed by very low land off which many
patches of dry rocks were seen to extend; beyond this the coast appeared
to be low and sandy.

August 29.

Light and adverse winds and calms, with a constant easterly current,
detained us in the vicinity of Paterson Bay until the following sunset;
when, in order to preserve the little progress made, we anchored near the
reefs on the western side of the bay. During the preceding day, sixteen
or twenty natives were noticed upon the sandy beach that fronts the red
cliffs on the eastern side of the bay, engaged in fishing, or perhaps in
watching our movements; and this evening the smokes of their fires were
observed among the trees near the same spot.

August 30.

The next day we made but little progress along the coast to the
south-west which is so low as not to be visible from the cutter's deck,
at a greater distance than six miles; this rendered the examination of it
very inconvenient and even dangerous, as the rocks and reefs which lined
the coast extended in some parts beyond that distance.

The land appeared to be barren and arid, and were it not for a few bushes
or mangrove trees, scattered about the beach, it might be called a
complete desert.

1819. September 1.

Westerly winds and calms continued without intermission until the 1st of
September; during which the thermometer ranged between 79 and 93 degrees.
On this day a breeze from the North-East enabled us to make progress to
the southward; and after examining an indenture of the coast we anchored
at night off a point of land, which, from the circumstance of a very
large fire burning upon it, was called Point Blaze. The land still
continued low; but more wooded and less sandy than that we had seen
within the last two days.

September 2.

The next morning we resumed our course along the coast. To the south-west
a sandy hillock was observed, which proved to be on Captain Baudin's
Peron Island. This was the first opportunity that had occurred by which I
could compare my longitude with that of Captain Baudin; and as the Peak
of Peron Island is one of his fixed points, and is placed by him in 127
degrees 34 minutes 36 seconds, I find that my chart is in this part 6
minutes 24 seconds to the eastward.

In order to set at rest the question of the insularity of this land we
passed within it, but not without difficulty, from the numerous shoals
that are scattered over the channel. A smoke was seen upon the smaller
island among the trees for a few minutes, but no people made their
appearance as we passed by. The natives of this part of the coast were
seen probably by Tasman; for in Mr. Dalrymple's Papua the following
paragraph is found: "In latitude 13 degrees 8 minutes and longitude 146
degrees 18 minutes 6 seconds East (probably 129 1/2 degrees East of
Greenwich, and answering to this part) the people are bad and wicked,
shooting at the Dutch with arrows without provocation, when they were
coming on shore. It is here very populous."

On arriving abreast of the peaked hill above-mentioned, a considerable
shoal, connected with the mainland, appeared to separate us from it; in
crossing it we had three fathoms, and as soon as we passed over it the
water deepened instantly to thirteen fathoms. We then bore up and steered
through the channel between the islands and the main, which was both
narrow and deep towards Channel Point; close to which we had sixteen
fathoms, and then hauled up round Peron's South Island.

The land from Channel Point trends to the South-South-East, and forms a
tolerably deep bight of low, sandy land, terminated by Cliff Head, a high
rocky projection well furnished with trees. In this bay there is probably
an opening, but it is small and lined with mangroves. After passing
Channel Point the depth rapidly decreased, and as we crossed a shoal
which runs off from the south-east end of Peron's South Island and
extends deeply into the bay, we carried from two and three-quarters to
three and a half fathoms. On clearing it we steered South-South-West, and
after dark anchored in five fathoms, mud, Cliff Head bearing South 71
degrees East (Magnetic.)

The bay between the two projections received the name of Anson Bay, after
the noble family of that name. During the night we had a remarkable
copious fall of dew.

September 3.

The next day at eleven o'clock we were off Cape Ford: from this cape the
coast trends in a South 48 degrees West direction for five miles to a low
projecting point, near the extremity of which a clump of trees,
remarkable for their rounded form and singular appearance, was
conspicuous: hence it extends South 5 1/2 degrees West to a distant
point; the intervening coast being of moderate height and thickly wooded
to the brink of a range of dark red cliffs, two miles in length, rising
immediately from the beach; upon which eight natives and a child were
observed watching our movements. Our course was held parallel with the
shore at about three miles distance. At sunset we tacked off for the
night; and the south extreme at dark bore South by West 1/2 West.

The sea hereabout abounds with fish of various sorts, upon which several
sharks were feeding most rapaciously. From midnight to daybreak the
weather was fine with scarcely a breath of wind; afterwards a light land
breeze set in; which at noon was succeeded by the usual sea breeze from
the west.

September 4.

At noon the next day our latitude was 13 degrees 33 minutes 41 seconds
South. At five o'clock we passed a point (Cape Dombey) off which there is
a reef of rocks of circular shape, and of small extent: to the southward
of it the coast forms a bay, lined with mangroves, in which there is a
small opening; but the breeze was then too fresh to allow of our
venturing into it to examine it more closely. At eight o'clock we
anchored off a projecting point which appeared to form the eastern head
of a deep opening: this projection, on account of a remarkable tree
standing above the bushes near to its extremity, was called Tree Point.

At this anchorage the tide rose eighteen feet and ran nearly at the rate
of two miles per hour.

September 5.

The next morning at daybreak, when the land became visible, Captain
Baudin's Cape Dombey was recognised, bearing South 83 degrees East.
Between Capes Ford and Dombey the coast is higher than usual and thickly
wooded to the verge of the cliffs, which preserve the same deep red
colour with those more to the northward; under them a sandy beach
uninterruptedly lines the coast. The bottom, at from three to five miles
distance, is rather irregular, and varies in its depth between seven and
a half and ten fathoms. An opening in the land is laid down near Cape
Dombey in the French charts, before which are placed the Barthelemy
Islands, which certainly do not exist, and it was not until after the
haze of the day cleared up that two detached quadrilateral shaped hills
were seen over the low land; and as these at a distance would assume
exactly the figure and appearance of islands they must have been the
cause of the mistake; I have therefore called them (by altering the
nomenclature as little as possible) the Barthelemy Hills.

At nine o'clock, having weighed at daylight, we reached within three
miles of Tree Point; when the ebb tide commenced and obliged our
anchoring to wait the turn of tide, in order to examine an opening that
trended deeply in to the southward. Accordingly when the flood made we
got under weigh, and entered the opening without encountering any
difficulties or being impeded by shoals. The deepest channel is about
two-thirds over on the eastern side, in which we sounded on a muddy
bottom in between nine and five fathoms; after having passed the
narrowest part we hauled over to the western shore, in the hope of
finding anchorage out of the strength of the tide, but it was with great
difficulty, and not until darkness compelled us, that we let go the
anchor, upon what appeared to be a hard stony bottom, in five fathoms.

The tide then turned to the ebb and commenced running out so rapidly that
we were under apprehensions of the vessel being left dry.

September 6 to 7.

But at low water which took place at 1 hour 20 minutes a.m., although the
tide had fallen twenty-two feet, it left nine feet, which depth was just
sufficient to float the vessel. Upon stirring up the bottom with an oar,
it was found to be of stiff clay, plentifully sprinkled with small
iron-stone gravel; it proved however to be of much better quality than
had been suspected, and the anchorage was retained during our stay.

As the bottom of this port had a river-like appearance, Mr. Roe prepared
to examine it, and set out at daylight accompanied by Mr. Cunningham:
they did not return until the following day.

From his report it appears that the shores are overrun with mangroves
(rhizophoreae) and that the whole of the back lands are inundated at high
water, which accounts for the very strong tides we experienced. The
bottom of the port, which at Mr. Roe's desire was named in compliment to
Vice Admiral Sir Richard G. Keats, G.C.B., is divided into two saltwater
arms, extending towards the foot of a range of thickly-wooded hills,
which were seen from the anchorage over the low mangrove shore, and
which, from their description, are probably connected with the Barthelemy
Hills. Their summit was named Mount Goodwin.

Our party put ashore at the only accessible landing place they found and
walked a mile inland. The country was extremely low and sterile, and the
soil composed of a tenacious clay in which small iron-stone gravel is
thickly mixed; it appeared to be of the same nature as the bottom on
which we were anchored; and to have been lately covered with grass,
recently burnt; and here and there, among other plants, Mr. Cunningham
found a stunted eucalyptus (eudesmia?) about six feet high.

The usual traces of natives were noticed; especially in one part where
the mark of a foot had been impressed since the last high water. Large
fires were burning three or four miles off but no human beings were seen.
As our gentlemen proceeded up the river a large flight of bats flew over
the boat. Very few birds were observed but a cry like that of the Ardea
antigone was heard; Mr. Roe killed a small snake about two feet long.

Upon this excursion no fresh water was found except a few small
drainings; but in this we were not disappointed for the character of the
country did not favour the idea or inspire us with any hopes of finding a
stream of sufficient consequence to be rendered useful for our purpose.
During the absence of the boat several necessary things were done on
board the ship which it was not possible to effect under weigh. On
opening some of the dry casks their contents were found to have suffered
much from weevil and rats: the latter had also made great havoc on our
spare sails; and, what was of greater importance and made me very anxious
for the consequences, they had gnawed holes in almost every water-cask
that remained full; so that we were not certain for a moment of our stock
of that article, of which we had no chance of procuring a supply on this
dreary coast.

September 8.

The following morning we weighed and stood out of Port Keats. On
attempting to steer close round Cape Hay we were obliged to desist and to
pass round a reef that extended from it in a North 1/2 West direction to
the distance of four leagues.

At sunset no land was in sight.

September 9.

But at eight o'clock the next morning (9th) the north end of the above
reef bore East-South-East and the land about Cape Hay South-South-East.
The Barthelemy Hills were also seen from the masthead, and reported as
islands; this mistake of ours therefore tends still more to excuse the
error of the French charts.

During the day we had light winds and the coast was but indistinctly
seen. The sea was covered with a brown scum which Captain Cook's sailors
called sea saw-dust, from its resemblance to that substance.* Very few
fish were noticed, but they were generally more numerous nearer to the

(*Footnote. Hawkesworth volume 3 page 248. Peron Voyage de Decouvertes
aux Terres Australes volume 2 chapter 31.)

September 10.

At midnight the land was seen from North-East to South-East and at
daylight it was visible between Point Pearce, bearing South-South-East,
and a point five or six miles south of Cape Hay which bore North-East by
East. The coast is sandy; behind it there appeared a good deal of small
stunted timber, and beyond this the range of Mount Goodwin was visible.
Round Point Pearce the land trends in a South 59 1/2 degrees East
direction and forms a very deep indenture: on approaching this point we
observed an extensive dry reef and breakers projecting from it to a
considerable distance. No land was seen to the southward of south-east,
but the hazy state of the weather prevented our seeing far, especially
land which is so low as to be scarcely distinguishable beyond the
distance of three or four leagues. As we approached Point Pearce the
soundings were very irregular and generally upon a rocky bottom. We
passed many ripplings occasioned by the tide setting round the point and
meeting the other tide from the southward. As these eddies were driving
us towards the shore we steered off south-west. At six o'clock p.m. Point
Pearce bore North 65 degrees East eleven miles, and in a line with the
hills about Mount Goodwin. Between this time and noon the soundings were
between nine and thirty-two fathoms, upon a rocky bottom.

At sunset we were in fourteen fathoms, and during the night continued
sounding on a rocky bottom between ten and fourteen fathoms.

September 11.

At daylight of the 11th no land was in sight, we therefore stood to the
southward to make it but were obliged to tack off without seeing any, as
we shoaled rather suddenly to five fathoms. We then stood to the
north-east, close to a fresh land wind from the East-South-East, which
brought with it a very unpleasant warmth. As we approached Point Pearce,
the land of which, at nine o'clock, came in sight, the water deepened to
fifteen and eighteen fathoms. At half-past ten o'clock we were within
three miles of the point; when the wind died away, and from the ebbing
tide we very soon lost what we had gained during the morning; for there
was no anchoring ground fit to trust our only remaining anchor upon. At
noon we were about ten miles south-west from Point Pearce. The wind then
springing up from the south, sail was set, but the tide being adverse,
very little better than a north-east course was made good. Soon after
sunset, being three or four miles to the South-South-West of Point
Pearce, we tacked to the southward with the intention of steering on to
make what progress we could during the night.

The attempt was hazardous, as we were strangers to the part; but if some
little risk was not run we had no chance of penetrating. From fifteen
fathoms we deepened to twenty-one, but as quickly shoaled again to
fifteen, and then suddenly to seven fathoms, hard sand.

The cutter was then put about and we steered off North-West for six miles
and passed through several ripplings, occasioned by the tide flowing with
rapidity over a rocky and irregular bottom. After running the above
distance we again hauled to the wind, but had hardly trimmed sails before
we again suddenly shoaled from sixteen to seven fathoms. This was too
dangerous to persist in, and I gave up the attempt of venturing forward
during the night.

September 12.

The next morning the land was visible about Point Pearce, bearing

The colour of the water here is of a dirty yellow; it was imagined at
first to be caused by the tide stirring up the mud; but on examination we
found that it arose entirely from the reflection of the bottom, which is
a brown and yellow speckled sand. Although this change of the bottom was
favourable to the importance of the opening before us, yet it rendered
our difficulties greater, and increased the dangers, from its offering
less secure anchorage, and being so much more studded with shoals, than
the even muddy bottom that we had just left.

At daylight the breeze was strong from East-South-East: at seven o'clock,
having fetched in with the land on the north side, we tacked and stood
across to the opposite shore. The land in the bight was visible in
patches as far as south-east, and the loom of it as far as south-west:
three smokes, one bearing south, another South-South-West, and another
south-west, proved the contiguity of the main; which is so low that when
we were very near it was scarcely distinguishable on account of the haze
and smoke with which it was enveloped. At 10 hours 40 minutes we were
about a mile and a half from a reef which was dry for more than a mile in
extent, and nearer to us was a patch of breakers: in standing towards
these shoals our soundings had been regular between nine and ten fathoms;
but at this time they unexpectedly shoaled at one cast, from eight to
three fathoms: the course was altered in time to prevent the cutter's
striking. We were now obliged to steer off, and after running six miles
to the North-West by West we steered west to observe the latitude which
was found to be 14 degrees 39 minutes 34 seconds South. The land was now
visible as far as South-West by West; five minutes after noon the
soundings decreased from ten to four and three-quarters fathoms; and
within fifty yards of us the water was rippling upon the edge of a shoal
which extends to the north-west and is probably dry at low water; we were
then obliged to steer to the north-west along the edge of this bank. At
about four miles further on we were again upon the bank in four fathoms,
and once more fortunately escaped getting on shore; an accident which
must have been fatal. To avoid this we hauled up north-east and soon got
into clear water; but fearing to encounter more of these overfalls we
steered north-east for three miles, five miles North-North-West, and one
and a quarter north-west, upon which courses our soundings were between
twelve and fifteen fathoms; the bottom being generally hard sand mixed
with coral and stones and often with rocks. We then steered west for four
miles, and supposing we had cleared the shoal, hauled in South-South-West
until dark; by which time we had run seven miles.

Although the evening was clear the horizon over the land was so covered
with the smoke of the natives' fires that it could not be discovered, nor
any anchorage found: we therefore hauled off for the night and from our
vicinity to this dangerous shoal passed it very anxiously, but happily
without any unpleasant occurrence.

I now gave up all idea of examining the opening round Point Pearce which
appeared of so interesting a character. The danger of remaining under
weigh (for our only anchor could not be trusted with safety on so bad a
bottom) was too great to run any longer risk, and we left the place with
a much stronger impression of its value and importance than we
entertained after the examination of an opening that was discovered by us
a few days afterwards.

September 13.

At daylight the land about Point Pearce (a sugarloaf hill on the Goodwin
Range) bore nearly due east. At eight a.m., having stood to the
South-South-West for thirteen miles, the water changed colour; the depth
however still continued to be regular in twelve fathoms and we steered
on; soon afterwards it shoaled to seven and five fathoms, upon which the
helm was put up; but before the vessel's head was got round we were in
three fathoms with the swell of the sea breaking so heavily around us
that our escape for the fourth time on this shoal was quite providential.
After getting into clear water we ran along the edge of the coloured
water, sounding in fourteen fathoms hard sand, mixed with shells and
stones; at noon we hauled round its north-west extremity and steered for
the land, which was soon afterwards visible from south to south-west, the
latter bearing being that of a remarkable hill, of quadrilateral shape,
answering in position to Captain Baudin's Lacrosse Island. At two o'clock
our soundings, for the first time since leaving Port Keats, were on a
muddy bottom; at sunset we were within six miles of a small rocky island
of half a mile in extent, surrounded by an extensive reef, which was
partially dry; the land between South-East and West by South appeared to
be a very low sandy coast, and the back lands to the south-east are
wooded and level. Nearer to Lacrosse Island the coast is not only more
irregular in its outline but of a more mountainous character: on each
side of the nearest part of the coast, which was eight miles off and bore
South, the shores fall back and form two bays; the land was however so
enveloped by the smoke of the natives' fires that the greater part was
very indistinctly seen and therefore very imperfectly described. After
dark a light breeze sprang up from the South-West, and we stood off
shore; but not being able to find an anchorage we continued under weigh
during the night.

September 14.

The next morning the land was not in sight: as we stood towards the shore
it was soon afterwards discerned, and at noon we were very near to our
last night's position but were prevented from steering towards Lacrosse
Island by a considerable shoal which extended to the North-West and
crossed our course: we anchored near it at sunset in ten fathoms.

The land this day was more visible towards the South-East and observed to
join the low land at the back of the reefs that we passed on the 12th.

A remarkable echo was heard in the evening: whilst the cook was chopping
his wood every blow was echoed round the bight, although we were eight
miles from the shore. After leaving Port Keats we met with large
quantities of a very beautiful species of medusa, it appeared to be the
Medusa panopyra, figured in Peron's Atlas, (Plate 31 figure 2). It is
from this animal that the French have named their Banc des Meduses. No
turtle or snakes had for some time been seen and very few sharks; but
other fish were numerous.

September 15.

Very little progress was made the next day; several attempts were made to
stand toward Lacrosse Island; but we were obliged to give it up as the
bank still crossed our course. In the evening we again anchored near the
edge of the bank and during the night the breeze blew fresh but the
anchor held well.

September 16.

At daylight another ineffectual attempt was made to cross the bank. At
two o'clock we passed several detached banks on which were seven and
eight fathoms; and soon afterwards rounded the north-west end of the
large bank, at a quarter of a mile distance in four fathoms; after which
the water deepened to twelve and thirteen fathoms but still the bottom
was of hard sand. From the colour of the sea it appeared that we were in
a deep channel, extending towards Lacrosse Island: from light winds our
progress was so slow that sunset overtook us before we had formed any
plan for anchoring; our soundings were between twenty-two and eighteen
fathoms hard sandy bottom: the tide was ebbing. The idea of standing out
for anchorage after having toiled for the last three days against foul
winds and other obstacles was particularly revolting; and increasing
darkness found me quite at a loss what course to pursue; for Lacrosse
Island appeared so rocky that I despaired of finding anchorage near it:
having however two days before seen a white beach off its south-east end
(which subsequently proved to be composed of stones whitened by the
effect of the weather) we stood towards it as a last resource; and on our
way thither we passed over a muddy bottom upon which the anchor was
dropped in eight fathoms, at about two miles from the north-west end of
the island. This day as usual many medusae were seen; and also a snake,
three feet long; its back was black, the belly yellow, and the tail
striped black and white.

September 17.

In the morning we landed upon the island at a place which had the
appearance of containing fresh water; and after examining several
torrent-worn gullies for it without success we ascended a hill to look
round for some more probable place; but as the same arid appearance
seemed to pervade every part within our view we re-embarked, and shortly
landed upon a bluff point at the north-west end of the island; from which
a considerable reef of rocks projects into the sea.

Whilst I was employed in taking a set of bearings from this station the
boat's crew amused themselves in wandering about the rocks in search of
shells; and upon our again embarking they informed me that they had seen
some natives on the beach of a sandy bay round the point; but that they
had retired without having been noticed. The information proved correct;
for on pulling round the point we espied four natives seated on the sand,
watching the progress of a fire they had just kindled; which was rapidly
spreading through and consuming the dry and parched up grass that grew
scantily upon the face of the island. As soon as we were observed three
of them got up and stood for some moments motionless with alarm; but upon
my calling to them and waving my hat the whole party, seizing their
spears, ran off, and in a few seconds disappeared in the hollow behind
the beach. On the sand were marks of turtles, which gave me hopes of
obtaining some for the ship's company who had not enjoyed a fresh meal,
excepting the flesh of three porpoises, since leaving Port Jackson. As
our object was to pull round the island we did not stop here; but at a
few minutes before noon, being near a projecting point a little further
on, we landed and observed the sun's supplementary altitude which made
the latitude 14 degrees 45 minutes 56 seconds South. We afterwards landed
further on in a small sandy bay where we found more turtle-tracks and the
remains of a nest that had been plundered by the natives; who, from the
recent impressions of their feet on the sand, had in the morning crossed
the beach. The sand was so heated that it was painful to stand upon
without constantly relieving our feet; and that the natives we had just
seen should sit and bask upon it in this state would have appeared
incredible to us had we not witnessed the fact. Upon leaving the bay, the
natives, whose number had increased to nine, were observed upon the hills
that overhang the beach, watching our proceedings; and as we pulled away
they slowly moved toward the place we had just left.

As soon as we arrived on board we got underweigh and steered round the
bluff point on the west side of the island; and at half past five o'clock
anchored at about half a mile from the shore of the bay on which we had
lately landed. From this station we had an opportunity of observing the
features of the coast: Lacrosse Island is situated in the entrance of a
deep opening trending to the South-South-West towards some steep rugged
hills. The character of the country is here entirely changed: irregular
ranges of detached rocky hills of sandstone formation, very slightly
clothed with small shrubs and rising abruptly from extensive plains of
low level land seem to have superseded the low wooded coast that almost
uninterruptedly prevails between this and Cape Wessel; a distance of more
than six hundred miles. The present change, although more dreary and less
inviting, was hailed by us with pleasure; for the broken appearance of
the hills inspired us with the hope of finding some fresh stream from
which we might complete our water, and thereby prevent our premeditated
visit to Timor, whither it would soon be time to resort.

The fires which had been lighted in the course of the day by the natives
had rapidly spread over the summit of the hills, and at night the whole
island was illuminated and presented a most grand and imposing
appearance. After dusk Mr. Roe went with a party on shore in order to
take turtle and at eight o'clock returned with one of the hawk's-bill
species (Testudo imbricata?) the meat of which weighed seventy-one
pounds; about fifty eggs were also procured.

September 18.

The boat was sent again at four o'clock in the morning, as it was then
high water, but returned at daylight without success.

Lacrosse Island, so named by Commodore Baudin, is about nine miles in
circumference and about six hundred feet high; it is of a rugged
character and intersected by numerous deep ravines and gullies; which, in
the wet season, doubtless contain water.

