A Voyage to Terra Australis
Part 1 out of 9
Produced by Col Choat
Notes referred to in the book (*) are shown in square brackets ()
at the end of the paragraph in which the note is indicated.
Italics are indicated by underscore characters (_) at the
start and finish of the italicised words.
References to the charts have been retained though, of course,
the charts are not present in the text only version of the ebook.
The original punctuation and spelling and the use of italics and capital
letters to highlight words and phrases have, for the most part, been
retained. I think they help maintain the "feel" of the book, which was
published nearly 200 years ago. Flinders notes in the preface that "I
heard it declared that a man who published a quarto volume without an
index ought to be set in the pillory, and being unwilling to incur the
full rigour of this sentence, a running title has been affixed to all the
pages; on one side is expressed the country or coast, and on the opposite
the particular part where the ship is at anchor or which is the immediate
subject of examination; this, it is hoped, will answer the main purpose
of an index, without swelling the volumes." This treatment is, of course,
not possible, where there are no defined pages. However, Flinders' page
headings are included at appropriate places where they seem relevant.
These, together with the Notes which, in the book, appear in the margin,
are represented as line headings with a blank line before and after them.
A VOYAGE TO TERRA AUSTRALIS
UNDERTAKEN FOR THE PURPOSE OF COMPLETING THE DISCOVERY OF THAT
AND PROSECUTED IN THE YEARS
1801, 1802 AND 1803,
IN HIS MAJESTY'S SHIP THE INVESTIGATOR,
AND SUBSEQUENTLY IN THE ARMED VESSEL PORPOISE
AND CUMBERLAND SCHOONER.
WITH AN ACCOUNT OF THE SHIPWRECK OF THE PORPOISE,
ARRIVAL OF THE CUMBERLAND AT MAURITIUS, AND IMPRISONMENT OF THE
COMMANDER DURING SIX YEARS AND A HALF IN THAT ISLAND.
BY MATTHEW FLINDERS
COMMANDER OF THE INVESTIGATOR.
IN 2 VOLUMES WITH AN ATLAS.
PRINTED BY W. BULMER AND CO. CLEVELAND ROW,
AND PUBLISHED BY G. AND W. NICOL, BOOKSELLERS TO HIS MAJESTY,
[Facsimile Edition, 1966]
The Right Hon. George John, Earl Spencer,
The Right Hon. John, Earl of St Vincent,
The Right Hon. Charles Philip Yorke, and
The Right Hon. Robert Saunders, Viscount Melville,
who, as First Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty,
successively honoured the Investigator's voyage
with their patronage,
This account of it is respectfully dedicated,
most obliged, and
most obedient humble servant,
20 May 1814.
The publication in 1814 of a voyage commenced in 1801, and of which all
the essential parts were concluded within three years, requires some
explanation. Shipwreck and a long imprisonment prevented my arrival in
England until the latter end of 1810; much had then been done to forward
the account, and the charts in particular were nearly prepared for the
engraver; but it was desirable that the astronomical observations, upon
which so much depended, should undergo a re-calculation, and the lunar
distances have the advantage of being compared with the observations made
at the same time at Greenwich; and in July 1811, the necessary authority
was obtained from the Board of Longitude. A considerable delay hence
arose, and it was prolonged by the Greenwich observations being found to
differ so much from the calculated places of the sun and moon, given in
the Nautical Almanacks of 1801, 2 and 3, as to make considerable
alterations in the longitudes of places settled during the voyage; and a
reconstruction of all the charts becoming thence indispensable to
accuracy, I wished also to employ in it corrections of another kind,
which before had been adopted only in some particular instances.
A variety of observations with the compass had shown the magnetic needle
to differ from itself sometimes as much as six, and even seven degrees,
in or very near the same place, and the differences appeared to be
subject to regular laws; but it was so extraordinary in the present
advanced state of navigation, that they should not have been before
discovered and a mode of preventing or correcting them ascertained, that
my deductions, and almost the facts were distrusted; and in the first
construction of the charts I had feared to deviate much from the usual
practice. Application was now made to the Admiralty for experiments to be
tried with the compass on board different ships; and the results in five
cases being conformable to one of the three laws before deduced, which
alone was susceptible of proof in England, the whole were adopted without
reserve, and the variations and bearings taken throughout the voyage
underwent a systematic correction. From these causes the reconstruction
of the charts could not be commenced before 1813, which, when the extent
of them is considered, will explain why the publication did not take
place sooner; but it is hoped that the advantage in point of accuracy
will amply compensate the delay.
