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´╗┐Title: Discoveries in Australia, Volume 1. - With an Account of the Coasts and Rivers Explored and Surveyed During - The Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, in the Years 1837-38-39-40-41-42-43. - By Command of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. Also a Narrative - Of Captain Owen Stanley's Visits to the Islands in the Arafura Sea.
Author: Stokes, John Lort, 1812-1885
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Discoveries in Australia, Volume 1. - With an Account of the Coasts and Rivers Explored and Surveyed During - The Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, in the Years 1837-38-39-40-41-42-43. - By Command of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. Also a Narrative - Of Captain Owen Stanley's Visits to the Islands in the Arafura Sea." ***

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IN THE YEARS 1837-38-39-40-41-42-43.















I cannot allow these volumes to go before the public, without expressing
my thanks to the following gentlemen for assistance, afforded to me in
the course of the composition of this work: To Captain Beaufort, R.N.,
F.R.S., Hydrographer to the Admiralty, for his kindness in furnishing me
with some of the accompanying charts; to Sir John Richardson, F.R.S; J.E.
Gray, Esquire, F.R.S.; E. Doubleday, Esquire, F.L.S., and A. White,
Esquire, M.E.S., for their valuable contributions on Natural History, to
be found in the Appendix; to J. Gould, Esquire, F.R.S., for a list of
birds collected during the voyage of the Beagle; to Lieutenants Gore and
Fitzmaurice, for many of the sketches which illustrate the work; and to
B. Bynoe, Esquire, F.R.C.S., for several interesting papers which will be
found dispersed in the following pages.

Captain Owen Stanley, R.N., F.R.S., also merits my warmest thanks, for
the important addition to the work of his visits to the Islands in the
Arafura Sea.

I have to explain, that when the name Australasia is used in the
following pages, it is intended to include Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land)
and all the islands in the vicinity of the Australian continent.

All bearings and courses, unless it is specified to the contrary, are
magnetic, according to the variation during the period of the Beagle's

The longitudes are generally given from meridians in Australia, as I much
question whether any portion of the continent is accurately determined
with reference to Greenwich. Sydney, Port Essington, and Swan River, have
been the meridians selected; and the respective positions of those
places, within a minute of the truth, I consider to be as follows:

Swan River (Scott's Jetty, Fremantle) 115 degrees 47 minutes East.

Port Essington (Government house) 132 degrees 13 minutes East.

Sydney (Fort Macquarie) 151 degrees 16 minutes East.



Objects of the Voyage.
The Beagle commissioned.
Her former career.
Her first Commander.
Instructions from the Admiralty and the Hydrographer.
Officers and Crew.
Arrival at Plymouth.
Embark Lieutenants Grey and Lushington's Exploring Party.
Chronometric Departure.
Farewell glance at Plymouth.
Death of King William the Fourth.


Sail from Plymouth.
The Eight Stones.
Peak of Tenerife.
Approach to Santa Cruz.
La Cueva de Los Guanches.
Trade with Mogadore.
Intercourse between Mogadore and Mombas.
Reason to regret Mombas having been given up.
Sail from Tenerife.
Search for rocks near the equator.
Arrival at San Salvador.
Appearance of Bahia.
State of the Country.
Slave Trade.
And results of Slavery.
Extension of the Slave Trade on the eastern coast of Africa.
Moral condition of the Negroes.
Middy's Grave.
Departure from Bahia.
Mr. "Very Well Dice".


A gale.
Anchor in Simon's Bay.
H.M.S. Thalia.
Captain Harris, and his Adventures in Southern Africa.
Proceedings of the Land Party.
Leave Simon's Bay.
An overloaded ship.
Heavy weather and wet decks.
Island of Amsterdam.
Its true longitude.
St. Paul's.
Westerly variation.
Rottnest Island.
Gage's Road.
Swan River Settlement.
An inland lake.
Plans for the future.
Illness of Captain Wickham.
Tidal Phenomena.
Approach to it.
Narrow escape of the first settlers.
The Darling Range.
Abundant Harvest.
Singular flight of strange birds.
Curious Cliff near Swan River.
Bald Head.
Mr. Darwin's Theory.
The Natives.
Anecdotes of Natives.
Their Superstitions.
Barbarous traditions, their uses and their lessons.


Sail from Gage's Road.
Search for a bank.
Currents and soundings.
Houtman's Abrolhos.
Fruitless search for Ritchie's Reef.
Indications of a squall.
Deep sea soundings.
Atmospheric Temperature.
A squall.
Anchor off the mouth of Roebuck Bay.
A heavy squall.
Driven from our anchorage.
Cape Villaret.
Anchor in Roebuck Bay.
Excursion on shore.
Visit from the Natives.
Mr. Bynoe's account of them.
A stranger among them.
Captain Grey's account of an almost white race in Australia.
Birds, Snakes, and Turtle.
Move the Ship.
Miago, and the Black Fellows.
The wicked men of the North.
Clouds of Magellan.
Face of the Country.
Heat and Sickness.
Miago on shore.
Mr. Usborne wounded.
Failure in Roebuck Bay.
Native notions.


Departure from Roebuck Bay.
Appearance of the Country.
Progress to the northward.
Hills and Cliffs.
French Names and French Navigators.
Tasman, and his account of the Natives.
Hazeygaeys and Assagais.
His Authenticity as an Historian.
Description of the Natives.
Marks and mutilations.
Phrenological Development.
Moral condition.
Proas, Canoes, and Rafts.
Another squall.
Anchor in Beagle Bay.
Face of the Country.
Palm Trees.
Hauling the Seine.
A meeting with Natives.
Eastern Salutation.
Miago's conduct towards, and opinion of, his countrymen.
Mutilation of the Hand.
Native smokes seen.
Move further to the North-East.
Point Emeriau.
Cape Leveque.
Point Swan.
Search for water.
Encountered by Natives.
Return to the Ship.
The attempt renewed.
Conduct of the Natives.
Effect of a Congreve Rocket after dark.
A successful haul.
More Natives.
Miago's Heroism.
The plague of Flies.
Dampier's description of it.
Native Habitations.
Wind and weather.
Tidal Phenomenon.
Natural History.
Singular Kangaroo.
Cinnamon Kangaroo.
Goanas and Lizards.
Ant Hills.
Fishing over the side.
A day in the Bush.
A flood of fire.
Soil and Productions.
White Ibis.
Curious Tree.
Rain water.
Geology of the Cliffs.
Weigh, and graze a Rock, or Touch and go.
The Twins.
Sunday Strait.
Roe's Group.
Miago and his friends.
A black dog.
A day of rest.
Native raft.
Captain King and the Bathurst.
A gale.
Point Cunningham.
Successful search for water.
Native estimation of this fluid.
Discovery of a Skeleton.
And its removal.
The grey Ibis.
Our parting legacy.


Survey the Coast to Point Cunningham.
Move the Ship.
Southern View of King's Sound.
Singular vitreous Formation.
Move to the south of Point Cunningham.
Captain King's limit.
Termination of Cliffy Range.
Disaster Bay.
An Exploring Party leave in the boats.
The shore.
A freshwater lake.
Valentine Island.
Native Fire and Food.
A heavy squall.
The wild Oat.
Indications of a River.
Point Torment.
Gouty-stem Tree and Fruit.
Limits of its growth.
Another squall.
Water nearly fresh alongside.
The Fitzroy River.
Tide Bore and dangerous position of the Yawl.
Ascent of the Fitzroy.
Appearance of the adjacent land.
Return on foot.
Perilous situation and providential escape.
Survey the western shore.
Return to the Ship.
Sporting, Quail and Emus.
Ship moved to Point Torment.


Examination of the Fitzroy River.
Excursion into the interior.
Alarm of the Natives.
Ascent of the River.
Sufferings from Mosquitoes.
Red Sandstone.
Natives again surprised.
Appearance of the Country.
Impediments in the River.
Return of the boats.
An Alligator.
Stokes' Bay.
Narrow escape of an Officer.
Change of Landscape.
A new Vine.
Compass Hill.
Port Usborne.
Explore the eastern shore of King's Sound.
Cone Bay.
Native Fires.
Whirlpool Channel.
Group of Islands.
Sterile aspect of the Coast.
Visited by a Native.
Bathurst Island.
Native Hut and Raft.
Return to Port Usborne.
Native Spears.
Cascade Bay.
Result of Explorations in King's Sound.
Interview with Natives.
Coral Reefs.
Discover Beagle Bank.
Arrival at Port George the Fourth.
Examination of Collier Bay in the boats.
Brecknock Harbour.
The Slate Islands.
Freshwater Cove.
An Eagle shot.
Its singular nest.
Rock Kangaroos.
A Conflagration.
Sandstone Ridges.
Doubtful Bay.
Mouth of the Glenelg.
Remarkable Tree.
Fertile Country near Brecknock Harbour.
Return to the Ship.
Meet with Lieutenant Grey.
His sufferings and discoveries.
Visit the Encampment.
Timor Ponies.
Embarkation of Lieutenant Grey's Party.
Sail from Port George the Fourth.
Remarks on position of Tryal Rock.
Anecdotes of Miago.
Arrival at Swan River.
Directions for entering Owen's Anchorage.


Miago's reception by his countrymen.
Whale Fishery.
Strange ideas entertained by Natives respecting the first Settlers.
Neglected state of the Colony.
Test security of Owen's Anchorage.
Celebration of the Anniversary of the Colony.
Friendly meeting between different Tribes.
Native beggars.
Personal vanity of a Native.
Visit York.
Description of Country.
Site of York.
Scenery in its neighbourhood.
Disappointment experienced.
Sail from Swan River.
Hospitality of Colonists during our stay.
Aurora Australis.
Gale off Cape Leeuwen.
Stormy passage.
Ship on a lee shore.
South-west Cape of Tasmania.
Bruny Island Lighthouse.
Arrive at Hobart.
Mount Wellington.
Kangaroo Hunt.
White Kangaroo.
Civility from the Governor.
Travertine Limestone.
Leave Hobart.
Singular Current.
Appearance of Land in the neighbourhood of Sydney.
Position of Lighthouse.
Entrance and first view of Port Jackson.
Scenery on passing up the Harbour.
Meet the Expedition bound to Port Essington.
Apparent increase of Sydney.
Cause of Decline.
Expedition sails for Port Essington.
Botany Bay.
La Perouse's Monument.
Meet Captain King.
Appearance of Land near Sydney.


Leave Sydney.
Enter Bass Strait.
Island at Eastern entrance.
Wilson's Promontory.
Cape Shanck.
Enter Port Phillip.
Commence Surveying Operations.
First Settlement.
Escaped Convict.
His residence with the Natives.
Sail for King Island.
Examine Coast to Cape Otway.
King Island.
Meet Sealers on New Year Islands.
Franklin Road.
Solitary Residence of Captain Smith.
Advantageous position for a Penal Settlement.
Leafless appearance of Trees.
Examine West Coast.
Fitzmaurice Bay.
Stokes' Point.
Seal Bay.
Geological Formation.
Examine Coast to Sea Elephant Rock.
Brig Rock.
Cross the Strait to Hunter Island.
Strong Tide near Reid's Rocks.
Three Hummock Island.
The Black Pyramid.
Point Woolnorth.
Raised Beach.
Coast to Circular Head.
Headquarters of the Agricultural Company.
Capture of a Native.
Mouth of the Tamar River.
Return to Port Phillip.
West Channel.
Yarra-yarra River.
Custom of Natives.
Visit Geelong.
Station Peak.
Aboriginal Names.
South Channel.
Examine Western Port.
Adventure with a Snake.
Black Swans.
Cape Patterson.
Deep Soundings.
Revisit King and Hunter Islands.
Circular Head.
Gales of Wind.
Reid's Rocks.
Sea Elephant Rock.
Wild Dogs.
Navarin and Harbinger Reefs.
Arrive at Port Phillip.
Sail for Sydney.
Pigeon House.
Mr. Usborne leaves.


Leave Sydney.
Gale and Current.
Port Stephens.
River Karuah.
Wild Cattle.
Incivility of a Settler.
River Allyn.
Mr. Boydell.
Cultivation of Tobacco.
A clearing Lease.
William River.
Crossing the Karuah at Night.
Sail from Port Stephens.
Breaksea Spit.
Discover a Bank.
Cape Capricorn.
Northumberland Isles.
Cape Upstart.
Discover a River.
Raised Beach.
Section of Barrier Reef.
Plants and Animals.
Magnetical Island.
Halifax Bay.
Height of Cordillera.
Fitzroy Island.
Hope Island.
Verifying Captain King's Original Chart.
Cape Bedford.
New Geological Feature.
Lizard Island.
Captain Cook.
Barrier and Reefs within.
Howick Group.
Noble Island.
Cape Melville.
Reef near Cape Flinders.
Princess Charlotte's Bay.
Section of a detached Reef.
Tide at Claremont Isles.
Restoration Island.
Islands fronting Cape Grenville.
Boydan Island.
Correct Chart.
Cairncross Island.
Escape River.
Correct position of Reefs.
York Isles.
Torres Strait.
Endeavour Strait.
Booby Island.
Remarks on Barrier and its contiguous Islands and Reefs.
Cape Croker and reef off it.
Discover error in longitude of Cape.
Reefs at the mouth of Port Essington.
Arrive at the latter.


Port Essington.
Bearings from shoals in the Harbour.
Appearance of the Settlement.
Meet Captain Stanley.
Point Record.
Prospects of the Settlement.
Buffaloes escape.
Fence across neck of Peninsula.
Lieutenant P.B. Stewart explores the Country.
Uses of Sand.
Tumuli-building Birds.
Beautiful Opossum.
Wild Bees.
Escape from an Alligator.
Result of Astronomical Observations.
Geological Formation.
Raffles Bay.
Leave Port Essington.
Popham Bay.
Detect error in position of Port Essington.
Melville Island.
Discover a Reef in Clarence Strait.
Cape Hotham.
Native Huts and Clothing.
Geological Formation.
Discover the Adelaide River.
Interview with Natives.
Attempt to come on board.
Messrs. Fitzmaurice and Keys nearly speared.
Exploration of the Adelaide.
Its capabilities.
Another party ascends the Adelaide.
Meet Natives.
Visit Melville Island.
Green Ants.
Thoughts of taking ship up Adelaide abandoned.
Tides in Dundas Strait.
Return to Port Essington.
H.M.S. Pelorus arrives with Provisions.
Further remarks on the Colony.


Leave Port Essington.
Reach Timor Laut.
Meet Proas.
Chief Lomba.
Traces of the Crew of the Charles Eaton.
Their account of the wreck and sojourn on the Island.
Captain King's account of the Rescue of the Survivors.
Boy Ireland's relation of the sufferings and massacre of the Crew.
Appearance of the shores of Timor Laut.
Description of the Inhabitants.
Village of Oliliet.
Curious Houses.
Remarkable Ornaments.
Visit the Oran Kaya.
Burial Islet.
Supplies obtained.
Gunpowder in request as Barter.
Proceed to the Arru Islands.
Dobbo Harbour.
Present to Chief.
Birds of Paradise.
Chinaming Junks' bottoms.
Character of Natives.
Some of them profess Christianity.
Visit the Ki Islands.
Village of Ki Illi.
How protected.
Place of Worship.
Cultivation of the eastern Ki.
No anchorage off it.
Visit Ki Doulan.
Antique Appearance of.
Luxuriant Vegetation.
Employment of Natives.
Defences of the place.
Carvings on gateway.
Civility of Chief.
His Dress.
Population of the Ki Group.
Their Religion.
Place of Interment.
Agility of Australian Native.
Anchorage off Ki Doulan.
Island of Vordate.
Visit from Chief.
Excitement of Natives.
Their Arms and Ornaments.
Carved Horns on Houses.
Alarm of the Oran Kaya.
Punishment of the Natives of Laarat by the Dutch.
Revisit Oliliet.
Discover that Mr. Watson had rescued the European Boy.
Return to Port Essington.
Mr. Watson's Proceedings at Timor Laut.



List of Birds, collected by the Officers of H.M.S. Beagle.

Descriptions of Six Fish. By Sir John Richardson. M.D., F.R.S. etc.

Descriptions of some New Australian Reptiles. By J.E. Gray, Esquire
F.R.S. etc.

Descriptions of new or unfigured Species of Coleoptera from Australia. By
Adam White, Esquire M.E.S.

Descriptions of some new or imperfectly characterized Lepidoptera from
Australia. By E. Doubleday, Esquire F.L.S.








I.R. Fitzmaurice del.

G. GORE del. London, Published by T. & W. Boone, 1846.


Natural size.



1/24th of the usual size.




South-South-East Six Miles.


Horizontal Scale of 20 miles. Vertical Scale of 2000 feet.
A. Cape Upstart, 2000 feet high.
B. Bay within 3 fathoms deep.
C. Raised bed of coral and shells, 12 feet high.
D. Depth 17 fathoms, fine grey sand and shells.
E. 27 fathoms, grey sandy mud or marl, which after exposure to the air
becomes very hard.
F. 32 fathoms, coarse sand.
G. Great Barrier Reef, outer part uncertain, being taken from the width
of it near
H. No bottom, with 200 fathoms.
I. Level of sea at high-water; rise of tide 7 feet.

G. Gore del.
London, Published by T. & W. Boone, 1846.

West-North-West 35 Miles.

The point C (on the edge of the reef C) stands two feet above waterline
G, and the point D 1 1/2 feet above it. The depth of water in the lagoon
exaggerated in section. Figures on line denote depth of water in feet
beneath. G level of sea in a mean state.



O. Stanley del.
London, Published by T. & W. Boone, 1846.


Cristiceps axillaris.
Drawn on Stone by W. Mitchell. Hullmandel & Walton Lithographers.

Balistes phaleratus.
Drawn on Stone by W. Mitchell. Hullmandel & Walton Lithographers.

FISHES. PLATE 2. FIGURES 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Assiculus punctatus.
Drawn on Stone by W. Mitchell. Hullmandel & Walton Lithographers.

FISHES. PLATE 2. FIGURES 6, 7, 8, 9. Natural size.
Scorpaena stokesii.
Drawn on Stone by W. Mitchell. Hullmandel & Walton Lithographers.

Smaris porosus.
Drawn on Stone by W. Mitchell. Hullmandel & Walton Lithographers.

Chelmon marginalis.
Drawn on Stone by W. Mitchell. Hullmandel & Walton Lithographers.


Silubosaurus stokesii.
Day & Haghe, Lithographers to the Queen.

Egernia cunninghami.
Day & Haghe, Lithographers to the Queen.

Hydrus stokesii.
Day & Haghe, Lithographers to the Queen.

Gonionotus plumbeus.
W. Wing Litho. C. Hullmandel's Patent.


INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURES 1, 1a, 1b and 1c. Megacephala Australasiae,

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURES 2 and 2a. Aenigma cyanipenne, Hope.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURES 3, 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d, 3e and 3f. Calloodes
grayianus, White.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURES 4, and 4a. Biphyllocera kirbyana, White.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURE 5. Cetonia (Diaphonia) notabilis.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURE 6. Stigmodera elegantula.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURE 7. Stigmodera erythrura.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURE 8. Stigmodera saundersii, Hope.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURES 9, 9a, and 9b. Clerus ? obesus.



Objects of the Voyage.
The Beagle commissioned.
Her former career.
Her first Commander.
Instructions from the Admiralty and the Hydrographer.
Officers and Crew.
Arrival at Plymouth.
Embark Lieutenants Grey and Lushington's Exploring Party.
Chronometric Departure.
Farewell glance at Plymouth.
Death of King William the Fourth.

For more than half a century, the connection between Great Britain and
her Australian possessions has been one of growing interest; and men of
the highest eminence have foreseen and foretold the ultimate importance
of that vast continent, over which, within the memory of living man, the
roving savage held precarious though unquestioned empire.

Of the Australian shores, the North-western was the least known, and
became, towards the close of the year 1836, a subject of much
geographical speculation. Former navigators were almost unanimous in
believing that the deep bays known to indent a large portion of this
coast, received the waters of extensive rivers, the discovery of which
would not only open a route to the interior, but afford facilities for
colonizing a part of Australia, so near our East Indian territories, as
to render its occupation an object of evident importance.

His Majesty's Government therefore determined to send out an expedition
to explore and survey such portions of the Australian coasts as were
wholly or in part unknown to Captains Flinders and King.


For this service H.M. Sloop Beagle was commissioned at Woolwich, in the
second week of February 1837 by Commander Wickham, who had already twice
accompanied her in her wanderings over the least known and most
boisterous waters of the globe; first, in her sister ship of discovery,
the Adventure, Captain King, and afterwards as first lieutenant of the
sloop now entrusted to his command. Under Captain Wickham some of the
most important objects of the voyage were achieved, but in consequence of
his retirement in March 1841, owing to ill health, the command of the
Beagle was entrusted to the author of the following pages; and as, by a
singular combination of circumstances, no less than three long and
hazardous voyages of discovery have been successfully completed in this
vessel, some account of her here may not be wholly uninteresting. The
reader will be surprised to learn that she belongs to that much-abused
class, the 10-gun brigs--COFFINS, as they are not infrequently designated
in the service; notwithstanding which, she has proved herself, under
every possible variety of trial, in all kinds of weather, an excellent
sea boat. She was built at Woolwich in 1819, and her first exploit was
the novel and unprecedented one of passing through old London bridge (the
first rigged man-of-war that had ever floated so high upon the waters of
the Thames) in order to salute at the coronation of King George the


Towards the close of the year 1825 she was first commissioned by
Commander Pringle Stokes,* as second officer of the expedition which
sailed from Plymouth on the 22nd of May, 1826, under the command of
Captain Phillip Parker King; an account of which voyage, published by
Captain R. Fitzroy, who ultimately succeeded to the vacancy occasioned by
the lamented death of Captain Stokes, and who subsequently commanded the
Beagle during her second solitary, but most interesting expedition--has
added to the well-earned reputation of the seaman, the more enduring
laurels which literature and science can alone supply.

(*Footnote. Not related to the author.)


Though painful recollections surround the subject, it would be hardly
possible to offer an account of the earlier history of the Beagle, and
yet make no allusion to the fate of her first commander, in whom the
service lost, upon the testimony of one well qualified to judge, "an
active, intelligent, and most energetic officer:" and well has it been
remarked by the same high authority, "that those who have been exposed to
one of such trials as his, upon an unknown lee shore, during the worst
description of weather, will understand and appreciate some of those
feelings which wrought too powerfully upon his excitable mind." The
constant and pressing cares connected with his responsible commanded--the
hardships and the dangers to which his crew were of necessity exposed
during the survey of Tierra del Fuego--and in some degree the awful gloom
which rests forever on that storm-swept coast--finally destroyed the
equilibrium of a mind distracted with anxiety and shattered by disease.

Perhaps no circumstance could prove more strongly the peculiar
difficulties connected with a service of this nature, nor could any more
clearly testify that in this melancholy instance every thought of
self-preservation was absorbed by a zeal to promote the objects of the
expedition, which neither danger, disappointment, anxiety, nor disease
could render less earnest, or less vigilant, even to the last!

The two vessels returned to England in October, 1830, when the Adventure
was paid off at Woolwich, and the Beagle at Plymouth; she was
recommissioned by Captain Fitzroy--to whose delightful narrative allusion
has been already made--on the 4th July, 1831,* and continued under his
command till her return to Woolwich in November, 1836; where, after
undergoing some slight repairs, she was a third time put in commission
for the purposes of discovery, under Commander Wickham, her former first
lieutenant; and shortly afterwards commenced that third voyage, of the
toils and successes of which, as an humble contribution to the stores of
geographical knowledge, I have attempted in the following pages to convey
as faithful and complete an account as the circumstances under which the
materials have been prepared will allow. Nor will the subject less
interest myself, when I call to mind, that for eighteen years the Beagle
has been to me a home upon the wave--that my first cruise as a Middy was
made in her; that serving in her alone I have passed through every grade
in my profession to the rank I have now the honour to hold--that in her I
have known the excitements of imminent danger, and the delights of long
anticipated success; and that with her perils and her name are connected
those recollections of early and familiar friendship, to which even
memory herself fails to do full justice!

(*Footnote. The Beagle was stripped to her timbers, and rebuilt under
this able officer's own inspection: and among other improvements, she had
the lightning conductors of the well-known Snow Harris, Esquire, F.R.S.
fitted to her masts; a circumstance to which she has more than once been
indebted for her safety.)


The following instructions were received by Captain Wickham, previous to
our departure from Woolwich, and under them I subsequently acted.


Whereas his Majesty's surveying vessel, Beagle, under your command, has
been fitted out for the purpose of exploring certain parts of the
north-west coast of New Holland, and of surveying the best channels in
the straits of Bass and Torres, you are hereby required and directed, as
soon as she shall be in all respects ready, to repair to Plymouth Sound,
in order to obtain a chronometric departure from the west end of the
breakwater, and then to proceed, with all convenient expedition, to Santa
Cruz, in Tenerife.

In the voyage there, you are to endeavour to pass over the reputed site
of the Eight Stones, within the limits pointed out by our Hydrographer;
but keeping a strict lookout for any appearance of discoloured water, and
getting a few deep casts of the lead.

At Tenerife you are to remain three days, for the purpose of rating the
chronometers, when you are to make the best of your way to Bahia, in
order to replenish your water, and from thence to Simon's Bay, at the
Cape of Good Hope; where, having without loss of time obtained the
necessary refreshments, you will proceed direct to Swan River; but as the
severe gales which are sometimes felt at that settlement may not have
entirely ceased, you will approach that coast with due caution.

At Swan River, you are to land Lieutenants Grey and Lushington, as well
as to refit and water with all convenient despatch; and you are then to
proceed immediately to the north-west coast of New Holland, making the
coast in the vicinity of Dampier Land. The leading objects of your
examination there will be, the extent of the two deep inlets connected
with Roebuck Bay and Cygnet Bay, where the strength and elevation of the
tides have led to the supposition that Dampier Land is an island, and
that the above openings unite in the mouth of a river, or that they
branch off from a wide and deep gulf. Moderate and regular soundings
extend far out from Cape Villaret: you will, therefore, in the first
instance, make that headland; and, keeping along the southern shore of
Roebuck Bay, penetrate at once as far as the Beagle and her boats can
find sufficient depth of water; but you must, however, take care not too
precipitately to commit His Majesty's ship among these rapid tides, nor
to entangle her among the numerous rocks with which all this part of the
coast seems to abound; but by a cautious advance of your boats, for the
double purpose of feeling your way, and at the same time of surveying,
you will establish her in a judicious series of stations, equally
beneficial to the progress of the survey, and to the support of your
detached people.

Prince Regent River appears to have been fully examined by Captain King
up to its freshwater rapids, but as the adjacent ridges of rocky land
which were seen on both sides of Collier Bay, were only laid down from
their distant appearance, it is probable that they will resolve
themselves into a collection of islands in the rear of Dampier Land; and
it is possible that they may form avenues to some wide expanse of water,
or to the mouth of some large river, the discovery of which would be
highly interesting.

As this question, whether there are or are not any rivers of magnitude on
the western coast is one of the principal objects of the expedition, you
will leave no likely opening unexplored, nor desist from its examination
till fully satisfied; but as no estimate can be formed of the time
required for its solution, so no period can be here assigned at which you
shall abandon it in order to obtain refreshments; when that necessity is
felt, it must be left to your own judgment, whether to have recourse to
the town Balli, in the strait of Allas, or to the Dutch settlement of
Coepang, or even to the Arrou Islands, which have been described as
places well adapted for that purpose; but on these points you will take
pains to acquire all the information which can be obtained from the
residents at Swan River.

Another circumstance which prevents any precise instructions being given
to you on this head, is the uncertainty that prevails here respecting the
weather which you may at that period find in those latitudes, and which
it is possible may be such as if not altogether to prevent the execution
of these orders, may at least cause them to be ineffectually performed,
or perhaps lead to a waste of time, which might be better employed on
other parts of the coast. If such should eventually be the case, it would
be prudent not to attempt this intricate part of the coast during the
prevalence of the north-west monsoon, but to employ it in completing the
examination of Shark Bay and of Exmouth Gulf, as well as of other
unexplored intervals of coast up to the 122nd degree of longitude; or,
with a view to the proximity of one of the above-mentioned places of
refreshment, it might, perhaps, be advisable, if compelled to quit the
vicinity of Dampier Land, to devote that part of the season to a more
careful investigation of the low shores of the gulf of Carpentaria, where
it has been surmised, though very loosely, that rivers of some capacity
will be found.

The above objects having been accomplished (in whatever order you may
find suitable to the service) you will return to the southern settlements
for refreshments; and then proceed, during the summer months of fine
weather and long days, to Bass Strait, in which so many fatal accidents
have recently occurred, and of which you are to make a correct and
effectual survey.

But previous to your undertaking that survey, as it has been represented
to us that it would be very desirable for the perfection of the Tidal
theory, that an accurate register of the times and heights of high and
low-water should be kept for some time in Bass Strait, you will (if
practicable) establish a party for that purpose on King Island, and you
are to cause the above particulars of the Tides there to be
unintermittently and minutely observed, and registered in the blank forms
which will be supplied to you by our Hydrographer. If, however,
circumstances should render this measure unadvisable at that island, you
will either choose some less objectionable station, where the average
tide in the Strait may be fairly registered; or, if you can employ no
permanent party on this service, you will be the more exact in
ascertaining the above particulars at every one of your stations; and in
all parts of this Strait you will carefully note the set and strength of
the stream at the intermediate hours between high and low-water, and also
the time at which the stream turns in the offing.

The survey of Bass Strait should include, first, a verification of the
two shores by which it is formed; secondly, such a systematic
representation of the depth and quality of the bottom as will ensure to
any vessel, which chooses to sound by night or day, a correct knowledge
of her position; and, thirdly, a careful examination of the passages on
either side of King Island, as well as through the chains of rocks and
islands which stretch across from Wilson's Promontory to Cape Portland.
This survey will, of course, comprehend the approach to Port Dalrymple,
but the interior details of that extensive harbour may be left to the
officers employed by the Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land,
provided you can ascertain that it is his intention to employ them there
within any reasonable time.

The number of vessels which are now in the habit of passing through Bass
Strait, and the doubts which have recently been expressed, not only of
the just position of the dangers it is known to contain, but of the
existence of others, show the necessity of this survey being executed
with that care and fidelity which will give confidence to all future
navigators; and may, therefore, be more extensive in its limits, and
occupy a larger portion of your time than is at present contemplated. You
must exercise your own judgment as to the fittest period at which you
should either repair to Sydney to refit, or adjourn to Port Dalrymple to
receive occasional supplies. Whenever this branch of the service shall be
completed, you are forthwith by a safe conveyance to transmit a copy of
it to our Secretary, that no time may be lost in publishing it for the
general benefit.

At Sydney you will find the stores which we have ordered to be deposited
there for your use, and having carefully rated your chronometers, and
taken a fresh departure from the Observatory near that port, and having
re-equipped His Majesty's ship, and fully completed her provisions, you
will proceed by the inner route to Torres Strait, where the most arduous
of your duties are yet to be performed. The numerous reefs which block up
that Strait; the difficulty of entering its intricate channels; the
discordant result of the many partial surveys which have from time to
time been made there, and the rapidly increasing commerce of which it has
become the thoroughfare, call for a full and satisfactory examination of
the whole space between Cape York and the southern shore of New Guinea,
and to this important service, therefore, you will devote the remaining
period for which your supplies will last.

In this latter survey you will cautiously proceed from the known to the
unknown; you will verify the safety of Endeavour Strait, and furnish
sufficient remarks for avoiding its dangers; you will examine the three
groups called York, Prince of Wales, and Banks, Islands; you will
establish the facilities or determine the dangers of passing through
those groups, and by a well-considered combination of all those results,
you will clearly state the comparative advantages of the different
channels, and finally determine on the best course for vessels to pursue
which shall be going in either direction, or in opposite seasons. Though
with this part of your operations Cook's Bank, Aurora Reef, and the other
shoals in the vicinity will necessarily be connected, yet you are not to
extend them to the 143rd degree of longitude, as the examination of the
great field to the eastward of that meridian must be left to some future
survey which shall include the barrier reefs and their ramified openings
from the Pacific Ocean. You are, on the contrary, to proceed, if
practicable, but most cautiously, in examining the complicated
archipelago of rocks and islands which line the northern side of Torres
Strait, till, at length, reaching New Guinea, you will there ascertain
the general character of that part of its shore, whether it be high and
continuous, or broken into smaller islands with available channels
between them, as has been asserted; or whether, from being guarded by the
innumerable reefs and dangers which are marked in the charts, it must
remain altogether sealed to the navigator. The nature of the country, as
well as of its products, will also be inquiries of considerable interest;
and you will, perhaps, be able to learn whether the Dutch have made any
progress in forming settlements along its shores; and if so, you will
take especial care not to come into collision with any of their

Throughout the whole of this extensive region, you will bear in mind the
mischievous disposition of the natives; and while you strictly practice
that dignified forbearance and benevolence which tend to impress far
higher respect for our power than the exercise of mere force, you will
also be sedulously on your guard against every surprise; and though your
boats should always be completely armed, you will carefully avoid any
conflict where the ignorant or misguided natives may presume on your
pacific appearance, or on the disparity of your numbers.

You will then turn to the westward, and pursue this part of the survey,
so as to determine the breadth of the foul ground off the coast of New
Guinea, and the continuity or interrupted form of that coast; and you
will establish certain positions on the mainland (if the adjacent sea be
navigable, and if not on the several advancing islands) which may serve
as useful land-falls for vessels coming from the Indian Seas, or for
points of departure for those who have passed through any of these
straits. You will thus continue a general examination of this hitherto
unexplored coast as far as Cape Valsche, which is now said to be only the
terminating point of a chain of large islands, and then across to the
Arrou Islands, which are supposed to be remarkably fertile, to abound
with resources and refreshments, and to be peopled by a harmless and
industrious race, but which do not appear to have been visited by any of
His Majesty's ships.

The length of time which may be required for the due execution of all the
foregoing objects cannot be foreseen. It may exceed that for which your
supplies are calculated, or, on the other hand, a less degree of the
supposed complexity in the ground you will have traversed, along with the
energy and diligence with which we rely on you for conducting these
important services, may enable you to complete them within that period.
In this latter case you will return to the Northern coast of New Holland,
and selecting such parts of it as may afford useful harbours of retreat,
or which may appear to comprise the mouths of any streams of magnitude,
you will employ your spare time in such discoveries as may more or less
tend to the general object of the expedition.

Before your departure from Sydney you will have learnt that His Majesty's
Government has established a new settlement at Port Essington, or
somewhere on the North coast of New Holland; and before you finally
abandon that district you will visit this new colony, and contribute by
every means in your power to its resources and its stability.

We have not, in the concluding part of these Orders, pointed out the
places or the periods at which you are to replenish your provisions,
because the latter must depend on various circumstances which cannot be
foreseen, and the former may be safely left to your own decision and
prudence; but when you have been three years on your ground, unless some
very important result were to promise itself from an extension of that
period, you will proceed to the Island of Mauritius, in order to complete
your stock of water and provisions, and then, touching at either side of
the Cape of Good Hope, according to the season, and afterwards at
Ascension, you will make the best of your way to Spithead, and report
your arrival to our Secretary.

Directions will be forwarded to the commanders-in-chief at the Cape of
Good Hope and in the East Indies, and to the governors or
lieutenant-governors of the several settlements at which you have been
ordered to call, to assist and further your enterprise as far as their
means will admit: and you will lose no opportunity, at those several
places, of informing our Secretary of the general outline of your
proceedings, and of transmitting traces of the surveys which you may have
effected, together with copies of your tide and other observations. You
will likewise, by every safe opportunity, communicate to our Hydrographer
detailed accounts of all your proceedings which relate to the surveys;
and you will strictly comply with the enclosed instructions, which have
been drawn up by him under our directions, as well as all those which he
may, from time to time, forward by our command.

Given under our hands, the 8th of June, 1837.


Charles Adam.

George Elliott.

To J.C. Wickham, Esquire.

Commander of His Majesty's surveying vessel Beagle, at Woolwich.

By command of their Lordships.


John Barrow.


Nor should the valuable instructions of Captain Beaufort, Hydrographer to
the Admiralty, be forgotten; such extracts as may probably prove of
interest to the general reader are here subjoined.


The general objects of the expedition which has been placed under your
command, having been set forth in their Lordship's orders, it becomes my
duty to enter somewhat more specifically into the nature and details of
the service which you are to perform. Their Lordships having expressed
the fullest reliance on your zeal and talents, and having cautiously and
wisely abstained from fettering you in that division and disposition of
your time which the periodic changes of the seasons or the necessities of
the vessel may require, it would ill become me to enter too minutely into
any of those arrangements which have been so flatteringly left to your
discretion; yet, in order to assist you with the results of that
experience which has been derived from the many surveys carried on under
the direction of the Admiralty, and to ensure that uniform consistency of
method in your varied labours, which will so greatly enhance their value,
I will briefly touch on some of the most important subjects, and repeat
those instructions which their Lordships have in every former case
ratified, and which it is therefore expected you will bear in mind during
the whole progress of your survey.

The first point to which your orders advert, after quitting England, is
the Eight Stones, where you will probably add one to the many testimonies
which have been already collected of their non-existence, at least in the
place assigned to them in the old charts; but, before we venture to
expunge them, it becomes a serious duty to traverse their position in
every possible direction. Should the weather be favourable, it would be
desirable, while crossing their parallel, to obtain one very deep cast of
the lead, and should that succeed in reaching the bottom, the sacrifice
of a few days will be well bestowed in endeavouring to trace a further
portion of the bank. A small chart, showing the tracks of various ships
across this place, is hereto annexed, and as the meridian of 16 degrees
22 minutes nearly bisects the two adjacent courses, you are recommended
to cross their parallel in that longitude.

From the Canary Islands to the coast of Brazil, and indeed throughout
every part of your voyage, you should endeavour to pass over the places
of all the reported Vigias which lie near your course, either outward or
homeward. You will perceive a multitude of them carelessly marked on
every chart, but of some you will find a circumstantial description in
that useful publication, the Nautical Magazine, and a day devoted to the
search of any, which will not withdraw you too far from your due course,
will be well employed.

The rocks off Cape Leeuwin, some near King George Sound, the dangerous
patch off Kangaroo Island, and many others, of which accounts are given
in the above work, ought, if possible, to be examined, as more
immediately appertaining to your own field. Whenever found, the depth,
nature, and limits of the banks on which they stand, should be
determined, as they might prove to be of sufficient extent to give
warning to the danger, and then a direct course should be immediately
made by the Beagle to the nearest land, where a convenient place should
be selected, and its position carefully ascertained.

At Swan River you will have previously learnt from Lieutenant Roe, the
Surveyor-General, whether the above-mentioned rocks off Kangaroo Island,
have been again seen, or their position altered, since Captain Brockman's
first description, so as to save your time in the search.

You will no doubt obtain from that intelligent officer, Lieutenant Roe,
much important information respecting the north-west coast, as well as
all the detached intelligence, which during his long residence there he
must have collected, relating to every part of the shores of New Holland.
From him, also, you will acquire many useful hints about the places in
the Indian Sea where refreshments may be obtained, as well as some
insight into the disposition of the authorities and the inhabitants whom
you will meet there, and he will probably be able to give you a clear
account of the duration of the monsoons and their accompanying weather.

If at Port Dalrymple it should so happen that you can wait on Sir John
Franklin, it is probable that he will detach Lieutenant Burnett to
cooperate with you in the survey of Bass Strait, and it is certain that
the Governor will do everything in his power to assist your labours. At
Sydney you will have the advantage of seeing Captain P.P. King, whose
long experience of all those coasts, as well as of the seasons, and of
the manner of dealing with the inhabitants, will be of the utmost use to
you; and whose zeal for the King's service, and whose love of science,
will lead him to do everything possible to promote your views. If Mr.
Cunningham, the Government Botanist, be there, he also will, I am
convinced, eagerly communicate to you and your officers everything which
may be serviceable in the pursuits connected with Natural History.

At Swan River, at Port Dalrymple, and at Sydney, it may, perhaps, be
possible for you to hire, at a low rate, some person acquainted with the
dialects of the natives, which you are subsequently to visit, and with
whom it will be so essential to be on friendly terms. Such a person will
greatly assist in that object; but you will keep him on board no longer
than absolutely necessary, and you will take care to provide for his
return if the Beagle should not be able to carry him back.


In such an extensive and distant survey, numerous subjects of inquiry,
though not strictly nautical, will suggest themselves to your active
mind; and though, from your transient stay at any other place, you will
often experience the mortification of leaving them incomplete, yet that
should not discourage you in the collection of every useful fact within
your reach. Your example in this respect will stimulate the efforts of
the younger officers under your command, and through them may even have a
beneficial influence on the future character of the navy.

It has been suggested by some geologists, that the coral insect, instead
of raising its superstructure directly from the bottom of the sea, works
only on the summits of submarine mountains, which have been projected
upwards by volcanic action. They account, therefore, for the basin-like
form so generally observed in coral islands, by supposing that they exist
on the circular lip of extinct volcanic craters; and as much of your work
will lie among islands and cays of coral formation, you should collect
every fact which can throw any light on the subject.

Hitherto it has been made a part of the duty of all the surveying vessels
to keep an exact register of the height of the barometer, at its two
maxima of 9, and its two minima of 3 o'clock, as well as that of the
thermometer at the above periods, and at its own day and night maximum
and minimum, as well as the continual comparative temperature of the sea
and air. This was done with the view of assisting to provide authentic
data, collected from all parts of the world, and ready for the use of
future labourers, whenever some accidental discovery, or the direction of
some powerful mind, should happily rescue that science from its present
neglected state. But those hours of entry greatly interfere with the
employments of such officers as are capable of registering those
instruments with the precision and delicacy which alone can render
meteorologic data useful, and their future utility is at present so
uncertain, that it does not appear necessary that you should do more than
record, twice a day, the height of the former, as well as the extremes of
the thermometer, unless, from some unforeseen cause, you should be long
detained in any one port, when a system of these observations might then
be advantageously undertaken. There are, however, some occasional
observations, which cannot fail of being extensively useful in future

1. During the approach of the periodic changes of wind and weather, and
then the hygrometer, also, should find a place in the journal.

2. The mean temperature of the sea at the equator, or, perhaps, under a
vertical sun. These observations should be repeated whenever the ship is
in either of those situations, as well in the Atlantic as in the Pacific;
they should be made far away from the influence of the land, and at
certain constant depths, suppose fifty and ten fathoms, and at the
surface also; and this last ought to be again observed at the
corresponding hour of the night.

3. A collection of good observations, systematically continued, for the
purpose of connecting the isothermal lines of the globe, and made, as
above, at certain uniform depths.

4. Some very interesting facts might result from the comparison of the
direct heat of the solar rays in high and low latitudes. The two
thermometers for this purpose should be precisely similar in every
respect; the ball of the one should be covered with white kerseymere, and
of the other with black kerseymere, and they should be suspended far out
of the reach of any reflected heat from the ship, and also at the same
elevation above the surface of the water; the observations should be made
out of sight of land, in a variety of latitudes, and at different hours
of the day, and every pains taken to render them all strictly similar and

5. All your meteorologic instruments should be carefully compared
throughout a large extent of the scales, and tabulated for the purpose of
applying the requisite corrections when necessary, and one or more of
them should be compared with the standard instruments at the Royal
Society or Royal Observatory on your return home.

6. All observations which involve the comparison of minute differences
should be the mean result of at least three readings, and should be as
much as possible the province of the same individual observer.

7. In some of those singularly heavy showers which occur in crossing the
Equator, and also at the changes of the Monsoon, attempts should be made
to measure the quantity of rain that falls in a given time. A very rude
instrument, if properly placed, will answer this purpose, merely a wide
superficial basin to receive the rain, and to deliver it into a pipe,
whose diameter, compared with that of the mouth of the basin, will show
the number of inches, etc. that have fallen on an exaggerated scale.

8. It is unnecessary to call your attention to the necessity of recording
every circumstance connected with that highly interesting phenomenon, the
Aurora Australis, such as the angular bearing and elevation of the point
of coruscation; the bearing also of the principal luminous arches, etc.

9. It has been asserted that lunar and solar halos are not always exactly
circular, and a general order might, therefore, be given to the officer
of the watch, to measure their vertical and horizontal diameters whenever
they occur, day or night.

Large collections of natural history cannot be expected, nor any
connected account of the structure or geological arrangements of the
great islands which you are to coast; nor, indeed, would minute inquiries
on these subjects be at all consistent with the true objects of the
survey. But, to an observant eye, some facts will unavoidably present
themselves, which will be well worth recording, and the medical officers
will, no doubt, be anxious to contribute their share to the scientific
character of the survey.

I have now exhausted every subject to which it can be necessary to call
the attention of an officer of your long experience; and I have,
therefore, only further to express my conviction, that if Providence
permits you to retain your wonted health and activity, you will pursue
the great objects of this expedition with all the energy in your power,
and with all the perseverance consistent with a due regard to the safety
of His Majesty's Ship, and to the comfort of your officers and crew.

Given, etc. this 8th of June, 1837.

F. Beaufort,




The crew embarked in the Beagle in this her third voyage, consisted of:

John Clements Wickham, Commander and Surveyor.
James B. Emery, Lieutenant.
Henry Eden, Lieutenant.
John Lort Stokes, Lieutenant and Assistant Surveyor.
Alexander B. Usborne, Master.
Benjamin Bynoe, Surgeon.
Thomas Tait, Assistant Surgeon.
John E. Dring, Clerk in charge.
Benjamin F. Helpman, Mate.
Auchmuty T. Freeze, Mate.
Thomas T. Birch, Mate.
L.R. Fitzmaurice, Mate.*
William Tarrant, Master's Assistant.
Charles Keys,** Clerk.
Thomas Sorrell, Boatswain.
John Weeks, Carpenter.
A corporal of marines and seven privates, with forty seamen and boys.

(*Footnote. This officer I afterwards appointed to the assistant
surveyorship (vacated upon my succeeding Captain Wickham) on account of
the active part he had taken in the surveying duties: an appointment most
handsomely confirmed by Captain Beaufort.)

(**Footnote. Mr. Keys was always a volunteer for boat work, and is
entitled to honourable mention as being, even where all were zealous, of
great value upon more than one occasion.)

During our six years' voyage the following changes occurred:

Mr. Usborne invalided, in consequence of his wound, in May 1839; Mr.
Birch exchanged, in August 1839, with Mr. Pasco, into the Britomart; Mr.
Freeze exchanged, in September 1839, with Mr. Forsyth,* into the Pelorus;
in February 1840, Mr. Helpman joined the colonial service in Western
Australia; Mr. C.J. Parker was appointed, in December 1840, to Mr.
Usborne's vacancy, superseding Mr. Tarrant, who had been doing Master's
duty since Mr. Usborne left; Lieutenants Emery and Eden returned to
England in March 1841. Late in the same month Commander Wickham
invalided, when the writer of this narrative was appointed to the vacant
command, by Commander Owen Stanley, H.M.S. Britomart, senior officer
present, an appointment subsequently confirmed by the Lords of the
Admiralty. In April 1841, Lieutenant Graham Gore succeeded Lieutenant
Emery.** Commander Wickham, myself, Mr. Bynoe, the Boatswain, and two
marines, had served in both the previous voyages of the Beagle.

(*Footnote. From this officer's previous knowledge of the duties of
surveying, having sailed in the Beagle on her former voyage, he proved a
very valuable addition to our party.)

(**Footnote. Lieutenant Gore had been appointed to H.M.S. Herald and came
down from India, expecting to join her at Sydney: on his arrival, he
found she had left the station; and though he might have spent some
months among his friends there, he in the most spirited manner, at once
volunteered to join the Beagle, and proved himself throughout the
remainder of the voyage of the greatest value, both to the service, and
the friend who here seeks to do justice to his worth. This deserving
officer would seem to have an hereditary taste for the duties of a voyage
of surveying and discovery, his grandfather having accompanied the
renowned circumnavigator, Cook, and his father, the unfortunate Bligh.
Besides Lieutenant Gore's valuable services in H.M.S. Beagle, he was 1st
Lieutenant of H.M.S. Volage, during the early part of the Chinese war,
and present at the capture of Aden: he served under Captain Sir George
Back in the Polar expedition, and on board H.M.S. Albion at the battle of


On the 9th of June we left Woolwich, in tow of H.M. Steamer Boxer,
furnished with every comfort and necessary (by the Lords of the
Admiralty) which our own experience, or the kind interest of Captain
Beaufort could suggest. It had been determined by the Government--the
plan having been suggested by Lieutenant Grey to Lord Glenelg, then
Secretary of State for the Colonies--that, simultaneously with the survey
of the seaboard of the great continent of Australia, under Captain
Wickham, a party should be employed in inland researches, in order more
particularly to solve the problem of the existence of a great river, or
water inlet, supposed, upon the authority of Captains King and Dampier,
to open out at some point on its western or north-western side, then but
partially and imperfectly surveyed.


This expedition was now entrusted to the command of Lieutenant
Grey--since Governor of South Australia--who was accompanied by
Lieutenant, now Captain Lushington; Mr. Walker, Surgeon, and Corporals
Coles and Auger, of the Royal Sappers and Miners, who had volunteered
their services: they were to take passage in the Beagle, and to proceed
either to the Cape of Good Hope or Swan River, as Lieutenant Grey might
ultimately determine. It was arranged that they should join us at
Plymouth, and on our arrival there on the 20th of June--having called at
Portsmouth on our way--we found them anxiously expecting us.

Here we were busily occupied for some days in rating the chronometers,
and testing the various magnetic instruments: we also during this time
swung the ship to try the local attraction, which neither here, nor in
any subsequent experiments, exceeded one degree. As the ship lay in the
Sound our observations were made on a stone in the breakwater marked
230/1, from whence we took our chronometric departure; it is about
one-third of the length from the east end, and had been used for similar
purposes by Captains King and Fitzroy. We considered it to be west of
Greenwich, 0 hours 16 minutes 33 seconds 4t.


Hardly anyone can visit Plymouth Sound without being at once struck with
the singular beauty of the surrounding scenery; nor shall I easily forget
the mingled feelings of admiration and regret with which my eye dwelt
upon the quiet spot the evening before bidding it a long, long farewell.
The sea had sunk to sleep, and not a single breath disturbed its glassy
surface: the silent waters--and yet how eloquently that silence spoke to
the heart--glided swiftly past; into the still air rose the unbroken
column of the thin and distant smoke; through long vistas of far-off
trees, which art and nature had combined to group, the magnificent
building at Mount Edgcumbe, but veiled, to increase its beauty: scenery
varying from the soft luxury of the park, to the rude freedom of the wild
mountain's side, by turns solicited the eye; and as I leant against a
shattered rock, filled with all those nameless feelings which such an
hour was so well fitted to call forth, I felt notwithstanding all the
temptations of promised adventure, the full bitterness of the price we
pay for its excitements!


On the evening of the 21st of June, we received the melancholy
intelligence of the death of our late most gracious Sovereign, King
William the Fourth. To all classes of his subjects his mild and paternal
government has endeared his memory; and none however they may differ with
him, or with each other, upon that great political revolution which will
render the name and reign of the Fourth William, no less remarkable than
that of the Third, will refuse the tribute of their sincerest respect for
qualities that adorned the sovereign while they exalted the man. By the
naval service, in which he had spent the early part of his life, his name
will long be remembered with affection; he never lost sight of its
interests; and warmly supported its several institutions and charities,
long after he had been called by Providence to the Throne of his Fathers.
We bore the first intelligence of his fate, and the account of the
accession of our present most gracious Queen, to every port at which we
touched up to the period of our reaching Swan River.


Sail from Plymouth.
The Eight Stones.
Peak of Tenerife.
Approach to Santa Cruz.
La Cueva de Los Guanches.
Trade with Mogadore.
Intercourse between Mogadore and Mombas.
Reason to regret Mombas having been given up.
Sail from Tenerife.
Search for rocks near the equator.
Arrival at San Salvador.
Appearance of Bahia.
State of the Country.
Slave Trade.
And results of Slavery.
Extension of the Slave Trade on the eastern coast of Africa.
Moral condition of the Negroes.
Middy's Grave.
Departure from Bahia.
Mr. "Very Well Dice".

The morning of the 5th July saw us running out of Plymouth Sound with a
light northerly wind, and hazy weather: soon after we were outside we
spoke H.M.S. Princess Charlotte, bearing the flag of Admiral Sir R.
Stopford, and as she was bound down channel we kept together for the next
three days: she had old shipmates on board, and was not the less an
object of interest on that account. Nothing worthy of particular notice
occurred during the run to Santa Cruz in Tenerife, which we made on the
18th of July; having in obedience to our instructions passed over the
presumed site of The Eight Stones, thus adding another though almost
needless testimony to their non-existence, at least in the place assigned
them in the old charts.

In passing the gut of Gibraltar we remarked the current setting us into
it: this I have before noticed in outward voyages: in the homeward, one
is generally too far to the westward to feel its effects. A small
schooner sailed for England on the 20th, and most of us took the
opportunity of sending letters by her. I learnt from the master of her
that a timber ship had been recently picked up near the island, having
been dismasted in a gale off the banks of Newfoundland; she was 105 days
drifting here.


We were not so fortunate on this occasion as to obtain a distant sea view
of the far-famed peak of Tenerife. There are few natural objects of
greater interest when so beheld. Rising at a distance of some 40 leagues
in dim and awful solitude from the bosom of the seemingly boundless waves
that guard its base, it rests at first upon the blue outline of the
horizon like a conically shaped cloud: hour after hour as you approach
the island it seems to grow upon the sight, until at length its broad
reflection darkens the surrounding waters. I can imagine nothing better
calculated than an appearance of this kind to satisfy a beholder of the
spherical figure of the earth, and it would seem almost incredible that
early navigators should have failed to find conviction in the unvarying
testimonies of their own experience, which an approach to every shore

In approaching the anchorage of Santa Cruz, vessels should close with the
shore, and get into soundings before--as is the general custom--arriving
abreast of the town, where from the steepness of the bank, and its
proximity to the shore, they are obliged to anchor suddenly, a practice
never desirable, and to vessels short handed, always inconvenient:
besides calms sometimes prevail in the offing, which would prevent a
vessel reaching the anchorage at all.


Lieutenant Grey was most indefatigable in collecting information during
the short period of our stay at the island, as an examination of his
interesting work will at once satisfy the reader: he explored a cave
three miles to the north-east of Santa Cruz, known by tradition as La
Cueva de los Guanches, and reputed to be a burying-place of the
aboriginal inhabitants of the island: it was full of bones, and from the
specimens he brought away, and also from his description of all that he
examined, they appear to have belonged to a small-limbed race of men.

Besides the wine trade, a considerable traffic is carried on with the
Moors upon the opposite coast, who exchange gums and sometimes ivory for
cotton and calico prints, and occasionally tobacco.


The chief port for this trade is Mogadore, from whence ships not
unfrequently sail direct to Liverpool.

A singular circumstance was mentioned to me by our first Lieutenant Mr.
Emery, as tending to prove the existence of commercial intercourse
between the various tribes in the interior, and the inhabitants of the
coast at Mogadore on the north-west coast of Africa, and Mombas on the
south-east. In the year 1830, certain English goods were recognized in
the hands of the Moors at Mogadore which had been sold two years
previously to the natives at Mombas. The great extent of territory passed
over within these dates, renders this fact somewhat extraordinary; and it
affords a reason for regretting that we did not keep possession of
Mombas, which would ere this have enabled us to penetrate into the
interior of Africa: we abandoned it, at the very time when the tribes in
the interior were beginning to find out the value of our manufactures,
especially calicoes and cottons.

From the best information that Lieutenant Emery had obtained among the
natives, it seems certain that a very large lake exists in the interior,
its banks thickly studded with buildings, and lying nearly due west from

It was Lieutenant Emery's intention to have visited this lake had he
remained longer at Mombas; the Sultan's son was to have accompanied him,
an advantage which, coupled with his own knowledge of the country and its
customs, together with his great popularity among the natives, must have
ensured him success. It is to be feared, that so favourable an
opportunity for clearing up the doubts and darkness which at present
beset geographers in attempting to delineate this unknown land, will not
soon again present itself.


Having completed the necessary magnetic observations, and rated the
chronometers, we sailed from Tenerife, on the evening of the 23rd. It
should be noticed that the results obtained from our observations for the
dip of the needle, differed very materially from those given by former
observers: the experiments made by Lieutenant Grey in different parts of
the island, satisfied us that the variation could not be imputed to
merely local causes.

As in obedience to our instructions we had to examine and determine the
hitherto doubtful position of certain rocks near the Equator, about the
meridian of 20 degrees West longitude, we were obliged to take a course
that carried us far to the eastward of the Cape de Verd Islands; for this
reason we had the North-East trade wind very light; we finally lost it on
the 30th, in latitude 13 degrees 0 minutes North, and longitude 14
degrees 40 minutes West; it had been for the two previous days scarcely

The South-East trade reached us on the 8th of August, latitude 3 degrees
30 minutes North longitude 17 degrees 40 minutes West, and on the morning
of the 10th we crossed the Equator in longitude 22 degrees 0 minutes
West: when sundry of our crew and passengers underwent the usual
ceremonies in honour of old Father Neptune. A close and careful search
within the limits specified in our instructions justified us in
certifying the non-existence of the rocks therein alluded to: but before
we presume to pass any censure upon those who preceded us in the honours
of maritime discovery, and the labours of maritime survey, it will be
proper to bear in mind the ceaseless changes to which the earth's surface
is subject, and that, though our knowledge is but limited of the
phenomena connected with subterranean and volcanic agency, still, in the
sudden upheaval and subsidence of Sabrina and Graham Islands, we have
sufficient evidence of their vast disturbing power, to warrant the
supposition that such might have been the case with the rocks for which
our search proved fruitless. Nor are these the only causes that may be
assigned to reconcile the conflicting testimonies of various Navigators
upon the existence of such dangers; the origin of which may be ascribed
to drift timber--reflected light discolouring the sea, and causing the
appearance of broken water--or to the floating carcass of a whale, by
which I have myself been more than once deceived.


A succession of winds between South-South-East and South-East, with the
aid of a strong westerly current, soon brought us near the Brazils. We
made the land on the morning of the 17th, about 15 miles to the
north-east of Bahia, and in the afternoon anchored off the town of San

Though this was neither my first nor second visit to Bahia, I was still
not indifferent to the magnificent or rather luxuriant tropical scenery
which it presents. A bank of such verdure as these sun-lit climes alone
supply, rose precipitously from the dark blue water, dotted with the
white and gleaming walls of houses and convents half hidden in woods of
every tint of green; while here and there the lofty spires of some
Christian temple pointed to a yet fairer world, invisible to mortal eye,
and suggested even to the least thoughtful, that glorious as is this
lower earth, framed by Heaven's beneficence for man's enjoyment, still it
is not that home to which the hand of revelation directs the aspirations
of our frail humanity.


I had last seen Bahia in August, 1836, on the homeward voyage of the
Beagle; and it was then in anything but a satisfactory condition; the
white population divided among themselves, and the slaves concerting by
one bloody and desperate blow to achieve their freedom. It did not appear
to have improved during the intervening period: a revolutionary movement
was still contemplated by the more liberal section of the Brazilians,
though at the very period they thus judiciously selected for squabbling
with one another, they were living in hourly expectation of a rising, en
masse, of the blacks. That such an insurrection must sooner or later take
place--and take place with all the most fearful circumstances of long
delayed and complete revenge--no unprejudiced observer can doubt.


That selfish and short-sighted policy which is almost invariably allied
with despotism, has led to such constant additions by importation to the
number of the slave population, that it now exceeds the white in the
ratio of ten to one, while individually the slaves are both physically
and in natural capacity more than equal to their sensual and degenerate
masters. Bahia and its neighbourhood have a bad eminence in the annals of
the Brazilian slave-trade. Upwards of fifty, some accounts say eighty
cargoes, had been landed there since the Beagle's last visit: nor is the
circumstance to be wondered at when we bear in mind, that the price of a
slave then varied from 90 to 100 pounds, and this in a country not
abounding in money.

The declining trade, the internal disorganization, and the rapidly
augmenting slave population of Bahia, all tend to prove that the system
of slavery which the Brazilians consider essential to the welfare of
their country, operates directly against her real interests. The
wonderful resources of the Brazils will, however, never be fully
developed until the Brazilians resolve to adopt the line of policy
suggested in Captain Fitzroy's interesting remarks upon this subject. To
encourage an industrious native population on the one hand, and on the
other to declare the slave-trade piratical, are the first necessary steps
in that march of improvement, by which this tottering empire may yet be
preserved from premature decay.


It would, however, be a vain imagination, to suppose that this wiser and
more humane determination will be spontaneously adopted by those most
implicated in this debasing and demoralizing traffic. Indeed it appears
from the best information obtained on the subject, that since the
vigilance of our cruizers has comparatively put a stop to the trade on
the west coast of Africa--where it has received a great
discouragement--it has been greatly extended on the east. Could it but
have been foreseen by our Government that their efforts upon the west
coast, would in proportion as they were successful, only tend to drive
the traders in human flesh to the eastward, it is probable that Mombas
would have still been retained under our dominion; for such a possession
would have enabled us to exercise an effectual control in that quarter:
as it is, it gives additional reason to regret that the place was ever
abandoned. The horrors of the passage--horrors which no imagination can
heighten, no pen adequately portray--are by this alteration in the chief
seat of the accursed trade most fearfully augmented. The poor victims of
cruelty and fraud and avarice, in their most repulsive forms, are packed
away between decks scarcely three feet high, in small vessels of 30 or 40
tons, and thus situated have to encounter the cold and stormy passage
round the Cape: the average mortality is of course most frightful, but
the smallness of the vessels employed decreases the risk of the
speculators in human flesh, who consider themselves amply repaid, if they
save one living cargo out of every five embarked!


In the meantime cargoes of slaves are almost weekly landed in the
neighbourhood of Bahia: the thousand evils of the vile system are each
day increasing, and with a rapid but unregarded footstep the fearful hour
steals on, when a terrible reckoning of unrestrained revenge will repay
all the accumulated wrongs of the past, and write in characters of blood
an awful warning for the future!

So far as we could learn, no attempts are made by the masters to
introduce the blessings of Christianity among those whom they deprive of
temporal freedom. The slave is treated as a valuable animal and nothing
more: the claims of his kindred humanity so far forgotten as they relate
to his first unalienable right of personal freedom, are not likely to be
remembered in his favour, in what concerns his coheritage in the sublime
sacrifice of atonement once freely offered for us all! He toils through
long and weary years, cheered by no other hope than the far distant and
oft delusive expectation that a dearly purchased freedom--if for
freedom's blessings any price can be too costly--will enable him to look
once more upon the land of his nativity; and then close his eyes,
surrounded by the loved few whom the ties of kindred endear even to his
rude nature.

It would swell this portion of the work to an unreasonable extent, to
give any lengthened details of the working of a system, about which among
my readers no two opinions can exist. Let it suffice to say, that the
Europeans are generally better and less exacting masters than the
Brazilians. Among the latter it is a common practice to send so many
slaves each day to earn a certain fixed sum by carrying burdens, pulling
in boats, or other laborious employment; and those who return at night
without the sum thus arbitrarily assessed as the value of their day's
work, are severely flogged for their presumed idleness.


During our brief stay at Bahia I paid a visit to the grave of poor young
Musters, a little Middy in the Beagle during our last voyage, who died
here on the 19th May, 1832, from the effects of a fever caught while away
on an excursion up the river Macacu. He was a son of Lord Byron's Mary,
and a great favourite with all on board. Poor boy! no stone marks his
lonely resting place upon a foreign shore, but the long grass waves over
his humble grave, and the tall palm tree bends to the melancholy wind
that sighs above it. As I paid his memory the tribute due to his many
virtues and his early death, I breathed a prayer that the still and
placid beauty of the spot where his mortal remains return to their
kindred dust, may typify the tranquil happiness of that world of spirits
with which his own is now united!


On the afternoon of Friday the 25th, we left the magnificent bay of
Bahia, and after obtaining an offing, stood away to the southward and
eastward. I was much amused by a story of Grey's a day or two after we
sailed: it seems he had mistaken the Quartermaster's usual call in
conning the ship of "Very well, dice" (a corruption of "very well, thus")
for a complimentary notice of the man at the helm; and anxious to know
the individual who so distinguished himself, had two or three times gone
on deck to see "Mr. Very well Dice:" finding a different helmsman each
time, completely confounded him; and when I explained the matter, he
joined me in a hearty laugh at the mistake!


A gale.
Anchor in Simon's Bay.
H.M.S. Thalia.
Captain Harris, and his Adventures in Southern Africa.
Proceedings of the Land Party.
Leave Simon's Bay.
An overloaded ship.
Heavy weather and wet decks.
Island of Amsterdam.
Its true longitude.
St. Paul's.
Westerly variation.
Rottnest Island.
Gage's Road.
Swan River Settlement.
An inland lake.
Plans for the future.
Illness of Captain Wickham.
Tidal Phenomena.
Approach to it.
Narrow escape of the first settlers.
The Darling Range.
Abundant Harvest.
Singular flight of strange birds.
Curious Cliff near Swan River.
Bald Head.
Mr. Darwin's Theory.
The Natives.
Anecdotes of Natives.
Their Superstitions.
Barbarous traditions, their uses and their lessons.

We had, upon the whole, a favourable passage across to the Cape; but on
the 17th of September, when distant from it about 500 miles, we
encountered a moderate gale from the north. As this was the first heavy
weather we had experienced since our departure from England, I was
curious to see what effect such a strange scene would have on our
passengers. Wrapt in mute astonishment, they stood gazing with admiration
and awe on the huge waves as they rolled past, occasionally immersing our
little vessel in their white crests--and listening, with emotions not
wholly devoid of fear, to the wild screams of the seabirds as they
skimmed o'er the steep acclivities of these moving masses. The landsmen
were evidently deeply impressed with the grandeur of a storm at sea; nor
can the hardiest seaman look with unconcern on such an exhibition of the
majesty of Him, whose will the winds and waves obey. Not more poetically
beautiful than literally true are the words of the Psalmist, so
appropriately introduced into the Form of Prayers at Sea--"They that go
down to the sea in ships, and occupy their business in great waters:
these men see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep: for at
his word the stormy wind ariseth, which lifteth up the waves thereof." My
own experience has over and over again satisfied me, that, mingled with
many a dim superstition, a deep religious sentiment--a conviction of the
might and mercy of Heaven--often rests on the heart of the most reckless
seaman, himself all unconscious of its existence, yet strangely
influenced by its operations!


We sighted land on the evening of the 20th of September, rounded the Cape
the next morning, and in the afternoon anchored in Simon's Bay. We found
here H.M.S. Thalia, bearing the flag of Admiral Sir Patrick Campbell,
Commander-in-chief of the Cape station: and during our subsequent stay
received every attention which kindness and courtesy could suggest, from
himself and his officers.

We were glad to ascertain that our chronometers had been performing
admirably. They gave the longitude of Simon's Bay, within a few seconds
of our homeward determination during the last voyage. Mr. Maclear, of the
Royal Observatory, and Captain Wauchope, of the flagship, had been
measuring the difference of longitude between Simon's Bay dockyard and
Cape Town Observatory, by flashing lights upon the summit of a mountain
midway between those two places. Their trials gave a greater difference,
by a half second, between the two meridians, than we had obtained on a
former visit by carrying chronometers to and fro. The results stand as

Mr. Maclear and Captain Wauchope: 11.5 seconds South.

H.M. Sloop Beagle: 11.0 seconds South.


We found at the Cape the renowned Captain Harris, H.E.I. Company's Bombay
Engineers, who had just returned from his sporting expedition into the
interior of Southern Africa, having made his way through every obstacle,
from the frontier of the Cape Colony, through the territories of the
chief Moselekatse, to the Tropic of Capricorn. With his spirit-stirring
accounts of hunting adventure and savage manners we were all most highly
gratified. What he had seen, where he had been, and what he had performed
"by flood and field," have since been told to the world by himself, and
therefore need not be repeated here: but it would be unpardonable not to
do justice to his energy, his perseverance, and his success. He had
collected quite a museum of the Natural History of the wild beasts
against whom his crusade had been directed; while his collection of
drawings, both as regarded the animals delineated, and the appearance of
the country in which they were found, was really most beautiful: and many
a pleasant hour was spent in viewing the various specimens and
illustrations, each one of which testified the intrepidity and skill of
himself or his no less adventurous companion, William Richardson,
Esquire, B.C.S. It will readily be believed that these two gentlemen were
then, themselves, the great Lions of that part of Africa.


Having completed our observations, and crammed every available square
inch of the Beagle with various stores--a proceeding rendered absolutely
necessary by the unsatisfactory accounts we received of the state of
affairs at Swan River--we sailed for that place on the morning of the
12th of October.

It should be mentioned, that Lieutenant Grey, hearing it would be
impossible for him to obtain a suitable vessel at Swan River, hired a
small schooner from this port, and sailed, with his party, for Hanover
Bay, on the north-west coast of Australia, the day after our departure.
His subsequent perils, wanderings, and adventures having been fully
described in his own published account, I need do no more here than
allude to them.

We encountered a good deal of heavy weather, shifting winds, and
consequently irregular seas, during our run to Swan River; and owing to
the deep state of our loaded little vessel, her decks were almost
constantly flooded. For many days we had never less than an inch and a
half of water on them all over; and this extra weight, in our already
overburdened craft, did not, of course, add to her liveliness; however,
she struggled on.


And on the 1st of November bore us in sight of the Island of Amsterdam,
and in the afternoon passed to the southward of it, sufficiently near to
determine its position. The summit of the Island, which has rather a
peaked appearance, we found to be 2,760 feet high, in latitude 38 degrees
53 minutes South, longitude 77 degrees 37 minutes East of Greenwich. It
is singular that though this Island, which is almost a finger-post for
ships bound from the Cape either to New Holland or India, has been so
long known to all navigators of these seas, its true longitude should
have been till now unascertained. The western side presented the
appearance of a broken-down crater, nor indeed can there be any reason to
doubt its volcanic origin. Light brown was the pervading colour upon the
sides of the island, and appeared to be caused by stunted bushes and
grass. The southern island, St. Paul's, affords a good anchorage in 21
fathoms, about midway on its eastern side, latitude 38 degrees 42
minutes, and is in every way preferable to the spot chosen for that
purpose by Vlaming in 1764, on the south-east side of Amsterdam, where
landing is never very easy, and generally quite impracticable.


The well ascertained fact, that water is found in abundance at St.
Paul's, leads to a very fair inference, that in this humid atmosphere,
and with a much greater elevation, the same essential commodity may be
met with at Amsterdam; but certainly at St. Paul's, and most probably at
Amsterdam, the rugged nature of the travelling over these volcanic
islands, would render useless any attempt to water a ship.

The following table, though it may not possess much interest for the
general reader, will not be without its value in the eyes of my nautical
brethren: it shows the increase of variation since 1747:


From Horsburg's Directory : 1747 : 17 1/2.
From Horsburg's Directory : 1764 : 18 3/4.
From Horsburg's Directory : 1793: 20.
H.M.S. Beagle : 1837 : 21.

As these islands lie in the same meridian, the longitude given above of
Amsterdam, will equally apply to St. Paul's: they are admirably situated
for connecting the meridians of Africa and Australia. We lost sight of
Amsterdam towards evening, and flattered ourselves that we were also
leaving the bad weather behind. The sky more settled; the sea less high;
and the barometer rising: such indications, however, cannot be implicitly
trusted in this boisterous climate; and shortly after dark, having
shipped a very heavy sea, we rounded too for the night. The constant set
of the huge following seas, carried our little vessel much faster to the
eastward than could be easily credited, till proved by actual
observation. During the last three or four days, we had run upwards of
195 miles daily by the observations, being from twenty to thirty more
each day than appeared from the reckoning.


We made Rottnest Island on the morning of Wednesday, November 15th; and
in the afternoon of the same day, anchored in Gage's Road, Swan River.
Our position at midnight, the night before, made us about 30 miles from
the mainland, when we had the wind from the eastward, getting round again
towards noon to south and by west. This may be some guide to the limit of
the land wind, and as such I record the fact. During the three days
previous to our making the land, we experienced a northerly current of
one knot per hour. We tried during the same period for soundings, with
nearly 200 fathoms, but in vain.

We passed along the north shore of Rottnest at the distance of a mile and
a half, closing with it as we got to the eastward, where it is not so
rocky. The north shore should not be approached within a mile. As we were
opening out the bay on the north-east end of the island, we passed over a
rocky patch, with, from appearance, not more than three fathoms on it, it
is small, and we had 14 fathoms close to it. This patch is about one mile
North by West from the north-west point of the bay. Off this point is a
low rocky islet; and when on the shoal, we could just make out the white
sandy beach in the bay open between it and the point. The western points
of the island are all shut in by the north point; therefore, keeping them
open, will always enable the navigator to give this dangerous rock* a
wide berth.

(*Footnote. Now called Roe's Patch.)


The Swan River Settlement, which is a portion of the colony of Western
Australia, was founded in August 1829, under the auspices of the Colonial
Office, Captain Stirling being the first Lieutenant-Governor.


Fremantle, at the entrance of Swan River, is the sea port; and Perth,
situate about nine miles inland, the seat of Government: Guildford and
York are the other chief places in the colony.

There is nothing very particularly inviting in the first appearance of
Western Australia; dull-green-looking downs, backed by a slightly
undulating range of hills, rising to nearly 2,000 feet high, are the
chief natural features of the prospect. Fremantle, of which it was
wittily said by the quartermaster of one of His Majesty's ships who
visited the place, "You might run it through an hourglass in a day," is
but a collection of low white houses scattered over the scarce whiter
sand. The only conspicuous landmark visible in approaching the anchorage
is the Jail: rather a singular pharos for a settlement in Australia,
which boasts its uncontaminated state. This building I afterwards induced
the Governor to have white-washed, and it now forms an excellent mark to
point out the river, as well as the town.*

(*Footnote. A large patch of white sand, on the coast, about three miles
to the northward of Swan River, also serves as a landmark.)

Shortly after our arrival, I was introduced to the Governor, Sir James
Stirling; he, and all those here best qualified to judge, joined in
regretting that Lieutenant Grey had not decided to come on with us. The
accounts we heard of the country and the natives gave us every reason to
entertain but slender hopes of his success.


Sir James and Mr. Roe, the Surveyor-General, appeared to coincide with
the general opinion that a large inland lake will ultimately be
discovered. They had questioned many of the natives about it, who all
asserted its existence, and pointed in a south-easterly direction to
indicate its position. Their notions of distance are, to say the least,
exceedingly rude; with them everything is "far away, far away." The size
of this water the natives describe by saying, that if a boy commenced
walking round it, by the time he finished his task he would have become
an old man! After all may not this be the great Australian Bight that
these natives have heard of, for none we met in Western Australia
pretended to have seen it? They derive their information from the eastern
tribes, and under such circumstances it must at least be considered
extremely vague.*

(*Footnote. This much-talked-of lake, which it was the assumed labour of
a life to circumambulate, was discovered in January 1843, by Messrs.
Landor and Lefroy, who found it about 100 miles South-South-East from
Beverley. It is quite salt, called Dambeling, and about fifteen miles
long by seven and a half broad!)

The Surveyor-General had lately returned from an exploring journey to the
eastward of the capital, and reported that there existed no reasonable
probability of extending the colony in that direction: he strongly
recommended us to proceed at once to the north-west coast, and return
again to Swan River to recruit; saying that we should find the heat there
too great to remain for a longer period. This course Captain Wickham,
after due deliberation, resolved to adopt, and accordingly all the
stores, not absolutely required, were forthwith landed, and the ship made
in every respect as airy as possible. The 25th November was fixed for our
departure, when most unfortunately Captain Wickham, while on his way to
Perth, was attacked with a severe dysentery, and continued so ill that he
could not be brought to the ship till the end of December. The most that
could be effected was done to improve this unavoidable delay; and our
tidal observations, before commenced, were more diligently pursued. We
found the greatest rise only thirty-one inches, and here, as elsewhere on
the Australian coast, we observed the remarkable phenomenon of only one
tide in the twenty-four hours! Surveying operations were also entered on,
connecting Rottnest Island with the mainland; the dangers which surround
it, as well as those which lie between its shores and the coast, were
discovered and laid down: this survey, of great importance to the
interests of shipping in these waters, was ultimately completed on our
subsequent visits to Swan River.

That arid appearance which first meets the settler on his arrival, and to
which allusion has already been made, cannot but prove disheartening to
him: particularly if, as is generally the case, his own sanguine
expectations of a second Paradise have been heightened by the interested
descriptions of land jobbers and emigration agents.


However, when he ascends the river towards the capital, this feeling of
despondency will gradually wear away; its various windings bring, to his
eager and anxious eye, many a bright patch of park-like woodland; while
the river, expanding as he proceeds, till the beautiful estuary of
Melville water opens out before him, becomes really a magnificent feature
in the landscape; and the boats, passing and repassing upon its smooth
and glassy bosom, give the animation of industry, and suggest all the
cheerful anticipations of ultimate success to the resolute adventurer.
From about the centre of this lake-like piece of water, the eye first
rests upon the capital of Western Australia, a large straggling village,
partly concealed by the abrupt termination of a woody ridge, and standing
upon a picturesque slope on the right bank of the river, thirteen miles
from its mouth. The distant range of the Darling mountains supplies a
splendid background to the picture, and the refreshing seabreeze which
curls the surface of Melville water every afternoon, adds to the health,
no less than comfort, of the inhabitants. The former inconvenience,
caused by the shoal approach, and which rendered landing at low-water a
most uncomfortable operation, has now been remedied by the construction
of a jetty.

Like all the Australian rivers with which we are yet acquainted, the Swan
is subject to sudden and tremendous floods, which inundate the corn lands
in its vicinity, and sweep away all opposing obstacles with irresistible


The first settlers had a most providential escape from a calamity of this
kind: they had originally selected for the site of their new city, a
low-lying piece of land, which, during the first winter after their
arrival, was visited with one of these strange and unexplained invasions
from the swelling stream: had the deluge been delayed for another year,
these luckless inhabitants of a new world would have shared the fate of
those to whom Noah preached in vain; but, warned in time, they chose some
safer spot, from whence, in future, they and their descendants may safely
contemplate the awful grandeur of similar occurrences, and thankfully
profit by the fertility and abundance which succeed to such wholesale
irrigation. During this, our first visit, I had no opportunity of
penetrating into the country further than the Darling range: in
journeying thither, we passed through Guildford, a township on the banks
of the Swan, about seven miles north-east from Perth, and four from the
foot of the mountains. It stands upon a high part of the alluvial flat
fringing the river, and which extends from half to one mile from it on
either side. The rich quality of the soil may be imagined from the fact,
that, in 1843, after thirteen years of successive cropping, it produced a
more abundant harvest than it had done at first, without any artificial
aid from manures.