The seaward or northern face of the island is formed of a fine-grained
sandstone, dipping in strata, with a slight inclination to the
South-East: large blocks of the same stone were also found scattered over
the hills. The soil with which it is but slightly covered is little
better than a thin layer of sandy earth; but notwithstanding its sterile
quality it produces a variety of small plants, among which a shrubby
acacia* was predominant and sufficiently abundant to tint the sides of
the hills where it grew with the sea-green colour of its foliage. At last
quarter ebb we got underweigh and proceeded to examine the opening by
steering South-South-West towards the deepest part; at twenty-three miles
from Lacrosse Island the gulf is divided by Adolphus Island into two
arms; one of which trended to the South-South-East and the other to the

(*Footnote. This plant is described in Mr. Cunningham's Journal as Acacia

(**Footnote. For the farther description of Cambridge Gulf see the
Appendix A Part 4.)

As the western arm appeared to be of most importance we entered it and,
with a strong flood tide, proceeded with great rapidity; as sunset
approached we began to look for an anchorage, but found much difficulty
on account of the strength of the tides, the great depth of water, and,
as I at first thought, the unfavourable quality of the bottom: at last
the anchor was dropped close to the south-west shore of Adolphus Island
in the entrance of another arm which appeared to trend to the south-east
under Mount Connexion. The noise made by the chain cable in running
through the hawse-hole put to flight a prodigious number of bats that
were roosting in the mangrove bushes; and which, flying over and about
the cutter's mast, quite darkened the air with their numbers.

September 19.

As I purposed remaining two days at this anchorage to examine the country
we landed the next morning under View Hill, a high steep point on the
south shore abreast of the anchorage; and, having climbed the summit by a
rugged and fatiguing ascent, our labour was amply repaid by a very
extensive view of the surrounding country and by obtaining bearings of
Lacrosse Island and Shakspeare Hill; which served to fix the position of
View Hill.

The south end of Adolphus Island, of which I had a commanding view, is a
low, flat salt-swamp surrounded by mangrove bushes. To the south-eastward
of Shakspeare Hill but quite detached from it is a range of hills
extending in unconnected patches toward Mount Connexion. The principal
stream of the gulf, which is the west arm, runs under the base of View
Hill; three and a half miles farther on it opens into an extensive basin
at the bottom of which is some high land; here the basin is contracted in
its size, and trends to the westward round a mangrove point, where it was
lost to view.

Mr. Cunningham had also made an excursion upon Adolphus Island; he had
walked over the salt-swamp towards the hills, which, from his
description, are precisely of the same character as View Hill; the rock
formation is principally of sandstone, blocks of which (the largest not
exceeding three feet in diameter) are profusely scattered over the sandy
soil and are sometimes found covered with a crust of quartz: but
notwithstanding the aridity and apparent barrenness of the soil, many
plants were recovering from the destructive effects of recent fires and
springing up in great luxuriance. In our ascent we passed through several
deep gullies which bore the marks of having once yielded abundance of
water but were now quite dried up.

September 20.

The next day Mr. Cunningham accompanied me on an excursion round Adolphus
Island, taking from the anchorage an easterly direction; and passing to
the north of the two mangrove islands. On the eastern side of Adolphus
Island we landed on one of two rocky islets, and took some bearings from
its summit. It is composed of loose blocks of decomposed sandstone. On
the summit we observed a large hawk's nest but it was deserted by its
constructor. The only plants that were found upon this rock were a
prickly capparis and a leafless ficus, the latter bearing clusters of
small, whitish, globular fruit: these plants, with a small hibiscus, were
the chief productions of the rock; and have probably been produced from
seeds deposited there by birds.

On leaving these rocks I hoped to have reached in time some part of the
north-east shore of Adolphus Island where I could observe the sun's
meridional altitude on the sea horizon; but we were detained in the arm
by strong ripplings and a fresh sea-breeze until it was too late. Upon
approaching the northernmost point of the island, which is low and
covered with mangroves, we were obliged to pull round a bank that extends
for some distance off it: as soon as this was effected the flood-tide
commenced; we then landed under Adolphus Island just within the narrow
entrance of the western arm; and whilst the people dined I was engaged in
taking bearings and Mr. Cunningham ranged about in search of plants.
Everything wore the same arid appearance as those parts before visited;
but the stems of some trees, of a larger growth than any we had yet seen
on the hills, were found washed up on the beach. At five p.m. we returned
on board; having made the circuit of Adolphus Island, a distance of
twenty-five miles; without seeing the least vestige of man or animal or
any appearance of fresh water.

September 22.

The wind and tide were unfavourable the next day for quitting our
anchorage until the afternoon: in the morning Mr. Roe sounded and
examined the south arm; and as he found the passage to be quite clear we
weighed at slack water with the intention of proceeding through it and
anchoring in the basin; but the strength of the wind obliged us to anchor
under View Hill and detained us the whole of the following day which was
unsuccessfully spent in examining the gullies in search of fresh water: a
hole was dug in one of the most favourable spots we could find; and at
the depth of three or four feet the earth gradually became so moist as to
flatter us with the hope that our labours would be rewarded by success:
at three feet deeper water began to ooze through; but, upon tasting it,
it turned out to be quite salt. Another place higher up was tried with
the same result upon which further search was abandoned as useless.

In the evening we ascended a hill near the anchorage; whence a favourable
view was obtained for the construction of my chart. The space behind the
beach to the foot of the hill is occupied by a level plain that has
evidently been formed by the deposition of alluvial soil; over which, in
many places, the last night's high tide had passed; but those parts which
it had not reached were covered with a thin layer of salt which at a
distance exactly resembled hoar-frost. Upon it was observed the track of
a dog that had evidently been running towards the saltwater pits to
quench its thirst; and this, I fear, is only a proof of the total absence
of fresh water, which, indeed, the desolate and burnt up appearance of
everything around was sufficient of itself to bespeak. The country at the
bottom of the gulf appeared to be of a rugged and mountainous character:
the hills were observed in detached ranges to rise abruptly from a low
level plain extending to the shore, the edge of which was lined as far as
we could see by a belt of mangrove bushes. These plains were covered with
salt incrustations over which were scattered the stems and branches of
trees that had evidently been washed down from the hills and deposited
there by inundations to which this country appears to be frequently
subject. The trees appeared to be of so much larger size than any we have
seen growing near the coast that we reasonably concluded the interior to
be of a much more productive character than the country in the vicinity
of the sea. Our means were however too confined to satisfy ourselves of
this interesting fact.

September 23.

The following morning, the weather being more favourable, we left the bay
and, with the remainder of the flood tide, beat through the narrows; in
which, at one cast, we had no bottom at forty-five fathoms. As soon as we
passed this strait we entered the basin and a little before high water
anchored in eight fathoms on its west side, where at noon, by a
meridional observation to the south, the latitude was found to be 15
degrees 21 minutes 53 seconds South. After this we landed in the vicinity
of our station; but, finding the country as barren and dreary as before,
the evening was spent in sounding between the cutter and the western

September 24.

The next morning we reached the farther end of the basin and anchored
under a remarkable range of hills; which, from their appearance, were
called the Bastion Hills; the latitude of this station is 15 degrees 29
minutes 38 seconds South. The gulf, which had now assumed the character
of a river, trended to the South-West, and at the distance of three or
four miles disappeared among some high land in that direction.

In the evening (since we had lately seen no appearance of sharks) the
people were allowed to bathe; but they had no sooner finished, and
everyone on board, than an alligator swam past the vessel. The appearance
of this animal revived some hopes of our yet finding fresh water and also
that the gulf would terminate in a river; the breadth here is about a
mile and a half and the rise of the tide about twenty-one feet: the ebb
set at the rate of three knots per hour and the water was very muddy; but
at low tide, upon being tasted, it still retained its saltness.

September 25.

At daylight the next morning we were again under weigh; but, the wind
being directly adverse, were obliged to make several tacks: as we
proceeded the opening was found to get more contracted and to wind
through a very narrow strait between high precipitous hills; and as, on
approaching it, the passage appeared too narrow to be attempted with
safety, we anchored at about two miles from it near the low west bank;
and after breakfast Mr. Cunningham accompanied me in the whale-boat to
continue its further exploration.

The wind was blowing a fresh gale from the South-West directly out of the
Gut and impeded us a good deal; but the tide was running with such
strength that we were not long before we passed through. This passage is
about two miles and a half long, bounded on either side by rocky barren
hills rising abruptly from the water. The channel is deep for our boat's
lead-line of twenty fathoms did not reach the bottom. At the south end of
the gut the land opened out into another basin which, like the former, is
surrounded by low land overrun with mangroves and studded with several
islets, occasionally covered by the tide. The course of the river still
trended to the south-west, in which direction we continued to pull but
found some difficulty from its being very shoal; for in the fair way
across there was not more water than eighteen feet at three-quarters'
flood. At eleven o'clock, having crossed the basin, we landed on an islet
which, like the rest, had been covered by the last high tide. The river
had now contracted to the width of one hundred to one hundred and fifty
yards and trended by a winding course to the south and south-east, but
the water was still as salt as ever although we were at least sixty miles
from the sea. As there was now no probability of our extending the
examination of this river for any useful purpose we stopped at high water
and landed on the bank to examine the country whilst the people dined. We
were about two or three miles from the base of a most remarkable
quadrangular-shaped mass of hills rising abruptly from an extensive flat
plain covered with salt: the sides sloped down with a very steep descent
to the base and the top of the range was circumvented with cliffs which,
protruding at intervals, so perfectly resembled the bastions and ramparts
of a formidable fortress that it wanted only the display of a standard to
render the illusion complete. It was named Mount Cockburn in compliment
to Vice-Admiral Sir George Cockburn, G.C.B., one of the Lord
Commissioners of the Admiralty. The accompanying drawing of this
remarkable range of hills was taken from the west point of the south
entrance of the gut.

All around us bore the most desolate appearance. The grass, which was
quite dry, wanted but a spark and a breeze to set the whole country in
flames. The soil on which it grows, which is about two feet above the
high watermark, is a stiff clay; covered with a slight incrustation of
salt on which the tracks of native dogs were noticed; several smokes were
observed at a distance but no natives were seen. The tide had now began
to ebb; and as there was no inducement to detain us for the next day to
examine it farther we set off on our return; and on our way landed for
bearings on the small islet in the middle of the Inner Basin. We also
went on shore in two places on the west bank within the Gut; at the first
we found the marks of an encampment of a tribe of natives: eight or nine
spots of circular form were cleared away amongst the grass and in the
centre of each were the ashes of a small fire, close to which we noticed
some large flattened stones with a smaller one lying upon them, which the
natives probably use for the purpose of bruising or grinding the seeds of
plants and breaking shellfish. The impressions of dogs' feet were
observed about the fireplaces, as well as the recent tracks of kangaroos.
The only animal that we saw during our excursion was a small
kangaroo-rat; it was skipping about the rocks near the sea. A ravine, of
appearance the most favourable for our search for water, was selected
from a great many as most likely to afford it; and we landed for that
purpose; but we met with our usual bad success; torrents had once poured
down it, the effects of which alone were left. Recent traces of kangaroos
were again seen here: these animals can require but little drink unless
the dew that is nightly deposited is sufficient for the purpose of
quenching their thirst, for we did not see a drop of fresh water in any
part we landed at.

We reached the vessel a short time before sunset and terminated the
examination of this gulf, which at one time bore so flattering an
appearance as to leave little doubt of our being able to complete our
water, and that even with facility. I felt so much disappointed that two
or three small openings, which probably served but to drain the vast
plains of inundated country that environ the hills on the shores of this
gulf, were passed by unheeded; among which was the extensive branch that
trended to the south-east under Mount Connexion; this opening appeared to
possess a similar character with that we had just been employed in

September 25 to 26.

On the 26th we got under weigh to return; but, having to work against a
contrary breeze, made no farther progress than the anchorage occupied on
the 23rd. The smokes of many fires were seen during the day; but in this
country where everything is so parched and dry a fire will lie dormant a
considerable time, and as the breeze springs up the flames will kindle
and run along in the direction of the wind for many miles.

September 27.

The next day at half-past twelve o'clock when the ebb tide began to make,
the wind freshened up from South-East and soon carried us into the
narrows: it then veered round to the eastward, and after half an hour's
calm a strong sea-breeze set in against us; but the tide being in our
favour we made quick progress until half an hour before the time of low
water, when we anchored under the north-west end of Adolphus Island.

I have this day to record the death of one of the crew, William Nicholls,
who, for some time past, and particularly during the last three days, had
been suffering from a dropsical complaint; his death was occasioned by
suffocation, having very imprudently laid down with his head to leeward
while we were under sail: this poor fellow had been for nearly three
months on our sick list; he was a native of Norfolk Island, and, when in
health, had been one of my most useful and attentive men.

September 28.

He was interred the next morning on shore; in memorial whereof the
north-west point of the island was named after him. Soon after noon the
ebb tide made, and we worked out against a strong northerly breeze, which
gave us a good opportunity of ascertaining the soundings and breadth of
the channel. The tide however did not serve to carry us out of the gulf,
and at low water we dropped the anchor near a bank on the western side in
six fathoms, sandy bottom, out of the influence of the tide; which in the
mid-channel was observed to run with great strength.

After sunset the clouds began to collect in the South-East and threatened
the approach of bad weather; but in our situation the anchor, although we
had but one, was our best security.

September 29.

At two o'clock in the morning heavy clouds rose in the East-South-East
and the wind freshened from that direction; it however soon after veered
back to South-East and enabled us to weigh. The weather was cloudy and
dark, but as the plan of the gulf had been already roughly formed, and
our soundings laid down, I was sufficiently aware of the course we had to
steer. The only event to be dreaded was that, in getting under weigh, the
cutter might cast with her head inshore, when we should certainly have
been thrown upon the bank; our fears however upon this point were happily
groundless, and our course being unimpeded, we made quick way towards
Lacrosse Island, which was passed at daylight.

Having now cleared this extraordinary inlet which was named Cambridge
Gulf in honour of His Royal Highness the Viceroy of Hanover, we bore up
along shore to the westward, sufficiently near to it to have perceived
any opening that might exist, and to make such remarks as were necessary
for its delineation. At sunset we were off Cape St. Lambert of the French
and their Mount Casuarina was also seen. M. de Freycinet's description of
the hill is very correct, but at the distance which we were it was only
visible when it bore between South and West-South-West; for the land in
that bearing intervened and concealed it. Large fires were burning three
or four miles inland.

September 30.

At sunset we hauled off shore for the night; and the next morning saw
Mount Casuarina again bearing south; its latitude was found to be 14
degrees 23 minutes 15 seconds, and its longitude 127 degrees 36 minutes
50 seconds East of Greenwich, which is 3 minutes 10 seconds to the
westward of the situation that the French have assigned to it.

Hence the shore takes a north-westerly trend. At noon we were two miles
and a half from Cape Rulhieres when our latitude was 13 degrees 51
minutes 58 seconds; at seven miles in a North 37 degrees West direction
from the cape, which is a stony point, is Captain Baudin's Lesueur
Island, a low flat sandy island. We passed between it and the main, and
had soundings with fifteen fathoms.

In passing a projection of land which appeared to be an island and off
which is a considerable reef, the bottom shoaled to eight fathoms but as
quickly deepened again to no bottom with fifteen fathoms. This probable
island may perhaps be the second Lesueur Island, which is laid down upon
the French chart; but I have doubts of it; for I do not think it could be
distinguished as an island at the distance Captain Baudin was from the
shore. The land now extended towards a point which was called Cape
Londonderry, whence it took a westerly direction. On arriving up with the
reef which extends off Cape Londonderry we hauled off to the northward
and passed the ensuing night under easy sail, during which our soundings
were between forty and forty-six fathoms. A very large natives' fire was
burning about two or three miles inland, but the Indians did not show
themselves. Last night our people caught a porpoise, which helped to
diminish the bad effect of salt provisions.

We were now very weak-handed; three men, besides Mr. Bedwell who was
still an invalid, being ill, considerably reduced our strength; insomuch
that being underweigh night and day, with only one spare man on the watch
to relieve the masthead look-out, the lead, and the helm, there was great
reason to fear the fatigue would very much increase the number of
complaints. Since leaving Port Jackson we had never been free from
sickness, but it was confined principally to two or three individuals who
were not able to endure the very great heat. Upon the whole we thought
ourselves very fortunate that, considering the frequency of illness on
board and the violence of the diseases by which some of our people had
been attacked, particularly in the cases of Mr. Bedwell and Mr.
Cunningham, we had only lost one man; and this from a complaint which
even medical assistance might not, perhaps, have cured; and by an
accident which could not have been prevented, for our people were at the
moment so busily employed in working the vessel through a dangerous
navigation that the unfortunate man's situation was not known until the
vital spark was nearly extinct, and too far gone for any human means to
save his life. The thermometer now ranged between 80 and 87 degrees in
the shade; and the fast approach of the sun (the declination of which was
3 degrees South) was daily felt.

Examination of the coast between Cape Londonderry and Cape Voltaire,
containing the surveys of Sir Graham Moore's Islands, Eclipse Islands,
Vansittart Bay, Admiralty Gulf, and Port Warrender.
Encounter with the natives of Vansittart Bay.
Leave the coast at Cassini Island for Coepang.
Obliged to bear up for Savu.
Anchor at Zeeba Bay, and interview with the rajah.
Some account of the inhabitants.
Disappointed in not finding water.
Leave Zeeba Bay, and beat back against the monsoon to Coepang.
Complete wood and water, and procure refreshments.
Return to Port Jackson.
Pass the latitude assigned to the Tryal Rocks.
Arrival in Sydney Cove.

1819. October 1.

We had now reached a part of the coast which, excepting a few of the
islands that front it, the French expedition did not see: we should
therefore have commenced its examination with more pleasure had we been
in a state better fitted for the purpose; for we were rapidly consuming
our stock of water without any prospect of finding a supply at this
season; and this, added to the loss of our anchors, considerably lessened
the satisfaction we should otherwise have felt in viewing the prospect
before us.

After a calm and sultry morning a breeze from the North-East carried us
towards the land, the situation of which was pointed out by the smoke of
natives' fires. A little before three o'clock it was seen from the deck
and as we stood towards it we narrowly escaped striking on a part of the
shoal that extends off Cape Londonderry: our course was then directed
towards some broken land in the South-West which proved to be a group of
islands with a considerable sinuosity in the coast behind them; the
eastern head of the bay was called Cape Talbot after the then Lord
Lieutenant of Ireland. Between this and Cape Londonderry the coast is
very low and defended by an extensive reef, which in many parts was dry.

During the night we stood off shore.

October 2.

And at daylight were eight miles from the islands. At nine o'clock, being
calm, we anchored to the north of the group, which was named Sir Graham
Moore's, in compliment to the gallant admiral then holding a seat at the
Admiralty Board. The principal island is more elevated than the rest and
has a flat tabular summit: it bore from the anchorage South 19 degrees
East three miles and a half.

The sea-breeze set in from North-West with the change of tide; as soon as
the sun's meridional altitude was observed we got under sail and steered
to the West-South-West; but were soon after obliged to alter the course
to avoid a shoal on which the sea was breaking within fifty yards of us.
After passing this danger we found ourselves in a deep channel the
seaward limit of which was formed by an extensive reef connected with
Jones' Island. At sunset we anchored within one mile and a half of the
shore in five fathoms and a half, soft sandy mud, off the entrance of a
considerable bight or bay; which appeared to be so nearly blocked up by a
reef of dry rocks that it was doubtful whether we should be able to
penetrate without going round the Eclipse Islands; these islands were so
named in consequence of an eclipse of the moon that took place in the
evening; and the flat-topped mount which is conspicuous on the principal
island of the group was named Eclipse Hill.

October 3.

The next morning was passed in examining the reefs to the southward; we
first landed on the south-east end of Long Island, where a set of
bearings and a tolerable view up the bay were obtained. Long Island is of
a rugged character and formed principally of large water-worn masses of
quartzose sandstone superincumbent upon a basis of the same rock. The
spaces between them were occupied by a variety of plants, the examination
of which fully employed Mr. Cunningham: natives' traces and fireplaces,
and the remains of a turtle-feast were observed; but there were no signs
of the islands having been very recently visited by the Indians: we
afterwards landed upon some dry rocks that lie in the mid-channel, and
whilst I was occupied in taking bearings the boat's crew fished, but with
little success on account of the rapidity of the tide.

October 4.

After this we found and examined a tolerably wide and deep channel on the
eastern side of the Middle Rocks; through which, as it appeared to be
free from danger, the cutter was worked the next morning, and afterwards
anchored near the western side of the bay; where the verdant appearance
of the grass and trees that clothed the sides of the hills induced me to
land for the purpose of searching for water; we were, however,
disappointed: large streams of water had evidently very lately poured
down the gullies; but there was not the least vestige of any remaining.

On the beach of one of the sandy bays the traces of natives were more
numerous than usual; for we counted as many as forty small fireplaces
arranged in a straight line along the beach; near to each were lying the
stones on which the Indians had evidently been bruising seeds,
particularly of the fruit of a new species of sterculia, the husks of
which were strewed about: near the fireplaces were the remains of two
huts; one of them was thrown down, but the other was perfect enough to
give us an idea of its form and for us to recognise its resemblance to
some we had seen on the East coast.

A curious implement was found on the shore, the use of which we could not
at all conjecture, unless it had belonged to the Malays; it was fifteen
feet long and five inches in diameter, and composed of three saplings
firmly and closely united and covered with grass secured to it by rope
twisted of strips of bark; it might have been a fender for the purpose of
hanging between the Malay proas when moored together, to prevent their
being injured by their sides coming in contact.

The shores and hills were thickly scattered over with large masses of a
dark red-coloured sandstone covered with a crust of quartz; the latter
substance was not however found in a crystallized state. Everything bore
the most parched and arid appearance; the country was certainly seen by
us at the most disadvantageous season; but although the hills are thickly
wooded the dwarf and stunted habit of the trees is a proof, if we had
required it, of the shallow and unproductive quality of the soil. The
smoke of three or four large fires were noticed on the opposite side of
the bay, the flames of which blazed up as the seabreeze set in. Recent
and numerous tracks of the kangaroo were observed in all directions. Fish
were abundant, but none were caught. Before returning on board we visited
two other places in the bay to make further search for water, but with no
better success; and we began to despair of finding any upon the coast.

October 5.

We weighed the next day with the sea-breeze, and anchored in the
south-east corner of the bay: in the evening we landed on a projecting
point close to the anchorage and ascended its summit, which was so
thickly covered with climbing plants that it was called Vine Head. From
this station an extensive view was obtained of the bottom of the bay; and
as it was nearly low water the time was favourable for my purpose. Near
the anchorage was a small mangrove opening, the entrance of which was
blocked up by a dry mud bank.

When we landed we found a piece of wood upon the beach with a nail-hole
in it: it had probably been part of a Malay proa; for a fleet of such
visitors, consisting of twenty-six vessels on the trepang fishery, was
seen in this neighbourhood by the French in 1801;* and, according to
their report, annually visit this part of the coast.

(*Footnote. Freycinet Terres Australes page 24.)