Besides correcting the lunar distances and the variations and bearings,
there are some other particulars, both in the account of the voyage and
in the Atlas, where the practice of former navigators has not been
strictly followed. Latitudes, longitudes, and bearings, so important to
the seaman and _un_interesting to the general reader, have hitherto been
interwoven in the text; they are here commonly separated from it, by
which the one will be enabled to find them more readily, and the other
perceive at a glance what may be passed. I heard it declared that a man
who published a quarto volume without an index ought to be set in the
pillory, and being unwilling to incur the full rigour of this sentence, a
running title has been affixed to all the pages; on one side is expressed
the country or coast, and on the opposite the particular part where the
ship is at anchor or which is the immediate subject of examination; this,
it is hoped, will answer the main purpose of an index, without swelling
the volumes. Longitude is one of the most essential, but at the same time
least certain _data_ in hydrography; the man of science therefore
requires something more than the general result of observations before
giving his unqualified assent to their accuracy, and the progress of
knowledge has of late been such, that a commander now wishes to know the
foundation upon which he is to rest his confidence and the safety of his
ship; to comply with this laudable desire, the particular results of the
observations by which the most important points on each coast are fixed
in longitude, as also the means used to obtain them, are given at the end
of the volume wherein that coast is described., as being there of most
The deviations in the Atlas from former practice, or rather the
additional marks used, are intended to make the charts contain as full a
journal of the voyage as can be conveyed in this form; a chart is the
seaman's great, and often sole guide, and if the information in it can be
rendered more complete without introducing confusion, the advantage will
be admitted by those who are not opposers of all improvement. In closely
following a track laid down upon a chart, seamen often run at night,
unsuspicious of danger if none be marked; but some parts of that track
were run in the night also, and there may consequently be rocks or
shoals, as near even as half a mile, which might prove fatal to them; it
therefore seems proper that night tracks should be distinguished from
those of the day, and they are so in this Atlas, I believe, for the first
time. A distinction is made between the situations at noon where the
latitude was observed, and those in which none could be obtained; and the
positions fixed in longitude by the time keepers are also marked in the
track, as are the few points where a latitude was obtained from the moon.
It has appeared to me, that to show the direction and strength of the
winds, with the kind of weather we had when running along these coasts,
would be an useful addition to the charts; not only as it would enable
those who may navigate by them alone to form a judgment of what is to be
expected at the same season, but also that it may be seen how far
circumstances prevented several parts of the coast being laid down so
correctly as others. This has been done by single arrows, wherever they
could be marked without confusion; they are more or less feathered,
proportionate to the strength of wind intended to be expressed, and the
arrows themselves give the direction. Under each is a short or abridged
word, denoting the weather; when this weather prevailed in a more than
usual degree a line is drawn under the word, and when in an excessive
degree there are two lines. Single arrows being thus appropriated to the
winds, the tides and currents are shown by double arrows, between which
is usually marked the rate per hour.
On the land, the shading of the hills gives a general idea of their
elevation, and it has been assisted by saying how far particular hills
and capes are visible from a ship's deck in fine weather; this will be
useful to a seaman on first making the land, be a better criterion to
judge of its height, and those hills not so marked may be more nearly
estimated by comparison. Behind different parts of the coast is given a
short description of their appearance, which it is conceived will be
gratifying to scientific, and useful to professional men. The capes and
hills whose positions are fixed by cross bearings taken on shore or from
well ascertained points in the track, as also the stations whence
bearings were observed with a theodolite, have distinguishing marks;
which, with all others not before in common use, are explained on the
General Chart, Plate I.