A singular flight of strange birds, was noticed at Guildford about the
year 1833, during the time when the corn was green: they arrived in an
innumerable host, and were so tame as to be easily taken by hand. In
general appearance they resembled the land-rail, but were larger, and
quite as heavy on the wing. They disappeared in the same mysterious
manner as they arrived, and have never since repeated their visit. Were
these birds visitors from the interior, or had they just arrived at the
end of a migratory journey from some distant country? It is to be
regretted that no specimen of them was to be obtained, as it might have
helped to clear an interesting subject from doubt.


The change in ascending this range, from the alluvium near its base, to
the primitive formation of which it is itself composed, is very
remarkable. Shells still common on the adjacent coasts were met with 14
feet below the surface, near the foot of the range, by one of the
colonists when sinking a well. In the same locality deposits of sand may
be seen, having that particular wavy appearance which is always noticed
upon the sea beach. These appearances, as well as the general aspect of
the adjacent country, seem to justify the conclusion I arrived at while
on the spot, that the land which now intervenes between the mountains and
the shore, is a comparatively recent conquest from the sea. The character
of this land may be thus described: The first three miles from the coast
is occupied with ridges of hills, from 100 to 200 feet high, of
calcareous limestone formation, cropping out in such innumerable points
and odd shapes as to be almost impassable. Some of these lumps resemble a
large barnacle; both lumps and points are covered with long, coarse
grass, and thus concealed, become a great hindrance to the pedestrian,
who is constantly wounded by them. To these ridges succeed sandy forest
land and low hills, except on the banks of the rivulets, where a belt of
alluvial soil is to be found. The Darling range traverses the whole of
Western Australia in a direction, generally speaking, north and south. It
appears to subside towards the north, and its greatest elevation is
nearly 2,000 feet. The cliffs of the coast at the mouth of Swan River,
have a most singular appearance, as though covered with thousands of
roots, twisted together into a species of network.


A similar curiosity is to be seen on Bald Head, in King George's Sound,
so often alluded to by former navigators, and by them mistaken either for
coral, or petrified trees standing where they originally grew. Bald Head
was visited by Mr. Darwin, in company with Captain Fitzroy, in February
1836, and his opinions upon the agencies of formation, so exactly
coincide with those to which I attribute the appearances at Arthur's
Head, that I cannot do better than borrow his words. He says--page 537,
volume 3, "According to our views, the rock was formed by the wind
heaping up calcareous sand, during which process, branches and roots of
trees, and land-shells were enclosed, the mass being afterwards
consolidated by the percolation of rain water. When the wood had decayed,
lime was washed into the cylindrical cavities, and became hard, sometimes
even like that in a stalactite. The weather is now wearing away the
softer rock, and in consequence the casts of roots and branches project
above the surface: their resemblance to the stumps of a dead shrubbery
was so exact, that, before touching them, we were sometimes at a loss to
know which were composed of wood, and which of calcareous matter."*

(*Footnote. For more exact details the reader should consult Mr. Darwin's
volume on Volcanic Islands.)


We were much struck during our stay by the contrast between the natives
here, and those we had seen on the Beagle's former voyage at King
George's Sound. The comparison was wholly in favour of those living
within the influence of their civilized fellow-men: a fact which may
surprise some of my readers, but for which, notwithstanding, I am quite
prepared to vouch. A better quality, and more certain supply of food, are
the causes to which this superiority ought to be attributed: they are
indeed exceedingly fond of wheaten bread, and work hard for the settlers,
in cutting wood and carrying water, in order to obtain it. Individually
they appear peaceable, inoffensive, and well-disposed, and, under proper
management, make very good servants; but when they congregate together
for any length of time, they are too apt to relapse into the vices of
savage life. Among the many useful hints, for which we were indebted to
Mr. Roe, was that of taking a native with us to the northward; and,
accordingly, after some trouble, we shipped an intelligent young man,
named Miago; he proved, in some respects, exceedingly useful, and made an
excellent gun-room waiter. We noticed that, like most of the natives, he
was deeply scarred, and I learned from him that this is done to recommend
them to the notice of the ladies. Like all savages, they are
treacherous--for uncivilized man has no abstract respect for truth, and
consequently deceit, whether spoken or acted, seems no baseness in his


I heard an anecdote at Perth that bears upon this subject: A native of
the name of Tonquin asked a settler, who lived some distance in the
interior, permission to spend the night in his kitchen, of which that
evening another native was also an inmate. It seems that some hate,
either personal, or the consequences of a quarrel between their different
tribes, existed in the mind of Tonquin towards his hapless fellow lodger;
and in the night he speared him through the heart, AND THEN VERY QUIETLY
LAID DOWN TO SLEEP! Of course in the morning no little stir took place.
Tonquin was accused, but stoutly denied the charge. So satisfied,
however, was the owner of the house of the guilt of the real culprit,
that had he not made his escape, he would have been executed red hand--as
the border wardens used to say--by the man, the sanctity of whose
roof-tree he had thus profaned. Tonquin afterwards declared that he NEVER
SLEPT FOR NEARLY A FORTNIGHT, being dogged from place to place by the
footsteps of the avengers of blood. He escaped, however, with his life,
though worn almost to a shadow by constant anxiety. When I saw him some
years afterwards, I thought him the finest looking native I had ever
seen, but he was apparently, as those who knew him best reported him to
be, insane. If not the memory of his crime, and the consequent remorse
which it entailed upon him, perhaps the fugitive life he was compelled to
lead in order to avoid the wrath of human retribution, had been used to
make manifest the anger of Heaven for this breach of one of those first
great laws of human society, which are almost as much instincts of our
nature as revelations from the Creator to the creatures of his will!


The natives have a superstitious horror of approaching the graves of the
dead, of whom they never like to speak, and when induced to do so, always
whisper. A settler, residing in a dangerous part of the colony, had two
soldiers stationed with him as a guard: upon one occasion five natives
rushed in at a moment when the soldiers were unprepared for their
reception, and a terrible struggle ensued: the soldiers, however,
managed, while on the ground, to shoot two of them, and bayonetted the
remaining three. The five were afterwards buried before the door, nor
could a more perfect safeguard have been devised; no thought even of
revenge for their comrades would afterwards induce any of the tribe to
pass that fearful boundary.

Their most curious superstition, however, remains to be recorded; it is
the opinion they confidently entertain, and which seems universally
diffused among them, that the white people are their former fellow
countrymen, who in such altered guise revisit the world after death.
Miago assured me that this was the current opinion, and my own personal
observation subsequently confirmed his statement. At Perth, one of the
settlers, from his presumed likeness to a defunct member of the tribe of
the Murray River, was visited by his supposed kindred twice every year,
though in so doing they passed through sixty miles of what was not
unfrequently an enemy's country.

Their religious opinions, so far as I have been able to obtain any
information on the subject, are exceedingly vague and indefinite. That
they do not regard the grave as man's final resting place, may, however,
be fairly concluded, from the superstition I have just alluded to, and
that they believe in invisible and superior powers--objects of dread and
fear, rather than veneration or love--has been testified in Captain
Grey's most interesting chapter upon Native Customs, and confirmed by my
own experience.


I used sometimes to question Miago upon this point, and from him I
learned their belief in the existence of an evil spirit, haunting dark
caverns, wells, and places of mystery and gloom, and called Jinga. I
heard from a settler that upon one occasion, a native travelling with
him, refused to go to the well at night from fear of this malevolent
being; supposed to keep an especial guardianship over fresh water, and to
be most terrible and most potent in the hours of darkness. Miago had
never seen this object of his fears, but upon the authority of the elders
of his tribe, he described its visible presence as that of a huge
many-folded serpent; and in the night, when the tall forest trees moaned
and creaked in the fitful wind, he would shrink terrified by the solemn
and mysterious sounds, which then do predispose the mind to superstitious
fears, and tell how, at such a time, his countrymen kindle a fire to
avert the actual presence of the evil spirit, and wait around
it--chanting their uncouth and rhythmical incantations--with fear and
trembling, for the coming dawn.

I have preserved these anecdotes here, because I can vouch for their
authenticity, and though individually unimportant, they may serve to
throw additional light upon the manners, customs, and traditions of the
Aborigines of Australia; but to all really interested in the subject, I
would recommend a perusal of Captain Grey's second volume. I have as yet
neither space nor materials to attempt any detailed account of the
customs, superstitions, or condition of this strange people; but it would
be impossible to pass them by quite unnoticed: nor can the voyager, whose
chief object is to make their native land a field for the exertions of
British enterprise, be wholly indifferent to the manner in which our
dominion may affect them. The history of almost every colony, founded by
European energy, has been one fearful catalogue of crime; and though by
the side of the Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese, English adventurers seem
gentle and benevolent, still cruelty and oppression have too often
disgraced our name and faith.


Thank Heaven, with many a doubt as to the time that must elapse ere that
glad day shall come, I can look onward with confidence to a period--I
trust not far remote--when throughout the length and breadth of
Australia, Christian civilization shall attest that the claims upon
England's benevolence have been nobly acknowledged!


Sail from Gage's Road.
Search for a bank.
Currents and soundings.
Houtman's Abrolhos.
Fruitless search for Ritchie's Reef.
Indications of a squall.
Deep sea soundings.
Atmospheric Temperature.
A squall.
Anchor off the mouth of Roebuck Bay.
A heavy squall.
Driven from our anchorage.
Cape Villaret.
Anchor in Roebuck Bay.
Excursion on shore.
Visit from the Natives.
Mr. Bynoe's account of them.
A stranger among them.
Captain Grey's account of an almost white race in Australia.
Birds, Snakes, and Turtle.
Move the Ship.
Miago, and the Black Fellows.
The wicked men of the North.
Clouds of Magellan.
Face of the Country.
Heat and Sickness.
Miago on shore.
Mr. Usborne wounded.
Failure in Roebuck Bay.
Native notions.


The solemnities of Christmas, and the festal celebration of the New Year,
beneath a cloudless sky, and with the thermometer at 90, concluded our
first visit to Swan River. We left our anchorage in Gage's Road on
Thursday, January 4th, devoting several hours to sounding between
Rottnest and the main. We bore away at 4 P.M. to search for a bank said
to exist about fifteen miles north from the middle of Rottnest Island,
having from twenty to twenty-two fathoms over it. Near the position
assigned we certainly shoaled our water from twenty-eight to twenty-four
fathoms, but no other indication of a bank was to be found.

Satisfied that we had now no further reason for delay, we kept away
North-West with a fresh southerly wind, and the glad omen of a brilliant

January 5.

We were rather surprised to find by our observation at noon, no
indication of a northerly current, though yesterday when becalmed between
Rottnest and the main we were drifted to the northward at the rate of
nearly two knots per hour. We sounded regularly every four hours, but
found no bottom at 200 fathoms: the wind during the morning was light
from South-South-West but during the night we had it fresh from

January 6.

We passed, at midnight, within 60 miles of the position assigned in the
chart to the low coral group known as Houtman's Abrolhos,* and again
sounded unsuccessfully with 200 fathoms.

(*Footnote. Subsequent observations placed these islands 30 miles more to
the eastward than the position there assigned them. Our track, therefore,
was really 90 miles from them.)

We continued steering a northerly course up to the 9th, keeping within
from 60 to 80 miles distance of the coast, and repeating our deep-sea
soundings every six hours without success.


The wind during each day was moderate from the South-South-West and South
by West, freshening during the night from South, and South by East; a
heavy swell was its constant companion, and the barometer fell to 29.75.
On the morning of the 9th, being in the parallel of North-west Cape, our
course was altered to North-East by East; it blew hard during the night,
and we had a disagreeable sea; but, as usual, it moderated again towards
the morning.

We had shaped a course to make a reef in latitude 20 degrees 17 minutes,
and named after its discoverer, Lieutenant Ritchie, R.N.; but owing to
its being situated, as we afterwards found, half a degree to the eastward
of its assigned position in the charts, we did not see it.

At 4 A.M., and with 195 fathoms, we reached a bottom of sand, broken
shells, and coral, being then about 80 miles North-North-East from
Tremouille Island, the nearest land. Steering East by North 1/2 North for
31 miles, brought us to our noon position in latitude 19 degrees 20
minutes South, longitude 116 degrees 16 minutes East, and into a depth of
120 fathoms, with the same kind of bottoms. South-South-West, 17 miles
from our morning position, Captain King had 83 and 85 fathoms; from this
we may suppose the edge of the bank of soundings, extending off this part
of the coast, to be very steep. These soundings, together with those of
Captain King, as above, may give some idea of the nature and extent of
this bank, which seems to be a continuation of the flat extending
North-North-East 40 miles, connecting Barrow and Tremouille Islands with
the main: its outer edge being kept heaped up thus steeply by the
constant action of the current sweeping round the North-west Cape.


We continued steering East and by North 1/2 North, and at sunset, 14
miles from our noon position, the water had deepened to 145 fathoms,
bottom a fine white sand and powdered shells. Before we were 50 miles
from our noon position, we could find no bottom with 200 fathoms.

January 12.

We made but slow progress during the night, and felt delay the more
tedious from the eager anxiety with which we desired sight of the land
where our duties were to begin in earnest. We were not successful with
our soundings till 6 P.M., when we had the same kind of bottom as before
described, with 117 fathoms: 15 miles East by North 1/2 North from our
noon position, which was 220 miles West by South from Roebuck Bay: 30
miles in the same direction from our noon position, we shoaled our water
to 85 fathoms, the ground retaining the same distinctive character. We
had the wind from South-West to South-East during the afternoon, but at 6
P.M. it chopped round to North-North-West, when, too, for the first time,
we perceived lightning to the South-East--Barometer 29.92; thermometer

January 13.

The preceding indications of the coming squall, which had given us full
time for preparation, were realized about one o'clock this morning, when
it reached us, though only moderately, from South-East. It was preceded
by the rise and rapid advance of a black cloud in that quarter, just as
Captain King has described.


At noon we were in latitude 18 degrees 26 minutes South, longitude 119
degrees 18 minutes East, and in soundings of 75 fathoms, fine white sand,
broken shells, and fragments of dead coral. There was only a slight
variation in the atmospheric temperature of two degrees during the
twenty-four hours, the highest in the day being 85, and the lowest at
night 83. The water was very smooth, but as night approached it thundered
and lightened heavily and vividly, and most of us noticed and suffered
from a particularly oppressive and overpowering state of the atmosphere,
which the heat indicated by the thermometer was by no means sufficiently
intense to account for.

January 14.

During the last twenty-four hours we had made but 51 miles progress in
the direction of Roebuck Bay; our noon observations placed us in latitude
18 degrees 25 minutes South, longitude 120 degrees 13 minutes East, being
about 80 miles from the nearest land. We obtained soundings at 72
fathoms, yellow sand and broken shells. During the afternoon, it being
nearly a calm, we found ourselves surrounded by quantities of fish, about
the size of the mackerel, and apparently in pursuit of a number of small
and almost transparent members of the finny tribe, not larger than the

We sounded at sunset, and found bottom at 52 fathoms, which shoaled by
half-past ten to 39. The circumstance, however, occasioned no surprise,
as we had run South-South-East 25 miles, in a direct line for that low
portion of the coast from which the flat we were running over extends.

The first part of the night we had the wind at North-North-East, the
breeze steady, and the water as smooth as glass; but as the watch wore
on, quick flashes of forked lightning, and the suspicious appearance of
gathering clouds in the South-East, gave warning of the unwelcome
approach of a heavy squall.


At eleven we lay becalmed for ten minutes between two contending winds;
that from the South, however, presently prevailed, and shifting to the
South-East, blew hard: meantime, a dark mass of clouds in the
East-South-East appeared suddenly to assume the form of a deep-caverned
archway, and moved rapidly towards us; in a few minutes, the ship was
heeling majestically to the passing gust, the lightning flashed vividly
and rapidly around us, alternately concealing and revealing the troubled
surface of the foam-covered sea, while the thunder rolled heavily over
our heads.

The squall was heavy while it lasted, commencing at East-South-East and
ending at East-North-East. It was accompanied by heavy rain. Towards the
end of the middle watch, the weather began to assume a more settled
appearance, and we had a moderate breeze from the north; but between five
and six o'clock A.M., it shifted suddenly by the West to
South-South-East, and became light. We sounded repeatedly during the
night in from 32 to 35 fathoms, the same kind of bottom as before; which
we found agree very well with those reported in the account of the French
expedition under Captain Baudin.

From the specimens of the squalls we experienced the last two nights, and
which appear to be pretty regular in their visitation, I am inclined to
believe they do not extend any considerable distance from the land. They
give the seaman ample warning of their approach; yet, since they always
come on in the night, when their violence cannot be properly estimated,
the ship's head should (if circumstances permit) be kept to the westward
(West-North-West) until the short-lived fury of the storm has exhausted

January 15.

We progressed with light and variable airs through the day, gradually
shoaling our water till nine P.M., when the anchor was dropped in 14
fathoms, having previously passed over a rocky ledge of apparently coral
formation, in 13 1/2 fathoms. The land over the south point of Roebuck
Bay bore East-South-East, about 17 miles distant; but we did not see it
till the following morning.


The evening wore a threatening aspect, though not apparently so much to
be dreaded as that of yesterday; however, we were disagreeably out in our
anticipations, for about three o'clock A.M. (January 16) a heavy squall
burst on us, veering from East-South-East to East-North-East, broke our
best bower anchor, and drove us half a mile out to sea, when the
remaining fluke hooked a rock and brought us up. It rained and blew till
daylight, then we were again favoured with fine weather, and light
westerly winds. The land was now in sight, Cape Villaret being the most
northerly point, and bearing East-South-East some 16 or 17 miles. The
hillock upon this cape, and two other hummocks, lying to the southward,
formed the only prominent features of the low land in sight.


At this anchorage the flood-tide set East and by North, from one to one
and a half knots per hour. Before weighing I procured a specimen of live
coral from the depth of 11 fathoms.

Light airs, and the aid of the flood-tide, carried us into the centre of
Roebuck Bay, where we came to an anchor in 7 fathoms, Cape Villaret
bearing South by West 1/2 West about 10 miles. The fall of the tide here
was no less than 18 feet.

As we closed with the land, I had a good opportunity of speculating upon
its appearance, and the probability of our investigation confirming or
contradicting the opinion entertained by Captains King and Dampier, that
a channel would be found to connect Roebuck Bay with an opening behind
Buccaneers Archipelago, thus making Dampier's Land an island. I confess,
my own impressions at first sight differed from that of those high
authorities, nor did a nearer examination shake my opinion. Cape
Villaret, a short ridge lying East and West, and about 150 feet high, was
still the most remarkable object; the sand on its side having a curious
red appearance. From the masthead the land was not visible to the
eastward for the space of one point of the compass; yet its level
character, and the shoalness of the water, led alike to the opinion that
no such communication as supposed would be found to exist.

January 17.

Collecting materials for the chart was the chief occupation of the day.
Mr. Usborne discovered a high-water inlet in the south shore of the bay,
five miles east of Cape Villaret, having a dry bank of sand before it at


While the party were on shore, they were visited by six of the natives, a
larger race of men than those on the south coast, naked, with the
exception of a grass mat round the waist, and the hair straight and tied
up behind, seemingly ignorant of the use of the throwing stick, but
carrying spears ill-shapen and unbarbed. One of them had a kiley, or
boomerang, and each carried a rude hatchet of stone. None of them had
suffered the loss of the front tooth, which, with some tribes, is a
distinction of manhood. When asked by signs for fresh water, of which our
party saw no traces, they pointed to the South-East; a circumstance which
I record, as it may possibly be of some service to future explorers. As
the boat was leaving, one of them, supposing, I presume, that they were
out of our reach, and might therefore attack us with impunity, threw a
stone at the boat, which luckily did no harm, though hurled with great
dexterity and force. Upon this, a pistol was discharged over their heads,
when they retired with far greater rapidity than they had advanced.


Mr. Usborne mentions, in an account of this interview (published in the
Nautical Magazine for 1840, page 576) that one of the party differed in
several physical characteristics from the rest. After describing them in
general terms as being from five feet six, to five feet nine inches tall,
broad shoulders, long and slight legs, large heads, and overhanging
brows--he continues, "There was an exception in the youngest, who
appeared of an entirely different race: his skin was a copper colour,
while the others were black; his head was not so large, and more rounded;
the overhanging brow was lost; the shoulders more of a European turn; and
the body and legs much better proportioned; in fact, he might be
considered a well-made man, at our standard of figure." A similar
instance of meeting with one of a tribe, not apparently belonging to the
same subdivision of the human family as those by whom he was surrounded,
is recorded by Captain Grey, who speaks indeed of the existence of a
distinct race, totally different (i.e. from the other aborigines) and
almost white. I cannot say that I have myself encountered any of these
almost white men, whose existence, as a distinct race, Captain Grey
appears to have rather hastily admitted; such variation in form and
colour as Mr. Usborne alludes to, may, however, be accounted for by the
intercourse which the natives on the north coast hold from time to time
with the Malays.

Several very large black martins, with white or grey heads, were hovering
over the ship this morning; and many flights of small white tern, and a
bird, commonly called the razor-bill, passed and re-passed the ship every
morning and evening, flying from the bay to seaward, and returning at
sunset. Two water snakes were shot alongside the ship during the day; the
largest measured four feet, and was of a dirty yellow colour. A
good-sized fish was taken from the stomach of one of them. Their fangs
were particularly long, and very much flattened, having no cutting edge

Some turtle also passed the ship to-day, and a day or two afterwards we
were fortunate enough to shoot one which weighed 160 pounds: he had ample
justice done to his merits. It was high-water at 1.50 P.M., and the
stream changed at the same time, a circumstance conclusively
demonstrating that we were not anchored in a strait.

January 18.

We got underweigh in the morning, but from the shallowness of the water
anchored within a mile east of our former position.


The native Miago, who had accompanied us from Swan River, was most
earnest in his inquiries about the savages, as soon as he understood that
some of them had been seen. He appeared delighted that these
blackfellows, as he calls them, have no throwing sticks; for though at
times exceedingly valiant in conversation, and very anxious to kill one
of the men, and carry off one of their gins, or wives--the great end,
aim, and ambition of all Australian force or policy--he yet evidently
holds these northmen in great dread. They are, according to his account,
"Bad men--eat men--Perth men tell me so: Perth men say, Miago, you go on
shore very little, plenty Quibra men* go, you go." These instructions
appear to have been very carefully pressed upon him by his associates,
and certainly they had succeeded in inspiring him with the utmost dread
of this division of his fellow countrymen, which all his boasting about
killing some of them and taking one of their women as proof of his
prowess, back to Perth, failed to concern.

(*Footnote. i.e. Men of the ship.)


He gave me this evening a new reason to account for the appearance of the
two small clouds called after the celebrated Magellan, in the following
words: "You see," said he, pointing up to the sky, "little smoke." I
assented at once; for certainly the clouds have very much the appearance
of that to which he compared them: he then continued: "Perth man tell me,
long, long time back, he make fire, smoke go far away up, far away, stop
and never go away more." Miago evidently believed that his friend at
Perth had really lighted the fire, the smoke of which had thus gone up
"far away, far away," to "stop and never go away more." I can easily
enough comprehend why the assertion might be made, and possibly without
any intention to deceive upon the part of the asserter, who may first
have seen the clouds after watching the ascent of his own fire smoke
through the still air, in the same direction; but that it should be
implicitly believed, as it evidently was by Miago, upon the mere word of
his fellow countryman, did, I own, astonish me; and seems to indicate
that, in their social intercourse with each other, they may have more
regard for truth than I was at first inclined to give them credit for.


Mr. Usborne was away to-day in one of the boats, seeking a berth for the
ship higher up the bay: upon his return he reported that he had been over
the banks before mentioned, upon which he found the water very shoal: the
face of the country he described as exceedingly low, with mud lumps not
unlike ant-hills,* scattered here and there over the face of it, and
several clusters of small trees. Natives also had been seen, though no
opportunity of approaching them had occurred, as the moment their
restless eyes, or quick ears, detected our approach, they most rapidly

(*Footnote. Subsequent experience literally verified this opinion.)


January 19.

Two boats were despatched this morning, under Mr. Usborne's command, to
examine the eastern part of what I think may be named very properly
Useless Bay. This would have been my duty, had I not unfortunately been
taken ill in the evening of the preceding day: the symptoms were violent
headache, and a disordered state of the stomach, caused, the surgeon
says, by the oppressive and overpowering heat which we have experienced
for the last few days, and the general effects of which seem more
distressing to the ship's company than is often experienced under a
higher range of the thermometer; the deprivation of all power, or energy,
is one of its most unpleasant consequences. I am inclined to think that
one reason for its great and wearying effect upon most of us--indeed,
more or less, all are suffering from it--is that there is hardly any
variation in temperature during the whole twenty-four hours: it sometimes
does not amount to more than two or three degrees. Captain Wickham and
the surgeon visited an inlet near the ship to-day, which had indeed been
looked into, but not explored before. They proceeded to the south-west
for about three miles, through a very tortuous channel, dry in many parts
at low-water, thickly studded with mangrove bushes, over and through
which the tide made its way at high-water, giving to that part of the
country the appearance of an extensive morass. A slightly elevated
table-topped range of land was seen from time to time, some eight or nine
miles to the south-east, but in its highest elevation did not reach 200
feet. The apparent width of the inlet in no way diminished so far as the
exploring party examined it; and this fact, coupled with the general
character of the country hereabouts, induces me to suppose that the
periodical return of the spring tide, floods the greater part of the
coast between the sea shore and the base of the range I have alluded to.
Vampires of a very large kind were here met with, the furthest south we
had seen them.


Miago had accompanied this party on shore, though he evidently showed no
great devotion to the deed. They said he watched everything, aye, every
bush, with the most scrutinizing gaze: his head appeared to turn upon a
pivot, so constantly was it in motion, with all that restless
watchfulness for which the savage is ever remarkable. The heat to-day
either exceeded an average, or else perhaps, as an invalid, I noticed it
more closely:

On shore, it was 98 degrees in the shade.
On board, it was 90 degrees in the shade.
Pulling off in the boats 118.
During the day, it fluctuated, between 88 and 94.

A breeze from seaward blew the greater part of each night from
West-South-West, hauling round to south in the morning.

January 20.

Our noon observation to-day enabled us to fix the latitude of Cape
Villaret 18 degrees 18 minutes 50 seconds, which precisely agrees with
that assigned to it by Captain King.


In the afternoon the boats returned with Mr. Usborne, who had been
unfortunately very severely wounded by the accidental discharge of a
musket. It appeared that after a careful examination of the bay, which
ended as I had anticipated, in proving that no opening to the interior
would be found in it, the party were returning to the boats, when, from
the accidental explosion of a musket in the hand of one of the party, a
ball entered Mr. Usborne's right side, near the spine, between the lower
rib and hip bone, making an exit in a line with the navel. This truly
unfortunate circumstance--which for some weeks deprived the expedition of
the services of a most valuable officer--occurred about 10 o'clock A.M.,
but the time and trouble of carrying the sufferer through the mud to the
boats, and then pulling some 15 miles, made it near 6 o'clock before he
was on board and under the charge of Mr. Bynoe: we were all shocked to
see our companion lifted apparently lifeless into the vessel he had so
recently quitted full of health, and animated by an anxious desire to do
all in his power to conduce to the general success; but were ere long
assured by Mr. Bynoe, whose personal or professional merits need no
eulogium from me--and who immediately and most carefully attended our
wounded messmate--that the best results might be reasonably hoped for: a
prediction shortly afterwards happily verified. At the time this unlucky
accident occurred, some twenty natives rushed from the concealment whence
they had been doubtless watching all the proceedings of the party, as
though they designed to bear a part in what probably seemed to them, as
poor Usborne went down, an approaching fray: however, the sight of the
two boats in the distance, which upon deploying they had full in view,
deterred them from acting upon any hostile intentions, supposing such to
have existed in their minds.


The accident, however, and their sudden appearance, could only serve
additionally to flurry the little party who had to convey their disabled
officer to a place of safety, and Mr. Helpman, who may well be pardoned
the want of his usual self-possession at such a moment, left behind a
pair of loaded pistols. They would puzzle the savages greatly of course,
but I hope no ill consequences ensued: if they began pulling them about,
or put them in the fire, the better to separate the wood and iron, two or
three poor wretches might be killed or maimed for life, and their first
recollections of the Quibra men, as Miago calls us, would naturally be
anything but favourable.

Thus disastrously terminated our examination of Roebuck Bay, in which the
cheering reports of former navigators, no less than the tenor of our
hydrographical instructions had induced us to anticipate the discovery of
some great water-communication with the interior of this vast Continent.
A most thorough and careful search--in which everyone seemed animated by
one common and universal sentiment, prompting all to a zealous discharge
of duty--had clearly demonstrated that the hoped-for river must be sought
elsewhere: and that very fact which at first seemed to lessen the
probabilities of ultimate success, served rather to inspire than to
daunt; since while it could not shake our reliance upon the opinions of
those best qualified to decide, that such a river must ultimately be
discovered, it only narrowed the ground upon which energy, knowledge, and
perseverance had yet to undergo their probation, ere they enjoyed their


Our intercourse with the natives had been necessarily of the most limited
character, hardly amounting to anything beyond indulging them with the
sight of a new people, whose very existence, notwithstanding the
apathetic indifference with which they regarded us, must have appeared a
prodigy. What tradition may serve to hand down the memory of our visit to
the third generation, should no newer arrival correct its gathering
errors, and again restore some vestige of the truth, it is hardly
possible to imagine; but should any misfortune follow their possession of
Mr. Helpman's pistols, that in particular will be narrated as the motive
for the visit of those white men who came flying upon the water, and left
some of the secret fire upon the peaceful coast: and when again the white
sails of the explorer glisten in the distant horizon, all the imaginary
terrors of the Boyl-yas,* will be invoked to avert the coming of those
who bring with them the unspeakable blessings of Christian civilization.

(*Footnote. The natives in the neighbourhood of Swan River give this name
to their Sorcerers.)


Departure from Roebuck Bay.
Appearance of the Country.
Progress to the northward.
Hills and Cliffs.
French Names and French Navigators.
Tasman, and his account of the Natives.
Hazeygaeys and Assagais.
His Authenticity as an Historian.
Description of the Natives.
Marks and mutilations.
Phrenological Development.
Moral condition.
Proas, Canoes, and Rafts.
Another squall.
Anchor in Beagle Bay.
Face of the Country.
Palm Trees.
Hauling the Seine.
A meeting with Natives.
Eastern Salutation.
Miago's conduct towards, and opinion of, his countrymen.
Mutilation of the Hand.
Native smokes seen.
Move further to the North-East.
Point Emeriau.
Cape Leveque.
Point Swan.
Search for water.
Encountered by Natives.
Return to the Ship.
The attempt renewed.
Conduct of the Natives.
Effect of a Congreve Rocket after dark.
A successful haul.
More Natives.
Miago's Heroism.
The plague of Flies.
Dampier's description of it.
Native Habitations.
Wind and weather.
Tidal Phenomenon.
Natural History.
Singular Kangaroo.
Cinnamon Kangaroo.
Goanas and Lizards.
Ant Hills.
Fishing over the side.
A day in the Bush.
A flood of fire.
Soil and Productions.
White Ibis.
Curious Tree.
Rain water.
Geology of the Cliffs.
Weigh, and graze a Rock, or Touch and go.
The Twins.
Sunday Strait.
Roe's Group.
Miago and his friends.
A black dog.
A day of rest.
Native raft.
Captain King and the Bathurst.
A gale.
Point Cunningham.
Successful search for water.
Native estimation of this fluid.
Discovery of a Skeleton.
And its removal.
The grey Ibis.
Our parting legacy.


January 22, 1838.

Satisfied that no inland communication could be expected from Roebuck
Bay, we weighed in the early part of the morning, and stood away to the


Roebuck Bay, so named to commemorate the name of Dampier's ship, is about
sixteen miles across: the southern shores are low, and extensive
sandbanks and mud flats are bared at low-water. Near the North-East point
of the bottom of this bay, is a curious range of low cliffs, from twenty
to thirty feet high, and strongly tinged with red, in such a manner as to
suggest that they must be highly impregnated with oxide of iron. In the
neighbourhood of these cliffs the country had a more fertile, or rather a
less desolate appearance, stretching out into extensive plains, lightly
timbered with various trees of the genus Eucalypti, while, on the south
shore of the bay, the mangroves were numerous.

Towards the afternoon we discovered a small inlet, being then about 30
miles from our former anchorage in Roebuck Bay. We steered directly for
it, and when within half a mile of its mouth, we had, at high-water, six
fathoms. From the masthead I could trace distinctly the course of this
inlet, which at this state of the tide appeared to be of great extent;
but the bar which locked its mouth, and over which the sea was breaking
very heavily, rendered it impossible to take a boat across without
evident risk, by which no real good would be obtained, as the rise and
fall of the tide, eighteen feet, on this low coast, was more than
sufficient to account for the imposing, though deceptive appearance of
this opening. From the main-top-gallant yard I was enabled to take an
almost bird's-eye view of the level country stretched apparently at my
feet. The shore, like the south side of Roebuck Bay, was fringed with
mangroves, while to the North-North-East lay an extensive plain, over
which the water seemed, at certain seasons of the year, to flow. The
country around, for miles, wore the appearance of an interminable and
boundless plain, with an almost imperceptible landward elevation, and
thickly wooded with stunted trees.

In sailing along this part of the coast we found several inaccuracies in
Captain King's chart, doubtless owing to the distant view with which he
was compelled to content himself, and to the unfavourable state of the
weather against which he had to contend. I was on deck nearly, indeed,
the whole of the night, baffled by flying clouds in my attempts to fix
our latitude by the stars: at length, however, I succeeded in
ascertaining it to be 17 degrees 40 minutes South.

January 23.

The morning was fine, but the wind we had experienced the preceding night
caused a rather heavy swell, which rendered the attempt to enter this
inlet an impracticable task; however, it was tried. We found between the
ship and the shore six, four, and two fathoms, but as the mouth of the
inlet was filled with breakers, apparently on a bar extending out half a
mile, I was fully convinced that further perseverance would only amount
to waste of time and needless risk, and therefore, after taking a few
angles to fix the position of the boat, we returned on board. It appeared
at low-water to be nearly dry, and then only amounted to a collection of
mud and sandbanks. The examination quite satisfied me that it partook of
the same character as the one already spoken of as seen yesterday, and
that they are alike useless.

We were soon underway, and standing towards, or rather along, the shore;
and as the day advanced, the wind drew more to the westward, a common
occurrence, enabling us to lay along the shore, North 1/2 East. By four
P.M., we were within two miles of it, in nine fathoms.

The coast here is fronted with a range of sandhills, some of which are
topped with verdure: several low black rocky points extend for some
distance from the flat sandy beach into the sea. I have no hesitation in
saying, that this is a kind of black sandstone, often found at the bases
of most cliffy points, and probably coloured by the chemical action of
the saltwater. The sandhills, which form the coastline, do not appear to
extend more than a mile inland. Beyond, the country appeared to subside
into the same dull level which is the characteristic feature of what we
have yet seen of this coast, thickly studded with timber of a much finer
growth than the stunted productions of Roebuck Bay. Behind the cliffy
parts of the coast the land assumed a more fertile appearance; and this
seemed an almost invariable law in the natural history of this new world.


Five miles to the northward of Point Coulomb, we passed a reef, lying a
mile from the shore, with seven fathoms one mile seaward of it. The land
now trended to the eastward, and formed a large bay, the south point of
which we rounded at half past four P.M. The mangroves grew right down to
the water's edge, and the spring tides appear to inundate the country to
a very considerable extent, the land here being lower than any we had yet
seen. We anchored, at half past eight, in six and a half fathoms, and I
ran below to find how our wounded messmate had borne the day.

From my usual post, the masthead, I traced the shore from point to point
of Carnot Bay, so named after the celebrated French consul and engineer.
A very low sandy point bore North 67 degrees, East 6 miles. Sandbanks and
breakers completely fortified its shores, and effectually forbid all
approach, except under the most favourable circumstances.


The several French names with which Commodore Baudin has distinguished
leading portions of this coast, of course, professional courtesy will
willingly respect; it is, however, only right to mention, that while he
contented himself with so distant a view of this part of Australia as to
be sometimes completely mistaken in the most important particulars, to
the celebrated Abel Tasman belongs the merit of having previously landed
upon its shores in that very bay, which now bears the name of the great


Tasman describes the natives as being quite naked, black in colour, and
having curly hair, "malicious and cruel," using for arms bows and arrows,
hazeygaeys* and kalawaeys. They came, upon one occasion, fifty in number,
to attack a party of the Dutch, who had landed, but took fright at the
sight and sound of firearms. "Their proas," he adds, "are made of the
bark of trees, and they use no houses."

(*Footnote. Hazeygaeys are synonymous with assagais, the name for the
short African spear, used by the tribes between Port Natal and the Cape,
and which is generally supposed to be the native term for the weapon.
Captain Harris, however, states that this supposition is incorrect; and,
certainly, its appearance and termination here incline me to join him in
suspecting it of a
Dutch origin.)

Such is the account of this distinguished and trustworthy discoverer,
upon whose veracity I should be the last to attempt to affix suspicion:
his very simplicity of detail, and the entire absence of rhetorical
artifice, would convey sufficient internal evidence of his truth, had not
the subsequent progress of Australian discovery served to confirm all the
material facts of his narrative. I may, however, remark, that the natives
seen upon this coast during our cruise, within the limits of Roebuck Bay
to the south, and Port George the Fourth to the north, an extent of more
than 200 miles, with the exception that I shall presently notice, agreed
in having a common character of form, feature, hair, and physiognomy,
which I may thus describe. The average height of the males may be taken
to be from five feet five inches to five feet nine inches, though, upon
one occasion, I saw one who exceeded this height by an inch. They are
almost black--in fact, for ordinary description, that word, unqualified
by the adverb, serves the purpose best. Their limbs are spare and light,
but the muscle is finely developed in the superior joint of the arm,
which is probably owing to their constant use of it in throwing the
spear. Some tribes are entirely naked, while others wear girdles of skin
and leaves, hardly sufficient, however, to serve any purpose of decency,
much less of comfort.


Their hair is always dark, sometimes straight and sometimes curled, and
not unfrequently tied up behind; but we saw no instance of a negro, or
woolly, head among them. They wear the beard upon the chin, but not upon
the upper lip, and allow it to grow to such a length as enables them to
champ and chew it when excited by rage; an action which they accompany
with spitting it out against the object of their indignation or contempt.
They have very overhanging brows, and retreating foreheads, large noses,
full lips, and wide mouths: in some cases they want the two foreteeth in
the upper jaw, and while, in any one tribe in which the custom prevails,
it seems to be unanimous, it does not appear to be, by any means,
universally diffused along the whole north-western coast. The
unfavourable impression produced by the prevailing character of their
physiognomy, is confirmed, if their phrenological conformation is taken
into consideration; and certainly, if the principles of that science are
admitted to be true, these savages are woefully deficient in all the
qualities which contribute to man's moral supremacy. Let me, in justice,
add, that while we found them ignorant and incurious to the last degree,
they were generally suspicious rather than treacherous, and not
insensible to such acts of kindness as they could comprehend.

Upon all this extent of coast, we saw no single instance of the use, or
even existence, of any proa, or canoe; and my own opinion, strengthened
by personal experience, and enforced by the authority of the most recent
navigators, is, that the canoe is not used upon the north-west coast. The
negative evidence, at least, is strongly in favour of this presumption;
for, while we saw the canoe in use in Clarence Strait--the western
boundary of the northern coast--we saw nothing but the raft to the south
of that point. I cannot, therefore, avoid the conclusion, that, misled by
the similarity of external appearance, Tasman mistook the raft of
unbarked timber for a bark canoe, such as he may have seen upon other
parts of the coast.

We had a return of the same kind of squall from the eastward, as we had
experienced before our arrival in Roebuck Bay, and from which, since that
time till now, we had luckily managed to

January 24.

We were again at work by daylight, but were delayed, getting clear of the
foul ground, lying off Cape Baskerville, on which we twice shoaled the
water to three and five fathoms, five and seven miles West and by South
from that headland.


The land over it rises to an elevation of nearly 200 feet, and then again
becomes low and sandy, opening out a bay, which from appearance promised,
and wherein we afterwards found, good anchorage: it was named Beagle Bay,
and may serve hereafter to remind the seamen who benefit by the survey in
which that vessel bore so conspicuous a part, of the amount of his
obligations to the Government that sent her forth, the skill and energy
that directed her course, and the patient discipline by which, during her
long period of active service, so much was done for the extension of our
maritime knowledge. In the bight formed between this bay and Cape
Baskerville we passed two high-water inlets; the mouths of both were
fronted with rocky ledges. We anchored here, soon after midday, and had
every reason to be satisfied with our berth. Beagle Bay is about three
miles broad and seven deep; the country around is low and open, and
traces of water deposit were visible in several spots to indicate its
dangerous proximity to the sea. The smaller shrubs of the country were
common; and the mangroves flourished in great abundance on the beach, and
along the little creeks that diverge from it. Some large anthills, and
very small palm trees, not six feet in height, were noticed for the first
time so far south. During the night the wind veered round to South-West,
and blew quite fresh, a circumstance which made us additionally prize our
good anchorage here. We had, however, no squall, nor any dew, which I
should mention falls most copiously upon certain nights, without any
apparent indication; to these dews, the vegetation of this country, so
far as we can judge, seems to owe its principal nourishment and support.


January 25.

The forenoon was devoted to the examination of this excellent anchorage,
and a party was also despatched to haul the seine. On landing they were
met by a party of natives, who saluted them in a manner which strikingly
resembled the eastern mode. They had no weapon, save one kiley or
boomerang, and bowed down until they almost kissed the water.


Their speech was shrill and quick, perfectly unintelligible to our friend
Miago, who seemed greatly in fear of them: they seemed astonished to find
one apparently of their own clime, complexion, and degree in company with
the white strangers, who must have seemed to them a different race of
beings; nor was their wonder at all abated when Miago threw open his
shirt, and showed them his breast curiously scarred after their
fashion--for this custom of cutting stripes upon the body, as other
savages tattoo it, by way of ornament, seems universally to prevail
throughout Australia--as a convincing evidence that he, though now the
associate of the white man, belonged to the same country as themselves.
When Miago had, in some degree, recovered from his alarm--and their want
of all weapons no doubt tended to reassure him more than anything else,
he very sagaciously addressed them in English; shaking hands and saying,
"How do you do?" and then began to imitate their various actions, and
mimic their language, and so perfectly did he succeed that one of our
party could not be persuaded but that he really understood them; though
for this suspicion I am convinced there was in truth no foundation. In
general appearance this tribe differed but little from those we had
previously seen. They wore their hair straight, and tied behind in a rude
semblance of the modern queue; their beards were long, and two or three
among them were daubed with a kind of black ochre. All of them had lost
one of the front teeth, and several one finger joint;* in this particular
they differed from the natives seen in Roebuck Bay, amongst whom the
practice of this mutilation did not prevail. They were, I think,
travelling to the southward, at the time they fell in with us, for they
had no females among the party, by whom they are usually at other times
accompanied. The circumstance of their being unarmed may seem to militate
against the supposition that they were travelling, but it is to be borne
in mind that these people universally consider the absence of offensive
weapons as the surest test of peaceful intentions, and would therefore,
if they desired to maintain a friendly footing with the newcomers, most
probably deposit their arms in some place of concealment before they made
themselves visible.

(*Footnote. A similar custom was noticed by Captain Cook at the Sandwich
Islands, where it was regarded as a propitiatory sacrifice to the Eatooa,
to avert his anger; and not to express, as the same mutilation does in
the Friendly Islands, grief for the loss of a friend.)


The coast seems pretty thickly populated between Roebuck and Beagle Bays;
as the smoke from native fires was constantly to be seen, but in all
cases these signs of human existence were confined to the neighbourhood
of the sea. The fishing proved unsuccessful, so we were fain to content
ourselves without the promised addition to our evening meal. We found the
tide rise here 18 feet.

In the afternoon we reached another anchorage, some ten miles further to
the North-East. The coast along which we sailed within the distance of
two miles, was chiefly remarkable for its tall, dark-looking cliffs, with
here and there a small sandy bay intervening. We anchored under Point
Emeriau, so named by Captain Baudin, by whom it was mistaken for an
island; its tall, white cliffs, springing from and guarded by a base and
ledges of black rock, and tinged with red towards their summits, render
it a point not easily to be mistaken or forgotten by any who have once
seen it. Beyond this the coast curved away to the eastward, forming a
bight about eleven miles in length.

January 26.

Leaving our anchorage at daylight, we passed the north point of the bight
just mentioned soon after noon; it is a low black rugged cliffy point,
called Borda by the French, having a much more weather-beaten appearance
than would have been anticipated in this latitude. Behind it the country
rose obliquely, the horizon terminating in an inconsiderable, undulatory,
and well-wooded elevation.


We passed another bight in the afternoon, the shores of which were low
and rocky, with a mangrove creek in its depth: from this bight the coast
becomes almost straight, the line being hardly broken by rocky points and
shallow sandy bays, to Cape Leveque, on the North-East side of which we
found an indifferent anchorage just before sunset. Cape Leveque is a red
cliffy point some sixty feet in height, with an islet of the same
character lying close off it. The latter bore from our anchorage in 5
fathoms, South 56 degrees West 2 miles, and 4 1/2 West 20 degrees South
from the entrance point of the inviting opening, we were now about to
explore, with an interest rather stimulated than decreased by the want of
success that attended our examination of Roebuck Bay.


This point was named by Captain King, Point Swan, in honour of Captain
Swan of the Cygnet, under whom Dampier first discovered it; and was an
appropriate tribute of respect and admiration, from one distinguished no
less than Dampier himself, by the possession of those qualities of
firmness, patience, judgment and perseverance, which make up the
character of the scientific and adventurous navigator, to him by whom he
had been preceded in Australian discovery. The country between Point Swan
and Cape Leveque has a very sandy and barren aspect; the hillocks near
the latter partook of its prevailing red colour.


January 27.

We proceeded this morning in the direction of Point Swan, and remarked,
as we approached it, the heavy tide-race which used Captain King so
roughly, and which subsequent surveying operations enabled us to account
for, from great irregularity in the bottom, changing almost at once from
40 to 17 fathoms. We waited, having no wish to experience the full effect
of the current, for slack water, and thus passed round it quietly enough;
we anchored in a small bight, South 20 degrees West 1 1/2 miles from
Point Swan, in seven fathoms, which, as we rightly conjectured, would
leave us in three, at low-water.*

(*Footnote. The following is Captain King's graphic account of his
encounter with this race: "On my way towards Point Swan, we saw from the
masthead a line of strong tide ripplings, extending from the Point in a
North-West by West direction, within which we at first attempted to pass;
but finding they were connected to the Point, hauled up to steer through
them where they seemed to be the least dangerous. As we approached, the
noise was terrific; and although we were not more than two minutes
amongst the breakers, yet the shocks of the sea were so violent, as to
make us fearful for the safety of our masts. A smaller vessel would
perhaps have been swamped; for although the sea was in other parts quite
smooth, and the wind light, yet the water broke over the bows, and
strained the brig considerably.")

As we had now arrived at the point from which we anticipated carrying on
our most important operations, it became of paramount interest to know
whether we could rely for that indispensable article, fresh water, upon
the resources of the wild and barbarous shores. The vast extent of
country; the delightful verdure which clothed great portions of it; nay,
even the evidences of a people living upon its shores, would, under any
other circumstances, and on any other coast, have been deemed
conclusively to decide this point in the affirmative: but the voyager
knows, from the best authority, that upon the coasts, and within the
heart of Australia, nature seems to delight in contradiction, and that
she is more than usually capricious with respect to the supply of what is
ordinarily her most common, as it is ever one of her most precious gifts.
A few wretched mud-holes might serve for a time to content the savages
trained to privation from their earliest infancy, but for ourselves it
was clear, either that a reasonable supply of fresh water must be found
here, or we must not calculate upon remaining beyond the time which would
leave us sufficient to proceed to Hanover Bay, where this most needful
commodity was, upon the authority of Captain King, to be found.


No sooner, therefore, was the Beagle properly secured in her new berth,
than a party was despatched in the boats to commence a search for water,
and to fix upon a spot for carrying on the necessary observations:
scarcely, however, had we pushed off from alongside, before the white
ensign at our main warned us that the natives were in sight from the
ship,* and, on turning our eyes to the shore, we beheld it thronged with
savages: the rapidity of whose movements, as they shouted in apparent
defiance, brandishing their spears, and whirling their arms round and
round with windmill-like velocity, as though to threaten our advance,
rendered it impossible to estimate their number with any confidence, but
they were evidently in considerable force. However, we pulled to the
shore, a measure against which the valiant Miago stoutly protested, and
landed in a position not directly commanded by the natives. They made no
attempt to prevent us, but anxious to avoid hostilities--in every event
almost equally deplorable--we deferred any distant search for water; and
having fixed on a spot for our temporary observatory, returned to the

(*Footnote. This signal was always made when natives were seen from the
ship, if any parties were away.)

January 27.

A strong party was sent on shore, early this morning, with the necessary
tools for digging a well, should the search for water upon the surface
prove abortive. It was at once found that this operation ought forthwith
to be commenced, and accordingly a promising spot was selected in a
valley not half a mile from the sea. The natives mustered again in force
upon the heights, and seemed to watch our proceedings with the greatest
interest: we saw nothing of them the following day, but on the third they
seemed so much emboldened by our inoffensive proceedings, that they
approached so near as to keep the party pretty much upon the alert.


It was, therefore, determined, lest familiarity should breed contempt, to
give them a hint of our superiority without inflicting any injury upon
their persons or property; and, accordingly, shortly after dark we fired
a Congreve rocket from the ship, and in a direction immediately over
their presumed position: this had the desired effect, and our
well-digging operations, though ultimately unsuccessful, proceeded
without further annoyance.


Two or three days afterwards a small party came down upon the beach while
we were hauling the seine; and tempted by the offer of some fish--for an
Australian savage is easily won by him who comes with things that do show
so fair as delicacies in the gastronomic department--they approached us,
and were very friendly in their manner, though they cunningly contrived
always to keep the upper or inland side of the beach. We made them some
presents of beads, etc. from the stores supplied by the Admiralty for
that purpose, but they received them with an indifference almost
amounting to apathy. They very closely examined the heroic Miago, who
submitted to be handled by these much-dreaded Northern men with a very
rueful countenance, and afterwards construed the way in which one of them
had gently stroked his beard, into an attempt to take him by the throat
and strangle him! an injury and indignity which, when safe on board, he
resented by repeated threats, uttered in a sort of wild chant, of
spearing their thighs, backs, loins, and, indeed, each individual portion
of the frame.


Their habit of keeping the eyes almost closed, and the head thrown back,
in order to avoid the plague of flies, under which this country seems to
suffer, adds to the unpleasant expression of their countenance, and quite
justifies the correctness of Dampier's account: "Their eyelids are always
half-closed, to keep the flies out of their eyes, they being so
troublesome here, that no fanning will keep them from coming to one's
face; and without the assistance of both hands to keep them off, they
will creep into one's nostrils, and mouth too, if the lips are not shut
very close; so that from their infancy, being thus annoyed with these
insects, they do never open their eyes as do other people, and therefore
they cannot see far unless they hold up their heads, as if they were
looking at somewhat over them." We found constant occasion, when on
shore, to complain of this fly nuisance; and when combined with their
allies, the mosquitoes, no human endurance could, with any patience,
submit to the trial. The flies are at you all day, crawling into your
eyes, up your nostrils, and down your throat, with the most irresistible
perseverance; and no sooner do they, from sheer exhaustion, or the loss
of daylight, give up the attack, than they are relieved by the musquitos,
who completely exhaust the patience which their predecessors have so
severely tried. It may seem absurd to my readers to dwell upon such a
subject; but those, who, like myself, have been half-blinded, and to
boot, almost stung to death, will not wonder, that even at this distance
of time and place, I recur with disgust to the recollection.

The natives, in all parts of the continent alike, seem to possess very
primitive notions upon the subject of habitation; their most comfortable
wigwams hardly deserve the name: not even in the neighbourhood of English
settlements are they beginning in any degree to imitate our European
notions of comfort. Among these northern people, the only approach to
anything like protection from the skiey influences that I could discover,
was a slight rudely thatched covering, placed on four upright poles,
between three and four feet high.

Another, of a much superior description, which I visited on the western
shore of King's Sound, will be found delineated in that part of my
journal to which the narrative belongs.


February 10.

We remained at this anchorage until the 10th of February, in consequence
of a continuance of bad weather; indeed, the rain during the three first
days of that month was at times of the most monsoon-like character, while
the wind, constantly blowing very fresh, kept veering from North-West to
South-West. Every now and then, by way of agreeable variety, a heavy
squall would take us from South-South-West, though more commonly from
West-South-West. The only certainty that we could calculate upon, was,
that at North-North-West the wind would remain when it got there,
stationary for a few hours. The thunder and lightning, the former loud
and with a long reverberating peal, and the latter of the most intensely
vivid kind, were constantly roaring and flashing over our heads; and,
with the stormy echoes which the rolling deep around woke on these
unknown and inhospitable shores, completed a scene that I shall never
cease to remember, as I never then beheld it without mingled emotions of
apprehension and delight. The rain, however, certainly befriended us in
more ways than one: it cooled the atmosphere, which would else have been
insufferably hot, diminished for a time the number and virulence of our
winged tormentors, and recruited our stock of fresh water; for, though
ultimately we were not obliged to have recourse to it as a beverage, it
did exceedingly well for washing purposes. We had also, during this time,
one most successful haul with the seine, which amply supplied us with
fresh fish for that and the two following days; the greater part were a
kind of large mullet, the largest weighed six pounds five ounces, and
measured twenty-five inches in length.


On the same day we remarked, owing to the North-West wind, a singular
phenomenon in the tides here. From half-ebb to high-water the stream
wholly ceased, and the water being heaped up in the bay by the force of
the wind, fell only sixteen, instead of twenty-four feet.

Several sporting excursions were made during this period, but with
comparatively little success. It is not a country naturally very abundant
in game of any kind, except kangaroos, which are numerous, but so
harassed by the natives as to be of course extremely shy of the approach
of man.


However, Mr. Bynoe succeeded in shooting one which possessed the singular
appendage of a nail, like that on a man's little finger, attached to the

I regret that we had no subsequent opportunity to decide whether this was
one of a new species of the Macropodidae family, or a mere lusus naturae.
The dimensions and height of this singular animal were as follows:*

Length of body from tip of nose: 22 inches.
Length of tail from stump to tip: 24 1/2 inches.
Weight: 13 pounds.

(*Footnote. This animal has been classed by Mr. Gould as Macropus
unguifer, and is now deposited in the British Museum. One precisely
similar was afterwards killed on the east coast of the gulf of

We also saw some very large red or cinnamon-coloured kangaroos, but never
got near enough to secure one; they were apparently identical with a new
race, of which I afterwards procured a specimen at Barrow's Island.*

(*Footnote. Osphranter isabellinus. Gould.)

One day, when I had penetrated some considerable distance into the bush,
farther indeed than any of our party had strayed before, I saw a large
bustard, but was unable to get a shot at him; his anxious and acute gaze
had detected me, at the same moment that I had discovered him, and he was
off. I thought at the time that he bore a strong resemblance to the wild
turkey of the colonists in the southern parts of the continent. We were
lucky enough to shoot several quails of apparently quite a new species.
In one particular they differed from the members of the genus Coturnis,
in having no hind toe. Goannas and lizards were plentiful in this
neighbourhood, and some of the latter in particular were most brilliant
in colour: they ran down the tall trees, in which they seem to pass a
great portion of their lives, at our approach, with a most marvellous
rapidity, and darting along the ground, were soon in safety.


But what, perhaps, most attracted our attention, was the very surprising
size of the anthills, or nests. I measured one, the height of which was
13 feet, and width at the base 7 feet; from whence it tapered gradually
to the apex. They are composed of a pale red earth; but how it is
sufficiently tempered, I am unable to state; certain is it, that it has
almost the consistence of mortar, and will bear the tread of a man upon
the top.


The fishing over the ship's side was not less successful than hauling the
seine; though quite a different kind of fish was taken to reward the
labour of the saltwater Waltonians, who devoted themselves to it. They
generally secured (at slack water) a large fish, in shape like a bream,
and with long projecting teeth.

February 6.

We made up a party on the 6th for the purpose of penetrating a little way
into the interior, and got seven miles from the sea in a South by West
direction. Everything wore a green and most delightful appearance; but
the reader must bear in mind, how vegetation had just been forced by
heavy rains upon a light, heated soil, and also recollect that to one who
has been pent up for some time on board ship a very barren prospect may
seem delightful.


The country was more open in character than I had before noticed it, and
the numerous traces of native fires which we found in the course of the
excursion, seemed readily to account for this: indeed during dry seasons
it not unfrequently happens, that an immense tract of land is desolated
with fire, communicated, either by the design or carelessness of the
natives, to the dry herbage on the surface. The moment the flame has been
kindled it only waits for the first breath of air to spread it far and
wide: then on the wings of the wind, the fiery tempest streams over the
hillsides and through the vast plains and prairies: bushwood and
herbage--the dry grass--the tall reed--the twining parasite--or the giant
of the forest, charred and blackened, but still proudly erect--alike
attest and bewail the conquering fire's onward march; and the bleak
desert, silent, waste, and lifeless, which it leaves behind seems forever
doomed to desolation: vain fear! the rain descends once more upon the dry
and thirsty soil, and from that very hour which seemed the date of
cureless ruin, Nature puts forth her wondrous power with increased
effort, and again her green and flower-embroidered mantle decks the earth
with a new beauty!


The soil of the extensive plain over which we journeyed this day, was
light and sandy in character, but the large amount of vegetable matter
which it contains, and the effect of the late rains, which had penetrated
some 24 or 30 inches into it, made us perhaps somewhat overvalue its real
merits. This plain rose gradually before us until it reached an elevation
of 180 feet above the level of the sea, and was covered with a long, thin
grass, through which the startled kangaroo made off every now and then at
a killing pace.

The face of the country was well but not too closely covered with
specimens of the red and white gum, and paperbark tree, and several
others. The timber was but small, the diameter of the largest, a red gum,
18 inches.

Ever and anon the sparkling brilliant lizards darted down from their
resting places among the boughs, so rapid in their fearful escape, that
they caught the eye more like a flash of momentary light, than living,
moving forms. We flushed in the course of the day a white bird, or at
least nearly so, with a black ring round the neck, and a bill crooked
like the ibis, which bird indeed, except in colour, it more resembles
than any I have ever seen.*

(*Footnote. Since ascertained to be an Ibis--the Threskiornis

Among the trees seen in the course of this ramble, I had almost forgotten
to mention one which struck me more than any other from its resemblance
to a kind of cotton tree, used by the natives of the South Sea islands in
building their canoes.

February 7.

The day following we secured several boat-loads of rainwater, deposited
in the holes of the rocks, near our temporary observatory, and were the
better pleased with our success, as our well-digging had proved


There was something particularly striking in the geological formation of
the cliffs that form the western side of this bay: and which rise from 70
to 90 feet in height, their bases apparently resting amid huge and
irregular masses of the same white sandstone as that which forms the
cliffs themselves, and from which this massive debris, strewn in all
conceivable irregularity and confusion around, appears to have been
violently separated by some great internal convulsion.

Some of these great masses, both of the living cliff and ruined blocks
beneath, are strangely pierced with a vein or tube of vitreous matter,
not less in some instances than 18 inches in diameter. In every place the
spot at which this tube entered the rock was indicated by a considerable
extent of glazed or smelted surface; but I am not sufficiently versed in
the science of geology to offer any specific theory to account for the
appearances I have described: the cliffs were rent and cracked in a
thousand different ways, and taking into consideration their strange and
wrecked appearance, together with the fact that lightning is known to
vitrify sand, may we not thus get a clue to the real agency by which
these results have been produced?*

(*Footnote. Since this was written, I have consulted my friend, Mr.
Darwin, who has kindly examined a specimen I brought away. He pronounces
it "a superficial highly ferrugineous sandstone, with concretionary veins
and aggregations." The reader should, however, consult Mr. Darwin's work
on the Geology of Volcanic Islands page 143.)


February 10.

The weather was thick and gloomy, and it rained fast; but, having
completed our survey and observations, and the wind being favourable, it
was resolved to get underweigh without further loss of time.

In the very act of weighing, the ship's keel grazed a sunken rock, of the
existence of which, though we had sounded the bay, we had been, till that
moment, in ignorance! He only who has felt the almost animated shudder
that runs through the seemingly doomed ship at that fearful moment, can
understand with what gratitude we hailed our escape from the treacherous

In passing out, we named two low small rocky islands, lying north of
Point Swan, and hitherto unhonoured with any particular denomination, the
Twins. It should be noted, that the tide did not begin to make to the
southward till 8 hours 15 minutes A.M., being full half an hour after
low-water by the shore. We passed through several tide races; not,
however, feeling their full force, owing to our encountering them at the
time of slack water. In every case our soundings indicated great
irregularity of bottom, the cause to which I have already assigned these
impediments to in-shore navigation.


We found a temporary anchorage the same morning, on the east side of the
large group forming the eastern side of Sunday Strait; so named by
Captain King, who was drifted in and out of it on that day, August 19th,
1821, amid an accumulation of perils that will long render the first
navigation of this dangerous Archipelago a memorable event in the annals
of nautical hardihood.


This group we called after Lieutenant Roe, R.N., Surveyor-General of
Western Australia, who had accompanied Captain King in that perilous
voyage, and whose valuable information had enabled us to escape so many
of the dangers to which our predecessors had been exposed.

Nothing could exceed the desolate appearance of the land near which we
were now lying: rocks, of a primitive character, massed together in all
the variety of an irregularity, that rather reminded the beholder of
Nature's ruin than her grandeur, rose, drear and desolate, above the
surrounding waters; no trees shaded their riven sides, but the
water-loving mangrove clothed the base of this sterile island, and a
coarse, wiry grass was thinly spread over its sides.


Soon after we had anchored, some natives were observed by Miago watching
us from the shore; and shortly afterwards a party landed, to attempt
communicating with them, and to get the necessary observations for the
survey. In the first object they failed altogether; for these
blackfellows, as that gallant hero called them, retired to the heights,
and, while closely watching every movement, refused to trust themselves
within our reach. The smallness of their number, and their want of arms,
quite elevated the courage of Miago, who loudly vaunted his intention of
monopolizing a northern gin, in order to astonish his friends upon our
return to the south: stealing away the ladies being, as I have before
remarked, the crowning and most honourable achievement of which man, in
the eyes of these savages, is capable. I ought not to omit remarking
here, that the natives seen to-day were accompanied by a black dog; the
only instance in which, before or since, we observed the existence of a
dog of that colour in this vast country. Captain King mentions that he
saw one in this neighbourhood during his visit in 1821.


The following day was Sunday, and, there being no absolute necessity to
shift our berth, we remained at anchor; marking the character of this
sacred festival, by giving it up to the crew, for healthful rest and
harmless recreation--after morning prayers had been performed--as much as
the needful discipline, upon a proper observance of which the efficiency
of a ship's company entirely depends, would allow. This practice,
constantly observed throughout our long voyage, was always attended with
the best results.

Some rather small pigeons,* of a dark brown colour, marked with a white
patch on the wings, were seen, and some specimens shot. They made a
whirring sound in flight, like the partridge, and appeared to haunt the
rocks; a habit which all subsequent observation confirmed.

(*Footnote. Petrophila albipennis. Gould.)

February 12.

Soon after daylight we left this anchorage, whose exact position I
mention, as it may be of use to some future voyager in these seas. The
eastern of the three islands north of Roe's group was just open of the
north point of the bight in which we lay, and a small rocky islet close
to the shore bore South-South-West one mile; we had five fathoms at
low-water in the bight, and twelve immediately outside.

After making a stretch to the southward for about five miles, in
soundings varying from 20 to 25 fathoms, we again closed with the shore,
and anchored in five fathoms, on the south side of Roe's group, three
miles from our former anchorage. A party landed in the afternoon to
procure the requisite observations: the country was not quite so sterile,
nor its face of so rugged a character.


We found nothing worth particular attention, except a native raft, the
first we had yet seen. It was formed of nine small poles pegged together,
and measured ten feet in length by four in breadth; the greatest diameter
of the largest pole was three inches. All the poles were of the palm
tree, a wood so light, that one man could carry the whole affair with the
greatest ease. By it there was a very rude double-bladed paddle.

From a distant station I looked upon the dangerous and rapid current,
which divides two rocky islands, and the perils of which are fearfully
increased by the presence of an insulated rock in its centre, past which
(its fury only heightened by the opposition) the torrent hurries with
accelerated force.


It was by this fearful passage that Captain King entered this part of the
Sound, drifting towards apparently instant destruction, without a breath
of wind to afford him even a chance of steering between the various
perils that environed his devoted ship. As the Bathurst swept past the
neighbouring shores--covered with the strange forms of the howling
savages who seemed to anticipate her destruction, and absolutely within
the range of their spears--drifting with literally giddy rapidity towards
the fatal rocks, what varied thoughts must have flashed, crowding an age
within an hour, upon the mind of her commander? It seemed that all
evidence of what his own perseverance, the devotion of his officers, and
the gallantry of his crew, had accomplished for the honour of their
common country, would in a few brief moments be the prey of the rapid,
the spoil of the deep; and yet, while many a heart sent up its voiceless
prayer to HIM, whose arm is not shortened that it cannot save, believing
that prayer to be their last--not a cheek blanched--not an eye quailed!
But the loving-kindness of omnipotent mercy rested even upon that
solitary ship, and within a few yards of the fatal rock, one momentary
breath of wind, proved HIS providential care, for those from whom all
hope had fled! I shuddered as the events Captain King has recorded, rose
up in palpable distinctness to my view, and afterwards, in memory of that
day, called the channel Escape--to the sound itself we gave the name of
King's, in the full confidence that all for whom the remembrance of skill
and constancy and courage have a charm, will unite in thinking that the
career of such a man should not be without a lasting and appropriate

February 13.

It blew a violent gale the whole of this day from West-South-West, coming
on quite unexpectedly, for neither the state nor appearance of the
atmosphere gave us the least indication of its approach. Exposed on a
lee-shore, it may be imagined that we were by no means displeased to see
it as rapidly and inexplicably depart, as it had suddenly and
mysteriously appeared.


February 14.

Leaving this anchorage we found another in a bay on the mainland, 12
miles South from Point Swan, and 11 North-West from a remarkable headland
named by Captain King, Point Cunningham, in honour of that distinguished
botanist, whose zealous exertions have added so much to the Flora of
Australia. I well remember when we were preparing to sail from Sydney, in
May 1839, the scientific veteran seemed to enter with the utmost interest
into all the details of the coming adventure. And even, though the
natural force of that frame which had so often set danger at defiance,
while engaged in the ennobling pursuits to which his honourable career
had been devoted, was too palpably failing the mind whose dictates it had
so long obeyed; the fire of the spirit that had burned throughout so
brightly, seemed to leap up in yet more glowing flame, ere quenched
forever by the ashes of the grave! alas! within the brief period of two
months, the world had closed upon him for ever!


A point, fronting a small islet, almost joined to it at low-water, was
selected as a fitting spot for the commencement of our well-digging
operations, which we hoped to bring to a more successful termination than
our former attempt at Point Swan. After sinking to a depth of eight feet
our anticipations were fully justified, the water flowing in through the
sides in great abundance. It was quite fresh, and in every way most
acceptable to us all; but tinged as it was with the red colour of the
surrounding soil, we could at once perceive that it was only surface
water. As we watched it filling our neatly excavated well, we found no
great difficulty in understanding why, in this continent, a native speaks
of any very favoured district, as "Very fine country--much plenty
water--fine country;" thus comprehending in the certain supply of that
one necessary of life, the chief, nay almost the sole condition essential
to a happy land.


We named this Skeleton Point from our finding here the remains of a
native, placed in a semi-recumbent position under a wide spreading gum
tree, enveloped, or more properly, shrouded, in the bark of the papyrus.
All the bones were closely packed together, the larger being placed
outside, and the general mass surmounted by the head, resting on its
base, the fleshless, eyeless skull grinning horribly over the right side.
Some of the natives arrived shortly after we had discovered this curious
specimen of their mode of sepulture; but although they entertain peculiar
opinions upon the especial sanctity of the house appointed for all
living--a sanctity we certainly were not altogether justified in
disregarding--they made no offer of remonstrance at the removal of the
mortal remains of their dead brother. Whether here, as in the
neighbourhood of Fremantle, they regarded us as near kindred of their own
under a new guise, and so perhaps might suppose that we took away the dry
bones in order to rebuild the frame of which they before formed the
support, and to clothe the hideous nakedness of death with the white
man's flesh; or whether, deeming us indeed profane violators of that last
resting-place of suffering humanity, which it seems an almost instinctive
feeling to regard with reverence, they left the office of retribution
either to the spirit of the departed, or the more potent boyl-yas--to be
found upon the testimony of Miago in the wicked north--I know not;
certain it is that under the superintendence of Mr. Bynoe the removal was
effected, and that the skeleton itself, presented by that officer to
Captain Grey, was by him bestowed upon the Royal College of Surgeons, in
whose museum it is now to be found.

Among the ornithological specimens obtained here was one of the curlew
tribe, greatly resembling an ibis, and remarkable for its size. It
measured from the extremity of the bill to the tip of the toe 27 1/2
inches, and weighed 1 pound 14 1/2 ounces. The colour, with the exception
of the belly and legs, which were of a dirty white slightly mottled, very
much resembled that of the common English wild duck.


One of the natives seen to-day had with him a kiley, so different in
shape to any we had previously seen that I preserved a sketch of it. All
the party wore their hair tied up behind, and each had suffered the loss
of one of the front teeth in the upper jaw: and some had endured an
extraordinary mutilation; apparently in exaggeration of an ancient Jewish
rite. In general appearance they resembled the natives previously seen at
Point Swan.


They appeared to luxuriate in the water we had found, wondered at the
size of our well, and expressed the greatest admiration of our skill in
thus procuring this needful article; and I do not doubt but that long
after every other recollection of our visit shall have passed away, this
beneficial memorial of it will perpetuate the visit of H.M.S. Beagle, to
this part of the great continent of Australia.


Survey the Coast to Point Cunningham.
Move the Ship.
Southern View of King's Sound.
Singular vitreous Formation.
Move to the south of Point Cunningham.
Captain King's limit.
Termination of Cliffy Range.
Disaster Bay.
An Exploring Party leave in the boats.
The shore.
A freshwater lake.
Valentine Island.
Native Fire and Food.
A heavy squall.
The wild Oat.
Indications of a River.
Point Torment.
Gouty-stem Tree and Fruit.
Limits of its growth.
Another squall.
Water nearly fresh alongside.
The Fitzroy River.
Tide Bore and dangerous position of the Yawl.
Ascent of the Fitzroy.
Appearance of the adjacent land.
Return on foot.
Perilous situation and providential escape.
Survey the western shore.
Return to the Ship.
Sporting, Quail and Emus.
Ship moved to Point Torment.

February 21, 1838.

We remained at this sheltered anchorage until the 21st, by which time the
coast, so far as Point Cunningham, had been carefully examined. We found
it everywhere indented with deep bays, in each of which good anchorage
was to be found. The water's edge was in almost every place fringed with
the closely twining mangrove trees, behind which the country gradually
rose to an average level of about 200 feet, being thickly covered with
the various sorts of Eucalypti, for which all the explored portions of
this continent are more or less remarkable.

In the afternoon of the 21st, we moved into a bay North-West of Point
Cunningham, and anchored in 8 fathoms (low-water) about a mile North-West
from that point; having passed over a bank of 5 or 6 fathoms, with 12 on
its outer, and 10 on its inner side, and lying 2 1/4 miles north from
Point Cunningham.


I spent the early part of this night on shore, a circumstance of which
the tormenting mosquitoes took every possible advantage; finally driving
me from their territory with every indignity, and in a state of mind
anything but placid. The poet doubtless spoke from experience when he

--there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently.

And even could such a prodigy of patient endurance be found, I am sure it
would fail him when exposed to the ceaseless persecution of these
inexorable assailants.

February 22.

The greater part of to-day was spent in making a more minute examination
of the bay, the shoal discovered yesterday rendering a more careful
search necessary. From the summit of Point Cunningham, I had a fine view
of the opposite shore of the sound; very broken and rugged it appeared to
be. To the South-East and south I could see no land; a circumstance which
raised my hopes of finding in that direction the long and anxiously
expected river, which the geological formation of the country, and all
the recorded experience of discovery, alike warranted us in anticipating.
The point upon which I stood was a steep and cliffy rock facing the sea,
connected with the mainland by a low and narrow neck of land, but almost
insulated at high-water during the spring tides. A singular cliff,
projecting on its South-East side, is called by Captain King, Carlisle
Head; but we searched in vain for the fresh water, which that
distinguished navigator speaks of, as having been found there by him in


We remarked here, certain vitreous formations, in all, except form,
identical with those already described as having been seen at Point Swan.
These were small balls lying loose on the sandy beach, at the bottom of
the cliff; they were highly glazed upon the surface, hollow inside, and
varying in size from a musket, to a tennis ball.*

(*Footnote. Vide Mr. Darwin on "superficial ferrugineous beds" Geology of
Volcanic Islands page 143.)

February 23.

We weighed early in the morning, and rounded Point Cunningham; anchoring
again at 10 o'clock A.M., 8 miles north of it, in 7 fathoms (low-water);
West by North, one mile from where we lay, a red cliffy head, called by
Captain King, in memory of the difficulties which ultimately compelled
him to leave this interesting coast, Foul Point, marks the limit of his
survey of this part of the northern shore of Australia, and terminates
the range of cliffs,* which, up to this point, forms nature's barrier
against the sea. Beyond it, the coast assumes a low and treacherous
character, and subsides into a deep bay, called by Captain King, not
without reason, Disaster Bay.

(*Footnote. The cliffs at Foul Point and Point Cunningham unite the
sandstone and argillaceous formation.)

From the masthead, from whence I hoped to get a wide view of the unknown
waters we were about to explore, I could just see Valentine Island,
bearing South-South-East about 17 miles. Its lofty extremities alone
being visible, it had the appearance of two islands.

Here, then, a really most interesting--nay, a most exciting--portion of
the duties of the survey were to commence in earnest; and it was reserved
for us to take up the thread of discovery reluctantly abandoned by our
enterprising and scientific predecessor, at the moment when the prize was
almost within his grasp.


It was forthwith determined, that Captain Wickham and Mr. Fitzmaurice
should collect the necessary materials for completing the survey, and
preparing the chart of the bay in the immediate neighbourhood of the
ship; while to myself the whale boat and yawl were to be entrusted; nor
can I describe with what delight, all minor annoyances forgotten, I
prepared to enter upon the exciting task of exploring waters unfurrowed
by any preceding keel; and shores, on which the advancing step of
civilization had not yet thrown the shadows of her advent, nor the voice
of that Christianity, which walks by her side through the uttermost parts
of the earth, summoned the wilderness and the desert to hail the
approaching hour, in the fulness of which all the earth shall be blessed!

Soon after dark we were visited by a squall from the eastward, longer in
duration, and heavier than any we had before experienced. From our
exposed situation--no land intervening for 30 miles--it raised a good
deal of sea: the wind remained fresh at the east during the greater part
of the night.

February 24.

The morning broke, dark, gloomy, and threatening; but, as the day
advanced, it gradually assumed its usual bright and brilliant character;
and at seven A.M. we started, Mr. Helpman having the whaleboat, while Mr.
Tarrant accompanied me in the yawl. We crossed Disaster Bay in four and
five fathoms, steering in the direction of Valentine Island, and inside a
long sandy spit, partly dry at low-water, and extending two-thirds of the
way across.


While waiting for the tide to rise, in order to cross this natural
breakwater, we landed, and struggled for a good mile through a mixture of
deep mud and sand, drifted, at the coastline, into hills of from
twenty-five to thirty feet high, and bound together by a long coarse
grass; immediately beyond which we came upon a small lake of fresh water,
where all the luxuriant growth of tropical vegetation was starting into
life, and presenting an almost miraculous contrast to the barren
sterility, that stamped an aspect of changeless desolation upon the rest
of this inhospitable shore. Indeed, so far as our experience extended,
upon the coasts, and within the interior of this in many respects
extraordinary continent, the want of water appears to be the chief
drawback to the fertility otherwise to be anticipated from its
geographical position: at the same time, it is quite impossible to blind
oneself to the fact, that further researches on the one hand, and the
application of the great discoveries in hydraulics, of which recent years
have been so fruitful, on the other, may, and probably will, spread the
vernal bloom of cultivation over wastes, now condemned to prolonged and
arbitrary periods of drought.

This spot, which long arrested my attention, and upon which I gazed with
the selfish feeling of delight inspired by the thought that thereon never
before had rested the curious eye of any restless and indefatigable
wanderer from the west, is distant about 500 yards North-North-West, from
a solitary patch of low red cliffs, the first of this formation that
present themselves south of Foul Point.


Extensive flats fronting the coast to the southward, almost connect it at
low-water with Valentine Island, which we reached at two P.M., just on
the top of high-water, and shortly afterwards grounded the boats in a
small bay to the westward. The greatest extent of Valentine Island is
three-quarters of a mile in an East by South direction: either extremity
is formed by high cliffs, a low valley intervening.


On landing we found a fire still burning, near the beach, and beside it a
bundle of the bark of the papyrus tree, in which were carefully packed a
quantity of ground nuts, they were each about three-quarters of an inch
long, and in shape not unlike a kidney potato;* it seemed clear, judging
from the native value of the commodities thus rashly abandoned, that our
arrival had rather taken by surprise these untutored children of the
wilderness: we saw nothing of them till we had reembarked, when (four or
five only in number) they returned to the beach; and we could perceive
that our foot tracks, upon which they appeared to hold an animated
debate, had, to say the least, mightily puzzled them. I ascended the
highest point of the island in the afternoon, and from thence looked over
several miles of densely wooded country, but offering no appearance of
land to the eastward of South-South-East. We gazed with indescribable
delight upon the wide expanse of open water which lay before us in that
direction, and already anticipated the discovery of some vast inlet,
terminating in the mouth of a magnificent river, upon the exploration of
which our imagination was already busily engaged; nor for the moment did
the thought, or rather the recollection of the fact, that Captain King
had seen land (by refraction) in that quarter, serve to damp our ardour.
When it made its way, and perseveringly insisted upon engaging a certain
share of my attention, its presence only added an additional motive to my
previous determination to set the question at rest by personal
examination, and in the interim, to look immediately before sunrise (when
the atmosphere within the tropics is always clear) for the very sight I
should have been most disappointed to have beheld. During the afternoon I
shot over the island, and enjoyed some very fair sport; especially with
the pheasant-cuckoo,** and quail, large and small, which were numerous:
several birds not unlike the so-called crow of the Swan River colonists
were seen. We found no fresh water, but in addition to the abundance of
game, the presence of the natives, proves the island to be not wholly
destitute of this first requisite of life. The thermometer at 3 P.M., was
100 degrees in the shade, while the unnatural calm that reigned around
gave the experienced seaman plain warning of some disturbance at hand.