This day was spent in examining the shores of the bottom of the bay. We
first pulled up the arm to the eastward of Vine Head which trends in for
one mile, and then examined the bay on its western side, which was found
to be both shoal and rocky. We next rowed inside of Jar Island whose
peaked summit forms a very good mark for the channel between the Middle
and Long Rocks. In pulling towards the west side of the bay, at the back
of Jar Island, a native was perceived running along the rocky shore
towards the point we were steering for; round which, as we passed it
yesterday, there appeared to be a deep cave or inlet. As we pulled along
the shore we were amused in watching how nimbly the Indian leaped from
rock to rock: he was alone and unarmed. At one time we pulled close to
the shore and endeavoured to entice him to approach us, but he stood
looking at us from the summit of a rocky eminence close to the beach,
without attending to our invitations; and, upon our repeating them and
resting on our oars, he retreated towards the smoke of a fire that was
burning behind the mangroves on the south shore at the bottom of the
inlet into which we were pulling; on approaching it we found that the
native had already arrived and given the alarm to a family of Indians,
consisting of three men, two women, and four children, who had been
cooking their repast.

As soon as our approach was discovered the women took their baskets and
moveables and hurried away with the children, whilst the men seized their
spears to protect their retreat; but as our object was not to alarm these
poor savages, we pulled over to the opposite shore, which was about sixty
yards across, and landed: Mr. Cunningham and I then ascended a steep hill
that rose immediately from the shore, the summit of which promised to
afford us a prospect of the surrounding land. The view however from this
eminence, although extensive, did not answer my expectation: a low
country of an arid and barren appearance extended to the southward; the
northern part of the land on which we were appeared to be that described
by the French as Bougainville Island, but it was now clearly and
distinctly ascertained to be a peninsula: our view to the north-west was
intercepted by higher hills than those we were upon. After taking all the
bearings that the confined prospect permitted, without having very
materially improved my knowledge of the surrounding country, I began to
think of returning to the boat, and on looking towards the natives
perceived that they had left the tree and were standing about fifty yards
farther back, attentively engaged in consultation and in watching our
movements: besides their spears they carried short pieces of wood like
throwing sticks, and one of them also held in his hand a shield. After
some deliberation they moved quickly forward towards the foot of the hill
on which we were, evidently with an intention of intercepting our return
to the boat, but when we began to descend the hill they stopped and
slowly retired to their former station; had they persevered they would
have easily cut off our retreat, and as we had forgotten the precaution
of arming ourselves the consequence might have been serious. This
movement of the natives made us suspicious of no very friendly intentions
on their part and hurried our return to the boat; but, the descent being
steep and strewed with rocks which were concealed by grass higher than
our middles, we did not reach the bottom of the hill without several

Upon re-embarking we perceived that the natives had again ascended the
tree to watch our movements; but when they saw the boat pulling across
the stream towards them they leaped down and retired among the trees.
After repeated calls which had not the effect of inducing them to
approach, we rowed out of the cove, and, on passing a projecting point
that was less wooded than other parts, Mr. Cunningham expressed a wish to
collect some specimens of the plants that were growing upon it. Whilst
meditating upon the propriety of landing so near to the natives, whose
conduct we had already some reason to suspect, a dog which we had before
seen with them came from behind a bush near the water's edge and walked
up to its knees in the water towards us; the boat was backed in and we
endeavoured to entice it within our reach by throwing some food; but the
animal, upon discovering that we were strangers, became shy, and after
smelling about ran back towards a bush about fifty yards off; from which
the natives, who had all the time been concealed behind it, rushed out
and with loud shouts ran towards us: upon reaching the water's edge they
threw several stones, one of which nearly struck the boat; they then
prepared their spears, when it was found necessary to deter them by
firing a musket over their heads; the noise of which had the desired
effect; for, struck with a sudden panic at the report which echoed
through the trees, they turned and fled; and as they scampered off two
more balls were fired over them, which, if possible, increased the
rapidity of their flight until the trees concealed them from our view;
after this we neither heard nor saw anything more of them.

This circumstance gave the name of Encounter Cove to the inlet. On our
return we called at Jar Island and walked over it, but with difficulty,
on account of the confused heaps of rugged stones that were strewed over
its rocky surface. The spinifex that grew in the interstices of the rocks
was also no inconsiderable hindrance to our movements. Behind the beach
was a large basin full of salt water that, in the wet season, would
doubtless furnish fresh, since it appeared to have been formed by the
runs from the rocks, the upper surfaces of which were hollowed out by the
effect of the rain: these holes or cisterns are probably full of water in
the wet season.

On the beach we found a broken earthen pot which decidedly proved the
fact of the Malays visiting this part of the coast and explained the
mischievous disposition of the natives. Before we returned to the cutter
we landed on some rocks in the bay, at the back of Jar Island, to fish,
but having very little success we did not delay, and by sunset reached
the vessel.

October 7.

On the 7th we left the anchorage under Vine Head, and by the aid of a
breeze from the North-West worked out of the western entrance of the bay,
which appeared to be quite free from danger of every sort.

At sunset we anchored in the outer part of the entrance in nine fathoms
and a half, muddy bottom. On the west side of the peninsula we passed
three bays, from one to two miles deep and one mile broad; in each of
these inlets there appeared to be good anchorage.

The bay was named Vansittart after the late Chancellor of the Exchequer.

October 8.

At daylight (8th) we weighed and stood out to the North-West between
Troughton Island and Cape Bougainville. Round the latter projection the
land trends so deeply in to the southward that it was lost to view; but
two flat-topped islands were seen in the South-South-West, which
afterwards proved to be some of Captain Baudin's Institute Isles; we were
now obliged to steer down the western side of the cape, for our further
progress to the westward was stopped by a considerable reef extending
north and south parallel with the land of Cape Bougainville. During the
afternoon we had the wind and tide against us so that we made no
progress. Some bights in the coast were approached with the intention of
anchoring in them but the water was so deep and the ground so
unfavourable for it that the stream anchor was eventually dropped in the
offing in twenty-two fathoms: where during the night the tide set with
unusual velocity and ran at the rate of one knot and three-quarters per

October 9.

In the morning a view from the masthead enabled me to see a confused mass
of rocks and islets in the South-West. At eight o'clock the flood tide
commenced and the anchor being weighed, we steered towards the bottom of
the gulf; on our way to which the positions of several small rocks and
islets, which form a part of this archipelago, were fixed. At noon our
latitude was 14 degrees 7 minutes 15 seconds, when the hill, which we
ascended over Encounter Cove in Vansittart Bay, was seen bearing South 88
1/2 degrees East. The land to the southward was still far distant but
with a fresh sea breeze we made rapid progress towards it and by four
o'clock entered an extensive port at the bottom of the gulf and anchored
in a bay on its western shore, land-locked, in four fathoms and
three-quarters, mud. In finding this anchorage we considered ourselves
fortunate for the freshness of the breeze in so dangerous a situation
made me feel uneasy for our only anchor, which we must have dropped at
night, however exposed our situation might have been: by midnight the
breeze fell and we had a dead calm.

October 10.

The next day we landed on the west head of the bay, Crystal Head, where
the meridional altitude of the sun was observed and sights for the
chronometers taken; in the evening we ascended its summit and by a
bearing of the land of Cape Bougainville the survey was connected with
Vansittart Bay.

In the morning a young kangaroo was started by Mr. Cunningham but made
its escape; the traces of these animals were very numerous on the sides
of the hills; several birds new to us were seen, and we also found about
the bushes the tail-feathers of the Cuculus phasianus (Index Orn. Sup.
page 30). The summit of Crystal Head is of flat tabular form; and the
sides, which are both steep and rugged, are covered with stunted trees
and high grass, now quite dry: the geology of this part is principally of
siliceous sandstone; and on the beach we found large detached water-worn
masses of the same rock, incrusted with quartz and epidote in a
crystallized state.

(*Footnote. The Centropus phasianus Tem. anal. plate 24. Polophilus
phasianus Shaw's Gen. Zool. volume 9 page 48 plate 11. Zool. Misc. plate
46. Pheasant Cuckow Gen. Syn. sup. 11 page 137.)

No natives were seen; but, from the large fires that were burning, a
numerous party was probably collected at the bottom of the port.

October 11.

On the 11th we got under weigh and anchored again at a few miles further
up the port, near a small rocky island where the latitude was observed to
be 14 degrees 32 minutes 45 seconds. In the afternoon Mr. Roe and Mr.
Cunningham accompanied me in the whale-boat to examine the bottom of the
port; which was found to terminate in two inlets winding under either
side of a bold prominent range of steep rocky hills, thickly clothed with
stunted trees. We pulled up the south-eastern arm; and having proceeded
as far as prudence allowed, for from not calculating upon being absent
long we had brought no provisions, we returned on board with the
intention of examining it further on the following day. In rowing back, a
kangaroo was seen skipping over the hills; and an alligator was lying
asleep on the beach, but it rushed into the water as we passed the spot.

October 12.

The next day Mr. Roe, accompanied by Mr. Cunningham, explored both arms;
and from his report the plan is made: but as they are merely salt-water
inlets, they are of little importance. During the absence of the boat the
state of our provisions and water was examined, on both of which, as we
had anticipated, the rats had made considerable havoc; two of the casks
were quite empty from holes gnawed by these animals to get at the water;
and several were so short of their contents that we had but a fortnight's
allowance left: this discovery induced me to determine on taking the
first opportunity that should offer of leaving the coast and resorting to
Timor; for, besides our want of water, several of the crew were attacked
by scurvy, so that it was also necessary to visit it to procure some
fresh provisions for them.

Port Warrender, which name was bestowed upon this fine harbour, is of
considerable extent; the land is very rugged and rocky; but although the
soil is shallow the hills on the western side are thickly covered with
grass and trees; which grew so luxuriantly in the gullies and bore so
verdant an appearance that fresh hopes were revived of finding water; we
were however very soon convinced of its being entirely destitute of it.

On the eastern side of the port the land is much broken and fronted by
several islands which were named after Sir John Osborn, one of the Lords
of the Admiralty; among them is a conspicuous steep rocky head, like
Mount Cockburn in Cambridge Gulf; it appeared to be perfectly

October 13.

At daylight (13th) we left the port; we had very little wind during the
day and by sunset had only reached an anchorage off Point Pickering, so
named after a late much-respected friend.

A bay trends to the westward of Point Pickering, which was called
Walmsley Bay; it probably affords good anchorage.

October 14.

During the night we had lightning from the North-West, and the next day
the wind was so light that we did not make much progress; an anchorage
was occupied during the ensuing night to the eastward of Point Biggs,
half a mile to the northward of a small rocky island in ten fathoms and a
half, muddy bottom. Every succeeding day the weather was getting more and
more unfavourable for our purpose; which increased my anxiety to escape
from this labyrinth of islands and shoals; for we had evidently no time
to spare in order to leave the coast before the rainy season should

The whole of this gulf is admirably formed for the trepang fishery and
the animal is extremely abundant among the reefs. Both fish and turtle
are plentiful, the latter are of very large size; none however were taken
to determine its species. We have seen very few inhabitants on this part
of the coast but at this season they are doubtless divided into small
detached parties for the greater facility of procuring sustenance, and of
making their reservoirs of water, wherever they may be, last longer.

October 15.

The next day, after an ineffectual attempt to pass out through the
islands in the vicinity of Cape Voltaire, we anchored about midway
between three of high flat-topped form; and at night the boat was
despatched to the easternmost island, to watch for turtle, but it
returned without having seen any. During the night the wind blew a
moderate breeze from South-West with dark cloudy weather.

October 16.

At daylight we weighed, but from light baffling winds it was some time
before we cleared the islands. The tide however swept us out and drifted
us half a mile to windward of a small peaked island which must be the
Pascal Island of the French: this islet is of small size but remarkable
for its conical shape and having, as it were, its apex cut off. It is
surrounded by a rocky shoal of small extent.

The wind had now veered to West-North-West and obliged our passing to the
eastward of Cassini Island (of Captain Baudin); and, from the immense
numbers of turtle-tracks that were seen upon its beach, we would gladly
have anchored near it, had a convenient place offered; but the bottom was
so deep that we could not with safety drop our anchor. The plan given by
M. de Freycinet of this archipelago is so defective that many of his
islands could not be recognised; but those which were made out preserve
his names. Cassini Island is sufficiently well placed by him, and was a
useful point for the sake of comparing our longitudes. In the space
between Cape Bougainville and Cape Voltaire, which was named the
Admiralty Gulf, we have given positions to at least forty islands or

Having now emerged from the archipelago of islands which front this part
of the north-west coast we seized the opportunity of taking leave of it
for the present and directed our course for Timor. At 4 hours 19 minutes
p.m., when the centre of Cassini Island bore South 4 degrees 30 minutes
West, distance 6 minutes 8 seconds by survey, sights for the chronometers
made the centre of the island in 125 degrees 41 minutes 22 seconds, which
is 2 minutes 32 seconds to the eastward of the longitude assigned to its
centre in M. de Freycinet's chart.

October 20.

On the 20th in the evening after a succession of damp weather with
squalls of thunder, lightning, and rain, and variable baffling winds, a
fresh breeze set in from East-South-East.

October 21.

At six o'clock the next morning it settled in the South-East with heavy
rain, thunder, and lightning, and afterwards the weather cleared up. As
soon as day dawned, sail was made to the North-West and before noon we
hauled up North-North-West to allow for a westerly current; at two p.m.
the weather clouded in and was followed by squalls of wind and rain from
the North-East, which, after passing over us, returned again from the
westward with more rain but less wind.

October 22.

At daylight (22nd) we saw the Island of Rottee, but instead of being,
according to our account, to windward of it, we were very little to the
eastward of its south-west end; having been set forty-three miles to the
westward since yesterday noon. During the day, as the wind was at
South-East, we endeavoured to pass round its windward side, but the
current was setting with such strength to the westward that, finding we
had lost ground during the night, we bore up the next morning for the
island of Savu, a proceeding which, if we should succeed in procuring
refreshments and fresh water there, would be more advantageous than going
to Timor: for in the first place there was less chance of incurring
sickness among the crew; and secondly we should be farther advanced on
our voyage back. Captain Cook, on his visit to Savu in 1770, found a
Dutch resident there; and I recollected having been assured by Mr.
Hazaart, the Resident at Timor, that the people were well-disposed
towards the English: Captain Horsburgh also mentions in his description
of Savu that the Dutch have residents on all these islands; and, as a
corroboration of these accounts, I had been informed by the master of a
merchant schooner at Port Jackson, who had lately been among these
islands, that abundance of good water could be procured there. Opposed to
this last report, Captain Cook says, "We were upon the coast at the
latter end of the dry season (September), when there had been no rain for
seven months, and we were told, that when the dry season continues so
long, there is no running stream of fresh water upon the whole island,
but only small springs, which are at a considerable distance from the sea
side:"* this conflicting account was discouraging; but as we had lately
had much rain it was hoped that there would be a sufficiency in the
springs for our use.

(*Footnote. Hawkesworth Coll. volume 3 page 277.)

October 24.

Having fully weighed all these circumstances we bore up for Savu, and at
four p.m. on the 24th anchored in Zeba Bay, on the north-west side of the
island. The bank on which the anchor was dropped was so steep that,
although the anchor was in twelve fathoms, the vessel was, at the length
of forty fathoms of cable, in twenty-two fathoms. As we were bringing up,
two muskets were fired from the shore, and a white flag, or rather a rag,
was suspended to a pole, around which a group of people had collected.
This flag gave us no very favourable idea of the respectability of the
place, and the meaning of the muskets we could not divine, nor indeed
ever did discover, unless it was that we had anchored on bad ground: the
boat was then hoisted out and I went on shore, accompanied by Messrs.
Bedwell and Cunningham, to where the flag was displayed. On approaching
the shore three people came down to direct us to the proper landing
place; for in all other parts of the beach a heavy surf was breaking. We
were then conducted to a hut in the rear of the flagstaff, where we found
from fifteen to twenty persons assembled; two of whom appeared, by their
dress and from the respect paid to them by the rest, to be chiefs. To
these I addressed myself and inquired for the Dutch resident, but soon
found there was none, and that one of those to whom we were speaking was
the Rajah himself. I afterwards found he was the identical Amadima of
whom interesting mention is made by Peron in his historical account of
Captain Baudin's expedition.*

(*Footnote. Peron tome 1 pages 119, 151, 161, and 162.)

My inquiries were made partly by signs and partly by a few terms in the
Malay language that we had collected from Captain Cook,* and from
Labillardiere's account of D'Entrecasteaux's voyage. Aer (water) was
among the foremost of our inquiries, to which we added the terms for
pigs, sheep, fowls, and coconuts, (vavee, doomba, mannu, and nieu).
Everything but water was plentiful and could be supplied by paying for
them in rupees or bartering them for gunpowder. On repeating the question
for water, their constant reply was, trada aer! trada aer! (no water, no
water). No misunderstanding could have taken place, for on our inquiry,
thinking it was for present use, they brought us some to drink. They
afterwards conducted us to a shallow well or spring in which there were
about ten or fifteen gallons; and this was all there was near the sea.

(*Footnote. Hawkesworth Coll. volume 3 page 298.)

Amadima, on our landing, sent a horseman to the town with a message, who
soon after returned with a paper which was shown to us; but, the
substance being in Dutch, we could not understand its purport; the sum of
seventy-four rix-dollars was, however, sufficiently plain to show that
money was wanted, and this conjecture was afterwards strengthened by a
petition whispered in my ear by Amadina himself for sato rupee (one
rupee); but, not having provided myself with any, I could not satisfy his

Gunpowder was in great request among them and we were given to understand
that we might obtain everything we required, excepting water, for money
or for gunpowder. Trada aer was so often repeated that we re-embarked
quite disappointed.

On our way to the boat we were accompanied by the whole mob, which had
now increased to forty or fifty people: all the men were armed with
cresses, and two amongst them had swords and spears; but there was no
appearance of hostility or of any unfriendly disposition towards us. When
they saw our empty barica in the boat they intimated by signs that we
might fill it, and Mr. Bedwell and Mr. Cunningham accordingly accompanied
one of our people to the well to take advantage of their offer; for a few
gallons of water were now of great importance to us.

We then took a friendly leave of these islanders under the full
expectation on their part of our returning in the morning with rupees and
powder to barter with their commodities; whereas I had quite determined
to leave the bay the moment that the day dawned.

The two following modes of proceeding were now only left to us; namely,
either to beat back to Coepang which bore East by North 120 miles, or to
bear up and pass through the straits of Lombock or Allas, and go to
Madura or Sourabaya for water, of which, on a reduced allowance, we had
enough on board for fifteen days.

To do the first would probably take a week or ten days, even if favoured
by the wind. At Coepang we could procure everything we wanted; and the
only arguments against such a measure were the probable length of the
voyage, and when there, the chance of being delayed until the adverse
monsoon should set in against us, by which our return to Port Jackson
would be perhaps prevented. To undertake the second would, from our being
weakly manned, subject us to danger from the Malay piratical proas in
passing the Straits; but as the latter mode of proceeding could be
resorted to in the event of our failing in the other, our united opinion
was that, of the two plans, the better was to go to Timor. Upon this
decision all hands were immediately set to work to fill our empty
water-casks with salt water and to get all the weighty things off the
deck into the hold, in order to give the vessel more stability.

October 25.

This was completed by night and at break of day we left the anchorage
with a fresh breeze from East-South-East.

Considering the short time we were on shore it would be the greatest
presumption for me to say anything respecting Savu, when so good an
account is already before the public in Captain Cook's voyage.* Every
circumstance that we could compare with it is still correct, except that
the women appear to have lost the decency he describes them to possess;
for there were several whom curiosity and the novelty of our arrival had
brought down to see us, naked to the hips, which alone supported a
petticoat or wrapper of blue cotton stuff that exposed their knees.

(*Footnote. Hawkesworth Coll. Volume 3 page 277 et seq.)

The beach was lined with the areca, or fan-palm tree, from which the
well-known liquor called toddy is procured. During our conference with
these people they were all busily employed in eating the fruit spike of
the piper betle,* which they first thickly covered with shell-lime; after
chewing it for some time, they spit it out into the hand of the attendant
slave who completes the exhaustion of this luxurious morceau by conveying
it to his own mouth.

(*Footnote. Persoon, in his description of areca catechu, makes the
following observation: E fructu ab extima pellicula libero, simul cum
foliis piperis betle, addito pauxillo calcis ex ostreis, fit
masticatorium, quod Indiani continue volvunt in ore, ut malus anhelitus
corrigatur, et dentes ac stomachus roborentur. Persoon, Syn. Plant. pars.
2 577.)

They have a small-sized breed of horses at Savu, similar to that of
Rottee; and pigs, sheep, and poultry appeared to be very plentiful. No
observations were taken during our stay in Zeba Bay. The tides were
scarcely perceptible and their rise and fall uncertain from the steep
bank on which we had anchored.

After quitting the bay we made every possible progress towards Timor; and
as long as we kept between the Islands of Savu and Rottee we found no
perceptible current against us, although the wind was constantly from the

October 26.

On the 26th the contents of one of our remaining casks of water was found
to be so bad that it could not be used for any purpose; upon examination
it turned out that the cask had been constructed at Port Jackson of the
staves of old salt-provision barrels. This loss, amounting to two days'
water, we could but ill spare: two or three gallons were collected from
the rain which fell during the evening; and this trifling supply,
although it had a tarry taste, was acceptable in our present

The next morning was calm. A small coasting proa was seen to the
northward but soon afterwards lost sight of, steering towards Timor.

October 28.

At daylight (28th) land was seen bearing East 1/2 North; at noon our
latitude was nine degrees 45 minutes 32 seconds; and by the morning and
evening sights for the chronometers a current had set us to the North 81
degrees West at nearly one mile and a quarter per hour. The wind, hanging
between South-East and South-South-East, prevented our tacking to the
southward to get out of the current, which, on our first experiencing it,
was thought to have been occasioned by a set through the strait of
Rottee; it was however afterwards found that we were on the southern edge
of the current that sets to the westward, down the north coast of Timor,
and that between Rottee and Savu the current is of trifling consequence.

October 29.

The next morning land was again indistinctly seen bearing East 12 degrees
South. At ten a.m. it was clearly visible, as well as a peaked hill which
bore East 1/2 North. We were now in a current setting rapidly to the
westward and soon lost a great portion of the ground that we had been so
long toiling to gain. In the evening the wind veering to East-South-East
enabled us to steer to the southward and to get out of the influence of
the current.

October 30 to 31.

From this to the 31st we had made little progress to the eastward; but in
the afternoon a breeze set in from West-South-West and brightened our
prospects: our water being now nearly expended, no time was to be lost,
and we steered for the Strait of Rottee in order to pass through that of
Samow; but the wind was so light that, not being sufficiently advanced
before dark, we bore up, and passed round the west side of Pulo Samow
with a breeze from South-East which continued during the night...

1819. November 1.

And by daylight had carried us near the north-west end of the island; at
nine a.m. the sea breeze set in from South-West and West, and gradually
increasing, we happily succeeded in arriving off the town of Coepang
where we moored at one-fifth of a mile from the flagstaff of Fort
Concordia, bearing South 14 1/2 degrees East.

Mr. Roe went on shore soon after anchoring to wait upon the Resident, and
to inform him of the purport of our visit: he found that our former
friend Mr. Hazaart was at Batavia, and that his place was temporarily
supplied by Mr. Halewyn; from whom we experienced such assistance and
attention as enabled us to complete our wood and water and to obtain
refreshments for the crew by the eighth day.

November 1 to 9.