To have laid down no more than the lands and dangers seen in the
Investigator and other vessels under my command, would have left several
open spaces, and obliged the seaman to have recourse to other charts
where the difference of positions might have perplexed; the discoveries
and examinations of former navigators which come within the sphere of
each sheet, are therefore incorporated with, or added to mine, but so
marked as to be distinctly known. In making the combination, alterations
in their longitudes were frequently necessary to agreement; and that they
might be made with every regard to accuracy, the charts of the former
discoveries were compared with the astronomical observations, narratives,
or manuscript journals, when such could be had, and the alterations
introduced where there seemed to be the best authority. This has been
done with the charts of the east coast of New South Wales, published by
Mr. Dalrymple from the manuscripts, as it should appear, of captain Cook;
and since it may be thought presumptuous in me to have made alterations
in any work of so great a master, this case is selected for a more
Time keepers were in their infancy in 1768, when captain Cook sailed upon
his first voyage, and he was not then furnished with them; his longitude
was therefore regulated only by occasional observations of lunar
distances and some few of Jupiter's satellites, which even in the present
improved state of instruments and tables, require to be connected by time
keepers before satisfactory conclusions can be drawn. Errors of greater
or less magnitude were thence unavoidable; at Cape Gloucester, where I
quitted the East Coast, my longitude was 201/2' greater than captain Cook's
chart--at Cape York where the survey was again resumed, it was 581/2; and
to incorporate the intermediate parts, it was necessary not only to carry
his scale of longitude 201/2' more west, but also to reduce the extent of
the coast. The chart was compared with the narrative and chart in
Hawkesworth, and the log book of the Endeavour with them all; when it was
found that reductions might be made in various places upon one or more of
the above authorities, for differences between them were frequent and
sometimes considerable, and in one instance alone a reduction of 12' in
the chart was obtained. It is said in Hawkesworth (III, 202), "As soon as
we got within side the reef (through Providential Channel) we anchored in
nineteen fathom;" and afterwards (p. 204), that the channel, "bore E. N.
E. distant ten or twelve miles." In the first chart the distance is 141/2
miles, and nearly the same in that which accompanies the narrative; but
in the log book it is said to be 21/2 miles only, which corresponds with
having anchored as soon as they got within the reef, and has been
adopted. In some cases it was not easy to make a choice between these
different authorities; but I have commonly followed the narrative and log
book when they were found to specify with precision, and they generally
produced such corrections to the chart as brought the longitudes of
places nearer to my positions. Captain Cook's track in Plates XI. XII.
and XIII. is laid down afresh from the log book; and many soundings, with
some other useful particulars not to be found in the original chart, are
introduced, for the benefit of any navigator who may follow the same
The reconstruction of the charts in the Atlas was done upon various
scales, but that no error might escape unseen, the least was of _ten_
inches to a degree of longitude; they were then reduced by Mr. Thomas
Arrowsmith to four inches, this being thought sufficiently large for a
general sailing scale; and each reduced sheet was scrupulously compared
by me with the original before it went into the engravers hands, and the
proof impressions with the drawing until no errors were found. To those
who may read this voyage with a view to geographical information, a
frequent reference to the Atlas is earnestly recommended; for many
particulars are there marked which it would have been tedious to
describe, and should any thing appear obscure in the narrative the charts
will generally afford an elucidation.
From the general tenour of the explanations here given, it will perhaps
be inferred that the perfection of the Atlas has been the principal
object of concern; in fact, having no pretension to authorship, the
writing of the narrative, though by much the most troublesome part of my
labour, was not that upon which any hope of reputation was founded; a
polished style was therefore not attempted, but some pains have been
taken to render it clearly intelligible. The first quire of my manuscript
was submitted to the judgment of a few literary friends, and I hope to
have profited by the corrections they had the kindness to make; but
finding these to bear more upon redundancies than inaccuracy of
expression, I determined to confide in the indulgence of the public,
endeavour to improve as the work advanced, and give my friends no further
trouble. Matter, rather than manner, was the object of my anxiety; and if
the reader shall be satisfied with the selection and arrangement, and not
think the information destitute of such interest as might be expected
from the subject, the utmost of my hopes will be accomplished.
* * *
N.B. Throughout this narrative _the variation has been allowed upon the
bearings, and also in the direction of winds, tides, etc._; the whole are
therefore to be considered with reference to the true poles of the earth,
unless it be otherwise particularly expressed; and perhaps in some few
cases of the ship's head when variations are taken, where the expression
_by compass_, or _magnetic_, may have been omitted.