(*Footnote. This esculent appeared to resemble the warran, or yam, used
for food by the native inhabitants north of Swan River.)

(**Footnote. Centropus phasianellus. Gould.)


Just before sunset these anxious anticipations proved correct: a mass of
broad edged white clouds rose rapidly in the east, and spread over the
till then unbroken blue of the vast vault above; among or rather behind
the interstices of these clouds, the lightning quivered and flashed
fearfully and fitfully, gleaming with a terrible distinctness in the
fading light of expiring day! Anon, darker and more ominous clouds
succeeded to the first, and quickly uniting seemed to span all heaven
with a frowning arch, that came rapidly onwards upon the wings of the
now-rising tempest. It was some time ere its approach either attracted
the attention or disturbed the boisterous mirth of the boats' crews, who,
with the enviable philosophy of their class, were gaily laughing over the
incidents of the day. I had just secured a good latitude by Canopus, when
the squall burst upon us from East-South-East, it blew very hard indeed
for about an hour, veering round to, and terminating at, North-East, and
then all was calm again; partaking of the general characteristics of
previous visitations of the same kind, to which we have been subject
since our arrival upon this coast, it lasted for a much less time, as
hitherto their average duration had been about three hours. It brought
the thermometer down to 80 degrees. All was quiet by midnight, and
undisturbed by the past we finished the night in peace. Daybreak found us
at the eastern end of the island, from which point we observed a low
strip of land bearing east about 16 miles distant; a fact which
re-establishes Captain King's authority, against Mr. Earle's
contradiction.* This confirmation of that distinguished and able
navigator, in some degree reconciled me to the unpropitious discovery,
that the shores of this great sheet of water were visibly beginning to

(*Footnote. Vide Earle's Eastern Seas page 451.)


During our walk we noticed the wild oat in great abundance. This valuable
species of corn is then indigenous to this part of the world. Ere long,
perhaps, the time will arrive when upon the coast, where now in native
negligence it springs and dies, it may spread the white and glistening
garment of cultivation--testify the existence--and promote the comfort of
social life. The same seed was found near Hanover Bay, by Lieutenants
Grey and Lushington, and throve exceedingly well in the soft and
luxurious climate of the ever-verdant Mauritius. Leaving some presents in
a conspicuous situation for the present rightful possessors of the
island, whose temporary shelter we had obtained, we hastened back to the
boats, and stood away to the eastward for the low land seen from the
island, and crossed various narrow sandy ridges, nearly dry at low-water,
and generally trending North and South, showing the direction of the
stream by which they were formed, and at distances of 5, 7, 9, and 12
miles, in an East by South direction from Valentine Island; the soundings
between them averaged from 7 to 9 fathoms. A favouring breeze from the
south helped us halfway across to the point, from whence I hoped and
believed we should hereafter date the first great event of the voyage;
and then dying away, compelled us to take to the oars, with the
thermometer at 110 degrees in the shade.


As we proceeded, several circumstances concurred to satisfy me that we
were at length really approaching the mouth of a considerable river;
large trees drifted past us with the ebbing tide, while each cast of the
lead proved that we were gradually, though nearing the land, deepening
the water.


Fortune too seemed now resolved to favour us, the deep channel most
opportunely lying along the eastern shore, which we reached soon after
noon, and landed on the only beach of sand hereabouts left uncovered at
high-water. Here, for better security against the squalls we had
experienced for the last two nights, we hauled up the boats. A name was
soon found for our new territory, upon which we with rueful unanimity
conferred that of Point Torment, from the incessant and vindictive
attacks of swarms of mosquitoes, by whom it had evidently been resolved
to give the newcomers a warm welcome. The greater part of Point Torment
is deeply intersected with deep narrow creeks, and is almost entirely
flooded at high-water: it extends low and swampy for nearly three miles
in breadth, and then rises gradually, the slope being well wooded with
the white Eucalypti. Here also I remarked the gouty-stem tree, figured by
Captain Grey, and described by Captain King, as of the Nat. Ord.
Capparides, and thought to be a Capparis; it also bears a resemblance to
the Adansonia described in Captain Tuckey's Congo. This was but a small
specimen in fruit, of which the following brief description may convey a
tolerably clear idea. In shape it something resembled the coconut, with a
gourd-like outside, of a brown and yellow colour. Its length was five
inches, and diameter three. The shell was exceedingly thin, and when
opened it was found to be full of seeds, imbedded in a whitish pulp, and
of a not ungrateful taste.

This place, latitude 17 degrees 5 minutes South, may be considered the
limit of its growth in that direction, and the Victoria River, of which I
shall have occasion to speak hereafter, in latitude 14 degrees 55
minutes, the northern boundary of its indigenous empire.

We saw no traces of inhabitants, not even the thin rising smoke, which so
often greeted our eyes near the coast we had recently surveyed. I climbed
the highest tree we could find, and from the elevation it afforded looked
southwards over a wide prospect of nothing but mangroves and mudbanks;
still interesting from the fact that upon them the wondering gaze of the
curious European had never yet been bent!


Procuring the necessary observations completed the duties of the day;
but, alas! the sleep all could have enjoyed so much after our work, was
rendered impossible by the swarms of mosquitoes, who at sunset relieved
those of their tribe upon whom the day duty had devolved, and commenced a
most unsparing attack upon us: all devices to escape them were tried in
vain, and some of the men were really half mad with the insufferable
annoyance: at last, about eight o'clock, when all patience seemed
exhausted, a welcome peal of thunder, and bright flashes of lightning
announced the expected and much desired squall. It served to blow away
some of our persecutors; but our rest was of very short duration, and I
was at length compelled to order the people to take to the boats, fairly
driven from the shore by our diminutive but invincible assailants. The
tide set past the boats at the rate of four knots per hour, and it fell
33 feet, being 6 feet more than we had as yet found it. The only rock
seen here was a block, visible at low-water; it was a conglomerate, and
the most southerly formation of the kind we met with.


February 26.

The daylight found us all anxiously speculating upon the probable results
to be accomplished before the darkness once more closed in upon us, but
the morning being perfectly calm, we were compelled to wait till the
flood-tide made: this soon took us past an island four miles from the
eastern shore, seen the evening before, and which now proved to be a
narrow strip, covered with the never-failing mangrove; and having two
smaller islands, nearly identical in character, lying two miles south of
it. We passed them at noon, and saw the land to the westward, our
position being then 20 miles south of Point Torment. The water had
shoaled in several places during the passage to less than a fathom
(low-water); but the tide hemmed in by the contraction of this great
inlet (the left shore of which gradually trending to the eastward, here
approached to within six miles of the opposite coast) still hurried us on
with a rapidity agreeable enough but not quite free from danger, towards
what appeared to be the mouth of a large river. If our exultation had
been great in the morning, when such success as this was only half
anticipated, what was it at that exciting moment when the eventful hour
which should give us the triumph of such a discovery as that we now
fairly anticipated, seemed within our grasp? I cannot answer for others,
but for myself I had never known a sensation of greater delight. Doubt,
disappointment, difficulty, and danger; all, all were unheeded or
forgotten in the one proud thought that for us was reserved an enterprise
the ultimate results of which might in some future year affect the
interests of a great portion of the world! Presently, as if to recall to
their routine of duty, these upward-springing thoughts, the boats were
found to be rapidly carried by the stream towards an extensive flat,
which appeared to extend right across the opening towards which all eyes
had been turned with so much eagerness, and over which the tide was
boiling and whirling with great force. To attempt to cross would have
been madness; there was nothing, therefore, to be done but patiently
await the rising of the tide.


The nearest land, a mangrove point bearing South-South-East one mile, we
afterwards named Escape Point, in grateful memory of the providential
escapes we experienced in its vicinity. Where the boats were anchored we
had nearly five feet at low-water, and the tide ran past them at the rate
of five miles an hour. As soon as possible we again started, in a south
by west direction, and proceeded for about five miles, when the boats
were anchored, near the western shore, which we proposed to visit at
low-water. From the yawl's masthead I traced the shore all round, except
to the south-east, where I could see an opening about a mile wide. The
western land was slightly elevated, perhaps to 70 feet, and clothed with
rather large trees, while to the eastward the land appeared very low. As
the tide ebbed, we found, to our disappointment and mortification, that
the flat over which we reckoned to secure a passage to the mainland,
never became quite dry (the tide here falling only 18 feet) while from
its soft and treacherous character, it was impossible to cross it on


All doubt about our being in the mouth of a river was put an end to by
finding that, during the last of the ebb, the water was nearly fresh.
This discovery was hailed by us all with a pleasure which persons only
familiar with the well-watered and verdant fields of England cannot fully

Our success afforded me a welcome opportunity of testifying to Captain
Fitzroy my grateful recollection of his personal kindness; and I
determined, with Captain Wickham's permission, to call this new river
after his name, thus perpetuating, by the most durable of monuments, the
services and the career of one, in whom, with rare and enviable
prodigality, are mingled the daring of the seaman, the accomplishments of
the student, and the graces of the Christian--of whose calm fortitude in
the hour of impending danger, or whose habitual carefulness for the
interests of all under his command, if I forbear to speak, I am silent
because, while I recognise their existence, and perceive how much they
exalt the character they adorn, I feel, too, that they have elevated it
above, either the need, or the reach of any eulogy within my power to

I felt pretty confident that the first rush of the tide upon its reflux
would be violent, and had made preparation accordingly. In the first
watch these anticipations were realized, and I was roused from a
momentary doze by a loud roaring, which I at once recognized to be the
voice of thunder, heralding the advancing tide.


The night was pitch dark, and though I instinctively turned my eyes
towards the offing, I could see nothing, but as each anxious moment
passed away, the fearful voice of the waters sounded nearer and nearer,
and within less time than I have occupied in the narration, the full
force of the rush of tide coming on like a wall, several feet high, and
bringing our anchor away with it, was upon us. The cable thus slackened,
the yawl sheered, and was thrown violently upon her broadside in the
midst of it, and had it not been for the shores lashed to each mast, she
must inevitably have capsized. The whaleboat fared better; being lighter
she was the sooner afloat, and besides her buoyant bow was the better
able to receive and resist the shock. When the tide slacked we returned
to the deep water off Escape Point, and spent the remainder of the night
in quiet, I would fain hope, so far as most of us were concerned, not
without a thankful remembrance of Him, whose merciful providence had been
so recently manifested in our behalf!


February 27.

Leaving Mr. Tarrant in charge of the yawl, I proceeded with Mr. Helpman
to trace the river, immediately after daylight. Against the last of the
ebb tide, and with the thermometer at 80 degrees, we contrived to reach a
spot two miles beyond Point Escape before noon. From Point Escape
upwards, there appeared to be, at low-water, no regular channel; the bed
of the river assumed the aspect of an extensive flat of mud, intersected
with small rivulets or streams that served to drain it. No signs of human
habitation were seen along its banks, which divided by numerous small
creeks, and thickly fringed with the unfailing mangrove, stretched away
in level and drear monotony, only broken towards the west by land of
inconsiderable elevation. The circling flight of the ever-wary curlew,
and the shrill cry of the plover, now first disturbed in their accustomed
territory, alone vouched for the presence of animal life in that vast
solitude, the effect of which they heightened, rather than removed!


Finding the further ascent almost if not altogether impracticable at the
present state of the tide, I ordered the boat back to Point Escape, and
landed, accompanied by Mr. Helpman, and a seaman, intending to return on


The shore was a soft mud, in which the small mangroves had found a most
congenial soil: while our journey every now and then, arrested by the
intervention of one or other of the numerous little creeks of which I
have before spoken, promised to prove a more fatiguing, if not more
hazardous affair, than we had originally contemplated.

We managed at first, by ascending their banks for a short distance from
the river, to jump across these opposing creeks, but as the tide rose,
they filled and widened in proportion, and each moment increased the
difficulties of our position, now heightened by the untoward discovery
that William Ask, the seaman who had accompanied us, was unable to swim!

Time and tide, however, wait for no man, and the rapidly rising waters
had flooded the whole of the low land which formed this bank of the
river, so that we were compelled to wade, feeling with a stick for the
edges of the creeks in our route, over each of which Mr. Helpman and
myself had alternately to swim in order to pass the arms undamaged; and
then Ask, making the best jump that he could muster for the occasion, was
dragged ashore on the opposite side. At length we reached a creek, the
breadth of which rendered this mode of proceeding no longer practicable,
and we were compelled to stop, being fortunately very near the point
where I had directed the boat to meet us. Our situation was now anything
but pleasant, the water being already above our knees, and the tide
having still several hours to rise; while the mangrove trees by which we
were surrounded, were all too slender to afford the least support.

In this state of affairs, leaving Mr. Helpman with Ask--who had secured a
piece of drift timber as a last resource--I made my way to the edge of
the shore, only to find that the boat, unable to stem the current, had
anchored some distance above us! Mr. Helpman and myself might have
reached her by swimming; but even could I have easily reconciled myself
to part with our arms and instruments, at any rate to abandon poor Ask in
the dilemma into which I had brought him was not to be thought of. By
repeated discharges of my gun I at last succeeded in attracting the
attention of the boat's crew, who made an immediate and desperate effort
to come to our assistance: while their strength lasted they just
contrived to hold their own against the tide, then, drifting astern, were
again compelled to anchor. The attempt was renewed, when an equally
desperate struggle was followed by just as fruitless a result: the force
of the stream was clearly more than they could overcome, and an
intervening bank precluded any attempt to creep up to us along the shore.

Most anxiously did I watch the water as it changed its upward level
almost with the rapidity of an inch a minute, being in doubt whether it
would rise above our heads, ere it afforded a sufficient depth to carry
the boat over the intervening bank, and bring us the only assistance that
would afford a chance for our lives. I breathed a short, but most fervent
prayer to Him, in whose hands are the issues of life and death, and
turned back to cheer my comrades with the chance of rescue.


Nor shall I ever forget the expression of thankfulness and gratitude
which lit up the face of poor Ask, as the whispers of hope were confirmed
by the welcome advance of the whaleboat's bows through the almost
submerged mangroves, just as the water had topped our shoulders; and,
therefore, barely in time to confirm upon this locality its former title
of Point Escape!

We now pulled down to this last-named point, and waited for the tide to
fall, in order to obtain the necessary observations for determining its
position: those for latitude, taken in the early part of the night, gave
a result (worked on the spot) of 17 degrees 24 1/2 minutes South; being
an increase in latitude of 35 miles from the present position of the

Having now but two days' provisions remaining, I determined on completing
the survey of the western shore, south of Valentine Island, and then to
return and report our discovery, knowing that Captain Wickham would do
all in his power to prosecute it to the utmost.


March 3.

These plans were accordingly carried into effect, and we returned to the
ship on the morning of the 3rd of March. We found all well on board, with
the exception of poor Mr. Usborne, whom we were delighted to see so far
recovered. One sentiment of satisfaction pervaded the whole ship's
company, when informed of our success; and, as I had anticipated, Captain
Wickham at once determined upon further exploring our new discovery in
lighter boats, first placing the ship as near the mouth of it as
practicable. During the squall, on the first night of our absence, the
ship parted her cable, and was nearly on the rocks.

Our sportsmen had been actively and successfully employed during our
absence, having shot a great number of quail; they had seen two emus, and
Messrs. Bynoe and Dring had obtained several
specimens of rare birds, all of which are now figured by Mr. Gould in his
Birds of Australia. A few natives had also been seen, but they were too
wary to permit any intercourse with them.

March 4.

This was Sunday, and no imperative necessity hindered our making it a day
of rest. Various necessary observations occupied the greater part of
Monday; and, on the day following, the ship was moved, under my guidance,
to an anchorage, in 5 fathoms (low-water) 2 1/2 miles west from Point


Examination of the Fitzroy River.
Excursion into the interior.
Alarm of the Natives.
Ascent of the River.
Sufferings from Mosquitoes.
Red Sandstone.
Natives again surprised.
Appearance of the Country.
Impediments in the River.
Return of the boats.
An Alligator.
Stokes' Bay.
Narrow escape of an Officer.
Change of Landscape.
A new Vine.
Compass Hill.
Port Usborne.
Explore the eastern shore of King's Sound.
Cone Bay.
Native Fires.
Whirlpool Channel.
Group of Islands.
Sterile aspect of the Coast.
Visited by a Native.
Bathurst Island.
Native Hut and Raft.
Return to Port Usborne.
Native Spears.
Cascade Bay.
Result of Explorations in King's Sound.
Interview with Natives.
Coral Reefs.
Discover Beagle Bank.
Arrival at Port George the Fourth.
Examination of Collier Bay in the boats.
Brecknock Harbour.
The Slate Islands.
Freshwater Cove.
An Eagle shot.
Its singular nest.
Rock Kangaroos.
A Conflagration.
Sandstone Ridges.
Doubtful Bay.
Mouth of the Glenelg.
Remarkable Tree.
Fertile Country near Brecknock Harbour.
Return to the Ship.
Meet with Lieutenant Grey.
His sufferings and discoveries.
Visit the Encampment.
Timor Ponies.
Embarkation of Lieutenant Grey's Party.
Sail from Port George the Fourth.
Remarks on position of Tryal Rock.
Anecdotes of Miago.
Arrival at Swan River.
Directions for entering Owen's Anchorage.

March 7, 1838.

We spent the morning in making the necessary preparations, and in the
afternoon started to resume our examination of Fitzroy River. Captain
Wickham and Lieutenant Eden in the gig, and myself, accompanied by Mr.
Tarrant, in one of the whaleboats; we reached the mangrove isles at
sunset, and spent the night between them and the eastern shore. On the
8th the tide suited us but badly, and we were only able to proceed about
four miles beyond Escape Point, where we secured the boats in a creek out
of the influence of the tide. We found much less water off Escape Point
than on our former visit.


In the evening we made an excursion into the interior. It was one vast
unbroken level, covered with a strong and wiry grass, intersected with
numerous watercourses, which the tide filled at high-water, there were
also indications of more important, but less regular, visits from the
sea. Here and there a solitary tree assisted us in estimating the
distance we had walked. We saw two emus in this plain, which appeared
also a favourite resort of quail and a bronze-winged pigeon. We could not
get within shot of the wary emus, but the quail and pigeons afforded us
good sport, notwithstanding the ceaseless attacks of the mosquitoes,
which swarmed in the long grass, and defied anything less impenetrable
than Mackintosh leggings, encumbrances not desirable for a pedestrian
with the thermometer at 87 degrees, particularly when worn over a pair of
Flushing trousers. Thus defended, I could, in some degree, defy these
tormenting assailants, and at night, under the additional security
afforded by a large painted coat, contrived to secure two or three hours
of unbroken rest--a luxury few of my companions enjoyed.

It was with much disappointment that we found the channel occupied, at
low-water, by a mere rivulet, draining the extensive mud flats then left
uncovered. Hope, however, though somewhat sobered, was not altogether
destroyed by this malapropos discovery, and we still looked forward with
an interest but little abated, to the results of a complete survey of our
new discovery.

March 9.

We moved on when the tide served, keeping close to the eastern bank of
the river, where there appeared at low-water, the largest stream, then
barely two feet deep. Following the sinuosity of the shore, our general
direction was south, and after we had thus proceeded two miles, we found
the width of the river suddenly contract from three miles to one. The
banks were low and covered with a coarse grass.


Here we saw three natives, stretching their long spare bodies over the
bank, watching the leading boat with the fixed gaze of apparent terror
and anxiety. Sso rivetted was their attention, that they allowed my boat
to approach unnoticed within a very short distance of them; but when they
suddenly caught sight of it, they gave a yell of mingled astonishment and
alarm, and flinging themselves back into the long grass, were almost
instantly out of sight. They were evidently greatly alarmed, and as
Miago, whose presence might have given them confidence, was not with us,
it seemed hopeless to attempt any communication with them, much as we
should have liked to convince them, that these strange white creatures
were of a race of beings formed like themselves, though even of our
existence they could have had no previous idea.


Six miles from our last night's bivouac, still keeping our southerly
direction, brought us to some low, grassy islets, extending almost across
the river, and leaving only confined and shallow channels; through one of
which we had, at half tide, some difficulty in finding a passage for the
boats. The river now widened out a little, and we found the deep water
near the western bank, the appearance of the country remaining unaltered.
We landed to pass the night at a rocky point on the east side of the
river, one mile south from the most western islet of the chain just
described as almost preventing our ascent. The depth of the river at this
point was about twelve feet at low-water; and its breadth some four or
five hundred yards. We found the water fresh at all times of tide, which
here rose only eight feet; being ten feet less than its greatest rise
eight miles nearer the mouth, where the time of high-water at the full
and change of the moon occurs at 4 hours 10 minutes P.M.

This was the first rock formation we had noticed since leaving Point
Torment, a distance of nearly thirty miles; it was a very fine-grained
red sandstone, darkened and rendered heavy by the presence of ferruginous
particles. The appearance of the country now began to improve, the
eastern bank was thickly wooded, and a mile higher up, the western
appeared clothed in verdure. I noticed here the same kind of tree, seen
for the first time behind our last night's bivouac; it was small and
shrubby-looking, with a rough bark, not unlike that of the common elm,
and its little pointed leaf, of a deep, dark green, contrasted with the
evergreen Eucalypti by which it was surrounded, reminded me of the
various tints that give the charm of constant variety to our English
woods, and lend to each succeeding season a distinctive and
characteristic beauty.*

(*Footnote. The diameter of the largest tree of this kind was only eight
inches: it was exceedingly hard, and of a very dark red colour, except a
white rim about an inch in thickness. This wood worked and looked the
best, in a table I had made out of various specimens of woods collected
on the North-west coast of Australia.)


I must be pardoned for again alluding to our old enemies the mosquitoes,
but the reception they gave us this night is too deeply engraven on my
memory to be ever quite forgotten.


They swarmed around us, and by the light of the fire, the blanket bags in
which the men sought to protect themselves, seemed literally black with
their crawling and stinging persecutors. Woe to the unhappy wretch who
had left unclosed the least hole in his bag; the persevering mosquitoes
surely found it out, and as surely drove the luckless occupant out of his
retreat. I noticed one man dressed as if in the frozen north, hold his
bag over the fire till it was quite full of smoke, and then get into it,
a companion securing the mouth over his head at the apparent risk of
suffocation; he obtained three hours of what he gratefully termed
comfortable sleep, but when he emerged from his shelter, where he had
been stewed up with the thermometer at 87 degrees, his appearance may be
easily imagined.

Our hands were in constant requisition to keep the tormentors from the
face and ears, which often received a hearty whack, aimed in the
fruitless irritation of the moment at our assailants, and which sometimes
ended in adding headache to the list of annoyances. Strike as you please,
the ceaseless humming of the invincible mosquito close to your ear seems
to mock his unhappy victim!

One poor fellow, whose patience was quite exhausted, fairly jumped into
the river to escape further persecution.

We had the wind from South-West to South-East during the afternoon, but
at 6 P.M. it veered round to North-North-West.

While getting the observations for time and latitude, some of us were
compelled to remain quiet, an opportunity our tiny assailants instantly
availed themselves of, covering our faces and hands. To listen quietly to
their hum, and feel their long stings darting into your flesh, might put
the patience of Job himself to a severe trial.


March 10.

After such a night of torment, we hailed the morning with delight; and
having partaken of an early breakfast, proceeded on our interesting
discovery. The first reach took us more than a mile, in a South-West by
West direction, the width of it being towards the latter end nearly a
quarter of a mile; the deepest water (from seven to eight feet) was on
the west side, and a dry flat of sand fronted the other for some
distance. The course of the river now changed, first to South-East then
round to West-North-West enclosing a mile of ground. We had great
difficulty, owing to the water being very shoal, in getting our boats
through the next reach, which was rather more than a mile in a West by
South direction. After threading our way through three more reaches,
trending South-South-West--South-West, and South and from half to one
mile in length, the shades of evening and fatigue attending a long and
unsatisfactory day's work, warned us that it was time to seek a
resting-place for the night, although we had but little hopes of
obtaining any. We had made good but six miles during the day in a general
South-West by West direction. Our progress being delayed by the
difficulty we had in getting the boats over the shallows, and by a
current running at the rate of from one to two miles an hour.

The depth of the river varied during the day from one to fourteen feet,
and its width from three to five hundred yards. In the deep reaches were
the wrecks of large trees, rearing their decayed heads, in evidence of
the resistless fury of the torrent that had torn them from their roots,
during some vast inundation, traces of which still remain on the banks,
many feet above the present level of the river.

The general aspect of the country had improved, and the eastern bank
reached an elevation of 20 feet; it was covered with long, green grass,
and thickly wooded with a luxuriant growth of the white eucalyptus, while
the almost total absence of every appearance of animal life, impressed an
air of solemn tranquillity upon the whole scene. Perhaps it was from
there being little to admire in the surrounding scenery that we were so
much struck with the beauty of the western sky, as its gilded clouds
marked the departure of the great ruler of the day. It was scarcely
possible to behold a more splendid sunset; but with us, after another
sleepless night, his rise, as he tinged the eastern sky, was hailed with
even greater delight.

March 11.

At daylight I climbed the highest tree I could find on the eastern bank
of the river, in order to get a peep at the surrounding country. The
prospect, however, was but limited. The landscape presented to my view,
was an almost uninterrupted level; open woodlands, with here and there a
few grassy spots, were its prevailing features. I could see nothing of
the river itself beyond the reach in which the boats were lying; its
upper extremity bore South by West and was about half a mile from our
halting place. I made a discovery in climbing this tree, which I hoped to
make available in our farther ascent of the Fitzroy, should we be so
fortunate as to accomplish its further exploration, or in any similar
circumstances during our examination of these untrodden wilds. It was
this, and I mention it, as the hint may be useful to others: I found our
enemies the mosquitoes did not resort to the higher portions of the tree,
and that by climbing some thirty feet from the ground, a night's repose,
or at least a night undisturbed by their attacks might be obtained.

Hastening back to the boats, we pushed on, but were some time getting to
the end of the reach, the shallowness of the water rendering our advance
difficult and tedious; entering at length the next, which trended
South-West for about half a mile, the river gradually widened out until
it attained a breadth of about half that space. An extensive flat of sand
fronted the eastern bank, which was very low, and though now dry, bore
undoubted marks of being not unfrequently visited by floods. The western
bank of the next reach was low and broken, evidently forming a group of
low grassy islands when the river is in a higher state.

Some yellow sandstone cliffs, from ten to sixteen feet in height, formed
the opposite bank of this reach, which extended barely a quarter of a
mile, in from a South by East to a South by West direction; and varied in
width from one to two hundred yards. We now entered a lake-like reach of
the river, trending south for a mile and a quarter, having a breadth of
about a hundred yards, and a depth in many places of twelve feet; being
twice that which we had usually found in any of the lower reaches, with
scarcely any stream. Soon after entering this remarkable sheet of water,
we noticed a rock formation in its western banks; this we found to be a
coarse-grained red sandstone, with fragments of quartz, and extended for
nearly a quarter of a mile along the edge of the water. Over many parts
of it was a coating of a dark and metallic appearance, about three inches
thick; and the surface in places presented a glazed or smelted
appearance. Mr. Darwin, in his work upon volcanic islands, page 143,
alludes to this formation, under the head of "Superficial ferruginous
beds," and thus concludes his observations: "The origin of these
superficial beds, though sufficiently obscure, seems to be due to
alluvial action on detritus abounding with iron."

As we proceeded along this canal, for such was the appearance of the
reach we were now ascending, we surprised a small party of natives. They
were at the water's edge, beneath a high mound of loose white sand, over
which the children were some time in making their escape, struggling and
screaming with anxiety and fear, as they half buried themselves beneath
its treacherous surface; and sometimes, after almost gaining the summit,
sliding back again to the base. All parental care seemed for the moment
lost in the overwhelming sense of present danger, caused by the strange
and unknown spectacle thus suddenly presented to the gaze of these poor
savages. Our white faces, curious garments, moving boats, the regular
motions and unaccustomed sounds of our heavy oars, must indeed have
filled them with amazement. I have since frequently remarked, that our
oars created more wonder, or alarm, among the various tribes who first
learnt through us the existence of their white brethren, than almost any
other instrument of which they could at all understand the use; perhaps,
as they propel their frail rafts with a spear, they jumped to the
conclusion, that our oars were also immense spears, which, being their
chief weapons, must have given us a formidable appearance. We noticed,
among the trees on the banks of this natural canal, two varieties of the
palm; both kinds had been observed by Mr. Brown in the Gulf of
Carpentaria, during Captain Flinders' voyage.

At the end of this reach, which extended for a mile and a half in a
South-East by South direction, the river was scarcely 50 yards wide, and
the depth had decreased from 12 to 6 feet; the current, scarcely
perceptible in the deep water, now ran with a velocity of from one to two
miles per hour. Here, therefore, the Fitzroy may be said to assume all
the more distinctive features of an Australian river: deep reaches,
connected by shallows, and probably forming, during the droughts which
characterize Australia, an unlinked chain of ponds or lagoons; and in
places, leaving no other indication of its former existence than the
water-worn banks and deep holes, thirsty and desolate as a desert plain.
At this point, the river divided into two branches, one having an
East-South-East, and the other a South-South-East direction. Anxious to
determine, which, as the larger, best deserved our exploration, we landed
at a high grassy point on the west bank. From the top of the highest tree
in the neighbourhood, I commanded an extensive view of the wide and
far-spread landscape then first submitted to the scrutiny of a European.
Varied and undefined are the thoughts called forth at such a moment; the
past, the present, and the future, at once occupy, and almost confound
the imagination. New feelings accompany new perceptions; and gazing for
the first time upon a vast and unknown land, the mind, restless and
active, as the roving life by which it is informed, expands for the
reception of the crowding fancies, called into life as by the wand of the

After yielding for a while to the influence of the scene, I was glad to
perceive the greater magnitude of the southerly branch of the river,
which offered the most direct line into the interior. I could trace each
stream for nearly three miles, but that which trended to the east was a
mere rivulet. Both flowed through a perfectly level country. Seven miles
was about as far as the eye could reach over this wearisome-looking
level. To the westward the country was open; the trees were small, and in
clumps, with green grassy patches between; but in other directions, it
was densely wooded, and on the eastern bank the trees were large. In the
branches of the one I ascended, rushes, deposited by the current, were
found 20 feet above the present level of the stream. This part of the
country is therefore sometimes visited by heavy floods; they do not,
however, seem to depend immediately upon the quantity of rain, for while
the whole face of the landscape indicated large and recent supplies, the
river appeared little, if at all, affected by them.

Having determined to follow the larger branch of the Fitzroy, we
continued on our course, and found that beyond this point the river again
widened to nearly 200 yards; but that a chain of small islets, extending
from bank to bank, nearly stopped our proceeding further. This obstacle
was, however, overcome after some difficulty; and still proceeding
upwards another mile, we came to a narrow rapid and shallow reach, which
brought us into another still and deep, about 100 yards wide, and bounded
by high grassy banks. Through this we pursued our way right merrily,
indulging in the golden anticipation that the Fitzroy would yet convey
our boats some distance into the interior of that vast and unknown
continent, with the present condition and future destiny of which our
thoughts were so often busy.


Scarcely, however, had we made good another mile, when we found ourselves
entangled among a cluster of small islets, and sunken trees, which almost
wholly choked up the channel. The river thus pent up, ran through the
small openings in this barrier with great velocity; while above, it had
again assumed the deep still character which I have before had occasion
to describe.

We had partly overcome this impediment, when Captain Wickham decided upon
giving up the attempt, and ordered the boats to return, considering the
evident risks too great to justify further perseverance. We therefore
gave up the exploration of the Fitzroy, in latitude 17 degrees 44 minutes
South, longitude 124 degrees 34 minutes East, having traced its course
for 22 miles in a general South-South-West direction, and having
penetrated 90 miles from the coastline, towards the centre of Australia,
from which we were still distant 600 miles. My view from the treetop
extended about four miles beyond the furthest point we had reached on the
river, it had been our good fortune to add to the geography of Australia.
Its banks here were 20 feet high, and covered with grass; partially
broken or washed down, they disclosed to view a rich alluvial soil,
nearly two feet deep.

The trees we found most common during our expedition into this portion of
the new lands of Australia, consisted chiefly of two species of palm, and
three of the eucalypti, stunted banksia, acacia, and the singular tree
before mentioned. The birds we saw were wholly those belonging to the
land, and were chiefly black and white cockatoos, and a variety of
finches. We neither saw nor caught any fish, and the absence of waterfowl
led us to suppose they were scarce.


All the excitement and interest we had enjoyed in exploring the Fitzroy
thus far, now left us, and our return was comparatively tedious and
monotonous work.

March 12.

We, however, managed to reach our last night's bivouac by dark; and
towards the close of the next day we got as far down as the outer grassy
islet in the entrance of the river. The night was stormy, but the wind
and rain together kept away the mosquitoes, and enabled us to obtain a
little most welcome rest. This change in the weather was sudden. Hitherto
we had been singularly fortunate, each succeeding night, and returning
morn being, in cleanness and beauty, only a repetition of its

March 13.

The morning was again fine, and the bright sky was not disfigured by the
least trace of the dark clouds that had so lately overspread it. The tide
fortunately favoured our making an early start. On passing Escape Point,
so named, as the reader may recollect, in grateful remembrance of the
providential escape a small party of us experienced there, we saw an
alligator slide his unwieldy carcass from the soft mud-bank, upon which
he had been lazily reclining, into one of the creeks we had so much
difficulty in crossing. We could not but feel grateful that even the
existence of these monster reptiles in this river was then unknown to us,
as the bare thought of a visit from one of them would have added to the
unpleasantness of our position, while the actual presence of so wholesale
a gastronomer would perhaps have given another and less auspicious name
to Escape Point.

A creek, ten miles from Point Torment, afforded us shelter for the night,
which was again wet and squally.

March 14.

At daybreak the blue vault above was still disfigured by dark inky
blotches of clouds. We reached the ship before breakfast, and found that
Mr. Helpman and Mr. Keys had ascertained that the opening on the
north-east side of Point Torment was a great bay, extending ten miles in
a south-easterly direction, with a width of the same distance: its shores
throughout were fringed with mangroves, through which the tide found its
way, inundating many miles of the interior at high-water.


In the north and south corners of the depths of this bay they found an
inlet, each being about three miles deep; narrow, sandy ridges, almost
dry at low-water, trending to the North-West, and separated by channels
from three to four fathoms, occupied the greater portion of this
extensive bay, which Captain Wickham, out of compliment, named after

Point Torment afforded a very fair field for the exertions of our
collectors in Natural History. Without wishing to bore my readers with
another long mosquito story, I think the following may be interesting.


One of the officers on a shooting excursion lost his way and got
entangled in a mangrove forest, where the ground being a soft mud,
travelling became very laborious, particularly in a temperature of 85
degrees and without water; fatigue hastened by thirst, at length quite
knocked up my shipmate, who threw himself exhausted on the ground. In
vain did he seek for a little rest, for no sooner was he quiet than
swarms of mosquitoes assailed him, and forced him again on his legs;
unwelcome as these tormenting visitors generally are, they were probably
in this case the means of saving my friend's life, as goaded on by their
unceasing attacks, to exertions otherwise out of the question, he
eventually reached assistance, and was brought on board in a most
helpless condition.

The tide here was two hours later than at Foul Point: the greatest rise
noticed in the ship was thirty feet, which was seven feet less than we
had found it in the yawl.

We had several heavy squalls from eastward this afternoon, and during the
early part of the night, with rain and thunder.

March 15.

The morning broke dull and gloomy, with a light breeze from the eastward.
There were altogether evident symptoms of a decided and immediate change
in the weather. The survey of the south-eastern portion of the sound
being now complete, the ship was taken over to the high rocky land lying
north 20 miles from Point Torment. We crossed the flat extending four
miles North-West from that point, in from two to three fathoms at
low-water; the soundings afterwards varied from nine to eleven fathoms
with a soft, muddy sand bottom. We anchored in seven fathoms low-water,
one mile and a half South-South-West from the southern of two small rocky
islets, lying 16 miles north from Point Torment and three from the rocky
shore behind them; a sandbank, dry at low-water, extended from these
islets to within half a mile of the ship.


Our eyes were now relieved by a pleasing change of landscape; the land
had wholly changed in character from that of which we had seen so much
and grown so weary. It no longer stretched away in an illimitable and
boundless plain, but rising abruptly from the water's edge, attained an
elevation of 700 feet. The highest part of this range (afterwards named
Compass Hill) bore North by West distant four and a quarter miles. We
were all of course exceedingly anxious to visit this new land; but the
weather, strange to say, put our patience to a trial of four days, during
which it equalled in severity any we had experienced under Swan Point. It
commenced with dark masses of clouds rising in the east, which were soon
followed by a fresh breeze from the South-East with heavy rain, gradually
freshening as it came round to the westward, blowing hardest between
West-South-West and West-North-West. The barometer being out of order we
were unable to observe how this unusual change would have affected that
instrument; the thermometer, however, fell to 76 degrees, an alteration
of temperature which, combined with the dampness of the atmosphere,
exposed us to the novel sensation of cold. We noticed the time of
high-water was about fifteen minutes earlier than at Point Torment, the
flood-stream setting East-South-East and the ebb west. The former at a
rate of two miles, and the latter one mile per hour.

March 21.

At length the wished for change arrived, and we again beheld this morning
the deep pure blue of a southern sky. We were all eager to commence our
exploration, and Mr. Usborne, ever anxious to be actively employed, was
so far recovered that he induced the surgeon, though reluctantly, to
allow him to again share in the duties of the survey. He was accordingly
despatched to look for a berth for the ship further to the North-West,
while Captain Wickham and myself went towards Compass Hill. We were
accompanied by Mr. Bynoe, who, during our excursion, was fortunate enough
to add several rare birds to his collection.


We landed in a small sandy bay at the western end of a growth of
mangroves, fringing the shore behind the islands. The sandbank fronting
them we found to extend to the bay we landed in; to the westward of it
there was deep water close to the shore. Wood and water might easily be
obtained in this bay, a circumstance that may give it value in the eyes
of future navigators, as it did in ours.

Before ascending the hill we crossed a flat clothed with rich grass, out
of which we flushed several Pheasant-cuckoos.* We found one of their
nests on the ground containing four eggs, in size and colour they
resembled the domestic pigeon. The nimble manner in which these birds hop
along the branches of trees, with their long tails whisking behind, give
them, at the first glance, more the appearance of monkeys than birds.

(*Footnote. Centropus Phasianellus.)


We found here the gouty-stem tree of large size, bearing fruit; and also
a vine, which, from all the information I have since been able to
collect, appears to be quite a new specimen;* it bore a small but
well-tasted black berry, similar in shape and general appearance to the
grape sometimes seen climbing over the cottage doors in England. Each
fruit contained three large seeds, in shape and size resembling the
coffee berry. It was growing in a light sandy soil, and the temperature
to which it was exposed varies from 76 to 110 degrees. It is a matter of
great regret that I was not able to introduce this new species of vine
into England; the seeds and specimens of it having been unfortunately
destroyed by mice and insects. I was, however, more fortunate at Sydney
and Swan River.

(*Footnote. From the description I gave of this vine to Sir W. Hooker he
thought it quite new.)


We at length gained the top of Compass Hill, which we found to be a
slight mound on a platform of coarse sandstone formation, with fragments
of quartz; the sandstone was tinged with red, and appeared to be
crumbling away; a straggling growth of white eucalypti covered the crest
of this height, which rather spoilt the view we had promised ourselves;
however, by climbing several of them, I managed to see all round.

West, six and a half miles, there was a snug cove fronted by a small
island, from whence the coast appeared to take a more northerly
direction. The extremes of a large sheet of water bore North by West and
West by North, which we afterwards found to be connected with the
above-mentioned cove. A succession of heights, similar to the one we were
on, bounded our view between North and North-East. Twenty-one miles, in a
South-East by East direction, were some detached, round hills, apparently
the termination of the high land on which we stood; these appeared to
rise out of a plain of such an extent, in a South-East and easterly
direction, that I conceived it possible it may have extended to the rear
of Collier Bay, which damped the interest we had previously looked
forward to, in the exploration of that part of the coast, as it tended
materially to weaken the probability of finding any large opening there.
In crossing one of the valleys in our descent to the boats, Mr. Bynoe
wounded a large kangaroo; we gave chase; but notwithstanding all our
efforts, and at the expense of many a bruise, stumbling over the rugged
ground, the prize, almost within our grasp, escaped, and, to add to our
misfortune, one of the small compasses was found missing, the strap that
suspended it having given way; from this accident the hill received its


On our return to the ship, we found Mr. Usborne had discovered good
anchorage in the cove we had seen from the hill, which in commemoration
of his providential recovery was called after him Port Usborne.

March 22.

It was a clear and beautiful morning, and the sun as it rose shed a
glittering stream of light over the placid waters of the bay, now
slightly rippled by an easterly air. All were early and busily engaged in
moving the ship into Port Usborne. On our way we crossed the inner edge
of a bank seen from Compass Hill, in three fathoms: Helpman's south islet
bore at the time east three and a half miles; after crossing this bank,
the least water we had was ten fathoms; this depth we found in passing on
the eastern side of the small, low island fronting Port Usborne. A
solitary overspreading tree, and a white patch on its eastern extremity
renders this island conspicuous, and is of this importance, that it
guides a stranger to the only safe anchorage among the islands on the
eastern shore of King's Sound. As a further guide to Port Usborne it is
situated at the southern extremity of all these islands, and where the
coast suddenly trends away to the eastward.

We were delighted to find ourselves in an anchorage almost surrounded by
land, and although the rugged sandstone ridges, with their dark,
mysterious, and densely-wooded valleys, did not give the shore a very
inviting appearance, still the very wildness of the scenery contrasted
pleasingly in our remembrance with the monotonous level of the country
about Point Torment, and on the banks of the Fitzroy. Our present
position had also its practical advantages, being well adapted for
carrying on the essential duties of the survey, for which service the
boats were prepared in the course of the afternoon.

This snug little port we found to be three-quarters of a mile broad and
one deep, and varying in depth from seven to fifteen fathoms: it faces
west, the entrance points lying nearly north and south of each other, and
affords an abundant supply of wood and water. We saw no traces of
inhabitants; not even the curling smoke that had so often indicated their
presence, greeted the eye; all was silent, and the feelings of utter
loneliness were only dispelled by the mournful screams of the curlew, and
occasional howl of the wild dog, as the deepening shadows of night closed

March 23.

The boats were manned early, and we left the ship with the best wishes of
the anxious group who watched our departure, and speculated with eager
anticipation upon the probable result of our enterprise.


Mr. Usborne proceeded in one boat to examine a group of islands, lying
six miles North-West from our anchorage; Mr. Tarrant and myself in the
other, to explore the eastern shore of King's Sound. It was thus again
our good fortune to enjoy the exciting pleasure of anticipated discovery;
perchance again to wander over the face of a country, now the desert
heritage of the solitary savage, but fated, we hope, to become the abode
of plenty, and the land of peace.

After passing the extreme North-West point of the mainland, seen from the
ship, we discovered a deep bay, which once reached, would afford safe
anchorage for a fleet. Near its northern point a large stream of water
fell into the sea in glittering cascades; off this a ship may anchor in
twelve fathoms within a quarter of a mile; close to the west is a small
sandy beach. Promising to refresh ourselves at this inviting stream, we
continued our course to the northward. After passing a deep narrow
channel, trending North-West by West we met the first rush of the
northerly, or ebb stream, which, running at the rate of six or seven
knots, swept us through a very small, dangerous opening, between some
rocky islets and the main. A small bay fortunately afforded us the means
of avoiding a treacherous ledge of sunken rocks, which had the boat
touched, at the almost giddy rapidity we were hurried along, our
destruction must have been inevitable. Landing to cook our dinners, I
went to the top of the highest neighbouring hill, to obtain a round of
angles: our journey was a perfect scramble, the face of the country being
intersected by deep ravines, and covered with huge blocks of coarse
sandstone; over these we observed several of the rock-kangaroo, bounding
with their long, bushy tails swinging high in the air as if in defiance
of pursuit. The view of the archipelago, from this position, fully
satisfied me, that without incurring great risk, it would be impossible
for a ship to thread her way through the numerous islands, independent of
shoals, tide-races, and shifting winds, which form the ordinary perils of
such navigation. I reckoned more than eighty islands in this portion of
the archipelago alone.


After dinner we proceeded, steering North-North-East, and crossed two
deep bays, the first 3 and the second 4 1/2 miles wide, both affording
good anchorage, but utterly useless from the barrier of reefs and islets
extending across their mouths. These bays and the ranges of hills we
passed, trended East-South-East. To the second and deepest we gave the
name of Cone Bay, from a singular hill of that form on its eastern shore.

The eastern entrance of a small tortuous channel afforded us a resting
place for the night, having made good 17 miles in a North-North-East
direction from the ship. The observations were made for latitude on the
south point, and gave a result of 16 degrees 24 1/2 minutes South. It was
nearly dark when we anchored, and therefore our intended attempt to gain
the summit of the neighbouring heights, was necessarily postponed till
this morning.

March 24.

When the first rays of the sun saw us struggling over the huge masses of
rock of which they are composed. The view itself differed but little from
that obtained yesterday, except that the islands are yet more numerous,
the mainland more frequently indented with bays varying from two to five
miles in width, and invariably trending in the same East-South-East
direction. The long and narrow islands which these bays contained
generally subsided to the South-South-West. I was fully occupied in
sketching the surrounding objects from this station, till the tide had
risen sufficient for us to pass the channel. After a late breakfast we
again bore away to the North-East under a double-reefed sail, as the sky
wore a threatening appearance. After clearing the channel we crossed a
bay about two miles wide and four deep, thickly studded with small
islands. At noon being near the north point of it, I landed in order to
secure a latitude, and at the same time a round of angles. Having the
flood tide against us, we had only made five miles in a North by East
direction from last night's bivouac.


Here for the first time since leaving the Fitzroy we saw native fires.
One of them was upon an island eight or nine miles from the main, between
which, however, a chain of smaller ones formed links of communication.
These signs of inhabitants gave us hopes of finding some improvement from
the almost utter sterility that had hitherto prevailed among these
scattered islands. We had as yet seen no traces of either canoes or
rafts, and therefore were not a little curious to see what mode of
conveyance the natives of these parts used. We soon again moved onwards
in a north by east direction, across another large bay, which, similar to
the last, contained many islets. It was with great reluctance we pursued
this northerly course, as I hoped ere this to have found an opening
leading to the coast near Collier Bay; but the result of this day's
progress fully satisfied me of the improbability of any such existing.


The north point of this bay forms a most remarkable headland, rising
abruptly from the water to an elevation of 400 feet. Its cliffy face
presented a grey and aged appearance, which together with the strange
column-shaped rocks, scattered over its level summit, gave it the
appearance of an ancient turreted fortress. Here I first noticed a change
in the strata; hitherto it had been invariably west-north-west, while
from this point, as far as our subsequent experience enabled us to
decide, it was west. I may be pardoned for noticing by way of a momentary
digression that all the rocks hitherto seen on this part of the coast
precisely resemble the group forming the western side of Sunday Strait;
the inclination and direction of the strata are identical; while an
examination of all the high rocky portions of this archipelago will
satisfy the geologist that they belong to the same age of the world. The
history of these coral reefs and islands, which have already attained
something like a majority (if I may use the expression) may be read, at
least it is apparently clearly written in the rising banks around, which
are just struggling with the tide before they lift themselves forever
beyond its reach. As they rise, the mangrove, the pioneer of such
fertility as the sea deposits, hastens to maturity, clothing them with
its mantle of never-fading green, and thus bestowing on these barren
reefs the presence of vegetable life.


Our course now lay along the western foot of the curious headland just
described, a rapid tide soon hurried us past its frowning shadows into a
very winding channel scarcely half a mile wide, and more than 20 fathoms
deep; in this we experienced violent whirlpools, the first of which, from
want of experience, handled us very roughly, suddenly wrenching the oars
out of the men's hands, and whirling the boat round with alarming
rapidity; after several round turns of this kind we shot out of the
channel (which from the above circumstance we called Whirlpool Channel)
into a bay about three miles wide, trending east; at the head of it were
some snug coves, the shores of which were clothed with long rich grass
and clumps of palm trees, thus realizing the hopes we had entertained of
finding a more fertile country on first observing signs of inhabitants.
We would fain have occupied one of these beautiful coves for the night,
but as there was still two hours' daylight, we pushed on across the bay
for a group of islands three miles further in a north-north-east
direction. We obtained snug quarters for the night in a little sandy
cove, between the largest of this small cluster of isles which we found
to differ totally in shape and character from any yet seen; they trended
North-North-West in narrow ridges, and were of a grey slate formation,
their eastern sides formed steep precipices, while the western subsided
to the water in rich grassy slopes, leaving quite a serrated ridge on
their summits.


We managed to reach the most elevated part of the highest island, by
crawling along its ridge on our hands and knees. From this station I
recognized the islands to the North-West to be those forming the eastern
shore of Sunday Strait, and from the westerly trend of some larger ones
bearing North-East about eight miles, I rightly supposed them to be the
same Captain King had laid down off that part of the coast, where it
trends away to the eastward into Collier Bay; the largest of these I in
consequence named Bathurst Island, after his vessel. We were glad to find
the islands becoming less numerous, and a prospect of at last making our
way to the eastward. We just finished our observations, as the sun's
bright orb touched the distant horizon, and ere we reached the boat, the
last vestige of day had taken its silent flight. Our present position in
this network of islands, will be better described by giving it in
latitude and longitude, which we found to be 16 degrees 12 minutes South
and 123 degrees 32 minutes East. We had as usual a fine night with a
light East-South-East breeze, which had succeeded a strong one from
South-East during the day.

March 25.

Daylight found us running before a fresh breeze from the South-East in a
North-North-East direction; crossing the mouths of small bays, four miles
brought us to the North-West extreme of the mainland, the shores of which
we followed for two miles in a East-North-East and one in an East half
South direction, when we came to a small sandy bay where we landed to
search in a promising ravine for water; this we had the good fortune to
find almost immediately; whilst the breakers were filling, Mr. Tarrant
and myself ascended a hill near, for a few angles.


The country again presented a barren appearance, large masses of coarse
sandstone lay scattered over the face of it; a wiry grass, with a few
stunted gum-trees growing in the ravines, were all the vegetation this
point boasted of, and from what we saw of the interior, it appeared
scarcely more inviting. The sterility however which apparently prevailed
over this part of Australia, could not obliterate those feelings of deep
interest, which must pervade everyone, as the eye wanders for the first
time over a country hitherto unknown.


We had just completed our surveying operations, when two of the boat's
crew came to report a visit from one of the natives, and concluding
others were at hand, hastened up to strengthen our party; they said their
sable visitor came to them without any enticing, no offers of red or blue
handkerchiefs, or some gaudy bauble that seldom fails to catch the eye of
a savage--and without the slightest indication of fear. We hurried down
to see this marvellously confiding native, who we found coming up the
hill; he met us with all the confidence of an old acquaintance. His first
act of civility, was to show Mr. Tarrant and myself an easy road to the
beach; and I shall never forget as he preceded us, or rather walked by
our side, yielding the path, with natural politeness, to those he seemed
to regard as his guests, how wonderful was the agility he displayed in
passing over the rocks; sometimes coming down the face of one almost
precipitous, without the least apparent effort. When I pointed to the
fresh water, he said slowly and distinctly, "Yampee, Yampee." In height
he was about 5 feet 8 inches, his hair bore no symptoms of being tied up
behind (a custom we always before noticed) his teeth were also perfect,
and though his brow had the distinctive peculiarity of the people of this
continent, his forehead was remarkably high, his perception was very
quick, his utterance gentle and slow, both in articulation and by signs
(not flinging his arms about in the windmill-like fashion customary with
those we had before seen) his manner of conversation afforded a most
pleasing contrast to that of the natives hitherto seen, and altogether I
was exceedingly prepossessed in his favour. We very much regretted that
we were not better provided with presents for him: particularly as it
seldom happened that I was without a supply, for such occasions; in this
case, however, all I could give him consisted of a few beads, and some
biscuit which he devoured most readily. Nor ought the perfect confidence
this man manifested, in thus trusting himself alone and unarmed, among
such extraordinary strangers, to be passed over unnoticed: it commanded
respect from us all. His conduct too was in the same spirit when we
parted from him, though then I admit it almost as much disappointed as
astonished me: when the boat left the shore, he turned to ascend the
beach, and without once looking back, walked as unconcernedly and
listlessly away, as though such things were to him everyday sights.


This want of curiosity is a very singular and I believe an almost
distinctive feature in the character of the native Australian. Among all
other savages of whom I have read, or among whom I have had any
opportunity of judging for myself, except the inhabitants of Tierra del
Fuego, a perpetual and never satisfied curiosity seems to be the leading
habit of their minds: here, however, wonder is rarely expressed,
curiosity seldom apparent--yet their indifference is not stupidity, or
their simplicity cunning.


We had now been sufficiently long in Australia to know the value of a
stream of water, and therefore always felt the necessity of
particularizing the locality of any we had the good fortune to find; from
this one the extremes of Bathurst Island bore North-West and North-East.
We now pulled for the opening on the east side of Bathurst Island, but
finding the flood-tide setting so strong through it from the northward, I
found it would be a waste of time to contend with it, and therefore
proceeded to a hill on the east end of Bathurst Island. A large flock of
white cockatoos screamed violently, as if wishing to dispute our landing,
and it was not till their numbers had been thinned, of which our evening
meal felt the benefit, that we could get any peace. We reached the summit
of the island by following up a ravine, which formed the only break in
the cliffs that faced the South-East side of the island. There was a
thick growth of red gums and the papyrus, on its sides, and near the
summit we found rocks containing iron; a vein of the same vitrified
matter I have described as seen at Swan Point, separated it from the
prevailing rock of the island, which was composed of sandstone and
fragments of quartz. The rocks containing metal had a strange appearance,
being heaped together in the form of a whirlpool; the ground beneath
appeared quite hollow. Our view was very commanding, and fully repaid us
for the scramble up; there was a clear sea to the North-East, and bearing
East-South-East were some small islands, which I afterwards found to be
situated near the depth of Collier Bay. The Macleay Isles of Captain King
bore North-North-East about six miles: between the latter and a group
farther west, there was a clear wide channel, which appeared to lead
between the island we were on and the next to the westward. As this was
the first part of the coast, since leaving Port Usborne, that a sailing
vessel could approach without great risk, we proceeded to examine that
channel more minutely, and were sorry to find the extensive coral reefs
which fronted the islands, left a space of only half a mile between; a
black pointed rock ten feet above high-water, marks the edge of the
western reef, where it is covered by the tide; keeping this close on the
starboard hand, will conduct a ship into good anchorage in 13 and 15
fathoms. The rise and fall of the tide at this place, we found to be 22


As we required another station on the west end of Bathurst Island, I
arranged that we should pass the night in a small cove near its
south-eastern extreme; here we found several native habitations of a
totally different and very superior description to any we had hitherto
seen in any part of Australia; they bore a marked resemblance to those I
had seen on the South-East coast of Tierra del Fuego, which was so
striking as to be remarked even by some of the boat's crew, who had
belonged to the Beagle in her wanderings on that stormy coast.

Stout poles from 14 to 16 feet high formed the framework of these snug
huts--for so indeed they deserve to be termed--these were brought
together conically at the roof; a stout thatching of dried grass
completely excluded both wind and rain, and seemed to bespeak the
existence of a climate at times much more severe than a latitude of 16
degrees 6 minutes south, would lead one to anticipate. The remains of
small fires, a well greased bark pillow, a head ornament of seabird's
feathers, together with several other trifling articles, strewn upon the
floors of these wigwams, proved that they had been very recently


But perhaps the most interesting discovery in this bay, was a native
raft, which we found near the beach, in such a position as must have
required the exertions of several men to have placed it there; being
heavier than either of our boats.

In the construction of this raft, almost everything had been left to
nature. It was framed of the dead trunk of a mangrove tree, with three
distinct stems growing from one root, about 18 feet long, and 4 1/2
broad. The roots at one end closely entwined, as is the habit of the
tree, formed a sufficient bulwark at the stem, while an elbow in the
centre of the trunk, served the same purpose at the stern: a platform of
small poles, well covered with dried grass, gave a sufficient flooring to
this rude specimen of a raft. I could not survey it without allowing my
thoughts to carry me away in pleasing reflections upon the gradual
progress of human ingenuity by the advance of which, the same intellect
that first contents itself with the mere floating of the single tree, at
length shapes a forest into timbers and launches the floating fortress in
triumph on the deep!


We were now about 40 miles in a direct line from Port Usborne, and
perhaps 70 by the winding course we were obliged to follow; only two
days' provisions remained, and as we were still deficient of material for
the chart of this archipelago, I was reluctantly obliged to abandon the
idea of attempting to reach Collier Bay. The mainland we had explored,
since leaving Port Usborne, may be described as forming eight bays,
varying in depth from three to eight miles, and in width from two to
five; their general trend is East-South-East; many islets skirt their
shores, and almost more than can be counted fill their mouths.

March 26.

With the first grey of the morning we left Bathurst Island, on our return
to the southward. Whilst passing inside the cluster of isles of slate
formation, we heard a "halloa," and on looking in the direction from
whence it proceeded, a native was observed on a raft: the boat's course
was immediately altered so as to cut him off should he attempt to escape,
but to my great surprise he paddled towards us with all possible haste.


He was soon alongside, and with great satisfaction we at once recognized
our strange friend of yesterday, who amongst the boat's crew, went by the
sobriquet of Yampee. He again made use of the word Yampee according to
our orthography, and after repeating it several times, I offered him some
water, which he very eagerly accepted, twice emptying a canister that had
originally held 4 pounds of preserved meat; this afforded me additional
proof of Yampee being the word the natives of these parts use for water.
At Swan River, the native name for water is gab-by, which differs so much
as to lead us to suppose the dialect of the two places is quite distinct.
This supposition is also borne out by the fact, that Miago, the native of
Swan River we had on board, could never understand the language spoken by
his countrymen, on the western shore of King's Sound. We found our new
acquaintance as yesterday, perfectly naked, the raft he was on was in
every respect similar to that previously seen upon Roe's Group, with this
slight exception, that between each pole several small pieces of wood
were inserted so as to make the flooring of the raft almost smooth. Into
the large end of the centre, and largest pole, six long pegs were driven,
forming a kind of basket in which were secured his means for procuring
fire; they consisted of two pieces of white flint, and some tinder rudely
manufactured from the inner bark of the papyrus tree. He used in paddling
a short spear, sharp at each end, and struck the water alternately on
either side; in this primitive manner he contrived to make way with a
rapidity that astonished us all. He had two spears on the raft, besides
the one he used for paddling; one of them was about 12 feet long, also
pointed at each end, though not barbed; and a small stick, similar to
that used by other natives for throwing at birds, and small animals. As
well as we could understand by his signs, it appeared that he had been
anxiously waiting our arrival, and had pushed off from the main to
intercept the boat, on our leaving Bathurst Island. We threw him a line,
and he immediately comprehended our intention, and its use, by at once
making fast to the raft; an instance of confident reliance upon our good
intentions, which reflected much credit upon the unsuspicious openness of
his own character, and which I should have exceedingly regretted by any
act of ours to abuse.


Had not the distance and our scant supply of food, rendered such a step
imprudent, I should have been very glad to have towed him to the ship. I
really believe he would have trusted himself with us, for that or a much
longer distance; but this could not be, and therefore, after endeavouring
to make him understand that we should sleep some distance to the south,
where there was a larger boat, alluding to the ship, we filled his basket
with bread, gave him as much water as he could drink, and bidding him
farewell, reluctantly cut him adrift: I shall not soon forget the
sorrowful expression of his countenance, when this apparently
inhospitable act was performed; it did not seem however to quench his
regard for his new friends, for so long as we could see him he was hard
at work paddling in our wake. I noticed that the beads given him
yesterday were gone; this fact, coupled with the smokes seen during the
day, satisfied me that he had friends in the neighbourhood, to whom I
hoped he would report favourably of his new acquaintances; we had
certainly endeavoured to obtain his goodwill. Simple-hearted, trusting
savage, farewell!


The woodcut represents the difference between the spear used by the
natives of this district and those of Swan River.

We soon reached Whirlpool Channel, through which the tide again hurried
and whirled us with almost frightful rapidity; we were in one part of it
shot down a fall of several feet, the boat's bow being fairly buried in
the boiling current. Emerging from this channel the hoary face of the
remarkable headland already described, burst on our view; and as it was
necessary if possible to reach its summit, we landed in a small bay, near
the southern extremity.

By following a winding ravine we gained the crest of this singular
platform, which we found formed of a fine-grained sandstone, with some
beautiful specimens of crystallised quartz on its higher parts, over
which was a slight sprinkling of vegetation, consisting of a few small
gumtrees and patches of coarse grass. The weather was unusually cloudy,
with squalls from the North-East; towards the evening it was fine with a
moderate breeze from East-South-East. As it was late when we reached the
boat, we spent the night where we landed.

March 27.

We were early on the move pursuing our southerly course, the morning
being rather gloomy with a fresh North-East wind, which raised a good
deal of sea in the mouths of the larger bays. As the day closed we
reached a cove half a mile north of Tide-Race Point, where we passed the

March 28.

This morning the thermometer was down to 72 degrees at daylight, which
gave us the novel sensation of cold. It was late in the forenoon before
the violent ripplings at Tide-Race Point had subsided sufficiently to
allow of our passing it. The rate of the current at this point appeared
at times scarcely less than eight knots per hour, and traversing a rocky
ledge, extending to some islands, and nearly dry at low-water, rendered
it almost impassable, except when nearly high tide.


In the afternoon we reached the cascade discovered on our way to the
northward, and from which the bay within which it is received its name.
We spent an hour or two luxuriating in the thorough enjoyment of a treat
so rare, as this beautiful stream must be considered in North-western
Australia. In the evening we continued our return to Port Usborne, by a
channel leading from the bottom of Cascade Bay into the large sheet of
water first seen from Compass Hill; our progress was arrested at its
inner entrance by the violence with which the tide rushed through, and we
were therefore obliged to pass another night in the boats.


March 29.

We reached the ship this morning, entering Port Usborne by a narrow rocky
channel, on its North-West shore; on the precipitous sides in this
passage we noticed several of the Rock Kangaroo.

We found that Mr. Usborne had returned three days before us: from his
account of the islands he had visited, they appear to have the same
sterile character as most of those we had seen; in other respects, his
trip was void of interest, beyond that of surveying. During the absence
of the boats, tidal and magnetic observations had been made, some
specimens in Natural History had been collected, and all that could in
any way add to the interest of the expedition, had been as well attended
to as the means placed at our disposal would allow.

We closed at Port Usborne our explorations in King's Sound, the result of
which enabled us to fill up the gap long existing in the charts of the
North-west coast of Australia, and which had for years been the theme of
much ingenious geographical speculation. The result of our labours, if it
had been less brilliant than eager anticipation at the onset led us to
hope for, had nevertheless been on the whole satisfactory. The river
Fitzroy, although not of the magnitude that we hoped to find, was still
an undoubtedly valuable acquisition to our stock of geographical
knowledge, and offered a way of access into the interior, of which we had
availed ourselves to the extent of 90 miles, and which subsequent
explorers might yet further improve: while in many minor yet important
matters, much had been done, and much seen, to more than compensate for
the disappointments and annoyances inseparable from the pursuits of the


March 30.

The morning was unusually stormy, dark clouds rested upon the adjacent
high land, while others no less portentous hurried past us on the wings
of the tempest. Soon after breakfast, we bade adieu to the wild scenery
of Port Usborne, and stood across the Sound, for our old anchorage on the
north side of Point Cunningham, distant one and twenty miles. In the
mouth of the harbour we passed over a coral knoll, having five fathoms on
it. We did not, however, reach our destination till nearly 6 P.M., having
been taken some distance up the Sound, by the flood-tide. Our soundings
in crossing varied from fifteen to twenty fathoms, chiefly over rocky
ground. It rained almost all the day, and we had several sudden shifts of
wind, from South-East to North-West. Our first view of the western shore
of the Sound was singular; Point Cunningham, and Carlisle Head, appeared
like two high square-looking islands. We anchored soon after high-water,
which appeared to be about a quarter of an hour earlier than at Port
Usborne. We remained at this anchorage till the 3rd of April, during
which time several unsuccessful hauls were made with the seine, but some
additions were made to the collection of Natural History, particularly in
the ornithological branch. It is not a little remarkable, that fish
should be so scarce on this part of the coast, a fact also noticed by
Captain King.


April 1.

This morning five natives made their appearance on the beach. Captain
Wickham and myself went on shore, in order if possible to induce them to
visit the ship: on landing he recognised them for old acquaintances, and
I gave the eldest of the party, a handkerchief upon which he seemed to
have set his affections; however when he understood our wish for the
company of himself and friends on board, he was with difficulty induced
to retain it. None but those who have made the experiment, are aware of
what has to be overcome before any sort of intercourse can be carried on
by signs; or how often, among the most intelligent, the greatest mistakes
must of necessity occur. I have since thought, remembering what passed
during this interview, that while we were making signs to them that on
board they would find something to eat, each man's fears suggested the
probability of a certain convocation, not where he eats, but where he is
eaten, and induced him to decline standing treat upon the occasion.

The singular manner these men had also of holding the face turned
upwards, in order to escape the plague of flies, fully confirmed the
truth of old Dampier's account of the manners of these people when he
first discovered this part of the world. The eldest was the spokesman, or
rather the signsman of the party, and this is always the custom, so far
as we have had an opportunity of judging. The word they make use of in
bowing (which they did quite in an Eastern style) appeared to be irru
irru: their breasts were scarred with deep horizontal cuts, such as we
had previously noticed on the natives in Roebuck Bay. I was so much
struck with the resemblance between these people and the natives of
Tierra del Fuego, that I have been tempted to believe that the stream of
population flowed thitherward from the continent of America.

I ought to mention that when Captain Wickham and myself left the ship, in
the hope of inducing the natives to return with us, Miago, hearing of the
expected visit, immediately went below, and dressed himself to the best
possible advantage. No sooner did the boat come alongside, than he
appeared at the gangway, inquiring with the utmost possible dignity,
"where blackfellas?" and was evidently and deeply mortified that he had
no opportunity of astonishing the natives.

There has been a marked change in the weather, since the sun crossed the
equator: we have had no repetitions of the easterly squalls, before so
prevalent, and the winds have been almost regular in the following order.
From 3 P.M. to 1 A.M. a light breeze from South-South-West which
freshening alters to South-East where it remains till 8 A.M., from that
hour gradually decreasing, and at the same time changing to North-East
and North. The thermometer, for some days past has ranged from 72 to 89
degrees; a temperature which we thought a few months ago intolerable, was
now quite agreeable.

We looked forward with the utmost anxiety to the result of our arrival at
Port George the Fourth, as there, or at least in that neighbourhood, we
hoped to hear some tidings of our friends Grey and Lushington, who, when
we separated from them at the Cape, intended to land in Hanover Bay,
establish a depot for stores, and from thence penetrate if possible into
the interior.


I had no fear on the subject of any hostility from the natives, for in
our own experience, we had as yet always found them inoffensive and
peaceable; while should they prove otherwise, I was satisfied that a very
slight acquaintance with the effects of gunpowder would be quite
sufficient to quell their warlike propensities, but I did fear that they
had chosen a very unfavourable point for debarkation, and that many
causes would combine to arrest their progress into the interior. How
unhappily my anticipations were verified, will be seen hereafter.

Early on the morning of the 3rd, we left our anchorage under Point
Cunningham, and by two o'clock P.M., had worked through Sunday Strait,
where we encountered its usual heavy tide-races. At four o'clock in the
afternoon, Caffarelli Island bore East-South-East, 9 miles distant: and
about six, the wind, which through the day had been light and variable
quite deserted us, when to avoid drifting back into the strait we
anchored in 29 fathoms; Caffarelli Island bearing South-South-East 5
miles. The tide here appeared to be one hour earlier than in Sunday
Strait: the flood set in a south-easterly, and the ebb in an opposite
direction, at the rate of from half to one mile per hour.

The 24th saw us again underweigh, by the light of the stars, but the wind
being variable and against us, we did not get beyond Adele Island, where
we anchored in 14 fathoms: the nearest part of it bearing North 75
degrees East 3 miles.


Brue Reef was seen in the course of the day, and appeared to be correctly
laid down by Captain King: there appeared, however, some discrepancy in
the position of Adele Island, the southern extremity of which we found to
be in latitude 15 degrees 32 minutes 30 seconds South, which is one mile
and a half to the southward of the place assigned to it in his chart. The
sea was breaking heavily on the reef, which fronts the island for a
distance of two miles. The island itself is low, desolate and barren. We
noticed there was scarcely any set of tide at this anchorage. During the
day's progress we found several coral ledges, in from 11 to 13 fathoms,
and trending North-East by East, and with from 25 to 35 fathoms between
them. The specimens of this beautiful submarine production brought up by
the lead, were of the most delicate kind, nor on any occasion did the
lead present any appearance to indicate that it had fallen among a
coarser sort. One beautiful fragment was obtained in Sunday Strait in 30
fathoms, a depth at which living coral is rarely found.


April 5.

Daylight on the 5th found us standing to the
eastward--East-North-East--with a light northerly wind, in soundings
ranging from 14 to 40 fathoms, and over a bottom of white and brown sand
in the deep, and coral rock in the shoal water. In the afternoon we had
the good fortune to discover one of the reefs, which render the
navigation of this part of the coast rather hazardous. The position of
this danger, is however well marked by a bank of very white sand and dead
coral, from which the reef extends two miles and a half, in a
North-North-West and one mile in a South-South-East direction; and which
rising some 15 feet above the mean level of the blue surrounding water,
became a conspicuous object from our deck, even at the distance of six
miles. We gave our discovery the name of Beagle Bank, as another memorial
of the useful services in which our little vessel had been so frequently
engaged, and our observations enabled us to fix the centre of it in
latitude 15 degrees 20 minutes South, longitude 123 degrees 36 minutes


We anchored in the evening in 16 fathoms, the bank distant 3 1/2 miles in
a South by East direction: half a mile nearer to it, we found only 4
fathoms. The tide rose at this anchorage 12 feet. The flood stream began
by setting to the South-South-West, and ended at South-east by East. The
ebb set West by North, and the utmost strength of stream never exceeded
one mile per hour.

It was high-water at 10 o'clock P.M., and the stream changed at the same
time. The tide was therefore two hours later here than in the entrance to
King's Sound, from which it would appear that the tidal wave approaches
this coast from the West-South-West.

April 6.

We made slight progress towards Port George the Fourth, during the
forenoon; the water deepening to 20 and 30 fathoms, soon after we had
weighed. We espied a ridge extending to the South-east from Beagle Bank,
which supplies another fact in support of the opinion I have before
advanced, and which gives a north-westerly trend to these ledges. The
wind failing, and the ebb-tide drifting us again to the westward, in
sight of Beagle Bank, the anchor was dropped 4 1/2 miles East by North of
it, and in a depth of 12 fathoms, to which we had suddenly shoaled from
29, this position marked the limit of shoal soundings in an East by North
direction from Beagle Bank. Between sunset and midnight we were able to
make 17 miles, in an East by North direction, when a contrary tide, and
an accompanying calm, compelled us to anchor in 31 fathoms: the soundings
during the run had varied from 35 to 39 fathoms: the bottom, latterly a
soft mud, of a dirty grey colour. A twilight star placed our position 17
miles west of Red Island, which corresponded with the bearings at

April 7.

The wind being still very light, we were compelled to wait for the
flood-tide, which did not favour us till a quarter past six in the
morning. The last direction of the ebb stream was north. It was nearly
dark before we reached our anchorage, in 18 fathoms, one mile from Point
Adieu: on our way material was secured for laying down the sea-face of
the Champagny Islands. Red Island brought to our recollection Captain
Heywood, by whom this part of the Australian continent had been seen, and
of whose earlier career a notice will be found in Sir John Barrow's
interesting narrative of the Mutiny of the Bounty.


The soundings during the entire day, ranged from 27 to 30 fathoms, and
the character of the bottom was similar to that last described. Our
observations for latitude did not verify our position by the chart,
though all its bearings and distances appeared relatively correct. The
discrepancy may perhaps be ascribed to the effect of refraction, as we
were prevented by the land from observing on both horizons. The most
remarkable objects in this neighbourhood, were two hills, named by
Captain King, Mount Trafalgar, and Mount Waterloo, to record in one
hemisphere, two memorable events, not likely to be easily forgotten in
the other: although assuredly the time will come when the peaceful
triumphs of science and civilization, of which these names are here
enduring witnesses, will be far more highly valued, and far more truly
honoured! Mount Trafalgar made its first appearance in the form of a huge
quoin or wedge, resting longitudinally upon the horizon, with its point
towards the south-east.

Among other memoranda for the improvement of the chart of this coast, it
should be noted that the reef extending to the North-West from Jackson's
peaked Island, appears to join the small islands lying near it in that
direction, and to which, from their colour, we gave the name of The Brown


As there was every probability of the ship being detained in this
neighbourhood for some days, searching for traces of Lieutenants Grey and
Lushington's party, and as the examination of Collier Bay, where we still
hoped to find an opening leading into the interior, would prevent the
necessity of our return to this part of the coast, I applied to Captain
Wickham, for permission to proceed with the two whaleboats on that
service. A wound on the foot had in some degree unfitted me for any very
active duty, but I felt satisfied that the opportunity--perhaps the last
I might have--ought not to be undervalued or neglected.


April 8.

By daylight on the 8th, the boats had left the ship, and were standing to
the southward among the islands. Our party consisted of Mr. Helpman, Mr.
Fitzmaurice and myself. Passing through the eastern part of Port George
the Fourth, we entered Roger Strait, which led into a large sheet of
water, forming a beautiful harbour; we landed to obtain a better view of
it, on a small island at the southern entrance of this strait. This islet
looked truly inviting, being clothed with long rich grass, which to our
cost we found concealed boulders of granite; this was the first time we
met with this primitive rock, and from the colour of the surrounding
heights it was evident we were in an old red sandstone region. Strange to
say the attraction on this island rendered our compasses quite useless;
we noticed on its North-West side a portion of the wreck of a small
vessel. There was a small mangrove inlet in the South-East corner of this
harbour, over which the land was low, forming a gap in the neighbouring
heights. We now pushed on for an island lying in the entrance of the
harbour, bearing West by North 6 miles; our soundings in passing over
this part (of what we afterwards called Brecknock Harbour, as Captain
King had named the entrance of it Camden Sound, from a distant view he
had of it) gave a depth of 7 fathoms, over an even muddy bottom; but
towards and in the entrance it increased to 13 fathoms.


The island we now landed on, we called from its situation, Entrance
Island. From a high part overlooking its steep southern side we had a
very commanding view. The centre of a string of small islets bore north
one mile; there extended 2 miles in a west direction, from the north
point of the harbour; both these and Entrance Isle escaped Captain King's
notice, owing to the distant view he had of this part of the coast. A
point bearing South-West distant 3 miles, was the extreme of the mainland
that we could see in the direction we were going. We found the sandstone
of this Island not of the same ancient red colour as that on the shore
fronting it. One boat was employed in the meantime sounding the entrance
of the harbour, which we found to be 2 miles across, and from 9 to 15
fathoms deep; the mouth of it faces the West-North-West, Entrance Isle
lying half a mile outside its points, with a clear channel nearly a mile
wide, on either side of it.

About a quarter of a mile off the main, and fronting the south side of
this island, there is a singular needle-shaped rock, 20 feet high,
marking the outer extreme of a coral ledge, which is covered at
high-water. As it now blew a fresh breeze from seaward, and the afternoon
was far advanced, we spent the remainder of the day in a further
examination of the entrance. We were much pleased with the result of our
evening's work, finding the approach to this fine harbour quite free from
danger, and capable of admitting vessels of any size; there were no reefs
or islets seaward of it to add to the anxiety of the navigator, or lessen
the value of our discovery; the importance of which will be greatly
enhanced, should Lieutenants Grey and Lushington have the good fortune to
discover any land fit for colonization in its neighbourhood. Our labours
here closed with observations for a boat rate, for the chronometers and
latitude, the latter being 15 degrees 27 1/4 minutes South on a sandy
beach at the eastern side of Entrance Isle.


April 9.

We rounded the extreme point to the South-West seen from Entrance Isle at
sunrise; the rocks on this point were arranged quite in the form of a
fort, from whence it received the name of Battery Point; another group of
islands now came in view, bearing from Battery Point South-West by South
about 4 miles; these we named Slate Islands, from their singular
formation. They extended one mile North-West from a point of land;
between them and Battery Point, the coast fell back forming two bays,
crossing the mouths of which we had 13 fathoms. On passing Slate Islands,
we saw a headland, named by Captain King Point Hall, bearing South by
West 1/2 West distant 8 miles. It has a high peaked and isolated
appearance, being separated from the contiguous high land by a low neck.
We passed a bay 2 miles wide on its north-eastern, and a snug cove on its
south-eastern side. It was past noon and we were glad to see the stagnant
calm, that had for hours reigned around, dispelled by the seabreeze which
now darkened the horizon. Our course, during the afternoon was South by
East along a low rocky coast, but as we had to contend with a three-knot
tide, we did not get farther than a small sandy cove, bearing South by
East 9 miles from Point Hall, by the close of the day, which was the only
spot we had seen the whole of the afternoon capable of affording shelter
for the boats.


We were agreeably surprised to find a stream of water running into the
head of this cove, as the parched appearance of the low hills over it did
not lead us to expect such good luck, in remembrance of which we called
it Freshwater Cove. Landing, I hastened to the south point of the cove,
to secure the necessary data for the chart, before the surrounding
objects were veiled in darkness. We again appeared to be in a sterile
white sandstone region, where, with the exception of a few land birds,
there was a total absence of animal life, and almost that of the
vegetable, for even the gumtrees common in this part, were not to be
seen. Our view to the southward was very limited, embracing only the
Montgomery Islands of Captain King; they consist of six small rocky
islets resting on an extensive coral flat, that we afterwards observed to
be dry at low-water, and which extended to a large low sandy island,
lying six miles west from them; the latter was not seen by Captain King,
in his distant view of this neighbourhood. The eastern and largest of the
Montgomery Isles stands on the extreme of the coral flat; we found it to
be 70 feet high, and bore South-West by South 7 miles from this point of
Freshwater Cove. The latitude we obtained in the course of the night gave
a result of 15 degrees 49 minutes south.