The refreshments consisted of sheep, coconuts, limes, bananas, mangoes,
and the Jaca fruit. The sheep weighed from twelve to sixteen pounds and
were charged at about seven shillings and seven pence each. Limes were
very scarce, and oranges, pompions, and other vegetables which were most
wanted, were not to be procured at this season. Honey was very plentiful
and good and was preferred by our people to the gulah, of which we got
large quantities last year.

The weather during the first three or four days of our stay was fine but
afterwards damp and showery with a succession of land winds, which
affected us all with colds; so that we lost no time in leaving the bay
the moment that our wants were supplied, which was at sunset on the

From the secretary to the government we obtained information that Captain
de Freycinet of the French Corvette L'Uranie had visited Coepang in
October last, and remained there fifteen days. L'Uranie was fitting out
at Toulon when we left England in 1817 for a voyage round the world, and
was expected on her way to touch upon the western coasts of New Holland;
but it appeared that the only place which Captain De Freycinet visited
was Shark's Bay on the western coast; he remained there a short time for
the purpose of swinging his pendulum, and of completing the astronomical
observations that had been previously made during Commodore Baudin's
voyage. We also heard that the master and four of the crew of the ship
Frederick, the wreck of which we had seen at Cape Flinders, had arrived
at Coepang in a ship that was in company with her at the time of the
accident; but what became of the Frederick's longboat, which left the
wreck with twenty-three of the crew, in company with the master's boat,
in which were ONLY FOUR OR FIVE people, never afterwards transpired.

November 10.

After leaving Coepang the wind, which freshened up from the East by
North, continued steady until the following day, when we were at noon in
10 degrees 36 minutes 47 seconds South, the summit of Savu bearing North
83 degrees West. The wind then fell and veered to South-South-East, but
towards evening freshened from South-East and South-East by South.

November 11.

By eight o'clock we steered a South-West course, and passed the islands
of Savu and Benjoar; the breeze then freshening veered round to the
eastward and brought on heavy rain with much thunder and lightning.

November 12 to 14.

After passing the meridian of Sandelwood Island, the wind varied between
north and south by way of east, often suddenly changing eight or ten, and
sometimes thirteen points of the compass at once.

November 15.

On the 15th we were at noon in latitude 15 degrees 14 minutes 7 seconds
and longitude 115 degrees 2 minutes when the wind changed to
West-North-West and cleared up the weather: it then gradually veered
round by South-West and South-South-West to the south-east trade.

November 21.

At noon on the 21st we had reached the latitude assigned to the Tryal
Rocks by the Dutch sloop, namely, 19 degrees 32 minutes 30 seconds; our
longitude was 108 degrees 8 minutes 36 seconds. Other accounts place
these rocks in 20 degrees 50 minutes; we therefore stood on with caution,
for the wind and the currents to the North-West were too strong for us to
lie to with safety for the night.

November 22.

At two a.m. being in latitude 20 degrees 41 minutes 14 seconds and
longitude 107 degrees 11 minutes 36 seconds we sounded without success
with ninety fathoms of line, and at four o'clock, having ran seven miles
on a South-West by South course, had no bottom with ninety-five fathoms:
at noon our latitude was 21 degrees 23 minutes 24 seconds, and longitude
106 degrees 41 minutes, when no bottom was reached with eighty fathoms.

The wind continued with little variation between South-East by South and
South-East by East until we reached the latitude of 27 1/2 degrees and
102 degrees 20 minutes East; here we had light southerly winds for two
days after which the South-East winds carried us as far as 32 degrees
South and 99 degrees 45 minutes East; between this and 34 degrees South
we had variable light airs from East-South-East to South-South-West.
Afterwards alternate northerly and southerly winds, with fine weather and
top-gallant breezes, carried us as far as latitude 38 degrees and
longitude 117 1/2 degrees. From this we ran along the south coast of New
Holland, with strong gales between South-South-West and West; but on
approaching Bass Strait the winds hung to the southward, and veering
afterwards to South-East we were driven to the northward.

1819. December 24.

On the 24th December at eight p.m. we made the land between Cape
Northumberland and Cape Buffon.

December 27.

But from light baffling winds had advanced no farther by noon (27th) than
four or five miles South-South-West of Lady Julia Percy's Isle. This
island is incorrectly laid down in Captain Flinders' chart, owing to the
very unfavourable weather which he experienced in passing this part of
the coast; we found it to lie East 3 degrees South (true) seventeen miles
and a half from Lawrence Island: a second island has a place in Captain
Flinders' chart, but we saw nothing of it. The coast also lies farther
back in proportion to the error of the island's position.

1820. January 2.

At four o'clock p.m. 2nd January we entered Bass Strait by the channel on
the north side of King's Island.

January 12.

After passing through the strait we experienced so much bad weather and
contrary gales of wind that we did not arrive at Port Jackson until the
morning of the 12th, having been absent thirty-five weeks and four days.

The result of our proceedings during this voyage has been the survey of
540 miles of the northern coast, in addition to the 500 that were
previously examined. Besides which we had made a running survey of that
portion of the intertropical part of the east coast that is situated
between the Percy Isles and Torres Strait; a distance of 900 miles; the
detailed survey of which had never before been made, for Captain Cook
merely examined it in a cursory manner as he passed up the coast. The
opportunity, therefore, was not lost of making such observations on our
voyage as enabled me to present to the public a route towards Torres
Strait infinitely preferable on every account to the dangerous navigation
without the reefs, which has hitherto been chiefly used.

As it was not intended that I should make the survey of this extensive
tract of coast I did not feel myself authorized to examine in any very
detailed way the bottom of every bay or opening that presented itself;
but merely confined myself to laying down the vessel's track and the
positions of various reefs that were strewed on either side of it; and
also to fixing the situations of the head-lands. In doing this enough has
been effected to serve as the precursor of a more particular examination
of the coast, the appearance of which, from its general fertile and
mountainous character, made me regret the necessity of passing so hastily
over it.

Equipment for the third voyage.
Leave Port Jackson.
Loss of bowsprit, and return.
Observations upon the present state of the colony, as regarding the
effect of floods upon the River Hawkesbury.
Re-equipment and final departure.
Visit Port Bowen.
Cutter thrown upon a sandbank.
Interview with the natives, and description of the country about Cape
Leave Port Bowen.
Pass through the Northumberland, and round the Cumberland Islands.
Anchor at Endeavour River.
Summary of observations taken there.
Visit from the natives.
Vocabulary of their language.
Observations thereon in comparing it with Captain Cook's account.
Mr. Cunningham visits Mount Cook.
Leave Endeavour River, and visit Lizard Island.
Cape Flinders and Pelican Island.
Entangled in the reefs.
Haggerston's Island, Sunday Island, and Cairncross Island.
Cutter springs a leak.
Pass round Cape York.
Endeavour Strait.
Anchor under Booby Island.
Remarks upon the Inner and Outer routes through Torres Strait.

1820. June 21.

In preparing our little vessel for a third voyage, it became requisite to
give her a considerable repair; and among many other things there was an
absolute necessity for her being fresh coppered; but from the pretended
scarcity of copper sheathing in the colony and other circumstances that
opposed the measure, we found more than a common difficulty in effecting
it. The cutter was careened at a place appointed for the purpose on the
east side of Sydney Cove; and whilst undergoing her repair the crew lived
on board a hulk hired for the occasion. This offered so favourable an
opportunity for destroying the rats and cockroaches with which she was
completely overrun, a measure that, from the experience of our last
voyage, was considered absolutely necessary for our comfort as well as
for our personal safety, that, as soon as the operation of coppering and
caulking was finished, she was secured alongside of the hulk, and there
immersed in the water for several days, by which process we hoped
effectually to destroy them.

Upon the vessel being raised and the water pumped out, I was rejoiced to
find that the measure appeared to have had the desired effect; but,
before we left Port Jackson, she was again infested by rats, and we had
not been long at sea before the cockroaches also made their appearance in
great numbers. In sinking the cutter it seemed, in respect to the
insects, that we had only succeeded in destroying the living stock, and
that the eggs, which were plentifully deposited in the recesses and
cracks of the timbers and sides, proved so impervious to the sea-water,
that no sooner had we reached the warmer climate, than they were hatched,
and the vessel was quickly repossessed by them; but it was many months
before we were so annoyed by their numbers as had been the case during
the last voyage.

Our crew, after they had returned the stores and fitted the standing
rigging, were paid their wages; when, with only two exceptions, they were
at their own wish discharged, and it was some time before a new crew was
collected. Whilst we were repairing the defects, H.M. store-ship
Dromedary arrived from England and brought us a selection of stores, for
the want of which we should otherwise have been detained many months.

By this ship orders were received from the Admiralty to rig the cutter
with rope manufactured from the New Zealand hemp (Phormium tenax) but
there was a considerable difficulty in procuring enough even for a
boom-sheet. This specimen was prepared by a rope-maker of the colony, and
the result of the trial has fully justified the good opinion previously
formed of its valuable qualities.

In my communication to the Admiralty in June, 1818 from Timor, I had
mentioned the necessity of a medical man being attached to the vessel;
and upon my last return I found one had arrived with an appointment to
the Mermaid; but, to my great mortification, he was unable to join, from
being afflicted with mental derangement which continued so long and so
severely that I was under the necessity of sending him back to England.
We had now every prospect of encountering a third voyage without the
assistance of a surgeon. Hitherto we had been fortunate in not having
materially suffered from the want of so valuable an officer; but it was
scarcely probable we could expect to continue upon such a service much
longer without severe sickness. As any assistance therefore was
preferable to none, I accepted the proffered services of a young man who
was strongly recommended by his Excellency the Governor, and he was on
the point of joining me, when a surgeon of the navy, Mr. James Hunter,
who had just arrived in charge of a convict ship, volunteered his
services which were gladly accepted, and he was immediately attached to
the Mermaid's establishment.

The accession of a surgeon to our small party relieved me of a greater
weight of anxiety than I can describe; and when it is considered that Mr.
Hunter left an employment of a much more lucrative nature to join an
arduous service in a vessel whose only cabin was scarcely large enough to
contain our mess-table, and which afforded neither comfort nor
convenience of any description, I may be allowed here to acknowledge my
thanks for the sacrifice he made.

After all our defects were repaired, and we were otherwise quite ready
for sea, we were detained nearly a month before our crew was completed.

June 14.

And it was not until the 14th of June that we left Port Jackson.

For a day or two previous to our departure the weather had been very
unsettled; and when we sailed, there was every appearance of an
approaching gale of wind: we had however been detained so long in
collecting a crew that I was glad to sail the moment we were ready:
besides I hoped to get to the northward before the threatening storm
commenced. Unfortunately however we had no sooner put to sea than it set
in; and by the time we were abreast of Smoky Cape the wind, after flying
about, fixed itself in the eastern board, and blew extremely hard with
thick weather and heavy rain.

June 20 to 22.

The gale lasted with little intermission during the 20th and 21st; and at
four o'clock the next morning we had the misfortune to lose our bowsprit
by the vessel's plunging into a head sea. We had however made a
sufficient offing to enable us to keep away two points, so that, by
rigging the wreck of the bowsprit, which was barely long enough to spread
the storm jib, we contrived to steer a course we had every reason to
think would carry her clear of Port Stevens. We continued to run to the
southward until the afternoon, when, supposing we had passed that port,
we bore away to the South-West. At midnight the gale fell, and the wind
changed to the westward.

June 23.

At daylight land was seen to windward, which, from the distance we had
ran, was supposed to be about Port Stevens; but we found ourselves at
noon by a meridional observation, off Jervis Bay; so that the current
during the gale had set us one hundred and fifty miles to the southward,
and for the last twenty-four hours at the rate of nearly three knots per

June 24.

Owing to this we did not arrive at Port Jackson until the following day
at noon; and it was sunset before the cutter anchored in the cove.

It appeared on our arrival that the weather had been even worse on the
land than we had experienced it at sea. The Nepean and Hawkesbury Rivers
had been flooded, by which the growing crops had been considerably
injured, but happily the colony has long ceased to suffer from these once
much-dreaded inundations: a great portion of upland country out of the
reach of the waters is now cultivated, from which the government stores
are principally supplied with grain. Individuals who, from obstinacy,
persist in the cultivation of the low banks of the Hawkesbury, alone
suffer from these destructive floods, which have been known to rise in a
few hours to the height of eighty feet above the usual level of the
river's bed. The evil, however, deposits its own atonement; and the
succeeding crop, if it escapes a flood, repays the settlers for their
previous loss: this it is that emboldens them to persist in their
ill-advised temerity. At no very distant period a time will arrive when
these very lands, the cultivation of which has caused so much distress to
the colony and ruin to individuals, will, by being laid down in grass for
the purposes of depasturing cattle, become a considerable source of
wealth to their possessors.

There has been no general want of grain in the colony since the year
1817, although there have been several floods upon the Hawkesbury and the
other rivers that fall into it, which have greatly distressed the farmers
of that district. One of the arguments, therefore, with which the enemies
of colonizing in New South Wales have hitherto armed themselves, in order
to induce emigrants to give the preference to Van Diemen's Land, falls to
the ground.

We were fortunate in finding in the naval yard, a spar of the New Zealand
cowrie pine (dammara) large enough for our bowsprit.

1820. July 13.

And on the 13th of July, having had our damages repaired, we resumed our
voyage under more favourable omens, for we sailed with a fair wind and
fine weather.

July 17.

On the 17th July we were off Moreton Bay, and in the afternoon
communicated with a whaler which heaved in sight off the Cape (Moreton).
My object was to learn whether she had heard any tidings of a boat
belonging to the Echo whaler, which ship had been lately wrecked on the
Cato's bank: one of her boats, with part of her crew, arrived at Sydney a
few days before we sailed; but another boat, in which the master and the
remainder of her people embarked, had not been heard of; and I
entertained hopes that this vessel had picked them up, but, on the
master's coming on board, I found that he was quite ignorant of her loss.

It so happened that both ships belonged to the same owner, Messrs.
Bennetts of London; and we had the satisfaction of afterwards hearing
that the information we had thus afforded proved useful; for the vessel
subsequently succeeded in finding the boat, and preserving the lives of
the crew. After giving our visitor some information respecting the coast
and the reef off Cape Moreton, which he claimed as his discovery, but
which, much to his surprise, we showed him already laid down on Captain
Flinders' chart of 1801, he returned to his ship, and we resumed our
course to the northward.

July 18.

At nine o'clock the next evening, having passed Indian Head in the
morning, we rounded Breaksea Spit, and at midnight brought to the wind in
order to make Lady Elliot's Island.

July 19.

But, finding at daylight that a current had drifted us past it, we
steered on, and at ten o'clock discovered a group of low woody islets.
They were named Bunker's Isles. It has been since ascertained that they
abound with turtle and beche de mer, the latter of which, if not both,
will at some future time become of considerable importance to the
coasting trade of New South Wales.

July 20.

On the 20th we anchored on the south side of Port Bowen, in the entrance
of the inlet that extends to the southward within the projection of Cape
Clinton; but in doing this we were unfortunate enough to get aground, and
receive very serious damage. After passing the Cape and hauling round its
inner trend towards the sandy bay, we had to beat to windward to reach
the anchorage, and, in the act of tacking on the western side of the
inlet, the tide swept us upon a sandbank, over which, as the wind was
blowing obliquely upon it, the cutter continued to drive until the sails
were taken in and an anchor laid out astern to check her; but before we
could extricate her from the dangerous situation in which she was placed,
it was found necessary to lay out another bower-anchor, for there was a
rolling swell upon the bank, and every time it left her she struck very
hard upon the ground. Happily the tide was flowing, and as soon as the
vessel floated she was warped into a secure birth within the heads of the

During the time that the cutter had been on the bank, which was two hours
and a half, she was continually striking; and at one time we heard a loud
crash which gave us reason to fear that some serious damage had happened.
At first it was thought either that the pintles of the rudder were broken
or that the stern-post was rent; but upon examination both appeared to
have escaped; and as no leak was observed during the night I indulged the
hope that the noise was not occasioned by any accident that would
inconvenience us, or oblige our premature return to Port Jackson. That
this hope proved to be fallacious will soon appear; and, had the extent
of the damage received been discovered before we left this anchorage, I
should not have ventured further up the coast, but have immediately
returned to Port Jackson. Had the tide been falling when the vessel
struck, instead of the reverse, our situation must have been attended
with more serious damage, if not our total loss; and therefore, comforted
by an ideal security, we consoled ourselves under our comparatively good

July 21.

The next day was spent in watering, getting provisions to hand in the
hold, and refitting some temporary damage to the rigging. Mr. Hunter and
Mr. Cunningham ranged about the vicinity of the shore whilst Mr. Roe,
with a boat's crew, was employed in filling our empty water-casks from a
gully at the back of the beach.

Soon after the watering-party commenced their work some shrill voices
were heard near them among the trees: in a short time two natives made
their appearance and were easily persuaded to approach. They were
unarmed, and communicated with confidence, and apparently were disposed
to be friendly; one of them gave Mr. Roe a fishing-line spun and twisted
of strips of bark, to the end of which was attached a hook made from a

Our gentlemen revisited the shore in the afternoon but without seeing the
natives. In wandering about they discovered some stumps of trees close to
the beach that bore marks of having been felled with a sharp instrument;
and near some huts they found several strips of canvas lying on the
ground, from which it would appear that the place had recently been
visited by Europeans.

July 22.

I landed the next morning with a theodolite in order to obtain some
bearings from the summit of the hill over the beach, but my intention was
frustrated by a visit from the natives, five of whom made their
appearance upon the hills as the boat arrived at the shore. The party
consisted of three men and two boys: one of the men carried a spear,
another had a boomerang* of a smaller size but otherwise similar to that
which the Port Jackson natives use; and the boys each carried a short
branch of a tree in their hands: they met us halfway and allowed us to
approach with our muskets, a circumstance which dispelled all suspicion
of any unfriendly feeling towards us; nor do I think any did exist when
we first met.

(*Footnote. The boomerang is a very formidable weapon; it is a short,
curved piece of heavy wood, and is propelled through the air by the hand
in so skilful a manner that the thrower alone knows where it will fall.
It is generally thrown against the wind and takes a rapid rotary motion.
It is used by the natives with success in killing the kangaroo, and is, I
believe, more a hunting than a warlike weapon. The size varies from
eighteen to thirty inches in length, and from two to three inches broad.
The shape is that of an obtuse angle rather than a crescent: one in my
possession is twenty-six inches long, its greatest breadth two inches and
a half, thickness half an inch, and the angle formed from the centre is
140 degrees. Boomerang is the Port Jackson term for this weapon, and may
be retained for want of a more descriptive name. There is a drawing of it
by M. Lesueur in Plate 22 Figure 6 of Peron's Atlas; it is there
described by the name of sabre a ricochet. This plate may, by the way, be
referred to for drawings of the greater number of the weapons used by the
Port Jackson natives, all of which, excepting the identical boomerang,
are very well delineated. M. Lesueur has however failed in his sabre a

In order to divert them and obtain as much information as we could whilst
the boat's crew were filling the water-casks, we seated ourselves on the
grass and commenced a conversation that was perfectly unintelligible to
each other, accompanied with the most ridiculous gestures, a species of
buffoonery that is always acceptable to the natives of this part of the
world, and on more than one occasion has been particularly useful to us.
An attempt was made to procure a vocabulary of their language, but
without success, for we were soon obliged from their impatience to give
it up. Not so easily, however, were they diverted from their object, for
every article of our dress, and everything we carried, they asked for
with the greatest importunity; our refusal disappointed them so much that
they could not avoid showing the hostile feelings they had evidently
begun to entertain towards us. Seeing this, I took an opportunity of
convincing them of our power, and after some difficulty persuaded the
native that carried the spear to throw it at a paper-mark placed against
a bush at the distance of twelve yards. He launched it twice, but, much
to his mortification, without striking the object. Mr. Hunter then fired
and perforated the paper with shot, which increased the shame that the
native and his companions evidently felt upon the occasion: Mr. Hunter
then killed a small bird that was skipping about the branches of an
overhanging tree; upon the bird being given to them, they impatiently and
angrily examined it all over, and particularly scrutinized the wound that
caused its death.

We now found that the proved superiority of our weapons, instead of
quieting them, only served to inflame their anger the more; and we were
evidently on the point of an open rupture. One of them seized the
theodolite-stand, which I carried in my hand, and I was obliged to use
force to retain it. They then made signs to Mr. Hunter to send his gun to
the boat; this was of course refused, upon which one of them seized it,
and it was only by wrenching it from his grasp that Mr. Hunter
repossessed himself of it.

Many little toys were now given to them, on receiving which their
countenances relaxed into a smile; and peace would perhaps have been
restored, had we not unfortunately presented them with a looking-glass,
in which they were, for the first time, witnesses of their hideous
countenances, which were rendered still more savage from the ill-humour
they were in. They now became openly angry; and in very unequivocal terms
ordered us away. Fortunately the Indian that carried the spear was the
least ill-tempered of the party, or we should not perhaps have retreated
without being under the necessity of firing in self-defence.

We retired however without any farther rupture and left them seated on
the bank, whence they continued to watch our movements until the boat was
loaded and we left the shore. They then came down to the beach and
searched about for whatever things we might accidentally have left
behind; and after examining with great attention some marks that, for
amusement, some of our party had scratched upon the sand, they separated.
The old man and the two boys embarked in a canoe and paddled round the
point towards the Cape, in which direction also the other two natives
bent their steps.

The tall, slender form of the Port Jackson natives and their other
peculiarities of long curly hair, large heads, and spare limbs are
equally developed in the inhabitants of this part. The bodies of these
people are however considerably more scarified than their countrymen to
the southward, and their teeth are perfect. One of our visitors had a
fillet of plaited grass, whitened by pigment, bound round his head, and
this was the only ornament worn by them.

The spear was of very rude form and seemed to be a branch of the
mangrove-tree, made straight by the effect of fire: it did not appear
that they used the throwing-stick.

The soil of the hills of Cape Clinton is of good quality but the country
at the back of the port appears to be chiefly marshy land. Mr. Hunter
sowed orange and lemon seeds in various places in the neighbourhood of
the cape; the climate of this part is so well adapted for those trees
that, if it were possible to protect them from the fires of the natives,
they would soon grow up, and prove a valuable refreshment to voyagers.

Captain Flinders describes the soil at the northern part of the port to
be "either sandy or stony, and unfit for cultivation."* The country
around Mount Westall is also formed of a shallow soil, but the low lands
are covered with grass and trees, and the ravines and sides of the hills
are covered with stunted pine-trees which were thought to be the
Araucaria excelsa.

(*Footnote. Flinders volume 2 page 38.)

The country between Port Bowen and Shoalwater Bay is low and overrun with
mangroves; but Captain Flinders* speaks more favourably of the land about
the latter bay, particularly in the vicinity of his Pine Mount, where he
describes the soil as being fit for cultivation. At Upper Head in Broad
Sound the country appears to be still better;** in addition to which the
great rise of tides might be of considerable importance to that place,
should a settlement there ever be contemplated.

(*Footnote. Flinders volume 2 page 51.)

(**Footnote. Idem volume 2 page 71.)