A VOYAGE TO TERRA AUSTRALIS VOLUME I
TABLE OF CONTENTS. (For both volumes)
IN THE FIRST VOLUME.
PRIOR DISCOVERIES IN TERRA AUSTRALIS.
Discoveries of the Duyfhen; of
Tasman; and of
three Dutch vessels.
Bligh and Portlock; and
Bampton and Alt.
Discoveries of Hartog:
of the Ship Leeuwin:
Discovery of Nuyts.
Examination of Vancouver:
EAST COAST, WITH VAN DIEMEN'S LAND.
Discoveries of Tasman;
Marion and Furneaux.
Observations of Cook;
Bligh; and Cox.
Discovery of D'Entrecasteaux.
Boat expeditions of Bass and Flinders.
Discoveries of Bass to the southward of Port Jackson;
and of Flinders and Bass.
Examinations to the northward by Flinders.
TRANSACTIONS FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE VOYAGE
TO THE DEPARTURE FROM PORT JACKSON.
Appointment to the Investigator.
Outfit of the ship.
Instruments, books, and charts supplied, with articles for presents and
Liberal conduct of the Hon. East-India Company.
Passage round to Spithead.
The Roar sand.
Instructions for the execution of the voyage.
French passport, and orders in consequence.
Officers and company of the Investigator, and men of science who
Account of the time keepers.
Departure from Spithead.
Variation of the compass.
Arrival at Madeira.
Remarks on Funchal.
Political state of the island.
Latitude and longitude.
Departure from Madeira.
The island St. Antonio.
Foul winds; and remarks upon them.
The ship leaky.
Search made for Isle Sable.
Saxemberg sought for.
Variation of the compass.
State of the ship's company, on arriving at the Cape of Good Hope.
Refitment at Simon's Bay.
Observatory set Up.
The astronomer quits the expedition.
Rates Of the time keepers.
Some remarks on Simon's Bay.
Departure from False Bay.
Remarks on the passage to Terra Australis.
Gravity of sea-water tried.
Cape Leeuwin, and the coast from thence to King George's Sound.
Arrival in the Sound.
Examination of the harbours.
Country, soil, and productions.
Native inhabitants: Language and anatomical measurement.
Astronomical and nautical observations.
Departure from King George's Sound.
Coast from thence to the Archipelago of the Recherche.
Discovery of Lucky Bay and Thistle's Cove.
The surrounding country, and islands of the Archipelago.
Astronomical and nautical observations.
A salt lake.
Coast from the Archipelago to the end of Nuyts' Land.
Arrival in a bay of the unknown coast.
Remarks on the preceding examination.
Departure from thence.
Arrival at the Isles of St. Francis.
Correspondence between the winds and the marine barometer.
Examination of the other parts of Nuyts' Archipelago, and of the main
The Isles of St Peter.
Return to St. Francis.
General remarks on Nuyts' Archipelago.
Identification of the islands in the Dutch chart.
Prosecution of the discovery of the unknown coast.
Anchorage at Waldegrave's and at Flinders' Islands.
The Investigator's Group.
Differences in the magnetic needle.
Anchorage at Thistle's Island.
Anchorage in Memory Cove.
Cape Catastrophe, and the surrounding country.
Anchorage in Port Lincoln, and refitment of the ship.
Remarks on the country and inhabitants.
Astronomical and nautical observations.
Departure from Port Lincoln.
Sir Joseph Banks' Group.
Examination of the coast, northward.
The ship found to be in a gulph.
Anchorage near the head of the gulph.
Excursion to Mount Brown.
Departure from the head, and examination of the east side of the gulph.
Verification of the time keepers.
General remarks on the gulph.
Cape Spencer and the Althorpe Isles.
New land discovered: Anchorage there.
General remarks on Kangaroo Island.
Departure from Kangaroo Island.
Examination of the main coast, from Cape Spencer eastward.
The Investigator's Strait.
A new gulph discovered. Anchorage at, and examination of the head.
Remarks on the surrounding land.
Return down the gulph.
Return to Kangaroo Island.
Boat expedition to Pelican Lagoon.
Kangaroo Island quitted.
The coast from Cape Jervis, eastward.
Meeting, and communication with Le Geographe.