April 10.

At daylight we continued pursuing our South by East course, following the
same kind of low straight rocky shore, as that of yesterday afternoon. We
passed inside a reef fronting the shore from a mile south of Freshwater
Cove; this passage was about half a mile wide and from 7 to 12 fathoms
deep. Having the flood-tide in our favour, we proceeded rapidly, and at
the end of four miles, found the trend of the coast suddenly changed to
East-North-East for two miles, when it again took a southerly direction,
forming a chain of high rocky islets. Deferring our examination of the
main, lying about a mile in the rear of these islets, we kept on our
South by East course, in the direction of some very high land now seen
for the first time. Three miles further brought us to a small rocky
islet, where we landed for a set of angles.

Our hopes were considerably raised on reaching the top of this islet, by
finding that we looked in vain for land towards the head of Collier Bay;
the high land to the southward proved to be the south point of a large
bay, having on its northern side similar high ranges.


This island was overrun with a great variety of lizards, in consequence
of which we named it Lizard Island. During our stay here, two birds,*
rare on this part of the coast, were shot; they were of a smaller kind
than any I had before seen, and differed from them in plumage, being
without the white collar round the neck. Leaving Lizard Island, we
continued our southerly route, and ere long saw more land ahead, lying
like a blue cloud on the horizon. Ten miles brought us abreast of the
high land we had first seen, and six more to the southern point of a bay,
lying on its south-western side, where the duties of the survey again
obliged us to land. We considered ourselves now entering once more on the
new lands of Australia, as Captain King could scarcely have had even a
distant glimpse of this part; his extreme southern position being abreast
of Freshwater Cove, from whence he describes the view of the coast as
follows. "The land to the southward trended deeply in, and appeared to me
much broken in its character." We therefore naturally looked on
everything here with a greater degree of interest, and with the view of
affording time to examine the country, and determine the position of this
point by observation, I arranged to pass the night in its vicinity.

(*Footnote. Haematopus picatus, described in the Appendix to Captain
King's work on Australia.)


The view from this station, blighted our hopes of finding an opening
leading into the interior from Collier Bay, for we could trace the land
all round the head of it, forming high ranges without a single break.
This malapropos discovery, materially diminished the pleasure we had
before experienced, on first seeing a new part of the continent. About
twenty miles west from where we stood, were a group of islands, which I
was able to identify as those seen from Bathurst Island, near the eastern
entrance point of King's Sound; they appeared to extend about ten miles
in a northerly direction, from the western point of Collier Bay.


Whilst using the theodolite, we came within the searching glance of a
hungry eagle, which soaring over our heads for some time, at length
swooped within range of our guns, when he paid for his curiosity with the
loss of his life. This was the only rapacious bird we saw in Collier Bay,
and appears to be of the species Falco leucogaster Latham.* On
examination, the stomach contained fish and part of a small snake, and
from what I have since observed this bird frequents the sea coast. Their
nests are very large, built on bare spots in the shape of a pyramid; some
of them measuring three feet in diameter, and six high. To convey a
better idea of the size and exposed situation of the nests of these
birds, I may state that on low parts of the coast, they were often used
as surveying marks. This projection, which we called Eagle Point, is of a
siliceous sandstone formation, intersected by nearly vertical veins of
quartz, and forms a spur thrown off from a high range four miles to the
south-eastward. We did not find any water in the few miles of country
traversed in the course of the afternoon, yet everything wore a rich
green appearance, and the scenery in some of the dells we crossed, was
very picturesque, and quite alive with birds and insects; flights of
many-coloured parakeets swept by with a rapidity that resembled the
rushing sound of a passing gust of wind. Among the trees, I noticed for
the first time the Banksia, common in Western Australia; Mr. Cunningham,
the botanist who accompanied Captain King, did not consider its
indigenous empire extended to the North-West coast. Of the other kinds,
and which complete all the variety we observed on this part of the
continent, were the mimosa, acacia, papyrus, and two sorts of Eucalyptus;
there were also several plants of the order Leguminosae.

(*Footnote. Figured in Mr. Gould's work on the Birds of Australia as
Ichthyiaetus leucogaster.)


We had a breeze throughout the entire day, from North-East till 1
o'clock, then West-North-West till near midnight; this westerly or
seabreeze, reached us within ten minutes of the time it did yesterday, a
regularity we found to prevail the few days we spent on this part of the
coast. The tide (being near the spring) fell in the night 36 feet,
leaving the greater part of the bay dry at low-water. Our observations
for latitude placed Eagle Point in 16 degrees 10 1/4 minutes south.

April 11.

We left with the first streak of dawn, and pursued our course to the
southward, passing inside a small reef lying half a mile west from Eagle
Point. The eastern shore now took a South by West direction, forming
shallow bights, flanked by hills of moderate elevation; our next station
was an islet at the head of Collier Bay, bearing South-South-West 1/2
West 15 miles from Eagle Point: it was in the mouth of a shoal bay about
three miles deep in a West-South-West direction, the shores of which were
lined with mangroves and overlooked by a high rocky ridge. The width of
Collier Bay, at its entrance 20 miles, was here only six.


The western shore ran in a North-West by West direction, a straight rocky
coast, over which rose abruptly a range of barren heights. The tide
stream gradually weakened as we approached the head of the bay, where it
scarcely exceeded half a knot, and the soundings decreased to seven
fathoms, with a kind of muddy sand bottom; but the clearness of the
water, and the equal duration of the flood and ebb streams, afforded the
most conclusive evidence of the small opening we now discovered in the
South-East corner of the bay being nothing more than an inlet. It bore
from this islet East-South-East four miles, yet as a drowning man catches
at a straw, so did we at this inlet, and were soon in the entrance, which
we found to be half a mile wide, with a very strong tide rushing out.
After some difficulty we landed on a high rocky island in the mouth of
it, the summit of which afforded us a good view of the inlet, which
within the entrance widened out and was about two miles deep. A point
prevented our seeing the eastern extreme, which Mr. Helpman was sent to
examine; he found it extended two miles in an East-North-East direction,
and like the other parts of it, to be lined with a scanty growth of
mangroves, and flanked by high rocky land. The shape of this inlet
resembles that of a bottle with a broad base, and being subject to a
tidal change of level of 36 feet, it is easy to imagine with what
violence such a body of water must rush through the narrow entrance to
keep on a level with the slow-moving waters of the bay outside. The cause
of this great rise of tide in the head of Collier Bay, may be attributed
to there being no escape for the vast body of water flowing into it. The
land over the depth of this inlet which I have before spoken of, as being
barren rocky heights, bounded our view to the southward; it bore
South-South-East three miles, and lies in latitude 16 degrees 25 minutes
South and longitude 124 degrees 25 minutes East being the farthest point
we determined towards the centre of the continent. The extreme position
reached in that direction by Lieutenant Lushington of Lieutenant Grey's
expedition, bears from this point, North 64 degrees East fifty miles.
Thus terminated our explorations in Collier Bay, and although we had not
the good fortune to find it the outlet of some large opening leading into
the interior, still we succeeded in setting at rest the speculation, such
a deep indentation of the coastline had hitherto afforded, and increased
our geographical knowledge of this part of the continent 35 miles.


In the afternoon we commenced our return to Port George the Fourth, from
which we were then distant about 80 miles; after delaying to examine two
islands lying North by East four miles from the inlet, of slate
formation, we reached a narrow point six miles further down the bay, in
time to save a true bearing from the sun's amplitude. We were surprised
to find this point also composed of the same kind of grey slate. The
islands we examined differed from those of the same formation in King's
Sound, having steep precipitous sides to the North-West instead of to the
South-East. As it was by this time nightfall we did not proceed farther.

April 12.

Towards the morning there was a South-East breeze which brought the
thermometer down to 76 degrees; it generally ranged between 80 and 96


The large bay discovered on our way to the southward now became the point
of interest, and as daylight closed in the boats were secured in a small
sandy cove, just within its southern point, where there were several
native rafts, constructed precisely in the same manner as those seen in
King's Sound, from which circumstance we called the place Raft Point.
Immediately over it was the high land first seen in coming down the bay;
huge masses were rent from its lofty frowning crags, on which the rays of
the setting sun produced the most grotesque figures. A beautiful stream
of water fell into the sea, in leaping cascades, half a mile inside the
cove. Several rock kangaroos were seen on the heights; and after securing
observations with some early stars, for latitude, which placed Raft Point
in 16 degrees 4 minutes South, we tried an experiment to get a shot at
the kangaroos, by setting fire to the grass and small wood growing at the
base, and in the interstices of the rocks.


This part of the country being very dry, a fire was soon kindled, and in
a few minutes the cliffs resounded with the noise of the flames, as they
darted fiercely upwards, revealing their riven sides, and occasionally
bursting out behind large masses of strange figured rocks to the no
slight risk of our sportsmen, who were perched upon them. Seabirds,
frightened from their resting places, screamed fearfully, and the dismal
howl of the wild dog, equally alarmed, sometimes fell on the ear amidst
the roaring of the dangerous element, which in the intense darkness of
the night we could not but admire. Whilst gazing on this wild scene, I
could not help speculating on the probable cause the natives would assign
for this great conflagration; the bright glare of which must have
extended over several miles of country, perhaps alarming and doubtless
causing deep consultation amongst the wise men of their tribes. It may
also have taxed their power of invention, as they never use large fires
in the night, except in wild stormy weather, when the creaking trees, and
moaning wind, give them a dread of a visit from the Evil Spirit.

April 13.

Being anxious to examine the range over the cove, I desired Mr. Helpman
to explore the North-East corner of this large bay, and the main lying
behind the islands, fronting the coast to the northward of it. We
accordingly moved off on our several occupations at an early hour. After
much difficulty Mr. Fitzmaurice and myself found ourselves on a tableland
of sandstone formation, elevated by measurement 900 feet above the sea
level, and by far the highest land yet noticed on this part of the
continent; the prospect here was very cheerless; similar but lower ranges
met the eye in every direction towards the interior, those overlooking
the eastern shore of the bay, were from 6 to 700 feet high. There
appeared to be a large island in its North-East corner, which fell back
about 10 miles, and like many other parts of it was lined with a growth
of mangroves. A string of smaller islands extended three miles from the
north point, leaving an entrance only two miles wide. A sandstone ridge
similar to that on which we stood, rose abruptly from the north point,
but of less elevation. I was not a little surprised to find that
Lieutenant Grey had seen land from 2 to 3000 feet high, only about 30
miles from the height on which we stood, but as he had not the means of
measuring these great elevations, and as Captain King, who was within 20
miles of the high land alluded to, does not notice it, yet mentions some
hills from 3 to 400 feet high, 15 miles further to the North-East, I am
induced to believe that Lieutenant Grey may have over-estimated the
height of the land he saw.*

(*Footnote. Mounts Trafalgar and Waterloo, which are not nine hundred
feet high, are the first points of the continent that meet the eye from


From subsequent information, I called this Doubtful Bay; the tide ran
into it at the rate of from 1 to 3 knots, but the clear appearance of the
water, and entire absence of driftwood, afforded strong grounds for
supposing that it did not receive the waters of any river. Leaving Raft
Point, we crossed over to the islands on the opposite side, for a few
angles on their southern extreme, and afterwards made the best of our way
to Freshwater Cove. The day had, however, closed in long before arriving
there, and in the extreme darkness of the night the Cove was difficult to
find. Indeed my companions could not believe we were there until one of
the men returned with a keg of water from the stream in the head of it.


Mr. Helpman joined us at sunset, and gave the following report of his
proceedings: "On leaving the cove at Raft Point, we passed along the
south shore for two miles, and landed on a point that afforded a most
commanding view of the bay, and the openings in its North-East corner,
which appeared to be formed by a large island lying near the shore. This
supposition afterwards proved to be correct, on landing at a point
fronting its western extreme, from whence I was enabled to trace the
shore round the North-East corner of the bay, till I identified it as the
same we had seen on the eastern side of the island from the station just
left. From the still and discoloured state of the water, I felt satisfied
there was no opening in the North-East corner of this bay. I am, however,
willing to admit it may have been more satisfactory to others if there
had been sufficient time at my disposal to have actually gone round the
island. We now hastened off to examine the mainland, lying behind a chain
of islands to the northward, where we also failed to discover an


As this account of Mr. Helpman's coincided with the opinion I had formed
of the other parts of the coast, I was induced at that time to come to
the conclusion that the river Glenelg which I found Lieutenants Grey and
Lushington had discovered, on my return to the ship, did not communicate
with the sea in this neighbourhood, as Lieutenant Grey had supposed, but
took a South-West direction, flanking Collier Bay, and terminating in the
mangrove openings on the eastern shore of Stokes' Bay in King's Sound. My
opinion was strengthened by Lieutenant Lushington having seen from his
furthest position (which has already been given) a very high bluff point
to the southward, distant 6 or 7 miles, and a line of cliffs under which
he conceived that an opening of the sea or a river may run. Further
experience has convinced me of the great difficulty attending the
discovery of the mouths of rivers in Australia, and as Mr. Helpman did
not actually visit the North-East corner of Doubtful Bay (named in
consequence) I am inclined to believe there is a possibility of the mouth
of the Glenelg still being found there.

April 14.

We were on our way to Point Hall before the eastern hills had received
their golden hue from the rays of the rising sun, and landed to ascend
the summit of that headland from the bay, on its South-East side, which
proved to be a safe anchorage, except with South-West winds, having a
small islet in its centre. We ascended the height on the lee side, and as
the sun was now approaching the zenith the heat became very oppressive;
but the air was quite perfumed with the rich fragrance of different gums.
This warm aromatic odour we always experienced in a slighter degree on
first landing in North-western Australia.


I noticed a tree quite new to me, it was of stunted growth, bearing a
fruit resembling a small russet apple, which hung in clusters at the
extremity of small branches; the skin was rough, covering a pulp that had
an acid flavour, inside of which was a large stone, and I observed a
white fluid exuded from the branches when broken. Although this was
almost a solitary tree, I have since learnt it grows in the southern
parts of the continent. As the woodcut and description given in page 82,
Volume 1 of Sir Thomas Mitchell's work on Australia, is almost identical
with this fruit, it must be indigenous to a great extent of country,
since Sir Thomas Mitchell found it in latitude 29 degrees 50 minutes
South whilst by us it was discovered in 15 degrees 40 minutes South. We
did not observe any other change in the vegetation on this point; of
birds we saw but few, chiefly parrots, some of which we shot. A coast
range of brown grassy hills prevented our seeing anything of the
interior. To seaward there was neither islet nor reef to interrupt the
blue surface of water that bounded our view in the far north-west.

Descending we embarked from a cove on the North-East side, where the
boats had been ordered to meet us; between this and one on the opposite
side there was only a narrow neck of low land. It is singular that we
should not have seen any natives, or even traces of them anywhere
excepting at Raft Point, during the whole of this cruise.


Pursuing our northerly course, we reached a small group of islands, named
from their formation, Slate Isles. Finding that all the material required
here for the chart could not be collected this evening, I desired Mr.
Helpman to go on to Brecknock harbour, to sound and examine its southern
shore the next morning, whilst Mr. Fitzmaurice and myself remained to
complete the survey hereabouts.

April 15.

We were on the top of the northern Slate Island early; a small islet with
a reef off its northern extreme, bore north a mile and a half, and a low
sandy isle, West 1/4 North about 15 miles; this was a most unwelcome
discovery, as it lay in the track of vessels approaching Brecknock
Harbour, and which Captain King must have passed very close to in the
night without being aware of it. We were fortunate in being able to
intersect our lines to the extremes of all the islands forming the north
side of Camden Sound from this station, which rendered it one of great
importance. Of the interior we saw even less than from Point Hall, and
the prospect if possible was more cheerless.

Our again meeting rocks of transition origin, led us to infer that the
soil in the neighbourhood was of a better quality, as the decomposition
of rocks of this class furnishes a much more fertile soil than sandstone
of recent formation.

Leaving the Slate Islands, we reached Entrance Isle, in Brecknock
Harbour, in time to secure observations for the rates of the
chronometers, which we found had been performing admirably; they placed
the sandy bay on the east side of Entrance Isle, in longitude 124 degrees
30 minutes East; the latitude as before given, 15 degrees 27 1/4 minutes


At this place Mr. Helpman rejoined us, having completed the examination
of the south shore of the harbour; from a high hill over it he discovered
some fine country, bearing East-South-East about eight miles. In speaking
of it, he says, "I was invited to the top of this hill by the certainty
of a good view of the interior over the low land forming the
south-eastern shore of the harbour, and most amply was I repaid for the
toil of ascending it, by feasting my eyes on a most luxuriant
well-watered country, lying at the eastern foot of a remarkable peak,
visible from Port George the Fourth. To the North-East there lay a range
of hills,* apparently of no great elevation.

(*Footnote. Macdonald Range of Lieutenant Grey, considered by him 1400
feet high.)


Part of this rich land extended to within five miles of the south-eastern
part of Brecknock Harbour." The proximity of such fertile land to this
fine port was of great importance, and induced us to consider it a great
addition to our discoveries in north-western Australia. Under this
impression, I trust the following brief description of it may not be
without its value in the eyes of some of my readers. Brecknock Harbour is
six miles deep, extending gradually from a width of one and three quarter
miles at the entrance to five at the head, and has a depth of water
varying from five to seven fathoms, with a soft muddy bottom. The few
observations on the tides our short visit afforded, make the time of
high-water, on full and change day, about half an hour before noon, when
the rise is nearly thirty feet, and the strength of stream in the
entrance nearly two knots.


April 16.

Although very anxious to learn if they had in the ship heard anything of
Lieutenant Grey's party, still I did not like to break through my usual
rule of indulging in a thorough cleansing of men and boats, before making
our appearance on board, we therefore did not make an early start. In
clearing Roger Strait, we heard the cry of a native, who was seen with
the aid of a spy-glass, perched on a distant cliff, watching our
movements. I scarcely believed it possible to have heard his shrill voice
so far. We reached the ship, lying in Port George the Fourth, early in
the afternoon, and found on board a most welcome addition to our little
party, in the person of Lieutenant Grey. I met him again, with feelings
of the greatest satisfaction; for though none were, perhaps, fully aware
of it, a feeling of despondency as to the fate of himself and his
companions, had more than once occurred to me, which each day's delay
much increased, and which this agreeable rencounter at once effectually
removed. Poor fellow! gaunt misery had worn him to the bone; and I
believe, that in any other part of the world, not myself alone, but
Lieutenant Grey's most intimate friends, would have stared at him without
the least approach to recognition. Badly wounded, and half starved, he
did, indeed, present a melancholy contrast to the vigorous and determined
enthusiast we had parted from a few months before at the Cape, to whom
danger seemed to have a charm, distinct from success.

No sooner had we ascertained the safety of the rest of the party, than,
as might be supposed, we fell into a long and animated conversation upon
the success of the expedition. They had discovered a river, called by
them the Glenelg, and a tract of fine country, which, from Lieutenant
Grey's description, I instantly recognised as being the same Mr. Helpman
had seen from Brecknock Harbour.

A spot, sixty miles in a South-South-East direction from Hanover Bay,
indicates their furthest distance towards the interior. The rugged nature
of the country in the neighbourhood of this coast, and its vast distance
from the interior, from whence it is further removed than any other part
of the continent, justify the expression of an opinion that this was an
ill-chosen spot for the debarkation of an expedition for inland research;
though unquestionably its proximity to our East Indian possessions, would
make it, if suitable in other respects, a most valuable spot for
colonization. I shall always regret that Lieutenant Grey and his
companions had not the advantage of starting from the Fitzroy, or
exploring yet further the unknown course of the Victoria, by which I am
now convinced, a most successful attempt to reach the interior might be

Alas! while we cannot but regret the prodigal sacrifices of health and
energy made to acquire such a limited knowledge of a part of the
continent, hitherto utterly unknown, we must not forget to do justice to
the perseverance which opposing obstacles could defeat, but not daunt;
and in what it did accomplish, furnished additional motives to renewed
exertion, and useful suggestions by which more fortunate followers may
reap the success deserved by, though denied, to the first adventurers.

The worn and haggard aspect of Lieutenant Grey and all his companions,
spoke of itself how severe had been the hardships they were called on to
endure: I need not say that their wants were relieved with the utmost
eagerness of frank hospitality, and that their tales of hair-breadth
escapes and moving accidents awoke all ears, and stirred in every heart.
To meet with a countryman in a foreign land, is of itself generally an
agreeable incident: the tones of one's native language, or the
reminiscences of one's earlier and happier years, which such a meeting
recalls, are sure to bestow upon it a pleasure of its own. What was it
then to meet a former fellow voyager, and a friend? To meet him after
almost despairing of his safety? and to meet him fresh from a perilous
and partially successful attempt to penetrate into the same unknown and
mysterious country, a further and more perfect acquaintance with which
was a prime object of my own personal ambition, no less than of public
duty with all engaged in our present adventure? Those who have known the
communion of sentiment and interest, which it is the tendency of one
common purpose to create among all by whom that purpose is shared, can
most readily and most perfectly understand with what deep and mutual
interest Lieutenant Grey and myself heard and recounted all that each had
done since our parting at the Cape.

Several anecdotes of his adventures confirmed my own experience, and add
weight to the opinions I have before expressed. From his description of
the tribes his party had encountered, he must have been among a people
more advanced in civilization than any we had hitherto seen upon this
coast. He found several curious figures,* images, and drawings, generally
in colours, upon the sides of caves in the sandstone rock, which,
notwithstanding their rude style, yet evince a greater degree of
advancement and intelligence than we have been able to find any traces
of: at the same time it must be remembered that no certain date
absolutely connects these works with the present generation: the dryness
of the natural walls upon which they are executed, and the absence of any
atmospheric moisture may have, and may yet preserve them for an
indefinite period, and their history read aright, may testify not the
present condition of the Australian School of Design, but the perfection
which it had formerly attained.

(*Footnote. Illustrated in Lieutenant Grey's first Volume.)


Lieutenant Grey too, like ourselves, had seen certain individuals in
company with the natives much lighter in colour, and widely differing in
figure and physiognomy from the savages by whom they were surrounded; and
was inclined to believe that they are descended from Dutch sailors, who
at different times, suffering shipwreck upon the coast, have intermarried
with its native inhabitants: but as no authentic records can be produced
to prove that this portion of the coast was ever visited by Dutch
navigators at all, I am still more disposed to believe that these lighter
coloured people are Malays, captured from the Trepang fishers, or perhaps
voluntarily associating with the Australian, as we know that the
Australian not unfrequently abandons his country, and his mode of life,
to visit the Indian Archipelago with them.

Before pursuing any further the train of speculation in which my thoughts
naturally enough arranged themselves, owing to this meeting with
Lieutenant Grey, it may be as well to advert to the circumstances under
which he and his party were found by Captain Wickham. It seems that on
moving into Port George the Fourth, the ship's guns were fired in order
to apprize the wanderers, if within hearing, that friends and aid were at
hand. These signals were heard on board the Lynher, and were at once
rightly understood to denote the presence of the Beagle. At that time,
however, the master of the Lynher--the schooner which Lieutenant Grey had
chartered at the Cape, was himself in no small perplexity as to the fate
of those he had transported to this lonely coast; and was now growing
exceedingly anxious at their non-appearance.

The next morning, the 9th, Captain Wickham started in the yawl for
Hanover Bay, in order to prosecute the search at the point where he knew
Lieutenant Grey's depot was to be established, and on rounding the
headland the first welcome object that met his eye was the schooner at
anchor. Captain Wickham learnt from Mr. Browse the master, that the
period for which the schooner was chartered having expired, he was only
waiting the return of the expedition from motives of humanity. The
further care of Lieutenant Grey and his comrades was at once undertaken
by Captain Wickham, by whom it was determined, owing to the shortness of
provisions on board the Beagle, to proceed to Timor on the return of the
boats, in the hope of being able to revictual there, leaving some
conspicuous record of his recent visit, with hidden letters declaratory
of his proceedings, and promising his speedy return. A party was
immediately despatched on shore, and upon the face of the sandstone cliff
they painted in characters of gigantic proportion, Beagle Observatory.
Letters South-East 52 paces. Of necessity compelled to wait for the
boats, Captain Wickham returned to the Beagle.


On the morning of the 15th, Lieutenant Grey, accompanied by two of his
party, made his appearance upon the shores of Hanover Bay, after a twelve
weeks wander in the interior; during which, great hardships, fatigue, and
peril had been undergone, and much curious and valuable information
collected. Hearing of the proximity of the Beagle, he lost not a moment,
but hastened to assure Captain Wickham that the whole party was safe, and
spent the evening of the 15th--that previous to my return--among those
who sympathized with his sufferings, and heartily welcomed him once more
on board. After the first greetings had been exchanged between us,
Lieutenant Grey professed the utmost anxiety to hear whether, during our
late excursion in the boats, we had discovered the mouth of the Glenelg,
the river first seen by him on the 2nd of March. I was of course
compelled to inform him that we had found no trace of any river, although
the coast from Port George the Fourth to the bottom of Collier Bay, an
extent of nearly one hundred miles, had been examined, and with the
exception I have already noticed, too closely to admit of mistake.


The next afternoon I followed Lieutenant Grey round to Hanover Bay,
distant twelve miles from the Beagle's anchorage. On the passage I
noticed that the remarkable bluff, spoken of by Captain King, had been
omitted in the charts, and a low rocky point marked in its place. It was
after sunset when we reached the schooner in Hanover Bay; the greater
part of the night was devoted to an examination of Lieutenant Grey's
plans of his expedition, and the drawings with which various events in it
had been illustrated. All these were executed with a finished carefulness
one could not have expected to find in works carried on in the bush, and
under such varied circumstances of distraction and anxiety as had
followed Lieutenant Grey's footsteps: though terribly worn and ill, our
opportune arrival, and the feeling that he was among those who could
appreciate his exertions, seemed already to operate in his recovery. Upon
an old and tattered chart, that had indeed done the state some service,
we attempted to settle the probable course of the Glenelg, the knotty
question held us for some hours in hot debate; but as in a previous
paragraph, I have rendered my more deliberate opinions, I need not here
recount the varied topics discussed during that memorable evening: but it
may be readily imagined with how swift a flight one hour followed
another, while I listened with eager impatience to Lieutenant Grey's
account of a country and people till now unknown even to English
enterprise. He appears to have seen the same kind of grape-like fruit*
that we observed in King's Sound.

(*Footnote. Grey's Australia Volume 1 page 211.)


I took the boat in the afternoon at high-water to proceed to the
encampment, which we were then able to approach within a quarter of a
mile. It was situated in the depth of a creek, into which a clear and
sparkling stream of fresh water poured its abundance: the shore was
formed of enormous granite boulders, which rendered it hardly accessible
except at high-water; and the red sandstone platform which is here the
nature of the coast, was abruptly intersected by one of those singular
valleys which give so marked and so distinctive a characteristic to
Australian geology. The separated cliffs approach to within about a
quarter of a mile of each other, and then--still preserving their
precipitous form--recede some three miles inland, in a southerly
direction, and there rejoining, make any passage from Walker's Valley* to
the interior a barely practicable feat.

(*Footnote. So named by Lieutenant Grey to commemorate the services
rendered by the surgeon of his party in finding a road from it to the
interjacent country.)


The encampment consisted of a few roofless huts, placed irregularly upon
a carpet of rich grass, whereon six Timor ponies were recruiting after
the fatigues of a journey in which they appeared to have borne their full
share of privation and danger. Their marketable value was indeed but
small, and Lieutenant Grey had, therefore, determined to leave them
behind in the unrestrained enjoyment of their natural freedom.

My visit was made after the encampment had been finally abandoned, and
the thought that a little spot once tenanted by civilized man was about
to be yielded to that dreary solitude from which for a while he had
rescued it, made the pilgrimage a melancholy one. The scene itself was in
strict keeping with such thoughts--the rugged and lofty cliffs which
frown down upon the valley--the flitting shadows of the watchful eagles
soaring far over my head--and the hoarse murmurs of the tide among the
rocky masses on the beach--ail heightened the effects of a picture
engraven on my memory too deeply for time itself to efface.

While the men were preparing for embarkation I strolled with Lieutenant
Lushington up the valley, a little beyond the late encampment: the Timor
ponies were busily engaged upon the fresh grass; near the banks of a
beautiful pool in which we both enjoyed a freshwater bath, I noticed a
small coconut tree, and some other plants, which he and his companions
had benevolently endeavoured to naturalize here: they seemed healthy
enough, but I should fear the rank luxuriance of surrounding and
indigenous vegetation will render the ultimate well-doing of the
strangers exceedingly doubtful. Assisted by our boats the whole party
embarked in the early part of the afternoon, and appeared highly
delighted to find themselves again on board the schooner. I was much
impressed with the emphatic manner in which Lieutenant Lushington bid the
shore a hearty farewell. The same evening the Lynher was moved round to
Port George the Fourth--thus affording us an opportunity of welcoming all
our former fellow-voyagers once more on board the Beagle; where we spent
one of those delightful evenings, known only to those who have been long
separated from the rest of the world.


On the 9th we left Port George the Fourth on our return to Swan River, in
company with the Lynher, in which Lieutenant Grey and his party had
arranged to proceed to the Mauritius. A finer port than this, in some
respects, can hardly be imagined. Like Hanover Bay, over which, however,
it possesses the advantage of an easier access from the sea, it affords
safe anchorage, abundance of fresh water, plenty of fuel, and a fine
beach for the seine: but the numerous islands and reefs which skirt this
coast greatly reduce the value of both these harbours. The Master of the
Lynher told me of certain tidal phenomena remarked by him during his
protracted visit to Hanover Bay: he had noticed that the highest tides
always occurred on the fourth day after the full or change of the moon,
and that they then attained a maximum height of twenty-five feet; while
during the neaps the difference between high and low-water sometimes did
not exceed twenty-four inches!

During the short time that we were in this neighbourhood, the prevailing
winds were from South-East and to East from after midnight till noon, and
from West to North until midnight. Our progress through the day was but
slow; the wind light and most provokingly foul at West-North-West.


While standing towards a small island bearing North and by West five and
a half miles from Point Adieu, we discovered a single rock with
apparently deep water all around it, and just awash at low-water. It bore
North-West and by West three-quarters of a mile from this island, which
resembles Red Island, and Captain King's group of the Rocky Islands, in
that calcined-like appearance which has by turns given them red and brown
for a distinct appellation. In the afternoon we saw the sandbank laid
down in Captain King's chart; it appeared a white rocky islet. The night
was spent beating to the westward, between it and Red Island, against a
light breeze.

April 20.

At daylight, whilst standing to the South-West the water shoaled rapidly
though regularly from 20 to 6 fathoms, we then tacked, Red Island bearing
South-East one mile and a quarter; in standing out (north) the water
deepened suddenly and almost immediately to 15 fathoms. I imagine this
shoal to be a continuation of one laid down by Captain King, extending
two miles south from Red Island: passing the latter on our way to Port
George the Fourth we had 28 to 30 fathoms, two and a half miles from its
North-West side.

April 21.

We continued to make but little progress to the westward, scarcely
averaging more than a mile per hour: the soundings indicating that we
were still on the coral ledge that skirts the whole of this coast,
northward of Cape Leveque; on the raised parts of which are numerous
reefs of an irregular size and almost invariably trending from West to
North-West. The number of these low coral reefs already known, and the
probable number of those yet undiscovered, make this rather a dangerous
sea, and must have a tendency to lessen the value of the North-West coast
of Australia for purposes of forming settlements. In the afternoon we saw
again the reef discovered and named after the Beagle. Steering
West-North-West we passed four miles from its northern side in soundings
varying from 41 to 47 fathoms.


April 23.

Towards the close of this day we passed through a line of very remarkable
ripplings, extending in a north and south direction, which we knew
indicated some great inequality in the bottom, but whether from deep to
shoal water was a matter of some anxiety; therefore, with leadsmen in the
chains and the men at their stations for working ship, we glided into
this streak of agitated water, where plunging once or twice she again
passed into the silent deep. We sounded ineffectually with 86 fathoms in
the ripplings; for some time before the soundings had been regular 52 and
55 fathoms fine sand, and four miles beyond it we had 146 fathoms, but
did not succeed afterwards in reaching the bottom with 200 fathoms. This
line of disturbed water, therefore, marks the edge of the bank of
soundings fronting this part of the coast, from which the nearest point,
Cape Leveque, bore South-East 195 miles.


The Lynher having to pursue a more westerly course, we were of necessity,
though reluctantly, obliged to part company this evening: the few
evenings we passed together at sea were rendered very pleasant and
amusing by the crews singing to each other as the vessels, side by side,
slipped stealthily through the moonlit waters.

April 24.

Still pursuing a West-South-West course, at the slow rate of forty miles
daily, our position at noon was latitude 15 degrees 40 minutes South
longitude 120 degrees 41 minutes East. During the day we passed within
fifteen miles of the Lively's reef, and from the numbers of terns and
other small seabirds, seen for the last three days, there can be little
doubt of its whereabouts being known, and that during that time we had
been in the neighbourhood of other reefs still undiscovered.

April 27.

We experienced the long rolling swell of the Southern Ocean, which, as
well as our reckoning, informed us we were rounding North-West Cape; at
the same time we began to feel a steady breeze from the South-East and
the northerly current which there prevails. As we were now approaching
the usual track of vessels bound from Australia to India, we were not
unprepared for the somewhat unusual sight of a strange sail: an object
always of some little interest, but which becomes quite an event to those
whose duty leads them into the less frequented portions of the deep.


The increasing trade now carried on between Sydney and the gorgeous East,
has converted the dividing sea into a beaten track; and as no further
evidence has been brought forward to confirm the reported existence of
the Tryal Rocks, asserted to lie directly in the course steered by
vessels making this passage, I cannot but adhere to Captain King's
opinion, that Tremouille Island and its outlying reefs, situated in the
same latitude as that in which the Tryal Rocks are supposed to lie, have
originated the mistake;* one, be it observed, of longitude, in which
particular the accounts of earlier navigators must always be received
with caution.

(*Footnote. Subsequent explorations have proved this to be the case.)


While our return to Swan River was thus baffled and delayed by the long
and almost unbroken continuance of foul winds, it afforded some diversion
to watch the countenance and conduct of Miago, who was as anxious as
anyone on board for the sight of his native land. He would stand gazing
steadily and in silence over the sea, and then sometimes, perceiving that
I watched him, say to me, "Miago sing, by and by northern men wind jump
up:" then would he station himself for hours at the lee-gangway, and
chant to some imaginary deity an incantation or prayer to change the
opposing wind. I could never rightly learn to whom this rude melody was
addressed; for if anyone approached him near enough to overhear the
words, he became at once silent; but there was a mournful and pathetic
air running through the strain, that rendered it by no means unpleasing;
though doubtless it owed much of its effect to the concomitant
circumstances. The rude savage--separated from all his former companions,
made at once an intimate and familiar witness of some of the wonders of
civilization, carried by his new comrades to their very country, and
brought face to face with his traditionary foes, the dreaded northern
men, and now returning to recount to his yet ruder brethren the wonders
he had witnessed--could not fail to interest the least imaginative.

Yet Miago had a decided and most inexplicable advantage over all on
board, and that in a matter especially relating to the science of
navigation: he could indicate at once and correctly the exact direction
of our wished-for harbour, when neither sun nor stars were shining to
assist him. He was tried frequently, and under very varying
circumstances, but strange as it may seem, he was invariably right. This
faculty--though somewhat analogous to one I have heard ascribed to the
natives of North America--had very much surprised me when exercised on
shore, but at sea, out of the sight of land, it seemed beyond belief, as
assuredly it is beyond explanation: but I have sometimes thought that
some such power must have been possessed by those adventurous seamen who,
long before the discovery of the compass, ventured upon distant and
hazardous voyages.

I used sometimes, as we approached the land of his nativity, to question
him upon the account he intended to give his friends of the scenes he had
witnessed, and I was quite astonished at the accuracy with which he
remembered the various places we had visited during the voyage: he seemed
to have carried the ship's track in his memory with the most careful
accuracy. His description of the ship's sailing and anchoring were most
amusing: he used to say, "Ship walk--walk--all night--hard walk--then by
and by, anchor tumble down." His manner of describing his interviews with
the "wicked northern men," was most graphic. His countenance and figure
became at once instinct with animation and energy, and no doubt he was
then influenced by feelings of baffled hatred and revenge, from having
failed in his much-vaunted determination to carry off in triumph one of
their gins. I would sometimes amuse myself by asking him how he was to
excuse himself to his friends for having failed in the premised exploit,
but the subject was evidently a very unpleasant one, and he was always
anxious to escape from it.

In spite of all Miago's evocations for a change of wind we did not see
Rottnest Island before the morning of the 25th. The ship's track on the
chart after passing the North-West Cape, resembled the figure seven, the
tail pointing towards the north. We passed along the south side of
Rottnest, and by keeping its south-western extreme shut in with the south
point, cleared the northern end of the foul ground extending
North-North-West from a cluster of high rocks called the Stragglers.


As Gage Road was not considered safe at this time of the year, the ship
was taken into Owen's anchorage under the guidance of Mr. Usborne. We
first steered for the Mew Stone, bearing south, until the leading marks
could be made out; they are the western of two flat rocks lying close off
the west side of Carnac Island and a large white sand patch on the north
side of Garden Island. The rock must be kept its own breadth open to the
eastward of the highest part of the patch; these marks lead over a sort
of bar or ridge of sand in 3 and 3 1/2 fathoms; when the water deepened
to 5 and 7 fathoms, the course was then changed to East-South-East for a
patch of low cliffs about two miles south of Fremantle, which brought us
up to Owen's anchorage in 7 and 8 fathoms, passing between Success and
Palmelia Banks.

Thus concluded our first cruise on this almost hitherto unknown part of
the continent; and looking at its results we had every reason to feel
satisfied, having appended 300 miles of new land to our geographical
store, and succeeded in an object of paramount interest in this country,
the discovery of a river. Besides the nautical information obtained, some
additions were made to the secondary objects of the voyage, by increasing
our knowledge of the natural history and indigenous productions of
North-western Australia.


During the period of our visit we had a temperature varying from 76 to
125 degrees; the weather generally fine, with moderate south-easterly
winds, and occasionally heavy squalls from the eastward, excepting in the
month of February and part of March, when we experienced heavy falls of
rain, accompanied by fresh westerly winds. But as these changes have
already been noticed in the diary, it is needless to enter into further
detail about them here.


Miago's reception by his countrymen.
Whale Fishery.
Strange ideas entertained by Natives respecting the first Settlers.
Neglected state of the Colony.
Test security of Owen's Anchorage.
Celebration of the Anniversary of the Colony.
Friendly meeting between different Tribes.
Native beggars.
Personal vanity of a Native.
Visit York.
Description of Country.
Site of York.
Scenery in its neighbourhood.
Disappointment experienced.
Sail from Swan River.
Hospitality of Colonists during our stay.
Aurora Australis.
Gale off Cape Leeuwen.
Stormy passage.
Ship on a lee shore.
South-west Cape of Tasmania.
Bruny Island Lighthouse.
Arrive at Hobart.
Mount Wellington.
Kangaroo Hunt.
White Kangaroo.
Civility from the Governor.
Travertine Limestone.
Leave Hobart.
Singular Current.
Appearance of Land in the neighbourhood of Sydney.
Position of Lighthouse.
Entrance and first view of Port Jackson.
Scenery on passing up the Harbour.
Meet the Expedition bound to Port Essington.
Apparent increase of Sydney.
Cause of Decline.
Expedition sails for Port Essington.
Botany Bay.
La Perouse's Monument.
Meet Captain King.
Appearance of Land near Sydney.


We were considerably amused with the consequential air Miago assumed
towards his countrymen on our arrival, which afforded us a not
uninstructive instance of the prevalence of the ordinary infirmities of
our common human nature, whether of pride or vanity, universally to be
met with both in the civilised man and the uncultivated savage. He
declared that he would not land until they first came off to wait on him.
Decorated with an old full-dress Lieutenant's coat, white trousers, and a
cap with a tall feather, he looked upon himself as a most exalted
personage, and for the whole of the first day remained on board,
impatiently, but in vain prying into each boat that left the shore for
the dusky forms of some of his quondam friends. His pride however could
not long withstand the desire of display; yielding to the impulse of
vanity, he, early the following morning, took his departure from the
ship. Those who witnessed the meeting described it as cool on both sides,
arising on the part of his friends from jealousy; they perhaps judging
from the nature of his costume, that he had abandoned his bush life. Be
that as it may, the reception tended greatly to lower the pride of our
hero; who through generosity (expending all his money to purchase them
bread) or from a fear of being treacherously speared, soon convinced his
former associates how desirous he was of regaining their confidence. He
did not, however, participate in the revelry then going on amongst the
natives at Fremantle, where, at this period of the year, they assemble in
great numbers to feast on the whales that are brought in by the boats of
a whaling establishment--which I cannot allude to without expressing an
opinion that this fishery, if properly managed and free from American
encroachments, would become one of the most important branches of

During the time that Miago was on board we took great pains to wean him
from his natural propensity for the savage life by instilling such
information as his untutored mind was capable of receiving, and from his
often-expressed resolutions we were led to hope a cure had been effected;
great was our disappointment then on finding that in less than a
fortnight after our arrival, he had resumed his original wildness, and
was again to be numbered amongst the native inhabitants of the bush. To
us he had been the source of great mirth, by the absurd anecdotes he
sometimes related about his countrymen. His account of their conjectures
respecting the arrival of the first settlers may amuse the reader; he
said, "the ships were supposed to be trees, and the cattle large dogs
(the only animal besides the kangaroo known to them) whose size and horns
excited such alarm, that one which strayed into the bush being met by a
party of natives made them climb up the nearest trees in the greatest


It may give some definite idea of the neglected state of this infant
colony, to mention that during the entire period of our absence--a space
of six months--there had been but one arrival there, and that not from
England. The solitary visitor was H.M.S. Pelorus from the Indian station.
The want of communication with the mother country was beginning to be
felt severely, and in matters of graver moment than mere news. Many
necessary articles of home manufacture or importation, scarcely valued
till wanted, were now becoming almost unattainable: one familiar instance
will illustrate at once how this state of things presses upon the comfort
of the colonists; the price of yellow soap had risen to four shillings
per pound!


The usual winter anchorage in Cockburn Sound, being seven miles from the
town of Fremantle, the colonists were naturally very anxious to see
tested the equal security of one which we had chosen within half that
distance. The point was fairly tried, and very satisfactorily determined
during the heavy weather which we experienced on the 31st of March, and
11th of June, which did not raise more sea than a boat at anchor could
have ridden out with safety. These gales lasted about forty-eight hours
each, commencing at North by West and gradually blowing themselves out at
West-South-West. In each instance a heavy bank of clouds in the
north-west gave us a day's notice of their approach. The indications of
the barometer were less decisive; its maximum was 29.3.

The weather in the interval between these gales was wet and unsettled;
but afterwards, until our departure, it continued remarkably fine with an
average temperature of 60 degrees.

The winds at this season prevail from the land, the seabreezes being both
light and very irregular.


We were just in time to share in the annual festivities with which the
inhabitants celebrate the formation of the colony. Horseracing, and many
other old English sports showed that the colonists still retain the
tastes and habits of home. Some of the aborigines took part in the
amusements of the day with evident enjoyment: and we were surprised to
find that in throwing the spear they were excelled by an English
competitor. We hardly know how to reconcile this fact with our own
favourite theories upon the perfection of the savage in the few exercises
of skill to which he devotes his attention, and were obliged to take
refuge in the inadequate suggestion that the wild man requires a greater
degree of excitement than his more civilised competitor, to bring out, or
call into action, all the resources of his art. Among the natives
assembled were a small party from King George's Sound: they had come to
Perth, bearing despatches from that place. The good understanding which
appeared to exist between them and their fellow-countrymen in this
district, led me to believe that by bringing different tribes more
frequently together, under similar happy auspices to those which convened
the meeting of to-day, much might be done to qualify the eager and deadly
hatred in which they are too prone to indulge.

The natives in the town of Perth are most notorious beggars: the softer
sex ply this easy craft even more indefatigably than the men. Their
flattering solicitations and undeniable importunity seldom altogether
fail of success, and "quibra (i.e. ship) man," after the assurance that
he is a "very pretty gentleman," must perforce yield to the solicitation
"tickpence give it um me."

There was one amongst them, who from some accident had lost several of
his toes. When in conversation, if he fancied any person was observing
his foot, he would immediately endeavour to conceal the part that was
thus disfigured by burying it in the sand. Another instance, exemplifying
how prevalent is the frailty of vanity in the heart of man in his
primitive condition.


As a little time was required to give the ship a slight refit and the
crew some relaxation, it afforded an opportunity of visiting York,
situated about sixty miles east from Perth, and at that extremity of the
colony. Accordingly, one murky afternoon a small party of us were wending
our way over the Darling Range. Long after dark the welcome bark of dogs
rang through the forest in the still dark night, assuring us that shelter
was at hand, and we soon found ourselves before a large fire in the only
house on the road, enjoying, after a dreary wet ride, the usual fare at
that time at the out-stations--fried pork and kangaroo. About this
tenement was the only spot of land along the whole line of road that
could at all lay claim to anything like fertility; at which I was the
more surprised, as our route intercepted the direction in which patches
of good land are generally found in this part of the continent. The soil
of this little piece was of a rich black mould and well watered by a
neighbouring spring. Our road lay in some places over tracts of loose
white sand, and in others round and over low ironstone hills. Descending
from one of these heights to a rich narrow flat, the presence of three or
four houses informed us we were within the township of York. The position
of the level it occupies forms the western bank of the river Avon, which
is now and has been for some time past nothing more than a chain of
waterholes. In this neighbourhood the hills lie detached from one another
in irregular directions, and are composed of granite; from the summit of
one on the western side of the town we looked over a vast expanse of
undulating forest land, densely wooded, with scarcely a grassy patch to
break the monotony of the view. To give an idea of the personal labour
early settlers are obliged to undergo, I may mention that we found Mr.
Bland, the most wealthy colonist in Western Australia, engaged in holding
the plough. I was disappointed in my visit to this part of the country as
it did not leave a favourable impression of its fertility--still it
afforded me an opportunity of judging by comparison of the quality of the
soils in Western Australia and on the banks of the Fitzroy, and I was
happy to find I had not overrated the latter.

The odium of a recent murder in the vicinity committed by natives had led
to their absenting themselves just now from York, but a few of their
numbers too young for suspicion were employed in the capacity of servants
and appeared sharp and intelligent lads.


On the 20th of June we took leave of our friends in Western Australia,
proceeding out of Owen's anchorage by a passage recommended by the
Harbour-Master, in which we found half a fathom less water than the one
through which we entered. During our stay there, nothing could exceed the
kindness with which we were welcomed, and we experienced that proverbial
hospitality of colonists which in this instance we shall ever remember
with feelings of the most sincere and heart-felt pleasure.

It may appear out of place inserting it here but on our first arrival at
Swan River in November last, we saw the Aurora Australis very bright.

At midnight of the 23rd of June we passed Cape Leeuwin, the south-western
extremity of the continent; named by the first discoverer in 1622, Landt
van de Leeuwin or the land of Lions. The wind which had increased since
the morning to a fresh gale from the northward, now suddenly veered round
to the westward, accompanied with rain and causing a high cross-sea.


These sudden shifts of wind frequently raise a very dangerous sea off
Cape Leeuwin.* This made the third gale we had experienced since the 30th
of May, and is recorded here from its commencing at North-East instead of
at north, the usual point at which gales in these regions begin. During
the stormy weather which prevailed throughout the passage, we were
unceasingly attended by those majestic birds and monarchs of the
ocean--the White Albatross (Diomedia exulans) which with steadily
expanded wings sailed gracefully over the surface of the restless main in
solemn silence, like spectres of the deep; their calm and easy flight
coursing each wave in its hurried career seemed to mock the unsteady
motion of our little vessel as she alternately traversed the deep hollows
and lofty summits of the high-crested seas.

(*Footnote. In a gale off this Cape in 1836, H.M.S. Zebra was compelled
to throw her guns overboard.)

July 6.

It was our intention to have passed through Bass Strait, but finding we
were unable to weather King Island bore up on the 6th for Hobart. On the
evening of the same day we were by a sudden change of the wind placed in
one of those perilous situations in which both a good ship and sound gear
are so much required; the wind, which had been northerly throughout the
day, about 8 P.M. veered round to west, blowing a heavy gale with a high
sea; and since we had now run about halfway along Van Diemen's Land, left
us with an extensive and dangerous shore under our lee. Through the
dismal gloom of the night, during which there was incessant rain with a
succession of heavy squalls, the angry voice of nature seemed indeed to
be raised in menace against us, and it was not until the close of the
next day that a slight abatement of the weather relieved our anxiety for
the safety of the ship. During the night the wind backed round to the
North-West and the sky became once more partially clear. Early on the
morning of the 8th we descried the south-western extremity of the land of
Van Diemen, discovered in 1633 by the celebrated Dutch Navigator, Abel
Tasman, and so named by him after the Governor of Batavia, under whose
authority the voyage thus crowned with success had been performed.


To this portion of Australasia I shall systematically apply the name of
Tasmania, in honour of that adventurous seaman who first added it to the
list of European discoveries. The same principle appears to have been
recently acted upon by the Government in creating the Bishopric of
Tasmania, and I may therefore plead high authority to sanction such
innovation:* higher perhaps than will be required by him who calls to
mind that hitherto the navigator who added this island, and the scarcely
less important ones of New Zealand to the empire of science, has been
left without a memorial, the most befitting and the most lasting that
universal gratitude can consecrate to individual desert. The insular
character of Tasmania was not fully ascertained till the year 1798, when
the intrepid Bass, then surgeon of H.M.S. Reliance, while on a whaleboat
cruise from Sydney, discovered the strait which bears his name.

(*Footnote. Mr. Greenough, late President of the Geological Society, in
his anniversary address to that body on the 24th of May, 1841, remarks
that, "It is much to be regretted that Government has not recognised
Tasmania as the name of that island, improperly denominated Van Diemen's
Land. The occurrence of a second Van Diemen's Land on the northern coast
of Australia occasions confusion; and since Tasman, not Van Diemen, was
the first discoverer of the island, it would be but just that whatever
honour the name confers should be given to the former navigator." Journal
of the Royal Geographical Society of London volume 11 1841 part 1.)


Towards 10 A.M. steering East by South before a long rolling sea, we
passed about six miles from the South-west Cape of Tasmania. There was no
opportunity at the time of determining exactly the amount of error in the
position assigned to it in the present charts, but we were satisfied that
it was placed at least five miles too far south. The Maatzuyker Isles, a
group a few miles to the south-east of this cape, are also incorrectly
laid down. The view of this headland was of a very impressive and
remarkable character, and to add to the usual effect of its lonely and
solitary grandeur, a heavy sea still vexed and swelling from the
turbulence of the recent gale, was breaking in monotonous regularity
against its white and aged face; rising a thousand feet precipitously
above the level of the sea, and terminating in a peak, rendered yet more
conspicuous by a deep gap behind it.

The adjacent coast had a singularly wild, bare, and storm-beaten
appearance. We beheld the rugged and treeless sides of barren hills; and
here and there, where vegetation struggled with sterility, its stunted
growth and northern inclination caused by the prevailing winds testified
to an ungenial clime; high, bare-faced peaks appeared occasionally
through the thick clouds that girdled them, and the whole coastline
forcibly reminded us of the dreary shores of Tierra del Fuego.


On opening d'Entrecasteaux Channel, we observed a splendid lighthouse
erected by Sir John Franklin, on the South-West extremity of Bruny
Island, and which serves to guide entering vessels clear of the shoals in
the mouth of that channel, formerly fatal to so many a luckless voyager,
wrecked within sight of the hoped-for shore, upon which he might never
set his foot. The situation of the lighthouse appears admirably chosen,
and it may readily be seen in the daytime, a wide gap being cut in the
woodland behind it. In alluding to the great improvement in the
navigation of d'Entrecasteaux Channel, by the erection of the lighthouse
on Bruny Island, it must be remembered that we are indebted to the
indefatigable exertions of Lieutenant Burnett, R.N., who had been
appointed Marine Surveyor to the colony by the Admiralty, for a knowledge
of the exact position of its dangers. In prosecuting this service, I
grieve to say, his life was lost, by the upsetting of a boat in one of
those sudden gusts of wind which sweep down the steep valleys on the
sides of that channel. This sudden termination of Lieutenant Burnett's
labours has been deplored alike by the colony, and by the profession of
which he was so bright an ornament.

We entered Storm Bay after dark against a strong North-West wind, which
quite vindicated the title of the bay to the name it bears, and so much
delayed our progress, that it was morning before we were abreast of the
Iron Pot lighthouse at the entrance of the Derwent River, and after dark
before we reached Sullivan's cove, Hobart.

Although the passage up the river was tedious and annoying from the
adverse and squally wind that prevailed throughout the day, we were
almost repaid for the delay by the scenery each tack brought to our view,
and to which the remembered aspect of the shores we had so recently
quitted, seemed by contrast to add a yet more delightful verdure.

As we proceeded, we noticed since our last visit, several bare patches in
the woodlands, where the axe and the brand of the enterprising colonists
had prepared the way for that cultivation under the influence of which
the landscape wore in places an almost English aspect. This fancied
resemblance--inspiring by turns delightful anticipation and fond
regret--was heightened by the occasional addition of many pretty little
cottages scattered along the sloping banks of the river, and adding to
the luxuriant appearance of the country, the peaceful grace and sanctity
of home.

July 19.

We were detained at Hobart till the 19th, the bad state of the weather
rendering it impossible to complete the requisite observations for rating
chronometers, etc.


We had two or three snowstorms during the time, but even in fine weather
the proximity of Mount Wellington, towering above Hobart, and throwing
its strange square-headed shadow across the still waters of Sullivan's
cove, must always render Fort Mulgrave an unfavourable spot for
observations, from its arresting the progress of each passing cloud. The
pleasure of our return was very much enhanced by the kind hospitality
with which we were received by the inhabitants, and the officers of Her
Majesty's 21st regiment. From Sir John Franklin the Governor, we
experienced all the attention and courtesy--all the frank and generous
hospitality which it was in his power to bestow. Had we been without the
claims of previous acquaintance to have recommended us to his best
offices, the fact that our voyage was intended to advance the cause of
science, would have been quite sufficient to interest in our welfare, one
who has achieved a reputation as enduring as it is honourable, amid the
perils and trials connected with an Arctic campaign of discovery.

The unfavourable state of the weather also prevented us from visiting and
enjoying the alpine scenery in the neighbourhood of Hobart.


We did, however, get a few miles from the town upon one occasion, when
the fox-hounds of a gentleman, Mr. Gregson, who will be long remembered
in the colony for his pedestrian and equestrian performances--met in the
neighbourhood to hunt the kangaroo. A thoroughly English appreciation of
all that promised sport, led a large party of us to join the meet, at a
place called the Neck. The turnout was by no means despicable: the hounds
were well bred, though rather small--perhaps an advantage in the sort of
country over which their work lies. A tolerable muster of red coats gave
life and animation to the scene, and forcibly reminded us of a coverside
at home.

The hounds found a large kangaroo almost immediately upon throwing off,
and went away with him in good earnest. There was a burning scent, and
from the nature of the country, over which we went for some distance
without a check, the riding was really desperate. The country was thickly
wooded, with open spaces here and there, in which fallen trees lay half
hidden by long grass. Riding to the hounds was therefore as necessary as
dangerous, for once out of sight it was almost impossible to overtake or
fall in with them. Most of the field rode boldly and well, yet I remarked
one or two casualties: early in the run, a gentleman was swept off his
horse by the projecting branch of a tree, under which he was going at a
reckless pace, and another had his hat perforated immediately above the
crown of his head. Yet notwithstanding the annoyance of ferrying our
horses across the Derwent, we returned to Hobart, very much pleased with
the day's sport.*

(*Footnote. In the first volume of the Tasmanian Journal, will be found
an animated description of Kangaroo-hunting with these hounds, by the
Honourable H. Elliot, who mentions that on one occasion a large kangaroo
gave them a run of eighteen miles.)


In a gentleman's house there, I saw for the first time, a specimen of an
Albino or white variety of kangaroo, Halmaturus bennettii.* Another
object that interested me greatly was a quarry of travertine limestone,
in the neighbourhood of Hobart, where I saw the impression** of leaves of
plants, not in existence at present, and of a few shells of ancient

(*Footnote. One of this rare kind, was presented by Sir John Franklin to
her Majesty, in whose menagerie at Windsor it died, and was sent
afterwards to the British Museum, where it now may be seen.)

(**Footnote. Drawings of these impressions, together with the shells will
be found in Count Strzelecki's scientific work.)


We sailed from Hobart on the 19th of July and carried a strong fair wind
to within a few days' sail of Sydney, when we experienced a current that
set us 40 miles South-East in 24 hours; this was the more extraordinary
as we did not feel it before, and scarcely afterwards; and our course
being parallel to the shore, was not likely to have brought us suddenly
within the influence of the currents said to prevail along the coast. The
ship's position was 40 miles east of Jervis Bay when we first met it.

July 24.

This morning the clearness of the atmosphere enabled us at an elevation
of 50 feet, to distinguish the light near the entrance of Sydney Harbour,
while at a distance of thirty miles from it. Its site has been admirably
chosen for indicating the position of the port from a distance at sea,
but it has been placed too far from the entrance to be of much service to
vessels when close in shore.* The low land in the vicinity of Sydney and
Botany Bay, presents a striking contrast with the coast of the Illawarra
district, a little further southwards; where the sea washes the base of a
lofty range of hills, which sweeping round some distance in the rear of
the two former places, leaves an extensive tract of low country between
them and the sea. Upon the summit of these hills there rest almost
invariably huge clouds, which serve even through the gloom of the darkest
night, to assure the anxious navigator of his position.

(*Footnote. Some years since a ship with convicts was driven at night by
a South-East gale, close in with the light, and was obliged to run for
the harbour, but being then without anything to guide her into the
entrance, was wrecked on the south point. The loss of life was dreadful.
The light lately erected near the Sow and Pigs reef, has in some measure
remedied the evil here pointed out: but being too far within, and on the
south side of the entrance, it is not made out till, with southerly
winds, a ship has approached dangerously close to the North Head.)


On approaching Sydney, a stranger cannot fail of being delighted with his
first glance at the noble estuary which spreads before and around him.
After sailing along a coastline of cliffs some 200 feet in height, and in
general effect and outline not unlike those of Dover, he observes an
apparent breach in the sea-wall, forming two abrupt headlands, and ere he
has time to speculate upon the cause of that fancied ruin, his ship
glides between the wave-worn cliffs into the magnificent harbour of Port
Jackson. The view which solicits the eye of the sea-wearied voyager as he
proceeds up the harbour, is indeed well calculated to excite a feeling of
mingled admiration and delight--the security and capacity of the
port--its many snug coves and quiet islets with their sloping shores,
sleeping upon the silver tide--pretty white cottages and many
English-looking villas peeping out here and there from their surrounding
shrubberies, and the whole canopied by a sky of ethereal blue, present a
picture which must at once enchant the most fastidious observer.

We found lying in the famous cove of Sydney, H.M.S. Alligator and
Britomart, commanded by Captain Sir Gordon Bremer, and Lieutenant (now
Captain) Owen Stanley, going to form a settlement at Port Essington on
the North coast; an expedition of much interest, particularly to us, from
having some old shipmates engaged in it.


On first arriving at Sydney from South America, I was much struck with
the strange contrast its extensive and at the same time youthful
appearance presented to the decrepit and decaying aspect of the cities on
that continent. We had then been visiting colonies and settlements
founded centuries ago, by a nation at that time almost supreme in
European influence, and planted with every circumstance of apparent
advantage upon the shores of a fertile and luxurious continent given by
the immortal Genoese to the crown of Spain. We had found them distracted
by internal commotions, disgraced by ignorance, debased by superstition,
and defiled by slavery.


In Sydney we beheld with wonder what scarce half a century had sufficed
to effect; for where almost within the memory of man the savage ranged
the desert wastes and trackless forests, a noble city has sprung as
though by magic from the ground, which will ever serve both as a monument
of English enterprise, and as a beacon from whence the light of Christian
civilisation shall spread through the dark and gloomy recesses of
ignorance and guilt. The true history of our Australian possessions; the
causes which have led to their settlement; the means by which they have
been established; the circumstances by which they have been influenced;
and the rapid, nay, unexampled prosperity to which they have attained;
present some of the most curious and most important laws of colonisation
to our notice. Without attempting so far to deviate from my present
purpose as to enter here on a deduction from the data to which I have
alluded, it cannot be denied that, in the words of an eloquent writer in
Blackwood, "a great experiment in the faculty of renovation in the human
character, has found its field in the solitudes of this vast continent:
that the experiment has succeeded to a most unexampled and unexpected
degree: and that the question is now finally decided between severity and
discipline." What else remains, what great designs and unfathomed
purposes, are yet reserved to grace this distant theatre, I pause not now
to guess. The boldest conjecture would probably fall very far short of
the truth. It is sufficient for us to know that Providence has entrusted
to England a new empire in the Southern seas. Nor can we doubt that there
as elsewhere throughout the various regions of the habitable globe, the
same indomitable spirit which has achieved so many successes, will
accompany those whom heaven has appointed as pioneers, in that march of
moral regeneration and sound improvement long promised to the repentant
children of earth.


We were sorry to find that it had been necessary to form a quarantine
establishment in the North Harbour, in consequence of the diseases
brought to the country by emigrant ships. A number of tombstones,
whitening the side of a hill, mark the locality, and afford a melancholy
evidence of the short sojourn in the land of promise which has been
vouchsafed to some.


It not being the favourable season for commencing operations in Bass
Strait, we remained at Sydney until November, and embraced the
opportunity of clearing out the ship. Our stay was undiversified with
incidents, and it may as well therefore be briefly passed over. Among the
few occurrences worth mentioning, was the departure of the expedition
sent out to form a settlement at Port Essington on the northern coast.
Its object was simply military occupation, it having been deemed
advisable about that time to assert practically the supremacy of Great
Britain over the Continent by occupying some of its most prominent
points; but as soon as its destination became known in the colony,
several persons came forward as volunteer-settlers, and expressed the
greatest anxiety to be allowed to accompany the expedition. Their views
extended to the establishment of a trade with the islands in the Arafura
sea; and certainly they would have been far more likely to draw forth the
resources of the country, than a garrison, whose supplies are brought to
them from a distance, whose presence holds out no inducement to traders,
and who are not impelled by any anxiety for their own support to discover
the riches of the soil. For these reasons the determination of Government
not to throw open the lands, and their refusal to hold out the promise of
protection to the individuals who expressed a desire to accompany the
expedition, are greatly to be regretted. In a vast continent like
Australia, so remarkably destitute of fixed inhabitants, it would seem
that every encouragement should be afforded to persons desirous of
locating themselves on unoccupied tracts. There is a great difference
besides, between giving rise to delusive hopes--inducing people as it
were under false pretences to repair to new settlements--and checking the
spirit of colonisation when it manifests itself. Every young
establishment must go through a certain process. It is necessary that
some should pioneer the way for others; and endure hardships the
beneficial results of which may be enjoyed only by their successors. Had
advantage been taken of the enterprising spirit that prevailed at the
time of which I speak, the germs of a fresh settlement would have been
deposited at Port Essington, which must ultimately have risen into
importance. A great stream of emigration was pouring into the
south-eastern portion of Australia, and it would have been wise to open a
channel by which some portion of it might have been drawn off to the
northern coast. But such were not the views entertained by the
authorities concerning this matter. They seemed apprehensive of incurring
the blame of encouraging the speculating mania which raged so extensively
at Sydney, and which has reacted with so pernicious an effect upon the
colony.* the expedition accordingly retained its purely military
character. However, I may add, that the Bishop of Australia attended to
the spiritual wants of the settlement by sending with it a church in

(*Footnote. On our arrival at Sydney in 1838, we found speculation at its
height: land-jobbers were carrying on a reckless and most gainful trade,
utterly regardless of that revulsion they were doomed soon to experience.
Town allotments that cost originally but 50 pounds were in some instances
sold, three months afterwards, for ten times that sum. Yet amid all this
appearance of excessive and unnatural prosperity there were not wanting
those who foresaw and foretold an approaching change. To the withdrawal
of the convicts, solely at the expressed wish of some of the most wealthy
colonists, has been traced much of the decline that followed; and the
more recent pages in the history of Sydney will fully bear out the
opinions expressed by Captain Fitzroy when he visited it in 1836: he
says, "It is difficult to believe that Sydney will continue to flourish
in proportion to its rise. It has sprung into existence too suddenly.
Convicts have forced its growth, even as a hot bed forces plants, and
premature decay may be expected from such early maturity.")


During our stay at Sydney we paid a visit to Botany Bay, which from the
circumstance of its being the point first touched at by Captain Cook,
naturally possesses the greatest interest of any place in the
neighbourhood. Our way thither lay over a sandy plain, into which the
coast range of low hills subsides. There is little or no verdure to
relieve the eye, which encounters aridity wherever it turns; and the sand
being rendered loose by frequent traffic, the foot sinks at every step,
so that the journey is disagreeable to both man and beast. These
inconveniences, however, were soon forgotten on our arrival at our
destination, amidst the feelings excited and the associations raised by
the objects that presented themselves.


Within the entrance of the bay, on the northern side, stands a monument*
erected to the memory of La Perouse, that being the last spot at which
the distinguished navigator was heard of, from 1788, until 1826, when the
Chevalier Dillon was furnished with a clue to his melancholy fate by
finding the handle of a French sword fastened to another blade in the
possession of a native of Tucopia, one of the Polynesian group. By this
means he was enabled to trace him to the island of Mannicolo, on the
reefs fronting which his ship was lost.

(*Footnote. On the eastern side is engraven: A la Memoire de Monsieur de
la Perouse. Cette terre qu'il visita en MDCCLXXXVIII. est la derniere
d'ou il a fait parvenir de ses nouvelles.

Also: Erige au nom de la France par les soins de MM. de Bougainville et
Du Campier, commandant la fregate La Thetis, et la corvette L'Esperance,
en relache au Port Jackson, en MDCCCXXV.

On the western side: This place, visited by Monsieur de la Perouse in the
year MDCCLXXXVIII, is the last whence any accounts of him have been

Also: Erected in the name of France by MM. de Bougainville and du
Campier, commanding the frigate the Thetis and the corvette the Hope,
lying in Port Jackson, A.D. MDCCCXXV.

On the north: Le fondement pose en 1825; eleve en 1828.

On the south: Foundation laid in 1825, completed 1828.)

Close by, on the same point, stands the tomb of a French Catholic priest,
named Le Receveur, who accompanied La Perouse, as naturalist, in his
circumnavigation of the globe, and died at this great distance from his
native land. A large stump of a tree rising near, "marks out the sad
spot" where lie mouldering the bones of the wanderer in search of
materials to enrich the stores of science. No doubt many a hope of future
fame expired in that man's breast as he sank into his last sleep in a
foreign clime, far from his home and friends and relations, such as his
order allowed him to possess. The applause of the world, which doubtless
he fancied would have greeted his labours at the end of his perilous
journey, he was now robbed of; and he must have felt that few would ever
recollect his name, save the rare voyager who, like myself, having
encountered the same dangers that he had braved, should chance to read
his short history on the narrow page of stone that rests above his grave.


Another object of greater interest to the Englishman is observable on
Cape Solander, the opposite point of the bay. It is a plate set in the
rock, recording the first visit of the immortal Cook, to whose enterprise
the colonists are indebted for the land that yields them their riches,
and which must now be invested in their eyes with all the sanctity of
home. Surely it would become them to evince a more filial reverence for
the man who must be regarded as in some respects the father of the
colony. Let us hope that they will one day raise a monument to his
memory, which to be worthy of him must be worthy of themselves--something
to point out to future generations the spot at which the first white
man's foot touched the shore, and where civilisation was first brought in
contact with the new continent.


But though Botany Bay is interesting from the associations connected with
it--I am quite serious, though the expression may raise a smile on some
of my readers' lips--the tract of country best worth seeing in the
neighbourhood of Sydney, is Illawarra, commonly called the Garden of New
South Wales. By a change in the formation from sandstone to trap, a soil
this here produced capable of supporting a vegetation equal in luxuriance
to any within the tropics. In the deep valleys that intersect the
country, the tree-fern attains a great stature, and throwing out its rich
spreading fronds on all sides forms a canopy that perfectly excludes the
piercing rays of even an Australian sun. It is impossible to describe the
feelings of surprise and pleasure that are excited in the mind of the
traveller as he descends into any one of these delightful dells: the
contrast in the vegetable kingdom strikes him at once; he gazes around on
the rich masses of verdure with astonishment, and strongly impressed with
the idea that enchantment has been at work, involuntarily rubs his eyes
and exclaims, "Am I in Australia or in the Brazils?"


Few only of the aborigines of the neighbourhood of Sydney are now to be
seen, and these are generally in an intoxicated state. Like most savage
tribes they are passionately addicted to spiritous liquors, and seek to
obtain it by any means in their power. Out of a sugar bag, with a little
water, they manage to extract a liquor sufficient to make half a dozen of
them tipsy; and in this condition, as I have observed, they most
frequently presented themselves to my view. They are in every respect a
weak, degraded, miserable race, and are anything but a favourable
specimen of the benefits produced by intercourse with polished nations on
an uncivilised people. However, the natives of Australia vary as
strangely as its soil; the members of the tribes that dwell about
Shoalhaven and the small southern ports, and come up in coasting vessels,
are good-looking, useful fellows, and may hereafter be made much of. I
noticed also, in my circumnavigation of the continent, a remarkable
diversity in the character of the natives, some being most kindly
disposed, while others manifested the greatest hostility and aversion. My
whole experience teaches me that these were not accidental differences,
but that there is a marked contrast in the dispositions of the various
tribes, for which I will not attempt to account. I leave in the hands of
ethnologists to determine whether we are to seek the cause in minute
variations of climate or in other circumstances, physical or historical.
This I can say, that great pains were formerly taken to civilize the
natives of Sydney, gardens were given them, and numerous attempts made to
inculcate habits of order, and communicate a knowledge of European arts;
but no advantageous results ensued, and it was at length deemed
impossible not only to improve them, but even to prevent their
deterioration. I cannot determine whether this evinces a natural
inaptitude in the savage to learn, or too great impatience in the
teachers to witness the fruits of their labours, and a proneness to be
discouraged by difficulties.


In the journal of my residence at Sydney I find as the result of one
day's experience, the following laconic and somewhat enigmatical
memorandum: "Is this grass?" The question implies a doubt, which it would
not be easy for any person unacquainted with the circumstances of time
and place, to solve: but the reader, when he has seen the explanation,
will understand why very pleasing associations are connected with this
brief note. I was going down to the jetty late one evening, when I met a
party just landed, evidently complete strangers in this quarter of the
world. Their wandering and unsteady glances would have convinced me of
this fact, had their whole appearance left any doubt about the matter:
among them were some ladies, one of whom suddenly detached herself from
her companions, and directed as it were by instinct through the gloom,
hastened towards a few sods of turf, pressed them exaltingly with her
foot, and exclaimed in a light, joyous, happy voice--through which other
emotions than that of mere gladness struggled--"Is this grass?" The words
were nothing. They might have been uttered in a thousand different tones
and have not fixed themselves on my memory; but as they fell in accents
of delight and gratitude from the lips of the speaker, they told a whole
story, and revealed an entire world of feeling. Never shall I forget the
simple expression of this newcomer, whose emotions on first feeling the
solid earth beneath her tread, and touching a remembrance of the land she
had left in quest of another home, will be incomprehensible to no one who
has crossed the ocean.


We met several persons at Sydney from whom we received valuable
information, and particularly Captain King, who, as the reader may
recollect, commanded the first expedition on which the Beagle was
employed. His great scientific attainments must ever attach respect to
his name, and his explorations on the Australian coast, previous to the
survey in which we were engaged, together with his father's services as
Governor of New South Wales, give him and his children a lasting claim
upon the country. The information he furnished on this and subsequent
occasions was extremely valuable.


An observation of his gave rise in my mind to very curious conjectures;
he told me that where he used formerly to anchor the vessel he commanded
in the head of Sydney cove, there was now scarcely sufficient water to
float even a boat. As the deposits of the small stream that flows into it
could not have produced this change, I was led to examine the shore of
the harbour, when I found what seemed to me to be the marks of the sea
higher than its present level; this, coupled with the decrease in the
soundings we found in Darling Harbour, leads to the legitimate inference
that this part of the continent is rising; and my reader will recollect
that it is a prevalent theory that the whole of the vast plains of
Australasia have but recently emerged from the sea.


Leave Sydney.
Enter Bass Strait.
Island at Eastern entrance.
Wilson's Promontory.
Cape Shanck.
Enter Port Phillip.
Commence Surveying Operations.
First Settlement.
Escaped Convict.
His residence with the Natives.
Sail for King Island.
Examine Coast to Cape Otway.
King Island.
Meet Sealers on New Year Islands.
Franklin Road.
Solitary Residence of Captain Smith.
Advantageous position for a Penal Settlement.
Leafless appearance of Trees.
Examine West Coast.
Fitzmaurice Bay.
Stokes' Point.
Seal Bay.
Geological Formation.
Examine Coast to Sea Elephant Rock.
Brig Rock.
Cross the Strait to Hunter Island.
Strong Tide near Reid's Rocks.
Three Hummock Island.
The Black Pyramid.
Point Woolnorth.
Raised Beach.
Coast to Circular Head.
Headquarters of the Agricultural Company.
Capture of a Native.
Mouth of the Tamar River.
Return to Port Phillip.
West Channel.
Yarra-yarra River.
Custom of Natives.
Visit Geelong.
Station Peak.
Aboriginal Names.
South Channel.
Examine Western Port.
Adventure with a Snake.
Black Swans.
Cape Patterson.
Deep Soundings.
Revisit King and Hunter Islands.
Circular Head.
Gales of Wind.
Reid's Rocks.
Sea Elephant Rock.
Wild Dogs.
Navarin and Harbinger Reefs.
Arrive at Port Phillip.
Sail for Sydney.
Pigeon House.
Mr. Usborne leaves.

Before quitting Sydney I must express my gratitude for the hospitality we
experienced during our stay, which prepared us with greater cheerfulness
to encounter the difficulties we might expect to meet with in the
boisterous waters that rolled between the then imperfectly known shores,
and islands of Bass Strait. It was not until the 11th of November that we
bade adieu to our friends, and sailed to commence our contemplated
operations. On the 14th we passed the rocky islands (Kent's Group) at the
eastern entrance of the Strait, their barren and bleak appearance bespoke
the constant gales that swept over them, checking every tendency to
vegetation. As we approached them the soundings decreased to 28 fathoms,
the observation of which fact apprises vessels coming from the eastward
in thick weather, of their proximity. After leaving these islands we
progressed but slowly, and the passage through the Strait promised to be
tedious: yet, as the wind was fair and the weather fine, we had no reason
to complain, considering moreover the remarkably mild reception we met
with in the Funnel, the name commonly and most appropriately given by the
colonists to Bass Strait, from the constant strong winds that sweep
through it.


On the 17th we passed Wilson's Promontory, the southern extremity of
Australia, connected with the main by a low sandy isthmus, only left dry
it is probable of late years. It is a very mountainous tract, rearing its
many peaks in solemn grandeur from the waves and burying their summits*
at most seasons of the year, in a canopy of grey mist. On some occasions,
however, the bold outline of the mountains is relieved against a clear
sky, and their loftiest points catch the first rays of the morning sun,
as it rises from the eastern ocean. Many small islands are dispersed over
the sea in front of this promontory, and partake of its character, being
apparently the tops of mountains thrusting themselves up from the deep,
and suggesting the belief that new countries are about to be disclosed.
Passing Port Western, generally called Western Port, a high mound on the
south-eastern extremity of Grant Island was the most conspicuous object.
The next remarkable feature in the coast is Cape Shanck, a projection at
the western end of a long line of cliffs. Lying close off it is a rock,
named, from its exact resemblance, Pulpit Rock.

(*Footnote. Nearly 3000 feet high.)


In a small bay on the east side of this headland we caught a glimpse of
some rich valleys; but from thence for a distance of 16 miles, the coast
retains a barren sandy character to Port Phillip, which we reached on the
afternoon of the 18th. We scarcely found any ripplings in the entrance,
an occurrence of extreme rarity; for it will readily be imagined that a
body of water required to fill a bay thirty miles deep and twenty broad,
passing through an entrance one mile and a half in width, must rush with
great violence; and when we take into account the extreme unevenness of
the bottom (soundings varying from 40 to 25 and even 9 fathoms) no
surprise can be felt that such a stream, particularly when opposed to a
strong wind, should raise a dangerous sea. The force of it may be
conjectured from a fact of which I was myself witness. Standing on one of
the entrance points, I saw a schooner trying to get in with all sails set
before a fresh breeze, and yet she was carried out by the current.
Another observation is also recorded for the guidance of the stranger
passing into the port. When in the middle of the entrance, a low clump of
dark bushes breaking the line of white sand beach beyond Shortlands
Bluff, was just seen clear of the latter.

The first appearance of Port Phillip is very striking, and the effect of
the view is enhanced by the contrast with the turbulent waves without and
in the entrance. As soon as these have been passed, a broad expanse of
placid water displays itself on every side; and one might almost fancy
oneself in a small sea. But the presence of a distant highland forming a
bluff in the North-East soon dispels this idea. Besides this bluff
(called by the natives Dandonong) Arthur's Seat, and Station Peak are the
principal features that catch the eye of the stranger. The latter, called
Youang by the natives, is one of a small group of lofty peaks rising
abruptly out of a low plain on the western shore of the bay; whilst
Arthur's Seat towers over the eastern shore, and forms the northern
extremity of a range subsiding gradually to the coast at Cape Shanck.

Anchoring close to the southern shore, about three miles within the
entrance, we set to work in good earnest with our surveying
operations--in the first place selecting a conspicuous spot for
observation, from which all the meridians of our work in the western part
of the Strait were to be measured. For the sake of my nautical readers I
may mention that the western extreme of the cliffy patches on the south
shore of the bay, marks the place chosen. The nature of our employment
confining us to the neighbourhood of the entrance, we had no opportunity
of visiting the town of Melbourne, situated near the northern side of the
bay. This capital of Australia Felix had for a long time been known to
some squatters from Tasmania; but to Sir Thomas Mitchell the inhabitants
must ever feel grateful for revealing to the world at large the fertility
of the districts in its neighbourhood. It is not a little singular that
the attempt to form a settlement at this place in 1826 should have
failed. A fort was built and abandoned, and of the party of convicts who
accompanied the expedition, two escaped and joined the natives, by whom
one was murdered, whilst the other, contriving by some means to
ingratiate himself with them, remained in their company until 1835, when
he was discovered by the settlers from Tasmania. During the eleven years
he had passed in the bush, without coming in contact with any other
European, he had entirely forgotten his own language, and had degenerated
into a perfect savage. His intellect, if he ever possessed much, had
almost entirely deserted him; and nothing of any value could be gleaned
from him respecting the history and manners of the tribe with whom he had
so long dwelt. He received his pardon and went to Hobart, but such was
the indolence he had contracted that nothing could be made of him.