Having obtained sights on the beach at Cape Clinton for the time-keepers
we sailed out of this port by the same track that we entered; and held
our course to the northward towards the Northumberland Islands.

At midnight we were abreast of the Percy Islands.

July 23.

At noon the next day we passed to the westward of the islet, marked kl,
and thence steered between the Three Rocks and k2, and, before sunset,
were near l2, the island on which Captain Flinders landed.

July 24.

The night was passed under sail and at daylight, when we resumed our
course towards the Cumberland Islands, Linne Peak and Shaw's Peak, and
the land about Capes Hillsborough and Conway were seen. At noon we were
off Pentecost Island.

Hence we steered to the northward within a string of rocky islets. On
passing this part, some natives came down to a point, and kindled a fire
to attract our attention. At four o'clock in the evening we rounded the
north extreme of the Cumberland Islands; and by sunset obtained a set of
bearings to connect the present survey with that of last year. A lofty
peak on the main, distinctly visible from all parts, particularly from
Repulse Bay, was named after the late Jonas Dryander, Esquire; it was
ascertained to be 4566 feet high.

The Cumberland Islands are all high and rocky and are covered on their
windward or south-east sides with stunted timber and pine-trees; but the
leeward sides, being sheltered from the wind, are generally well clothed
with grass and timber. The pine-trees on these islands do not appear to
be of large dimensions but several vessels have cut spars upon the
islands near the south end of Whitsunday Passage, large enough for
topmasts and bowsprits for vessels of 400 tons burthen. It is not
probable that larger spars can be obtained: they are very tough, but full
of knots; and, when carried away by the wind, break short without

July 25.

We passed Capes Gloucester and Upstart during the night and early part of
the next morning. Between the latter cape and the low projection of Cape
Bowling-green, we experienced an in-draught of three-quarters of a knot
per hour. This also occurred last year; and it should be guarded against
by ships passing by: for the land about the latter cape is so low that it
cannot be seen at night.

From the period of our entering among the Northumberland Islands, the
weather, although fine, had been more than usually hazy; the wind during
the day blew moderately from South by East and South, and veered towards
night to South-East by East and East-South-East; but when we passed Cape
Cleveland it blew a fresh breeze, and was so very hazy that we could not
take advantage of our vicinity to the coast by verifying or improving any
part of our former survey, except the outer or seaward side of the Palm
Island Group, near which we passed in the evening.

July 26.

The next morning we were off the southernmost Barnard's Island, and as
the coast between Double Point and Fitzroy Island had not been
satisfactorily laid down on the previous examination of this part, we
steered near the shore in order to improve it; but the land was much
overcast and the summits of Bellenden Ker's Range were so enveloped in
clouds that very little improvement was effected.

A breeze, however, in the evening from South-East dispersed the vapours
that had collected during the day on the sea horizon. In passing outside
of Fitzroy Island, a sandbank situated nine miles East 1/2 South from the
island was noticed, and other banks were reported from the masthead; but
on my going up I saw nothing more than a bright appearance on the
horizon, which is however an indication of their existence that seldom
failed in being correct, whenever an opportunity offered of proving it.

Bearing up between Cape Grafton and Green Island we steered North-West
1/2 North, by compass to make the Low Isles in Trinity Bay. The weather
was thick and misty with showers of rain; but, as a sight of these
islands was of consequence in crossing this bay, we continued to steer
for them, and at midnight they were seen. This enabled us to direct the
course with more confidence towards Cape Tribulation over Captain Cook's

July 27.

At daylight we were off the cape and soon passed to the eastward of the
Hope Islands; between which and Endeavour River we had an opportunity of
laying down the reefs in the offing, particularly that on which the
Endeavour struck, and which so nearly proved fatal to her enterprising
commander and his companions.

As it was our intention to visit Endeavour River to complete our former
observations for the determination of its longitude, we hauled in for the
land and upon reaching the entrance, with which I was sufficiently
acquainted, steered over the bar on which the least water was ten feet,
and secured the cutter to the beach on the same spot occupied at our last

Being anxious to see what change had taken place during an absence of
twelve months, our steps were naturally first directed to the spot where
our boat had been built; the remains of our encampment were still
visible, and the carpenter's bench was exactly in the same state as it
had been left: the Mermaid's name, which had been carved on a tree, was
also legible; but in a short time would have been defaced by the young
bark which had already nearly covered it. Upon visiting our former
watering place we were mortified to find that it was quite dried up; and
this may probably account for the absence of natives, for there was not a
single vestige of their presence on this side of the port; but as large
fires were burning at the back of the north shore it was presumed they
were in that direction. On setting fire to the grass to clear a space for
our tent, it was quickly burnt to the ground, and the flames continued to
ravage and extend over the hills until midnight.

July 28.

The following day we erected tents and commenced some repairs to the
jolly-boat, which was hauled up in the usual place; the other two boats
were sent to the north end of the long sandy beach on the opposite side
to examine the state of the rivulet which we had noticed there last year.
On their return they reported it to be still running with a plentiful
stream; and although it was rather inconvenient, from the beach being
exposed to the swell and surf, yet our boats made daily trips to it
without any ill consequences, notwithstanding one of them was once
swamped in loading; it did not however sustain any injury.

Another stream of water was subsequently found on the south side, a
little without the entrance of the harbour, but too brackish for the
purposes of drinking; it was therefore merely used during our stay for
the common purposes of washing and cooking.

Whilst our people were thus employed I was assisted by Mr. Roe at the
observatory. As the particulars of our observations for this and the
preceding years are inserted in the Appendix it will be sufficient here
merely to record the position of the observatory; it was situated on the
south shore opposite the low sandy north point; and was found to be in:

Latitude: 15 degrees 27 minutes 4 seconds.
Longitude: 145 degrees 10 minutes 49 seconds.
Variation of the compass: 5 degrees 13 3/4 minutes East.
Dip of the south end of the Needle: 38 degrees.
High water at full and change: at eight o'clock.

July 29.

On the 29th Mr. Bedwell went to Captain Cook's Turtle Reef but he was
unsuccessful in his search for that animal; neither did he find any
shells different from what we had previously seen; only a few clams
(Chama gigas) were brought away, besides a small fish of the shark tribe
(Squalus ocellatus, Linn.). At high water the reef was overflowed
excepting at its north-west end where a patch of sand not larger than the
boat was left dry. At low tide the key, or the ridge of rocks heaped up
round the edge of the reef, was left dry and formed a barricade for the
interior, which is occupied by a shallow lake of circular shape in which
many small fish and some sharks were seen swimming about. It was from
this reef that Captain Cook, during the repair of his ship, procured
turtle for her crew; and, this being the same season, we were
disappointed in not obtaining any. On the return of the boat she was
placed in some danger from the number of whales, of the fin-back species,
that were sporting about the surface of the water and occasionally
leaping out of it and lashing the sea with their enormous fins.

July 30.

On the 30th, having hitherto carried on our occupation without seeing or
hearing anything of the natives, whilst I was busily employed with Mr.
Roe in observing the sun's meridional altitude, I happened on looking
round to espy five natives standing about forty or fifty yards off among
the high grass watching our movements. As soon as they perceived we had
discovered them they began to repeat the word itchew (friend) and to pat
their breasts, thereby intimating that their visit had no hostile motive.
As the sun was rapidly approaching its meridian I called Mr. Bedwell from
on board to amuse them until our observations were completed. The only
weapons they appeared to carry were throwing-sticks, which we easily
obtained in exchange for some grains of Indian corn.

A few words were obtained by Mr. Cunningham which served to confirm many
we had possessed ourselves of last year; and which, being afterwards
compared with the vocabulary of the New South Wales language given by
Captain Cook, proves that he obtained it at Endeavour River. And here it
is not a little curious to remark that, of the only two words which
materially differ in the two accounts, one of them is the name of the
kangaroo. This word was repeatedly used to them last year, as well as
this, accompanied by an imitation of the leap of the animal, which they
readily understood; but on repeating the word kangaroo they always
corrected us by saying "men-u-ah." This animal has therefore been
distinguished by a name which chance alone gave it; and not, as has
always been supposed, from the term applied to it by the natives of the
part where Captain Cook first saw it.

The resemblance of the words in the following vocabulary proves that the
language of these people has not changed since Captain Cook's visit; and
that in the term for kangaroo he has been mistaken.


Kangaroo : Men-u-ah : Kangaroo.
Canoe : Mar-a-gan : Maragan.
Eye : Ca-ree, or Me-ell : Meul.
Nose : E-mer-da, or Po-te-er : Bon-joo.
Ear : Mil-kah : Melea.
Teeth : Mol-ear.
Knee : Bon-go : Pongo.
Toes : Eb-e-rah.
Navel : Tool-po-ra : Tool poor.
A quail : Kah-kee or Mool-lar.
Friend : It-chew.
Pigment : Wo-parr.
Feathers : Te-err.
Hair of the head : Mor-re-ah : Morye.
Beard : Wol-lah : Wallar.
Nipples : Coy-o-ber-rah : Cayo.
Fingers : Mun-gal-bah.
Elbow : Ye-er-we.
Huts : Ye-er-kah.
Go along, go away, or go on : Tattee or Tah-tee.

Among the presents made to them were some beads which they appeared to
consider of little value; but what pleased them most was a bird that Mr.
Hunter shot previous to their appearance.

Their visit did not last longer than a quarter of an hour during which
they were very pressing for us to accompany them; finding us however
unwilling to trust ourselves in their power, for from our experience of
their mischievous behaviour last year we had good reason to be suspicious
of their intentions, they went away, but after walking a short distance,
one of them returned, and stooping, picked up something with which he
immediately slunk off, evidently with the hope of having escaped our
notice: but in this he was disappointed; for Mr. Hunter and Mr.
Cunningham followed him and ascertained that he had returned to carry
away his spear which had been concealed close at hand during their
communication with our party; and by the limping gait of the rest it was
probable that they all carried spears between their toes; a practice that
has been frequently observed among the natives in many parts of New South
Wales, when they wish to conceal their being armed; and which generally
indicates a mischievous intention.

Shortly after their departure the country towards the back of the harbour
was perceived to have been set on fire by them; as the wind was fresh the
flames spread about in all directions; and in the evening our people
being allowed to range about for amusement, increased the conflagration
by setting fire to the surrounding grass; so that the whole surface was
in a blaze.

July 31.

The next day, whilst busily employed at the tent in calculating some
lunar distances, we were suddenly alarmed by the rapid approach of the
flames; but having previously taken the precaution of burning the grass
off round the tent, their advance was received with unconcern: the
rapidity and fierceness however with which they approached made me fear
that the sparks might set fire to the tent, upon which the instruments
were moved to the water's edge and the tent pulled down; but, had not the
grass been previously cleared away, we could not have saved any article,
from the rapidity with which the flames spread through that which had
been left standing and which was not more than ten yards from the tent.

1820. August 2.

Three days after the visit from the natives, Mr. Bedwell and Mr. Hunter
proceeded to examine among the mangroves at the back of the harbour for a
communication with some fresh water ponds which we had discovered the day
before; but they returned in the afternoon without success. They had
penetrated up two or three openings in the mangroves; in one of which was
found a canoe, similar to that described by Woodcut 3: it was hollowed
out of the trunk of the erythrina and was furnished with an outrigger. A
turtle-peg was found in it, which Mr. Hunter brought away; it measured
seventeen inches in length and was in other respects similar to that used
by the natives of Rockingham Bay. (See Woodcut 4.) On the mud and close
to the canoe the gentlemen noticed the impression of a human foot, that
must have been made since the previous high tide. They also saw an
alligator but it was not more than eight feet in length.

Mr. Cunningham returned in the evening from a walk to the summit of Mount
Cook, much fatigued from the difficulty he experienced in the ascent: he
brought with him however a collection of specimens and seeds, which fully
repaid him for the toil of his excursion. He also rendered his expedition
useful to me by taking the bearings of some reefs in the offing and by
furnishing a sketch of the bay on the south side of the mountain, and of
the rivulet which falls into it. This did not appear to him to be deep
enough for a vessel larger than a boat. It was this bay that Captain Cook
first examined for a place to repair his ship after his escape from the
reef; but he found it much too inconvenient and exposed for his purpose;
and it was after this that Endeavour River was discovered.

On one of Mr. Cunningham's explorations he found several cabbage palms
(Seaforthia elegans, Brown); but they were too distant from the tents to
induce me to send for any for the ship's company. Besides this he also
found a species of yam (Caladium macrorhizum, Cunn. manuscripts) the
roots of which would have furnished an excellent substitute for
vegetables for us, had the plants been found in abundance and convenient
for gathering.

During our stay at this harbour our gentlemen visited every part of the
country within five or six miles from the tents. The soil, although
covered with grass, was generally remarked to be shallow and of inferior
quality; as was sufficiently indicated by the small size of the trees.
The distance to which we had penetrated was by no means sufficient to
give a fair idea of the nature of the country in the interior; which from
its hilly appearance might be expected to possess both a rich soil and a
better pasturage than the parts we had seen; but for the latter, the
neighbourhood of the entrance of Endeavour River was by no means

The small number of our crew prevented my sending away a party to examine
the interior with any certainty of protection either to the travellers or
to those left in charge of the vessel; and this circumstance, on several
occasions, precluded us from forming any correct idea of the productions
of the places we visited, which we probably might have been partially
enabled to do by a walk of two or three miles from the sea.

Some kangaroos were seen by us during our visit; and Mr. Hunter shot a
few birds: among the latter was a specimen of the Psittacus haematodus,
or Blue-mountain parrot of Port Jackson; and a crane-like bird, similar
to the Ardea antigone, was seen at a distance. Some of our gentlemen
observed the impression of a bird's foot, resembling that of an emu; it
was nine inches broad: very few insects were found here. We saw no more
of the natives after their visit on the 30th but the smokes of their
fires were frequently observed in the interior. Mr. Cunningham found some
traces of their having eaten the fruit of the pandanus, of which he says,
"Pandanus pedunculatus, Brown, forms ornamental clumps on these arid
downs, and, being now heavily laden with its compound fruit, afforded me
an ample supply of seeds in a well-ripened state. These tempting
orange-coloured fruits had induced the natives to gather a quantity for
the sake of the little pulp about their base, and I observed that, in
order to enjoy themselves without trouble, they had lately kindled their
fires immediately beneath some of the trees laden with fruit, which with
some shellfish had afforded them a good repast." Cunningham manuscripts.

The weather during our visit has been oftener clouded and hazy than
clear: the wind veered between South-South-East and East-South-East, and
was generally fresh and accompanied with squalls. The thermometer ranged
on board in the shade between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and the heat
was by no means oppressive.

Having sufficiently attained our object in visiting this place, and
having also taken the opportunity of completing our wood and water and
repairing our boat, we prepared to sail.

August 5.

And on the 5th at seven o'clock in the morning weighed anchor and made
for the bar; but the wind was so baffling and unsteady that we had great
difficulty in passing over it.

Our course was then directed round Cape Bedford towards Lizard Island. On
our way we noticed several shoals. Off the south-west end of the island
we saw a great many whales: soon after three o'clock we anchored in a
sandy bay on its south-west side.

August 6.

The wind during the night and the following day blew so fresh as to
prevent our proceeding; the delay was therefore taken advantage of by our
gentlemen to land and examine the island. It may be recollected that it
was from the summit of Lizard Island that Captain Cook discovered the
openings in the reefs through which he passed and got to sea; little
thinking that, by so doing, he was incurring a greater risk than by
remaining within the reefs and steering along the coast. Some of our
people walked round the island where they found a whaler's ton butt cast
upon the beach: it had probably belonged to the Echo. Near the cask were
lying several coconuts, one of which was quite sound and perfect. The
beach was strewed with pumice-stone heaped up above the high-water mark.

The basis of the island is a coarse-grained granite. A shallow soil on
the sides of the hills, the surface of which was thickly strewed with
stones and large masses of rock, nourished a slight clothing of grass and
other herbage. The summit of the island forms a peak, and is perhaps
about a thousand feet high; the island is thinly wooded with small trees
which scarcely deserve the appellation of timber.

No natives were seen but it was evident they had lately been upon the
island from the recent appearances of their fireplaces and the perfect
state of a hut, which was a more comfortable habitation than we have
usually found: it was arched over in the usual way, by twigs bent in the
form of a dome; and was neatly thatched with dry grass. No turtle marks
were noticed on the beach so that I should think this was not the season
for laying their eggs.

August 8.

We were detained at this anchorage from the unfavourable state of the
weather until the 8th, on which day we sailed and steered for Howick
Group on a direct and unimpeded course. The channel appeared equally free
on either side of the group; but as it was a material object, on account
of the unfavourable state of the weather, to make sure of reaching the
anchorage under Cape Flinders, we did not attempt to pass round the
northern side but steered through the strait between 2 and 3, and then
over our former track round Cape Melville. At six o'clock we anchored
under Cape Flinders. Between Point Barrow and Cape Melville I had an
opportunity of improving my chart with respect to the reefs in the
offing, and of observing the outer limit of the barrier reefs which were
distinguished by the heavy breakers that lined the horizon. On rounding
Cape Melville, the remarkable feature of which has been previously
described above, a pine-like tree was noticed growing on the summit of
the ridge: Mr. Cunningham thought it was the Araucaria excelsa; if his
conjecture was right this tree occupies a space of 900 miles of coast,
between 14 degrees 10 minutes and 29 degrees 30 minutes. It might however
have been a callitris.

On passing round Cape Flinders the remains of the Frederick's wreck were
still seen scattered over the rocks but appeared much reduced in

August 9.

Upon visiting it the next morning we observed evident proofs that some
ship had lately been there and taken away several of her principal spars;
and that a great portion of the smaller planks had been destroyed by the
natives' fires. We took the opportunity of collecting some iron-work and
teak planks, which afterwards proved more serviceable than we at the time

Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Hunter walked about the island but did not meet
the natives. The traces both of men and dogs were so recent as to make us
conjecture they were at no great distance; but from our subsequent
knowledge of the inhabitants of these islands there is no doubt but that
they would have shown themselves had they known of our visit. Mr.
Cunningham also ascended a remarkably rugged-looking hill at the south
point of the bay on the east side of the island, which, from its
appearance, received several appropriate names from our people, such as
Mount Dreary and Mount Horrid. Mr. Cunningham calls it Rugged Mount, and
says, "it is thinly covered with a small variety of plants similar to
those of Cape Cleveland. This mount is a pile of rugged rocks, towered up
to a considerable elevation above the sea which washes its base: the
stones of the summit being of angular or conical forms (apparently
basaltic) whilst the general mass on the slopes or declivities are deeply
excavated, furnishing spacious retreats to the natives. I entered one of
the caverns (the walls of which were of a decomposing sandstone) having a
window formed in it by the falling down of a portion of the side rock.
The cave was a large natural chamber, capacious enough to hold
conveniently a large tribe of natives; who, from the numerous fireplaces,
broken turtle staffs, and other relics, had not very long since dwelt
there. I also found numerous fragments of quartzose rocks lying about and
pieces of a kind of marble, of a brown colour, were abundant in the
cavities, as well as upon the face of the mount." (Cunningham

August 10.

Upon leaving Cape Flinders we crossed Princess Charlotte's Bay and
steered at half to three-quarters of a mile within the reefs: soon after
noon it fell calm and we anchored under the lee of Pelican Island, and
landed upon it to examine an appearance of turtle marks on the sand; they
were however found to be of an old date.

This island, which does not measure more than two-thirds of a mile in
circumference, is surrounded by a considerable reef and is remarkable for
two clumps of trees upon it, that, standing separately, give the
appearance at a distance of its being two distinct islets. It is, like
all the islets near it, little better than a sandy key.

While I was employed in levelling the theodolite the gentlemen directed
their steps to a flight of pelicans that was seen collected upon the
beach; at their approach the old birds took wing and left their unfledged
young, to the number of eighteen or twenty, waddling about the sand, all
of which were killed and skinned before we embarked for the sake of their
white down. On the islet three very neatly-constructed natives' huts were
observed, that, from their appearance and the very recent state of the
fish-bones and turtle-shells scattered about, had been lately occupied.
The reef is of circular shape; the surface is formed principally of a
rotten, crumbling coral rock and was destitute of shells or any animal
production except the beche de mer: of which the black sort (batoo)
appeared the most abundant.

Among the bearings obtained from this station was that of the highest
summit of Flinders' Group, which bore South 61 degrees 26 minutes East
(magnetic) and, as a connecting bearing, was of considerable importance
to the survey.

August 11.

The day was too far advanced to make further progress with any advantage;
we, therefore, remained until the following morning when we steered
North-North-West, but were soon impeded by a very extensive reef, m, that
crossed our course, trending to the North-East. Wishing to ascertain its
extent to seaward, as well as to pass round its windward side, we steered
along its south-eastern edge; and after proceeding for some time, first
in a North-East, then a North, and afterwards in a North-North-West
direction, found ourselves running through a narrow channel formed by
another considerable reef, l, to the eastward, and lying in a parallel
direction with m: the breadth of this pass, or channel, varied between
one and two miles. At nine o'clock, having run about ten miles, a break
appeared in the innermost reef, m, through which we made an attempt to
pass. As we approached it our soundings quickly decreased, yet still we
hoped to effect our object; but suddenly shoaling the water to five
fathoms, and at the next heave to ten feet and a half, with the coral
rocks almost grazing the vessel's bottom, the helm was put down;
fortunately she stayed and we escaped the danger. There was every
appearance of a termination of the reef a few miles further to the
north-east, but the glare of the sun was so deceptious that I preferred
returning by the way we came; and having a leading fresh wind, we were by
noon steering between the south-west end of the reef m and the woody
islands 2 and 3 of Claremont Isles.

Between this and Cape Sidmouth several reefs were seen to seaward that we
had not noticed last year. In passing the cape we kept nearer to the
sandy islet 7 than before, and had not less water than seven fathoms.

August 12.

The next morning, having passed the night under Night Island, we resumed
our course and steered round Cape Direction, with the intention of
passing to windward of the long reef, f; but being prevented by its
extending too much to the eastward to allow of our weathering it we bore
up, and, passing to the eastward of Piper's Islands and of reef l,
anchored under Haggerston's Island.

August 13.

As I did not intend running farther than Sunday Island for my next
anchorage we did not weigh the following day until we had visited the
island and obtained a meridional altitude for its latitude and sights for
the time-keeper. It is about a mile and a half in circumference and forms
a high rock of steep ascent; its windward side is clothed with a stunted
brush, but the lee or north-west side is tolerably well wooded, and is
fronted by a sandy beach, on which the traces of natives' fireplaces,
scattered with fish-bones and turtle shells, were found in all
directions. A considerable coral-reef extends to the northward, having
some dry sandy keys at its north extremity. An extensive view of the
neighbouring reefs and islands was obtained from the summit, particularly
of the reefs n and o, and of the deep-water channel between them.

August 14.

Our next anchorage was under Sunday Island, and on the 14th we proceeded
outside the Bird Isles and between two coral reefs, v and w, that
appeared last year to be connected. Several reefs were also noticed to
seaward that had escaped our observation last year, but they are all of
small extent, and on the greater number there is a dry bank of sand which
on some is bare, whilst others are covered with bushes and small trees.