Remarks upon the French discoveries on the South Coast.
Examination of the coast resumed.
The capes Bernouilli and Jaffa.
Differences in the bearings on tacking.
Cape Buffon, the eastern limit of the French discovery.
The capes Northumberland and Bridgewater of captain Grant.
Danger from a south-west gale.
King's Island, in Bass' Strait: Anchorage there.
Some account of the island.
New Year's Isles.
Cape Otway, and the north-west entrance to Bass' Strait.
Anchorage in, and examination of Port Phillip.
The country and inhabitants.
Departure from Port Phillip.
Wilson's Promontory, and its isles.
Kent's Groups, and Furneaux's Isles.
Hills behind the Long Beach.
Arrival at Port Jackson.
Health of the ship's company.
Refitment and supply of the ship.
Price of provisions.
Arrangement for the succeeding part of the voyage.
Astronomical and nautical observations.
Of the winds and currents on the south coast of Terra Australis,
and in Bass' Strait.
Usual progress of the gales.
Proper seasons for sailing eastward,
and for going westward:
best places of shelter in each case,
with some instructions for the Strait.
Account of the observations by which the _Longitudes_ of places on the
north coast of Terra Australis have been settled.
IN THE SECOND VOLUME.
TRANSACTIONS DURING THE CIRCUMNAVIGATION OF TERRA AUSTRALIS,
FROM THE TIME OF LEAVING PORT JACKSON TO THE RETURN TO THAT PORT.
Departure from Port Jackson, with the Lady Nelson.
Examination of various parts of the East Coast, from thence to Sandy Cape.
Anchorage in Hervey's Bay, where the Lady Nelson joins after a separation.
Some account of the inhabitants.
Variations of the compass.
Run to Bustard Bay.
Port Curtis discovered, and examined.
Some account of the surrounding country.
Arrival in Keppel Bay, and examination of its branches,
one of which leads into Port Curtis.
Some account of the natives, and of the country round Keppel Bay.
Astronomical and nautical observations.
The Keppel Isles, and coast to Cape Manifold.
A new port discovered and examined.
A new passage into Shoal-water Bay.
View from Mount Westall.
A boat lost.
The upper parts of Shoal-water Bay examined.
Some account of the country and inhabitants.
General remarks on the bay.
Astronomical and nautical observations.
Departure from Shoal-water Bay, and anchorage in Thirsty Sound.
Boat excursion to the nearest Northumberland Islands.
Remarks on Thirsty Sound.
Observations at West Hill, Broad Sound.
Anchorage near Upper Head.
Expedition to the head of Broad Sound:
another round Long Island.
Remarks on Broad Sound, and the surrounding country.
Advantages for a colony.
Astronomical observations, and remarks on the high tides.
The Percy Isles: anchorage at No. 2.
Remarks on the Percy Isles; with nautical observations.
Coral reefs: courses amongst them during eleven days search
for a passage through, to sea.
Description of a reef.
Anchorage at an eastern Cumberland Isle.
The Lady Nelson sent back to Port Jackson.
Continuation of coral reefs;
and courses amongst them during three other days.
An opening discovered, and the reefs quitted.
General remarks on the Great Barrier;
with some instruction relative to the opening.
Passage from the Barrier Reefs to Torres' Strait.
Reefs named Eastern Fields.
Pandora's Entrance to the Strait.
Anchorage at Murray's Islands.
Communication with the inhabitants.
Notions on the formation of coral islands in general.
Prince of Wales's Islands, with remarks on them.
Entrance into the Gulph of Carpentaria.
Review of the passage through Torres' Strait.
Examination of the coast on the east side of the Gulph of Carpentaria.
Landing at Coen River.
Head of the Gulph.
Anchorage at Sweers' Island.
Interview with Indians at Horse-shoe Island.
The ship found to be in a state of decay.
General remarks on the islands at the Head of the Gulph,
and their inhabitants.
Astronomical and nautical observations.
Departure from Sweers' Island.
South side of C. Van Diemen examined.
Anchorage at Bountiful Island: turtle and sharks there.
Land of C. Van Diemen proved to be an island.
Examination of the main coast to Cape Vanderlin.
That cape found to be one of a group of islands.