The southern shore of Port Phillip is a singular long narrow tongue of
land, running out from the foot of the range of which Arthur's Seat is
the most conspicuous point. I infer from the limestone prevailing in it,
and containing shells of recent species, that it was once much beneath
its present level; in fact, that it stops up what was formerly a broad
mouth of the bay, leaving only the present narrow entrance at the western
extremity. Over its surface are scattered hills from one to two hundred
feet in height, in the valleys between which was found some light sandy
soil supporting at this time rich grass, and at various places a thin
growth of Banksia, Eucalypti, and Casuarina, all stunted and showing
symptoms of having been roughly used by the south wind. Near the spot we
had chosen for the centre of our observations was a well of inferior
water, and we did not find any better in the neighbourhood. The point in
question therefore will never be very eligible as a settlement. The
kangaroos are numerous and large, and the finest snappers I have ever
heard of are caught off this point, weighing sometimes as much as thirty
pounds. Our fishing experiments, however, were not very productive, being
principally sharks; thirteen young ones were found in a single female of
this species.


Bad weather prolonged our stay until the 26th of November. We had been
chiefly occupied in determining the position of the mouths of the various
channels intersecting the banks, that extend across the entire bay, three
miles within the entrance. The most available passages appeared to be
those lying on the south and west shores, particularly the former for
vessels of great draught; but we did not conclude the examination of them
at this time, sailing on the morning of the 26th to survey the coast to
the westward. The first thirteen miles, trending West by South was of a
low sandy character, what seemed to be a fertile country stretching
behind it. Two features on this line are worthy of notice--Point
Flinders, resembling an island from seaward, on account of the low land
in its rear; and the mouth of the river Barwon, navigable for boats
entering in very fine weather. On its northern bank, eight miles from the
sea is the site of the town of Geelong. Passing this the nature of the
country begins to change, and high grassy downs with rare patches of
woodland present themselves, which in their turn give place, as we
approach Cape Otway, to a steep rocky coast, with densely wooded land
rising abruptly over it.


The above-mentioned Cape is the northern point of the western extremity
of Bass Strait, and is swept by all the winds that blow into that end of
the Funnel. The pernicious effect of these is evident in the stunted
appearance of the trees in its neighbourhood. It is a bold projection in
latitude 38 degrees 51 minutes, and appears to be the South-West
extremity of a ridge of granite gradually rising from it in a North-East
direction. About half a mile off it, lies a small detached reef.

Having thus coasted the northern side of the Strait, we proceeded to
cross over to Tasmania to examine the southern side. About halfway is
King Island, extending in a north and south direction, thirty-five miles,
and in an east and west thirteen. It lies right across the entrance of
the Strait, about forty miles from either shore, and from its isolated
position is well adapted for a penal settlement.

The more northern channel of the two formed by this island is the safer,
and the water deepens from 47 to 65 fathoms as you approach it from the
continent. Its outline is not remarkable, the most conspicuous point
being a round hill 600 feet high over the northern point called Cape
Wickham. We anchored in a bay on the North-West side, under New Year
Island, which affords shelter for a few vessels from all winds. There is
a narrow passage between the two, but none between them and the southern
point of the bay, which is open to the north-west. On the summit of one
of these islands boulders of granite are strewed, and they exhibit a very
remarkable white appearance from seaward when the sun has passed his


A sealer had established himself on the north island with two wives,
natives of Tasmania. They were clothed in very comfortable greatcoats
made of kangaroo skins, and seemed quite contented with their condition.
Their offspring appeared sharp and intelligent. In another part of my
work I shall touch more fully on the history of these sealers, who style
themselves Residents of the islands. They further distinguish their
classes by the names of Eastern and Western Straits-men, according to the
position of the islands they inhabit.

The sealers on New Year Island had a large whaleboat, which I was
somewhat puzzled to know how they managed, there being but one man among
them. He informed me, however, that his wives, the two native women,
assisted him to work the boat, which had been well prepared for the rough
weather they have to encounter in Bass Strait by a canvas half-deck,
which, lacing in the centre, could be rolled up on the gunwale in fine


The principal occupation of these people during this month of the year is
taking the Sooty Petrel, called by the colonists the Mutton Bird, from a
fancied resemblance to the taste of that meat. It is at the present month
that they resort to the island for the purpose of incubation. They
constitute the chief sustenance of the sealers, who cure them for use and
sale: their feathers also form a considerable article of trade. Many
parts of the island were perfectly honeycombed with their burrows, which
greatly impede the progress of the pedestrian, and are in some cases
dangerous from snakes lying in them. The sealers told me that they had
lost a cat which died within an hour after the bite of one of these
reptiles. We here found cabbages and water, and the people informed us
that it was always their custom to plant a few vegetables on the islands
they frequented.

From the top of this island we had a good view of the Harbinger reefs,
so-called from a convict ship of that name which was lost upon them and
all hands perished. I was glad to find they were only two detached rocks
lying three miles and a half from the shore, instead of, as reported, one
continued reef lying six or seven miles from the land. They bore north
six miles from our position.


The sealers informed us that a house which we descried in the bay, was
occupied by a gentleman who had met with a reverse of fortune. We
accordingly paid him a visit next morning, and found that he was a
Captain Smith with whom the world had gone wrong, and who had accordingly
fled as far as possible from the society of civilised man and taken up
his residence on the shores of King Island with his family. He had given
the name of Port Franklin to the bay, which we changed to Franklin Road,
from its not being worthy of the title of a Port. He was led to choose
his position from its being in the neighbourhood of the only secure
anchorage from all winds, and near the best soil he had found after
traversing the whole of the island. According to his account it was
totally unfit for rearing sheep on a large scale; the bushes and grass
being so full of burrs that the wool was completely spoiled. The soil was
everywhere very inferior, and a few patches only of clean land was to be
found, the principal part being overrun with dense scrub and impervious
thickets. There were few elevations on the island, and those not of any
great magnitude, the loftiest point being scarcely seven hundred feet.
The formation of the neighbourhood of Captain Smith's house was granite:
water abounds.


The house in which this modern Robinson Crusoe dwelt was what is called a
Slab Hut, formed of rough boards and thatched with grass. He had a garden
in which grew some cabbages and a few other vegetables; but he complained
sorely of blight from the west winds. There are three varieties of
kangaroos on the island, and plenty of wildfowl on some of the lagoons;
so that supplies are abundant: but the few sheep he possessed were
rendered of little value from the burrs I have before mentioned. I could
not help pitying the condition of this gentleman and his interesting
family--a wife and daughter and three or four fine boys. They had
retained a few of the tastes and habits of civilized life, and I observed
a good library with a flute and music in the Slab Hut. It was with great
pleasure that I afterwards learned that Captain Smith's prospects had
brightened. He is now, I believe, a comfortable settler on the eastern
side of Tasmania.

On the 29th we passed down the western shore of King Island, finding the
coast to be low, treacherous and rocky. We discovered some outlying rocks
a mile and half from shore, and about eleven miles south from New Year
Island. The most remarkable circumstance we noticed in this part of our
cruise, was the leafless appearance of the trees on the higher parts of
the island. It seemed as though a hurricane had stripped them of their
verdure. They reminded me strongly of a wintry day in the north.

About eight miles from the extremity of the island we discovered a bay
affording good anchorage in east winds. It was afterwards called
Fitzmaurice Bay. From its neighbourhood a long dark line of black cliffs
stretches southward until within about three miles of the point, when the
ground sinks suddenly, whence vessels are apt to be misled and to fancy
that the island ends there, whilst in reality it stretches out into a low
dangerous rocky point, named after the writer, for about three miles


Rounding this we anchored on the eastern side of it in Seal Bay--a wild
anchorage, the swell constantly rolling in with too much surf to allow of
our commencing a series of tidal observations. This bay, in the mouth of
which lies a small cluster of rocks, is separated from the one on the
opposite side, by a strip of low sandy land, which, as I have said, may
easily be overlooked by vessels coming from the westward. A ship indeed
has been lost from fancying that the sea was clear south of the black
cliffs that skirt the shore down from Fitzmaurice Bay. The Wallaby are
numerous on this part of the island. Mr. Bynoe shot one (Halmaturus
bellidereii) out of whose pouch he took a young one which he kept on
board and tamed. It subsequently became a great pet with us all.

I noticed here a trappean dyke, but the general formation of this end of
King Island exactly corresponded with that about Captain Smith's house,
which shows that it is a continuous ridge of granite. The south-eastern
shore is rather steep, and the ground which rises abruptly over it is
almost denuded of wood.

Leaving Seal Bay--from the south point of which we saw the principal
dangers at this extremity of Bass Strait, Reid's rocks bearing East by
South 1/4 South 12 miles--we coasted round the eastern shore and anchored
off a sandy bay about the centre of the island. The only remarkable
object was a rock, lying one mile from the shore and five from Seal Bay,
on which we bestowed a name suggested by its form, Brig Rock. Off the
north point of the bay in which we anchored lies a white rock or islet
called Sea Elephant Rock, with a reef a mile off its north point.
Opposite this is a small inlet fed by the drainage of some lagoons or
swamps behind the bay. Northward the character of the coast, as far as we
could see, changes considerably, being lower, with a continued line of
sandy shore.

A breeze from the eastward prevented our completing the survey of the
northern side of the island; but one important result we had arrived at,
namely, that safe anchorage may be obtained in west winds within a
moderate distance of this part of the shore in less than fifteen fathoms.


We now crossed over to the group of islands fronting the north-western
point of Tasmania, and confining the southern side of the mouth of the
Strait. The tide setting to the South-West at the rate of three knots an
hour* brought us within five miles of Reid's rocks. Passing at that
distance from their eastern side we had 28 and 30 fathoms sand and rock:
and the greatest depth we found in crossing was 37 fathoms towards the
south side of the Strait.

(*Footnote. This set of the tide being rather across the channel renders
the passage between King Island and Reid's rocks by no means
recommendable. Captain King on returning to New South Wales, used this
passage and was very nearly wrecked; the set of the tides at that time
not being known. It appears they saw the south point of King Island just
at dark, and shaped a course well wide of Reid's rocks; they found
themselves, however, drifted by the tide close on them. We made the time
of high-water at the full and change of the moon in this entrance of the
Strait to be half an hour before noon; but the western stream began three
hours and a half before, and the eastern again precedes low-water by the
same amount of time.)


Early on the morning of December 3rd, we reached a secure anchorage
between Three Hummock Island, and Hunter, formerly called Barren Island;
and we had every reason to be thankful at finding ourselves in such a
snug berth, for during our stay, we experienced gales from east and west,
with such sudden changes that no ship could have saved herself. This made
us sensible how necessary it was to choose anchorages sheltered from both
winds. Our surveying operations were sadly delayed by this boisterous

Three Hummock Island receives its name from three peaks rising on its
eastern side. The south rises abruptly from the water and forms a
singular sugarloaf 790 feet high. It is composed of granite, boulders of
which front many of the points, forming strange figures. The whole of the
island is clothed with an almost impervious scrub, which growing
laterally forms a perfect network, so that it is impossible to traverse
it. Mr. Bynoe procured few specimens of birds in consequence. The
woodcutters one day cut a small brown opossum in half: it seemed to be a
very rare if not a new animal; but unfortunately the head part could not
be found. Small brown rats were very numerous, they had rather short
tails with long hind feet, and sat up like kangaroos.

The trees on this island are small and stunted, being chiefly Banksia and
Eucalypti. Water is plentiful. We supplied the ship from wells dug on the
north point of a sandy bay on the South-East side of the island.*

(*Footnote. The reef that so nearly sealed the Mermaid's fate with
Captain King, we found to lie half a mile north-west from the north-east
end of Three Hummock Island.)


Hunter Island well deserves its former name of Barren, for it is
perfectly treeless; a green kind of scrub overruns its surface, which at
its highest point is three hundred feet above the level of the sea. In
form it is like a closed hand with the fore-finger extended, pointing
north. The inclination of its strata differs, dipping to the sea on both
sides, east and west. These at first sight appeared to be of the same
kind of sandstone that we had seen so much of on the North-West coast,
but on closer inspection I found they were raised beaches; the prevailing
mass of the island was a granitoid rock.


From stations on Hunter Island we were enabled to determine the positions
of the numerous dangers fronting its west or seaward side, and also that
of a dark mass of rock, 250 feet high, appropriately named the Black
Pyramid, lying 16 miles West by North from the centre of the island, and
in latitude 40 degrees 28 minutes South which places it nearly five miles
south of its position in the old charts. It is quite a finger-post to
this entrance of the Strait, and all ships should pass close to it. When
I looked at these islands and rocks I could not help thinking of poor
Captain Flinders and his enterprising companion Mr. Bass, the discoverers
of the north-western part of Tasmania. What a thrill of excitement must
have shot through their frames when on rounding Hunter Island, in the
little Norfolk cutter, they first felt the long swell of the ocean and
became convinced of the insular character of Tasmania! This discovery
must have amply repaid them for all their toils and privations. Nothing
indeed is so calculated to fill the heart of the navigator with pride, as
the consciousness that he has widened the sphere of geographical science,
and added new seas and new lands to the known world.

The south end of Hunter Island is about three miles from a point of the
mainland, called Woolnorth; but from the rocks and inlets that encumber
the passage and the rapid rush of the tide it is only navigable for small
vessels with great caution. Point Woolnorth is a rather low sloping point
composed of the same rock as Hunter Island. Ten miles south of it a
raised beach again occurs 100 feet above the level of the sea. Behind
Point Woolnorth the country swells into hills nearly six hundred feet
high. Three miles from its extreme is an out-station of the Van Diemen's
Land Agricultural Company, of which I shall say more anon. Some forty
persons are here located under the care of a German, who amused himself
by making a large collection of insects, which he has since taken to
Germany. The soil on this extremity of Tasmania is most productive; but
much labour is required in clearing for the purposes of cultivation. From
thence to Circular Head, bearing East 1/2 South 26 miles, the shore is
low and sinuous, forming three shallow bights.


Walker and Robbins islands, which lie together in the shape of an
equilateral triangle, with sides of nine miles, front the coast about
midway, and leave only a narrow boat-channel between them and the main.

On Walker Island our boats met the wives of some sealers whose husbands
had gone to King Island on a sealing excursion. They were clothed like
those on New Year Island. One was half European and half Tasmanian, and
by no means ill-looking; she spoke very good English and appeared to take
more care of her person than her two companions, who were aborigines of
pure blood. A few wild flowers were tastefully entwined with her hair,
which was dressed with some pretensions to elegance. They had a pack of
dogs along with them, and depended in a great measure for their
maintenance on the Wallaby they killed. The skin also of these animals
constitutes to them an important article of trade.

It was the 15th before we had completed for the present our survey of
this part, owing as I have before observed, to the constant bad weather,
which was doubly felt by the boats in which all the materials for the
chart of this neighbourhood were collected.


We now examined the coast to Circular Head, under the north side of which
we anchored in 7 fathoms on the morning of the 18th, after spending a day
under the South-East corner off Robbins Island, where we found good
anchorage in westerly winds. Making too free with the shore with a low
sun ahead, we grounded for a short time on a shingle spit extending off
the low point North-West from Circular Head. Three quarters of a mile
East-North-East from this point is a dangerous rocky ledge just awash, on
which several vessels have run. By keeping the bluff extreme of Circular
Head open it may always be avoided.

The latter is a singular cliffy mass of trappean rock, rising abruptly
from the water till its flattened crest reaches an elevation of 490 feet.

This strange projection stands on the eastern side of a small peninsula.
On the parts broken off where it joins the sandy bay on the north side,
we found the compass perfectly useless, from the increased quantity of
magnetic iron ore they contain.

It is on this point that the headquarters of the Van Diemen's Land
Agricultural Company are established under the charge of a Mr. Curr,
whose house with its extensive out-buildings and park, occupying some
rising ground on the northern part of the point, greets the eye of the
stranger, to whom the reflection is forcibly suggested by the sight, that
the natural graces of the scene, must soon yield to the restraining
regularity with which man marks his conquests from the wilderness. The
name of this faint memento of home was, we were informed, Hyfield; a
straggling village occupies a flat to the left, and in the bay on the
south side of the head, which is the general anchorage, is a store with a
substantial jetty.

English grasses have been sown at this establishment with great success,
one acre of ground now feeding four sheep, instead of as before, four
acres being required for one; the improvement in the grass was also made
evident by the excellent condition in which all the stock appeared to be.


The garden at Hyfield was quite in keeping with the other parts of the
establishment, and it was not a little pleasing to observe a number of
English fruit trees. I was told, however, that they suffered exceedingly
from blight which was brought by the west winds. In one corner that at
first escaped my curiosity, so completely had it been shut out from the
gaze of all by a winding bowery walk, I found in a sort of alcove, the
tomb of a child; upon it lay a fresh bouquet of flowers, revealing that
the dead was not forgotten by those who were left behind. It was easy to
divine, and I afterwards learned this to be the case, that it was the
mother, Mrs. Curr, who came every morning to pay this tribute of
affection to the departed. A weeping willow drooped its supple branches
over the tomb; some honey-suckle and sweet-briar surrounded it, loading
the air with their rich fragrance; not even the chirping of a bird
disturbed the solemn silence that reigned around; everything seemed to
conspire to suggest holy and melancholy thoughts, and I lingered awhile
to indulge in them; but perceiving by the few footmarks that I was an
intruder, hastened to retire, by no means sorry, however, to have
discovered this evidence of the enduring love a mother bears her

In the Park at Hyfield were some fallow deer, imported from England, and
seeming to thrive exceedingly well. There were also two emus, the sight
of which reminded me of a very curious observation I had before made, and
the truth of which again struck me forcibly, namely, that the face of the
Emu bears a most remarkable likeness to that of the aborigines of New
South Wales. Had there been any intimacy between the native and the Emu,
I might have been disposed to resort to this circumstance as an
explanation; for some maintain that the human countenance partakes of the
expression and even of the form of whatever, whether man or beast, it is
in the habit of associating with.


The Company have another station about sixty miles South-East from
Circular Head, at the Surrey hills, from whence the road to Launceston is
good and wide. But between it and Circular Head there are several rivers
to ford, and the country is not only very hilly, but densely wooded with
enormous trees, some of which I was informed were 30 feet in
circumference. This causes great difficulty in clearing the land. They
accomplish about fifty acres every year. The establishment consists of
one hundred persons, many of whom are convicts. They are kept in
excellent order; and their being strictly forbidden the use of spirits no
doubt contributes materially to prevent their giving trouble. I could not
help thinking that the Company conducted its operations on too extensive
a scale to render their undertaking profitable. The high pay of their
officers, and the difficulties encountered in clearing the land, are in
themselves considerable drawbacks; especially when we consider, that
after all the pains bestowed, the soil acquired for the purposes of
cultivation is often of very inferior quality.

The soil on the peninsula, of which Circular Head forms the most
remarkable feature, is generally speaking of a poor light character, and
not well watered. The country lying immediately behind it is low and cut
up with branches from a large estuary.

My esteemed friend, Count Strzelecki, traversed the country between
Circular Head and Point
Woolnorth (North-West extreme of Tasmania) and describes it as presenting
"eight rivers as difficult to cross as the Scamander, with deep gullies
and rocky ridges, and marshes more difficult to overcome than either
ridges or rivers."


We learned there were some mineral waters about fifteen miles to the
westward of Circular Head. The ingredients they contain, and their
medicinal properties, were discovered by Count Strzelecki, who in
speaking of them, says, "I have endeavoured to ascertain both--the latter
on my own constitution, and the former by chemical analysis. They belong
to a class of carbonated waters." From his examination he concludes,
"that they are aperient and tonic, and sufficiently disgusting to the
palate to pass for highly medicinal."

Whilst here, I was informed that a small party of natives were still at
large, though seldom seen, keeping in the remotest recesses of the woods.
They thus succeeded in avoiding for some years their enemy the white man.
Indeed it was only when pressed by hunger that these aboriginal
possessors of the soil ventured to emerge from their hiding-places, and
rob some of the Company's out-stations of flour. By these means, however,
it was that a knowledge was obtained of their existence. For, though they
managed so secretly, that it was some time before they were found out, a
shepherd at an out-station, began at last frequently to miss flour and
tobacco* in a very mysterious manner. He determined accordingly to watch,
but was for a long time unsuccessful. At length he saw a native woman
steal into the hut, when he drew the door to by a line which communicated
with his place of concealment. Of the treatment this poor woman received
from the hands of her captor I shall treat hereafter. After being kept a
prisoner some time, she was sent to Flinders Island; but it was long
before the discovery was made that she had any companions. I was informed
that the shepherd who took her, afterwards lost his life by the spear of
a native, probably impelled by revenge.

(*Footnote. The fondness exhibited by the aborigines who inhabit the
southern parts of Australia for smoking is extraordinary.)


We completed our operations on the evening of the day on which we
arrived, namely, December 18th, and left for the Tamar river, in order to
measure a meridian distance. Passing six miles from Rocky Cape, we had 28
fathoms; and steering east, the depth gradually increased to 42 fathoms,
with a soft muddy bottom, being then twenty miles North-West by West from
Port Dalrymple, the mouth of the Tamar.

The 19th was one of the few fine days it was our good fortune to meet
with, and we enjoyed a splendid view of the Alpine features of Tasmania.
Towering peaks connected sometimes by high tablelands, glittered in the
sun as if capped with snow.*

(*Footnote. Near Hobart, in February 1836, I saw snow on the side of a


Early in the afternoon, the lighthouse on Low Head appeared like a white
speck resting on the blue horizon; and by evening we found ourselves at
anchor just within the reefs fronting the west entrance point of Port
Dalrymple. The first appearance of the Tamar river is not very inviting
to the seaman. A rapid stream, thrown out of its course, hemmed in by
numerous reefs, and passing over a bottom so uneven as to cause a change
in the soundings from 12 to 26, and then 18 fathoms, with a ripple or
line of broken water across the mouth renders it impossible in strong
North-West winds for a stranger to detect the channels, and raises so
much sea that the pilots cannot reach the vessels that arrive off the

As the Beagle passed through the west channel, the shear or first beacon
on the west reefs was on with a round-topped hill some distance up the
river. Although there is very apparent difficulty in navigating the
Tamar, still the first glance shows it to be a stream of importance. Its
valley, although not wide, may be traced for miles abruptly separating
the ranges of hills. We can easily imagine, therefore, the joy
experienced by Captain Flinders on first discovering it in 1798, and thus
bestowing a solid and lasting benefit on the future Tasmanian colonists.
This is not, however, the only portion of Australasia whose inhabitants
are indebted for the riches they are reaping from the soil, to the
enterprising spirit of Captain Flinders.

George Town is a straggling village lying two miles within the entrance
of the Tamar; in its neighbourhood were found greenstone, basalt, and
trappean rocks. Launceston, the northern capital of Tasmania, lies thirty
miles up the river, or rather at the confluence of the two streams called
the North and South Esk, which form it.


We found that the Governor was attending not only to the present but the
future welfare of the colonists, by examining into the most eligible
spots for erecting lighthouses at the eastern entrance of Bass Strait,
fronting the North-East extreme of Tasmania, the numerous dangers
besetting which have been fatal to several vessels. These buildings will
be lasting records of the benefits the colony derived from Sir John
Franklin's government.

As we subsequently visited the Tamar, it is needless to give here the
little information we gathered during our brief stay. Our observations
were made on the south point of Lagoon Bay, where we found a whaleboat
belonging to a party of sealers just arrived with birds' feathers and
skins for the Launceston market. They had left their wives and families,
including their dogs, on the islands they inhabit.


On the morning of the 22nd, we were again out of the Tamar, and making
the best of our way to Port Phillip for a meridian distance. There was
little tide noticed in the middle of the Strait; the greatest depth we
found was 47 fathoms, 68 miles North-West from the Tamar, where the
nature of the bottom was a grey muddy sand or marl.

At noon on the 23rd, we entered Port Phillip, and ran up through the West
Channel in three and three and a half fathoms.

Point Lonsdale, the west entrance point, being kept open of Shortland
bluff--a cliffy projection about two miles within it--leads into the
entrance; and a clump of trees on the northern slope of Indented Head,
was just over a solitary patch of low red cliffs, as we cleared the
northern mouth of the channel. From thence to Hobson's Bay, where we
anchored at 3 P.M., the course is North by West 22 miles across a
splendid sheet of water, of which the depth is 11 and 13 fathoms.

William Town, the seaport town of Australia Felix, named after his
Majesty King William IV., stands on a very low piece of land forming the
southern shore of Hobson's Bay, called Point Gellibrand, after a
gentleman from Hobart, one of the first who brought stock to Port
Phillip. He was lost in the bush in a very mysterious manner in 1834. No
trace of him or his horse was found till 1842, when some of the natives
showed where his mouldering bones lay. The point that bears his name
scarcely projects sufficiently to afford large ships shelter from south
winds in Hobson's Bay. In the North-West corner of the latter is the
mouth of the Yarra-yarra river; but although only one mile and a half
from the general anchorage, it is very difficult to be made out. The
following anecdote will illustrate the difficulty of detecting the mouths
of rivers in Australia. Soon after we anchored in Hobson's Bay, a small
schooner passed, going to Melbourne. Several of the officers were at the
time standing on the poop, and each selected a spot at which the schooner
was to enter the river; and although, as I have before stated, we were
only one mile and a half from it, none of us was right. A single tall
bushy-topped tree, about a mile inland, rose over the schooner as she
left the waters of Hobson's Bay.

William Town consisted, at that time, of only a few houses. One
disadvantage under which this place labours is badness of water, while
the country around it is a dead level, with clumps of very open woodland.
The formation is whinstone, but the soil's fertile quality shows an
absence of sandstone.


Proceeding up the Yarra-yarra, we found that about two miles from the
mouth, the river divides, one branch continuing in a northerly direction,
and the other, a narrow sluggish stream, turning suddenly off to the
eastward. The banks are so densely wooded, that it is seldom if ever that
its surface is ruffled by a breeze.


The township of Melbourne on its north bank, five miles from the river's
mouth, we found a very bustling place. Nearly two thousand persons had
already congregated there, and more were arriving every day, so that
great speculation was going on in land. We were delighted with the
park-like appearance of the country, and the rich quality of the soil.
This was the most fertile district we had seen in all Australia; and I
believe everyone allows that such is the case. Its reputation indeed was
at one time so great, that it became the point of attraction for all
settlers from the mother country, where at one time the rage for Port
Phillip became such, that there existed scarcely a village in which some
of the inhabitants, collecting their little all, did not set out for this
land of promise, with the hope of rapidly making a fortune and returning
to end their days in comfort at home. Everyone I think must leave with
such hopes; for who can deliberately gather up his goods and go into a
far country with the settled intention of never returning?

A rocky ledge extends across the river fronting the town, upon which the
plan had been formed of erecting a dam for the purpose of keeping the
water fresh; whereas now the river is salt above the town, and the well
water is not particularly good. The Yarra-yarra is not navigable even for
boats many miles beyond Melbourne, on account of the numerous falls. Some
of the reaches above the town are very picturesque--still glassy sheets
of water stretch between steep banks clothed with rich vegetation down to
the very edge of the stream--the branches of the trees droop over the
smooth surface, and are vividly reflected; and substance is so perfectly
blended with shadow, that it is impossible to detect where they unite.

At the western extremity of Melbourne is a low round hill, fifty-seven
feet above the level of the sea by our observations, and about thirty
above the town. There are now none of the aborigines in the neighbourhood
of Melbourne; but I learned that some of their old men remember the time
when the site of the town was under water, in consequence of one of those
sudden inundations that happen in Australia, and are so much in keeping
with the other strange things that occur there.


Having alluded to the natives, I may here mention a singular custom that
came under notice some time after, at the Protectorate in the valley of
the Loddon, in the vicinity of Melbourne. Several women were observed
having their faces completely concealed by their opossum-skin mantles.
Not satisfied with this moreover, in passing a party of men, they moved
in a sidelong manner, so as to render it impossible, even if the covering
came to be displaced, that their faces should be seen. In the evening at
the Corobbery, these persons, three in number, were seated in the circle
of women, so as to have their backs turned to the dancers or actors,
their faces still being wholly concealed. They remained seated,
motionless, taking no part in the singing or the gestures of
encouragement indulged in by the other women. It was subsequently
explained by a protector, that these were women who had daughters
betrothed to the men of their tribe, and that during the period of
betrothment the mothers are always thus rigidly veiled.

Near Mount Macedon, thirty miles North-West from Melbourne, there has
been discovered, I was informed, a quarry of marble of a very fine
quality; and in the same neighbourhood is an extinct crater. The
formation at and in the immediate vicinity of Melbourne, is of tertiary
deposits associated with arenaceous older rocks.

We returned to the ships by a short route leading direct from Melbourne
to the northern shore of Hobson's Bay. During the walk I was much struck
with the great risk that people run in selecting land from a map of this
country, half of our road lying over a rich loam, and the other half over
soft sand. The trees swarmed with large locusts (the cicada) quite
deafening us with their shrill buzzing noise.


We found the branches of these trees and the ground underneath strewed
over with a white substance resembling small flakes of snow, called by
the colonists manna. I am aware that an erroneous idea exists that this
matter is deposited by the locusts; but in fact it is an exudation from
the Eucalyptus; and although I saw it beneath another kind of tree, it
must have been carried there by the wind. A different sort, of a pale
yellow colour, is found on a smaller species of Eucalyptus growing on
highlands, and is much sought after for food by the natives, who
sometimes scrape from the tree as much as a pound in a quarter of an
hour. It has the taste of a delicious sweetmeat, with an almond flavour,
and is so luscious that much cannot be eaten of it. This is well worthy
of attention from our confectioners at home, and it may hereafter form an
article of commerce, although from what has fallen under my own
observation, and from what I have learnt from Mr. Eyre and others, I
should say it is not of frequent occurrence. The first kind, being found
strewed underneath the tree probably exudes from the leaf, whilst the
second oozes from the stem. The wood of the latter is much used for fuel
by the natives, especially in night-fishing, and burns brightly, without
smoke, diffusing also a delicious aromatic smell.


On Christmas day, which we spent in Hobson's Bay, we experienced one of
those hot winds which occasionally occur coming off the land. During its
prevalence, everything assumes a strange appearance--objects are seen
with difficulty, and acquire a tremulous motion like that which is
imparted to everything seen through the air escaping from an over-heated
stove. The thermometer on a wall under the glare of the sun, stood at 135

We surveyed Hobson's Bay during our stay, and connected it by
triangulation with Melbourne. Our observations were made at the inner end
of a small jetty. The mouth of the Yarra-yarra is closed up by a bar,
which from its soft muddy nature may be easily removed. The deepest water
we found on it at high tide was nine feet.


Having completed our operations, we next morning, January 1st, 1839,
departed for Corio Harbour, situated at the head of a deep inlet midway
on the western shore of Port Phillip. We found our progress impeded as we
beat up it by a long spit, extending two thirds of the way across from a
low projecting point lying midway on the north shore. On the opposite
side, the land is of moderate elevation, and has in many places a most
inviting rich park-like appearance, swelling on all sides into grassy
downs, with patches of open woodland interspersed. In the afternoon we
anchored in three fathoms, about a quarter of a mile from the south point
of Corio Harbour. This is a level expanse of land named Point Henry, from
which a long spit extends, leaving only a shoal channel between it and
the northern shore. Thus, though the harbour has apparently a broad open
mouth, it is impossible for a large vessel to enter it.

January 2.

After breakfast a party of us went to visit Captain Fyans, the police
magistrate of the district, for the purpose of arranging a trip to
Station Peak. We landed on the South-West corner of Corio Harbour, where
we found four fathoms close to the beach, immediately over which is the
north end of the township of Geelong. A kind of store and two other
wooden buildings pointed out its locality. Captain Fyans was living in a
log-hut on the banks of the Marabul River. Our road thither lay west
about three miles across a woody down.


The Marabul runs to the southward, and joins the Barwon flowing from the
west; after which the united streams take a south-easterly direction. The
course of the latter I was anxious to trace, having seen its mouth in
passing along the coast west from Port Phillip. Very opportunely I met
with Mr. Smith, belonging to the colonial surveying department, who being
employed in the neighbourhood, took me to a commanding station on some
low hills about three miles to the south, called by the natives Barabul.
We crossed the Barwon running to the south-east at the foot of them, near
where it fell some height over a rocky shelf forming a pretty waterfall.
Turning to the left from this roar of water, you find the stream
meandering silently between rich grassy flats. On one of these Mr.
Smith's tents were pitched, overlooked by a craggy height on the opposite
side of the river; and the blue stream of smoke that arose from the fire
of his party, helped to impart life and beauty to the scene. From the
Barabul hills I almost traced the Barwon to its confluence with the sea.
Five miles to the south-east from where we stood it communicated with a
large lagoon; after leaving which, I was informed there was only a depth
of three feet, and a width of one eighth of a mile. It is not, however,
this alone that renders the Barwon useless for water-carriage to the town
of Geelong; for the exposed situation of its mouth almost always prevents
boats from entering.

The singular sloping treeless sides of the Barabul hills, and the
declivities of the valley of the Marabul river, bear a striking
resemblance to many parts of Eastern Patagonia. They appear as if they
had just emerged from the sea, which had as it were scooped out their
hollows and smoothed their sides. A remarkable high round hill, perfectly
bare of trees, and called by the natives Moriac, bore West 1/2 South six
miles from where we stood. On our return we met some of the natives; they
were the first I had seen of the aborigines of this part of the
continent, and were certainly a finer race than the people on the western
coasts. They complained of the white men bringing animals into their
country that scare away the kangaroo, and destroy the roots which at
certain seasons of the year form part of their sustenance. This, Mr.
Smith told me, was a very general complaint.

I spent a very pleasant evening at Captain Fyans' comfortable quarters,
in the course of which arrangements were made for next day's journey to
Station Peak, Mr. Smith kindly offering to lend me a horse and to
accompany me.


January 3.

We started for Station Peak very early. The morning air had a
delightfully bracing effect; and the grass glittered with a copious fall
of dew. The first five miles of road lay over a high down, with pretty
patches of woodland interspersed; and the remaining ten over a low plain
that stretches to the foot of the peak. Six miles from the latter we
crossed a hollow where I noticed some calcareous matter, in which were
included shells of recent species, evidently showing that an upheaval had
taken place in this part of the continent. We saw on the plain several
large bustards resembling a light brown domestic turkey.

Leaving our horses at the foot of the peak, we ascended it by a sloping
ridge on the south-east face. Huge blocks of granite--some poised on a
point as if the slightest touch would send them rolling and thundering to
the plains below--covered the sides and summits of this and the smaller
peak, to the north of which are several others scattered over about a
mile of ground.

On reaching the summit, I hastened to a pile of stones which Captain
Flinders had erected to commemorate his visit; but, alas, the bottle and
paper left by him were gone, and I have not since been able to learn who
it was that took away this interesting and valuable record.


The view commanded all points of the splendid sheet of water called Port
Phillip, which stretched away its shining expanse seemingly almost from
our very feet; whilst north-east two long wavy lines of trees showed the
course of the Little and Weariby rivers meandering through
the plain.

The natives call this cluster of peaks Ude (great) Youang, and the other
West-North-West seven miles, Anuke (little) Youang. Another solitary high
round hill, fifteen miles further nearly, in the same direction, is
called Bununyong.

We have thus five native names of places in the immediate neighbourhood
of Port Phillip, having the termination ng, and we may perhaps add
another, the Barwon being probably Barwong. At King George's Sound in
Western Australia, the names end in up, and again to the eastward, near
Gipps' Land, the final letter is n. These observations may probably
assist in directing the attention of philologists to the subject of the
distribution of the Australian dialects or languages.

Ude Youang, or as Captain Flinders named it, Station Peak, is a granite
mass elevated 1370 feet above the sea. At Geelong there is some confusion
in the formation. The rocks, however, that prevail are trappean.


In digging a well there, a fossil cowrie (Cypraea eximia) of an extinct
species was once found at the depth of sixty feet. Another specimen of
the same shell was dug up at Franklin village near Launceston, from a
hundred and forty feet below the surface of the soil. Count Strzelecki
gives a figure of it in his interesting work.

Mr. Ronald Gunn, in his observations on the flora of Geelong, observes
that out of a hundred species of plants collected indiscriminately,
sixty-seven were also to be found in Tasmania, leaving only thirty-three
to indicate the peculiarities of the Geelong vegetation.

Some of the officers of the Beagle exhibited at this place symptoms of
being infected with the land-speculating mania we had witnessed at
Melbourne, by bidding for some of the allotments of the township of
Geelong, which were just then selling. One that was bought for 80 pounds
might have been sold a year afterwards for 700 pounds. I mention this
fact that the reader may see what a ruinous system was then in vogue.


On the morning of January 5, we left Geelong, touched at Hobson's Bay for
a chronometric departure, and proceeded to sea by the south channel.
Arthur's Seat is a good guide for its entrance from Hobson's Bay, the
channel passing close under the foot of it. The eastern extremity of the
northern banks, we found very difficult to make out, from the water being
but slightly discoloured on it. It is, moreover, on account of its
steepness, dangerous to approach. From this eastern corner of the bank,
Arthur's Seat bears South 50 1/2 degrees West and a solitary patch of
cliff, westward of the latter, South 68 degrees East.

In consequence of bad weather it was three days before we passed through
the channel, which, we were pleased to find navigable for line of battle
ships. A West 3/4 North course led through, and the least water was five
fathoms on a bar at the eastern entrance, where the width is only
three-tenths of a mile, whilst in the western it is one mile, with a
depth of seventeen fathoms. When in the latter we saw Flinders Point
between Lonsdale and Nepean Points, and as we came down the channel, the
last two points were just open of each other.


Leaving Port Phillip, we surveyed the coast to the eastward, and anchored
in the entrance of Port Western, after dark on the 10th. Next morning we
examined the south-west part of Grant island, and moved the ship to a
more secure anchorage off its North-East point. Port Western is formed
between Grant and French islands in rather a remarkable manner: two great
bays lie one within the other, the inner being nearly filled up by French
island, whilst the outer is sheltered by Grant Island, stretching across
it almost from point to point, and leaving a wide ship-channel on its
western side, whilst on the eastern the passage is narrow and fit only
for boats and small vessels.

Gales between North-West and South-West detained us here until the 19th.
We found water by digging on the North-East extreme of Grant Island,
which at high tide is a low sandy islet. On first landing there, we found
in a clump of bushes a kangaroo, very dark-coloured, indeed almost black.
His retreat being cut off he took to the water, and before a boat could
reach him, sank. This not only disappointed but surprised us; for in
Tasmania a kangaroo has been known to swim nearly two miles. Black swans
were very numerous, and it being the moulting season, were easily run
down by the boats. Their outstretched necks and the quick flap of their
wings as they moved along, reminded us forcibly of a steamboat. At this
season of the year when the swans cannot fly, a great act of cruelty is
practised on them by those who reside on the Islands in Bass Strait, and
of whom I have before spoken as sealers: they take them in large numbers
and place them in confinement, without anything to eat, in fact almost
starve them to death, in order that the down may not be injured by the
fat which generally covers their bodies.

Scarcely any traces are now to be found of the old settlement on a cliffy
point of the eastern shore of the harbour. The rapid growth of indigenous
vegetation has completely concealed all signs of human industry, and the
few settlers in the neighbourhood have helped themselves to the bricks to
build their own homes.

We noticed, however, one or two remaining indications of the fact that a
settlement had formerly existed on that spot, among others an old
flagstaff still erect, on a bluff near the North-East end of Grant
Island. A very large domestic cat, also, was seen on the South-East
point, doubtless another relic of the first settlers.

The rocks chiefly to be met with at Port Western are analogous to those
of the Carboniferous series. Over its eastern shore rises a range of
woody hills to the height of between five and seven hundred feet,
stretching away in a North-East direction. This harbour presents one very
curious feature, namely, a sort of canal or gut in the mud flats that
front the eastern side of Grant Island. Its depth varies from six to
seven fathoms, whilst the width is half a mile. The most remarkable
object, however, is the helmet-shaped headland, rising abruptly from the
sea to the height of 480 feet, and forming the South-East extreme of
Grant Island. It is the more conspicuous from the circumstance that all
the rest of the island is covered with low hills, clothed in an almost
impervious scrub. The land at the head of the inner of the two bays I
have alluded to in describing Port Western, partakes of the same
character, and is intersected by a number of creeks. This greatly
increases the difficulty of the overland communication between Port
Phillip and the available land on Port Western, travellers being
compelled to take a very circuitous road in order to avoid this almost
impassable tract, and reach the banks of Bass river, where the best soil
is found, and which has been named after the enterprising man whose
memory must for ever remain intimately connected with this part of the


A few rare insects were collected by Mr. Emery, whose adventures with
snakes bear a great resemblance to some of Waterton's. He was walking out
once on Grant Island, when his attention was attracted by the pitiful
cries of a bird in a tree close at hand. He soon discovered that a snake*
was in the act of robbing the nest, whilst the mother fluttering round,
was endeavouring to scare away the spoiler. Mr. Emery immediately climbed
up, and with a courage which few other men would have exhibited, seized
the reptile by the back of the neck and killed it. We found that it had
already swallowed one of the young ones, which had so extended the skin,
and made so large a lump, that we were quite puzzled to know how it could
have been got down.

(*Footnote. Lieutenant Emery has this snake still in his possession,
stuffed in a masterly style, and set up with the bird in its mouth.)


We were astonished to find the tide here nearly an hour later than at
Port Phillip, and higher by six feet. The cause of this peculiarity is no
doubt to be attributed to the fact of the tides at Port Western being
influenced by the easterly flood-stream. The bad weather we experienced
during our stay enabled us to judge of the capabilities of the Port,
which we were glad to find the finest we had yet seen in Bass Strait, not
so much, however, from its size, for above Grant Island the extent of
deep water is limited, as from the great facility of access.

On the 19th we left Port Western, passing out by keeping an isolated
piece of tableland, called Tortoise Head, on the South-East extremity of
French Island, open of the North-East point of Grant Island. The only
danger is a sandbank, lying in the centre of the channel, four miles
within the entrance. It may always be avoided by keeping a cable's length
from the eastern shore.

The western half of the south side of Grant Island, is a line of cliffs,
from one to three hundred feet in height. A remarkable pyramidal rock
marks the point where this terminates, after which a long range of low
hills, covered with scrub, stretches to Cape Wollami, the helmet-shaped
headland before-mentioned. A light North-East wind rendered our progress
slow towards Cape Patterson, we reaching it by daylight of the 20th. It
is a low point, covered with scattered sand hillocks; a few rocky patches
here and there front its sand beach.

Finding from the succession of dense fogs that we could not prosecute an
easterly examination of the coast, we returned towards Port Phillip, and
experienced some unusual swells off Port Western.


The soundings were in general tolerably regular; but in the same
neighbourhood we had some extraordinary ones--SEVENTY FATHOMS, on a
gravelly bottom. This was nearly one third of the way across from Grant
Island to Cape Shanck, seven miles from the latter. The same strange
depth was likewise found three miles south from Cape Wollami, with the
same kind of gravel bottom, or a very fine kind of shingle. It was a
single cast of the lead. On either side in this last case were 39 and 33
fathoms fine sand and shells. Had it not been for the change in the
quality of the bottom, I should have doubted so great a depth, which is
the more remarkable from its being the greatest within the Strait.

The next day towards evening we again anchored in Hobson's Bay, where we
stayed till the 23rd. This time in getting out of Port Phillip through
the southern channel, we met with an accident. I have before mentioned
the difficulty of seeing the eastern part of the north bank, which, on
this occasion, combined with the dazzling effect of the sun's rays ahead,
was the cause of our grounding for a short time near the inner entrance.
It was, therefore, noon next day before we were again outside, when we
steered across for the north end of King Island.

January 26.

In passing Franklin Road the next morning, we saw a cutter at anchor,
doubtless the colonial vessel which is occasionally allowed to visit
Captain Smith, and afford him supplies. We passed down four miles from
the western side of King Island, carrying an outer line of soundings,
varying from 40 to 50 fathoms; and in the evening anchored in Fitzmaurice


Next morning we proceeded in search of Bell Rock,* lying in the middle of
the south entrance of Bass Strait, eight miles South from the northern
and largest of Reid's Rocks; but there being only a light air stirring
from the westward, we were almost wholly at the mercy of the tide, which
carried us midway between its assigned position and the last-mentioned
dangers. We passed near several small eddies and slight whirlpools, in
which no bottom was found in the boats with 25 fathoms. The North-West
extremity of Reid's Rock might with propriety be described as a small
islet, it being a dark mass some half a mile long, and rising 25 feet out
of the water. The French charts exhibit some sunken rocks to the north of
this; but, if they really exist, of which there is great doubt, we saw
nothing of them. I may here mention, that great circumspection should be
used by vessels in the neighbourhood of Reid's Rocks, as the soundings do
not indicate their approach, and as the tide runs among them with great

(*Footnote. A rock was seen in H.M.S. Conway five miles West-South-West
from Bell Rock.)


Between them and the Black Pyramid we had 35 and 32 fathoms.

We passed the night standing to and fro close to the Pyramid, which I
have before described as a dark rocky lump 240 feet high. Its western
side is a sombre storm-beaten cliff, whilst to the east it slopes away
almost to the water's edge. A few patches of coarse grass may be seen on
some sheltered spots. Sealers, I am informed, have landed upon it on
certain rare occasions of fine weather, and have been repaid for their
daring by capturing a few fur-seals from the rookery that there exists.
The Black Pyramid from some points of view, greatly resembles Curtis
Island, near the eastern entrance of the Strait. A mile and a half from
its eastern side, there was only 24 fathoms, which was the least water we
were in during the night.

January 27.

We found ourselves at daylight in 35 fathoms, two miles South-West from
the Pyramid, when we stood away East-South-East, to sound and have a
seaward view of the entrance between Hunter Island and Point Woolnorth.
This examination confirmed our former opinion that no ship-channel
existed there. But even if there had been one, the passage is so strewed
with rocks and disturbed by such heavy tide ripples, that it wears a most
dangerous appearance from the offing.

Rounding the south side of the south Black Rock, we went between it and
Steep Island in 19 fathoms. From thence we steered between the north
Black Rock and the west point of Hunter Island in 24 fathoms, having 15
fathoms midway between.


Continuing our northern course, we passed a mile from the west side of
Albatross Island, in 30 and 33 fathoms. It is a dark cliffy isle, the
summit of which although 125 feet high, appears to be sometimes washed by
the sea. There are one or two finger-shaped points of rock at the south
end; and a singular split in the entire island may be seen on the bearing
of North 75 degrees East. The wind had now increased to a gale from the
westward, and we were obliged to seek shelter under Hunter Island.

January 28.

In the morning the breeze was moderate from North-East, to which quarter
it had changed suddenly during the night, veering round from west by the
north. By noon it had shifted to East-North-East and had increased to a
gale. At 8 P.M. it blew a strong gale with gusts from that quarter. The
barometer had now just begun to fall, and was at 29.9. During the day it
had been steady at 30.02. This gale lasted, blowing with the same
violence (latterly from East) until 1 P.M. the next day, when after a
calm of about a quarter of an hour the wind changed suddenly to North
with rain, thunder, and vivid lightning, and by 4 P.M. had veered to west
and increased once more to a strong gale with heavy squalls. The
barometer at the same time began to rise; it had been stationary at 29.6
since the morning.

It was the evening of the 31st before this gale blew over, after veering
to the South-West. The barometer at the time was at 29.9, having risen to
that height in the morning. The rotatory character of this storm, which
resembled those we had experienced on our former visit, induces me to
enter thus into details respecting it. These observations, too, may
evince more plainly, the necessity of an anchorage at this time of the
year being sheltered from both east and west winds.


The fire that had been accidentally kindled on Three Hummock Island, when
we were last there, was still burning. This conflagration had almost been
fatal to Mr. Bynoe, who was out in the scrubs when it burst forth, having
with great difficulty forced his way among them in search of specimens
for his collection of birds. His attention was suddenly roused by the
roaring of the flames as they swept down the sides of the hills, wrapping
them in a sheet of fire. The predicament in which he was placed was a
most critical one, as he hardly knew which way to turn to avoid the
pressing danger. Even when, fortunately, he had taken the right
direction, it was with the greatest exertion that he burst through the
matted thicket and reached the water's edge before the fire.

Our fishermen were very successful with the hook and line, taking near
the rocks great numbers of fish, some of which were a species of rock
cod. Alongside the ship we only caught sharks, one of which contained
thirty-six young ones.

Although the barometer remained stationery at 29.9 the weather continued
so boisterous, and westerly squalls followed each other in such rapid
succession, that it was the 3rd of February, before we could commence
work in earnest. On that day the ship was moved to near the south end of
Hunter Island, where we found a nice quiet anchorage with scarcely any
tide off a long sandy beach.


By the 6th we completed what remained to be done of the survey of this
part, and proceeded to collect the necessary soundings between Three
Hummock Island, and Circular Head, anchoring under the latter the same
evening. Here we met Mr. Curr, the Company's Superintendent, who was
absent during our first visit. From him we experienced so great
hospitality, that our stay appeared shorter than it really was. On the
morning of the 9th we again left. It was our intention to have stood over
midway across the Strait in search of some islands reported by the French
to be thereabouts, though all the local information we could gain on the
subject tended to induce a disbelief of their existence.


But the sky assuming a threatening aspect, and the wind increasing from
the westward, we sought shelter under the South-East end of Robbin
Island. And it was well we did so; for during the following two days, it
blew the heaviest gale we had yet met with in the Strait. A succession of
violent gusts from the west, with loud thunder, vivid lightning, and much
rain, constantly reminded us of the wisdom of our cautious proceeding. At
Port Phillip this same storm was felt very severely. Such was its
strength and violence, that many houses were unroofed, and other damage
done to a large amount. It passed over both Melbourne and Geelong,
darkening the air with the clouds of dust it bore along with it, and
filling the minds of the inhabitants with the greatest terror and
apprehension. They called it a tornado; and it appeared to have quite the
rotatory character of a hurricane.

February 11.

We left this anchorage, and passed three miles from the North-East side
of Three Hummock Island where we found only six fathoms, apparently on a
bank thrown up by the tide sweeping round its sides. From thence we
steered across the Strait to Sea Elephant Rock on the eastern shore of
King Island. We saw nothing of the islands laid down by the French,
thirteen leagues east of it, and it was my firm belief that they had no
existence. Subsequent observation has confirmed this belief. We however
found the shoal water supposed to exist thereabouts.

The northern termination of the highland over the south-eastern part of
the island which marks Sea Elephant Bay was very apparent as we
approached. In the evening we anchored in seven fathoms on the north side
of Sea Elephant Rock, which we visited the following morning. It is
nearly a mile in circumference, and 120 feet high, clothed with a coarse
wiry grass. A small vessel if properly moored might find shelter under it
from easterly gales. We were surprised to find the time of high-water
here nearly two hours earlier than at Three Hummock Island; the
flood-stream came from the southward.


Of the number of wild dogs that we had heard of as being on this island,
we saw only two. From the bones we found of others it is more than
probable that they live upon each other at the seasons of the year when
the mutton birds having departed; they would otherwise have to depend
solely for subsistence on the few shellfish adhering to the rocks. This
reminded me of what I once witnessed on an island off the eastern coast
of Patagonia. Several herds of deer had once existed upon it; but some
persons having turned a number of dogs loose, the original inhabitants
were soon destroyed, and the newcomers afterwards devoured each other, so
that when I saw them, but a small remnant remained. The dogs on Sea
Elephant Rock, which were left by sealers, had grown so wild that they
would not allow us to approach them. I saw here some small penguins, a
bird we rarely met with in the Strait.

This part of King Island is clothed with thick scrubs, among which we saw
numerous tracks of kangaroos, a certain sign that it is not much
frequented by civilized or uncivilized man. Leaving this anchorage we
examined the eastern shore of the island which we found, as I have before
described, to be low and sandy. Passing along two miles from it, we had a
depth of from 8 to 12 and 15 fathoms. As we approached the northern end,
the character of the coast changed, it being formed by rocky points with
small sand bays intervening. The reef laid down by the French, two miles
from the North-East extremity of the island, we found to be only half a
mile South-South-West from it, one of the many errors we discovered in
the French chart of the strait. It is a small ugly ledge quite beneath
the water, and from the absence of rocky points on the low sandy shore it
fronts, is quite unlooked for.


The next day, February 13th, we examined the dangers fronting the north
side of the island, consisting of Navarin and Harbinger Rocks, neither of
which we found so formidable or so far from the shore as had been
reported. The former lies only a mile and a half off the north end, and
although we did not pass between it and the shore, there is little doubt
that a passage exists. We passed between the Harbinger rocks in 27
fathoms; this great depth in their immediate vicinity, gives no warning
of their proximity in the night or during thick weather.


As it was now necessary for us to think of preparing for our return to
the North coast, the proper season for passing through Torres Strait also
approaching, and the increasing importance of Port Phillip, rendering it
desirable to complete our survey of its entrance before our departure; we
consequently proceeded thither. We found even soundings of 53 fathoms
extend twenty miles North by East from Harbinger Reef, but from thence
northwards, the depths gradually decreased. Calms and light winds
rendered the passage across very tedious. We spent one night at anchor in
31 fathoms near the entrance, about six miles south from Point Flinders,
where the tide scarcely ran a knot an hour; the flood-stream set
North-East. With these operations closed our work in Bass Strait, for the
present. We had completed the western entrance from Port Western on the
north shore and Circular Head on the south. The weather had prevented our
doing more, and obtaining as many soundings as we could have wished. It
had been unusually boisterous and unsettled, much more so than the winter
generally is. From all I could learn such a season had not been
experienced in the memory of the oldest inhabitants.

March 1.

Bidding adieu to our hospitable friends, we left Port Phillip, and having
spent a night at Port Western, stood out from it next morning, and passed
over in 12 and 15 fathoms, the patch of discoloured water discovered by
Flinders, two miles south of the remarkable round islet, that lies off
the western extreme of Grant Island. Pursuing our course to the eastward,
we were detained by contrary winds for some time among the islands at the
eastern entrance of the Strait. All these we found to be considerably out
in position, showing the necessity of an accurate survey. We were
exceedingly delighted when on the 5th we were enabled fairly to turn our
back on Bass Strait, that region of storms, which stretched behind us as
we receded like a black mass resting on the horizon. A strong
south-wester soon carried us far away from it in the direction we had
been so long endeavouring to pursue.

At noon on the 8th, we were close in with the land in the neighbourhood
of Jervis Bay. A long line of cliffs fronts the shore; but the highlands
recede as in the neighbourhood of Sydney, leaving a low tract of country
between them and the sea.


To the South-West of this bay, we had an excellent view of that singular
landmark, which Captain Cook, with his usual felicity in the choice of
names, called the Pigeon House. It was just open of the south end of some
tablelands, and resembled a cupola superimposed upon a large dome.

Next day in the forenoon, we again arrived at Sydney; where we remained
from March 10th to May 21st, employing the time in completing our charts,
sending home tracings of them, and preparing for our cruise on the
Northern coast. I was glad to find the return meridian distance between
Port Phillip and Sydney agree with the going one, placing the jetty at
William's Town 6 degrees 19 minutes 14 seconds west of Fort Macquarie.


Everything was still suffering from one of those fearful droughts that
occasionally visit this colony, but are as yet unknown in Western
Australia, where the seasons are certain, although available land is
scarce. An idea may be formed of the nature of this visitation, when I
say, that for some time previous to our former departure from Sydney,
during the whole of our absence, and for several months subsequent to our
return, not a drop of rain fell. The consequence of this was, that the
whole country was dried up, and the dust lay on the roads, especially
towards Parramatta, at least a foot thick. Whoever attempted to travel,
therefore, seemed, if the wind blew, as though he had been passing
through a mill. It will readily be imagined that so long a succession of
dry seasons, did prodigious injury to the stock, and utterly ruined the
wheat crops. To add to the distress then occasioned, the people of
Tasmania seizing on the opportunity, raised the price of grain, expecting
to make a large profit. But their avidity in this instance over-reached
itself. Instead of sending to them for corn, the people of Sydney
despatched vessels to South America, and as the early cargoes that
arrived sold to advantage, a great deal of money was embarked in the
speculation. Soon, however, the natural consequence ensued. The market
became glutted, cargo after cargo came in, the purchasers held back,
prices fell, and in many instances the importers were glad to dispose of
their wheat at a rate far inferior to what it had been shipped at. I have
no doubt that the financial derangement caused by so large an amount of
bullion going out of the country (for all these cargoes were bought with
ready money) had much to do with the subsequent depression.

I may here take an opportunity of remarking that, as a general rule, it
is the labouring classes that thrive best at Sydney. They can in
tolerably prosperous times, earn sufficient in three or four days, to
support themselves throughout the week. During the remainder of the time,
the sober and industrious man employs himself in building a house; but I
am sorry to say that the generality repair to the vast number of public
houses that swarm on every side, and get drunk. This is evident from the
annual revenue derived from rum, which in 1839 was 190,000 pounds,
amounting to more than seven gallons for every individual in the colony.


It caused us extreme regret that before our departure from Sydney, we
were deprived of Mr. Usborne's valuable services. He was compelled to
return home in consequence of the dreadful wound he had received from a
musket ball, which, as has already been related, passed through his body.
In him the expedition sustained a great loss; his presence and society
were missed by all; and his departure was generally felt. It may easily
be conceived indeed that the separation from a friend and messmate under
such circumstances, must have cast for a time a shade of sadness over our
minds. Mr. Usborne took charge of the charts which we sent to England on
this occasion.


I cannot leave Sydney without alluding to our meeting with Mr.
Cunningham, the Botanist, whose death I have already mentioned, as having
taken place two months after our departure from Sydney. Though worn out
by disease, and evidently on the brink of the grave, the fire of
enthusiasm kindled in his frame, and his eyes glistened as he talked of
our projected enterprise; and it was with difficulty that he could be
dissuaded from accompanying us. His name, which will be remembered by his
friends on account of his many amiable qualities, will not be forgotten
by posterity; for it has become associated with the lands he explored, as
well as with the natural productions he described. The presence and
attention of his valued friend Captain P.P. King, contributed to soothe
his last moments.


Leave Sydney.
Gale and Current.
Port Stephens.
River Karuah.
Wild Cattle.
Incivility of a Settler.
River Allyn.
Mr. Boydell.
Cultivation of Tobacco.
A clearing Lease.
William River.
Crossing the Karuah at Night.
Sail from Port Stephens.
Breaksea Spit.
Discover a Bank.
Cape Capricorn.
Northumberland Isles.
Cape Upstart.
Discover a River.
Raised Beach.
Section of Barrier Reef.
Plants and Animals.
Magnetical Island.
Halifax Bay.
Height of Cordillera.
Fitzroy Island.
Hope Island.
Verifying Captain King's Original Chart.
Cape Bedford.
New Geological Feature.
Lizard Island.
Captain Cook.
Barrier and Reefs within.
Howick Group.
Noble Island.
Cape Melville.
Reef near Cape Flinders.
Princess Charlotte's Bay.
Section of a detached Reef.
Tide at Claremont Isles.
Restoration Island.
Islands fronting Cape Grenville.
Boydan Island.
Correct Chart.
Cairncross Island.
Escape River.
Correct position of Reefs.
York Isles.
Torres Strait.
Endeavour Strait.
Booby Island.
Remarks on Barrier and its contiguous Islands and Reefs.
Cape Croker and reef off it.
Discover error in longitude of Cape.
Reefs at the mouth of Port Essington.
Arrive at the latter.

May 22.

We again bade adieu to our friends at Sydney, and sailed to explore the
north-western part of the continent, which from the number of openings
still unexamined, possessed the interest that invariably attaches to
whatever is unknown. We submitted, accordingly, with impatience to the
delay caused by light north-westerly winds, and a southerly current of
nearly a knot per hour, which prevented us from reaching the parallel of
Port Macquarie before the 29th; when about forty miles from it we
experienced a gale,* from North-East and East-North-East, that lasted
till the evening of the next day, when we found ourselves about 140 miles
South-East of Port Stephens. During this gale the southerly current
increased its velocity to two miles an hour, and its strength appeared to
be about seventy miles from the land. This delay rendered it necessary to
obtain a fresh chronometric departure, and as the winds prevented our
returning to Port Jackson, we proceeded to Port Stephens, where we
anchored, June 5th. We found the Admiralty chart of the coast in the
neighbourhood very defective, some islands being completely omitted,
whilst others were much misplaced.

(*Footnote. This gale was from South-East at Sydney, and the most severe
they had experienced for many years; it blew many vessels adrift and did
other damage.)


I have before spoken of the change in the features of this portion of the
eastern coast. Here a number of conical hills, from four to six hundred
feet in height, suddenly presented themselves to our view, two of them,
very remarkable headlands, and preserving the aboriginal names of Yacaba
and Tomare, constitute the entrance points of Port Stephens. The sea-face
of Tomare is a high line of cliffs, from which projects a sand-spit,
leaving only a narrow entrance. When in this I noticed that a round hill
at the south end of a distant range, was over the opening between the
first island and the northern shore of the harbour. Within the entrance
are extensive sandbanks, leaving between them and the south shore a
narrow, and in some parts deep, channel, subject to a rapid stream of
tide. Port Stephens may be considered a large estuary, about fifteen
miles in length, contracted near the centre to a width of about a mile,
which is further lessened by the presence of a woody islet, the same I
have before alluded to. Nearly two miles within this narrow the Beagle
anchored off the settlement of the Australian Agricultural Company, a
straggling village called Carrington, on the western shore of the


On the side of a hill, half a mile to the westward, is the residence of
the superintendent, a situation which, to enhance the pleasure of our
visit, was held by Captain P.P. King, R.N. Tahlee, the name of this spot,
surpassed in beauty all I have ever seen in Australia. It stands on the
crest of a steep grassy slope, over which are scattered numerous small
bushy lemon trees, the deep verdure of their foliage, interspersed with
golden fruit, contrasting charmingly with the light green carpet from
which they spring. At the foot of this declivity, a screen of trees
rising to a considerable height, almost shuts out the view of the water,
though breaks here and there allow small patches to be seen, athwart
which a native canoe occasionally glides to and from the fishing grounds.
These fairy boats, stealing along the water on a fine calm morning,
greatly enhance the beauty of the scene. They belong to a party of
natives who have taken up their quarters near Tahlee, and who, though by
no means a fine race, have always been well disposed towards Europeans.
Unfortunately they are much addicted to the use of ardent spirits, having
acquired the habit from the whalers who frequent the place. A young woman
and her husband form part of the domestic establishment at Tahlee.

We were as much delighted as surprised with the richness of the
vegetation, when compared with its dry parched appearance at
Sydney--another of the striking contrasts characteristic of Australia.

At Captain King's table I tasted the wonga-wonga pigeon; it is the
largest of any of the Australian kinds, and the flesh is very white and
rich. It is a difficult bird to shoot, as it always keeps in the thickest
foliage, and is strong and quick on the wing.

Through the kindness of the same friend I was also enabled to enjoy a
ride into the country, during the interval between the observations for
rating the chronometers.


I had to ascend the Karuah river, flowing into the north-west corner of
Port Stephens, for twelve miles, to a place called Boorral, the furthest
point at which it is navigable, and where all goods are landed for the
Company's stations up the country. Mr. Ebsworth the treasurer of the
Company resides there in a charming cottage, almost covered with roses
and honeysuckle, and commanding two picturesque reaches of the Karuah.

About two miles within the entrance, the river winds between high and
steep banks, densely covered with creepers, acacias, and other vegetation
of a tropical character, all quite matted together, and hanging in
festoons, the ends of which are immersed in the water.

Mr. White, who had charge of the Company's stock, met me at Boorral, with
horses, and we were not long in reaching Stroud, about seven miles higher
up on the eastern bank of the river. It is the head-quarters of the
Company, and has quite the appearance of a truly English village, each
cottage having its neat little garden. I was very much pleased with the
whole arrangement of the place, as I strolled through it in the evening,
and was delighted to find the inhabitants of a remote part of Australia,
retaining such vivid recollection of tastes so characteristic of
Englishmen. Several experiments had been tried in clearing the land in
the neighbourhood of Stroud, one of which was by what they call ringing
the trees; that is to say, they cut off a large circular band of bark,
which, destroying the trees, renders them easier to be felled. But the
danger of this practice was, that in stormy weather they were blown down,
thereby endangering the lives of persons or stock passing. In the
thickets near Stroud, great numbers of the Lyre Bird are found. They
receive their names from the shape of their tails, which one could hardly
suppose so small a bird, having no other beauty, could possess.


At Mr. White's hospitable cottage, I met two gentlemen on their way to
the Hunter river, and as fortunately the route I proposed taking, lay in
that direction, we started together early the next morning. Crossing the
Karuah, our road for some distance lay over a rugged country, along a
winding path between very steep hills. Six miles West-South-West from
Stroud, we passed through a range trending North-West from two to three
thousand feet high, the debris from which enrich the flats of the Karuah
on its eastern, and the Williams river on its western side. Our guide
amused me by pointing to some of the steep parts of the range which he
had galloped down, while hunting wild cattle, the most useful and
exciting sport known in Australia--useful, inasmuch as it prevents the
wild cattle from coming down to the plains and enticing away the tame
herds; and exciting, from the rough nature of the country, in which the
sport is pursued.


The wild cattle invariably keep on high ranges, and from their acuteness
of smell, are difficult to get at, and it is only to leeward that one can
approach them. The bulls being the leaders of the herds are always
singled out, and after a desperate and trying gallop over a rugged
country, the huntsman finds himself going stride for stride alongside one
of these Kings of the Forest, and wondering how an animal so ungainly in
his gait, can get over the country at such a pace. Jumping over fallen
trees, and dodging round others, he at last finds himself on a clear
spot, when drawing a pistol from his holster, and riding up so as almost
to touch the animal's side, he lodges a well directed ball just behind
the fore shoulder. This is the most critical moment. Great command of
your horse is required, for the bull, if not mortally wounded, turns
suddenly half mad with rage on his pursuer, and puts his nerves and
judgment to a severe test.

On these occasions almost incredible feats of horsemanship are performed;
and nearly precipitous slopes are descended. I have seen similar exploits
nowhere but in Chile, where horses are ridden down the sides of frightful
ravines on their haunches at half speed for bets; but in that country the
severity of the bit gives the rider a power over his steed unknown


We crossed the Williams river, about fifteen miles South-West from
Stroud, and after nearly another hour's ride came to a place called
Wallaroba. I was here doomed to experience the only instance of
incivility I ever found in Australia. It was late in the afternoon of a
cold blustering day, and having breakfasted early, we were prompted to
test the hospitality of a Mr. Chapman, whose station we were passing. It
was the only one we had seen during the day, and knowing the possibility
of our being mistaken for bush-rangers,* we turned back our rough coats,
and rode up to the house as smart as we could make ourselves. We met the
owner standing in the gateway of the garden fronting the house, which he
nearly filled; but although presenting a John Bull's exterior, there was
a great deficiency of the national character within. After introducing
ourselves we asked for a little milk, but were refused on the plea that
there was none at the station. Our surly informant added, that we should
find a comfortable inn eight miles farther on. First looking at the
number of fine milch cows that were grazing near, and then at the
speaker, we turned and left him in silent disgust.

(*Footnote. Escaped convicts, who live by plundering the settlers, taking
also their lives if any resistance is offered. I remember on one
occasion, a party of gentlemen had their horses taken from them: one of
them was of great value, and the owner thought he would try an experiment
to recover him, by saying in a jocular manner, that he would tie a card
with his address round the animal's neck, in order that when done with
they might know where to return him. Strange to say his experiment
succeeded, as the horse was sent back a short time afterwards.)

We passed the night at the inn to which we had been directed, and next
morning I separated from my companions, our roads being different. There
had been a hoar frost during the night, and the morning was delightfully
bracing. About ten miles in a North-West direction, brought me to the end
of my journey at Cam yr Allyn, the residence of Mr. Boydell. A few miles
from this place, I passed the house of a Mr. Townsend, the road close to
which was literally through a garden of roses, which in the freshness of
the morning, diffused a delicious fragrance.

Mr. Boydell's residence is on a rich spot of ground, on the banks of the
Allyn river, which runs among the spurs of a range of hills, trending
North-North-West, and distant about six miles to the eastward, where it
attains an elevation of three or four thousand feet.


The country in the neighbourhood is very hilly, and intersected by deep
narrow valleys or ravines. I was very much amused by the sagacity
displayed by the horses in crossing these. They make a point, as soon as
they get near the bottom on one side, of dashing down at a most
tremendous pace, in order to gain an impetus that shall carry them up the
opposite acclivity. The first time the animal I rode exhibited this
instance of forethought, I imagined he was about to run away with me; for
suddenly, without giving the least warning, he made a rush in a downward
direction and was across the valley before I could look round.

All the hills in this part of the country, showed singular sloping sides
to the South-West, whilst on the opposite, they were almost
perpendicular; old red sandstone is generally found on their sides, and
granite on their summit. On the Allyn, I noticed the same kind of rich
limestone, that I found on the west bank of the Karuah, two miles within
the entrance. These two spots are about thirty miles apart. The rocks in
the valley of the Karuah belong to the transition series, and on the
shore of Port Stephens, they consist of porphyry, basalt, and greenstone.

An instance here came under my own observation of the beneficial results
which sometimes arise from the punishment of transportation; knowing the
difficulty of getting good servants, I was curious to learn how Mr.
Boydell had procured his excellent butler, and on inquiry was surprised
to learn that he had been sent out for robbing Madame Vestris of her


Mr. Boydell was cultivating tobacco to some considerable extent, with the
hope of being able to supply the colony; others who speculated on a
larger scale were ruined; for it soon turned out that it was impossible
to compete in cheapness with American tobacco. This was in consequence of
the extensive establishment required on the estate--the large drying
sheds that had to be erected, the number of coopers necessary, and the
general high price of labour.

Mr. Boydell was also cultivating the vine, of which he made a light kind
of wine, a very excellent species of hock. The Messrs. McArthurs have
been at great expense in promoting this branch of cultivation, and are
entitled to their share of credit. But to Mr. Bushby the colony owes the
first introduction of the grape, which will hereafter prove of
inestimable benefit, from the great commerce to which it must give rise.
I may here mention that the same gentleman has deserved highly of his
fellow-colonists, by having been the means of bringing good water from
some distance into Sydney. The importance of this to the town was very
apparent even to us transient visitors, from the crowd of water carts we
constantly saw during the severe drought, patiently waiting their turn to
fill from the pump in Hyde Park.

I was fortunate enough to find two gentlemen to return with as
companions, from Cam yr Allyn, which we left early, under the guidance of
a native, mounted on one of Mr. Boydell's horses. We were to have made a
short cut by crossing the hilly country; but after going some distance we
found our guide at fault, and he very innocently acknowledged himself to
be, as he termed it, "murry stupid." It was a long time, he said, since
he had travelled that way. Having however provided myself with a sketch
of the country and a compass, I was enabled to conduct the party out of
this dilemma.


On reaching the banks of William river, we inquired our way at a cottage,
whose occupants, I found, held a small piece of land on what is called a
clearing lease--that is to say, they were allowed to retain possession of
it for so many years, for the labour of clearing the land. Many an
industrious poor man is raised to opulence by this means, a pair of oxen
being all that is necessary to set them going. With them they drag away
the fallen timber, and afterwards plough the land. It is astonishing to
see what work oxen will do; they drag drays over almost incredible
steeps, not quartering them as horses do, but going straight up, be the
hills ever so steep.

We learnt here that the township of Dungog, through which our road to
Stroud lay, was close by. We should readily know it, we were informed, by
the lock-up, a place of confinement for misbehavers, and generally the
first building in Australian towns. The particular erection alluded to,
seemed to be well known in the neighbourhood. As we crossed the William
river I was much struck with the richness of the flats on its banks.


In fording the Karuah, just before reaching Stroud, the effect was
singular and startling. The thick foliage arching over the river, quite
shut out the little light the stars afforded, and as we had to descend
into it, down a very steep bank, it was like plunging into a dark
bottomless pit; the noise of the stream over the stones alone told us we
should find a footing below. Into this gloomy cave our party one by one
descended, the foremost calling out when he had reached the bottom, that
the way was clear, and hastening across to prevent the horseman who
followed from being carried by the impetus into contact with him. Waiting
my turn upon the verge of the bank, I contemplated with pleasure the
heavy masses of the forest stretching like dark shadows behind me, and on
the other side, the long winding line of verdure at my feet, from beneath
which rose the splashing, rippling, gushing sound of the stream, whilst
overhead, the vault of heaven was thick inlaid with patterns of bright
gold. But the plunge of my companion's horse in the water, and his voice
calling out that all was right, soon drew me away, and in another moment
I was fording in utter darkness the rapid though shallow stream of the

We passed the night at Stroud, and next morning started for Port
Stephens. There having been some delay in getting my horse, I was obliged
to push over the first seven miles in little more than a quarter of an
hour, the postman having waited for me over his time.


On the 15th, the requisite observations were obtained for rating the
chronometers, which we found had altered their rates in a most singular
manner; so much so, that in spite of the short interval that had elapsed
since our departure from Sydney, we found the resulting meridian distance
between that place and Port Stephens, to be very defective. This fact
illustrates the unaccountable changes that sometimes occur in the rates
of chronometers, and the necessity of repeated measures of difference of
longitude to arrive at the truth.

On the morning of the 16th we again sailed for the North coast with a
fine southerly wind.

June 19.

At noon, when in 30 fathoms, with coarse sand bottom, we saw Indian Head,
bearing North-North-West 10 miles, it is a dark cliffy point; but there
is another more remarkable in the shape of a quoin, three or four miles
to the northward. At 8 P.M., we were in the same depth, Sandy Cape, so
named by Cook for its being a low point streaked with patches of white
sand, bearing West-South-West eight miles. As it was now blowing very
hard from East-South-East, with constant squalls and thick rainy weather,
the ship was brought to the wind under snug sail, for the night.

June 20.

At daylight we were in 18 fathoms, the outer elbow of Breaksea Spit,
bearing South-East by South three miles.


It was when anchored under this Spit that in H.M.S. Britomart, a
monstrous shark was caught, about twenty feet long, in which were found
the bones of some very large animal, possibly those of a bullock, that
had been carried out to sea by some current. Steering North-North-West we
deepened the water in eight miles to 32 fathoms, and after rounding the
northern extremity of Breaksea Spit, which appeared to be formed of a few
detached breakers, steered West by North for Bustard Bay. In 28 fathoms,
with fine sand, we passed three miles south of Lady Elliott's Island, a
small level spot about seventy feet high, fringed with a coral reef,
particularly to the South-East, and forming the south eastern isle of
Bunker's Group. It was first seen at the distance of seven miles from the
Beagle's poop, the height of the eye being fifteen feet, and at that
number of miles east of it we had thirty fathoms. The weather was still
very hazy, but the wind had subsided to a light breeze from
East-North-East. After passing Breaksea Spit, a westerly current was felt
of nearly a knot an hour, which was also found to be the case in June,

June 21.

The morning was bright and sunny, a happy change after several days of
thick, rainy, and boisterous weather. The remarkable features in this
part of the coast, consisting of Round Hill,* Peaked Hill, and Mount
Larcom, stood out in bold relief against the pure blue of an Australian

(*Footnote. This hill was seen 35 miles from the Beagle's poop, and is a
good guide for Bustard Bay. Peaked Hill we found to be 2000 feet high,
and Mount Larcom 1800. They form admirable points for fixing the position
of the groups of isles fronting this part of
the coast.)


In the evening steering North-West by West we passed over a coral bank
three miles wide, the least water on which was nine fathoms. From this
depth we procured a specimen of living coral. This bank was again crossed
in June, 1841, a mile and a half further to the South-West, when the
depth was only seven fathoms. It lies eight miles South-South-West from a
low islet, four miles from which in a West-South-West direction is a
coral patch, nearly dry. This islet, in latitude 23 degrees 34 minutes
South to which we gave the name of Mast Head, forms the south-western of
a group fronting Cape Capricorn. The latter has a hump on its extreme,
resembling a haycock, and by our observations* is in latitude 23 degrees
30 minutes 30 seconds South, which is two miles south of its position in
the chart. As we were detained by light winds in the neighbourhood, I had
more than one opportunity of detecting this error. By midnight we were
about 18 miles North by West from Cape Capricorn, when we felt a swell
from the eastward, which assured me there was an opening in the reefs on
the north side of the group of islets fronting the Cape.

(*Footnote. Hummock Island is alike in error with Cape Capricorn, but all
the distant points agree with the Beagle's observation.)


June 22.

There was a light air from South-West till near noon, then one from
seaward which freshened and became in the afternoon steady at South-East,
a quarter it afterwards prevailed from. We were at the time passing about
three miles from Flat Island, in 27 fathoms, an increase in the soundings
we had but just got into. We were glad to find the ship's position, fixed
by points both far and near, agree with the observations, a fact I can
only account for here, from the circumstance, that Flinders laid down the
coast about Port Bowen by observations on shore, whereas that in the
neighbourhood of Cape Capricorn, was from those made with the sea-horizon
which he found differ very materially.

During the day we added to the chart the position of two peaks, 1900 feet
high, lying about 20 miles South-West by West from Cape Manifold, and
forming the northern end of a high rocky range. A current was also
noticed setting north a mile an hour. The entrance of Port Bowen bore
West-South-West 15 miles at midnight, when the depth was 30 fathoms.


June 22.

From thence we steered to pass between Number 1 and Number 2 of the
Northumberland Isles, in order that we might lay down their outlines
correctly, and also determine the positions of some small islets lying on
the South-West side of Number 1. The most remarkable land in sight in the
morning was Mount Westall, named by Flinders after the talented artist
who accompanied him, and which forms the highest part of the eastern
shore of Shoalwater Bay. The soundings during the night were very
regular, only varying from 30 to 33 fathoms with a soft muddy bottom,
mixed occasionally with which the lead brought up small stones. The
summit of Number 1 of the Northumberland Isles forms a remarkable peak
720 feet high; a sandy bay on the west side promised good anchorage, and
on its south-east and northern sides were some high detached rocks. The
heights of the other parts of the group vary from two to six hundred
feet. The crests of the western isles are covered with pine trees, which
give them a curious jagged appearance. In the afternoon we passed in 34
fathoms four miles from the eastern side of the Percy Isles, which
enabled us to add their eastern extremity in the chart. The mainland
falling so much back soon after passing Port Bowen, we could form no idea
of its character, but certainly what we had seen did not leave a
favourable impression of its apparent fertility.