As the day was too far advanced to permit us to pass round Cape York
before night we anchored in the afternoon under Cairncross Island and
spent the evening on shore. This island is low and wooded like the other
and is not more than a mile in circumference. It is thickly covered with
bushes and trees, among which Mr. Cunningham found a great many plants
that interested him, particularly the bulbous roots of a species of
pancratium, and some large specimens of Mimusops kauki in fruit, besides
which he observed a remarkable tree which he has described in his journal
by the name of Gueltarda octandra. "It is a strong luxuriant tree, having
a stem six feet diameter, whose base is much like the spurred bulb of a
tropical fig." (Cunningham manuscripts.)

The island is situated at the north-west end of the reef which is two
miles and a half long and one mile broad, and composed like that of
Pelican Island, of dead coral hardened by the weather and cemented by its
own calcareous deposit into masses of compact rocks which, being heaped
up by the surf, form a key that probably the high-tide scarcely ever
covers. The interior is occupied by a shoal lagoon in which, although not
more than two feet deep, our people saw a great variety of fish, and
among them a shark five feet long, which, notwithstanding there was
scarcely sufficient water for it to float in, contrived to escape. A few
shells of the Voluta ethiopica and some clams (Chama gigas) were found,
but neither sort was plentiful. The natives, as appeared from their
traces, occasionally visit the island: our people found some deserted
turtles' nests, and Mr. Cunningham saw a pigeon that appeared to be new;
it was of large size and of black and white plumage: besides this no
other bird was seen.

We now began for the first time to feel the effects of our accident at
Port Bowen, for the tide, setting against the wind, caused a short swell,
in which the cutter strained so much that she made two inches and a half
of water per hour.

August 15.

At noon the next day we rounded Cape York; and, as we had last year taken
the route to the northward of Wednesday Island, we now steered round the
south side of Prince of Wales Islands through Endeavour Strait.

August 16.

And passing the night under one of the Possession Islands, Number 2, the
next day reached Booby Island off which we anchored. On our course to the
westward of Cape Cornwall and across the line of shoals that extend from
it to Wallis Isles we had not less water than four fathoms.

In the afternoon we landed on Booby Island and at night procured turtles,
and about a thousand eggs.

On the summit of the island, or rather the rock, several piles of stones
were observed that had been heaped up by the crews of the various ships
passing by, as relics of their visit: among other notices of a similar
nature we found a board indicating the safe passage through the strait of
the ship Sea-Flower, which our logbook informed us left Port Jackson on
the 21st of last May; and from the memorandum on the board we found that
she took the outer passage, entered Torres Strait at Murray's Island, and
arrived off Booby Island, after a voyage of twenty-two days.

A good opportunity was here offered, by comparing our voyage with that of
the Sea-Flower, of proving the superiority of the inshore route: the
Mermaid left Port Jackson on the 12th July, and passed Booby Island on
the 16th August, which is an interval of thirty-five days; from this
fifteen must be deducted for the delays occasioned by the survey; namely,
at Port Bowen two days, at Endeavour River nine days, at Lizard Island,
Cape Flinders, Haggerston's Island, and the Possession Islands, one day
each; this leaves twenty days for our passage, being two days shorter
than the Sea-Flower's. This comparison therefore is in favour of the
inshore route. But it is not only superior to the passage without the
reefs, from its being shorter, there are also other advantages: the
principal of which are that the weather is more generally fine; the sea
is always perfectly smooth; and wood or water may be procured upon
various parts of the coast: with only common attention there is no risk;
and however laboriously the day may be spent the night is passed without
disturbing the crew; for safe and good anchorage may be taken up every
night under the lee of an islet or a reef, which in the event of bad
weather may be retained as long as is requisite or convenient. No time is
lost by the delay, for the anchor may be dropped in the ship's immediate
track; and if the cargo consists of live animals such as horses, cattle,
or sheep, grass may be obtained for them from the islands near the

In the outer passage the sea is strewed with numerous reefs, many yet
unknown,* which render the navigation at night extremely dangerous; and
if, on approaching the part where it is intended to enter the reefs, the
weather should be thick, and the sun too clouded at noon to procure an
observation for the latitude, the navigator is placed in a very anxious
and a very unenviable situation; for the currents are so strong that the
position of the ship is by no means sufficiently known to risk running to
leeward to make the reefs. The ensuing night must therefore in all
probability be passed in the greatest uncertainty and in the vicinity of
extensive coral reefs.

(*Footnote. When this sheet was in the press an account was published in
one of the daily newspapers (Morning Herald 3rd of March 1825) recording
the discovery of some low coral islands and reefs by the ship Avon,
September 18, 1823, in latitude 19 degrees 40 minutes South, longitude
158 degrees 6 minutes East.)

Cross the Gulf of Carpentaria, and anchor at Goulburn's South Island.
Affair with the natives.
Resume the survey of the coast at Cassini Island.
Survey of Montagu Sound, York Sound, and Prince Frederic's Harbour.
Hunter's and Roe's Rivers, Port Nelson, Coronation Islands.
Transactions at Careening Bay.
Repair the cutter's bottom.
General geognostical and botanical observations.
Natives' huts.
Brunswick Bay.
Prince Regent's River.
Leave the coast in a leaky state.
Tryal Rocks, Cloates Island.
Pass round the west and south coasts.
Bass Strait.
Escape from shipwreck.
Botany Bay.
Arrival at Port Jackson.

1820. August 17.

We did not leave our anchorage off Booby Island until the next morning,
in order that we might obtain sights for the watches, and have the
advantage of daylight for passing over the position assigned to a shoal,
said to have been seen by the ship Aurora. After weighing we steered
West-South-West for sixty miles without seeing any signs of it; and on
this course our soundings very gradually increased to thirty fathoms.

August 18 to 19.

On our passage across the Gulf of Carpentaria we had very fine weather
but the horizon was enveloped in haze. The South-East monsoon was steady
but very light; and the wind during the day veered occasionally to
North-East, which might here be called a sea-breeze.

August 19.

On the 19th we passed Cape Wessel. Hence we steered for Goulburn Islands.

August 21.

And on the afternoon of the 21st anchored in South West Bay, off the
watering-place, which was running very slowly; a hole was dug to receive
the drainings.

August 22.

And the next morning we commenced operations, but, from the small supply
of water, our progress was very slow.

The natives had not made their appearance, but knowing whom we had to
deal with, every precaution was taken to prevent surprise: an armed party
was stationed to protect the remainder of our people who were cutting
down the trees which grew immediately over the watering-place on the
brink of the cliff; and the officers and men were severally cautioned
against straying away from the shore party without taking the precaution
of carrying arms.

Mr. Hunter and Mr. Cunningham ranged about the island near our wooding
party; the former gentleman shot for us several birds, among which was a
white cockatoo that differed from the species that is common at Port
Jackson in being smaller and having a very small white crest or top-knot
without any yellow feathers in it: its mandibles and feet were white but
the feathers on the under part of the wings had the usual yellow tinge.

Mr. Cunningham was successfully employed in adding to his collections,
but the dry season was so far advanced and the country so parched up that
everything bespoke the last season as having been unusually dry.

August 23.

On the following day, when our people resumed their occupation, they were
again cautioned not to trust to the apparent absence of the natives. In
the afternoon Mr. Roe walked along the beach with his gun in quest of
birds: on his way he met Mr. Hunter returning from a walk in which he had
encountered no recent signs of the Indians. This information emboldened
Mr. Roe to wander farther than was prudent, and in the mean time Mr.
Hunter returned to our party in order to go on board; he had however
scarcely reached our station when the report of a musket and Mr. Roe's
distant shouting were heard. The people immediately seized their arms and
hastened to his relief and by this prompt conduct probably saved his

It appeared that, after parting from Mr. Hunter, he left the beach and
pursued his walk among the trees; he had not proceeded more than fifty
yards when he fired at a bird: he was cautious enough to reload before he
moved from the spot in search of his game, but this was scarcely done
before a boomerang* whizzed past his head, and struck a tree close by
with great force. Upon looking round towards the verge of the cliff,
which was about twenty yards off, he saw several natives; who upon
finding they were discovered set up a loud and savage yell, and threw
another boomerang and several spears at him, all of which providentially
missed. Emboldened by their numbers and by his apparent defenceless
situation, they were following up the attack by a nearer approach, when
he fired amongst them, and for a moment stopped their advance. Mr. Roe's
next care was to reload, but to his extreme mortification and dismay he
found his cartouch box had turned round in the belt and every cartridge
had dropped out: being thus deprived of his ammunition, and having no
other resource left but to make his escape, he turned round and ran
towards the beach; at the same time shouting loudly to apprize our people
of his danger. He was now pursued by three of the natives, whilst the
rest ran along the cliff to cut off his retreat.

(*Footnote. See Note above.)

On his reaching the edge of the water, he found the sand so soft that at
every step his feet sunk three or four inches, which so distressed him
and impeded his progress that he must soon have fallen overpowered with
fatigue had not the sudden appearance of our people, at the same time
that it inspired him with fresh hopes of escape, arrested the progress of
the natives, who, after throwing two or three spears without effect,
stopped and gave him time to join our party, quite spent with the
extraordinary effort he had made to save his life.

Whilst this event occurred I was employed on board in constructing my
rough chart, but upon Mr. Roe's being seen from the deck in the act of
running along the beach pursued by the Indians, I hastened on shore,
determined if possible to punish them for such unprovoked hostility. Upon
landing, Mr. Hunter, Mr. Roe, and one of the men joined me in pursuit of
the natives; but from our comparatively slow movements and our ignorance
of the country, we returned after an hour without having seen any signs
of them; in the evening before our people left off work we made another
circuitous walk, but with the same bad success. The natives had taken the
alarm and nothing more was seen of them during the remainder of our stay,
excepting the smokes of their fires which appeared over the trees at the
back of the island.

Previous to this attack upon Mr. Roe the natives had probably been
following Mr. Hunter; and were doubtless deterred from attacking him by
witnessing the destructive effects of his gun among a flight of
cockatoos, five or six of which he brought away, and left as many more
hopping about the grass wounded and making the woods re-echo with their
screams. When Mr. Hunter parted from Mr. Roe the natives remained to
watch the latter gentleman; and no sooner had he discharged his gun,
which they found was of no use until it was reloaded, than they commenced
their attack; and from the known dexterity of the natives of this country
in throwing the spear it was not a little surprising that they missed him
so repeatedly.

Before we embarked for the night I walked with Mr. Roe to the place where
he was attacked, in order to look for the spears that had been thrown at
him and for the cartridges he had lost; but as neither were found, we
were revengeful enough to hope that the natives would burn their fingers
with the powder, an event not at all unlikely to occur, from their
ignorance of the dangerous effect of placing the cartridges near the
fire, which they would be sure to do.

During our visit we were fortunate in having very fine weather; and
although it was very hazy we did not experience that excessive heat
which, from the advanced state of the season, had been expected. The
thermometer ranged between 73 and 83 degrees; but the regularity and
strength of the sea-breezes tended materially to keep the air cool and

August 25.

On the 25th the gentlemen visited Sims' Island, where they found a
considerable quantity of fresh water in holes that had apparently been
dug for the purpose by the Malays. Among the insects which they brought
back with them was a very fine species of cimex; it was found in great
numbers upon the foliage of Hibiscus tiliaceus.

In the evening we left the bay.

August 26.

And the next morning passed to the northward of New Year's Island in
order to avoid the calm weather which was experienced at the same season
last year.

Off the entrance of Van Diemen's Gulf (Dundas Strait) we passed through
large quantities of sea sawdust, some of which was put into a bottle; and
when the process of putrefaction had taken place the substance sunk to
the bottom and coloured the water with a crimson tinge.

1820. September 3.

After passing the meridian of Cape Van Diemen our course was directed
towards Captain Baudin's Banc des Holothuries near Cape Bougainville; but
being impeded by calms and light winds did not reach it until the 3rd of
September, when we passed between its south-east extremity and Troughton
Island. Before dark we passed over the north extremity of the long reef
to the westward of Cape Bougainville.

September 5.

The following day at noon we were near Condillac Island, after which a
sea-breeze from the westward enabled us to pass Cape Voltaire, at which
point our last year's survey terminated. When we were within the Cape we
found an ebb-tide setting out of a bight, which trended deeply in to the
southward and appeared to be studded with rocky islands. This adverse
tide continued to run all the evening and prevented our reaching the
bottom; so that at sunset we dropped the anchor a few miles to the south
of Cape Voltaire.

To the westward of this position we counted twenty-three islands, the
northernmost of which were supposed to be the Montalivet Isles of Baudin.
The whole have an uninteresting and rocky appearance but are not
altogether destitute of vegetation: a greenish tinge upon the nearest
islet saved them from being condemned as absolutely sterile.

September 6.

The next morning a boat visited the outer north-easternmost islet, named
in the chart Water Island, which was found to be as rocky in reality as
it was in appearance. It is formed of a hard granular quartzose
sandstone, of a bluish-gray colour; the basis is disposed in horizontal
strata but the surface is covered with large amorphous rocks of the same
character that have evidently been detached and heaped together by some
convulsion of nature: over these a shallow soil is sprinkled, which
nourishes our old acquaintance spinifex, and a variety of plants of which
Mr. Cunningham collected more than twenty distinct known genera. The
exposed surfaces of the rocks are coloured by the oxide of iron, which is
so generally the case upon the northern and north-western coasts that the
name of Red Coast might with some degree of propriety be applied to a
great portion of this continent.

Mr. Hunter found a large quantity of bulbous-rooted plants; they proved
to be a liliaceous plant of the same species as those which we had before
found upon Sims' Island, the islands of Flinders' Group on the eastern
coast, and at Percy Island.

A meridional altitude of the sun was obtained on the north side of the
island; and before we embarked the boat's crew found fresh water enough
to fill our barica: this was so unusual a discovery that the island was
complimented with a name which will serve rather to record the fact than
to distinguish it as a place where so important an article of refreshment
may be procured with certainty. In the rainy season a large quantity may
always be obtained from cisterns, or holes, which were observed naturally
formed upon the surface of the rocks.

The marks of a turtle were noticed upon the beach; and near them was the
impression of a native's foot as well as the broken shells of some
turtles' eggs which had very recently been eaten. This discovery set the
boat's crew on the search for other nests but they were unsuccessful.

An extensive view of the surrounding islands was obtained from its
summit, as well as a set of bearings for the survey of this Sound, which
was named at Mr. Hunter's request after Robert Montagu, Esquire, Admiral
of the White.

A sea-breeze set in before we left the island: upon arriving on board we
got underweigh and at four o'clock anchored near the bottom of the bay
(Swift's Bay) in the entrance of a strait separating Kater's Island from
the main.

In the evening we landed upon the south-east end of Kater's Island and
found it to be in character, both geologically and botanically, very
similar to Water Island; excepting that there was more vegetation upon it
in the shape of shrubs and trees. The surface of the ground was covered
by spinifex, which rendered our walking both difficult and painful; this
plant diffuses a strong aromatic odour, which quality it possesses, as it
were, to counterbalance the annoying effects of its prickly foliage.

September 7.

The next day Mr. Bedwell examined a small inlet at the bottom of the bay.
It proved to be merely a salt-water creek bounded by rocks and mangroves.
Traces of natives were observed; and he brought on board with him the
remains of a fish-pot, nine feet long, made of strips of Flagellaria
indica, but so imperfect and disfigured that we could not readily
convince ourselves either of its particular construction or use. In the
evening we found a few gallons of water in a hollow near the beach upon
the south shore of the strait. During Mr. Bedwell's absence a hot
land-wind from South-East sprung up and raised the temperature to 90

The peculiar verdure of the vegetation in all parts hereabout was a proof
that this part of the country had suffered less from drought than the
coast to the eastward. The traces of a small species of kangaroo were
found in every part but our appearance had frightened them away. The food
of this animal appeared to be principally the seeds and leaves of an
acacia which they reach easily from the rocks.

Mr. Cunningham, who was as usual most indefatigable in adding to his
collection, observed one of the large nests that have been so frequently
before described. It was six feet in diameter, formed principally of
sticks, among which was found a piece of bamboo about five feet long,
that had evidently been cut at its extremities by a sharp-edged tool,
probably by the Malays. Whatever the inhabitant of this nest might have
been it was doubtless a bird of considerable size and power to have
transported a stick of such a length.

September 8.

The next morning after Mr. Roe had sounded the strait that separates
Kater's Island from the main we got underweigh and passed through it; and
then rounding a high island named after Dr. W.H. Wollaston, we steered to
the westward through a group of islets which were too numerous to be
correctly placed in a running survey. To the westward of Wollaston Island
is a deep bay which, from the broken appearance of the coast at the back,
there is some reason to think may prove the embouchure of a small
rivulet; but as it was not of sufficient importance to cause delay it was
passed with the appellation of Mudge Bay. In the evening we anchored off
an island named on account of the peculiar shape of a rock near the beach
Capstan Island; and as it wanted yet an hour to sunset we landed and
ascended the summit which, from its very rugged ascent, was no easy task.
A view however from this elevated station, and an amplitude of the
setting sun, repaid me for my trouble; and Mr. Cunningham increased his
collection by the addition of some interesting plants and a few papers of

The distance that the French expedition kept from this part of the coast,
of which M. De Freycinet so often and so justly complains, prevented it
from ascertaining the detail of its shores: in fact very few parts of it
were seen at all. Commodore Baudin's Cape Chateaurenaud must be some low
island which we did not see, unless it was the outermost of our Prudhoe

Montagu Sound is bounded on the west by an island of considerable size
which was named in compliment to John Thomas Bigge, Esquire, his
Majesty's late Commissioner of Inquiry into the state of the colony of
New South Wales. Bigge Island is separated from the main by a strait
named after the Reverend Thomas Hobbes Scott, now Archdeacon of New South
Wales, formerly Secretary to the above commission.

September 9.

The next morning we steered through Scott's Strait but not without
running much risk on account of the muddy state of the water, and from
the rocky nature of its channel. It was however passed without accident;
but as the tide prevented our doubling Cape Pond the anchor was dropped,
and the evening spent on shore upon a rocky island that fronts the Cape,
from the summit of which an extensive set of bearings was taken. The land
was observed to trend in very deeply to the southward of Cape Pond and
the western horizon was bounded by a range of islands on which were two
hills of sugarloaf form. This island, like Capstan Island, is a heap of
sandstone rocks, clothed with the usual quantity of spinifex and small
shrubs. A path of the natives was observed winding among the grass and on
the beach were the marks of feet. The tide fell whilst we were on shore
twenty-two feet.

September 10.

The next morning we steered round Cape Pond and entered the opening; but,
the wind being contrary, we did not reach farther than Anderdon's
Islands, where the night was passed.

September 11.

The next day we took advantage of the flood-tide and before high water
anchored where the depth at low water was three fathoms. The tide
subsequently rose twenty-eight feet.

We were now at the bottom of a very extensive harbour bounded by bold and
irregular ranges of precipitous rocky hills, particularly on its eastern
side, where three or four peaks were noticed, among which were Manning
Peak and Mount Anderdon. Under these hills was the mouth of a large
opening; and to the eastward of the anchorage we observed another of
greater size but not so interesting in its appearance as the former.

The country hereabout, although equally rocky and rugged, is more wooded
than that to the north-east; and from the number of fires that were
burning there is reason to suppose it is more populous. We therefore
prepared to examine the two openings in view, with sanguine expectations
of finding something to repay us for the numerous disappointments we had
already encountered.

September 12.

And the next morning Mr. Hunter accompanied me to explore the opening
under Manning Peak whilst Mr. Roe and Mr. Cunningham embarked in another
boat to examine the river that falls into the bottom of the bay.

After landing at the entrance of the opening we proceeded up a
considerable reach, bounded on either side by precipitous rocks, in some
parts from two to three hundred feet in height. This reach extends four
miles; and being from five to seven fathoms deep, and more than half a
mile wide, forms an excellent port: half way up on the north side is a
wide inlet; probably the embouchure of a mountain stream, for it appeared
to wind under the base of Manning Peak. We landed in many parts on search
of fresh water but were on all occasions unsuccessful. At the end of this
reach the river, for such it now appeared to be, gradually narrowed and
wound with a more serpentine course under the base of the hills which
still continued to be rugged and steep; but the banks were now thickly
lined by mangroves, whereas in the first or sea reach they are formed
principally of large rounded masses of rock that had been detached from
the summits of the overhanging hills by the effect of the cascades, some
of which must have fallen from a height of 200 feet without interruption
in their descent. During the rainy season it would be dangerous to expose
a vessel to the strength of the freshes in this river.

At the distance of six miles from the end of the first reach we arrived
at the termination of the river where its width was not more than
twenty-five yards. Here its bed was blocked up by large water-worn masses
of sandstone and, as the boat could not proceed farther, we landed to
await the turn of the tide.

About a mile below this part we had unexpectedly found a spring of fresh
water bubbling up among the mangroves and yielding a very considerable
quantity: whilst we were examining it the tide was nearly up so that we
had only time to fill our barica and kettle before the salt water flowed
over and mixed with it.

During our detention here we ascended the hills over the landing-place to
examine the country; but on reaching the top after a rugged and difficult
walk, higher hills obstructed our view in every direction. The bed of the
river appeared to continue for some distance through a deep gully formed
by precipitous hills. In the wet season this is doubtless a very
considerable stream; and then perhaps the water is fresh as low as the
upper part of the first reach. At this time the holes in the rocks were
filled with fresh water but the tide flowed up as far as it was navigable
for our boat. The trees on the tops and sides of the hills had lately
been burned: in the shady parts however near the water, the shore was
lined with several plants which had escaped destruction; among them was a
species of nutmeg (Myristica insipida, Brown), a tree of twenty-five feet
high (Maba laurina, Brown), and on the top of the hills and shelving
places halfway down were observed several coniferous trees that resembled
the Callitris ventenat, or Australian cypress, which grows in the
interior of the colony at Port Jackson: they were at this season in

A steep peaked hill near our landing-place was named Donkin's Hill after
the inventor of the preserved meats; upon a canister of which our party
dined. This invention is now so generally known that its merits do not
require to be recorded here; we had lately used a case that was preserved
in 1814 which was equally good with some that had been packed up in 1818.
This was the first time it had been employed upon our boat excursions and
the result fully answered every expectation, as it prevented that
excessive and distressing thirst from which, in all other previous
expeditions, we had suffered very much.

On our return we landed at the spring. The tide had covered it; but upon
searching another was found farther back among the mangroves, supplying
at the rate of two to three gallons a minute; a discovery so valuable
that the river was thought worthy of a name and it was called after my
companion Mr. Hunter, who shared my pleasure in the gratification of
finding what we had hitherto thought, at this season, totally wanting
near the coast.

No signs of natives were observed, unless the country, having been lately
fired, might indicate their having been in these parts; but, from the
very rugged nature of the hills, it is not probable they frequent the
neighbourhood of the river.

Kangaroos' tracks were seen and a small opossum observed skipping about
the rocks. On our return down the river we landed on several parts where
the depth of the gullies and the verdure of the trees indicated a
probability of our finding fresh water, but in vain; not a drop was

On returning we were left by the ebbing tide upon a bank of mud; being
however near low water, we had only to exercise our patience for two
hours. We reached the vessel by eleven o'clock at night.