Examination of the islands; their soil, etc.
Monument of the natives.
Traces of former visitors to these parts.
Astronomical and nautical observations.
Departure from Sir Edward Pellew's Group.
Coast from thence westward.
Cape Maria found to be an island.
Limmen's Bight. Coast northward to Cape Barrow: landing on it.
Circumnavigation of Groote Eylandt.
Specimens of native art at Chasm Island.
Anchorage in North-west Bay, Groote Eylandt;
with remarks and nautical observations.
Blue-mud Bay. Skirmish with the natives.
Coast to Caledon Bay.
Occurrences in that bay, with remarks on the country and inhabitants.
Astronomical and nautical observations.
Departure from Caledon Bay.
Cape Wilberforce, and Bromby's Isles.
The English Company's Islands: meeting there with vessels from Macassar.
The Weasel's Islands.
Further examination of the North Coast postponed.
Arrival at Coepang Bay, in Timor.
Remarks and astronomical observations.
Departure from Timor.
Search made for the Trial Rocks.
Anchorage in Goose-Island Bay.
Interment of the boatswain, and sickly state of the ship's company.
Escape from the bay, and passage through Bass' Strait.
Arrival at Port Jackson.
Losses in men.
Survey and condemnation of the ship.
Plans for continuing the survey;
but preparation finally made for returning to England.
State of the colony at Port Jackson.
Of the winds, currents, and navigation along the east coast of Terra
Australis, both without and within the tropic; also on the north coast.
Directions for sailing from Port Jackson, through Torres' Strait, towards
India or the Cape of Good Hope.
Advantages of this passage over that round New Guinea.
OCCURRENCES FROM THE TIME OF QUITTING PORT JACKSON IN 1803,
TO ARRIVING IN ENGLAND IN 1810.
Departure from Port Jackson in the Porpoise,
accompanied by the Bridgewater and Cato.
The Cato's Bank.
Shipwreck of the Porpoise and Cato in the night.
The crews get on a sand bank; where they are left by the Bridgewater.
Regulations on the bank.
Measures adopted for getting back to Port Jackson.
Description of Wreck-Reef Bank.
Remarks on the loss of M. de La Perouse.
Departure from Wreck-Reef Bank in a boat.
The Coast of New South Wales reached, and followed.
Natives at Point Look-out.
Landing near Smoky Cape; and again near Port Hunter.
Arrival at Port Jackson on the thirteenth day.
Return to Wreck Reef with a ship and two schooners.
Arrangements at the Bank.
Account of the reef, with nautical and other remarks.
Passage in the Cumberland to Torres' Strait.
Eastern Fields and Pandora's Entrance.
New channels amongst the reefs.
Anchorage at Half-way Island, and under the York Isles.
Prince of Wales's Islands further examined.
Passage across the Gulph of Carpentaria.
Anchorage at Wessel's Islands.
Passage to Coepang Bay, in Timor; and to Mauritius,
where the leakiness of the Cumberland makes it necessary to stop.
Anchorage at the Baye du Cap, and departure for Port Louis.
Arrival at Port Louis (or North-West) in Mauritius.
Interview with the French governor.
Seizure of the Cumberland, with the charts and journals of the
Investigator's voyage; and imprisonment of the commander and people.
Letters to the governor, with his answer.
Restitution of some books and charts.
Friendly act of the English interpreter.
Propositions made to the governor.
Humane conduct of captain Bergeret.
Reflections on a voyage of discovery.
Removal to the Maison Despeaux or Garden Prison.
Prisoners in the Maison Despeaux or Garden Prison.
Application to admiral Linois.
Spy-glasses and swords taken.
Some papers restored.
Opinions upon the detention of the Cumberland.
Letter of captain Baudin.
An English squadron arrives off Mauritius: its consequences.
Arrival of a French officer with despatches, and observations thereon.
Passages in the Moniteur, with remarks.
Mr. Aken liberated.
Arrival of cartels from India.
Applicatiou made by the marquis Wellesley.
Different treatment of English and French prisoners.
Prizes brought to Mauritius in sixteen months.
Departure of all prisoners of war.
Permission to quit the Garden Prison.
Journey into the interior of Mauritius.
The governor's country seat.