Captains Flinders and King, having given a description of the Percy
Isles, it will
not be necessary for me to say anything about them, further than that
they are composed of a trap-like compound with an aspect of serpentine,
and that either on them or the Northumberland Isles, sandalwood has been
found of late, and taken by a Tasmanian vessel to the China market. Just
before dark, the soundings decreased to 29 fathoms, Pine Peak of Percy
Group, bearing South-West 10 miles. Our course was now shaped for Cape
Gloucester, the extreme of the Cumberland Isles; and about this time we
felt the flood-tide setting South-West by West nearly a knot an hour, a
sure indication of there being openings in the barriers in that
direction. The great distance at which this part of it lies from the
islands will render its examination a difficult and hazardous
undertaking. The night was anything but favourable for sailing among
islands, being very hazy, with passing rain squalls. At midnight we
passed nearly two miles from the North-East side of k of the Cumberland
Group, in 27 fathoms, in which depth we continued till getting abreast of
Pentecost Island, the next evening, the 24th, when it increased to 35
fathoms, but still on the same kind of green sandy mud bottom. At 10 P.M.
we passed about seven miles from Cape Gloucester, which at that part was
nearly 1600 feet high. Yet the night was so hazy, that it was only
visible at intervals. Here we noticed many ripplings which we afterwards
found indicated a North-North-West current of a knot and a half an hour,
caused no doubt by the proximity of a part of the barrier, the distance
between it and Cape Gloucester being only 13 miles. I may here observe
that the barometer was very high with these fresh South-East winds and
hazy weather, and rather low during the light North-West winds we
experienced in the neighbourhood of Cape Capricorn.


June 25.

At daylight the Beagle was a few miles east of Cape Upstart, in 17
fathoms, having passed two miles from the north side of Holborn Island,
in 28 fathoms. The above headland received its name from Captain Cook,
and peculiarly deserves it, appearing in fact from the lowness of the
land behind, actually to start up out of the water.

Chronometers being chiefly affected by changes of temperature, it was
necessary to ascertain the rates of those in the Beagle again before
reaching Port Essington, for a correct measurement of the difference of
meridians between that place and Port Stephens. The bay on the west side
of Cape Upstart had been recommended by Captain King for that purpose, as
he had considered it likely to be the mouth of an opening. This
conjecture the low land in the head of the bay, together with a singular
break in the distant hills seemed fully to justify. We accordingly
entered the bay and anchored half a mile within the North-East point.
This took us till the afternoon to reach, in consequence of our having a
light land breeze until 3 P.M. when it became steady from North-East,
drawing round to south, after sunset, and veering to South-West again in
the morning. This alternation of land and seabreezes continued during our
stay, for three or four successive days.

In the evening we landed and ascended the North-East extremity of the
Cape, from whence we saw at once that hopes of discovering any opening
were delusive, the low shores of the Bay could be traced all round,
except in the North-West corner, where a point shut out our view.


On sweeping the western shore with a spyglass, I discovered the mouth of
a river about a mile to the north of a hillock marked in Captain King's
chart. This river was made the object of an exploring party, and next day
Captain Wickham and Lieutenant Eden, went on that interesting service. It
has two entrances, both very shallow, and is of little importance, being
on a lee shore and fronted by a bar, which seems to break at all times of
the tide. However, as there is such very safe anchorage near, the
discovery may hereafter prove of some value. Captain Wickham found it
fresh ten miles from the entrance, but at that point it is nearly lost in
the sands, and so very shallow that the natives have a fishing weir
across it. The land, which appears to be much cut up with creeks, is very
flat on both sides, and is subject to inundations. This was evident from
the signs of drift, to the height of six feet, on the trees that grew
along the banks, themselves not more than a couple of yards above
high-water mark.

The exploring party saw a few natives, but they were too shy to
communicate. One was discovered on a long flat, crawling on his hands and
knees, to catch a glimpse of the strange intruders, and looking more like
a great insect than a man. In the distance up the river a good many
smokes appeared; but I doubt whether this may be considered as denoting a
densely populated country, as fires are kindled by the Australian
natives, both as signals and for the purposes of hunting.


Previous to my departure from England, I had the pleasure of hearing a
valuable paper by my friend Mr. Darwin, on the formation of coral
islands,* read at the Geological Society; my attention being thus
awakened to the subject, the interest of this important paper was to me
greatly enhanced by a series of queries, kindly furnished by Mr. Darwin,
and drawn up with a view to confirm or invalidate his views, his purpose
being to elicit truth from a combination of well attested facts, and by
inducing the research of others to further the objects of science.

Among these queries was the following: "Are there masses of coral or beds
of shells some yards above high water mark, on the coast fronting the
barrier reef?"

(*Footnote. See also the Hydrographer's Instructions supra.)


Captain King, in answer to the above states, that some of the islands
within the reef have beaches of broken coral; and, as an instance, he
refers to Fitzroy island.

I will, myself, here adduce what may be deemed an important fact; and
which, if allowed its due weight, will go far to weaken the arguments
brought forward in favour of the subsidence of the North-East coast of
Australia. I found a flat nearly a quarter of a mile broad, in a quiet
sheltered cove, within the cape, thickly strewed with dead coral and
shells, forming, in fact, a perfect bed of them--a raised beach of twelve
feet above high-water mark. On the sandy beach fronting it, also a few
feet above high-water mark, was a concretion of sand and dead coral,
forming a mass about fifty yards long. Fronting this, for about the width
of one hundred and fifty feet, was a wall of coral with two feet water on
it; and immediately outside, five fathoms, with a fine sandy bottom,
slightly sloping off. The annexed woodcut will better explain what we
have here endeavoured to bring before the reader.


This small coral-strewed flat where our observations were made, and the
results of which are as follows; latitude 19 degrees 42 3/4 minutes
South; longitude 15 degrees 36 1/2 minutes East of Port Essington, is
surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills. Had it been on the seaward side
of the Cape, I might have been readier to imagine that it could have been
thrown up by the sea in its ordinary action, or when suddenly disturbed
by an earthquake wave; but as the contrary is the case, it seemed
impossible to come to any other conclusion, than that an upheaval had
taken place. The whole of Cape Upstart is a granite mass, and its crests
are covered with boulders, some of which have rolled down and form rather
conspicuous objects on the shores and points of the bay.


Near the North-West extremity of the Cape just at high-water mark, I
noticed some pumice stones, small and not having the appearance of
belonging to a recent eruption, which seems to agree with the opinion
expressed by the Reverend W.G. Clarke in the Tasmanian Journal. He
considers, and I think justly, that its origin may be in the Solomon, New
Caledonia, or some other of the volcanic islands to the east of
Australia, from whence it drifted, as it has been found on all parts of
the coast, to the southern portion of which it has doubtless been carried
by the current. Captain Wickham did not remark any above the entrance of
the river he explored, on the western side of the bay, which bears out
the opinion I have above expressed. A curious fact, mentioned by Mr.
Clarke is, that one piece, perfectly water-worn, was found upon a high
mountain, full twenty-five miles inland from the mouth of Clarence River.
Was this carried thither by one of the natives, or does it indicate that
pumice drifted to this part of the continent at a time when, if ever, it
was on a level with the ocean? I further remarked in this place, many of
the land shells common to this and other parts of the coast.

There was great difficulty in attaining the loftiest point of the Cape,
which I found to be two thousand feet high. From thence our party
commanded a view of the whole of the bay, and discovered that we were,
strictly speaking, standing upon an island, a small creek winding round
the southern foot of the high land, and connecting the bays on the
eastern and western side of Cape Upstart.

The break in the hills seen by Captain King, and supposed to indicate an
opening, has been already alluded to. On reaching the summit I found that
this was merely a valley, containing the head of the plain which
stretched from the shores of the bay. On its southern side rose Mount
Abbott; but one of the most remarkable features on the coast is Mount
Elliott, lying about forty-five miles West and by North from our
position. It is a long level hill, with a peak at its northern extremity.
All those in the neighbourhood, as far as I could judge with the
spyglass, seemed to be of the same formation with Cape Upstart.

We found this a convenient stopping-place for vessels making the inner
passage, wood and water being easily procured. The latter is found in a
considerable reservoir fed by two streams from the high land of the Cape,
lying a mile within the mouth of the bay. From appearances, I should say
it would yield an abundant supply at any season of the year.


There were a few natives loitering about on Cape Upstart when we arrived;
and I think we should have communicated with them had it not been for the
fright into which they were accidentally thrown. A boat's crew on landing
surprised a small party, which instantly dispersed in various directions.
A lad, however, instead of escaping with the rest, stowed himself away in
a crack between two boulders of granite. Every endeavour was made to get
him to come out of his hidingplace; biscuit was offered him, but he
snapped savagely with his teeth at the hand that held it. Finding all
attempts fruitless he was left; and no doubt, the account he gave his
comrades of us, while under the influence of fright, was sufficiently
terrible to take them all away from the neighbourhood. These natives used
nets similar to those I had seen on the North-West coast, and in their
make, resembling, in a remarkable manner, the ones employed by Europeans.


In the valley, just within Cape Upstart, a few palms and a species of
cotton were growing; and in other places, the never-failing Eucalyptus,
of small growth. Certain bulbs* were also found, apparently of the same
species as those on the Percy Isles; several of which we removed and
presented to the Botanical Garden at Sydney, where we afterwards had the
gratification of seeing them in a flourishing state.

(*Footnote. Crinum angustifolium. They belong to the Narcissus, but are
in themselves a new order of plant.)

A few quails were shot of the same large kind as that found on all other
parts of the continent, also one or two pheasant cuckoos.* They did not
differ from those we killed on the North-West coast, although nearly five
degrees further south. A very large pigeon was also shot, resembling in
colour the common blue rock, but without a bronze mark. We had not seen
this species before; it was a very wary bird, and was found in the rocks.

(*Footnote. Centropus phasianellus. Gould.)


But the greatest prize our sportsmen shot was a specimen of a small
female kangaroo, of a new kind.*

(*Footnote. Deposited in the British Museum, and figured as Petrogale
inanata, by Mr. Gould, who being misinformed, has described it as
inhabiting the north coast of Australia.)

It measured as follows, just after it was killed: Length of body from tip
of nose, 18 inches; length of tail from stump to tip, 19 inches; weight 8
1/2 pounds. Its colour was a slate or light grey on the back, and dirty
yellow or light brown on the belly; extreme half of tail black, with hair
gradually increasing in length, from the centre to the tip and
terminating in a tuft. On the back of the hind legs the hair is longer
than on any other part of the body. The nails on the hind feet were
short, covered with long hair, and did not project over the pulpy part of
the foot, which is well cushioned and rough, giving a firm hold to
projecting rocks. The head was small, and sharp towards the muzzle; the
ears were short and slightly rounded, the eyes black, and the forearms
very short. In this animal the pouch was very superficial. It inhabits
the most rugged summits, taking refuge in the clefts of the rocks.

June 30.

In the afternoon we left the anchorage we had been the first to occupy,
and standing out of the bay, were much struck by the rugged outline Cape
Upstart presents. The huge boulders scattered over the crest of the
hills, give it the appearance of a vast mass of ruins, the clear
atmosphere bringing it out in bold relief against the sky. We stood over
North-West for the opposite shore, and closing to within three miles of
the land changed our course and ran along the singular low point forming
the coastline to the North-West of Cape Upstart; and by 9 P.M. rounded
its northern extreme called Cape Bowling Green, at a distance of six
miles, in 17 fathoms, steering then to pass about four miles outside the
Palm Isles. During the whole night our soundings only varied from 17 to
19 fathoms.


The weather was gloomy with passing showers of rain and a moderate
South-South-East breeze; but all was bright again by daylight (July 1st)
when Magnetical Island bore South 9 degrees West, and the south and
largest of the Palm Isles North 81 degrees West, which, corresponding
with the log, showed there had been no current during the night.
Magnetical Island was so named by Cook, because he fancied it affected
the Endeavour's compass in passing it. There is good anchorage on the
west side, where it is densely covered with trees, amidst which a few
straggling pines reared their lofty and angular-shaped heads, giving by
their variety a picturesque appearance to the scene.* We passed the Palm
Islands early in the forenoon. The largest we found to be 750 feet high,
with a remarkable white rock off its South-East extreme.

(*Footnote. See the view annexed.)


Behind these isles we saw numerous blue streaks of smoke from the fires
of the natives, indicating the state of population on the slope of that
lofty range of hills, which may be called the Cordillera of Eastern
Australia, and which at this point, tower to a great height, overlooking
the coast.* We were abreast about noon of its most remarkable feature,
Mount Hinchinbrook, in latitude 18 degrees 22 minutes South, rising to
the height, according to our observations, of 3500 feet.

(*Footnote. The proximity of this high land to the coast, may account for
the gloomy weather of the previous night.)

Although a number of fires being once seen is not always a sign in
Australia of a densely populated part of the country, yet when they are
constantly visible, as in this part of the continent, it is fair to
infer, that the inhabitants are numerous, and the soil fertile. I might
further remark, that Captain King found the natives well disposed; and at
Goold Island, in this neighbourhood, they even came on board his vessel
uninvited, an evidence of friendship and confidence, rarely
characterizing a race of beings so wary as are generally the inhabitants
of Australia.

It is not a little singular that the altitude of Mount Hinchinbrook
should be identical with what Strzelecki considers the mean height of the
Cordillera, which he traced continually on foot, from 31 to 44 degrees
South latitude giving to the highest point, 6500 feet in latitude 36
degrees 20 minutes South, the name of Mount Kosciusko, for reasons most
admirably and feelingly expressed, and which we therefore, in justice to
his patriotic sentiments, give below in his own words.* It will thus be
seen that there is a northerly dip in the cordillera of 3000 feet in 18
degrees of latitude.

(*Footnote. "The particular configuration of this eminence struck me so
forcibly, by the similarity it bears to a tumulus elevated in Krakow,
over the tomb of the patriot Kosciusko, that although in a foreign
country, on foreign ground, but amongst a free people, who appreciate
freedom and its votaries, I could not refrain from giving it the name of
Mount Kosciusko.")

The great height of this range, and the extreme abruptness of its eastern
face, where no waters are thrown off, renders it more than probable that
on the western side there is land of great fertility. Whatever waters
originate on its summit and slopes, must flow towards the interior, and
there give rise to rivers emptying themselves into the Gulf of
Carpentaria, or by first forming lagoons, feed streams of some magnitude
even, during their overflow.


It is the general opinion of every voyager who has sailed along the coast
of Halifax Bay, that it is the most interesting portion of the north-east
side of the continent; as, combining the several facts which we have
above given, we have every reason to believe that the discovery of
fertile and therefore valuable land, will one day reward the labours of
the explorer.

Nothing was seen by us of the San Antonio reef, laid down in the charts
as fronting the Palm Isles; but this was subsequently accounted for by
Captain Stanley, who found that it was sixteen miles north of its
supposed position, being in latitude 18 degrees 17 minutes South, and
twenty-four miles distant from the nearest land, Hillock Point.

This fact is the more satisfactory and important that, from its present
position, as laid down in the chart, being supposed to be near the Palm
Islands, it was apt to create an unpleasant state of anxiety in the mind
of those navigating these waters during thick weather or at night.

From noon we steered North-North-West, and at 6 P.M. Dunk Island bore
South-West eight miles distant; our soundings varying, during that
period, from thirteen to fifteen fathoms. During the day we had several
opportunities of satisfactorily testing the accuracy of Captain King's
chart. While passing Barnard's Group, soon after dark, we found a current
setting West-North-West nearly a mile an hour, a rate at which it kept
during the whole night, but in a North-North-West direction. During the
day we had a light breeze from South-South-East, which shifted to
West-South-West during the night. Numerous native fires were observed
burning on the shore during the first watch, at the foot of the Bellenden
Ker hills, remarkable mountains of considerable altitude.


July 2.

Soon after midnight we were abreast of Frankland Group, and at 7 A.M.
passed three miles to the eastward of Fitzroy Island, where our soundings
increased to seventeen fathoms, with a current running upwards of a mile
an hour to the North-West, an increased velocity, which may be accounted
for by the proximity of the reefs to a projection of the coast forming
Cape Grafton. I must not, however, pass an island which like Fitzroy,
carried in its name a pleasing association to many on board the Beagle,
without a word of notice, particularly as its features are in themselves
sufficiently remarkable, having a singular peaked summit 550 feet high,
near the north-east end. On the western side is a little cove where
Captain King found snug anchorage.


Passing midway between Green Island, which is about twenty feet high,
encircled with a coral reef, and Cape Grafton, we steered North-West 1/2
North for a shoal on which Her Majesty's Ship Imogene grounded; and at
noon, were exactly on the spot, in latitude 16 degrees 24 1/4 minutes
South by observations and bearings of the land, Low Isles being
West-North-West four miles. Here we found sixteen fathoms, not having had
less than seventeen since the morning. There was no appearance of any
such reef nearer than that laid down by Lieutenant Roe, bearing east from
the above-mentioned Low Isles and under which Her Majesty's Ship Tamar
anchored. It must therefore have been on the North-West part of this reef
that the Imogene struck, and the south part must be the reef laid down in
the chart as having been seen by her to the southward, which accounts for
our not seeing it from the Beagle. We passed through several patches of
discoloured water, caused by washings from reefs to windward, which are
very deceptive. At sunset the anchor was dropped in thirteen fathoms, for
the first time since leaving Port Stephens. The south point of Weary Bay
bore West-North-West three miles, and Cape Tribulation South by East six
miles. Near the middle of the former, I noticed a patch of discoloured
water, which has since been found by a merchant vessel to be a shoal.


The land over the latter place is very high, presenting several singular
peaks, one more prominent than the rest, in the shape of a finger. That
over Trinity Bay, which we were the greater part of the day crossing, is
also of great altitude. In its south corner we noticed the river-like
opening spoken of by Captain King, lying in the rear of some remarkable
peaks. We had been informed by him, that the greater part of the coast
between Weary Bay and Endeavour River, including the Hope Islands, had
been altered from his original survey, a tracing of which he had
furnished us with previous to leaving Sydney. The few bearings we
obtained while at anchor, induced us to consider it correct, a fact we
further proved during the early part of the next day's run, as the course
steered from our anchorage North by West 1/2 West, carried us a little
more than a mile west of the Hope Islands. Had their assigned position in
the chart been correct, our course would have led us right over the
western isle. On detecting this error, we found it necessary to re-survey
this part of the coast, and it affords me much pleasure, after so doing,
to be able to bear testimony to the extreme correctness of Captain King's
original chart above alluded to. Soon after passing the Hope Islands, we
saw the reef where Cook's vessel had so miraculous an escape, after
grinding on the rocks for 23 hours, as graphically described in his
voyages. It is called Endeavour Reef, from this circumstance.


Continuing on the same course, we passed three miles from Cape Bedford,
at 4 P.M. This is one of the most remarkable features on the coast, being
a bluff detached piece of tableland, surmounted by a singular low line of
cliffs, reminding me forcibly of the lava-capped hills on the river Santa
Cruz, in eastern Patagonia. As far as I could judge, by the aid of a good
glass, it seemed to be composed of a mixture of red sand and ironstone,
of a very deep red hue, bearing a great similarity to the country on the
North-West coast, in latitude 15 1/4 degrees South.

Leaving Cape Bedford, we went in search of a shoal laid down by H.M.S.
Victor, as lying two miles to the West-South-West of Three Isles. Both
Captain King and Lieutenant Roe had expressed a doubt of its existence in
the position marked, a doubt which our researches fully justified; and
therefore, as it at present stands, it should be expunged from the chart.
From thence we steered north for Lizard Island, the remarkable peak on
which soon rose in sight; this course took us within three miles of Cape
Flattery, where a couple of peaks, with a slope between them, render it a
conspicuous headland.

About seven miles west from thence, there is a strange alteration in the
appearance of the country, changing from moderately high conical-shaped
hills, to lofty table ranges about 500, or 600 feet in height, trending
about South-West and by West.


Having still a little moonlight, we were enabled to keep underweigh part
of the night, and during the first watch came to in 13 fathoms, in a bay
on the west side of Lizard Island, the extremes bearing from South 1/2
East to East-North-East. During the day we experienced a northerly
current, varying from three quarters to half an knot an hour.

July 3.

We remained at this anchorage, until the following morning, for the
purpose of determining the position of the island, and of visiting the
peak, which we found to be nearly twelve hundred feet high. I ascended by
a slope rising from the shore of the small bay where our observations
were taken, and which may be easily distinguished, from being the second
from the north point of the island. Their result was to place it in
latitude 14 degrees 40 3/4 minutes South longitude 13 degrees 17 3/4
minutes East of Port Essington. Variation by the mean of five or six
needles was 7 3/4 degrees East being half a degree more than it was at
Cape Upstart. Other magnetic observations were also made, consisting of
those for the dip and intensity.

In a valley to the left of the slope by which we ascended the peak, were
noticed several very remarkable, low and spreading trees, with a dark
green foliage, and leaves large, ovate, and obtuse. The branches, from
which, when broken, a milky juice exuded, were thick and glossy, of an
ash colour; at their extremity they were thin, with long pendulous stems,
supporting a bell-shaped flower, of a rich crimson hue; these hung in
great profusion, and contrasting with the surrounding dark green verdure,
presented a very beautiful and striking appearance. The diameter of the
trunk of the largest tree was 20 inches, and the height 25 feet.
Lieutenant Emery painted a most faithful representation of one of them,
by means of which we found on our arrival at Port Essington, that neither
the professional nor amateur botanists, had any knowledge of it. To them
and to ourselves it was alike perfectly new.


On the preceding evening I had refreshed my memory by reading Cook's
account of his visit to the same spot, and was thus able minutely to
follow in the footsteps of the immortal navigator. There is an
inexpressible charm in thus treading in the track of the mighty dead, and
my feelings on attaining the summit of the peak, where the foot of the
white man, had perhaps but once before rested, will easily be understood.
Below to the eastward stretched a vast expanse of water, broken at the
distance of about eight miles, by a long narrow line of detached reefs,
on which there ran a white crest of foaming breakers, marking the outer
edge of the Great Barrier, a name which few seamen could hear with
indifference when in its vicinity. If I felt emotions of delight, on
first perceiving the extent of a danger so justly dreaded, how much
stronger must have been the feelings of Captain Cook, when from the same
spot years before, he saw by a gap in the line of broken water, there was
a chance of his once more gaining the open sea, after being confined to
the eastern shores of the Australian continent, for a distance of 750

Though the dangers of this inner channel had proved so nearly fatal to
his ship, the truth of the homely adage, which describes all as happening
for the best, was here fully borne out, as the very fact of his position
enabled Captain Cook to make considerable discoveries along the
coast--just as by the mishap on Endeavour Reef, the presence of a river
was made apparent, and some slight knowledge of the aborigines obtained,
as well as numerous facts illustrative of the natural and vegetable
productions of the locality.


Little did he think at that time, however, when standing on the summit of
the peak, that he was about as it were to thread the eye of a needle, by
passing through another break, in a manner which can only be designated
as providential. This gap in the great reef is now known as Providence
Channel, a name which must ever remind us of Him, who in moments when our
lives hang as by a thread, is ever watchful, and spares us in the
exercise of his inscrutable will.

Carried back to times past, we stood upon the summit of the height,
dwelling in thought upon the adventurous career of the great navigator,
when suddenly, as if by magic, the whole scene below and around was
obscured, and we found ourselves wrapped in a dense cloud of vapour,
which came sweeping across the island, drenching us to the skin, with a
rapidity which spoke volumes for the penetrating character of an
Australian fog. Cold and shivering we hailed the temporary re-appearance
of the sun with delight, and our clothes were dried almost as speedily as
they had been wetted. Our satisfaction was however but of short duration,
as the same agreeable operation, of alternate drenching and drying,
occurred several times during our stay on the Peak.


The opening through which Captain Cook passed out to sea, bore about
North by East 9 miles, the outer line of the Barrier Reef, curving from
thence to the North-West, and following the trend of the land. When this
singular wall of coral, the most extensive perhaps in the world, is
surveyed, it will I think be found to follow the direction of the coast
it fronts with such exactness, as to leave little doubt that the vast
base on which rests the work of the reef-building Polypifers, was,
contrary to the opinion which I am aware prevails, upheaved at the same
time with the neighbouring coast of the Australian continent, which it
follows for a space of upwards of a hundred miles.


From the elevation on which I stood, I had an excellent view of some
reefs within the Barrier; whether they encircled an islet, or were wholly
beneath the water, their form was circular, although from the ship, and
indeed anywhere, viewed from a less height, they appeared oval-shaped.
This detection of my own previously erroneous impressions, seemed to
account for the recurrence in charts of elongated-shaped reefs, others
having doubtless fallen into the same error. It is very remarkable that
on the South-East or windward side of these coral reefs, the circle is of
a compact and perfect form, as if to resist the action of the waves,
while on the opposite side they were jagged and broken.*

(*Footnote. In the Pacific the islets are generally on the weather side
of the lagoon reefs.)

The South-West side of the peak rises perpendicularly from a grassy flat,
which stretches across that part of the island, separating two bays, the
beaches of which with the rest on the island are composed of granulated
quartz, and coarse shingle. A stream of water, rising in the peak, runs
through the green, while a few low gumtrees grow in small detached
clumps; a ship may therefore procure both water and fuel; finding this to
be the case, and as it was a convenient stopping place, we made a plan of
the island, connecting it with those in the immediate neighbourhood. It
is the more advantageous as an anchorage, in that it can be reached
during the night, whereas this could not be done in the inner channel
near Turtle Islands, it lying so much to the westward, and being more
intricate. Indeed it is not prudent to approach these isles even in the
afternoon, from the number of reefs, and the difficulty in seeing them
with the sun ahead.

Mr. Bynoe was not fortunate enough to add to his collection of birds;
those he observed being only doves and parrots, besides a flycatcher
common to parts of the coast, and often before met with by us.

A couple of vampires of the larger and darker species were also seen, and
numerous land shells (Helix) similar to those on Cape Upstart; found near
the roots of trees, buried in the decayed vegetation. Two old coconuts
and large quantities of pumicestone were picked up on the south-east side
of the island. The prevailing character of the rocks was granitic, out of
which some beautiful specimens of hornblende were procured. The entire
island was fringed with a narrow strip of coral, but I noticed none of it
above high-water mark.


July 4.

We took our departure at an early hour, and after running round to sketch
the north-east side of the island, stood to the westward for Howick
Group. The weather being thick we did not discover the somewhat
remarkable peak on Number 1, until we were close to it. Our progress was
accelerated by a current running half a knot an hour, and finding the
passage between Number 1 and 2 of Howick Group, much impeded by rocks, we
hauled up between 2 and 3 isles, and on keeping away again
West-North-West for Point Barrow, found ourselves close to a reef, almost
dry, and extending nearly a mile further off the North-East side of Coles
Island, than is laid down in the chart; thus contracting the channel
between it and Number 4 island, to a space of not more than two miles.
When the course was shaped for Point Barrow, Noble Island, a very
remarkable pyramidal-shaped rocky height, was a point on the port bow.
Its singular appearance makes it conspicuous amid the recollections of
this part of the coast.

We now once more approached to within a distance of seven miles of the
mainland, which presented to our view a low sandy shore, with a few
remarkable hummocks rising over it, and somewhat high, broken, rocky land
immediately behind.


Passing Point Barrow we anchored near the north end of a large reef, Cape
Melville bearing West-North-West ten miles. Here we felt a swell rolling
in from seaward, and during the day there had been a current in our
favour, of about a mile an hour. From the haze on the horizon, noticed
from this anchorage, as well as on passing Cape Melville, I believe the
outer edge of the Barrier Reef to be not more than four or five leagues
distant from the land.

Our attention had been previously directed by Captain King and others, to
the singular appearance of the rocks on Cape Melville; indeed no one can
pass this remarkable projection without being struck by the strange
manner in which piles of reddish-coloured stones are scattered about in
the utmost confusion, and in every possible direction over this high
ridge. I much regretted that on passing next morning there was no
opportunity of landing to see the nature of this confused mass; judging,
however, from the result of my examination of a similar appearance
presented by Depuch Island on the north-west coast, I believe this point
to be of volcanic origin.


Between the rocks off Cape Melville, and a reef encircling two small
islets, the channel is not more than a mile in width: indeed, I consider
passing this point and Cape Flinders the most intricate part of the inner
route. After rounding the rocks off the former we steered for the latter
Cape, keeping it a little on the port bow; this course led us on reef a,
lying midway between the Cape and a low island to the North-East. When on
the southern extremity Cape Flinders bore South 70 degrees West 3 miles,
and Clack Island North 39 degrees West. The latter is a remarkable cliffy
lump, interesting from the circumstance of Mr. Cunningham having found
native drawings in its caves.

After clearing this danger, and passing the Cape, we steered across
Princess Charlotte Bay, keeping wide to the southward of the reefs
fronting it, in order that we might the more easily distinguish them; the
sun at that time of the day being in the direction of the ship's head.
The soundings gradually decreased with a soft muddy bottom, as we
approached the eastern shores of the bay; which is so large and free from
shoals, that a vessel not wishing to anchor might pass the night standing
off and on with perfect safety. There is over the head of this bay a
remarkable level-topped hill, called by Captain Cook, Janes' tableland;
rendered the more conspicuous from the low nature of the surrounding


In the evening we anchored a mile from the South-West side of a small
detached reef, marked F in the chart, and distant 22 miles from Cape
Flinders; the solitary position of this reef, it being four miles from
the inner edge of the Great Barrier, and nine from the nearest part of
the main, gave us a good opportunity of making a section, with a view of
illustrating the progressive structure of coral edifices, in the still
waters within the barrier reef; we accordingly visited the spot in the
evening, and being an interesting object, we give a drawing of the

It proved a good specimen of the circular or lagoon reef. One young
mangrove was growing on the elevated part marked C in the woodcut. The
rim which rose on all sides was quite black, but white when broken; the
highest part being about three feet above the water. The nature of the
bottom within the reef was a white sand mixed with small pieces of dead
coral: without, we found on either side soft green sandy mud with shells,
the inclination of the bottom on which the reef rests, being only one
degree, we may fairly infer it to be superimposed on a most extensive


July 7.

To-day being Sunday we did not proceed further than Number 4 of the
Claremont Isles, a low rocky group encircled by coral reefs, to give the
ship's company a run on shore during the afternoon; in order to remind
them of its being a day of rest appointed by the Lord. When we anchored,
we found, contrary to the usual north-westerly tendency of the current, a
tide setting South-South-West three quarters of a knot an hour, this
lasted for a space of four hours, when it changed, and ran
North-North-West from half to three quarters of a knot during the
remainder of our stay. The wind was moderate from East-South-East.

July 8.

We weighed at 6 A.M., and about the same hour in the evening again
anchored under Restoration Island. The ship's track during the day
followed the trend of the land, keeping about seven miles from it, except
when opposite Cape Direction, where we were about half that distance from
the shore. We found little to add to Captain King's chart, with the
exception of some reefs lying about ten miles east from the
above-mentioned headland.


The coast here again attained a moderate height, and a round hill ten
miles south of Cape Direction, reached the height of 1250 feet; its
latitude being 13 degrees South is nearly five degrees and a half north
of where the Cordillera is 3500 feet high, and 23 1/2 degrees of where it
attains its greatest elevation, that of 6500 feet; a fact which will at
once demonstrate the northerly tendency in the dip of the chain of hills.
This degree is further illustrated by the height of Pudding-pan Hill in
11 degrees 19 minutes South being only 384 feet. From the data given,
despite the limited number of our facts, it will be seen that the dip
becomes gradually more rapid as you advance to the northward.

South-East from Cape Sidmouth the passage was much contracted by a
covered rock in the very centre of the channel; this may be avoided by
keeping close to the West side of island Number 6. Restoration is a lofty
rocky lump, terminating in a peak 360 feet high. A smaller islet of the
same character lies about half a mile off its South-East side; there is
also a remarkable peak on the shore, four miles to the southward. This
part of the coast is thus rendered very conspicuous from seaward, and may
be discerned outside the Barrier reefs. Restoration Island is a point of
some interest from having been first visited in 1789 by Captain Bligh,
during his extraordinary and unparalleled voyage in the Bounty launch,
from the Society Islands. The dangers and perils undergone by this
undaunted voyager, and our consciousness of the joy which the sight of
land must have brought to his heart, gave much zest to our feelings with
regard to the locality. There is always an interest in connection with
scenes associated with a name such as that of Bligh, but to us the
interest was double; it was the sympathy of seamen with a brother
sailor's misfortunes.


As Captain King had not examined this interesting spot, we thought his
chart would be greatly improved by our passing a day in the place; this
was the more necessary as we found it to be a snug anchorage and
convenient place for ships passing. The name of Restoration Island was
given it by Bligh, from the circumstance of his having made it upon the
anniversary of the recall of Charles II. to the throne of England.

July 9.

The surveying operations necessary to perfect the chart of this
neighbourhood, afforded ample employment during the day. The weather
being dull, with passing rain, and squalls, the view I had anticipated
enjoying from the summit of the island was quite destroyed. Like Cape
Upstart and Lizard Island it is a granite mass. Dead coral was found on
the western side, ten feet above high-water mark, a fact which in some
measure supports what I have stated in connection with the raised beach
on Cape Upstart. A low sandy tongue of land forms the South-West extreme,
leaving a narrow passage between it and the main. This flat is covered
with brushwood, gumtrees, and a few palms. The observations were made on
this point, and the results were as follow: latitude 12 degrees 37
minutes 30 seconds South, longitude 11 degrees 16 3/4 minutes East of
Port Essington.

July 10.

The morning broke with the same dull, gloomy weather, the wind fresh at
South-East and continued thus during the day, slightly diversified by a
few passing rain squalls. Soon after daylight we were again on our
passage, the cloudy weather enabling us to make out the Eastern reefs,
which at high-water are covered, and consequently difficult to be seen in
that direction in the morning. They front Quoin and Forbes Islands,
remarkable rocky lumps, more so, however, from the extreme lowness of
those in their vicinity, than from their own magnitude. The latter was
found to be 340 feet high. A North-West by North course from Restoration
brought us to Piper Islands. The soundings were from 11 to 13 fathoms,
with a greater proportion of sand in the quality of the bottom than had
been before noticed.


Passing between them and reefs H and I also between Young Island (an
elevated reef, with one small mangrove growing on the highest part) and
reef M, we hauled up North-East by North round the north end of the
latter, to weather Sir Everard Home's Islands, a low group connected by
shoal water and extending about four miles from Cape Grenville. We passed
midway between them and Haggerston's Islands, a square lump 240 feet


Sir Charles Hardy's and the Cockburn Isles are also conspicuous objects
in this neighbourhood, particularly the former, which is visible from
outside the Barrier, and thus forms a leading mark for ships making their
way through these reefs.

In the evening the anchor was dropped about a mile from the north side of
the Bird Isles in ten fathoms, a sudden degree from fifteen, just before
standing in West-South-West to the anchorage. Five miles South-East by
East from these isles, we passed close to the position of a patch of
shoal water, according to the chart: its presence, however, was not
detected, the depth at the time being nineteen fathoms. The only
additions made to the chart during the day were a few soundings, besides
increasing the number and altering the position of Cockburn Islands, with
the reefs fronting them. The number of these isles is thus increased from
two to four; they are square rocky lumps, the largest being three hundred
feet high. The current during the day set steadily North-West almost a
mile an hour. On anchoring we found it setting West-North-West at the
same rate. At midnight it changed its direction to East-South-East from a
quarter to half a knot an hour. The time of high-water being about 6
A.M., it is evident the flood-stream came here from South or South-East.
The islands passed during the day, were of a small lagoon character and
the reefs oval-shaped, with an elevated patch of dead coral at their
north extreme, which had the appearance, at a distance, of sand. The
mainland had much changed in outline, having subsided into a wearisome
series of undulating hills, varying from five to seven hundred feet in
height. The coast was, therefore, utterly void of any feature of
interest, after passing Fair Cape.

July 11.

At daylight we were again underway and steered North by East for the
purpose of ascertaining if there were any reefs to the eastward of u and
v. When Number 1 of a group next south of Cairncross bore North 43
degrees West four and a half miles the course was changed to
West-North-West to pass between the reef fronting its south side and reef
w where we had a depth of 20 fathoms; both of these we found it necessary
to enlarge on the chart. At the time of altering the course, the ship was
West-North-West two miles from the position of an island according to
chart; but as we did not see it, and as Captain King has not laid it down
upon his own authority, we may safely conclude that it either does not
exist, or that it is much out of position.


Rounding the reef off its south extremity, we anchored in 18 fathoms, one
mile South 65 degrees West from the centre of the island before
mentioned--Number 1 of the group South of Cairncross--shortly before
noon. This Captain King supposes to be Boydan, that on which the crew of
the Charles Eaton were massacred. It was therefore determined that the
remainder of the day should be spent in examining the place, with a view
to ascertain the correctness of this supposition. The melancholy interest
of the search was to me greatly enhanced, from having seen at Sydney
young D'Oyly, one of the survivors of this ill-fated party, and son of an
Indian officer returning from furlough. Being an infant, his helplessness
excited the sympathies of an Indian woman, who snatched him from the arms
of his murdered mother, and sheltered him within her own. Nor did her
kindness stop here, the never-failing maternal solicitude of the sex,
inducing her to protect and console the child.


We had just read Captain P.P. King's interesting pamphlet in relation to
this sad event, detailing with minuteness all the circumstances of the
tragedy, and with our minds so recently imbued with the horrors it
inspired, naturally advanced to the search with zeal and activity;
anxious, if possible, to place the locality of its occurrence beyond a
doubt. The isle was easily traversed, being of small extent, not more,
indeed, than a mile in circumference. We crossed it accordingly in every
direction, and discovered the remains of native fires, near which great
quantities of turtle bones, and some coconut shells were scattered about.
It was remarkable that wherever boughs were cut, an axe or some other
sharp instrument had been used. A topmast with the lower cap attached to
it, was found on the South-East side of the island, which we afterwards
discovered to be a portion of the brig William, wrecked on the outer
barrier three months before.

Captain King drew his conclusions relative to this island from the
circumstance of young Ireland's stating, that on their way to it in the
canoe, after leaving the raft, they first passed three islands on the
right northward, and one on the left southward.


From the bearings, however, and from our run on the following morning we
found it necessary to correct the chart, thus decreasing the number of
islands. We found that marked 5, to have no existence, and 6, far too
much to the westward, while 8 and 10 were placed to the eastward of their
true position. These errors occasionally occur where they are numerous,
much alike, and are passed quickly. The change in the number and position
of the islands is in some measure hostile to the views of Captain King,
and I am further inclined, from these corrections, to draw the conclusion
that Number 4 of the group is Boydan island, a name given by the Murray
islanders, to the spot rendered notorious by the cold-blooded massacre we
have already alluded to, and which will be described more in detail in
Captain Stanley's highly interesting narrative, further on in the present

On examining the reef fronting the island, which is a more perfect
specimen of a lagoon than any we had yet seen, we found that the outer
edge consisted of a wall higher than any of the parts within, rising at
low-water, to an elevation of ten feet, while inside, pools or holes
existed, three or four feet deep, containing live coral, sponges,
sea-eggs, and trepang. Scattered about on different parts of the reef
were many Chama gigas, not, however, so large as those I had formerly
seen at Keeling or Cocos Islands, in the Indian Ocean, weighing 220

Singular to say, at 3 P.M., I observed the latitude by a meridian
altitude of Venus, although a bright sunny day. The result agreed with
Captain King's chart, placing the centre of the island in latitude 11
degrees 28 minutes South.


We experienced more tide here than at any anchorage we had yet occupied
during the passage. From 1 to 5 P.M., it set half an knot an hour to the
southward, then changed to North-West by North, increasing its rate to
one knot by 10 o'clock, and decreasing it to a quarter of a knot by 2
A.M., when it again set to the South-South-West. The stream thus appears
to set nine hours North-West by North and three South-South-West. The
short duration of the latter, which is the ebb, is caused by the
northerly direction of the prevailing current. This also was the only
spot where our fishermen had any success; in a few hours several dozen of
a species of small red bream being caught.

Three or four ships passing together would find a secure berth about two
miles North-North-East of where the Beagle anchored, where the depth is
moderate, with good holding ground. It has great advantage in this
particular over Cairncross, where but one vessel could lie snug, and
still greater over Turtle Island, more exposed even than the former with
a strong tide, and where vessels ride very uneasily. Moreover the
supposed Boydan, or Number 1 isle, can be left a full hour before
daylight, there being nothing in the way to impede a ship's progress for
some miles. Those who are not desirous of passing the reefs off Wednesday
and Hammond Islands, late in the day, with the sun in an unfavourable
position, can find a convenient stopping place in Blackwood Bay under the
largest York isle, or under the Cape of that name.


July 12.

We left at an early hour, steering North-North-West 1/2 West for
Cairncross Island, which we passed at a distance of half a mile from the
eastern side in 16 fathoms. Its height is seventy-five feet to the tops
of the trees, which, according to Mr. Bynoe, who subsequently visited it
in the month of September, are dwarf gums. The tea-tree of the colonists
is also found here, in addition to some small bushes. This island is the
resort of a large bright cream-coloured pigeon (Carpophaga leucomela) the
ends of the wings being tipped with black, or very dark blue. Mr. Bynoe
found the island quite alive with them; flocks of about twenty or thirty
flying continually to and from the main. They not only resort but breed
there, as he found several old nests. As this bird was not met with in
the Beagle on the western coast, we may fairly conclude it only inhabits
the eastern and northern; the furthest south it was seen by the officers
of H.M.S. Britomart was latitude 20 degrees. In addition to these, Mr.
Bynoe saw the holes of some small burrowing animals, which are doubtless
rats. On a sandy spit, close to the bushes or scrub, he saw a native
encampment of a semicircular form, enclosing an area of about ten yards.
The occupants had but recently left it, as a fire was found burning, and
the impression of their feet still fresh in the sand. It appears that at
this season of the year, being the favourable monsoon for ships passing
through the Barrier reefs on their voyage to India, the islands to the
southward are much frequented by the natives of Murray and others of the
northern isles, waiting, like wreckers of old, the untoward loss of some
ill-fated ship, when their canoes appear as if by magic, hastening to the
doomed vessel; just as in the Pampas of South America, no sooner has the
sportsman brought down a deer than the air is filled with myriads of
vultures winging their way towards the carcass, though a few minutes
before not a feather was stirring. The long-sightedness of these Indians
resembles that of the carrion bird itself,* while their rapacity and
recklessness of blood is fully equal to that of the lower animal.

(*Footnote. As some of our readers may imagine that vultures and birds of
prey are attracted to the carcasses of animals by smell, I may state that
an experiment was tried with a condor in South America; being hoodwinked,
he passed unnoticed a large piece of beef, but as soon as the bandage was
removed, he rushed eagerly towards and devoured it.)


We left our readers at Cairncross Island, and now return to our narrative
by describing the neighbouring coast. The most remarkable feature on this
part of the mainland, generally speaking a dull monotonous level, is a
hill bearing over the extremity of the reef fronting the south side of
Cairncross, South 45 degrees West, to which Captain Bligh has given the
quaint name of Pudding-Pan Hill. It received this appellation from a
resemblance to an inverted pudding dish, commonly used by sailors, and is
354 feet high. The coast about ten miles to the northward projects a mile
and a half further eastward than is marked in the chart. This error did
not however appear to be so great south of Escape River, where the
character of the coast is low and cliffy, separated by small sandy bays;
instead of a continued line of cliffs as at present represented.


At noon we were in the parallel of the south point of Escape River, in
latitude 10 degrees 58 minutes South, observations and bearings both
agreeing. This river receives its name in record of one of those narrow
escapes to which surveying vessels are subject, Captain King having been
nearly wrecked in the Mermaid. Attempting to enter the river he found it
not to be navigable, a reef extending across its mouth, on which his
vessel struck very heavily.


Avoiding Captain King's track, we passed to the eastward of reef x, being
thus afforded a better opportunity of determining its position than he
had. This we did by transit bearings with different points, which placed
it nearly two miles South by East of the spot assigned it on the charts.*

(*Footnote. On mentioning this afterwards to Captain P.P. King, he told
me his survey of that part of the coast had never given him satisfaction;
for there the monsoon blows fresh, and his small vessel was hurried past
without his being able to land in search of better data for the chart.
The reader must not, from these corrections (few, when we consider the
extent of the survey) be led to imagine that our object is to pick out
errors in the surveys of others; but from being in a larger and better
appointed vessel, our opportunities of examination were necessarily
greater than those afforded to Captain King, who was always most anxious
to detect errors in his own charts. Without dwelling on the fact that the
result of our examination afforded us the satisfaction of restoring parts
of the chart, before erroneously corrected, to his original construction,
we would venture to hope that, while desirous as much as possible to
perfect our knowledge of the coast, we were in no manner actuated by that
spirit of fault-finding, so pithily described by Liebeg, when he says
that it is "startling to reflect that all the time and energy of a
multitude of persons of genius, talent, and knowledge is expended in
endeavours to demonstrate each others' errors.")

This error we found to extend also to reefs y and z. X is one of the
oval-shaped reefs, with the singular white patch of dead coral on its
northern extremity which I have before spoken of. Z is similarly marked,
and dries at last quarter ebb, while the South-East part of y is never
covered, a few mangroves growing on it. When abreast of x, we saw from
deck the curious flat-topped hill on the largest York island, Mount
Adolphus, and when over the centre of reef z, it bore North 23 1/2
degrees West. We now steered to the westward between reefs, x and y, and
afterwards North-North-West for Mount Adolphus. Between the Brothers and
Albany Islands the depth was 10 fathoms; these are both black rocky
lumps, particularly the latter, the outer being a mere pointed rock.
Altogether they assume a sterile and dreary appearance, in excellent
keeping with the inhospitable character of the adjoining coast. Several
shoals and much shoal water were noticed in Newcastle Bay.


At 4 P.M., we anchored in Blackwood Bay, in a depth of 10 fathoms. Point
Dicky bearing South half a mile, and Mount Adolphus North-East. In the
evening a plan was made of this very convenient stopping place for ships,
and all the angles taken to the North-West extremity of the group, place
them a mile and a half to the eastward of their position in the chart.
Observations were also obtained near Point Dicky, which we found to be in
latitude 10 degrees 38 3/4 minutes South and longitude 10 degrees 28
minutes East of Port Essington. The North-West extremity of the singular
flat-topped hill being 1 minute 05 seconds North, and 45 seconds East of
this spot. The first question interesting to ships is the supply of wood
and water; the latter we had no time to look for, but of the former there
was an abundance, though from the shore being fronted by extensive coral
flats, it is difficult to be attained.

The appearance of the island is similar to that of the Albany cluster, it
having the same rocky, bleak, and almost wild look; from which I conclude
they are of the same formation, which in general terms we may call
porphyritic. Parts of the island appeared to be intersected by a growth
of mangroves.

There appeared great irregularity in the tides at this anchorage, as if
there were a meeting of various streams. At 5 P.M. it was setting
South-West about an hour, and continued to run in that direction until 8
hours 30 minutes, gradually decreasing its rate. It then took a North and
by East direction with the same velocity, until half an hour after
midnight, when it again changed back to South-South-West, a course it
pursued during the remainder of our stay. By the rise of the water on the
shore it would appear that the flood came from the westward.


On reaching York Island we considered ourselves within the Strait, which
took its name from the Spanish navigator Torres, who sailed in 1605,
second in command under Pedro Fernandes de Quiros, from Callao in Peru,
with the object of discovering the Tierra Austral, then supposed to be a
continent occupying a considerable portion of the southern hemisphere,
lying westward of America. Torres passed through this strait in 1606, but
despite the great importance of the discovery, its existence remained
unknown until 1762, from the jealousy of the Spanish monarchy, which kept
the reports of its navigators a secret from the world. At the time in
question, however, Manila fell into our hands, and in the archives of
that colony, a duplicate copy of Torres's letter to the king of Spain was
found by the hydrographer, Mr. Dalrymple. The passage was now made known,
and in tardy justice to the discoverer it received the appellation of
Torres Strait; a tribute to the reputation of man, the greatest perhaps
which could be bestowed, since no more sure road to immortality can be
pointed out, than giving a name to the great and imperishable works of
the Creator's hand. It was not however until 1770, that the world
received full confirmation of this great acquisition to our geographical
knowledge; the immortal Cook then passing through and settling the
question of its existence. This being the high road between our growing
Eastern and Australian possessions, the reader will at once see the
importance which must ever attach to the discovery, and will the more
readily comprehend our enlarging in some degree upon the circumstance.

July 13.

There had been noticed last evening a slight rippling outside the bay,
and on leaving this morning we found it to be a ridge about two cables
width, the least water on it being three fathoms. From the shoalest part,
Mount Adolphus bore North 56 degrees East, and Point Dicky South 26
degrees East. It appeared by the ripples continuing towards the
north-west of York Island, that this rocky ledge extended in that
direction. Vessels entering Blackwood Bay may always avoid this shoal, by
keeping close to Point Dicky, or by steering for Mount Adolphus, when it
bears North-East 1/2 North.

Being desirous to know if there were a practicable channel through
Endeavour Strait, by which the inconvenience before alluded to, of
passing the reef fronting Hammond's Island late in the
afternoon, might be avoided, we proceeded in that direction, passing
along the north-eastern extreme of the continent, and between the
Possession Islands we entered Endeavour Strait. This termination of the
shores of Australia, being level and of moderate elevation, presents
nothing remarkable, save a peak over Cape York and fronting the
Possession Isles.


It has an inhospitable appearance, being apparently similar in formation
with York Isles, and subsides rapidly to the South-West forming the south
side of Endeavour Strait, where it scarcely reaches an elevation of fifty
feet: contrasting forcibly with the high rocky land of the opposite side
of the Strait, formed by the largest of the Prince of Wales Islands; upon
which former navigators not having bestowed a name, we conferred that of
the immortal navigator. Not but that the Strait known by the name of his
ship, is quite sufficient to recall the mind of posterity to his perils
and dangers in these seas; but that we his humble followers in the great
cause of discovery might add our mite to the wreath of glory which must
ever encircle the name of Captain Cook.

On the North-East extremity of this island is a remarkable peak, in the
shape of a horn, called by him Horn Hill. Captain King having only passed
between the eastern of the Possession Isles, little was known of the
western shores. A few angles and bearings were accordingly taken, as we
passed between them to assist in remedying this deficiency.


There was no impediment to our passage through the Strait, until we got
abreast of Wallis Isles, Cape Cornwall bearing East by North 1/2 North;
when the water shoaled to four fathoms and a half. Finding by hauling up
on either tack, that we were on a ridge extending from the Cape, we ran
to the westward, until we could cross it, which we did in three and a
half fathoms, North Wallis Island bearing South-West five miles.


I saw at the time from the masthead, a blue streak of water to the
southward, still affording hopes of there being a deep outlet to
Endeavour Strait; but as the day was far advanced, with a fresh breeze
from East-South-East, it was not deemed prudent to get the ship entangled
in shoal water; therefore, after crossing the ridge extending off Cape
Cornwall we steered North-West 1/2 West for Booby Island, in regular
soundings of six and seven fathoms, and late in the afternoon anchored
nearly a mile from its western side, a flagstaff bearing South 65 degrees
East. This we found on landing had been erected in 1835 by Captain
Hobson,* of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, who at the same time placed in a large
box, made for the purpose, a book with printed forms, which every ship
passing filled up, with the addition of such remarks as were thought of
consequence. Over this box in large letters were painted the words Post
Office, a name by which Booby Island must be quite familiar to all who
have navigated these seas; ships being here in the habit of leaving
letters for transmission by any vessel proceeding in the required
directions. I noticed a similar practice prevailing among the whalers at
the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific. We are indebted for the book to the
public spiritedness of an Indian army officer. The beneficial results of
the plan were experienced by ourselves, as here we first heard of the
Port Essington expedition, having passed eight months previously; also of
the schooner Essington, that left Sydney in advance of the expedition for
that place, having succeeded in determining the fact of the non-existence
of the other young D'Oyly, one of the passengers of the ill-fated Charles
Eaton. This result of the enterprising merchant-man's researches, fully
bears out the fact mentioned by Captain King, on the authority of the
Darnley islanders, that he shared the fate of his parents, being devoured
by their savage captors. All the ships which have recorded their passage
in the book, appeared to have entered the Barrier between the latitude of
11 degrees 30 minutes and 12 degrees 10 minutes; generally about 11
degrees 50 minutes reaching Sir Charles Hardy's Island the same day. They
all spoke of a strong northerly current outside the reef, in some
instances of nearly three knots. The time occupied in making the passage
from Sydney by the outer route, varied from fourteen to twenty days, it
being certainly shorter than the inner, though attended with much greater
risks. One objection made against the latter is the necessity of
anchoring every evening, somewhat laborious work to the crews of merchant
ships; this might be obviated in some measure by using a light anchor,
which could be done with perfect safety in the still waters within the
reefs. We found two barques at anchor, which had arrived on the preceding
day. In accordance with a practice very generally observed, they were
giving themselves a short period of repose and relaxation after the
anxieties and danger of the outer passage; which, short as it is, has
doubtless sprinkled grey hairs over many a seaman's head.

(*Footnote. Afterwards Governor of New Zealand.)


Although Booby Island is a mere rock, from the various associations
connected with it, being during one half of the year the constant resort
of Europeans, it becomes at once a place of interest, and imperatively
demands some notice at our hands. It is a quarter of a mile in diameter,
flat, and about thirty feet high, the summit being bare porphyry rock. A
valley intersects the north-west side of the island, in which a few
creepers, some brushwood, and two or three trees of tolerable size, with
a peculiar broad green leaf, bearing a great resemblance to that of the
wild almond of the West Indies, were seen, giving shelter to some pigeons
and quails, in which latter the island abounds, even more than in the
bird which gives its name to the locality. Still, however, from the white
colour of the top of the island, produced by the boobies, it is clearly
one of their temporary haunts; and indeed, subsequently, in the month of
September, their season of incubation, Mr. Bynoe saw them there in great
abundance. The contrary was the case with the quail, which, by that time,
had completely deserted the island. Turtle were once found on this isle,
but they are now never taken. A few of the stones mentioned by Captain
King are still to be seen on the summit.


This being a point at which ships correct or test the going of their
chronometers, it was necessary to obtain observations for longitude. The
spot chosen for the purpose was the landing-place near the South-West
corner of the islet, and which we found to be 9 degrees 45 minutes East
of Port Essington.

Our opportunities of examination with regard to the inner edge of the
Great Barrier, and its contiguous islands and reefs, terminating at Booby
Island; it may not be deemed irrelevant to hazard a few remarks in
recapitulation. In the first place there was a very perceptible increase
in the elevation of the reefs and of those islands resting on similar
constructions, as we advanced to the northward. Cairncross Island, in
latitude 11 1/4 degrees South, composed of heaped up consolidated
fragments, attains an elevation of 17 feet; but its trees rise to a
height of 75 feet, whilst to the southward, in latitude 13 1/2 degrees
South the islands were partially flooded by a tide, rising only about six
feet. The reefs are all either circular or oval-shaped, with a rim rising
round them. The description of that fronting the isle we visited for
Boydan will illustrate their general character. Their northern ends are
the highest, and are almost invariably marked by a heap of dead coral and
shells, which as we have mentioned, in one or two instances, from its
white appearance has often been taken for sand.

The remarkable breaks in this singularly great extent of coral reefs,
known as the Barrier of Australia, being in direction varying from West
to West-North-West generally speaking North-West, leads me to believe
that the upheaval by which the base of this huge coral building was
formed, partakes of the general north-westerly direction, in which a
large portion of the eastern world apparently emerged from the water. A
glance at the map of that portion of the globe, will strengthen this
hypothesis, placing as it does this singular fact at once before the
reader's mind. Starting with the stupendous heights of the Himalaya
mountains, and proceeding thence to several groups of the Polynesian
islands, New Caledonia, and others, this remarkable similarity in the
trend of these portions of the earth is plainly distinguishable. It would
appear, therefore, from the general north-westerly tendency of these
upheavals, that the cavernous hollows beneath the crust of the earth,
within whose bosom originated these remarkable convulsions, have a strong
inclination in one direction, a circumstance in connection with the
earth's history of great and curious interest. With this general
statement of facts, which we note for the benefit of scientific men, and
in illustration of the singular changes which are taking place on the
surface of the globe, we return to our narrative, from which we have
wandered at some considerable length.

As the duration of our cruise on the north-west and most interesting
portions of the coast, depended in a great measure on the supply of
provisions to be obtained at Port Essington, we were naturally anxious to
satisfy ourselves upon the point, and accordingly spent but a few hours
at Booby Island, taking our departure at 8 P.M. on the day of our


Proceeding towards Port Essington, we experienced a constant current
setting between North-West and West, from half to three quarters of a
knot an hour, except when crossing the mouth of the Gulf of Carpentaria,
when from the indraught its direction was changed to West-South-West. The
winds were as Captain King has described them, veering from
South-South-East in the morning, to East in the evening, and blowing
fresh towards the middle of the day.

Beyond this nothing occurred worthy of remark, until the morning of the
17th, when soon after daylight we found ourselves steering rather within
a large patch of discoloured water, extending off Cape Croker, the
North-East extreme of the Coburg Peninsula, a low point with a slight
hummock on it; on the north side of this peninsula is situated Port
Essington, thirty miles to the westward of the Cape.


The light-coloured water off the latter, we knew indicated the reef
discovered by the brig Tigris, belonging to the Indian navy, which in
company with the New South Wales colonial schooner, Isabella, was
returning from rescuing the survivors of the Charles Eaton, from the
natives of Murray Island. When half a mile from the North-East side, in
22 fathoms rocky bottom, Cape Croker, bearing South 29 degrees East six
miles; we steered out, keeping at the same distance round this patch of
light water in twenty and twenty-one fathoms, seven or eight miles from
the Cape, which bore when over what appeared the shoalest part, South 42
degrees East.

This conclusion I afterwards found, on meeting Captain Stanley, to be
correct, as that bearing led over the part of the reef he struck on in
H.M.S. Britomart. But being on the inner part he was distant only three
miles from Cape Croker, whilst the outer edge of the reef I believe to be
seven miles from it on the same bearing. In hauling up to the southward,
round the North-West extreme of the discoloured water, the soundings were
as follows, 17, 12, and 19 fathoms, with rocky bottom. The Cape bore when
in the least depth South 58 degrees East nine miles.

We were fortunate in having such good means of determining the longitude
of Cape Croker, by observation of a twilight star when in the meridian,
and others with the sun soon afterwards. These both agreeing, place the
Cape 27 1/4 miles east of Port Essington, instead of 20, as it is laid
down in the chart. This discovery is of vital importance to ships
proceeding to Port Essington; we were therefore glad of so good an
opportunity for rectifying the error.


Expectation was on tip-toe as we were fast approaching Port Essington,
feeling naturally anxious to see what progress had been made at the new
settlement, and to learn the fate of the expedition. There was, however,
nothing striking in the first appearance of the land, a low woody shore;
the most remarkable object being a sandy islet, with a tree in its
centre, about a mile east of Point Smith, the eastern point of Port
Essington: Vashon Head forming the western.

As we drew near, a boat came alongside belonging to H.M.S. Britomart.
From Mr. Pascoe we heard that the Alligator had just sailed for Sydney,
leaving the former to await her return at Port Essington. The people
forming the settlement had been very healthy, bearing out Dr. Wilson's
account of Raffles Bay; and had found the natives exceedingly well
disposed. For this advantage we are indebted to the excellent judgment
displayed by the unfortunate* Captain Barker, late Commandant of Raffles
Bay, he having during his stay in that place, treated them with kindness,
to which they were fairly entitled from men so far their superiors in
knowledge and power, and who were moreover intruders upon their soil. Had
this noble conduct of Captain Barker been more universally accepted as an
example, the results would, we doubt not, have been equally satisfactory

(*Footnote. This expression may to some of our readers require
explanation, and we therefore quote a brief extract from Dr. Wilson's
voyage round the world, page 284. "In obedience to orders from the
Colonial Government, he was examining the coast in the vicinity of
Encounter Bay, principally with the view of ascertaining whether any
available communication existed between the river Murray (lately
discovered by Captain Sturt) and the Sea. While in the execution of this
duty, he was barbarously murdered by the natives, and his body thrown
into the sea." In Sturt's two Expeditions volume 2 page 239, a detailed
narrative of this tragedy is given.)


We also heard with much regret,* of the wreck of the Orontes, which
accompanied the expedition from Sydney. She left the settlement, with the
intention of proceeding to some port in the East Indies; and when just
clearing the harbour struck on a reef, knocking a hole in her bows. She
filled so rapidly that they had barely time to reach the shore under
Vashon Head, ere she sank. The reef, which now bears her name, is
according to Mr. Tyers' plan, received from Mr. Pascoe, a mile in extent
east and west, and half a mile north and south; while the nearest part of
it is distant from Vashon Head and Point Smith very nearly five miles.
From its extremes the following are the bearings; from the western,
Vashon Head South 49 degrees West, Point Smith South 55 degrees East: and
from the eastern the same points bear South 60 degrees West and South 48
degrees East.

(*Footnote. The loss of a ship is always looked upon as a most untoward
event, on the occasion of a new settlement being formed, and is ever
forcibly imprinted upon the memory of all ship-masters. This was felt to
a most serious extent at Swan River; and many masters of vessels in
speaking of Port Essington, have at once expressed their fear of
proceeding thither, deterred by the loss of the Orontes.)


The least depth on the Orontes reef is about a fathom, but the generally
discoloured state of the water, renders it impossible to determine its
exact position, and thus greatly increases the injury done by its
presence to the mouth of the harbour. The same difficulty prevents the
end of the reef fronting Point Smith from being made out. After rounding
the latter, we hauled to the wind, South-West by South up Port Essington.


Port Essington.
Bearings from shoals in the Harbour.
Appearance of the Settlement.
Meet Captain Stanley.
Point Record.
Prospects of the Settlement.
Buffaloes escape.
Fence across neck of Peninsula.
Lieutenant P.B. Stewart explores the Country.
Uses of Sand.
Tumuli-building Birds.
Beautiful Opossum.
Wild Bees.
Escape from an Alligator.
Result of Astronomical Observations.
Geological Formation.
Raffles Bay.
Leave Port Essington.
Popham Bay.
Detect error in position of Port Essington.
Melville Island.
Discover a Reef in Clarence Strait.
Cape Hotham.
Native Huts and Clothing.
Geological Formation.
Discover the Adelaide River.
Interview with Natives.
Attempt to come on board.
Messrs. Fitzmaurice and Keys nearly speared.
Exploration of the Adelaide.
Its capabilities.
Another party ascends the Adelaide.
Meet Natives.
Visit Melville Island.
Green Ants.
Thoughts of taking ship up Adelaide abandoned.
Tides in Dundas Strait.
Return to Port Essington.
H.M.S. Pelorus arrives with Provisions.
Further remarks on the Colony.


The expanse of water presented to our view in standing up Port Essington,
quite delighted us. It is in truth a magnificent harbour, and well worthy
of having on its shores the capital of Northern Australia, destined,
doubtless, from its proximity to India, and our other fast-increasing
eastern possessions, to become not only a great commercial resort, but a
valuable naval post in time of war. Many circumstances combine to render
it a desirable station. Its great size, having an extent sufficient to
hold the largest fleet, is in itself of vast importance, while, as a
shelter for distressed vessels, or the surviving crews of wrecks, it
cannot be too highly rated: the more so that excellent wood for repairing
ships grows in the neighbourhood, especially teak and oak, specimens of
which with others, Captain Laws forwarded, in 1828, to one of the
dockyards in England.

As we advanced the shores of the harbour contracted, and at the distance
of thirteen miles from the entrance are only one mile apart; scarcely
half, however, of this space is navigable, from a bank extending off the
west side, which is a rocky head called Spear Point, from the
circumstance of Captain King having been there nearly speared by the
natives. The bearings for clearing the extremes of this reef are as
follows. For the south-eastern, Adam Head South 20 degrees West, for the
eastern, Middle Head South 18 degrees West, and for the north-eastern,
Oyster Head North 47 degrees West. This great decrease in the breadth of
the passage, necessarily gives the tide at this spot great rapidity, by
which a channel, thirteen fathoms deep, has been formed close to the
eastern shore, a low sandy tongue of land called Point Record. This name
was given to it on the occasion of Port Essington and the contiguous
country, being taken possession of by Sir Gordon Bremer when on his way
to settle Melville Island, in 1824. A bottle containing an account of
their proceedings was buried, and hence the name. The same cause which
influences the tides, has rendered the sides of the narrow channel very
steep, and a vessel standing towards the bank fronting Spear Point,
should, accordingly, tack when the water shoals to nine fathoms, as the
soundings in approaching that part fronting Port Record are 12, 9, 7, and
2 fathoms.

Beyond these points, the harbour again widens and forms a large basin
nearly five miles in extent; but from a broad point projecting two miles
from the south-east side, the inner harbour is proportionably decreased
in size. From the extreme of this cliffy point, called by Captain King,
from its position, Middle Head, a narrow bank extends some distance in
the direction of Point Record, forming the only danger in this part of
the harbour.


From its outer edge, Point Record bears north, and the North-East part of
Middle Head, South 76 degrees East. These and other bearings recently
given, will perhaps be considered of little value by the general reader,
but as they were required to take the Beagle into Port Essington, they
will be found useful to others for the same purpose.


The narrow entrance to the inner harbour, may by some be considered a
drawback, but on the other hand, it must be borne in mind, that what is
an impediment to navigation, is also a safeguard against attack.
Moreover, from this want of breadth in the harbour, a fort on Point
Record, which is commanded by no height, would perfectly protect it.

It was from this confined portion that our anxious desire to catch a
glimpse of the new settlement was at length gratified; and we were
somewhat surprised, considering the recent date of its formation, to
discover the presence of so many buildings as were scattered over the top
of a cliffy point on the south-west part of the harbour, called Adam
Head, at the base of which was a long jetty.

Clearing the bank off Spear Point, we ran up and anchored near H.M.S.
Britomart, lying off the settlement, early in the afternoon. The sight of
another vessel is ever cheering to the hearts of those who have been, as
it were, for a time, cut off from the world;* nor was our arrival,
bringing, as we did, news and letters, any less welcome; though after a
long interval the receipt of a letter, perhaps bearing an ill omen in the
very colour of its wax, is very far from generating unmixed emotions of
pleasure. So much may occur in the brief space of a few months, that a
seal must ever be broken with feelings of great anxiety.

(*Footnote. I well remember the sensations I experienced on first seeing
a sail after an interval of nine months, and that wholly spent on the
storm-beaten shores of South-western Tierra Del Fuego. J.L.S.)


We too had our share of news to be made acquainted with. Captain Stanley
had been on a most interesting cruise to the Arru Islands, the deeply
interesting narrative of which expedition the reader will peruse, we are
sure, with unqualified satisfaction, in a later section of the present
work. This meeting gave me real pleasure, though with regret I saw that
he had been much harassed. Lieutenant P.B. Stewart,* of the Alligator,
had also made a journey over the Peninsula, to which I shall presently
further allude.

(*Footnote. Since promoted for services in China; he also served in the
Beagle during her last expedition.)

We were of course extremely anxious to visit the settlement. Landing at
the jetty, which we found a very creditable piece of workmanship erected
under the direction of Lieutenant P.B. Stewart, we ascended the cliff,
and on gaining the summit, found ourselves on a small piece of tableland
partially cleared. Seen through the trees, the dwellings of the settlers
had an air of neatness, pleasing to the eye. Among the other buildings in
progress was the church, which, planted as it was on the northern shores
of the Australian continent, was expected to form a nucleus from which
offshoots might by degrees draw within its influence the islands in the
Arafura Sea, and thus widely spread the pure blessings of Christianity.
It is highly characteristic of our countrymen, that where with other
nations, the tavern, the theatre, the dancing-house, are among the
earliest buildings in a new settlement, with us everywhere the church is
first thought of. In few corners of the world, where English influence
has extended itself, is this otherwise than true, and it is a highly
enviable distinction. It seems, indeed, that wherever the flag of Britain
floats, there is made known the Word of God in its purity; and as an
empire has been vouchsafed us on which the sun never sets, the extent of
our influence for good in this respect is incalculable. We may venture to
express our sincere hope, that our country will ever continue to enjoy
this noble supremacy.

At the south-east extremity of the settlement, raised on piles, was the
Government-house, fronted on the harbour side by a small battery. Behind
the table-plain, the land, producing very coarse grass, falls away to the
south-west, and some clear patches which from lying in a low situation,
are flooded during the rains, form tolerable soil. Generally speaking,
however, there is a great deficiency of land fit for cultivation. On some
of the best spots lying to the southward and westward, gardens have been
commenced with some success.

Before proceeding further with our journal of events at Port Essington,
it may be proper to introduce some brief account of the state and
prospects of the settlement at that place. The reader will remember an
allusion in a previous chapter to the departure from Sydney of the
expedition despatched for the purpose of forming it, as well as some
remarks on the policy of giving it a purely military character. That
expedition reached its destination on October 27, 1838, having taken
formal possession on the way, of Cape York and the adjacent territory.
Sir Gordon Bremer's first care was to select a site for the proposed
township; and after due deliberation, a spot was fixed on which was
thought to combine all desirable advantages: as good soil, the
neighbourhood of fresh water, and easy approach from the ships in port.
In the selection of the spot to be occupied by a settlement, the
capabilities of the soil must ever be the first consideration; still,
however, there will always exist an objection on the ground of its great
distance of 16 miles from the mouth of the harbour. A similar
disadvantage in the Falkland Islands, proved of great detriment to the
settlement in Berkeley Sound.

The site of Victoria, for such was the name bestowed, in honour of her
Majesty, on the new settlement, is raised in the loftiest part about
fifty feet above high-water level. Upon it the plans of a number of
cottages and gardens were rapidly marked out; and it was not long before
this hitherto desolate spot presented the appearance of a large
straggling village. A pier was speedily run out into the sea; and a good
road cut to it. The church, also, which I have before mentioned, was soon
to be distinguished, rising above the Government cottage and officers'
quarters; while in order to ensure an ample supply of water, deep wells
were sunk on the tableland within the settlement, which fully answered
expectation, the water proving good and abundant.

Not long after the arrival of the expedition, M. Dumont D'Urville, with
the Astrolabe and Zelie, arrived in Raffles Bay, and it was popularly
believed that they had entertained some intentions of forestalling our
settlement. At any rate, the question whether foreign powers were
entitled to take possession of points on the coast of Australia was much
debated at the time. However this may be, and with whatever feelings the
respective Governments of France and England may have regarded each other
at the time, the officers of the two nations seemed to vie in courtesy. A
boat was despatched from Victoria to invite them to enter the harbour,
and the greatest harmony prevailed during their stay.

On the 28th of March, six Malay proas came in and were soon followed by
others, their owners soliciting permission to erect their establishments
for curing trepang under the protection of the British flag. This being
granted, they made choice of a spot on the beach, and a little subsidiary
settlement soon sprung up. Being now for the first time secure from the
attacks of the natives, whose hostility had until then forced every other
man of them to keep under arms whilst the rest worked, they expected to
pursue their occupation with far greater advantage to themselves.
Originally hopes were entertained that a very large population of Malays,
and even Chinese would speedily collect at Port Essington: but from some
defect in the colonial regulations their immigration was for a time
checked. At length, however, a remedy has been applied, and facility
given for the introduction of settlers from the Indian Archipelago and
the Celestial Empire.

The great difficulty that this small settlement has had to contend with
from the beginning, is the climate; which, though not absolutely
pernicious in itself, is unsuited to European constitutions. The settlers
have been attacked at various times by fever, and have experienced a
large comparative mortality; but hopes are entertained that by proper
regulations, especially if temperate habits could be introduced, this may
be avoided.

The capabilities of the soil, though it has by some been pronounced
totally unfit for agricultural purposes, are still supposed by others to
be great, and it is believed that if colonists, capable of working in the
climate, could be induced to repair to Port Essington, rice, cotton,
indigo, etc. might be raised, of the finest quality, and in great

The livestock at the settlements, consisted, by the last accounts, of an
English cow and a bull, two Indian heifers and two cows, above fifty
goats, six working oxen, thirty buffaloes, six pigs, a few fowls, five
ponies, and thirty half-greyhounds for catching kangaroos. Some of these
were private, others public property. Several cattle have been lost, on
hearing which, a plan that had before suggested itself, recurred vividly
to my mind. I once thought the herds of buffalo and other animals might
be prevented from straying, by a fence run across the Peninsula, between
Mount Norris Bay, and the north-east corner of Van Diemen's Gulf. The
width is only three miles, and the rude Micmac Indians of Newfoundland,
have carried fences for a similar purpose many times that extent. The
necessity of so doing became more apparent each time I visited the place,
especially when I heard of herds of buffaloes being seen upon the main.
Another advantage which occurred to me in connection with this subject,
was, that it would have rendered an out-station necessary, and have thus
led to a further communication with the natives, which would ultimately
tend to increase our knowledge of them and the interior; this after our
subsequent discovery of Adelaide river became of still greater moment.
The existence of the out-station would also form a change for the
settlers, and journeys thither would remove the dreary inactivity of a
new settlement at certain periods. The absence of this fence may account
for Captain Grey's party having seen signs of buffalo on the mainland; he
discovered the tracks of a cloven-footed animal, which one of his men who
had been much in South Africa, at once recognised as the spur of a
buffalo. But one advantage can arise from the want of this precaution.
Some of the finest lands in the neighbourhood of Sydney, now called Cow
Pastures, were discovered, by finding them to be the constant haunt of
wild cattle; a similar accident might prove equally advantageous in the
neighbourhood of Port Essington.

To return, however, to the period of the establishment of the colony: it
was of course deemed desirable to take an early opportunity of exploring
Cobourg Peninsula, on which Victoria is situated; and accordingly on May
1st, Lieutenant P.B. Stewart, with several well-armed companions, started
on an exploring expedition. They carried water and a week's provisions on
two ponies, but did not encumber themselves with a tent; sheltering
themselves at night from the dew in little huts made of branches. On the
second day they crossed several running streams, with extensive grassy
patches, and came to a halt during the sultry part of the day on the
banks of a river or chain of pools. Here grew many fine cedar-trees, of a
light colour and close-grained, while thick woods of the mangrove
appeared on all sides: these much impeded their advance, and prevented
them from making any great progress. However, they crossed to the eastern
side of the Peninsula, where they found a rich and beautiful country, in
some parts reminding them of the rich South American forest, rather than
the dreary sameness of an Australian wood. Numerous tracks of the buffalo
seemed to testify to the excellence of the pasture. Several evidences,
also, of the presence of natives were from time to time discovered, and
at length a small party met them and exhibited a very friendly spirit.
They acted as guides to the explorers, showing them where water could be
found, giving every information in their power, and supplying them with
crabs; but of course they did not fail to ask for bread, of which as much
as could be spared was given them. On May 8th, they conducted Lieutenant
Stewart's party back to Middle Head, and he expresses great surprise at
the precision with which they found their way in the bush without having
any apparent means to guide them. I have before alluded to this
instinctive power of the aborigines of Australia.

Lieutenant Stewart gives as the general result of his observations,
extending over about seventy or eighty miles, that there is abundance of
fresh water on the Peninsula; that the South side is by far the finest
and best watered country; that the trees are there free from the white
ant; and that in a large tract of country, the cabbage-palm abounds. He
also observes, that as much of the south coast as he saw, has a coral
reef extending about a mile from the beach; and that the rise and fall of
the tide is much greater than at Port Essington.

The natives were found by the settlers, as we have already stated, very
friendly, and their assistance proved valuable: they brought in the head
of the palm-cabbage, which makes an excellent vegetable, though to
procure it, the tree is cut down and destroyed: they also supplied the
party with wild honey. One of the Raffles Bay tribe instantly made
himself known on the arrival of the Expedition in the Bay; he was called
by the name of Alligator, on account of his huge teeth, though his proper
appellation was Marambari.

From Lieutenant Vallach* of H.M.S. Britomart, I received much valuable
information respecting the natives, whom I find to be divided in three
distinct classes, which do not intermarry. The first is known as
Maudrojilly, the second as Mamburgy, the third as Mandrouilly. They are
very particular about the distinction of classes, but we could never
discover which was the superior and which the inferior class, though it
is supposed by most of those who have inquired into the subject, that the
Madrojilly, or first class, head the others in war, and govern the
affairs of the tribe.

(*Footnote. Lieutenant Vallach died at Moulmain in 1841.)

These aborigines were certainly a fine race, differing in some matters
from the other natives of Australia; their hair was neither curly nor
straight, but crisp. The custom of extracting a front tooth prevails
among them, while the nasal cartilage here as elsewhere was perforated. I
noticed in particular that they did not make use of the boomerang, or
kiley, but of the throwing stick or womera, of a larger kind, however,
than any I have observed elsewhere; the head of their spears was made of
stone. They have a smaller kind, chiefly used to kill birds and other
animals at a considerable distance. They have also large heavy clubs,
while the natives on the South coast carry only the short throwing
stick.* They go wholly naked, except when entering the settlements, on
which occasions they wear a few leaves. Their canoes were chiefly
obtained from the Malays.

(*Footnote. We refer our readers to Mr. Eyre's work, where these and
other weapons are figured.)

I here saw the only musical instrument I ever remarked among the natives
of Australia. It is a piece of bamboo thinned from the inside, through
which they blow with their noses. It is from two to three feet long, is
called ebroo, and produces a kind of droning noise. It is generally made
use of at corrobories or dances, some of which express feats of hunting
and war, while others are very indecent, and reminded us of similar
exhibitions in the East. It was generally remarked that the old clothes
given to these savages disappeared in a most mysterious manner. They were
understood to be sold to the natives inhabiting the loftier parts of the
interior, but of this I entertain very considerable doubt. Sand, in which
the Australian continent abounds, is like everything else proceeding from
the hand of the Creator, not without its uses. On cold nights the natives
make up for their total want of covering, by burying themselves in it,
and nothing can be more irresistibly comic than to see these black lumps
sticking out of the earth, like so many enchanted unfortunates in an
eastern romance. It moreover has other uses, forming a substitute for
soap;* and when cooking turtle it is mixed with earth and sprinkled over
the meat, as we should pepper.

(*Footnote. Their general habits are cleanly.)