Mr. Roe did not return until sunset of the following day from his
examination of the river which falls into the bottom of the port. When he
left the cutter he pulled to a hill at the entrance of the river, which
had been pointed out to him as probably affording an easy ascent and from
which he would obtain a commanding view of the country to guide his
proceedings. From this elevation the country around appeared to be very
stony and barren, although he fancied there was some approach towards
improvement; the banks of the river were low and lined with mangroves and
intersected by many small saltwater inlets extending through the low
country to the foot of the back hills; at low water the shore is fronted
by a bank of mud, ten or twelve yards wide, and so soft as to prevent
landing. Whilst he was employed at the summit of the hill in taking
bearings, twelve natives with two dogs made their appearance on the
opposite shore which was separated from the hill on which Mr. Roe landed
by a soft mud flat. The natives attempted to cross to him, shouting
loudly as they advanced, but when halfway over they desisted and slowly
returned. When Mr. Roe descended he perceived several fresh prints of the
human foot on the mud, from which he supposed that there were already
some natives upon the island. There were several large fires burning in
various directions and one was kindled by the natives on the opposite

(*Footnote. The natives of this part were seen by Tasman, according to
the following note of Burgomaster Witsen, as published in Mr. Dalrymple's
Papua. "In 14 degrees 58 minutes South, longitude 138 degrees 59 minutes
(about 125 degrees East) the people are savage, and go naked: none can
understand them.")

A snake about seven feet long was the only animal our party saw, but the
dung of the kangaroo was as usual plentifully spread in all directions.

From this station, which was seven miles from the mouth, they followed
the course of the river, first on an easterly direction for ten miles,
and then it took a sudden turn to the southward and trended alternately
South by East and South by West for fifteen miles; at this part the river
was upwards of seventy yards wide; the banks were lined with mangroves
but the rocks rose precipitously behind them to the height of three
hundred feet. Here our party landed to pass the night, and before dark
Mr. Roe and his companion Mr. Cunningham with one of the boat's crew
climbed the ridge over their heads but encountered much difficulty before
they reached the summit, from which they could discover nothing but
ridges beyond ridges of rocky wooded hills, precisely similar to what
they were upon. One higher than the rest was discerned about ten miles
off to the eastward. No signs of human beings were noticed.

The top of the hill was strewed about with ant-hills constructed of dry
dusty sand, and this was the only substance that could be called soil;
but notwithstanding all this sterility there were trees of the eucalyptus
family growing from twenty to forty feet high; and one was measured whose
diameter was as much as eighteen inches.

The rocks are of sandstone, in nearly horizontal strata, coated with a
crust of crystallized quartz and coloured by a ferruginous oxide.

On their return to the tent they made preparations to pass the night; and
as it was prudent, if possible, to keep the boat afloat, one of the men
was stationed in her for that purpose; but, overpowered by fatigue, he
fell asleep and the boat in a short time was left dry upon the mud; the
party on shore were continually disturbed during the night by what was
thought to be the rushing of alligators into the water beneath them, but
the noise was probably occasioned by stones and lumps of mud falling into
it as the tide ebbed; a splash, however, that they heard on the opposite
side was very likely an alligator, for they had seen one swimming as they
pulled up the river. On hearing this Mr. Roe became very much alarmed on
account of the boat-keeper, but no pains to apprize him of his danger had
any effect: the only reply that could be got from him was, "Damn the
alligators," and the next moment he was asleep again; fortunately for him
no alligator came near enough to make him repent his foolhardy

The width of the stream at low water, which was quite salt, was not more
than twenty-five feet. When the flood commenced it came in so rapidly
that the water rose five feet in ten minutes: altogether it rose
twenty-four feet; but driftwood and dead branches of trees were noticed
among the rocks at least fourteen feet above the ordinary high-water
mark, indicating, at other seasons, the frequency of strong freshes or
floods. One of the pieces of driftwood had been cut by a sharp

Mr. Roe further says, "From the appearance of the country and the steep
hills, generally about three hundred feet high, among which this river
winds, there can be little doubt of its being, during the rainy season, a
considerable fresh-water stream; and as I consider the length of its
various windings to be twenty-six or twenty-seven miles, there is every
prospect of its being navigable for our boat for at least half that
distance farther. Fish were plentiful, but principally of that sort which
the sailors call cat fish; of these several were caught. Small birds were
numerous, together with white cockatoos, cuckoos, some birds with very
hoarse discordant notes, and one whose note resembled the beating of a
blacksmith's hammer upon an anvil. At daybreak they all exerted
themselves in full chorus, and I should then have proceeded farther, but
the tide was half out, and a soft mud-bank forty feet broad fronting the
shore cut off our communication with the boat."

As soon as the ebb-tide began to make Mr. Roe embarked on his return; and
during his passage down saw as many as twelve alligators. Two were fired
at but the balls glanced off their tough coats of mail without hurting or
scarcely frightening them. A small trickling of water was noticed among
the rocks, which they found to be fresh but in too small a quantity to be
of any use. The boat was six hours and a half pulling down although for
the first five hours the tide was favourable.

The river was named after the rector of Newbury, the reverend father of
my zealous and diligent assistant Mr. Roe. It appears to be a very
considerable stream and, as Mr. Roe justly observes, in the rainy season
or at any other time of the year than during the months of September and
October, which terminate the dry season, will doubtless afford a large
quantity of fresh water.

The opportunity that offered in Hunter's River of filling our water-casks
was not to be lost.

September 14.

And the day after the boat returned from the examination of Roe's River
the cutter was moved to an anchorage about half way up the first or sea
reach of Hunter's River.

September 15.

And the next morning before daylight the boats were despatched; but owing
to the darkness of the morning and the ebb-tide having left the shores
dry and almost inaccessible, from the quantity of mud that lined them,
they did not reach the spring until late in the day. In the mean time,
however, they contrived to wade through the mud to the shore; and then
explored the bed of the river for half a mile beyond where our previous
examination terminated.

In this space they passed several pools of fresh water which, in some
parts, was running over a pebbly bottom; but the supply was so trifling
as to be not sufficient to alter the taste of the seawater.

Our gentlemen described the country to be as destitute of soil as we had
found it lower down; and so rugged as to be scarcely passable. The ravine
is formed by precipitous rocks of sandstone rising perpendicularly on
both sides to the height of two hundred feet, here and there lightly
sprinkled with a few shrubs which had lately been burnt.

Some of our party thought they saw both an emu and a black swan amongst
the bushes on the banks of the river. In some parts of the north coast we
have certainly noticed marks on the sand like the impressions of an emu's
foot, but as we have never seen the bird it is probable that we have
mistaken them for the traces of the Ardea antigone. Black swans we have
never seen at all within the tropic and it is equally likely that in this
instance we may have also been deceived by the appearance of a bird of
similar size and plumage. On the return of the boat two alligators swam
past it.

September 19.

After completing our water we left the river; but owing to light winds
did not succeed in getting out of the harbour until the following
morning. Its examination had been performed as narrowly as time and
circumstances admitted: it is of considerable size and in most parts
offers good and secure anchorage; with abundance of wood for fuel and
perhaps always water of good quality. Its western side was very
indistinctly seen; and it was thought probable from appearances that, in
the space between Cape Pond and Anderdon Islands, there are perhaps two
or three small mountain streams.

The harbour was called Prince Frederic's, and the sound that fronts it
York Sound, in honour of his Royal Highness the Duke of York.

September 20.

After passing Point Hardy we entered a fine harbour bounded on the west
by a group of islands, and on the east by the projection of land that
forms the western side of Prince Frederic's Harbour. The flood-tide was
not sufficient to carry us to the bottom so that we anchored off the east
end of the southernmost island of the group; which on the occasion of the
anniversary of the late king's coronation was subsequently called the
Coronation Islands. The harbour was called Port Nelson, and a high rocky
hill that was distinguished over the land to the southward received the
name of Mount Trafalgar.

Notwithstanding we had constantly experienced since the period of our
leaving the east coast both fine weather and smooth water, yet the leaky
state of the vessel had been gradually increasing; leading me to fear
that the injury received at Port Bowen had been much more serious than we
had then contemplated. Having the advantage of smooth water and a fair
wind during our passage up the east coast, the damage had not shown
itself until we reached Cairncross Island: after this it was occasionally
observed, but with more or less effect according to the strength and the
direction of the wind and the state of the sea. At the anchorage off
Booby Island, being exposed to a swell, she made four inches of water in
an hour; but during the examination of Montagu Sound and the harbour we
last left it did not show at all: upon leaving Hunter's River and working
against a fresh sea-breeze, the leak gained more than three inches in the
hour; and in passing round Cape Torrens, the vessel being pressed down in
the water from the freshness of the sea-breeze, it gained as much as nine
inches in one hour and twenty minutes.

From the alarming increase of the leak it became absolutely necessary to
ascertain the full extent of the damage, in order that we might, if
possible, repair it, so as not to prevent the further prosecution of the
voyage, or at least to ensure our return to Port Jackson.

We were fortunately upon a part of the coast where the tides had a
sufficient rise and fall to enable us to lay her on shore without
difficulty; but the beaches in York Sound and Prince Frederic's Harbour
were all too steep for the purpose.

September 21.

The spring tides were now at hand; and, it being on this account very
important that it should be done as speedily as possible, I left the
cutter the following morning in search of a convenient place, in which I
was fortunately very soon successful; for at the bottom of the port in
which we had anchored we landed on the sandy beach of a bay which, to my
inexpressible satisfaction, was found in every way suitable for the
object we had in view. Deferring therefore any further examination for a
more convenient opportunity, I hastened on board and in the course of the
morning anchored the cutter close to the beach.

It has been already stated that the construction of the Mermaid was
rather sharp, so that it was necessary to land everything before it would
be safe to lay her on the ground: her masts were therefore struck and the
sails, being sent on shore, were suspended to trees and converted into
tents for the preservation of our provisions and stores and for
habitations for the officers and crew.

Our anchorage was four hundred yards distant from the beach; which, since
the vessel took the ground at low water, was as near as we could
prudently approach it but sufficiently close to protect our property from
the natives until everything was landed. None had as yet appeared, but,
the country having been lately fired, and the impression of a man's foot
having been noticed on the sand when we landed in the morning, gave
evident proofs that they were not far off. On the beach were the remains
of several huts; but they did not appear to have been recently occupied:
in order however to avoid surprise or loss, the stores and provisions
that had been landed in the evening were placed at a distance from the
grass and trees and covered over with a sail: near this pile our
four-pounder was planted, loaded with musket balls, ready to be fired at
a moment's warning.

Having thus taken all possible precaution our people returned on board to
pass the night. My anxiety however prevented my retiring to bed so early
and I continued watching our property in the momentary expectation of
something occurring. The moon was fortunately at her full and shone
sufficiently bright to enable me to distinguish any moving object near
the tent. At eight o'clock a light was suddenly observed on the summit of
the hill that rises over the beach; but after being stationary for ten
minutes it disappeared: at first it was thought to be a native's fire;
and afterwards it was suspected to be occasioned by an insect. At
midnight, as the light had not again been seen, I retired to rest,
leaving a watch on the deck to give alarm should anything occur; but in
less than an hour was disturbed by the cry, "The tent's on fire!" On
reaching the deck I found the alarm had not been made without reason, for
a flame was actually blazing close to them.

At the first appearance of the flames two muskets were fired in the
direction of them and our people were immediately landed. On reaching the
tent everything was secure and quiet but the fire was still burning at
about twenty yards behind it. Having cautiously approached it we found
our fears had been groundless and that they were occasioned by no less
innocent an enemy than a half-consumed log of wood, in the heart of which
a fire had been lying dormant for some days, having been lighted by the
fires which had lately passed over the country; it had been fanned into a
flame by the land-breeze which sprung up at midnight. The light seen in
the early part of the night originated, most likely, from a similar
cause; so that we returned to the vessel without further apprehension.

September 22.

The following day all our wet and dry provisions, our wood and guns were
landed; and the greater number of the crew slept on shore.

A discovery of great importance was this day made which enabled us to
carry on our operations with much greater facility and comfort; this was
our finding near the tents some deep holes containing a great abundance
of excellent water; so that by emptying our water-casks we avoided the
trouble and delay of hoisting them out: our operations were in
consequence so much expedited that the next morning at high tide the
vessel was warped and secured as far up the beach as the water would
allow, preparatory to her taking the ground, which event we awaited with
considerable anxiety.

When the tide left her dry we proceeded to examine her bottom, and having
stripped the copper off the stern-post, the full extent of the injury she
had sustained was detected and found to be greater even than our fears
had anticipated.

September 22 to 28.

The after-part of the keel was rent for two feet in an horizontal
direction and its connexion with the stern-post and garboard streak so
much weakened that, at the first impression, there was every reason to
fear we could not remedy the defects sufficiently to ensure even an
immediate return to Port Jackson; but when the full extent of our means
were considered it was thought not only possible to repair the injury,
but to do it so effectually as to permit our completing the voyage
according to our original intention.

As it now appeared certain that some considerable time must elapse before
we could reload the cutter, she was secured at the next tide in a
situation nearer the high-water mark. At low water a deep hole was dug
under her bottom, to enable the carpenter to work with his auger; and
this operation was necessarily renewed every tide, since the hole was
always found filled up after the high water. An armourer's forge and
tools were now much wanted but the deficiency of an anvil was supplied by
the substitution of a pig of ballast; and some chain plates that we had
fortunately taken from the Frederick's wreck, and some bar-iron which was
brought out from England by the Dromedary, enabled us to place our vessel
in a state of security which we were by no means in before.

In order to connect the keel and stern-post, both of which were almost
separated from the frame of the vessel, two bolts, each twenty-four
inches long, were driven up obliquely through the keel and two of the
same size horizontally through the stern-post into the dead wood; besides
which they were also united by a stout iron brace which was fitted under
the keel and up each side of the stern-post; by which method the injury
appeared to be so well repaired that we had no fears for our safety if
the weather should be but moderately fine.

September 28.

These repairs were completed by the 28th but, just as we were
congratulating ourselves upon having performed them, a fresh defect was
discovered which threatened more alarming consequences even than the
other: upon stripping off some sheets of copper, the spike nails which
fastened the planks were found to be decaying; and many were so entirely
decomposed by oxidation that a straw was easily thrust through the vacant
holes. As we had not nails enough to replace the copper, for that was now
our only security, we could not venture to remove more than a few sheets
from those parts which appeared to be the most suspicious, under all of
which we found the nails so defective that we had reason to fear we might
start some planks before we reached Port Jackson, the consequence of
which would unquestionably be fatal to the vessel and our lives. All that
we could do to remedy the defect was to caulk the water-ways and counter,
and to nail an additional streak of copper a foot higher than before.
This further temporary repair was finished by the 30th.

1820. October 5.

But we were detained until the 5th of October before the tide rose high
enough to float the cutter.

During the time that the carpenter was thus occupied all the crew were
employed either in assisting him or in cutting wood and filling water; so
that I had no opportunity either of visiting the surrounding islands or
of examining the country in the vicinity of the bay: but when the repairs
were completed and the people were more at leisure I made an excursion as
far as Bat Island, off Cape Brewster.

From the summit of this island a set of bearings was obtained,
particularly of the islands to the northward and westward. The ascent, on
account of its steep and rugged nature, was very difficult and even
dangerous, for the stones were so loose and decomposed that no solid
footing could be found. The top of the rock is covered with a thick brush
of Acacia leucophoea (of Lacrosse Island) many trees of which were
obliged to be cut down or cleared away before the various objects could
be seen from the theodolite. Mr. Cunningham collected here specimens of
eighteen different sorts of plants.

Bat Island is a mass of sandstone superincumbent upon a quartzose basis
and intersected by nearly vertical veins of white quartz, the surface of
which was in a crystallized state. The floor of the cavern was covered
with heaps of water-worn fragments of quartzose rock, containing copper
pyrites, in some of which the cavities were covered by a deposit of
greenish calcedony. The sides of the cavern had a stalagmitical
appearance but the recess was so dark that we could not ascertain either
its formation or extent; it did not however appear to be more than twelve
or fourteen yards deep. On first entering it we were nearly overpowered
by a strong sulphureous smell which was soon accounted for by the flight
of an incredible number of small bats which were roosting in the bottom
of the cave and had been disturbed by our approach. We attempted to grope
our way to the bottom, but, not having a light, were soon obliged to give
up its further examination.

The island is connected to the cape by a narrow ridge of rocks which the
spring-tides may probably cover. The main corresponds with the island in
character and general conformation, being extremely barren and rocky, and
of the same description of sandstone, the strata of which appear nearly
horizontal; the greatest deviation from that position not being more than
an inclination of 5 degrees to the south-east.

Upon our return we landed at Caper Point near the bottom of the bay;
where, on taking some bearings, a considerable local magnetic attraction
was detected, for the needle of the theodolite was nearly eight degrees
in error. Whilst I was thus employed Mr. Cunningham, who was my companion
upon this excursion, ranged about among the shrubs in the vicinity and
was fortunate in finding the fruit of a tree that was first seen by us at
Cambridge Gulf, and had for some time puzzled us from its immense size
and peculiar appearance. It proved to be a tree of the natural order
Capparides, and was thought to be a capparis; the gouty habit of the
stem, which was soft and spongy, gave it an appearance of disease: but as
all the specimens, from the youngest plant to the full-grown tree,
possessed the same deformed appearance, it was evidently the peculiarity
of its habit. The stem of the largest of these trees measured twenty-nine
feet in girth whilst its height did not exceed twenty-five feet. "It was
at this time in the earliest stages of foliation, the extremities of the
naked branches appearing green; and one bud that was opened exhibited the
character of Folium quinatum."* One of these trees has been introduced in
the view of the encampment at Careening Bay. It bore some resemblance to
the adansonia figured in the account of Captain Tuckey's expedition to
the Congo.

(*Footnote. Cunningham manuscripts.)

The only quadruped that was seen upon this excursion was a small opossum
which appeared to be the same animal that the colonists at Port Jackson
call the native cat: its colour was light red with small white spots.

The principal object of my investigation was to find an opening in the
bottom of the bay communicating with a large sheet of water that we had
seen from the hills to the southward; but as we were not successful in
finding any it was supposed that its communication with the sea must be
to the westward of Cape Brewster. Mr. Hunter and Mr. Cunningham had
previously made an excursion in that direction to the summit of a hill,
named by the latter gentleman after Thomas Andrew Knight, Esquire, the
President of the Horticultural Society. From this elevation they had a
good view of the water which appeared to be either a strait or an inlet
of considerable size; it was subsequently called Rothsay Water. The
country between it and our encampment was very rocky and rugged; but
although almost destitute of soil it was sprinkled with some dwarf timber
of various descriptions; and, had it not been for the late fires, there
would have been a good share of grass.

The fires were still burning; and while we were employed upon the vessel
the little grass that had before escaped the flames was consumed before
our eyes, which greatly increased the oppressive heat we were
experiencing. The thermometer during the day, exposed to a current of air
and shaded from the sun, generally indicated a temperature of between 94
and 98 degrees; and on one occasion although it was exposed to a fresh
sea-breeze the mercury stood at 101 degrees at noon: at night however we
were usually relieved by its falling to 75 degrees; and at two o'clock in
the morning it generally stood at 73 degrees. The maximum and minimum
temperature during fourteen days was 101 degrees and 72 1/2 degrees. The
daily range of the thermometer was as much as 20 degrees, while the
mercury on board did not rise or fall more than 3 or 4 degrees. This
great difference is to be attributed to the cooling power of the dew
which was precipitated most copiously every night upon the surface of the
earth; whilst the water, not being so easily affected by this nightly
radiation, took so much longer to cool. In the daytime the reverse took
place; for the earth being much more heated by the action of the sun's
rays than the water, the temperature on shore was much greater than on
the sea.

We had no thermometer with us that could measure the heat of the sand
upon which our tents were erected. Mr. Hunter placed his
pocket-thermometer in it but the mercury reaching the top of the tube,
which was graduated to 130 degrees, he was obliged to withdraw it to
preserve the instrument from being damaged. On one occasion we had a hot
land-wind from the South-East that veered round as the day advanced to
North-East, during which the thermometer stood at 96 degrees; generally
however we had a fresh sea-breeze from the north-west, with clear and
fine weather; but towards the latter part of our visit we had some very
cloudy dull days and a few showers of rain: this change hurried my
departure; and we considered ourselves fortunate in embarking our
provisions and bread without getting them wetted.

On the 5th, after two ineffectual attempts to heave the cutter off the
ground, she floated.

October 8.

And by the 8th, everything being embarked, we made preparations to quit
this place which had afforded us the means of repairing our damage and
stopping for the present the progress of an injury which had been every
day assuming a more serious aspect.

The country in the vicinity of the bay which, from the use we made of it,
was called Careening Bay, is only slightly covered with a poor, stony
soil; but notwithstanding this drawback the hills are well wooded and
vegetation so abundant that, had it not been for the conflagration which
has lately spoiled the trees of their leaves, the country would have
appeared pleasing and verdant.

The following is a list of some of the trees indigenous to the shores and
neighbourhood of Careening Bay, for which I am indebted to Mr.


Leguminosae : Bauhinia microphylla. Cunn. manuscripts : Mountain Ebony :
Hard, coarse grain, wet, black-heart : 10 to 20 : 5 to 8.

Mimoseae : Inga, sp. : Acacia-podded Inga : Unknown : 12 to 25 : 4 to 5.

Sterculiaceae : Sterculia, sp. : Variegated-flowered Sterculia : Soft and
spongy : 12 to 20 : 4 to 6.

Oleinae : Chionanthus axillaris. Brown : Axillary-flowering Fringe Tree :
Unknown : 10 to 15 : 4.

Oleinae : Olea paniculata. Brown : Panicled-flowering Olive : Unknown :
15 to 25 : 6 to 8.

Rhamneae : Zizyphus, sp. : Australian Jujube : Close grain, wood white :
10 to 30 : 4 to 16.

Proteaceae : Hakea arborescens. Brown : Tree Hakea : Like Eucalyptus,
hard and heavy : 15 : 4 to 6.

Ebenaceae : Maba laurina. Brown : Laurel-leaved Date-plum : Soft, white
wood, sap yellow : 10 to 20 : 4 to 6.

Malvaceae : Hibiscus tiliaceus. L. : Lime Tree-leaved Hibiscus : Brown
wood, moderately hard : 10 to 25 : 4 to 8.

Santalaceae : Exocarpus latifolia. Brown : Tropical Native Cherry : Hard,
white wood, bark green : 10 to 15 : 4 to 6.

Myrtaceae : Eucalyptus, sp. : Small-flowering Gum : Moderately hard, but
useless for mechanical purposes : 20 to 35 : 18.

Myrtaceae : Eucalyptus, sp. : Large-fruited Gum : Moderately hard, but
useless for mechanical purposes : 20 to 35 : 18.

Verbenaceae : Vitex. sp. allied to glabrata. Brown : - : Unknown : 20 to
25 : 6.

Capparides : Capparis sp. (?) : Gouty-stemmed Capparis : Soft, spongy,
and full of sap : 30 : 9 feet.