Residence at the Refuge, in that Part of Williems Plains called Vacouas.
Its situation and climate, with the mountains, rivers, cascades, and
views near it.
The Mare aux Vacouas and Grand Bassin.
State of cultivation and produce of Vacouas;
its black ebony, game, and wild fruits; and freedom from noxious insects.
Occupations at Vacouas.
Hospitality of the inhabitants.
Letters from England.
Refusal to be sent to France repeated.
Account of two hurricanes, of a subterraneous stream and circular pit.
Habitation of La Perouse.
Letters to the French marine minister, National Institute, etc.
Letters from Sir Edward Pellew.
Caverns in the Plains of St. Pierre.
Visit to Port Louis.
Narrative transmitted to England.
Letter to captain Bergeret on his departure for France.
Effects of repeated disappointment on the mind.
Arrival of a cartel, and of letters from India.
Letter of the French marine minister.
Restitution of papers.
Applications for liberty evasively answered.
Attempted seizure of private letters.
Memorial to the minister.
Encroachments made at Paris on the Investigator's discoveries.
Expected attack on Mauritius produces an abridgment of Liberty.
Arrival of another cartel from India.
State of the public finances in Mauritius.
French cartel sails for the Cape of Good Hope.
A prospect of liberty, which is officially confirmed.
Occurrences during eleven weeks residence in the town of Port Louis
and on board the Harriet cartel.
Parole and certificates.
Departure from Port Louis, and embarkation in the Otter.
Eulogium on the inhabitants of Mauritius.
Review of the conduct of general De Caen.
Passage to the Cape of Good Hope, and after seven weeks stay,
from thence to England.
Account of the observations by which the _Longitudes_ of places on the
east and north coasts of Terra Australis have been settled.
On the errors of the compass arising from attractions within the ship,
and others from the magnetism of land; with precautions for obviating
their effects in marine surveying.
General Remarks, geographical and systematical, on the Botany of Terra
Australis. By ROBERT BROWN,
F. R. S. _Acad. Reg. Scient. Berolin. Corresp._ NATURALIST TO THE VOYAGE.
A LIST OF THE PLATES, WITH DIRECTIONS TO THE BINDER.
IN VOLUME I.
View from the south side of King George's Sound.
Entrance of Port Lincoln, taken from behind Memory Cove.
View on the north side of Kangaroo Island.
View of Port Jackson, taken from the South Head.
IN VOLUME II.
View of Port Bowen, from behind the Watering Gully.
View of Murray's Islands, with the natives offering to barter.
View in Sir Edward Pellew's Group--Gulph of Carpentaria.
View of Malay Road, from Pobassoo's Island.
View of Wreck-Reef Bank, taken at low water.
IN THE ATLAS.
I. General Chart of TERRA AUSTRALIS and the neighbouring lands,
from latitude 7 deg. to 441/2 deg. south, and longitude 102 deg. to 165 deg. east.
II. Particular chart of the South Coast, from Cape Leeuwin to
the Archipelago of the Recherche.
III. Ditto from the Archipelago of the Recherche to past the head
of the great Australian Bight.
IV. Ditto from the head of the great Australian Bight to past
V. Ditto from near Encounter Bay to Cape Otway at the west entrance
of Bass' Strait.
VI. Ditto from Cape Otway, past Cape Howe, to Barmouth Creek.
VII. Particular chart of Van Diemen's Land.
VIII. Particular chart of the East Coast, from Barmouth Creek
to past Cape Hawke.
IX. Ditto from near Cape Hawke to past Glass-house Bay.
X. Ditto from Glass-house Bay to Broad Sound.
XI. Ditto from Broad Sound to Cape Grafton.
XII. Ditto from Cape Grafton to the Isle of Direction.
XIII. Particular chart of the East Coast from the I. of Direction
to Cape York, and of the North Coast from thence to Pera Head;
including Torres Strait and parts of New Guinea.
XIV. A particular chart of the North Coast, from Torres' Strait
to Point Dale and the Wessel's Islands, including the whole
of the Gulph of Carpentaria.
XV. The north-west side of the Gulph of Carpentaria, on a large scale.
XVI. Particular chart of Timor and some neighbouring islands.
XVII. Fourteen views of headlands, etc. on the south coast
of Terra Australis.