One discovery which was made through the medium of the natives, was that
the large tumuli noticed by Captain King and others, and supposed to be
raised by the inhabitants, are the works of a bird; some of them are
thirty feet long and about five feet high; they are always built near
thick bushes in which they can take shelter, at the least alarm. The
edifice is erected with the feet, which are remarkable both for size and
strength, and a peculiar power of grasping; they are yellow while the
body is brown. Nothing can be more curious than to see them hopping
towards these piles on one foot, the other being filled with materials
for building. Though much smaller in shape, in manner they much resemble
moor-fowl. The use made of the mound is to contain eggs, which are
deposited in layers, and are then hatched by the heat generated in part
from decomposition. The instant that the shell bursts, the young bird
comes forth strong and large, and runs without the slightest care being
taken of it by the parent. Of the number of eggs laid by each bird,
seldom more than two are hatched. It is singular that these mounds are
found away from the earth and shells of which they are composed. It seems
difficult to credit that a bird so small could raise a structure so
large. The largest we ever saw was about eight feet high, on one of the
Possession Islands in Endeavour Strait.

The name given to the bird by Mr. Gould is Megapodius tumulus, and it
will be unnecessary to
enter upon any further details concerning it, as he has described it most
interestingly in his work on the birds of Australia.

Great numbers of kangaroos were also found here, which at the period of
our arrival the settlers were just getting into the way of killing. There
are three varieties, of which the largest weighs about 160 pounds. I must
further allude to a most beautiful little opossum which inhabits these
parts. It is about half the size of a full-grown rat, and designated as
Belideus ariel. Its colour and fur greatly resemble the chinchilla, and I
have little doubt that the skin is valuable and might be made an article
of trade. This animal has a membrane between the fore and hind paws,
which aids it to some extent when leaping from bough to bough. It is a
great enemy to the wild bee, devouring them and their nests; the bees the
natives discover by tapping the tree and listening for a buzzing from
within. Those we saw, amounting to nearly a hundred, were about the size
of a fly, of a dusky black colour, and strange to say, were hovering
round an empty tar-barrel. They have been unsuccessfully tried in hives
at Sydney.

Alligators abound, and one of the marines had a very narrow escape from
them. It appears that one of these monsters who had come out of the water
in the night, in search of food, found him sleeping in his hammock, which
he had very injudiciously hung up near the water. The alligator made a
snap at his prize; but startled at this frightful interruption of his
slumbers, the man dexterously extricated himself out of his blanket,
which the unwieldy brute, doubtless enraged at his disappointment,
carried off in triumph. For some time this story was not believed, but
when afterwards the huge reptile, on a similar excursion, was shot, a
portion of the blanket was found in his stomach with the paw of a
favourite spaniel, taken when swimming off the pier head.

Extensive hauls of fish were made on Point Record, amongst which one
species, there called salmon, was most excellent eating.

It is unnecessary for a transient visitor to enlarge upon the birds of
Port Essington, as in Mr. Gould's work we have the result of the labours
of an individual who spent months collecting in the neighbourhood.

The spot selected for our observations was Government House, where nearly
a hundred observations with the sun and stars were made for latitude, the
mean result being 11 degrees 22 minutes 21 seconds South, which strange
to say, was nearly 15 seconds greater than Captain Stanley and Mr. Tyers'
determination: this difference to me was quite unaccountable, as the
instruments used in the Beagle were before and subsequently,
satisfactorily tested at well determined places. The longitude being
affected by the doubtful meridian distance between Sydney and Port
Stephens, we can only give an approximate result; and therefore for the
sake of the longitudes of those places referred to the meridian of Port
Essington, we consider it 132 degrees 12 minutes East of Greenwich.

From the quantity of iron in the rocks at Victoria, it was impossible to
get any satisfactory observation for the variation of the compass. Those
obtained varied from 3/4 to 2 1/2 degrees east.

We found that Mr. Tyers had made about seven months' observations on the
tides, which gave a very irregular rise and fall, varying from two to
thirteen feet. The time of high-water being half past three, at the full
and change. Oxide of iron is found in some places in large quantities,
and is used by the natives to adorn themselves when dancing. This it is
which gives to the coast the peculiar red hue noticed between Cape Croker
and Port Essington. Many of the cliffs were composed of a light-coloured
marl; but the formation is chiefly old arenaceous rocks. Two of the
highest and most remarkable hills on the Peninsula, known as Mounts
Bedwell and Rose, have singular flat tops, bearing some resemblance to
the curious appearance of Cape Bedford. I am inclined to believe this
formation to be floetz trappe. Their elevation is about four hundred
feet, being twice the general height of the Peninsula.


The temperature during our stay averaged 82 degrees while land and sea
breezes prevailed. We should not omit to mention, that Lieutenant
Stewart, when visiting Raffles Bay in order to invite the French officers
as above alluded to, found that a deep inlet intervening, formed a good
harbour, to which he gave the name of Port Bremer. Of the old settlement
nothing remained, save the graves of those whose labours had tended to
render this part of Australia another outlet for the surplus population
of the mother country, extending at the same time the blessings of
civilization. The rapid growth of rank vegetation had swept all else
away, and there in solemn solitude, upon that still and silent shore,
mouldered the bones of the original colonists of Raffles Bay, whose
praiseworthy efforts were rendered futile, by the unfavourable reports
forwarded to Government; reports we cannot think entirely free from
prejudice, when we know from Captain Law's account, that one of the
Commandants declared that he felt disposed to sell out of the army in
preference to going there.* One thus prepared to dislike the place, could
scarcely be expected to take an interest in the country, or endeavour
fully to develop its resources.

(*Footnote. See Wilson's Voyage round the World page 153.)

We cannot avoid expressing our regret at the abandonment of the
settlement in Raffles Bay, after it had gone on so far successfully under
Captain Barker's excellent management. In mentioning his kindness to the
natives, to whose goodwill we must always owe much, we have already given
one of the causes which assisted in fostering the undertaking. Nothing
could be more unwise than the hostility shown to the natives by the first
settlers, as from them we must always calculate on learning much that is
useful and valuable, with regard to the productions of the country; a
knowledge which would otherwise consume much time to acquire. This was
not the only matter, however, in which he showed his superior good sense
and judgment. His enticing the people of Macassar to come and locate
there, was another instance of his foresight, which would have led in
time to very favourable results. He was soon, however, compelled to
retract his invitation, writing from Coepang to the Dutch Governor of
Macassar, in order to stop the immigration, which otherwise would have
been considerable. With all these several elements of success, we should
doubtless, but for the abandonment, have now had a flourishing settlement
in Northern Australia. The causes which led to its breaking up, are thus
succinctly given by Dr. Wilson. "The alleged causes were: first, the
unhealthiness of the climate; secondly, the hostility of the natives; and
thirdly, the non-visitation of the Malays."

These he clearly proved, as we have subsequently done, to be without much
foundation; but we ourselves do not so much deplore the leaving of
Raffles Bay, perhaps an ill-chosen site, but rather that the settlement
was not removed instead of being given up. When the anxieties and
difficulties which universally accompany the formation of a new
settlement are reflected on, the regret we have already expressed will be
more easily understood. When Port Essington was located, all these had to
be suffered over again; whereas had the station at Raffles Bay, been
transferred thither at once, it would have been now at a very high pitch
of perfection. Besides, however small the spot on which the English flag
waves constantly, it will always prove a check on the marauding
propensities of the neighbouring islanders, and thus add materially to
the general welfare and civilization of such portions of the globe as
fall within the influence of the respected locality.*

(*Footnote. In further proof of the prospects of success, which were open
to the new settlement under its able Commandant, we give the following
extract from Dr. Wilson's journal, when at Coepang, in company with
Captain Barker, after their final departure from Raffles Bay. "We were
informed by the master of the Mercus, that many Chinese were about to
emigrate from Java to Raffles Bay, having recently learned that they
would be permitted to do so. The total abandonment of the North coast of
New Holland caused much regret to the mercantile people here, as they had
anticipated great advantages from a commercial intercourse.' Wilson's
Narrative page 179.)


July 24.

Finding that we could not procure a supply of provisions from the
settlement, our stay was necessarily, though reluctantly, of short
duration, and on the morning of the 24th, we were accordingly running out
of Port Essington. After rounding Vashon Head, we steered to the
westward, along the northern side of the Peninsula, and early in the
afternoon anchored in Popham Bay, one point of which is formed by the
North-West extreme of the Peninsula, a low projection with one tall
mangrove growing on the point, and fronted by an extensive coral reef,
past which a two-knot tide sweeps into the gulf of Van Diemen. On the
eastern side of this projection is a snug boat or small-craft harbour,
much frequented by the Malays, who call it Blue-mud Bay. It may be
recognized by a little island lying off its mouth.

Our attention having been directed towards the openings on the coast
opposite Melville Island, we proceeded towards the first, lying on the
south side of Clarence Strait. It was further important to ascertain, if
that strait was navigable, and also to examine the south-eastern side of
Melville Island.


Finding the western shore of Cobourg Peninsula placed too far from Port
Essington on the chart, it was determined to commence the survey at
Popham Bay, choosing for the observation spot a small bank of sand and
dead coral lying in its centre, and bearing East 1/2 South 1/4 of a mile
from where we anchored in nine fathoms. We named this Bird Island, from
finding it almost covered with terns and gulls. The latitude of it
according to our observations was 11 degrees 15 1/2 minutes South and
longitude West of Port Essington 22 1/2 miles, being 4 1/2 less than is
given in Captain King's chart, the North-West extreme of the Peninsula
being there placed too far from Port Essington, and the North-East point,
Cape Croker, too near, it would appear that the discrepancy was chiefly
in the position of Port Essington, with respect to the northern extremes
of the Peninsula, as Captain King and ourselves only now differ two miles
in the distance between Cape Croker and Popham Bay, ours being the
greater. The evening was calm as usual, while midnight brought with it a
fresh South-East wind. During the night the temperature was as low as 73

July 25.

On leaving at daylight we crossed over to examine the western shores of
Dundas Strait, formed by the eastern side of Melville Island; Captain
King having passed it in the night. As we stood close along it into the
gulf, we found the soundings very irregular. Six miles North 40 degrees
East from Cape Keith, we passed over two patches of only three or four
fathoms; these we could not see from the general disturbed and
discoloured state of the water, it blowing fresh from South-East. We
found the nature of this part of Melville Island to be low rocky points,
separating sandy bays. One of the few remarkable features on it, is a
round hill 320 feet high, five miles North-West from Cape Keith.


Passing the latter, we crossed over to the opposite eastern entrance
point of Clarence Strait, Cape Hotham, discovering on our way thither a
reef nearly awash, about two miles in extent, bearing South 25 degrees
West fifteen miles from Cape Keith, and North 10 degrees East fourteen
miles from Cape Hotham. The deepest water we found while crossing was 22
fathoms, five miles north of the latter, the general depth being 13 and
15 fathoms. The wind failing in the afternoon, it was evening when we
reached our anchorage in nine fathoms, Cape Hotham bearing South 43 West,
two miles and a half, and close to the edge of a large shoal which we
subsequently found to extend a mile and a half north, and six miles east
from the Cape. Here we found the tides set West by South and
East-North-East from half a knot to two knots, the westerly stream
beginning nearly three hours after high-water, a peculiarity generally
occurring in straits.

July 26.

After one of those soft and lovely evenings so common to this part of
Australia, with a gentle breeze and cloudless sky, we were surprised to
find that the morning opened dreary and gloomy. There was a very fresh
South-South-East wind with heavy masses of clouds; the breeze continued
until noon, when as usual it subsided. We moved the ship a few miles down
the opening in the south side of the strait, and in the afternoon a party
went on shore near Cape Hotham. We found the country very poor and sandy,
and elevated about fifteen feet above high-water mark. Despite this, the
white gum-trees appear to thrive, growing in great abundance, about
thirty or forty feet high; there were also others of a different kind,
besides a few palms. The rocks were red sand and ironstone blended
together. In some places I noticed it had the same glazed and vitrified
appearance, as before remarked by me at King's Sound, on the North-West

Mr. Bynoe, who was of the party, added to his collection of birds, a
kingfisher, and a specimen of a glossy species about the size and colour
of an English blackbird; others were seen and killed, but all common to
other parts; the most rare of the latter was the large cream-coloured
pigeon I have alluded to, some few pages back.


The white ibis with a black neck, plentiful in King's Sound, and a large
bird, a species of crane, were also seen. The latter was of a French grey
hue, with the exception of the head, which was black and of the shape of
a bittern, commonly known among the colonists by the name of native
companion. It is difficult to imagine how this name could have
originated, as there is no instance of the natives making a pet of
anything, except the wild dog of the country, and of that only, it is
probable, from its utility in procuring them food. On visiting this place
a few days afterwards, to repeat the observations for the errors of the
chronometers, we saw a few natives, but they avoided an interview,
disappearing when we landed. They made the same motions with their arms,
throwing them open, and bowing as the natives in King's Sound did. The
few huts I fell in with, reminded me of one I had seen near the
North-West part of King's Sound, a representation of which will be found
in the portion of the work descriptive of that locality.

Those on Cape Hotham, to enter more into particulars, did not exceed five
feet in height, nor were they so substantially built; they were, however,
well thatched with the same kind of coarse grass. The entrances were
carefully closed, except in one instance, when the aperture was so small
that it was with difficulty I could crawl in; when I had entered there
was nothing to gratify my curiosity.


Hanging on trees round these habitations, were specimens of an article of
clothing, never before seen among the Aborigines of Australia, for which
reason I have been induced to give the woodcut of one.* It is a kind of
covering for the shoulders, a species of cape, made from coarse grass.

(*Footnote. I have since heard from Mr. Earl, that the women in the
South-East part of Van Diemen's Gulf, occasionally wear a covering round
their waist, somewhat similar to the representation given.)

Baskets were also left hanging on the trees, bespeaking the honesty of
the inhabitants of this part of the country.

The land near the huts was turned up in search of roots, and close by
were some large clubs. The thermometer fell in the night to 67 degrees,
producing the novel though pleasant sensation of cold.

July 27.

Although apparently we could trace the land, near the head of the opening
or bay, still the great set of tide in that direction, left hopes of its
being the mouth of a river. We have
already alluded to the difficulty of detecting the mouth of Australian
streams, and the doubts thus engendered occasioned the greater anxiety.

Impatient to learn the truth, Mr. Fitzmaurice was despatched to examine
the head of the bay, whilst the ship was moved towards it, anchoring
again one mile North-West from a very remarkable patch of low red cliffs
(which from startling circumstances, hereafter to be related, were called
Escape Cliffs) and only two cables length distant from the coral ledge,
by which this and the shores around were fronted.


Here another party visited the shore, and those whose occupation did not
render their presence necessary near the water, strolled into the
country, penetrating about four or five miles inland, but they were
rewarded by the sight of no novelty, or even variety in the scenery,
beyond what was presented to our view on the visit to Cape Hotham, which
it will readily be allowed was little enough. Indeed it will in general
be found, that in Australia, a change of formation is necessary to
produce any of the scenery, which otherwise exhibits a most monotonous

A coarse kind of ironstone gravel was (if I may use the term) scattered
over the face of the country; some of it had a glazed appearance on the
surface, being hollow within, and about the size of a musket ball.
Properly speaking they are composed of a ferruginous sandstone, but they
have been already more fully alluded to when first met with at Point
Cunningham, near King's Sound, on the North-West coast. The general
formation is the same as at Cape Hotham, itself almost identical with the
rocks at Port Essington. A few traces of small kangaroos were seen; but
not a bird or any other living thing two miles from the beach. This
peculiarity the reader will remember was also noticed in the
neighbourhood of King's Sound.


On returning to the ship we found that Mr. Fitzmaurice had arrived,
bringing the expected, and very gratifying intelligence, that a large
river with two branches, running South-East and South, with a depth of
four fathoms, emptied itself into the head of the bay. The joy a
discovery of this nature imparts to the explorer, when examining a
country so proverbially destitute of rivers as Australia, is much more
easily imagined than described. It formed a species of oasis amid the
ordinary routine of surveying, rousing our energies, and giving universal
delight. The castle-builders were immediately at work, with expectations
beyond the pale of reason.


An exploring party, however, was at once formed, consisting of Captain
Wickham, Lieutenant Emery, and Mr. Helpman, who--the next day being
Sunday--did not leave before the morning of the 29th, with two boats and
four days' provisions.

Many were the anxious and envious looks bestowed on the party as they
left the ship on the deeply interesting service of exploring the new
river. So strong and native is man's desire for the unknown, that his
feelings are never more tried than when on the brink of a discovery,
while those who are in presence of the novelty, and cannot enjoy the
satisfaction of tasting that pleasure, must ever experience somewhat
acute emotions of regret.

There was no difficulty in finding a name for a river which fell into
Clarence Strait; it was at once, therefore, honoured with that of
Adelaide, after her most gracious Majesty the Queen Dowager. The bay that
receives its waters was called after Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Adam. The
remaining part of the south side of Clarence Strait, together with the
islands in the western entrance of it, gave ample, though not such
interesting employment as the exploration of the Adelaide, to those who
were left behind. Several unsuccessful hauls were made with the seine,
fish in Adam Bay being very scarce.


Near Escape Cliffs I met a small family of natives, consisting of an
elderly man, his wife, and four children; by degrees, advancing alone, I
contrived to get near enough to make the woman a present of a
handkerchief, in return for which she gave me a large leaf of the cabbage
palm, that was slung across her back. I at length drew all the family
around me, the eldest child, a youth of about 15, being the most timid.
He had a small piece of wood two feet long, sticking through the
cartilage of his nose. His teeth and those of the other children were
quite perfect, but in the father and mother two of the upper front ones
were gone, as we before noticed was the case with the natives at Port
Essington, where this ceremony is performed after marriage. The hair of
these people was neither curly nor straight, but what I have before
called crisp, being of that wavy nature sometimes noticed in Europeans.

They had with them three small-sized dogs of a light brown colour, of
which they appeared very fond, and I could not induce them to part with

The old man's spear was not barbed, and the womera or throwing stick of
the same long narrow shape as at Port Essington. The woman had also the
same bottle-shaped basket slung over her neck, as before remarked, and
containing white and red earths for painting their bodies.


These people exhibited more curiosity than I had before noticed in the
Aborigines, as I was able to induce them to visit the whaleboat that was
on shore close by. Here, as in other places, the size of the oars first
astonished them, and next the largeness of the boat itself. The
exclamations of surprise given vent to by the old man as he gazed on the
workmanship of his civilized brethren, were amusing; suddenly a loud
shout would burst from his lips, and then a low whistle. I watched the
rapid change of countenance in this wild savage with interest; all his
motions were full of matter for observation. The mixed curiosity and
dread depicted in his dusky face, the feeling of secret alarm at this
first rencontre with a white man intruding in his native wilds, which he
must have experienced, added much to the zest of the scene. I, however,
at length almost persuaded the old man to accompany me on board; he even
put one foot in the boat for the purpose, when seeing the depth of the
interior, he recoiled with a slight shudder, as if from immersion in cold
water. He was now overwhelmed by the woman and elder child with
entreaties not to take such a rash step, and their rude eloquence

It was amusing to see the struggle between fear and curiosity plainly
depicted in the man's face, as he stood with one foot on the boat, and
the other on the shore, hearkening but too credulously to the picture of
danger, forcibly drawn by his friends, while curiosity, with almost equal
strength, was urging him to dare the perils of the white man's boat.

A desire to be better acquainted with the strangers who had come to the
shores of his native land in a large bird--such being their strange idea
of a ship, the sails forming the wings--no doubt materially influenced
him; but the eloquence of his relatives prevailed over all; and this
interesting interview terminated by our leaving the shore without our
sable friend, who, however, promised to visit the ship in an old bark
canoe, about 20 feet long, that was lying on the beach near at hand. This
promise was faithfully kept, for the same evening, a canoe was seen
paddling off, containing two young natives in addition to the old man.
They stopped at some distance from the ship, moving round to view her on
all sides.


Fearing at last that their courage had failed, and that they would not
come on board, the dinghy, our smallest boat, was sent towards them,
there being only a boy besides myself in it.

I had hoped that thus they would not be frightened, but they instantly
began to move towards the shore, and it required some manoeuvring to get
near them; succeeding at length, however, I found my acquaintance of the
morning anxious to go to the ship, a measure the other two did not at all
approve of, as they kept edging away towards the land, whilst I gave the
old man the presents I had brought him. At one time the dinghy got
between the canoe and the shore, when instantly a gleam of terror flashed
across the faces of the young men. One of them was a large square-headed
fellow of ferocious aspect, whose countenance was lit up by a look of
fierce revenge, as the canoe made towards the land, after I had ceased my
endeavours to entice them on board.

Whatever these people may have imagined to be our motive in wishing them
to visit the ship, I little thought that my pressing them would have so
nearly led to fatal results. I shall proceed to explain this remark by
relating the startling circumstances from which Escape Cliffs received
their name.


A few days after my interview in the dinghy with the natives, Mr.
Fitzmaurice went ashore to compare the compasses. From the quantity of
iron contained in the rocks, it was necessary to select a spot free from
their influence. A sandy beach at the foot of Escape Cliffs was
accordingly chosen. The observations had been commenced, and were about
half completed, when on the summit of the cliffs, which rose about twenty
feet above their heads, suddenly appeared a large party of natives with
poised and quivering spears, as if about immediately to deliver them.
Stamping on the ground, and shaking their heads to and fro, they threw
out their long shaggy locks in a circle, whilst their glaring eyes
flashed with fury as they champed and spit out the ends of their long
beards.* They were evidently in earnest, and bent on mischief.

(*Footnote. A custom with Australian natives when in a state of violent


It was, therefore, not a little surprising to behold this paroxysm of
rage evaporate before the happy presence of mind displayed by Mr.
Fitzmaurice, in immediately beginning to dance and shout, though in
momentary expectation of being pierced by a dozen spears. In this he was
imitated by Mr. Keys, who was assisting in the observations, and who at
the moment was a little distance off, and might have escaped. Without,
however, thinking of himself, he very nobly joined his companion in
amusing the natives; and they succeeded in diverting them from their
evident evil designs, until a boat landing in a bay near drew off their
attention. The foremost of this party was recognised to be the
ill-looking fellow, who left me in the canoe with a revengeful scowl upon
his face.

Messrs. Fitzmaurice and Keys had firearms lying on the ground within
reach of their hands; the instant, however, they ceased dancing, and
attempted to touch them, a dozen spears were pointed at their breasts.
Their lives hung upon a thread, and their escape must be regarded as
truly wonderful, and only to be attributed to the happy readiness with
which they adapted themselves to the perils of their situation. This was
the last we saw of the natives in Adam Bay, and the meeting is likely to
be long remembered by some, and not without pleasant recollections; for
although, at the time, it was justly looked upon as a very serious
affair, it afterwards proved a great source of mirth. No one could recall
to mind, without laughing, the ludicrous figure necessarily cut by our
shipmates, when to amuse the natives, they figured on the light fantastic
toe; and the readers, who look at the plate representing this really
serious affair,* will behold two men literally dancing for their lives.

(*Footnote. See above.)


August 2.

This morning the boats returned; they had gone up the Adelaide in a
general southerly direction, nearly 80 miles: the windings of the river,
which were very great in some places, forming the shape of the letter S.
It became at this distance very narrow, and was divided into two
branches, one taking a southerly direction, the other an easterly; the
latter was too narrow for the boat's oars, while the former was blocked
up by fallen trees lying across it. As in addition to the difficulties
just mentioned, only one day's provision remained in the boats, the
further exploration of the Adelaide was necessarily, though reluctantly,


For thirty miles of the upper part of the river the water was fresh;
while the banks, excepting near the point of separation, were low, being
not more than five feet above the present level of the river, a
circumstance very favourable for irrigation, and the cultivation of rice.
Fifteen miles from the mouth they were fringed by the growth of
mangroves; and higher up many of the points were thickly wooded, while on
either side stretched a vast extent of prairie country, dotted here and
there with islands of timber, which served to break the native monotony
of the scene. Somewhat less than halfway up, rose on both banks a thick
jungle of bamboo, which, in places where the water was always fresh,
attained the gigantic height of from 60 to 80 feet. Between 20 and 70
miles from the mouth the soil is a good light-coloured mould; above this,
commencing where the bank of the river is marked by a coarse red gritty
sandstone projection, the aspect of the country changes from that of low
plains to a slightly wooded and gently undulating surface, in some places
stony. This character continued to the furthest point reached in the
boats, in latitude 12 degrees 57 minutes South, and longitude 131 degrees
19 minutes East.

When they had penetrated thus far into the new lands of Australia, the
explorers returned, having experienced those sensations of delightful
excitement, to which we have before alluded, and which naturally called
forth strong emotions of regret in those who were denied a participation
in the feverish enjoyment of discovery.

From the highest tree at Captain Wickham's furthest point, the appearance
of the country was, as far as the eye could reach, one wearisome level,
broken to the southward, at a distance of ten miles, by a rocky mound
about 150 feet high.


The river, which for some distance had not been fifty yards wide, with a
rocky bed in places, and banks from six to twenty feet high, was subject
at this point to a tidal change of level of about three feet, but there
was no perceptible stream, and the water which a few miles lower down had
been muddy, was here quite clear. Small bamboos and other drift were
observed in the branches of the trees eight or ten feet above the water,
showing the height which the river attains at some seasons of the year.
By the hollows on many of the plains, water appeared to have lain some
time, and doubtless parts of this low land were periodically overflowed.

On the point dividing the upper branches of the river some coarse sand
was washed up, which on examination was found to be of a granitic
character, clearly showing the primary formation of the country through
which the Adelaide flowed. The only rocks noticed in the parts traversed
by the boats were, as I have before said, of red porous sandstone. The
smoke of several large fires was observed up the country, but none of the
natives were seen.


Towards the upper part of the river they noticed a strange bird, very
much like a guineafowl in size and manner of running along the ground.
The colour was speckled white and brown. This, doubtless, from Mr.
Bynoe's description of one he wounded on the coast in the neighbourhood
of the Adelaide, must have been the Leipoa ocellata of Gould, one of the
mound or tumuli-building birds, first seen in Western Australia by Mr.
George Moore, and afterwards on the North-west coast, and in South
Australia by Captain Grey. Although known to range over a large expanse
of the continent, this was the first time it was discovered in Northern

In the reaches where the bamboo grew, flights of large vampires
(resembling the Pteropus rubricollis of Geoff.) were met with: they kept
continually flying to and fro close over the boats as they passed up,
making a screeching disagreeable noise, which, however, was far less
unpleasant than the mildewy odour with which they filled the air, calling
to mind the exclamation placed by our immortal bard in the mouth of
Trinculo. The heavy flap of the leathern wings of these monkey-birds, as
the men called them, was singular, while sometimes a flight would darken
the verdure of a bamboo, which, yielding to their weight, bent low, as if
before a passing gust of wind. To fix themselves appeared always a
difficult, and was certainly a noisy operation, each apparently striving
to alight upon the same spot. They first cling to the bamboo by means of
the long claw, or hook attached to the outer edge of the wing, and then
gradually settle themselves.

The river swarmed with alligators. Fish also abounded; and in the salt
water, a kind commonly known in the river Plate by the name of Cat-fish,
is plentiful. One that we caught was of the enormous weight of twenty
pounds. A large kind of dark bream of excellent flavour was taken in
fresh water.


Many of the reaches also swarmed with wildfowl, consisting almost wholly
of ducks, which, from a habit of perching on the trees, have received the
name of wood-ducks. They were very different and far superior in plumage
to those found on the south-eastern parts of the continent, and as they
have not yet been numbered among the Australian birds so vividly
described by Mr. Gould, we may venture to be somewhat minute in
describing them.

They are inferior in size to the common European wild duck, but are
marked in much the same manner on the breast. The back is a dark brown,
while the wings, still darker, are slightly bronzed at the tips. Their
singularly long legs are of a pale flesh colour, while the web on the
foot is very much arched near the toes, giving greater pliability to the
foot and a power of grasping, which enables them to perch on trees. The
head and bill, the latter of a pale ash colour, are both large. When on
the wing they make a peculiar though pleasing whistling sound, that can
be heard at a great distance,* and which changes as they alight, into a
sort of chatter. Their perching on trees is performed in a very clumsy
manner, swinging and pitching to and fro. We subsequently often found
them on the rivers on the North coast, but not within some miles of their
mouths or near their upper waters, from which it would appear that they
inhabit certain reaches of the rivers only: we never found them in
swamps. The farthest south they were afterwards met with, was on the
Albert River in the Gulf of Carpentaria, in latitude 18 degrees South,
which gives them a range of six and a half degrees of latitude over the
northern part of the continent. Their nests never came under our notice,
and consequently we are not aware either of the size or colour of their
eggs; neither did we see any young birds during the period of our
observation, ranging from July to November only.**

(*Footnote. Mr. Eyre has since informed me that there is a
whistling-duck, something similar, on the Murray River, but is not aware
that it has the peculiar habit of perching on trees.)

(**Footnote. Mr. Gould, who had previously described this bird
(Leptotarais Eytoni) being desirous of figuring it in his splendid work,
has been furnished with this account.)


August 4.

The southern arm of the Adelaide River, and about fifteen miles near the
mouth of the other branch, still remaining to be explored, I started on
this interesting service the day of the return of Captain Wickham, August
4th. We soon found that the one we ascended promised nothing, from there
being no tidal stream of any consequence; still we hoped to trace its
rejunction with the main branch, but after proceeding in a general South
by West direction five miles, and East-South-East the same distance, it
became so narrow that the mangroves on each side entirely blocked up the
passage, and stopped the boat's progress. I here again felt the
inconvenience of our not being furnished with one of the pendulum
horizons, invented by Captain Becher, R.N.* It being high-water, and as
the shore was lined with an impenetrable growth of mangroves, we were
unable to land. In vain did I try, by cutting down some of them, to find
a rest for the artificial horizon on one of the stumps; they were so
connected with each other beneath the water, by a perfect network of
roots, that although several of the surrounding trees were felled, a
tremulous motion was still conveyed from a distance, and I consequently
lost the observation for latitude.

(*Footnote. I strongly recommend this ingenious invention to every
seaman. In foggy weather it will save hours of anxiety, and may often
prevent the horrors of shipwreck.)

The saltwater arm of the Adelaide we found had another branch, which took
us eight miles in a South-West direction, terminating like the other, and
at low-water being a mere ditch. There was nothing picturesque in
following the windings of these creeks or inlets; a tall growth of
mangroves with their stems immersed, rendering the view limited and
wearisome. We, however, were urged on by hope, being in momentary
expectation that each turn would bring some change, while to add to the
zest of our proceedings we felt ourselves to be the first Europeans who
had traversed these parts.

Now and then the deep stillness of nature would be broken by the mournful
cry of a curlew, disturbed by the splash of the oars, while sometimes a
heavy flapping of wings was heard amid the mangroves, and out would start
suddenly three or four white ibises with black necks, giving utterance to
a peculiar cry, which faintly resembles that of the male guinea fowl. All
else was deep unbroken silence.

By evening we had again reached the entrance of the river, where we
passed the night, during which there was a very heavy dew.

August 5.

The lower part of the Adelaide having been already explored, prevented us
from experiencing that depth of interest which we should otherwise have
felt; still we were destined to enjoy our share of pleasurable
sensations, as on the result of our examination depended the important
fact of whether the river was navigable for large vessels. We therefore
started to settle this momentous question, even before the eastern sky
was tinted with orange from the rising of the sun, which in these
latitudes gives no glimmering twilight: day fading and appearing
instantaneously, the rapidity of the change presenting a remarkable


Passing a narrow part, formed by two low red cliffy projections, we
entered a wide reach that had an extensive flat of 2 and 2 1/2 fathoms
water on the south side. The next was similarly circumstanced, the shoal
water of the same depth, being, however, on the west side. Still in both
there was a 3-fathom channel at low-water, and in the reaches above,
seven in number, trending in a general South-South-East direction, about
twice that depth. This imparted to our discoveries the stamp of utility,
and as Captain Wickham found it navigable for thirty miles higher up
where the water is fresh, we may pronounce the Adelaide the deepest river
in Australia.


Proceeding upwards, we met a party of natives about seven miles from the
mouth, in a very pretty bark canoe, fifteen feet long, and about two
deep. The bark was sewn together with much neatness, and it was
altogether the most artistic piece of workmanship I had seen among the
Aborigines of Australia. It was the last of that description we met with
in this direction, for we did not find canoes in use with the natives to
the westward of Clarence Strait, but only rafts, a fact alluded to in an
earlier portion of the work.


Two young men only were in the craft, which ran close in under the
mangroves, through which we could see other natives passing. By
proceeding cautiously and slowly, I got pretty close to them. They were
evidently afraid that if they left it we should take their boat, and this
gave them courage to face the strange white men. Terror, however, was
marked in their countenances, and one of the two leaped on shore, as we
approached, in a state of great excitement, jumping and flinging his arms
about violently; whilst sometimes he would dip up a handful of water and
squirt it out with great force from the corners of his mouth. The size of
the boat appeared, as usual, to astonish the lad who remained in the
canoe. He appeared less frightened than the other, and I induced him to
accept a few presents from the end of a long stick. Though they had a
deficiency in the upper front teeth, they had not disfigured any other
part of their bodies. The stature of the two young men was small, perhaps
5 feet 7 inches, but those behind the mangroves were much taller.
Alligators being so very numerous I was surprised to notice what little
dread the natives appeared to have of them, dancing and wading about in
the water near the bank, as if they and the animal had entered into a
treaty of amity.

Their alarm appearing to have worn off, we continued our journey, but by
hoisting the sail, the good effect was in a great measure
counterbalanced, as the sight of it called forth a yell from the whole of
them, which catching the echoes, reverberated from side to side, and
resounded in our ears for some time afterwards. Proceeding, we gained the
end of the twelfth reach early in the afternoon, when we obtained
observations for longitude, that being the highest part of the river not
surveyed, and distant about fifteen miles from the mouth; we had also
just reached the portion frequented by the peculiar whistling wild duck,
of which we bagged about twenty, forming an agreeable addition to our
evening and next day meals. After concluding the observations, we
examined the country for some distance; a level tract met the eye
wherever it wandered, broken here and there by patches of low trees. The
plains were thinly dotted with a coarse wiry grass. In places near
hollows, where water had collected, the soil, which was a dark kind of
clayey mould, cracked and curled up with the heat. A few shells were
found scattered over the plains, of the kind so common on the north-east
coast (Helix).

The tedious uniformity and sameness in the banks of the Adelaide, thus
far, may be illustrated by the fact, that to know the boat's position on
returning, it was necessary to have the sketch of the river constantly
before our eyes, and to reckon each reach as we passed.


Taking the return tide, we passed the night in the fourth reach; very
stringent orders were given to the watch to keep a sharp lookout for
alligators, as a great many had been seen during the day, while we knew
that on the previous night a monster of this description had attempted to
get into one of the boats. We had fired at several, but with one
exception had done no mischief. To be roused by the noise of the boat's
keel or side grating harshly against the scaly back of an alligator, is
far from being a pleasant occurrence, and on such occasions I generally
found myself clutching a pistol, always kept near me, for the purpose of
executing judgment upon the very first flat head that showed his nose
above the gunwale. Entertaining very vivid recollections of our
experience on Fitzroy River, on the first start of the boats great
preparations were made against the mosquitoes; to our agreeable surprise,
however, we experienced but slight annoyance from them. The exemption,
however, was fully made up by the swarms of flies which infest the
Adelaide, and during mealtimes availed themselves of the opportunity of
popping into our mouths.

There had been a fresh North-East wind the latter part of the day, which
dying away was succeeded by a calm and cloudless night with a heavy dew.
The thermometer was down to 77 degrees, and in the day varied from 87 to


August 6.

We got on board in the forenoon, when the result of our examination was
heard with a satisfaction not easily expressed, but which may be readily
imagined. We felt that we had discovered a river navigable for vessels of
four and five hundred tons, for about fifty miles, and into fresh water,
a thing hitherto unknown in Australia. We may then with justice
congratulate ourselves on the importance of the discovery of the


The bay into which it flows, named after Sir Charles Adam, is six miles
deep and ten broad at the entrance, where there are 9 fathoms. The shores
gradually approach each other, and at the head, where it receives the
waters of the Adelaide, the width is only one mile.

The mouth of the river is fronted with shoals that extend out five miles;
the channel between them is narrow, 3 and 4 fathoms deep, and lies on the
western side of the bay. A guide for the mouth of it is the east entrance
point of the river, bearing South 40 degrees East.

The generally discoloured state of the water prevents the shoals from
being seen, as well as the coral reefs extending from half to three
quarters of a mile off the east side of the bay, where there is excellent
anchorage. Sea and land breezes prevailed; the former blowing from the
North-West which gave it the advantage of being of easy access either
from the westward through Clarence Strait, or from the eastward through
that of Dundas. The spring tides sometimes rise 18 feet, when the time of
high-water is six o'clock. The stream set North-East and North-West from
half to one knot, changing to the latter direction two and a half hours
after high-water. Our observations place Escape Cliffs (too remarkable
and conspicuous to be overlooked, and which ships should anchor abreast
of) in latitude 12 degrees 8 1/2 minutes South and longitude 0 degrees 15
minutes West of Port Essington. The variation of the compass was 2
degrees easterly. I was able at this anchorage, by a bearing of a distant
point, to ascertain the local attraction in the ship, which in no
instance exceeded 1 degree, being the amount we had found at Plymouth,
previous to our departure from England. Our deeply interesting researches
on the south side of Clarence Strait, leading to so important a
discovery, were now concluded.


The success which had rewarded our efforts, made us wish to cling to the
spot, and it was therefore almost with regret that we found ourselves
leaving to examine the southern shores of Melville Island, where we
anchored two miles from the beach, and fifteen within the west entrance
of the strait. A quarter of a mile off the sandy flat, extending some
distance from the shore, there was one fathom of water, being a very
gradual decrease from six where the ship lay.

The necessary angles and bearings for the survey, were taken from the top
of some cliffs sixty feet high, composed of a red sand and ironstone, and
a white kind of marl or pipe clay. The shore trended nearly South-West
and North-East. Six miles in the former direction is an inlet which Mr.
Fitzmaurice has visited from the Vernon Isles, and another much smaller,
about a third of the intervening distance from where we stood. The high
land which was almost level, lay about three miles in our rear, following
the trend of the shore. Two peaks rising in hollows on it attained an
elevation of 260 and 290 feet. There were no rocky points visible at
low-water--a clean sandy beach, which appeared, strange to say, to have
been washed occasionally by a heavy surf, forming the coastline. A
singular clump of Casuarina was close to the westward of the cliffs, and
its dark naked aspect contrasted with the stunted gumtrees and scattered
palms, sparingly sprinkled over this sterile tract of country. With the
exception of a few seabirds, there was nothing living stirring to change
the opinion we have just expressed of this part of Melville Island. Our
visit, however, was not to be forgotten in an instant, although no very
pleasing recollections were connected with it.


Whilst taking a few angles near the cliffs, we suddenly experienced a
series of severe bites or nippings in several parts of our body, and
looking round to discover whence arose this unexpected attack, found
ourselves under a tree covered with large green ants. Their bites were
exceedingly painful, and it was only by beating and tearing off our
clothes that we could rid ourselves of these unwelcome visitors. From a
distance our appearance must have been sufficiently amusing. One moment
soberly intent upon our duties, and the next jumping like madmen, and
hastily stripping off our garments. The name of Ant Cliffs records our
visit to the south shores of Melville Island. The tide on this side of
the strait ran nearly two knots an hour, following the direction of the
shore; the time of high-water being a quarter of an hour earlier than in
Adam Bay.

August 15.

Recrossed Clarence Strait to obtain observations for rating the
chronometers, and examine the extensive shoal off Cape Hotham. On
anchoring near its edge, a patch with only five feet was discovered close
to the ship; the muddy and restless state of the water, caused by a
meeting of the tides, setting out of Van Diemen's Gulf and Adam Bay,
renders it necessary to approach Cape Hotham from the northward, with
caution. However, the unusually great depth, for this strait, of twenty
fathoms, will give warning of a ship's proximity to this danger, the
limits of which have been given on the occasion of our first visit to
Cape Hotham.


Our stock of water being now much reduced, it was necessary before
proceeding further, that we should procure a supply. As it was a matter
of no certainty that we should find sufficient on the coast to the
westward, it was at first suggested that we should take the ship up the
Adelaide and fill the tanks from alongside. This would have been a grand
feat, having never before been accomplished in any river in Australia.
Indeed it was the only one on the whole continent, which could carry up a
vessel of the Beagle's draught into fresh water. An idea, the realization
of which would so completely crown our exploration with success,
naturally gave rise to a great degree of enthusiasm and excitement. Soon,
however, more sober thoughts prevailed, when we reflected on the time
this proceeding would consume, on account of the tortuous* course of the
river: time which we could, with our scanty stock of provisions, ill
spare. At Port Essington it was possible we should be able to get a
supply of both, as a ship might have arrived during our absence. Moreover
it was highly important, that we should make known without delay, the
discovery of a river of such magnitude as the Adelaide, distant only
seventy miles from the settlement.

(*Footnote. Nothing shows the flat nature of a country more than the
tortuous course of a stream passing through it. It is a want of change in
the level, which causes a river to twist and wind about in search, as it
were, of the weakest spot for its exit.)


It was then finally resolved that we should return to Port Essington, and
in the forenoon of the 17th, the Beagle was drifting along the western
shore of Dundas Strait, out of Van Diemen's Gulf. The day happening, very
remarkably for the locality at this season, to be calm throughout, the
anchor was dropped at sunset in 22 fathoms; Cape Fleming the North-East
point of Melville Island, bearing North-West 1/2 West eight miles. A deep
sandy bay bore South-West five miles, which promised good anchorage. The
appearance of the north-east part of Melville Island was still very
triste, presenting to the eye nothing save patches of mangroves, behind
which rose a range of ill-defined hills, 300 feet in elevation.

(*Footnote. The tide out of Van Diemen's Gulf takes a North-West
direction, until coming in contact with Cape Keith, it branches off along
the east and south side of Melville Island.)

We anchored to prevent being taken back through Dundas Strait by the
return tide, which from 5 P.M., to midnight, set South-East by South from
two to three knots an hour. High-water at Popham Bay on the east side of
the Strait being at a quarter past eleven, we may conclude the North-West
stream began at this anchorage three quarters of an hour after
high-water. Weighing as soon as the tide made out of the strait, although
there was still no wind, we were rather surprised at daylight to find how
little the ship had drifted to the North-North-West. The only reason I
can give in explanation is that the ebb or North-West stream out of the
gulf joins with, and is thrown out of its course by the easterly or ebb
stream setting past Cape Fleming.


A breeze springing up late in the morning, we beat along the north side
of the Cobourg Peninsula, entering Port Essington at dusk. In working
round Vashon Head, we found the water shoal very rapidly to 12, 9, and 7
fathoms on approaching it; on the bearing South 30 degrees West. This
head is fronted by a reef of some extent, which similar to the other at
the entrance of Port Essington, cannot be distinguished, owing to the
muddy colour of the water; it is therefore necessary that the lead should
be kept constantly going when in its vicinity. When daylight broke, we
found no fresh arrival to greet our anxious gaze, the Britomart being
still the only guardian of the port. Her solitary aspect at once
destroyed our hopes of supplies, and on reaching the settlement our fears
proved to have too much foundation. Hope, however, is the last feeling
which leaves the human breast, and in this instance did not desert us; as
there was still a chance of a vessel arriving, while we were engaged in
watering the ship.


The news of our discovery of the Adelaide was hailed with infinite
satisfaction, and the numerous speculations and ideas on the subject
which were at once afloat, afforded an agreeable variety to the monotony
of existence in the settlement, where however at the moment of our
arrival an unusual degree of excitement prevailed through the activity of
Captain Stanley.


Ever anxious to provide for the amusement of others, he had been for some
time engaged in getting up a play, which was now nearly ready to be
performed. Its name I regret to have forgotten; it was however nothing
very deep, and was selected from a volume that had already performed a
voyage to the North Pole. This adventurous playbook, which had certainly
done its duty, was originally picked up by its owner on Tower-hill. The
scenery was painted by Captain Stanley with earths of the country, who
also was stage manager and general planner of the whole. The wives of
some of the garrison supplied female costumes, while a large workshop was
converted into a theatre. At length, after the difficulties usually
attendant on private theatricals, everything was in readiness for the
first performance of the drama in Northern Australia. Tickets were
issued, of which I have one before me, a small piece of card containing
the words "Victoria Theatre, Port Essington, August 24th, 1839." In after
years this will be looked upon as a curious relic in connection with the
history of this part of the continent. As if to cause the first
performance of a play at Victoria, to take place under smiling auspices,
such as the occasion properly called for, H.M.S. Pelorus arrived with
supplies and letters from Sydney. The previous growing dearth of
provisions had rendered it somewhat difficult to secure a very happily
disposed audience, an empty stomach being apt to provoke fault finding:
but the arrival of a ship on the very play day caused a crowded and
delighted attendance. Everything went off smoothly, and with hearty peals
of laughter. All the characters being supported by men, the female
personages of the drama presented a most grotesque appearance; moreover
the act drop being an old ensign, the ladies could be seen through it,
regaling themselves, during these intervals, with a pipe. The whole
affair gave infinite satisfaction, while ours was greatly enhanced, and
our minds prepared for any duty, by the timely arrival of supplies and
letters, of both of which we fortunately received our share.

Our departure from Port Essington, was not therefore hurried; and I had
some slight opportunity of adding to my knowledge, with regard to the
capabilities of the place, which were found to grow upon acquaintance.
The fact of its being well fitted for the growth of cotton was in
particular a great additional recommendation. The sallow appearance of
the settlers clearly demonstrated the temperature to be high, though
apparently there was no diminution in physical strength. It should
however be remembered that up to this time they had not had the same
nourishment as those who appeared amongst them as transient visitors,
with ruddy faces. The warmth of the climate in itself conduces to
intemperance, which to Europeans is ever fatal.

The Pelorus brought orders for the Britomart to proceed to Sydney.


Captain Stanley was anxious--with the westerly monsoon--to have attempted
the passage through Torres Strait, instead of going round the west coast,
as such a course might have led to some discoveries in that
neighbourhood; a result always in such a service of the utmost

It is however to be regretted that the senior officer did not approve of
this plan, as the passage has only once been made from the westward by
Captain Lihou, R.N., who having experienced some difficulties reported
unfavourably of it. The importance of an intimate acquaintance with this
route will be better appreciated, when we reflect that ultimately through
this passage will the great traffic be carried on between our East Indian
and Australian possessions.

During our visit to Port Essington, some of the changes among our
officers, mentioned in the beginning of the work, took place. Mr. Forsyth
joined us from the Pelorus, and, from his knowledge of surveying, was a
valuable addition to our party.


Having said so much in relation to Port Essington on our former visit,
and wishing to create among our readers an interest in the locality, we
give a slight sketch of the appearance of the settlement from the
anchorage, which will be more effective than our most elaborate
description of it.


Before taking leave of this new colony, we must at once express a hope
that it will not be made a Penal settlement; not that we doubt the
wonderful degree in which the convict system has hastened the prosperity
of our possessions on the south-eastern part of the continent; but from
the proximity of northern Australia to the islands in the Arafura
sea--the waters separating them being often navigable for boats--the
natives would be contaminated and vitiated, their women corrupted, and
the badly disposed among the islanders rendered worse; and instead of our
advent bringing with it the light of the gospel, and the real and
substantial blessings of civilization, we should enjoy the unenviable
privilege of still further degenerating the savage. The evil thus caused
in New Zealand has been incalculable; to the bad example of convicts we
owe much of the ills which have there arisen; the fine fearless bearing
of the wild man, has been partially exchanged for the low cunning,
acquired from the runaway felon; who reckless of his own life can have no
regard for that of others. The worst crimes of the dregs of a civilized
population have been introduced; and many of those wretched beings, who
might otherwise have been reclaimed from the rude vices of savage life,
have, through the white man's instrumentality, perished in sin.*

(*Footnote. I knew an instance of a convict, who when dying actually
picked a man's pocket. The ruling passion, strong in death, was here
painfully exemplified. J.L.S.)

The number of Malay proas that visit this part of the continent, would
also furnish facilities for the escape of convicts from the neighbourhood
of Port Essington.

We shall now fulfil our promise to the reader, of laying before him
Captain Stanley's interesting cruise to the islands we have just alluded
to, which will occupy the remaining portion of the present volume.


Leave Port Essington.
Reach Timor Laut.
Meet Proas.
Chief Lomba.
Traces of the Crew of the Charles Eaton.
Their account of the wreck and sojourn on the Island.
Captain King's account of the Rescue of the Survivors.
Boy Ireland's relation of the sufferings and massacre of the Crew.
Appearance of the shores of Timor Laut.
Description of the Inhabitants.
Village of Oliliet.
Curious Houses.
Remarkable Ornaments.
Visit the Oran Kaya.
Burial Islet.
Supplies obtained.
Gunpowder in request as Barter.
Proceed to the Arru Islands.
Dobbo Harbour.
Present to Chief.
Birds of Paradise.
Chinaming Junks' bottoms.
Character of Natives.
Some of them profess Christianity.
Visit the Ki Islands.
Village of Ki Illi.
How protected.
Place of Worship.
Cultivation of the eastern Ki.
No anchorage off it.
Visit Ki Doulan.
Antique Appearance of.
Luxuriant Vegetation.
Employment of Natives.
Defences of the place.
Carvings on gateway.
Civility of Chief.
His Dress.
Population of the Ki Group.
Their Religion.
Place of Interment.
Agility of Australian Native.
Anchorage off Ki Doulan.
Island of Vordate.
Visit from Chief.
Excitement of Natives.
Their Arms and Ornaments.
Carved Horns on Houses.
Alarm of the Oran Kaya.
Punishment of the Natives of Laarat by the Dutch.
Revisit Oliliet.
Discover that Mr. Watson had rescued the European Boy.
Return to Port Essington.
Mr. Watson's Proceedings at Timor Laut.

In pursuance of orders from Sir G. Bremer, C.B. we sailed from Port
Essington on the 18th March, 1839, having on board, Captain Kuper (then
1st Lieutenant of H.M.S. Alligator) and one of the Australian natives,
who was induced to accompany us, partly by his own curiosity, and partly
by liberal promises and plenty to eat. He was known at the settlement by
the name of Jack White, and from his great good humour and intelligence,
was a favourite with everyone. I hoped by keeping him on board for some
time, away from his tribe, to wean him in some degree from his savage
habits; and that by being able to communicate with him with greater
facility, we might learn more of the manners and customs of his
countrymen, than we had yet been able to do; in addition to which we
anticipated no small amusement from witnessing his astonishment at seeing
countries and people so different from his own.

Light airs prevented our clearing the harbour till the morning of the
19th, and at 3 P.M. on the 20th, we made the land of Timor Laut; but from
our ignorance of the coast, we were obliged to keep under easy sail
during the night, which was squally with heavy rain.


At daylight on the 21st, we made all sail to the northward, and about 10,
observed two large proas, with Dutch colours flying, standing out from
the land under sail; they were full of men, and for some time appeared to
be in great doubt, whether they should come near us or not, as they
shortened sail and consulted together several times; at last, however,
they came under our stern, which was the only way in which they could
approach, as their long outriggers, projecting 10 or 12 feet on each side
of their narrow canoes, prevented them from coming close alongside.

As soon as they got hold of the rope we gave them, they hauled close up,
and a little thin shrivelled old man came scrambling over the taffrail:
he was dressed in a long black serge coat, check shirt, and black
trousers, and as soon as he had regained his breath, after the violent
exertions he had made, presented me with a neat little basket containing
some papers which he seemed very anxious I should examine. I took them
up, rather to please him, than with any expectation of being able to
understand them, but to my surprise and great interest, found carefully
rolled up in several envelopes, two pieces of lead pencil, part of the
leaf of a Norie's Navigation Tables, and some scraps of paper, on which,
written in pencil, was a rough journal of the proceedings of the men who
left the ill-fated Charles Eaton (soon after she was wrecked in Torres
Strait) in one of her cutters, in which they reached this island, and
after remaining for thirteen months got to Amboyna in a trading proa, and
thence to Batavia, where they gave the following account of their
misfortunes to the Resident, Mr. D.W. Pietermaat.


The Charles Eaton sailed from Sydney on the 26th July, 1834, and on the
15th of August, about 10 o'clock in the forenoon, during a fresh full
sail breeze, the vessel struck on a reef called the Detached Reef,
situated at the entrance of Torres Strait.


During the preceding night the Captain, as a measure of prudence, had
ordered the first reef to be taken in the topsails, in order not to enter
the passage before daylight.

The ship struck on the reef so violently, that both keel and rudder were
instantly knocked off and carried away, and the Captain declared the
vessel to be totally lost; at the same time giving orders to get the
boats ready and furnished with provisions, in order to endeavour to reach
the island of Timor.

At the time the vessel was wrecked, she had four boats, the longboat, two
cutters, and a dinghy or small jolly boat. In the largest cutter, W.
Grindall, Laurent Constantine, and George Pigot, left the wreck, and
Richard Quin, and James Wright, joined them the next morning by swimming
across a bar or reef at the risk of their lives.

The other boats were knocked to pieces and lost, by the vessel falling
over on her side, and they were unable to save any more of the passengers
or crew, as it was impossible to pull the boat up against the strong
current; and none of them would venture amidst the heavy breakers to
reach the boat by swimming. They were unable to state what became of the
Captain, passengers, and rest of the crew; but at the time Richard Quin
and James Wright left the wreck, all the passengers and crew were alive
on the forecastle of the vessel, with the exception of one sailor named
James Price, who was drowned by the smallest of the cutters swamping at
the time she was lowered.

The passengers on board at the time the vessel was wrecked, were Captain
D'Oyly of the Bengal Artillery, his wife, and two sons, George and
William; an English gentleman named Armstrong; and a Bengalese native


The ship's crew consisted of twenty-four persons: J.G. Moore, master; J.
Clare, chief mate; W. Mayer, second mate; G. Pigott, third mate; J.
Grant, surgeon; L. Constantine, carpenter; W. Montgomery, steward; W.
Perry, J.P. Ching, midshipmen; R. Quin, A. Quail, W. Moore, C. Robinson,
J. Caen, W. Hill, J. Berry, R. Lounce, W. Jeffrey, J. Wright, W. Gumble,
J. Miller, and W. Williams, seamen; J. Ireland and J. Sexton, boys.

The five seamen in the cutter, not seeing any possibility of saving more
of the ship's company, and the next morning not perceiving a single
person on the wreck, concluded that these unhappy persons had been washed
off by the increasing swell of the sea during the night. On Sunday
morning, August 17th, they left the wreck, and steered as westerly a
course as possible by the sun and stars--they had no compass--in order to
reach the Dutch settlement of Coupang in the island of Timor. The whole
of their provisions consisted of 30 pounds of bread, one ham, and a keg
containing about four gallons of water; which had been placed in the boat
before she was lowered.


After driving about for fifteen days on the ocean, they descried land
which they took to be Timor; they went on shore and procured some water
and coconuts; but afterwards pursuing their course along the coast, they
were attacked by a number of native proas, and being warn out with
fatigue, and without any arms to defend themselves, they were forced to
surrender. The natives upset the boat, and stripped them of all their
clothes, after which they were brought on shore, where the natives at
first seemed inclined to kill them, but through the intercession of two
chiefs, named Pabok and Lomba, their lives were spared.

They afterwards learnt, that they were at the native village of Oliliet,
in the island of Timor Laut; part of their clothes were given back to
them, and they were well treated, without being compelled by the natives
to perform any labour; their sustenance consisted of Indian corn, yams, a
little rice and some fish, but the quantities given them were only just
sufficient to keep them alive.

During their abode in this island, they learnt that in one of the
neighbouring settlements called Laouran, at that period at war with the
one in which they lived, there was another European, formerly belonging
to an English brig, that had been wrecked seven years ago, and of whose
crew he, and a boy since dead, had alone been spared by their savage

After remaining more than thirteen months at Oliliet, a trading proa
arrived from Amboyna, in which they received permission to depart,
promising to return soon in an English ship, with arms and ammunition to
assist the chiefs in defeating their enemies. In this proa, after a
passage of five days, they arrived at Amboyna, on the 7th of October,


Of the melancholy fate of those who remained on the wreck, the boy
Ireland gave the following account, which was published at Sydney by
Captain P.P. King, R.N. Ireland and the younger D'Oyly, were rescued from
the savages by Captain C.M. Lewis, of the Colonial schooner, Isabella,
who was sent to look for them in consequence of Captain Carr of the ship
Mangles* having reported that he had seen two white persons among the
natives of Murray's Island, but had been unable to induce the natives to
give them up.

(*Footnote. I afterwards met Captain Carr in the Mangles; he expressed
great regret that so much blame should have been attached to him for not
bringing away the children. His account differed very much from young
Ireland's, and it is but justice to him to state that it was owing to his
report that the vessels were sent in search of Ireland and young D'Oyly.

The Charles Eaton left Sydney on the 29th of July, 1834, bound to Canton,
by way of Torres Strait; and experienced a series of fine weather and
favourable winds until she approached the Barrier Reef, when the weather
became thick and rainy.

The master was provided with Captain Ashmore's chart, guided by which he
boldly steered for the reefs. Unfortunately, however, for him the weather
was so clouded on approaching the Barriers, that he could obtain no
observation for the latitude, and yet it would appear that the ship was
in a very favourable position.

About ten o'clock in the morning the reefs were suddenly perceived right
ahead, upon which the ship was hove up in the wind and both anchors let
go, and the cables paid out to the end; but as the depth was probably
unfathomable they had no effect, for she drifted on the reef and fell
over on her beam ends. The chief mate then cut her masts away, but the
bottom was soon bilged, and everything destroyed by the water, which
broke over the decks, and the ship became a perfect wreck. Happily the
upper part of the vessel kept together, on which the crew and passengers
collected. Soon after she struck, a vessel was observed three or four
miles to windward, high and dry upon the reefs, with her masts standing,
and royal yards across, and sails set, in which position she must have
been left by her crew.*

(*Footnote. The Flora, Sheriff, master.)

During the confusion that existed, one of the quarter-boats was lowered,
but immediately swamped, by which one man, named Price, was drowned. Soon
afterwards, three of the crew, namely  G. Pigott, the third mate; L.
Constantine, the carpenter; and W. Gumble, one of the seamen, put sails,
provisions, and water, and arms, and all the carpenter's tools, into the
other quarter-boat, and lowered her down; and kept near the wreck during
the day and following night. The next day R. Quin and J. Wright, two
seamen, joined them, after which they refused to take any more; although
six of the crew made their way over the reef the next morning, and wished
to be taken on board. The boat, however, bore away, and was seen no more.

The master then, assisted by those who remained, attempted to make a
raft, which was not completed before the expiration of seven days. During
this interval they had managed to distil the contents of a cask and some
bottles of water from the sea, by the aid of the ship's coppers, and a
leaden pipe from the quarter gallery cistern, the whole of which they
placed on the raft with a basket containing beer, and a cask of pork.
Whilst they were on the wreck they were upon a daily allowance of two
wine glasses of distilled water, and a few pieces of damaged biscuit.

As soon as the raft was completed, they got upon it, but finding that it
was not buoyant enough to hold them, they threw over the water the pork
and beer. Still it did not support their weight, so the greater number
returned on board; leaving Mr. Moore the master, Mr. Grant the surgeon,
Captain and Mrs. D'Oyly, and their two children, their nurse, a native of
India, and Mr. Armstrong, passengers; also two seamen, named Lounce and
Berry, who determined to remain upon it all night. In the morning,
however, it was found that the rope by which the raft had been made fast
to the stern of the wreck had been cut, and nothing was seen of their
companions. It is probable that the uncomfortable situation in which they
found themselves, up to their waists in water, and the sea constantly
breaching over them, induced the master to cut the rope and trust to
Providence to guide himself and the passengers to some place of safety.

Those that remained then made another raft of the vessel's topmasts
lashed together with coir rope, and made a sail out of some cloth which
formed a part of her cargo. It took seven days before it was completed,
when they launched off and bid adieu to the ill-fated vessel, which was
probably soon broken up, for at high-water the sea breached over her.

The vessel that was seen with her masts standing, was too far to windward
for them to reach, for even the boat could not make way against the wind
and current. Upon casting off, they set their sail and steered before the
wind, but the raft was so heavy and deep that very little progress was
made. She drifted rather than sailed, and probably did not go more than a
mile or one mile and a half an hour. After some time they came to a reef
upon which they remained for the night, and the next morning proceeded
before the wind, but saw no more reefs.

After being two days and nights upon the raft, up to their waists in
water, and partaken of very little food, they passed an island, and then
saw several more ahead. Soon afterwards a canoe was perceived paddling
towards them, containing ten or twelve Indians, who as they approached
stood up and extended their arms to show they had no weapons and were
inclined to be friendly. On reaching the raft the Indians got upon it,
and conducted themselves very peaceably; and after a short time proposed
that they should leave the raft and go into the canoe, which they at
first hesitated to do, until Thomas Ching, a midshipman, said he would
go, as he should then have a better chance of getting to England, upon
which they all consented, and embarked in the canoe. Before they left,
the Indians searched the raft very narrowly for iron implements, but only
found a few hoops which they collected and took with them. They left the
raft about four o'clock in the afternoon, and in less than an hour were
landed on an island which they subsequently found was called Boydan, and
which is probably that on the chart called Number 1, to the eastward of
Hannibal Island.*

(*Footnote. On their way to it the canoe passed, first, three islands on
the right (northward) and one on the left (southward). The mainland was
also distinguished from Boydan Island, and appeared to be about twelve or
fourteen miles off, which agrees very well with the island it is supposed
to be.)

Upon disembarking, the natives accompanied them round the island in
search of food and water, but they were so exhausted by fatigue and
hunger, that they could scarcely crawl. Upon their return to the place
where they landed, they threw themselves on the ground in despair; as it
was evident from the ferocious bearing and conduct of the savages, who
stood around their party grinning and laughing in the most hideous
manner, that they were exulting in the anticipation of their murderous
intentions. In this dreadful state of suspense, Mr. Clare, the first
officer, addressing his companions, recommended them to be resigned to
their fate; and read to them, in a most impressive manner, several
prayers from a book which he had brought with him from the wreck; after
which, commending themselves to the protection of the Almighty, they laid
down, and worn out by severe exhaustion, were soon asleep; but it was to
them the sleep of death; for no sooner had they composed themselves than,
as Ireland describes, he was roused by a shout and noise, and upon
looking up saw the Indians murdering his companions by dashing their
brains out with clubs. The first that was killed was poor Ching, and
after him his companion Perry, and then Mr. Mayer, the second officer:
after which the confusion became so great, that Ireland could not
distinguish what passed. The last however, that met his fate was Mr.
Clare, who in the attempt to make his escape to the canoe, was overtaken
by his pursuers, and immediately despatched by a blow on the head.

Ireland and another boy named Sexton, were now left awaiting their fate:
the former, the narrator of this melancholy tale, thus describes his

An Indian came to me with a carving knife to cut my throat, but as he was
about to do it, having seized hold of me, I grasped the blade of the
knife in my right hand and held it fast, struggling for my life. The
Indian then threw me down, and placing his knee on my breast tried to
wrench the knife out of my hand, but I still retained it, although one of
my fingers was cut through to the bone. At last I succeeded in getting
uppermost, when I let him go and ran into the sea, and swam out; but
being much exhausted, and the only chance of my life was to return to the
shore, I landed again fully expecting to be knocked on the head. The same
Indian then came up with an infuriated gesture, and shot me in the right
breast with an arrow; and then in a most unaccountable manner suddenly
became quite calm, and led or dragged me to a little distance, and
offered me some fish and water, which I was unable to partake of.

Whilst struggling with the Indian, I observed Sexton, who was held by
another, bite a piece of his arm out, but after that knew nothing of him,
until I found his life had been spared in a manner similar to my own.*

(*Footnote. Upon interrogating Ireland to obtain some explanation of the
reason their lives were spared, he says, that he has frequently seen the
Indians recover themselves in a moment from a violent paroxysm of fury;
and he attributes their safety to a circumstance of this nature. P.P.K.)

At a short distance off, making the most hideous yells, the other savages
were dancing round a large fire, before which were placed in a row the
heads of their victims; whilst their decapitated bodies were washing in
the surf on the beach, from which they soon disappeared, having been
probably washed away by the tide. Sexton and I were then placed in charge
of two natives, who covered us with the sail of the canoe, a sort of mat,
but paid no attention to my wound, which had been bleeding profusely.

The next day the Indians collected all the heads; and, embarking, removed
to another island where the women lived, which they called Pullan. On
landing there, Ireland saw two of Captain D'Oyly's children, and the
ship's dog, called Portland; the elder (George) D'Oyly, told him that the
first raft had landed on the island, and that all the passengers,
excepting himself and his brother, had been instantly murdered; that his
mother was killed by a blow with a club, and that his little brother was
in her arms at the time, but was saved by one of the women, who
afterwards took care of him. The child was seen by Ireland, when they
landed, in the woman's arms, crying very much. He also saw some pieces of
the ship's cabin doors, attached as ornaments to the heads of their
canoes, which they appeared to prize very much, and other relics, among
which were the heads of the passengers and crew, of the first raft; those
of Mrs. D'Oyly and Captain Moore being plainly distinguishable; the
former by the hair, the latter by the features. The heads were suspended
by a rope to a pole that was stuck up near the huts of the women; round
which they danced every night and morning, accompanying their infuriated
gestures with the most horrid yells.

The number of Indians collected amounted to about sixty; they were merely
residing on the island during the fishing season; for their home, as it
afterwards turned out; was at a considerable distance off. Their
principal subsistence was turtle and small fish, which they caught with
hook and line, and shellfish which abound on the reefs. The island also
produces a small fruit like a plum with a stone in it, probably a species
of Eugenia. The fish were broiled over the ashes of a fire, or boiled in
the basin of a large volute (Voluta ethiopica) which being rather a
scarce shell is of great value to them.

The island of Pullan is covered with low trees and underwood, and the
soil is sandy. In the centre of it is a spring, which supplied the whole
party with sufficient water for their consumption; and, as Ireland says,
they used a great deal, it must at least have yielded fifteen or twenty
gallons a day, for the hole was always full. Upon a voyage they carry
their water in bamboo joints, and coconut shells, as do the Malays.

After remaining here two months, the Indians separated. One party taking
Ireland and the infant D'Oyly with them, embarked in a canoe, and after
half a day's sail reached another islet to the northward, where they
remained a day and a night, on a sandy beach; and the next morning
proceeded and reached another island similar to Pullan, low and bushy,
where they remained a fortnight. They then proceeded to the northward,
calling on their way at different islands, and remaining as long as they
supplied food, until they reached one,* where they remained a month, and
then they went on a visit to Darnley's Island, which they called Aroob,
where for the first time, Ireland says, he met with kind treatment.

(*Footnote. Probably one of the group of the northward of Halfway Island,
near Aureed, named by Mr. Lewis, Sir Richard Bourke's Group.)

After a fortnight they again embarked and returned by the way they came,
to an island they called Sir-reb,* situated near Aureed, where their
voyage ended, and they remained until purchased by Duppar, the Murray
Islander; who, it appears, upon hearing that there were two white boys in
captivity, at Aureed, embarked in a canoe with his wife Pamoy, and went
for the express purpose of obtaining them, taking for the purpose of
barter some fruit. The price of their ransom was a branch of bananas, for
each. They returned by way of Darnley's Island, where they stopped a few
days, and then reached Murray's Island, where they remained ever since,
and were most kindly treated. Duppar gave little D'Oyly to a native named
Oby to take care of; a charge of which he faithfully acquitted himself,
and both Oby and his adopted child soon became very fond of each other;
for as the child was a mere infant, he soon forgot his mother, and
naturally attached himself to his nurse. When at Aureed the Indians had
named Ireland, Wak; and little D'Oyly, they called Uass; names which they
retained at Murray's Island, and by which they are doubtless now known
all over the archipelago.

(*Footnote. Sir-reb, according to Ireland's information is Marsden
Island. P.P.K.)

Ireland lived in the same hut with Duppar and his family; his employment
was to cultivate a plantation of yams, and during the season to assist in
taking turtle and shellfish. On one occasion he accompanied them on an
excursion towards New Guinea, where they went for the purpose of barter
and trade; which they frequently did, to obtain bows and arrows, canoes
and feathers, for which they give in return shells;* and which from their
scarcity, the New Guinea people prize very much, but as Duppar was
fearful that the New Guinea people would steal or murder him, he was left
at Darnley's Island, in charge of Agge, an Indian, until their return.
Duppar and his friends, however, were not long away; for having stopped
at an island, Jarmuth (Campbell's Island) to pass the night, one of the
islanders attempted to take away by force from one of the visitors, his
moco moco (a sort of bandage worn round the calves of the legs, made of
the bark of bamboo) upon which a quarrel ensued, in which the Murray
Islanders used their bows and arrows, and wounded several, one being shot
through the body. The Jarmuth people then retreated to their huts, and
the others embarked; but instead of going to New Guinea, returned to
Darnley's Island, where in a few days they received a message from
Jarmuth, offering peace; which, however, they would not accept; nor did
they afterwards make friends.

(*Footnote. Ireland describes the shell to be a cone, and recognized it
among the plates in the Encyclopedie Methodique, as the Conusmille

Ireland's account of the visit of the Mangles, is so different from what
Captain Carr describes, that the discrepancy must be received with much

He states that Captain Carr's object seemed to be entirely that of
trading for tortoise-shell; he was alongside the Mangles, and not at a
considerable distance off; he was so near as to ask one of the people on
the poop to throw him a rope, to get fast to the vessel, which was done,
but owing to the sea running high he was obliged to let it go; upon which
he asked for a boat to be lowered for him to get on board, which was also
done, and he should have made his escape, had not one stood up in the bow
with a naked cutlass and the others flourished their weapons over their
heads; which frightened the Indians so much that they pulled away on
shore, followed by the boat for a little distance, and there concealed
him. Ireland declares, that he did not say, that the natives would not
give him up.

When under the Mangles' stern one of the crew offered him some tobacco
which he declined. Had Captain Carr offered an axe for him, he would have
been given up immediately as well as little D'Oyly, who was on the beach,
in the arms of one of the natives. The natives knew that Ireland was
anxious to be taken away, and were averse to his going off to the vessel,
saying, "You shall not go there to be killed;" but as he hoped to make
his escape he persisted, and the result was a bitter disappointment to

Such is the succinct narrative, of which old Lomba offered me the first
rude materials.


As soon as I had read the papers contained in the basket, I endeavoured,
by the help of the Malay dictionary, to gain some more information from
the old man, and after some time succeeded in making out that he was the
chief Lomba, mentioned by the seamen in their narrative; which was
confirmed by finding that the shirt he wore was marked with the name of
the unfortunate midshipman, J.P. Ching, who so early fell a victim to the
murderous savages on the reef. From our ignorance of the language I was
unable to gain any information of the European boy, said to be still on
the island. Lomba pointed out the village he came from, prettily situated
on the crest of a well-wooded hill, and gave me to understand that I
should there find the other chief, Pabok, who was too old and infirm to
come down. Upon which I determined to remain for the night, in order to
visit the village, in hopes of getting some more information, and also to
make Pabok a present, which he well deserved for his good services.

The gig was accordingly sent inshore to sound, and soon made the signal
of having found an anchorage, upon which we stood in, greatly to the
delight of the natives, who, as they were not armed, were allowed to come
on board, where they behaved very well. Some went aloft with great
activity to assist in furling sails, and two came aft to the wheel, the
use of which they seemed to understand perfectly.

At one o'clock we anchored in 11 fathoms sand and coral, three quarters
of a mile from the shore; and as soon as the ship was secured, a party of
us landed, accompanied by the old chief, and followed by most of the
natives in their canoes.


On landing, the contrast to the Australian shores we had so recently
sailed from, was very striking. We left a land covered with the
monotonous interminable forest of the eucalyptus or gumtree, which, from
the peculiar structure of its leaf, affords but little shelter from the
tropical sun. Shores fringed with impenetrable mangroves; a soil
producing scarcely any indigenous vegetable, either in the shape of root
or fruit fit for food. The natives black, naked, lowest in the scale of
civilized life; their dwellings, if such they can be called, formed by
spreading the bark rudely torn from the tree, over a few twigs placed in
the ground, under which they creep for shelter; dependent almost entirely
on the success of the chase for their daily food, not having arrived at
the first and simplest form of cultivation, and in like manner destitute
of all trace of religion, except the faint symptom of belief in an evil

We landed on a beach, along which a luxuriant grove of coconut trees
extended for more than a mile, under the shade of which were sheds neatly
constructed of bamboo and thatched with palm leaves, for the reception of
their canoes. To our right a hill rose to a height of about 400 feet,
covered with brilliant and varied vegetation so luxuriant as entirely to
conceal the village built on its summit. The natives who thronged the
beach were of a light tawny colour, mostly fine, athletic men, with an
intelligent expression of countenance.


Their dress consisted of a cloth round the waist reaching to the knee,
which in some instances was neatly ornamented with small white shells;
their arms and ankles were loaded with rings formed of ebony, ivory, and
coloured glass, some of the former bore evident marks of having been
turned in a lathe. The lobes of their ears were perforated with large
holes, from which enormous earrings of ivory and ebony, in the shape of
padlocks, were suspended, sometimes as many as three from one ear. A few
of the natives had gold earrings of considerable size but rude
workmanship. The boys and younger men had their hair cut short, and their
heads smeared over with a preparation of lime, which bleaches the
naturally black hair to a flaxen colour; as soon as this is effected, the
hair is allowed to grow to a considerable length, and in due time
presents a piebald appearance, the ends retaining the flaxen colour while
the roots are black. When grown to a sufficient length it is wound
gracefully round the head and fastened by a comb of sandalwood or
tortoise-shell; some specimens of which were very large, and of such
superior manufacture as to indicate an intercourse with much more
civilized nations.


The natives appeared to be healthy with the exception of a sort of
leprosy, from which many of them were suffering. It gave them a most
disgusting appearance, but did not appear to cause any inconvenience, nor
were they avoided by the rest of their companions, as if the disease had
been contagious. On our first landing, very few of the natives had any
arms, but they afterwards brought down some bows and arrows, some of
which were four or five feet long, neatly headed with iron. We also saw a
few iron-headed spears, a few cresses, and some hatchets of a very rude


Their canoes, about thirty of which were hauled upon the beach, were from
twenty-five to thirty feet long, and very narrow, with outriggers
projecting ten or twelve feet from each side, and supporting a piece of
buoyant wood to give stability. They carried one large mat-sail, but did
not appear to sail fast.

As soon as we had satisfied our curiosity on the beach, old Lomba led the
way to the village on the crest of the hill. The ascent commenced close
to the landing place by a flight of steps rudely formed by logs of wood
laid across a narrow path cut in the hillside, which brought us to within
forty or fifty feet of the summit. After which we had to climb two
ladders, made of hard red wood richly carved, placed almost
perpendicularly against the cliff. In a recess under the upper step we
noticed four small idols that bore a strong resemblance to those of the
South Sea islanders.


After reaching the top of the ladder we passed through a gateway,
evidently intended for defence, and then found ourselves in the village
of Oliliet, built on a level space of considerable extent, accessible
only from seaward by the path we had ascended, which the removal of the
ladders would render impracticable, and on the land side protected by a
wall, beyond which the jungle appeared to be very dense.

The houses, all raised on piles six or eight feet above the ground, could
only be entered by means of a ladder leading through a trapdoor in the
floor. The roofs neatly thatched with palm leaves, and formed with a very
steep pitch projected considerably beyond the low side-walls, and
surmounted at the gables by large wooden horns,* richly carved, from
which long strings of shells hung down to the ground, giving the village
a most picturesque appearance.

(*Footnote. See the view annexed.)

The houses were arranged with considerable regularity, so as to form one
wide street of considerable extent, from which narrow alleys branched on
each side.

Our conductor led us to the Oran Kaya, whom we found seated in front of a
small house in the widest part of the street, opposite to which there was
a circular space marked out by a row of stones placed on the ground, and
which appeared to be set aside for religious purposes, as they seemed
unwilling we should set foot within it. Here the natives soon afterwards
assembled in considerable numbers, and were for some time engaged in
serious discussion.


The Oran Kaya, who was an elderly man, received us very civilly, and
invited us to sit down beside him. Soon afterwards Pabok came up. He was
very old, had lost the sight of one eye, and wore an old straw hat of
European manufacture, decorated with stripes of red and blue cloth sewn
round it. I tried in vain to get more information from him about the
European boy; and on pressing him to come down to the boat to receive a
present, he made signs he was too old to do so.

After remaining a short time in the village, during which one of our
party caught a transient glimpse of some of the women, we returned to the
beach; where we found that the natives had brought a plentiful supply of
coconuts, and they promised to bring some other supplies off in the


At sunset the natives all went quietly away, and we returned on board,
passing on our way some small rocky islands which appeared to be used as
burial places, and emitted an intolerable stench; the bodies were placed
in rude wooden boxes, open at the top and quite exposed to the air, from
one small rock not large enough to hold a body, there was a long bamboo
erected, from which a human hand, blackened by exposure to the sun, was

On the 22nd, soon after daylight, the natives came off, bringing with
them Indian corn and coconuts, in such quantities that they sold the
latter for a couple of pins each. They also brought yams, bananas, fowls,
chilies, etc. but they did not seem inclined to part with them for
anything we could offer, except gunpowder, which I would not allow to be
given as barter.

At nine, finding we could get no more information from them, we weighed;
the natives all left us very quietly as soon as the capstan was manned,
and by signs appeared to wish us to revisit them. During the whole time
they were on board, they behaved perfectly well, and did not make any
attempt at stealing, though they must have seen many things most valuable
to them, which they might easily have taken.

From what we saw of Oliliet, it does not appear to be a place from which
any quantity of sea stock can be procured, for although they had plenty
of pigs and fowls in the village, they did not seem at all inclined to
part with them. Water may be procured on the beach, but a merchant vessel
should be very cautious in sending her boats for it, as the crew being
necessarily divided, would easily fall victims to any treacherous attack
on the part of the natives; and from all we subsequently learnt of them
from the traders we met at Arru, they are not always to be trusted.

After clearing the bay we stood to the northward, along the east coast of
Timor Laut, which is formed by a range of hills wooded to the very
summit, and indented by deep bays which would afford anchorage during the
North-West monsoon, were it not for a coral reef that appears to extend
along the coast, at a distance of two to three miles from the shore.
During the day we passed six villages, all built like Oliliet on cliffs
overhanging the sea, and protected on the land side by dense jungle,
through which it would be difficult to penetrate.


At sunset, we passed a small detached coral reef, and then steered for
the Arru Islands, in the hope of being able to gain some information from
the traders who frequent them, for the purpose of procuring the birds of
Paradise, trepang, pearls, etc. which are found in their vicinity.