Cycadeae : Cycas media. Brown : Australian Cycas, or Sago Palm : Fibrous
and coarse, similar to Palm : 4 to 15 : 4 to 6.

Sapoteae : Mimusops parvifolia. Brown : Small-leaved Zapadilla : Close
grain : 10 to 15 : 4 to 5.

Meliaceae : Carapa, sp. closely related to molluccensis. Lam. : Maritime
Carapa :  Soft and brittle (a mangrove) : 25 : 6.

"From the summit of the ridge," says Mr. Cunningham, "immediately above
Careening Bay, the country continues in a series of barren, stony hills
of ordinary elevation, divided by small valleys equally sterile and
rugged; clothed, nevertheless, with small trees of a stunted growth, and
of species common to the bay of our encampment; nor was there remarked
the least change in the habit or state of fructification of the several
plants, throughout the whole space of an estimated distance of six miles
south of the tents.

"The summits of the hills are, for the most part, very rocky and bare of
soil; and that of the valleys, or lower lands, appeared very shallow, of
a reddish colour, and of a very poor, hungry nature. The rocks, with
which the ground is very generally covered, are of the same sort of
sandstone as is found upon the hills above the encampment; but among them
we observed a good deal of quartz, remarkable for its purity, of which
some specimens were observed in a crystallized state."

"In the season that succeeds that of the rains, the hills are covered
with a lofty, reedy grass, whose dead stalks now form a matted stubble
among the trees, as was remarked on some patches of the lower lands that
had escaped the conflagrations, which at this period are extending their
ravages far and wide. Several well-worn watercourses, long since dry,
were crossed in the route, and, having the descent to the westward, show
at what point their waters, during the rainy season, make their exit.

"No quadrupeds were seen upon this excursion, and only the usual
indications of kangaroos: a few birds were observed on the wing, chiefly,
however, of the pigeon kind."

We saw no kangaroos or opossums of any kind during our visit; but if we
may judge from the number of snakes at so advanced a period of the dry
season when they are generally in a dormant state, reptiles are very
numerous. Mr. Cunningham found a very curious species of lizard,
remarkable for having a thin, membranaceous appendage attached to the
back of its head and round the neck and falling over its shoulders in
folds as low as the fore arm. It was sent by Mr. Cunningham to the
College of Surgeons where it is now preserved. Small lizards, centipedes,
and scorpions were numerous about our encampment; and the trees and
bushes about the tents were infested by myriads of hornets and other
insects, particularly mosquitoes and small sandflies which annoyed us
very much in the evenings.

Besides the huts on the beach which were merely strips of bark bent over
to form a shelter from the sun, there were others on the top of the hill
over the tents of a larger and more substantial construction; no two
however were built after the same fashion. One of them was thus erected:
Two walls of stones, piled one upon the other to the height of three
feet, formed the two ends; and saplings were laid across to support a
covering of bark or dried grass: the front, which faced the east, was not
closed; but the back, which slanted from the roof to the ground, appeared
to have been covered with bark like the roof.

The other huts were made somewhat of a similar construction, as they are
represented in Woodcut 5, but all differed in shape: it did not appear
that they had been very recently inhabited for the greater part of the
thatch was burnt.

The natives did not make their appearance during our stay; and although
an interview with them would have afforded us both amusement and
information yet their absence was perhaps more desirable since all our
provisions and stores were on shore; and their intimacy would probably
have produced a quarrel which, for our own sakes as well as for the
safety of future visitors, was best avoided.

The fireplaces near them were strewed with the nuts of the sago palm, the
fruit of which appears to be generally eaten by the natives of the north
and north-west coasts.

October 9.

On the 9th we left Careening Bay; and passing out between Cape Brewster
and the Coronation Islands entered a spacious sound which was called
Brunswick Bay in honour of that illustrious house. From Cape Brewster the
land extended for six miles to Cape Wellington round which there appeared
to be a communication with the water seen over the hills of Careening

In front of the bay a cluster of islands extends from the north end of
the Coronation Islands to the westward and south-westward and approaches
the mainland; which, to the westward of Cape Wellington, was only seen in
detached portions.

October 10.

The next day, having passed the previous night at anchor off Cape
Brewster, it was calm until noon: the sea-breeze then set in and carried
us quickly round Cape Wellington into a considerable opening, trending to
the southward and bearing a river-like appearance. Having the wind and
tide in our favour we stood on and continued to run up until high-water;
when, as no anchorage had been found, we were obliged to proceed against
the tide. At seven miles from the entrance we passed Rothsay Water, a
considerable opening on the east side, and opposite to it was another
which was called Munster Water; in front of it were several rocky islands
covered with grass and trees. We continued to steel up the main stream
and passed a point whence the direction of the river changed to
South-East; and after running five miles farther entered an extensive
sheet of water, St. George's Basin, in which were the two large islands
of St. Andrew and St. Patrick. The evening was now drawing near and we
hauled round Strong-tide Point into a strait separating St. Andrew's
Island from the main; here we were at last successful in finding an
anchorage out of the strength of the tide which, in the narrower parts of
the river, was setting at the rate of four and a half and five knots.

October 11 to 12.

The further examination of the opening was continued by our boats; and
whilst Mr. Roe explored the northern and eastern shores of the basin I
was occupied in examining the river which falls into it at its south-east

Mount Trafalgar is a conspicuous object on the north-eastern side of the
basin; and another hill close to it being equally remarkable was called
Mount Waterloo. These two hills rise precipitously from the plain; and
being capped by a wall-like battlement bear a strong resemblance to Steep
Head in Port Warrender.

Upon leaving the cutter we crossed St. George's Basin which appeared to
receive several streams on the south side and landed on a small wooded
islet for bearings; from which the summits of Mounts Waterloo and
Trafalgar bore in a line. About two miles farther on the banks of the
river again contracted and trended to the south-east on so direct a
course that, from the distant land being hidden by the horizon, the river
bore the appearance of being a strait. We were now twenty-two miles from
the sea and as there was every appearance of this proving a considerable
stream it was honoured by the title of Prince Regent.

While I was employed upon the island with the theodolite Mr. Hunter, my
companion, shot seven or eight brace of birds: they were of two kinds;
one a species of oyster-catcher and the other a sandpiper.

The island is of small extent and is connected to the land by a shoal
communication; it is rocky and thickly wooded; the trees were chiefly
acacias. The marks of considerable floods were noticed upon its shores;
and the wrecks of very large trees were thrown up ten or twelve feet
above the high-water mark.

We re-embarked at a quarter to twelve o'clock and pulled fourteen miles
farther up the river when a slight turn hid the island on which we had
landed from our view; from the width of a mile and a half at the entrance
it had decreased to about two-thirds of a mile and still continued
gradually to get narrower: its banks throughout are bounded by steep
rocky hills rising to the height of two or three hundred feet which, in
some parts, were nearly overhanging the water; several mangrove-inlets
communicated with the river on either side but they were all salt-water

The rocks on the hills are formed of a close-grained siliceous sandstone;
and the ground is covered with loose masses of the same rock, with
spinifex growing between them; this plant is of itself sufficient to
indicate the poverty of the soil. As we passed a small round islet an
alligator which had been basking in the sun alarmed at our approach,
rushed into the water, and, as we came near the spot, rose to reconnoitre
us, but instantly sunk again.

The sea-breeze being unimpeded by the intervention of land blew so strong
that, when the flood ceased, we were enabled to proceed for some time
against the ebb-tide. It also prevented our suffering from the heat which
would otherwise have been very oppressive for the thermometer stood all
day at 96 and 98 degrees.

At the distance of about seventeen miles from the basin we were surprised
by hearing the noise of a fall of water; but distrusting our ears we were
not convinced of the fact, until an opening in the mangroves exposed to
our view a cascade of water of one hundred and sixty feet in breadth,
falling from a considerable height. As the breeze still enabled us to
make way against the tide we did not stay to examine it; and therefore
deferred our visit until our return.

Three miles farther up we put ashore to rest and refresh the boat's crew;
and whilst I was occupied at the beach Mr. Hunter ascended the hill to
examine the country but found only a continuation of the same rocky hills
and sterile desert. The character of the river had assumed nearly the
same appearance as Hunter and Roe's Rivers in Prince Frederic's Harbour,
excepting that the hills were less precipitous and rather more wooded.
About two miles beyond our station the width began to decrease and the
stream to take a more winding course: the banks were also lower and the
mangroves appeared to increase in quantity; but unlike the other rivers
the bottom was of sand and there was scarcely any mud, excepting on the
banks where the mangroves grew. Several places were observed upon the
hills where the trees and grass had been burnt by fire, but otherwise
there was no sign of the banks of the river ever being frequented by

By the time we had refreshed ourselves it was getting late and we set out
on our return; the tide had now ebbed considerably and exposed several
banks which, having been covered, had before escaped our observation; we
grounded on several as we proceeded, which detained us so long that it
was dark when we passed the cascade, and by the time we reached the
island on which we had seen the alligator in the morning, the tide had
commenced to flow.

Here we determined upon remaining until the ebb; and after satisfying
ourselves that there were no alligators upon it landed, and kindled a
fire upon the dry summit of the island under a large log of wood that had
been washed down the river and deposited there by the freshes. Whilst our
refreshment was preparing we searched about for alligators, but not
finding any and being quite overpowered by the fatigues of the day, we
composed ourselves to rest; during which, although the alligators did not
trouble us, we were greatly incommoded by sandflies and mosquitoes; but
neither our fear of the former, nor the annoyance of the latter,
prevented our sleeping as soundly as we should have done on a more safe
and luxurious couch. Mr. Hunter also, who for some time after the rest
had fallen asleep walked about in order to keep on the alert, very soon
followed our example and we happily passed the night without accident.

At three o'clock the tide began to ebb and the boat-keeper awakened us to
re-embark on our return. On looking about we were surprised to find that
the tide had reached within three feet of our fireplace and must have
risen at least thirty feet since we landed. The air was now so cold from
a copious fall of dew that we were obliged to resort to our blankets and
cloaks for warmth; but with the sun the mercury rose from 80 to 88 and 90
degrees; and the morning being quite calm became excessively sultry.

On reaching the cutter we found that Mr. Roe had returned the preceding
evening from having examined the north-east shore of the basin and traced
two openings that trend for a short distance in on either side of the
mounts. On his return he pulled round the south side of St. Andrew's
Island and landed at its south-west end where he made a fire which spread
rapidly through the dried grass and set the surface of the island in a
blaze. It continued to burn for several days afterwards.

During our absence the shore of the bay of anchorage had also been
examined and several pools of water were discovered, from which we filled
our empty casks. Mr. Cunningham ascended the hills which rose nearly
perpendicularly for at least 400 feet; they were thickly clothed with
trees and plants from which he obtained a large addition to his
collection. In wandering about through the spinifex upon the cliffs he
saw four small kangaroos; and near the waterholes one of the crew saw a
fifth, of a gray colour and of a larger size than usual.

Our people were now all laid up with sores upon their feet and legs from
cuts and bruises received in scrambling over the rocks; and several were
affected by ophthalmia. Besides this the rainy season was approaching; it
commenced last year about the 18th of October, and as the weather was now
close and sultry and daily getting more unfavourable, the change was
evidently at hand.

October 13.

We therefore determined upon quitting the coast as soon as possible; and
as there was nothing to detain us here any longer we weighed the
following afternoon as soon as the tide commenced to ebb.

Our distance from the mouth was sixteen miles and the breeze blew
directly against us but, as the tide was running out with great strength,
we succeeded in reaching an anchorage in Brunswick Bay before dark; not
however without incurring considerable danger in passing through strong
tide ripplings when abreast of Rothsay Water; which caused me to suspect
that it communicated with Prince Frederic's Harbour.

In beating out of the river the cutter leaked a good deal, which showed
that our late repair at Careening Bay had not placed us without the pale
of danger: and I now began to fear that the leak had been occasioned more
from the defect of her fastenings than from the accident that happened to
her keel; so that we were in every respect as badly off as before the
cutter was careened. This made me decide upon instantly returning to Port
Jackson; but it was with great regret that I found it necessary to
resolve so; for the land to the westward appeared so indented as to
render the necessity of our departure at this moment particularly

October 14.

The next day therefore we passed out to sea to the westward of Baudin's
Keraudren Island.

The wind, upon leaving the coast, being West-South-West and
West-North-West, carried us as far to the north as 11 degrees 43 minutes
before we met with southerly winds; after which they gradually veered to
the south-east trade.

October 30.

On the 30th at midnight we were upon the parallel of 19 degrees 33
minutes, on which the Tryal rocks have been said to exist; in order
therefore to be on the safe side we tacked to the northward for four
hours and then passed back again until daylight when we resumed our

October 31.

At ten o'clock a.m. we were in the latitude assigned to these rocks by
the brig Greyhound, the master of which vessel, on his arrival at Port
Jackson from China last year, published an account in the Sydney Gazette
of his having seen them at a distance. Had he been certain of the fact he
would not have hesitated to approach sufficiently near them to have made
all on board sensible of their existence; but it appears that the greater
part, if not the whole, of the crew were so obstinate that they either
would not, or could not, see them.

Were the tracks of every vessel that has passed over this part laid down,
I think there would remain very little belief of their existence; in my
own opinion I am convinced that there is no danger of the sort between
the coast of New Holland and the meridian of 102 degrees east longitude.
The Dutch account records this danger to be forty miles in extent from
east to west and fifteen miles in breadth; and the Danish account
describes it to extend for twenty-four miles from north-east to
south-west. Was there a danger of so considerable an extent in existence
in the direct track of outward-bound China-ships, it is hardly possible
to conceive it could be passed without having been repeatedly seen.

The existence of Cloates Island also, of which there are so many
undeniable and particular descriptions, has been for a long time
questioned by navigators; I think however there is no doubt that it does
exist but that it is no other than the mainland to the southward of the
North West Cape. The descriptions of this island by Captain Nash of the
ship House of Austria, as well as that of the Haeslingfield in 1743, and
subsequently by Captain Pelly, accord exactly with the appearance of this
promontory; nor is the longitude much in error when we consider the
strength of the currents which set to the north-west, during the easterly
monsoon, in the space between New Holland and Java. Captain Nash places
Cloates Island 7 degrees 26 minutes East of Java Head, and the
Haeslingfield 7 degrees 12 minutes; the mean of the two accounts is 7
degrees 19 minutes; the true difference of the meridians of Java Head and
the North West Cape is 9 degrees 3 minutes, a difference only of 1 degree
44 minutes.

May not the Tryal Rocks also be some of the low islands that skirt the
coast? The account of them by the Dutch sloop in 1718 places them in
latitude 19 degrees 30 minutes and eighty leagues from the coast of New
Holland; but, unless it is Bedout Island (a sandy islet seen by Captain
Baudin, in longitude 118 degrees 50 minutes) there is no part of the
coast that can at all accord with the description in respect to latitude.
The rocks seen by the Fredensberg Castle in 1777 are certainly the
Montebello Isles, which answer the Dane's description exactly; for they
are very low and rocky and abound in reefs, one of which extends a long
distance to the north-west from Trimouille Island. There remains no doubt
in my mind but that Barrow's Island and Trimouille Island, and the
numerous reefs around them, are the identical Tryal Rocks which have been
the theme and dread of every voyager to the eastern islands for the two
last centuries.* Captain Flinders** spent some days in an ineffectual
search for them and has, I think, decidedly proved their non-existence
between the parallels of 20 1/4 and 21 degrees, and the meridians of 103
1/2 and 106 1/2 degrees. The above islands accord exactly as to latitude;
and the only argument against the probability of this supposition is
their longitude; but during the month of July the current sets with great
strength to the westward and might occasion considerable errors in ships'
reckonings, which, in former days, were so imperfectly kept that no
dependence can be placed upon them.

(*Footnote. The Tryal Rocks obtained their name from the English ship
Tryal, said to have been lost upon them in 1622 (vide Horsburg's Indian
Directory volume 1 page 100). This danger having been once laid down
will, perhaps, never be erased from the chart, although it is generally
believed not to exist. It has been placed in various positions according
to the account which the compiler gives most credence to. In Arrowsmith's
large chart of the South Sea it is laid down in 20 degrees 40 minutes
South and 104 1/2 degrees East.)

(**Footnote. Flinders volume 2 pages 261 to 263.)

1820. November 1.

The following afternoon the man at the masthead reported breakers in the
West-North-West, and when I went to examine from thence I was for some
time equally deceived: the helm was put up and we bore down towards them
but, as we approached, they vanished and we found we had been deceived by
the reflection of the sun's rays upon the water.* After being
sufficiently assured of our mistake, the course was resumed.

(*Footnote. The deceptious appearances that are frequently observed at
sea, such as the reflection of the sun, ripplings occasioned by the
meeting of two opposite currents, whales asleep upon the surface of the
water, shoals of fish, fog-banks, and the extraordinary effect of mirage,
than which, as an optical illusion, nothing is more deceiving, have
doubtless given birth to many of these non-existing shoals and islands.
Were charts to be published (one does exist in manuscript, in the
Hydrographical Office at the Admiralty) with all the islands and dangers
laid down that have been reported by good and respectable authorities,
the navigator would be in a constant fever of anxiety and alarm for the
safety of his vessel. The charts of the present day teem with examples of
this sort and many islands and reefs are laid down which have not been
seen since their first discovery, and which perhaps never existed at all,
unless, like Sabrina Island, they were thrown up by a submarine volcano,
and disappeared immediately afterwards.)

November 2.

And by the following noon we had passed the parallel of the southernmost
limit assigned to these redoubtable rocks.

When we were on the starboard tack two nights before, the cutter leaked
so much that we were upwards of an hour pumping out the water that had
collected in three hours.

On the 2nd of November we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn in 100 1/2
degrees East.

November 4.

And on the 4th in latitude 28 degrees the trade-wind ceased: the winds
were however variable between South and South-East until we reached the
latitude of 31 1/2 degrees and longitude 95 degrees 20 minutes; when the
wind veered by North-East to North-West and West-North-West and we made
rapid progress to the south-east. Between the parallels of 40 and 42
degrees, we had the wind always to the westward of North by East and
South by West, with the current uniformly setting to the northward,
sometimes at the rate of three-quarters of a mile per hour; to the
south-west of Cape Leeuwin it affected us more than one knot: scarcely
any easterly current was observed.

November 27.

On the 27th at eight p.m. we sounded in forty-eight fathoms.

November 28.

And at one o'clock the following morning saw the Black Pyramid and soon
after entered Bass Strait by the passage on the south side of King's
Island. After running into the latitude of Sea Elephant Bay on the east
side of King's Island, in an unsuccessful search after some rocks laid
down in the French charts but not noticed in those of Captain Flinders,
we bore up; and at eleven p.m. passed Sir Roger Curtis Island.

November 29.

And the next day cleared the strait.

1820. December 2.

On the 2nd we were off Mount Dromedary; and the wind blew strong from the
East, the weather assuming a threatening appearance.

December 3.

The next day we passed the heads of Jervis Bay at the distance of three
or four leagues, and the course was altered to North and North by West
parallel to the coast. At noon an indifferent observation for the
latitude and a sight of the land, which for a few minutes was visible
through the squalls, showed that our situation was very much nearer to
the shore than we had expected, a circumstance that was attributed to a
current setting into the bight to the northward of Jervis Bay. The wind
from the eastward was light and baffling and this, added to the critical
situation we were in, made me very anxious to obtain an offing before
night for there was every appearance of a gale from the eastward.

After two or three squalls a breeze sprung up from the East-South-East
with heavy rain, and a North-North-East course was steered, which should
have taken us wide of the coast: having run thirty-seven miles on that
course we steered North by East four miles and then North 1/2 West that
we might not be more than twenty miles from the shore in the morning and
sufficiently near to see the lighthouse on the south head of Port
Jackson; but, from an unusual westerly current, we found ourselves, very
nearly to our destruction, considerably out of our reckoning.

December 4.

At 2 hours 40 minutes a.m., by the glare of a flash of lightning, the
land was suddenly discovered close under our lee: we hauled to the wind
immediately but the breeze at the same moment fell, and the swell being
heavy, the cutter made but little progress. Sail was made as quickly as
possible and as the cutter headed North-North-East there was every
likelihood of her clearing the land; but a quarter of an hour afterwards,
by the light of another flash, it was again seen close to us, stretching
from right ahead to our lee-quarter and so near that the breakers were
distinctly seen gleaming through the darkness of the night. A third flash
of lightning confirmed our fears as to the dangerous situation we were
in; and as there was not room to veer the helm was immediately put a-lee;
but, as was feared, the cutter refused stays. We were now obliged to veer
as a last resource, and the sails being manoeuvred so as to perform this
operation as quickly as possible, we fortunately succeeded in the attempt
and the cutter's head was brought to the wind upon the other tack without
her striking the rocks: we were now obliged to steer as close to the wind
as possible in order to weather the reef on which the sea was breaking,
within five yards to leeward of the vessel: our escape appeared to be
next to impossible: the night was of a pitchy darkness and we were only
aware of our situation from time to time as the lightning flashed: the
interval therefore between the flashes, which were so vivid as to
illumine the horizon round, was of a most awful and appalling nature, and
the momentary succession of our hopes and fears which crowded rapidly
upon each other, may be better imagined than described. We were evidently
passing the line of breakers very quickly; but our escape appeared to be
only possible through the interposition of a Divine Providence, for, by
the glare of a vivid stream of forked lightning, the extremity of the
reef was seen within ten yards from our lee bow; and the wave which
floated the vessel the next moment broke upon the rocks with a surf as
high as the vessel's masthead: at this dreadful moment the swell left the
cutter, and she struck upon a rock with such force that the rudder was
nearly lifted out of the gudgeons: fortunately we had a brave man and a
good seaman at the helm, for instantly recovering the tiller, by a blow
from which he had been knocked down when the vessel struck, he obeyed my
orders with such attention and alacrity that the sails were kept full; so
that by her not losing way, she cleared the rock before the succeeding
wave flowed from under her, and the next moment a flash of lightning
showed to our almost unbelieving eyes that we had passed the extremity of
the rocks and were in safety! This sudden deliverance from the brink of
destruction was quite unexpected by all on board our little vessel and
drew from us a spontaneous acknowledgement of gratitude to the only
source from whence our providential escape could be attributed.

It was now doubtful whether we could clear the point under our lee which
we first saw, but as the next flash of lightning showed that we were
between the heads of Botany Bay, and that the point on which we had
nearly been wrecked was, according to Captain Hunter's plan, Cape Banks,
its northern head, we bore up and in half an hour were safe at anchor.
Daylight now broke and with it the weather began to get worse, so that we
were obliged to remain at this anchorage, which was on the south side of
the bay near Point Sutherland, until the next morning; when we got under
sail and anchored near the opposite shore, under the guard-house, from
which the soldiers supplied us with some refreshments.

December 6.

On the 6th His Excellency the Governor was informed of our arrival and of
our intention to go round to Port Jackson as soon as the weather cleared
up; but we were detained by it until the 9th; when with some difficulty
we cleared the entrance of the bay; at noon the anchor was once more
dropped in Sydney Cove, after an absence of twenty-five weeks and three


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Narrative of a Survey of the Intertropical and Western Coasts of Australia - Performed between the years 1818 and 1822 — Volume 1" ***

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