During our passage across, we had very irregular soundings, and at
daylight on the 24th of March, saw the Arru Islands; all the islands of
this group, which extends from North to South about 100 miles, and the
eastern limits of which are but imperfectly known, are very low and
swampy, but from being well-wooded, have the appearance of being much
higher than they really are: many of the trees that we saw attained a
height of ninety feet, before they began to branch out.


We stood along the islands to the northward all day, with very light
winds, and on the 25th were off the entrance of Dobbo harbour, situated
between the two islands, Wamma and Wokan. As there were several
square-rigged vessels in the harbour, we tacked and made signal for a
pilot, and were soon afterwards boarded by the master of one of the
vessels, who to our great delight hailed us in very good English. Under
his pilotage we ran in and anchored off a low sandy point, on which the
traders establish themselves during their stay, by building very neat
bamboo houses thatched with the palm leaf. Several hundred people,
including some Dutchmen from Macassar, and Chinamen, remain throughout
the year. The house of Messrs. Klaper and Nitzk, cost above 300 pounds
and contained goods to the amount of ten times that sum and upwards. The
trade with these islands appears to be carried on in the following
manner. Towards the end of the North-West monsoon, the trading vessels
from Java and Macassar, having laid in their stock for barter, come over
to Dobbo, generally touching at the Ki Islands to procure boats, which
are there built in great numbers. On arriving they make the chief of the
island (who carries a silver-headed stick, with the Dutch arms engraved
upon it, as an emblem of his authority) a present, which he considers to
be his due, consisting generally of arrack and tobacco. The large boats
they have brought from the Ki Islands having been thatched over, and
fitted with mat sails are then despatched through the various channels
leading to the eastward, under the charge of a Chinaman, to trade for
trepang, pearls, pearl oyster-shells, edible birds-nests, and birds of
Paradise, in return for which they give chiefly knives, arrack, tobacco,
coloured cottons, brass wire, ornaments for the arms, etc.

These boats return to their vessels as soon as they have procured a
cargo, of which the pearls form the most valuable portion. The trepang
obtained here is only considered as third-rate; that from the Tenimber
group second, and from Australia first-rate.


The birds of Paradise, which are brought from the east side of the
island, appeared to be plentiful; they are shot by the natives (from whom
the traders purchase them for one rupee each) with blunt arrows, which
stun them without injuring the plumage, and are then skinned and dried.
The natives describe them as keeping together in flocks, headed by one,
they call the Rajah bird, whose motions they follow.*

(*Footnote. This is also mentioned by Pennant in his work on the Malayan
Archipelago, published in 1800.)

During the absence of the trading boats, the rest of the crews are
employed making chinam of lime, from the coral which abounds on the
beach, which fetches a good price at Banda, where fuel is expensive.

As soon as the South-East monsoon is fairly set in, the junks are hauled
up on the western side of the sandy spit at high-water spring tides, a
sort of dam is then built round them, with bamboos, and a kind of mat the
Malays call kadgang, banked up with sand; from this the water is bailed
out by hand, so as to form a dry dock in which they clean and coat the
bottom with chinam which lasts till the next season.

The cargo, as it is brought in by the different trading boats, is
carefully dried and stowed away in the different storehouses on the


Of the natives of the islands we had not on this occasion an opportunity
of seeing much, but the traders on the whole gave them a good character
for honesty, and described them as a harmless race very much scattered.
They used formerly to bring their articles of barter to Dobbo, but
discontinued it within the last few years, in consequence of having been
ill-used by the Bughis. Many of them profess Christianity, having been
converted by Dutch Missionaries sent from Amboyna.


Having completed our survey of the harbour and obtained such supplies as
we could, which, from the traders only bringing with them enough for
their own consumption, did not amount to much, we sailed for the Ki
Islands; a group sixty miles to the eastward of Arru, consisting of two
large islands called the greater and lesser Ki, and a number of small
islands lying to the westward of the latter.

The great Ki is about sixty miles long, high, and mountainous; the lesser
Ki and the small islands are low, few parts of the group attaining an
elevation of more than fifty feet.

Owing to the light airs and unsettled weather attendant on the change of
the monsoon, it was not till the 3rd that we arrived off the village of
Ki Illi, situated on the north-east end of the great Ki, and finding no
anchorage, the brig stood on and off, while we landed in the boats at the
village which is built close down on the beach and surrounded by a wall,
but not so strongly protected by its position as the villages in Timor
Laut. The houses, like those at Oliliet, were raised on piles above the
ground, but were not surmounted by the carved gables which seem to be
peculiar to the Tenimber group.

In the centre of the village we noticed a large building, evidently a
place of worship, surrounded by a grass plot, on which a number of stones
were ranged in a circle with some taller ones in the middle. Ki Illi is
celebrated for its manufacture of pottery, of which we saw many
specimens, formed with great taste, of a coarse porous material, which
being unglazed is well adapted for cooling by evaporation, in the manner
so much used in the east.


We had also an opportunity of seeing the boats, which are built in great
numbers from the excellent timber with which all the islands of this
group abound. They are much used by the traders frequenting the Arru
Islands, and were highly spoken of for their durability and speed. The
boats we saw, though they varied considerably in size, were all built on
the same plan, having a considerable beam, a clean entrance and run, a
flat floor, and the stem and stern post projecting considerably above the
gunwales. They were all built of planks cut out of solid timber to the
form required, dowelled together by wooden pegs, as a cooper fastens the
head of a cask, and the whole afterwards strengthened by timbers, lashed
with split rattan to solid cleats left for the purpose in each plank,
during the process of hewing it into shape.

Four of the smallest of these boats were purchased for the use of the
colony, for about 2 1/2 dollars each, and were found to answer very well.

After leaving Ki Illi we sailed to the southward, along the eastern side
of the great Ki, which is well wooded to the summit of the hills, and
cleared away for cultivation in many places. There is no anchorage off
this side of the island, which is so steep to, that on one occasion we
could get no bottom with ninety fathoms, two ships' lengths from the

At daylight on the 5th we entered the strait between the greater and
lesser Ki, the shores on both sides of which are lined with small patches
of cultivation. During the day we observed several small detached reefs,
and at sunset anchored on a reef, extending from the north end of the
lesser Ki, in thirteen fathoms.


April 6.

After breakfast, I started with some of the officers to visit Ki Doulan,
the principal village in the lesser Ki, and sent another boat to sound
towards a small island to the westward. After leaving the brig we passed
a luxuriant grove of coconut trees, extending along the beach, under the
shade of which we saw several villages, where the natives were busily
employed building boats.

A pull of three miles brought us to the town of Ki Doulan, situated near
the beach, and surrounded by a stone wall, which had every appearance of
antiquity. On the sea side, where the wall was in its best state of
preservation, there were three gates leading towards the beach, but
accessible only by means of ladders four or five feet high, which could
easily be removed in case of attack. The stones forming the sides of the
central gateway were ornamented by rude bas-reliefs, representing figures
on horseback; and the gate itself, formed of hard wood, and strong enough
to keep out any party not provided with artillery, was richly carved.


Within the walls there was a considerable space in which the houses were
built without any regularity, resembling those at Oliliet, with the
exception of the carved horns at the gable. We visited the chief's, and
found it tolerably clean: it consisted of one storey only; the
high-pitched roof being used as a storeroom, to the rafters of which all
sorts of miscellaneous articles were suspended. The chief himself, who
was an old man, dressed in the black serge denoting his rank, was very
civil, and offered us arrack and cocoa nuts. The natives of this group
differ considerably from those of Arru, and more resemble those of Timor
Laut, but are not so much inclined to treachery. The population is said
to amount to 8 or 10,000.

Christianity has not made the same progress here as at Arru, and many of
the natives profess the Mahometan faith, to which they have been
converted by the Mahometans of Ceram, who have several priests in the

They pay great attention to cultivation, and produce considerable
quantities of coconut oil of a superior quality. Tortoise-shell is also
found, but their chief source of trade consists in the number of boats
and proas, of various sizes, they build of the timber which abounds in
both islands. Outside the walls we noticed several burial places; and in
a small shed, not very highly ornamented, was a rude figure of a man,
nearly the size of life, holding a spear in his hand; and near this shed
was a building resembling the one at Ki Illi, but much smaller, and very
much out of repair. On the beach two Macassar proas were hauled up to
repair, and their crews had erected houses, similar to those at Arru, for
the purpose of carrying on their trade. The boats, of which the natives
had great numbers in every stage of construction, were more highly
finished than those at Ki Illi, but of the same form.

On returning on board, Mr. Hill, who had been away sounding, reported a
clear channel to the westward. In the evening we again landed at a small
village near the ship, beautifully situated in a most luxuriant grove of
coconut trees, and surrounded by a jungle, too dense to penetrate, except
where a path had been cleared. Many of the trees were very fine.


We were all much amused and surprised at the extraordinary activity our
Australian native, Jack White, displayed in ascending the coconut trees,
which he did with as much ease as any of us could have mounted a ladder,
and when near the top of one of the highest, finding the sleeves of his
frock and the legs of his trousers in the way, he held on with one arm
and leg, while he rolled his trousers up above the knee, and then with
both legs, while he rolled his sleeves above his elbows. His delight at
the coconuts, which were quite new to him, was very great.

Although we were not very successful in obtaining supplies on this
occasion, we found on a subsequent visit, when our stay was longer, that
they could be obtained at a very moderate price; firewood and water may
also be obtained without difficulty.

Off the town of Ki Doulan the water is too deep for a ship to anchor, but
the shoal which projects from the point of the island three miles north
of the town affords good anchorage in both monsoons.

There seem to be clear passages between all the islands in this group,
though contracted in places by reefs, which, from the clearness of the
water, can be distinctly seen from the masthead.


On the morning of the 6th we got underweigh, and passing to the westward
of the Ki group, saw the Nusa Tello Islands indistinctly through the haze
to the westward of us. At dawn on the 7th we made the high land of
Vordate, but light winds prevented our making much progress till the
evening, when a light air carried us along the land, and soon after
sunset we anchored in twenty fathoms off a small village. Daylight on the
8th did not impress us with a favourable idea of our anchorage, for it
appeared we had entered by a narrow and deep channel between two reefs
upon which there was not more than 4 1/2 fathoms.

At 8 a chief came off from the village in a large canoe pulled by about a
dozen men, with a tom-tom beating in the bow. He was very anxious to get
some arrack, and promised plenty of supplies.

After breakfast we landed, and were saluted by one gun from a proa hauled
up on the beach. Our arrival had evidently caused much excitement among
the natives, who came down in great numbers, and formed a semicircle
round the boat. They were nearly all armed with cresses and steel-headed
spears. Several of them wore a sort of breastplate made of hide, and
their heads were ornamented with a profusion of richly coloured feathers
and long horn-like projections formed of white calico; long necklaces of
shells hung down to their waists, and all had their hair dyed in the same
way as at Oliliet. Here we again noticed the carved horns surmounting the
gables of the houses.


Soon after we landed, the Oran Kaya made his appearance, and seemed to be
in a great state of alarm. As soon as he got within the circle of his
countrymen he commenced a series of most profound salaams, bending his
head down till he touched my feet. By way of reassuring him, I presented
him with a fine gaudy red shawl, which for a time had the desired effect;
and he then produced a document in Dutch, signed by Lieutenant Kolff,
which appeared to be a certificate of good conduct. By means of the
vocabulary and dictionary I tried to make them understand that we only
wanted some pigs, vegetables and poultry, for which we had brought money
to pay or goods to exchange. These he promised to procure for us, and to
send them on board, earnestly making signs all the time that we should go
away as soon as possible.


Finding the natives still coming down to the beach in great numbers, and
that all were in a highly excited state, we merely gratified our
curiosity on the beach, without attempting to go into their village, and
returned on board.

We subsequently found out that the natives had some reason to be alarmed
at our appearance, as they had been recently visited by a frigate, sent
by the Dutch government to punish the inhabitants of the neighbouring
island Laarat for the murder of Captain Harris, and part of the crew of
the English bark Alexander, on which occasion she destroyed the village
and took away several of the natives, who were supposed to have been
implicated in the business, prisoners to Amboyna.

After about an hour, during which the natives remained in a compact group
on the beach, evidently in deep consultation, the same chief who visited
us in the morning came off again, bringing with him the promised
supplies, consisting only of a billy-goat and a small pig. We tried some
time in vain to convince him we had no hostile intentions, and as the
weather was too unsettled to remain in so insecure an anchorage, we
weighed, and made sail for Oliliet, passing close along the island of
Vordate, which is moderately high, luxuriantly wooded, very well
cultivated, and apparently densely inhabited. It is separated from Laarat
by a narrow strait, which, from the way the sea broke across it, appeared
to be quite shoal.


April 11.

At 10 A.M. we were off Laouran, but finding the swell, occasioned by the
strong breezes experienced yesterday, was breaking too heavily on the
reef skirting the bay for a boat to land, we stood on for Oliliet, and on
rounding the point fired a gun and hove to. Two canoes soon after left
the beach, and from the number of articles of European manufacture with
which they were decorated, we soon saw that some vessel must have visited
the place since our departure; and on the chief coming on board he handed
me some papers, from which I ascertained that Mr. Watson, commanding the
Essington schooner, had visited the place during our absence; and by
having a person on board who could communicate with the natives, he had
succeeded by threats and promises held out to the chiefs in getting the
European boy given up to him. The boy had nearly forgotten his English at
first, but Mr. Watson afterwards made out that he belonged to the
Stedcombe schooner, the crew of which were all murdered by the natives
while engaged in watering their vessel. He had been ten years on the
island, during which time he had been well treated by his captors.

The brig was obliged to stand off and on, as there is no anchorage off
Oliliet during the south-east monsoon, which had now set in; but two
boats were sent on shore to obtain supplies.


They were well received by the natives, and again visited the village,
where they were surprised to find that all the women came out to see
them. All, both young and old, were dressed in a dark coloured wrapper,
which reached from the waist to the knees, and on their ankles they wore
a profusion of bright brass ornaments. The boats were not very successful
in procuring stock, but the chiefs promised an abundant supply in the
morning, which I determined to wait for, and accordingly worked to
windward under easy sail during the night, but found at daylight that we
had been sent so far to the southward by a current, that it was 10 A.M.
before we were again near enough to send the boats in.

On landing they found all their chiefs, and a considerable number of the
natives waiting on the beach with vegetables, etc. for sale. But they had
hardly commenced their barter, when a powerful looking man, armed with a
large iron-headed spear, in a state of intoxication, came rushing down
from the village; he made directly for the crowd upon the beach,
apparently with the intention of attacking our party; but the natives
immediately closed upon him, and after some trouble disarmed him; after
which he continued to rush about the crowd in a violent state of
excitement, running against any of our party he could see, and making
urgent signs to them to leave the shore.

At the same time the noise and confusion on the beach was so great, that
the officer in charge of the party prepared to return on board at once,
in order to avoid any collision with the natives. As soon as the chiefs
became aware of his intention, they were most anxious he should remain,
and made every profession of friendship to induce him to do so; but he
had heard so much of their treachery from the traders at Arru that he
resisted their entreaties, and returned on board at half-past eleven.


As soon as the boats were hoisted up, we made sail for Port Essington,
and anchored there on the 15th of April.


It was our intention to have concluded this volume with Captain Stanley's
narrative, but as the following account of the daring manner in which Mr.
Watson rescued the English boy from the savages of Timor Laut, has fallen
into our hands, and as doubtless it was the cause of the strange and
suspicious reception the Britomart's boats met with on their second visit
to Oliliet, we here lay it before our readers:


Mr. Watson had not been off the island long before his vessel, the
schooner Essington, was surrounded by eleven armed canoes, for the
purpose of attack. The chief wished Mr. Watson to go in and anchor, which
he refused, but showed him that he was ready for defence in case of any
outrage on their part. The chief, thinking he could entrap him, made
signs of friendship, and Mr. Watson allowed him and his crew to come on
board. The chief then said that a white man was on shore, and wished the
master to go and fetch him off, which was refused. Mr. Watson then laid
out an immense quantity of merchandise, which he said he would give for
the white man, and desired the chief to send his canoe ashore to fetch
him; stating, however, that he would retain him on board till the white
man came, and also, that if he was not immediately brought, he would
either hang or shoot the chief, and he had rope prepared for the purpose,
as also a gun. This manoeuvre had the desired effect on the chief, who
immediately despatched his canoe to the shore. For three days and nights
Mr. Watson was compelled to cruise off the island, the natives still
refusing to bring off Forbes. Towards the close of the third day they
brought off the boy, but would not put him on board until Mr. Watson
placed the rope round the chief's neck, when they came alongside; and as
the crew of the Essington were hoisting Forbes up the side of the vessel,
the chief jumped overboard into his canoe. Mr. Watson made the chief come
on board again, and told him that although he had deceived and wished to
entrap him, yet he would show that the white men were as good as their
word; and not only gave the chief the promised wares, but also
distributed some to each of the other ten canoes. This line of conduct
had a very good effect on the natives, who after receiving the goods
expressed great joy, and as they were leaving kept up a constant cheer.
Forbes at first appeared in a savage state, but after a short time,
stated the following particulars relative to the loss of the Stedcombe,
and the massacre of the crew: The Stedcombe, Mr. Barns, master, arrived
off the coast in the year 1823. Mr. Barns* having left her in charge of
the mate, he and two or three others went ashore at Melville Island.

(*Footnote. When at Sydney, in 1838, I met Mr. Barns, who corroborated
Forbes's account. J.L.S.)

The mate ran her into Timor Laut, and anchored; he then went ashore with
the crew, leaving the steward, Forbes, and another boy, on board. After
they had been ashore a short time, Forbes looked through a telescope to
see what they were about, when he saw that the whole of the crew were
being massacred by the natives. He immediately communicated that fact to
the steward, and advised him to unshackle the anchor, and run out to sea,
as the wind was from the land. The steward told him to go about his
business, and when he got on deck he found the vessel surrounded with
canoes. The natives came on board and murdered the steward; Forbes and
the other boy got up the rigging, and in consequence of their expertness
the natives were unable to catch them, but at last made signs for them to
come down, and they would not hurt them. They availed themselves of the
only chance left them of saving their lives, and surrendered. They were
immediately bound, and taken on shore; a rope was fastened to the ship,
her cable slipped, and the natives hauled her ashore, where she soon
became a wreck. Forbes states that several Dutchmen had called at the
island, to whom he appealed for rescue, but they all refused to
interfere; and latterly, whenever any vessel hove in sight, he was always
bound hand and foot, so that he should have no chance of escape. Both
himself and the other boy had been made slaves to the tribes; his
companion died about three years since. The poor fellow is still in a
very bad state of health; the sinews of his legs are very much
contracted, and he has a great number of ulcers all over his legs and
body. Fortunately for Forbes, Mr. Watson had a surgeon on board the
Essington, who immediately put him under a course of medicine, which,
without doubt, saved his life; for, from the emaciated state in which he
was received on board, it was impossible, without medical aid, that he
could have survived much longer. Too much Fraise cannot be awarded to Mr.
Watson for his exertions in rescuing this lad.





IchthyiAetus leucogaster.
Ieracidea berigora.
Astur approximans, Vig. and Horsf.
Collocalia arborea.
Podargus humeralis, Vig. and Horsf.
Podargus phalaenoides, Gould.
Eurostopodus guttatus.
Merops ornatus, Lath.
Dacelo Leachii.
Dacelo cervina, Gould.
Halcyon macleayii, Jard. and Selb.
Alcyone azurea.
Dicrurus bracteatus, Gould.
Colluricincla cinerea, Gould.
Pachycephala gutturalis.
Pachycephala melanura, Gould.
Pachycephala pectoralis, Vig. and Horsf.
Pachycephala lanoides, Gould.
Artamus sordidus.
Cracticus destructor.
Cracticus argenteus.
Grallina Australis.
Graucalus melanops.
Graucalus albiventris.
Pitta Iris, Gould.
Oriolus viridis.
Cinclosoma punctatum, Vig. and Horsf.
Malurus Lamberti, Vig. and Horsf.
Malurus melanocephalus, Vig. and Horsf.
Malurus splendens.
Malurus brownii, Vig. and Horsf.
Stipiturus malachurus.
Cysticola exilis ?
Ephthianura albifrons.
Sericornis frontalis.
Anthus pallescens.
Cincloramphus cruralis.
Mirafra ? ---- ?
Petroica multicolor.
Zosterops luteus.
Pardalotus punctatus.
Pardalotus uropygialis, Gould.
Dicaeum hirundinaceum.
Amadina Lathami.
Amadina gouldiae, Gould.
Estrelda oculea.
Estrelda phaeton.
Estrelda annulosa, Gould.
Estrelda temporalis.
Donacola pectoralis, Gould.
Donacola flaviprymna, Gould.
Emblema picta, Gould.
Poephila acuticauda, Gould.
Rhipidura albiscapa, Gould.
Rhipidura isura, Gould.
Rhipidura motacilloides.
Seisura volitans.
Piezorhynchus nitidus, Gould.
Myiagra platyrostris.
Gerygone ---- (like G. albogularis).
Chlamydera nuchalis.
Cacatua galerita, Vieill.
Cacatua eos.
Calyptorhynchus macrorhynchus, Gould.
Platycercus brownii.
Melopsittacus undulatus.
Nymphicus novae-hollandiae.
Pezoporus formosus.
Trichoglossus swainsonii, Jard. and Selb.
Trichoglossus rubritorquis, Vig. and Horsf.
Trichoglossus versicolor, Vig.
Climacteris melanura, Gould.
Sittella leucoptera, Gould.
Chalcites lucidus.
Eudynamys orientalis.
Centropus phasianus.
Meliphaga novae-hollandiae, Vig. and Horsf.
Glyciphila ocularis, Gould.
Glyciphila fasciata, Gould.
Ptilotis versicolor, Gould.
Ptilotis flavescens, Gould.
Ptilotis flava, Gould.
Ptilotis chrysotis.
Entomophila albogularis, Gould.
Entomophila rufogularis, Gould.
Acanthogenys rufogularis, Gould.
Tropidorhynchus citreogularis, Gould.
Tropidorhynchus argenticeps, Gould.
Acanthorhynchus superciliosus, Gould.
Myzomela sanguineolenta.
Myzomela erythrocephala, Gould.
Myzomela pectoralis, Gould.
Myzomela obscura, Gould.
Entomyza albipennis.
Myzantha lutea, Gould.
Ptilinopus superbus.
Leucosarcia picata.
Phaps chalcoptera.
Phaps elegans.
Geophaps smithii.
Geophaps plumifera, Gould.
Petrophassa albipennis, Gould.
Geopelia cuneata.
Geopelia placida, Gould.
Carpophaga luctuosa.
Macropygia phasianella.
Oedicnemus grallarius.
Haematopus fuliginosus, Gould.
Haematopus longirostris.
Turnix melanotus, Gould.
Turnix castanotus, Gould.
Turnix varius.
Turnix velox, Gould.
Turnix pyrrhothorax, Gould.
Synoicus australis.
Synoicus ? chinensis.
Ardea novae-holiandiae, Lath.
Nycticorax caledonicus, Less.
Falcinellus igneus.
Numenius australasianus, Gould.
Recurvirostra rubricollis, Temm.
Strepsilas collaris, Linn.
Pelidna australis.
Tribonyx ventralis.
Rallus philippensis.
Eulabeornis castaneoventris.
Cygnus atratus.
Leptotarsis eytoni.
Dendrocygna arcuata.
Nettapus pulchellus, Gould.
Tadorna radjah.
Casarca tadornoides.
Biziura lobata.
Bernicla jubata.
Anas novae-hollandiae.
Spatula rhynchotis.
Malacorhynchus membranaceus.
Podiceps poliocephalus, Jard. and Selb.
Phalacrocorax carboides, Gould.
Phalacrocorax melanoleucus, Vieill.








Balistes phaleratus. RICHARDSON.

CH. SPEC. B. cauda tot aculeolis quot squamis armata; gena tota squamulis
stipatis aspera, nec lines laevibus decursa; squamis majoribus
rotuntdatis post aperturam branchiorum; fascia frontali et mtacula caudae
nigris: fascia nigra laterali ab oculo ad caudam extensa, cumque pari suo
ter trans dorsum conjugata.

RADII. D. 3-1 : 25; A. 1 : 23; C. 12; P. 14.

FISHES. PLATE 1. Figures 4, 5.

Profile oval, with a somewhat convex nape, and the face descending in a
very slightly concave line. The mouth is on a level with the middle
height of the body, and forms the obtuse end of the oval. The white teeth
have their points ranged evenly, the eye is high up but does not touch
the profile, and the two contiguous openings of the nostrils are
immediately before it. The gill opening inclines obliquely forward as it
descends, touches the middle line of height at its lower end, and its
length is equal to a fifth of the altitude of the body. The scales
anterior to the pectorals and gill openings are closer and finer than on
the hinder parts of the fish. On the body each scale is roughened by
vertical rows of blunt points, which become more acute towards the hinder
part of the flanks, and on the tail one of the points of each scale rises
into a minute spine curved towards the caudal fin. In the narrowest part
of the tail there are not above three or four of these spines in a
vertical row, but there are ten or more between the posterior parts of
the dorsal and anal. Immediately behind the gill openings there are three
roundish scales larger than the others. The scales of the cheeks are
studded with points, which are more minute and rounded than the others,
and there are no smooth intervening lines, such as exist on the cheeks of
some other species. The dorsal spine is rather short, thickish, and not
acute. It is strongly roughened by five or six rows of short bluntish and
truncated teeth. The soft dorsal and anal commence with a simple flexible
ray which is not jointed. The other rays have each from four to six rough
points near their bases. The rays of the caudal are alternate. The
ventral spine is short and blunt, and is armed with short divaricated
teeth, some of which are forked. The roughness runs forward on the chine
or ventral line, until it passes gradually into the ordinary scales of
the head. The dewlap is very slightly extensible, and but little
developed. It is supported by six thread-like rays, which are all divided
to the base.

A black band crosses the forehead from eye to eye. The upper half of the
eye is bordered with black. The first dorsal exclusive of its last ray is
of the same hue; a black band descends from it, and two from the second
dorsal, which meet in a stripe that extends from the eye to the tail, the
whole bearing some resemblance to the traces of a coach-horse. There is
also a black mark on the upper surface of the tail, and a minute brownish
speck on each scale, which specks form very faint rows on the cheeks and
belly. The ground tint is pale or whitish, with some duskiness on the
face, as if it had been coloured when recent. Length, 2 1/4 inches.
Height of body, 1 1/8 inch.

HABITAT. The western coasts of Australia.


Cristiceps axillaris. RICHARDSON.

CH. SPEC. C. pinnis intaminatis; macula argentata post os maxillare,
altera in summa gena pone oculum et tertia majori in axilla pectorali;
linea laterali argenteo-punctata.

RADII. B.6; D. 3 : --28 : 7; A. 2 : 25; C. 11; P. 11; V.1 : 2.

FISHES. PLATE 1. Figures 1, 2, 3.

This singularly delicate and clear-looking fish has, after long immersion
in spirits, a pale flesh colour, with transparent and spotless fins. A
bright silvery streak descends from the angle of the preorbitar to the
corner of the mouth, where it dilates a little. A speck of the same
colour exists within the upper limb of the preoperculum, and immediately
behind the pectoral fin there is a large oblong one. The little tubes
forming the lateral line are also silvery. It is with much doubt that I
name this species as distinct from the C. australis of the Histoire des
Poissons, but there some points in M. Valenciennes' description of that
fish which I cannot reconcile with the specimen now under consideration.
And first, with respect to scales, M. Valenciennes states that he could
detect none in australis, but in axillaris there are minute round scales,
lying rather wide of each other, each having central umbo and lines
radiating from it to the circumference. These scales are not easily seen
while the skin continues moist, but become apparent as it dries, and are
most numerous towards the tail. The head of axillaris is scaleless, and a
row of pores runs along the lower jaw, up the preoperculum, and along the
temporal groove. The eye is also encircled by similar pores. The muscular
fibres shine through the delicate skin as in australis, and the teeth on
the jaws and vomer appear to be similar. On comparing the specimen of
axillaris with the figure of australis in the Histoire des Poissons, the
second dorsal does not appear undulated as in the latter, but the spinous
rays increase gradually in height from the first, and the anterior dorsal
is proportionally higher; the distance also between the ventrals and anus
is considerably less in proportion to the length of the head, which is
contained four times and a half in the total length of the fish, while
the height of the body is contained five times. The proportions of
australis are stated differently. Length of specimen, 3.42 inches.

HABITAT. King George's Sound (Benj. Bynoe, Esquire Surgeon of the

Since the above notice was drawn up I have examined a cristiceps upwards
of six inches long, which was sent from Botany Bay by Sir Everard Home to
the College of Surgeons. This does not clear up the doubt respecting the
identity of australis and cristiceps. It has completely lost its colours,
and shows neither the greenish bands of australis, nor the silvery marks
of axillaris, it has, however, the form of the fins of the latter, with
the number of rays exactly as in australis, a space between the ventrals
and anus equal to the length of the head, scales on the body, as in
axillaris, and similar pores on the head. Better materials are required
to enable us to decide whether axillaris be a nominal species or not.


Scorpaena stokesii. RICHARDSON.

RADII. D. 12 : 9; A. 3 : 5; C. 13 6/6; P. 17; V. 1 : 5.

FISHES. PLATE 2. Figures 6, 7, 8, and 9, natural size.

The Scorpaenae have so strong a generic resemblance among themselves that
it is difficult to detect the distinctive characters of the species,
especially as the colours of the recent fish speedily fade when macerated
in spirits, or when the mucous integument decays or is injured. We have
received but a single example of the subject of this article, which is
named in honour of the able commander of the Beagle.

The species bears a near resemblance to the Scorpaena militaris, but
differs from it in having no spinous point terminating the intra orbitar
ridges, and in the distribution of the scales on the cheek and gill
cover. The spinous points on the head approach very near to those of bufo
and porcus. The inferior preorbitar tooth is acutely spinous, and points
directly downwards; the two anterior ones are inconspicuous, and not very
acute, and the smaller upper posterior one observed in most Scorpaenae is
obsolete, or, at least, completely hidden by the integuments. The nasal
spines are, as usual, small, simple, and acute. The three supra orbitar
teeth are smaller than in militaris, and the middle one reclines so as to
be concealed by the integument instead of standing boldly up. The two low
ridges between the orbits do not end in spinous points. The lateral
ridges continued from the orbits over the supra scapulars, and the
temporal ridges which are parallel to them, but run farther back, contain
each four teeth. The infra-orbitar ridge is slightly uneven anteriorly,
and two reclining teeth may be made out at its posterior end. The
preoperculum is curved in the segment of a circle, and has a short spine,
with a smaller one on its base, opposite to the abutment of the
infra-orbitar ridge. Beneath this spine there are four angular points on
the edge of the bone. The opercular spines are as usual two in number,
being the tips of two low even divergent ridges, with a curved notch in
the edges of the bone between them. The coracoid bone is notched above
the pectoral fin, the notch being terminated below by a spine, and above
by an acute corner. There are no scales between the cranial ridges on the
top of the head, nor in the concave inter-orbital space. A single row of
five or six scales traverses the cheek below the infra-orbitar ridge. The
temples before the upper limb of the preoperculum are densely scaly, as
is also the gill flap above the upper opercular ridge. The acute
membranous lobe which fills the notch between the two opercular spines is
likewise scaly, and there are a few scales about the origin of the
ridges, but the space between the ridges, the sub-operculum, and the
inter-operculum, are naked.

There is a short fringed superciliary cirrhus, and some slender filaments
from other parts of the head, as shown in the figure, also lax skinny
tips on the inferior points of the preorbitar and preoperculum, but the
condition of the specimen does not admit of other cirrhi being properly
made out if such actually existed. In the axilla of the pectoral there
are four or five pale round spots. The figure, which is of the natural
size, represents the markings which remain after long maceration in weak
spirit. If there be a black mark in the first dorsal, as in the
militaris, it is effaced in our specimen. Length, 2.4 inches.

HABITAT. The coasts of Australia.


Smaris porosus. RICHARDSON.

CH. SPEC. Smaris rostro porosissimo; fascia obscura e rostro per oculum
recte ad caudam tracta; fascia altera in summo dorso.

RADII. B. 6; D. 10 : 9; A. 3 : 7; C. 15 5/5; V. 1 : 5.


This Smaris has fewer dorsal rays than any species described in the
Histoire des Poissons, and a shorter body than the Mediterranean
vulgaris. Its shape is fusiform, the greatest height, which is at the
ventrals, and which exceeds twice the thickness, being contained exactly
four times in the total length, caudal included. The thickness at the
gill cover is greater than that of the body, which lessens very gradually
to the end of the tail. The snout is transversely obtuse, but is rather
acute in profile. A cross section of the body at the ventrals is ovate,
approaching to an oval, the obtuse end being upwards. In profile the
curve of the belly is rather greater than that of the back, and the face
slopes downwards to the mouth, nearly in a straight line.

The head forms rather less than a quarter of the whole length. The eye is
large, and approaches near the profile without trenching on it. The mouth
is scarcely cleft so far back as the nostrils. The intermaxillaries are
moderately protractile, and curve a little downwards.

The teeth are disposed on the jaws in rather broad villiform bands, the
individual teeth being setaceous and erect. They become a little taller
nearer the outside, and the outer terminal cross row, composed of three
on each side of the symphysis, may be termed small canines. On the lower
jaw the villiform teeth in front are more uniformly small, and there is
an acute row of subulate teeth, which are tallest in the middle of the
limbs of the jaw, beyond which, towards the corners of the mouth, there
is an even row of very small teeth. At the end of the jaw there is a
small canine on each side exterior to all the others.

The fore edge of the preorbitar is slightly curved in form of the italic
f, the lower corner curving forward abruptly, so as to produce a notch,
which is filled up by the extremity of the retracted maxillary. The whole
end of the snout, back to the eyes, including the disk of the preorbitar,
is minutely porous, and a row of large pores borders the upper half of
the orbit.

The jaws, the uneven lobate disk of the preoperculum and the
branchiostegous membrane are naked, the rest of them being scaly. The
scales of the cheek are disposed in six concentric curves, the same
arrangement extending to the gill-cover, but less conspicuously. A small
flat spinous point projects beyond the scales of the operculum, which has
a very narrow membranous edging. The scales are ciliated. The caudal is
slightly notched at the end, its basal half is scaly, as is also the base
of the pectorals; the rest of the fins are scaleless. The dorsal is
nearly even, its height being, however, rather greatest at the fourth or
fifth spine. Its end is rounded.

A dark stripe, commencing at the top of the snout, runs through the eye
straight to the tail, and a fainter one occupies the summit of the back
to the end of the dorsal. The curve of the lateral line rises above the
lower stripe anteriorly, but coincides with it beyond the posterior end
of the dorsal. The rest of the fish is silvery, and the fins are not
marked. These colours are described from a specimen preserved in spirits.
Length, 5 inches.

HABITAT. King George's Sound. (Bynoe).


Chelmon marginalis. RICHARDSON.

Chelmon marginalis, Richardson, Annals and Mag. of Nat. Hist. 10, page
28, September 1842.

RADII. D.9 : 31; A. 3-2l; C. 17 3/3; P. 16; V. 1 : 5.

FISHES. PLATE 4. Natural size.

This fish is described in the Annals of Natural History from a dried
specimen brought from Port Essington by Mr. Gilbert. It has very much the
form of Chelmon rostratus, but wants the eye-like spot on the dorsal.
Several examples in spirits were brought by the officers of the Beagle
from the north-west coast of Australia, all of which show a broad band
passing between the dorsal and anal fins, which was not visible in the
dried specimen. This band is bounded anteriorly by one, and posteriorly
by two whitish lines. In the Annals the anal fin is described as being
more angular than the dorsal, but in the specimens in spirits the reverse
appears to be the case. This variation depends on the degree or expansion
of the fins, and both may be much rounded by pulling the rays apart. The
exact distribution of the bands may be clearly made out from the figure,
which is very correct. The rays of the fins probably vary in number in
different individuals, and our careful enumeration of those specimens
kept in spirits, as recorded above, gives two or three soft rays more in
the dorsal and anal, than we were able to detect in the dried skin.
Length, 5 1/4 inches.

HABITAT. Northern and north-western coasts of Australia.



CH. GEN. Corpus compressissimum, assulaeforme: caput crassius, minus
altum, declive. Os parvum. Maxilla inferior porifera, ore clauso
ascendens, hinc, ore hiante, ultra maxillam speriorem modice protractam

Preoperculum margine integro nec spinifero, disco arcto, inaequali,
esquamoso, genam squamosam postice et infra cingens. Operculum
tridentatum: Suboperculum crenatum; utrumque et interoperculum
latiusculum squamis satis magnis tecta. Dentes villiformes, minuti cum
dente canino in media utroque latere maxillae inferioris et trans apicem
utriusque maxillae dentibus quatuor (vel sex) fortioribus, altioribus, in
serie exteriori ordinatis. Dentes vomeris et palati acuti, stipati
minuti. Dentes pharyngei, acerosi inequales, acuti.

Membrana branchialis radiis sex sustentata, interoperculis liberis,
accumbentibus tecta.

Squamae satis magnae, nitidae ciliatae. Linea lateralis antice abrupte
ascendens, dein dorso parallela et approximata, postice diffracta
infraque per mediam caudam cursum resumens.

Pinnae magnae esquamosae. Pinna dorsi anique radiis tribus, spinosis,
ceteris articulatis. Pinnae ventrales sub pectorales offixae, propter
tenuitatem ventris invicem approximatae.

The strong resemblance which the subject of this article bears to the
Pseudochromis olivaceus of Dr. Ruppell (Neue Worlbethiere, page 8, taf.
2, figure 3) induced me at first sight to refer it to the same genus, but
on examination I found that very material alterations would require to be
made in the generic characters assigned to Pseudochromis,* to enable them
to apply to our fish.

(*Footnote. M. Swainson, considering this name as very objectionable, has
proposed Labristoma instead. Both names are founded on the resemblance
which the fish bears to another genus, in whole or in part, and the
objection which has been made to the one is equally valid against the

The above character has therefore been drawn up, and ichthyologists may
consider Assiculus, either as a proper generic form, or as merely a
subgenus or subdivision of Pseudochromis, with an extended character,
according to their different views of arrangement. The last named genus,
as described and restricted by Dr. Ruppell, from whom all our knowledge
of it is derived, has the jaw teeth disposed in a single row, and the
minute palatine teeth of a sphaeroidal form. The operculum has its angle
prolonged, and is not toothed, nor is the suboperculum crenated; and a
considerable number of the rays of the dorsal fin, succeeding to the
three spinous ones, are simple but flexible, the posterior ones only
being articulated and divided in the usual manner. Linnaeus has briefly
characterized two fish (Labrus ferrugineus, Bl. Schn. page 251, and
Labrus marginalis, Id. page 263) which most probably belong, either to
Pseudochromis or Assiculus, and which are to be placed, M. Valenciennes
thinks, near Malacanthus, among the Labridae. Now, this family, according
to M. Agassiz, is essentially cycloid in the structure of its scales,
although there is a slight departure from the rigid characters of the
order in the serrated preopercular of Crenilabrus, Ctenolabrus, and some
others, and in the spine bearing operculum of Malacanthus. The latter
genus is, moreover, described by M. Agassiz as possessing scales with
toothed edges, and rough to the touch when the finger is drawn forwards.
It has the simple intestinal canal without caeca, which is proper to the
Labridae. The intestine of Pseudochromis is similarly formed, the stomach
being continuous with the rest of the alimentary canal, and not
distinguished by any cul de sac. Having but one specimen of Assiculus for
examination, I have not been able to submit it to dissection to see
whether the structure of its intestines be the same or not, but both it
and Pseudochromis differ very widely from the labroid type in their
scales, possessing the peculiar firm, shining, strongly ciliated
structure, which we observe in Glyphisodon and its allies, and in the
lateral line being interrupted in a precisely similar manner. Chromis and
Plesiops have already been removed by M. Valenciennes from the Labridae
to the Glyphisodontidae, and it is with them that we feel inclined to
range Assiculus and Pseudochromis, notwithstanding the discrepancies in
the form of the intestinal canal. We can, however, trace a gradation in
the variation of form. The normal number of caeca in the Glyphysodontidae
is three. In Chromis there are generally two small ones, while the Bolti
of the Nile, or the Chromis niloticus of Cuvier, has no pyloric caecum,
but a large cul de sac to the stomach. Malacanthus is widely separated
from the Glyphisodontidae by its continuous lateral line. Since these
remarks were written I have seen Muller's paper, entitled, Beitrage zur
Kentniss der naturlichen Familien der Fische, in which the Chromidae are
indicated as a distinct family from the Glyphisodontidae, which latter he
names Labroidei stenoidei; and Pseudochromis, it is stated, belongs to
neither of these families, because it has twofold pharyngeals with a
division between them. Dr. Muller promises a separate article on
Pseudochromis, which I have not yet seen.


Assiculus punctatus.

RADII. BR. 6; D. 3 : 23; A. 3 : 12; C. 21; P. 18: V. 1, 5.

FISHES. PLATE 2. Figures 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

This fish is as thin in the body as a lath, whence the generic name. Its
greatest width is at the cheek, as shown by the section figure 3, where
the transverse diameter is about half the height. Figure 4 shows the
section at the gill cover, and third dorsal spine, where the thickness is
less; and figure 5, represents a section behind the ventrals, where the
thickness is little more than a tithe of the height, and it gradually
decreases to the caudal fin. The oblong profile is highest at the third
dorsal spine, whence it descends with a slightly convex curve to the
mouth, which is low down--the under jaw when extended, being nearly on a
line with the belly. The height of the tail between the vertical fins is
equal to half the greatest height of the body. The dorsal and ventral
lines are both acute, especially the former, and the medial line of the
nape continues acute to the orbits.

The length of the head, measured from the upper jaw, is contained four
times and a half in the total length of the fish. The large round eye,
situated near the upper profile, fills more than a quarter of this
length. The orbit is surrounded by a ring of muciferous canals, with open
orifices, which are the only exterior vestiges of the suborbitar chain.
The small mouth descends obliquely and scarcely reaches back to the
orbit. The intermaxillaries are moderately protractile, but the lower
jaw, when depressed, projects still further forward. The maxillary widens
towards its lower end, which curves a little forwards. Three pores exist
on each limb of the lower jaw.

The teeth of the upper jaw present a fine, but rather uneven and broad
cardiform surface at the symphysis, which narrows to a single row towards
the corner of the mouth, where they are a little longer and more
subulate. Four canine teeth stand across the end of the jaw anterior to
the dental plate, the intermediate ones being shorter than the outer
ones. The dentition of the under jaw differs in the dental band being
narrower, and in there being a conspicuous canine in the middle of each
limb of the jaw. There are also six canines standing across the extreme
tips of the jaw, opposed to the upper ones. Most of the teeth are
slightly curved backwards. The chevron of the vomer projects from the
roof of the mouth, and its surface is armed by minute teeth in about
three or four densely crowded rows. The palatine teeth are still more
minute, and the band is four or five deep. The teeth, when examined with
a lens, appear to be very acute and in nowise spherical. The pharyngeal
teeth are subulate and acute, and of unequal heights. There seems to be
only one inferior pharyngeal bone below; but without dissection this
could not be clearly made out. The outer branchial rakers are long.

The narrow, slightly pitted, scaleless disk of the preoperculum bounds
the scaly cheek behind and below, and has an entire edge with neither
spine nor acute angle at the bend. The other pieces of the gill cover are
closely covered with scales, only a little smaller than those of the
body. The pretty wide thin inter-operculum lays freely over the gill
membranes, and covers them when shut up. The sub-operculum is minutely
crenulated on the edge, and has a small sub-membranous tip, which
projects a little beyond the three opercular teeth. A small curved notch
marks the separation between the interoperculum and sub-operculum.

The scales extend on the crown of the head to the middle of the orbits.
The snout, lips, jaws, the place at the corner of the mouth over which
the maxillary glides and the gill membrane are scaleless. The scales of
the body are very regularly disposed, showing rhomboidal disks when in
situ, with strongly ciliated edges. The lateral line ascends at its
commencement and bends rather suddenly under the first soft dorsal ray to
run near and parallel to the ridge of the back. It terminates beneath the
sixth ray from the end of the fin, but recommences on the fourth scale
beneath, and runs in the middle height of the tail to the base of the
caudal. Two or three of the scales before its recommencement, have a
minute pit in the middle of their disks, as is not unusual with the
Glyphisodons. The first part of the lateral line forms an almost
continuous tubular ridge traced on thirty-eight scales of the second row
from the summit of the back; the posterior part traverses six or seven
scales. There are twelve or thirteen scales in a vertical row on the side
of the body.

The anus, situated a short way before the anal fin, has a very small

There are no scales on the fin membranes. The three dorsal spines are
short, graduated, moderately stout, and pungent. The twenty-three soft
rays are all distinctly articulated, and more or less branched. The last
ray is divided to the base, and is graduated with the two preceding ones,
giving a rounded form to the posterior tip of the fin. The specimen had
the anterior part of the fin frayed a little, so that it is probable that
the soft rays are higher and less distinctly branched than the artist has
represented them to be in copying the example placed before him. The
ventrals are in a line with the tip of the gill cover and first soft
dorsal ray, and from the extreme narrowness of the pelvis are close to
each other. They are tapering, pointed, and overlap the beginning of the
anal, which, though it have fewer rays than the dorsal, is similar in
structure. The pectoral and caudal are much rounded, especially the
latter. There is a greater space between the anal and caudal than between
the dorsal and the same fin. In the caudal there are twenty rays,
including two very short ones above, and the same number below.

The general colour of the specimen, which has been long in spirits, is
shining yellowish-brown with several round dots of azure-blue scattered
over the body. The cheek is crossed obliquely by a row of three spots.
The figure errs in representing the spots as dispersed over the cheek;
they are in fact ranged in a row. Length, 2 1/2 inches.

HABITAT. Coast of Australia.

Haslar Hospital, 28th October, 1845.








Head subquadrangular, raised in front, head-shields flat, thin, rather
rugose. Nasal shields ovate, triangular, rather anterior, with a groove
behind the nostril. Rostral shields triangular, erect. Supranasal none;
internasal broad; frontonasal large, contiguous; frontal and
interparietal small, frontoparietal and parietal moderate; eyebrow
shields, 4-4. Temples scaly, no shields between the orbit and labial
plates. Eyes rather small, lower lid opatic, covered with scales. Ears
oblong, with a large scale in front. Body fusiform, roundish thick;
scales of the back, broad, lozenge-shaped, keeled; keels ending in a
dagger point; largest on the hinder parts of the throat and belly;
transverse, ovate, 6-sided. Limbs four, strong. Toes elongate,
compressed, unequal, clawed; tail short, conical, tapering, depressed;
with rings of large, broad, lozenge-shaped, dagger-pointed, spinose
scales, with a central series of very broad 6-sided smooth scales

This genus is intermediate between Cyclodus and Egernia, but quite
distinct from both. It differs from Tachydosaurus and Cyclodus in having
slender elongated toes like Egernia, in the scales being keeled, and in
there being no series of large plates beneath the orbit, and it is easily
known from Egernia by the tail being depressed and broad, instead of
conical and round. Like all the genera above named, it appears to be
peculiar to Australia.

The Silubosaure. Silubosaurus stokesii.


Olive brown, varied with black and large white spots; shields of the head
white, black-edged.

Inhabits Australia.


Head quadrangular, rather tapering in front. Head shields convex, rugose.
Nasal shields ovate-triangular, rather anterior, approximate; supranasal
none; rostral triangular, erect; internasal lozenge-shaped, as long as
broad; frontonasal rhombic, lateral, separate; frontal and interparietal
moderate, elongate; frontoparietals 2, rather diverging, contiguous in
front; parietal moderate, half ovate. Temple shielded. Orbit without any
scales between it and the labial shields. Ears oblong, with 4 small
scales in front. Body fusiform. Scales of the back, sides, and upper part
of the limbs broad, 6-sided, with a large central keel ending in a spine,
larger on the loins, those of the nape 3- or 5-grooved, of the throat and
belly thin, broad, ovate, 6-sided. Legs 4, strong. Toes elongate,
compressed, unequal, clawed. Tail as long as the body, round, tapering,
with 6 series of broad 6-sided, keeled, strongly-spined scales, with a
series of broad 6-sided smooth scales.

Cunningham's Egernia. Egernia cunninghami.

Tiliqua cunninghami. Gray, Proceedings of the Zoological Society 1832 to


Olive, white spotted head, brown chin, and beneath white; ears with 3 or
4 pointed scales in front.

Inhabits Australia.



Head large, covered with small rather unequal not imbricate scales. sides
of the face rounded, without any large scales upon the edge of the
eyebrows. Parotids swollen, unarmed. Nostrils lateral, medial. Throat
lax, with a slight cross fold behind. The sides of the neck unarmed. Nape
and back with a crest of low angular distant scales. Body compressed,
with rings of rather small rhombic keeled rough uniform scales placed in
cross rings; of the belly rather larger, obliquely keeled; of the limbs
larger. Tail elongated, tapering, rather compressed, with keeled scales,
those of the under sides rather truncated, the keel of the scales of the
end forming ridges, the upper surface slightly keeled, subdentated. Toes
5-5, moderate, unequal. Femoral and preanal pores none.

The Chelosania. Chelosania brunnea.

Pale brown, rather paler beneath.

Inhabits West Australia.


Head moderate, subquadrangular, covered with regular keeled scales, of
the occiput rather smaller. Face-ridge rather angular, edged with small
scales. Parotids rather swollen, with a ridge of rather larger conical
scales over the ears above. Nostrils lateral, medial. Throat rather lax,
with a cross fold behind. Nape and back rounded, not crested. Scales of
the back equal, rhombic, keeled, placed in longitudinal series; on the
sides smaller, but with the keels forming rather ascending ridges; of the
belly similar, in longitudinal series, with the keels sharp and rather
produced at the tip. The tail round, tapering, with imbricate rhombic
seales, with the keels forming longitudinal ridges. Femoral and preanal
pores none. Toes 5-5, unequal.


The Gindalia. Gindalia bennettii.

Pale brown, rather paler beneath; the scales of the back small, sharply
keeled, forming longitudinal ridges, which converge together just at the
base of the tail towards the two upper ridges formed by the keels of the
scales of the tail; of the limbs rather larger.

Inhabits North-West coast of Australia.


The Crested Grammatophore. Grammatophora cristata.

Olive; head black varied, beneath pale; throat, chest and under side of
the thighs black; tail black-ringed; scales rather irregular, with a
central and two lateral series of compressed keeled scales; nape with a
crest of compressed elevated distant scales; sides of the neck with
scattered single elongated conical spines; tail tapering, with uniform
keeled scales, keeled above, rather dilated at the base, with indistinct
cross series of rather larger scales.

Inhabits West Australia.

The Netted Grammatophore. Grammatophora reticulata.

Grammatophora decresii, Gray, Grey's Trav. Austr. 2, not Dum. et Bib.

Black, yellow-spotted and varied, beneath grey, vermiclated with
blackish; tail black-ringed; back and nape with a central series of
larger keeled scales, with distant cross series of similar scales; sides
of the nape and parotids with series of rather larger keeled scales;
scales of the back small, subequal; tail tapering, with regular nearly
equal keeled scales, and 1 or 2 cross bands of larger scales at the base.

Inhabits West Australia.

The Yellow-spotted Grammatophore. Grammatophora ornata.

Black; the back with a series of large yellow spots, smaller on the
sides; the tail and limbs yellow-banded, beneath yellow; the throat
black-dotted; chest blackish; nape with a slight scaly crest; ears with a
few tubercular scales in front; neck with 3 or 4 groups of short
tubercular scales on each side; the scales small, ovate, imbricate,
keeled, of the middle of the back rather larger, and with a few rather
larger (white) ones scattered on the sides; nostril near the front edge
of the orbit.

Inhabits West Australia.


Stokes' Sea Serpent. Hydrus stokesii.


Grey; white beneath; scales of the back, broad, ovate, cordate, keeled;
of the sides larger, and of the belly largest, all keeled; of the two
central series of the belly rather larger, more acute and smooth. Labial
shields, 5, 1, 5, high band-like; the 4 and 5 the highest. 1, cheek
scale; 1, anterior, and 3, posterior ocular, the lower hinder largest;
the hinder labial shields behind the eye small, the hinder one smallest.

Inhabits Australian Seas.

This species is the giant of the genus, being very many times larger than
the Hydrus major of Shaw (Pelamis shawi, Messem.) from the coast of
India. The body is as thick as a man's thigh, and it must have been a
most powerful and dangerous enemy to any person in the water.


Head ovate, depressed, covered with small rather acute scales, with 2
small frontal plates just over the rostral in front; rostral small,
triangular, concave in the centre. Nostrils large, rather anterior, in
the middle of a rather large plate, with a slight slit to the hinder
edge; labial scales rather larger; the lower ones with a concavity in the
middle of each scale. Eyes convex, rather large, pupil oblong; throat
with small acute scales. Body elongate, compressed, subpentangular; back
covered with very small semicircular scales, with a row of larger ovate
keeled scales on each side, and 2 or 3 rows of similar larger keeled
scales over the vertebral line; the sides covered with moderate ovate
keeled scales, rather larger beneath the belly, covered with a series of
transverse rounded plates. Tail elongate, rather compressed,
subpentangular, tapering, like the back above, and with a single series
of rounded transverse plates beneath.

Gonionotus plumbeus.


Bluish-grey, belly and beneath white. Length of body 9, of tail 4, total
13 inches.

Inhabits --

This animal is at once known from all the other Homalopsina, by the three
keels on the back, by having only a single series of plates beneath, and
in the lower labial shields being pitted.



Crocodilus palustris, Lesson Belanger, Vog. 305. Gray Cat. Reptiles
British Museum 62. Crocodilus vulgaris, Dum. and Bibr. Erp. Gen. n. 108.
Crocodilus biporcatus, Cuv. Oss. Foss. tome 5 plate 1, figure 4. Skull.
Crocodilus biporcatus raninus, Muller.

Inhabits Victoria River.

Captain Stokes has furnished me with the following note on this species.

"Length in feet inches:
of Alligator: 15 0.
From base of head to extremity of nose: 2 2.
Across the base of head: 2 0.
Iength of lower jaw: 2 0.

Teeth in both jaws vary in size, and are variously disposed, as will be
seen in the sketch.

In upper jaw on each side of maxillary bone: 18 2 incisors.

In lower jaw on each side of maxillary bone: 15 2 incisors.

The largest teeth are 1 1/2 inch in length. The two lower incisors are
stronger and longer than the upper, and project through two holes in
front part of upper jaw. Breadth across the animal from extreme of one
fore foot, across the shoulders, to the other side, 5 feet 2 inches. The
fore feet have each five perfect toes, the three inner or first, have
long horny nails, slightly curved, the two outer toes have no nails, nor
are they webbed. The third and fourth toes are deeply webbed, allowing a
wide space between them, which is apparent, even in their passive state.
The hind feet are twice the size and breadth of the fore, with four long
toes, the two first are webbed as far as the first joint, and the other
are strongly webbed to the apex of last joint; the last or outer toe has
no nail. From the apex of tail, a central highly notched ridge runs up
about midway of it, and there splitting into two branches, passes up on
each side of the spine over the back, as far up as the shoulders,
gradually diminishing in height to the termination. A central ridge runs
down from the nape of the neck, over the spinous processes of the
vertebrae (being firmly attached to them by strong ligaments) as far down
as the sacrum, diminishing to its termination likewise."

The eggs are oblong, 3 inches and 3 lines long, and 2 inches 8 lines in

The skull of this specimen, which was presented to the British Museum by
Captain Stokes, has exactly the same form and proportions as that of the
crocodiles called Goa and Muggar on the Indian continent, and is quite
distinct in the characters from the Egyptian species.

A number of large stones, about the size (the largest) of a man's fist,
were found in the stomach.

Messrs. Dumeril and Bibron deny that any species of crocodile is found in
Australia. See Erpet. Gen. 1 1836, 45.






Megacephala australasiae, Hope, Proceedings of the Entomological Society,
November 1, 1841, Annals and Magazine of Natural History, 9, 425.


Habitat: North-West Australia.

Aenigma cyanipenne, Hope; variety with the whole of the thorax


The specimen figured, in other respects seems to me to agree with the
species above-mentioned, described briefly by the Reverend F. Hope in the
Proceedings of the Entomological Society for
November 1, 1841.


Biphyllocera kirbyana, White, App. to Grey's Australia, 2 462.


Habitat: Australia.

In figure 4a are well seen the beautifully pectinated lamellae of the
antennae in this genus.

The species is of a pitchy brown, beneath it is yellowish and hairy; the
margin of the thorax is yellowish, its disk has many short rust-coloured
hairs, the elytra have 9 longitudinal impressed lines, the spaces between
transversely striolated and somewhat scaled.


Calloodes grayianus, White, Annals and Magazine of Natural History,
January 1845.


Head green, punctured, head shield yellowish, sides rounded, somewhat
straight in front, under side of head bronzy ferruginous. Thorax narrow,
the sides slightly rounded so as to be almost continuous with the lateral
line of the elytra; behind it projects in the middle, and is notched over
the scutellum: of a lively glossy green, the sides broadly margined with
yellow. Elytra much depressed, especially on the sides and behind, having
a wide but shallow sinus on the sides; surface punctured, the punctures
generally running in striae, some of the rows placed in slightly grooved
lines: lively glossy green, sides broadly margined with yellow. Legs and
underside ferruginous, bases of abdominal segments green, as are the tips
of the femora and all the tarsi: front edge of tibiae of fore-legs
without teeth, hind tibiae moderate.

Habitat: New Holland, North-West Coast.


Cetonia (Diaphonia) notabilis.


Head for the most part yellow, the yellow extending in a point to beyond
a line drawn between the eyes, behind deep black, margin somewhat
thickened, brownish, four small obscure spots in front; antennae and
palpi brown. Thorax, with many scattered punctures, yellow, with a large
black mark occupying the greater part of the upper surface, narrowed and
notched in front, sinuated slightly on the sides, and with two notches in
the middle behind. Elytra with many punctures arranged indistinctly in
lines, brownish yellow, the suture, tip and extreme edge of each elytron
narrowly margined with brown; scutellum yellowish, black at the base and
tip. Abdomen beneath yellow, each segment margined with brown, the
pygidium yellow, with two largish oblique black spots. Legs black,
posterior femora edged in front with yellow. Length 9 lines.

Habitat: New Holland.

This species seems to be allied to Schizorhina succinea Hope.
Transactions of the Entomological Society, 3 281.*

(*Footnote. I may here mention, that in the collection of the British
Museum there is a female of the Diaphonia frontalis, in colour closely
resembling the male; and that the D. cunninghami of G.R. Gray, regarded
by both Burmeister and Schaum as the female of D. frontalis, is decidedly
a distinct species; it was described and figured by M.M. Gory and
Percheron, from a female specimen now in the British Museum.)


Stigmodera elegantula.


Head cleft between the eyes; Prothorax above and beneath vermilion, with
a greenish black spot in the middle, and two small black dots, one on
each side. Elytra with four double rows of impressed punctures, united at
the end. Apex with two sharp points, the outer the longest, a notch
between them; the elytra are vermilion, the base has a narrow transverse
green band, an angular dark green spot before the middle, with two deep
notches in front, and rounded behind, behind this and connected with it
by a narrow sutural line of the same colour, is a fascia running quite
across the angle in the middle of each elytron, and dilated on the
suture, the tip of each elytron is broadly pointed with the same dark
green; meso- and metathorax beneath, dark green, as are the legs. Abdomen

Length about 6 lines.

Habitat: North-West Coast of New Holland.

This species comes near Conognatha concinnata Hope. Proceedings of the
Entomological Society Annals of Natural History 11 318.


Stigmodera saundersii. Hope Transactions of the Entomological Society 4


Black, with a bluish green hue. Head in front bronzed, deeply punctured.
Thorax deeply punctured, with three deep black longitudinal lines above,
the middle one broadest: Elytra orange red, with four keels and two rows
of deep punctures between each; edge slightly serrated; end of each
tapering so as to leave a notch when both are closed; tip broadly black,
inclined to green in some lights; a large roundish black patch common to
both elytra on the middle, base narrowly edged with black, the shoulders
with a black lineolet and a small round black spot across the suture;
legs and under parts of a deep bluish black, with a slight tinge of

Habitat: Van Diemen's Land.


Stigmodera erythrura.


Head greenish yellow, deeply punctured, a black band, sinuated in front
between the eyes, on the back part of the head. Thorax above black, sides
and a narrow line down the middle yellow. Elytra gradually tapering to
the end, black with the margin at the base yellow, and a somewhat broader
line of the same colour near the suture; on each elytron are three yellow
spots, the middle one largest and tipped with red on the outside. Legs
and under side greenish yellow; three last segments of abdomen beneath of
a rust colour with four longitudinal rows of yellow spots.

Length about 6 lines.

Habitat: New Holland (Swan River).

Clerus ? obesus.


Head brassy brown; thorax brownish yellow, glossy; elytra with more than
the basal half deep blue, with regular deeply pitted punctures, close to
each other, an elevated knob at the base in the middle, the apical
portion smooth purplish black, the smooth place on the suture running
into the pitted part, between the two are four short transverse lines of
whitish hairs, two on each elytron; near the tip are two oblique patches
of white hairs: head finely punctulate, covered with short hairs. Thorax
as it were two lobed behind, an angular depression in the middle, and
somewhat narrowed in front; legs deep blue with whitish hairs. Length 5

Habitat: New Holland.

This curious species bears the above name of Mr. Newman, in the
collection of the British Museum, I cannot find his description of it,
and not having seen Spinola's work, cannot refer it to its particular



Head broader than long, swollen behind the eyes; antennae 11-jointed,
first joint the longest, bent and gradually thickened towards the tip,
second joint thin and cup-shaped, half the depth of third joint which is
squarish, fourth joint oblong, dilated anteriorly at the ends, and larger
than second and third together, fifth to the tenth joints somewhat
lamellate, nearly as long as the other four joints; eyes narrow and
notched, the part of the head within the notch prominent; palpi thick,
terminal joint oblong. Thorax narrowed in front, rounded on the sides and
somewhat truncated behind; scutellum triangular, with a notched
projection at the base; elytra very short, one-third the length of the
body, wide at the base, narrowed at the tip; legs heteromerous, rather
short, all the thighs compressed, claws simple.

This genus, which at first sight looks like a Meloe, is closely allied to


Sitarida hopei.


Black; elytra slightly pitchy; head and thorax thickly punctured; thorax
with a cruciform impression on the disk; elytra with three keels meeting
before they reach the apex, the intermediate spaces and the apex
irregularly punctate.

Length 1 inch 5 lines.

Habitat: New Holland.



Head as long as broad; antennae with all the joints flattened, serrated
on each side; 11-jointed, third to 9th joints widest. Thorax as wide as
the head, narrowed in front; sides somewhat angular truncated behind,
surface irregular; scutellum large, triangular. Elytra longer than the
abdomen, sides parallel, ends rounded. Legs heteromerous, four claws to
each tarsus, two of them larger than the others, and minutely serrulate
on the inside.

Palaestrida bicolor.


Head, thorax, scutellum, body and legs, entirely black. Elytra light
orange with three slight keels, the outer somewhat forked. Head coarsely
punctured. Thorax with scattered punctures, and three or four depressions
on the upper part.

Length 6 and 7 lines.

Habitat: New Holland.

This new genus comes near Palaestra laporte (Anim. Artic. 2 250) and
Tmesidera westwood (in Guerin's Mag. de Zool. 1841, plate 85.)


Tranes vigorsii (Hope) Schoenh. Curc. 7 2, 130.


Cinnamon brown, the sides of the thorax with yellowish brown hairs, and
patches in the striae of the same coloured hairs. Sides of the body
beneath covered with yellowish hairs. Thorax very minutely punctured.
glossy, with a very short deepish groove in the middle behind.

Length 9 to 11 lines.

Habitat: New Holland.



Antennae as long as the body, 11-jointed, first joint thick knobbed,
second very small, terminal longer than third, pointed with a blunt tooth
beyond the middle. Thorax globular, wider than the body.


Cyclodera quadrinotata.


Head, antennae, thorax, body and legs, black. Elytra yellowish red, tip
and a large oblong spot on each black, the spot not reaching either
margin of the elytron; under side of abdomen covered with silky hairs.
The head is coarsely punctured, the thorax minutely chagrined with a deep
indented spot on each side behind the middle. Elytra finely chagrined,
with faint indications of two or three longitudinal lines on each.

Length 7 1/2 lines.

Habitat: New Holland, North-West Coast.

This well marked species seems to be allied to the genera Arhopalus and


Clytus (Obrida) fascialis.


Head black, punctured; antennae black, seventh and eighth joints
yellowish. Thorax black, punctured and hairy, a short narrow smooth line
on the back behind. Elytra purplish violet, with three longitudinal
keeled lines not extending to the tip, coarsely punctured, except on the
lines which are smooth: two first pairs of legs red, tips and bases of
the joints darkish; tarsi with brownish hairs, posterior legs deep black;
tibiae with longish hairs.

Length 4 lines.

Habitat: New Holland.


Callipyrga turrita. Nemman, Entomologist, 413.


Habitat: New Holland, near Sydney.

The figure of this beautiful longicorn beetle, is drawn from the original
specimen described by Mr. Newman; it is now in the collection of the
British Museum.


Microtragus senex.


Head ashy, antennae brown. Thorax brownish black, punctured and hirsute,
a thick blunt spine from the middle on each side. Elytra at the base in
the middle with a blunt slightly hooked spine, they have two prominent
keels, the external the longest, the surface is deeply punctured, in some
parts almost pitted, grey, a black line on sides and extending over the
back, so as to form an oblong black spot from the middle to near the
base, a dagger-shaped spot on the suture behind, and a few black spots on
the elevated line. Abdomen beneath greyish. Legs grey, with short
blackish bristles, tarsi narrow not dilated.

Length about 7 lines.

Habitat: New Holland.

This curiously marked longicorn comes near Ceraegidion boisduval.


Paropsis scutifera.


Yellow; head vermilion, with two long black spots between and behind the
eyes. Elytra yellow with a large squarish spot common to both, outwardly
bounded by a dark line, except in front where the yellow of the general
surface runs into the square. The ground of the spot is red, with a
yellow line near the suture on each side; elytra at the base narrowly
edged with black. Antennae, legs, and underside yellow.

Length 2 1/4 lines.

Habitat: New Holland.


Chrysomela (Australica ?) strigipennis.


Brown with a greenish metallic hue. Thorax and elytra margined with
obscure yellow, thorax with the anterior angles yellow, a few irregular
punctures in the middle, and the posterior parts thickly dotted with
impressed points; elytra with seven irregular lines of impressed dots,
towards the tip they are irregularly dispersed, there are a few irregular
yellow streaks near the margins of the elytra; under side blackish brown,
tibiae and tarsi yellowish.

Length about 4 1/4 lines.

Habitat: New Holland.

This differs from Australica in having the thorax narrower, and the
antennae longer and less thickened at the end.






Genus EUSCHEMON, Doubleday.

Maxillae moderately long.

Labial Palpi of moderate length, basal joint very short, compressed,
curved, clothed with scales and long hairs, second joint about four times
as long as the first, subcylindric, clothed with long scales, third joint
clothed with small scales, short, elongate-oval, slenderer than the
second, the scales of which almost conceal it.

Antennae elongate, with a fusiform club much hooked at the extremity.

Eyes large, forehead broad.

Anterior wings triangular, the outer and inner margins nearly equal,
about two-thirds the length of the anterior. Costal nervure two-thirds
the entire length of the wing; subcostal nervule slightly deflected
towards the end of the cell, throwing off its first nervule at about
one-third of its length, the second about the middle of its course, the
space between the origins of the second and third nervules not as long as
that between the first and second, the fourth arising just before the end
of the cell: upper discocellular nervule very short, the second discoidal
equidistant from the first discoidal and the third median nervule, the
disco-cellular nervules almost atrophied; median nervule throwing off its
first nervule not far from the base, the third nervule a little bent
where the discocellular joins it, radial nervure running nearly parallel
with the inner margin throughout its whole length, reaching the outer
margin a little above the anal angle. Posterior wings broad, semi-ovate,
costal nervure long, sub-costal terminating in only two nervules,
discoidal nervule nearly atrophied; discocellular the same, united with
the third median nervule; cell rather large. Base of these wings in the
male with a strong bristle passing behind a strong corneous retinaculum,
which arises from the anterior side of the sub-costal nervure.

Legs rather long; anterior tibiae with a curved spine on the inside,
covered by the long scales of the tibiae, anterior tarsi twice the length
of the tibiae, basal joint longer than the rest combined, second and
third equal; the two combined equal to about two-thirds the length of the
first, fourth and fifth very short, together about equal to the third.
Second pair with the tibiae about two-thirds as long as the tarsi, with
numerous minute spines along their sides and two stout ones at the apex;
joints of the tarsi having about the same relative proportions as in the
anterior pair. Posterior tibiae and tarsi nearly as in the second pair.
Claws of all the tarsi stout, simple.


Euschemon rafflesia.

Hesp. rafflesia, McLeay, Appendix to King's Survey of Australia, 463.

Anterior wings black above, with a transverse macular sulphur-coloured
band beyond the middle, and a submarginal one, broadest towards the apex,
composed of greenish atoms. Posterior wings with a large oval
sulphur-coloured spot in the cell, separated only by the median nervure
from a smaller one on the abdominal margin near the base, and followed by
a sub-trigonate one divided into three parts by the median nervules.
Below, the markings are nearly as above, with the addition of a greenish
line along the costa of the anterior wings, bending downwards at its
termination. Posterior wings encircled by a marginal band of the same
greenish colour.

Head black, orbits of the eyes and a line across the vertex white. Palpi
bright crimson except the last joint which is black. Antennae black.
Thorax black. Abdomen above black, the base and the edges of four of the
segments whitish, last segment bright crimson; below, whitish at the
base, crimson beyond the middle.

Exp. alar. 2 un. 9 lin.

Habitat: New Holland.


Genus SYNEMON, Doubleday.

Head round, eyes large, forehead broad.

Maxillae rather long.

Labial palpi short, clothed with dense long scales, first joint short,
second more than double the length of the first, tapering towards its
extremity, third joint about equal in length to the second, sub
cylindric, tapering towards the apex. Antennae with a stout, short club,
more or less mucronate at the apex, the mucro mostly if not always with a
tuft of scales at the point, the club sometimes appearing compressed
(perhaps from desiccation).

Thorax stout, anterior wings triangular, the costal nervure terminating
about the middle of the costa, the sub-costal terminating in five
nervules of which the first and second one are thrown off before the
disco-cellular nervule, the third almost immediately beyond it, the
fourth rather further from the third than this is from the second;
discoidal nervules almost atrophied at their origin, the first connected
with the subcostal nervure, the latter with the third median nervule by a
very short discocellular; the discoidal nervule itself almost atrophied,
running nearly parallel with and immediately above the median; third
median nervule much bent at its origin. Posterior wings sub-ovate, costal
nervure long, sub-costal terminating only in two nervules, upper
discocellular nervule wanting, discoidal nervure distinct and simple
throughout its whole course to the outer margin, with a slight bend at
its junction with the short disco-cellular which connects it with the
median nervule: bristle in the male simple, retained by a corneous
retinaculum arising from the posterior side of the sub-costal nervure,
compound in the female, retained by a bunch of scales arising from the
anterior side of the median nervure.

Anterior legs short, tibiae with a strong sharp spine about the middle,
the first joint of the tarsi about the same length as the tibiae, the
four remaining ones equal in length to the first: second pair with the
tibiae about two-thirds as long as the tarsi, bi-spinose at the
extremity, first joint of the tarsi nearly equal to all the rest:
posterior legs with the tibiae about two-thirds the length of the tarsi,
bispinose at the apex and furnished also with two spines beyond the
middle, first joint of the tarsi longer than the rest combined. Claws of
all the feet simple, tarsi spiny.

Abdomen cylindrical, arched in the male, tufted at its extremity, in the
female tapering to a point.

There seems to be a slight difference in the structure of the antennae in
this genus, in the first species the club is rounder and less mucronate
than in the two following ones, it seems also destitute of the tuft of
scales at the point.



Hesperia ? sophia, White, Appendix to Grey's Narrative, volume 2, page
474, figure 7.

Anterior wings of the male brown, clouded with grey and fuscous-brown, a
dark cloud near the base, another at the end of the discoidal cell
followed by a white dot, the nervures greyish white. Posterior wings
black, the base with an oval yellow spot, a macular yellow band beyond
the middle, followed by a series of yellow spots. Cilia yellowish towards
the anal angle.

Head greyish, antennae black varied with white. Thorax grey. Abdomen
black at the base, whitish beyond.

Female with the anterior wings nearly black, clouded with light bluish
grey scales, on the margin arranged into a band divided by a series of
black spots; extremity of the cell with a white dot; beyond the cell a
short macular band commencing on the costa. Posterior wings black, with a
large orange spot near the base, followed by a broad abbreviated,
transverse band, commencing on the abdominal margin and succeeded by a
large rounded spot of the same colour; between these and the outer margin
a series of three or four orange spots.

Head dark grey, palpi nearly white, antennae black, ringed with white.
Abdomen pale fulvous.

Exp. alar. 1 un. 10 lines.

Habitat: New Holland.

This fine species was first described by Mr. White in the Appendix to
Captain Grey's Narrative. He then expressed the opinion that it was
nearly allied to Castnia and Coronis. The generic characters given above
will fully justify this view. In fact we can only regard it as the
Australian representative of Castnia.

The under surface of this species is beautifully varied with black and
orange, but I may refer for a more detailed account to the work above


Synemon theresa.

Anterior wings above greyish, the disc varied with longitudinal pale and
fuscous dashes, beyond the middle the pale dashes almost form a
transverse band, followed by a series of dark spots, margin brown
slightly varied with white; cilia grey. Posterior wings fulvous-brown at
the base, marked with a clear fulvous spot, beyond this, fulvous with a
transverse macular band, the margin itself black; cilia grey. Below, the
anterior wings orange, with the outer margin narrowly black, before the
apex are three or four black spots. Posterior wings greyish in the male,
in the female nearly as above, but paler.

Head, thorax, and abdomen grey above, whitish below; antennae black,
ringed with white.

The posterior wings of the male are of a somewhat castaneous hue above,
and less clearly marked than those of the female.

Exp. alar. 1 un. 6 lin.


Synemon mopsa.

Anterior wings pale fuscous or brownish, with two white dashes at the
base, the discoidal cell with a white spot, beyond the cell a transverse
macular white band, in which are a series of fuscous spots; the margin
slightly shaded with pale grey. Posterior wings light chestnut brown,
with some fuscescent clouds, towards the outer margin. Below, light
brown, the anterior wings rather fulvescent, all with some darker clouds.

Head, thorax, and abdomen grey above, beneath paler: antennae black,
ringed with white.

Exp. alar. 1 un. 3 lin.

Habitat: New Holland.


Agarista leonora.

All the wings purplish black, anterior with a short bluish white striga
close to the base, followed at a short distance by a second curved one,
united to the former by a vitta of the same colour, extending along the
radial nervure; towards the extremity of the discoidal cell is a white
spot, followed by three smaller, not always well defined ones, on the
costa below and a little beyond which are four generally more distinct
ones, of which the third from the costa is largest, these are followed by
a slightly flexuous and bluish white macular striga, beyond which is a
series of from three to five spots of the same colour. Near the anal
angle is a round bluish spot, preceded, in part surrounded by a
semicircle of the same colour, between which and the second transverse
striga is an irregular spot, also bluish. Posterior wings with a macular
band, not extending to the anterior margin. Cilia of all the wings white,
spotted except at the apex of the anterior with black. Below, purplish
black, the base of all the wings slightly marked with bluish, the
anterior with a distinct white spot near the extremity of the discoidal
cell, and a macular white band beyond the middle, beyond which near the
costa is a bluish spot; posterior wings with a band corresponding to that
above, connected with outer margin by a less distinct bluish white band.

Head yellow-white, forehead and vertex black, antenna black.

Thorax black, with two transverse lines anteriorly and the sides
posteriorly yellowish, legs black, spotted with white, densely clothed
with fulvous hairs at the base of the coxae. Abdomen black, last segment
bright fulvous.

Female with markings rather more blue than in the male.

Exp. alar. 1 un. 9 lin.

Habitat: New Holland.


Glaucopis ganymede.

All the wings black, the anterior with a small diaphanous spot near the
base, below the median nervure; a larger one before the middle extending
from the sub-costal to the radial nervure, divided by the median nervure
into two unequal portions, the extremity of the cell marked by a
crescent-shaped, metallic blue spot, beyond which are two diaphanous
spots, one placed just below the origin of the second sub-costal nervule,
the other much larger, divided by the last median nervule. Posterior
wings with a white, partly diaphanous spot, close to the base, and a
transverse diaphanous band a little beyond the middle.

Head black, face and orbits of the eyes white, antennae and palpi black.
Thorax black, legs black except the coxae which are white. Abdomen
crimson, the first and second segments both above and below, the third
above, of a sooty black, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh margined with
black above, anteriorly, eighth entirely crimson.

Female wanting the small spot near the base of the anterior wings, the
third segment of the abdomen slightly bronzed, coxae black.

Exp. alar. 2 unc. 6 lin.

Habitat: New Holland.




Figure 1. 2. Euschemon rafflesia (MacLeay).

a. b. Head of Euschemon rafflesia (MacLeay).

c.* Base of wings of Euschemon rafflesia (MacLeay) to show the bristle
and retinaculum.

d. Anterior wings of Euschemon rafflesia (MacLeay).

Figure 3. Glaucopis ganymede, Doubleday.

Figure 4. Agarista leonora, Doubleday.

e. Anterior wing of Agarista leonora, Doubleday.

Figure 5. Synemon sophia (White).

Figure 6. Synemon theresa, Doubleday.

Figure 7. Synemon mopsa, Doubleday.

f. Palpus of Synemon.

g. Head and antennae of Synemon (Syn. Sophia.)

h. Head and antennae of Synemon.

i. k. Head of Synemon.

l. Base of wings of Synemon, to show the bristle and retinaculum in the

m. Base of wings of Synemon, to show the bristle and retinaculum in the

n. Anterior wing of Synemon.

(*Footnote. The retinaculum is not correctly represented in this figure,
it arises from the anterior side of the sub-costal nervure. The neuration
of Synemon is not quite correctly given at figure n. These errors were in
consequence of my absence from town when the details on this plate were


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Discoveries in Australia, Volume 1. - With an Account of the Coasts and Rivers Explored and Surveyed During - The Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, in the Years 1837-38-39-40-41-42-43. - By Command of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. Also a Narrative - Of Captain Owen Stanley's Visits to the Islands in the Arafura Sea." ***

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