XVIII. Thirteen views on the east and north coasts,
and one of Samow Strait.
Ten plates of selected plants from different parts of Terra Australis.
THE READER IS REQUESTED TO CORRECT THE FOLLOWING ERRATA.
[Errors have been corrected in this ebook]
The voyages which had been made, during the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, by Dutch and by English navigators, had successively brought
to light various extensive coasts in the southern hemisphere, which were
thought to be united; and to comprise a land, which must be nearly equal
in magnitude to the whole of Europe. To this land, though known to be
separated from all other great portions of the globe, geographers were
disposed to give the appellation of Continent: but doubts still existed,
of the continuity of its widely extended shores; and it was urged, that,
as our knowledge of some parts was not founded upon well authenticated
information, and we were in total ignorance of some others, these coasts
might, instead of forming one great land, be no other than parts of
different large islands.
The establishment, in 1788, of a British colony on the easternmost, and
last discovered, of these new regions, had added that degree of interest
to the question of their continuity, which a mother country takes in
favour, even, of her outcast children, to know the form, extent, and
general nature of the land, where they may be placed. The question had,
therefore, ceased to be one in which geography was alone concerned: it
claimed the paternal consideration of the father of all his people, and
the interests of the national commerce seconded the call for
Accordingly, the following voyage was undertaken by command of HIS
MAJESTY, in the year 1801; in a ship of 334 tons, which received the
appropriate name of the INVESTIGATOR; and, besides great objects of
clearing up the doubt respecting the unity of these southern regions, and
of opening therein fresh sources to commerce, and new ports to seamen, it
was intended, that the voyage should contribute to the advancement of
natural knowledge in various branches; and that some parts of the
neighbouring seas should he visited, wherein geography and navigation had
still much to desire.
The vast regions to which this voyage was principally directed,
comprehend, in the western part, the early discoveries of the Dutch,
under the name of NEW HOLLAND; and in the east, the coasts explored by
British navigators, and named NEW SOUTH WALES. It has not, however, been
unusual to apply the first appellation to both regions; but to continue
this, would be almost as great an injustice to the British nation, whose
seamen have had so large a share in the discovery, as it would be to the
Dutch, were New South Wales to be so extended. This appears to have been
felt by a neighbouring, and even rival, nation; whose writers commonly
speak of these countries under the general term of _Terres Australes_. In
fact, the original name, used by the Dutch themselves until some time
after Tasman's second voyage, in 1644, was _Terra Australis_, or _Great
South Land_; and when it was displaced by New Holland, the new term was
applied only to the parts lying _westward_ of a meridian line, passing
through Arnhem's Land on the north., and near the isles of St. Francis
and St. Peter, on the south: all to the eastward, including the shores of
the Gulph of Carpentaria, still remained as Terra Australis. This appears
from a chart published by THEVENOT, in 1663; which, he says, "was
originally taken from that done in inlaid work, upon the pavement of the
new Stadt-House at Amsterdam." * The same thing is to be inferred from the
notes of Burgomaster WITSEN, in 1705; of which there will be occasion to
speak in the sequel.
[* "La carte que l'on a mise icy, tire sa premiere origine de celle que
l'on a fait tailler de pieces rapportees, sur le pave de la nouvelle
Maison-de-Ville d'Amsterdam." _Relations de divers Voyages
It is necessary, however, to geographical precision, that so soon as New
Holland and New South Wales were known to form one land, there should be
a general name applicable to the whole; and this essential point having
been ascertained in the present voyage, with a degree of certainty
sufficient to authorise the measure, I have, with the concurrence of
opinions entitled to deference, ventured upon the re-adoption of the
_original_ TERRA AUSTRALIS; and of this term I shall hereafter make use,
when speaking of New Holland and New South Wales, in a collective sense;
and when using it in the most extensive signification, the adjacent
isles, including that of Van Diemen, must be understood to be
There is no probability, that any other detached body of land, of nearly
equal extent, will ever be found in a more southern latitude; the name
Terra Australis will, therefore, remain descriptive of the geographical
importance of this country, and of its situation on the globe: it has
antiquity to recommend it; and, having no reference to either of the two
claiming nations, appears to be less objectionable than any other which
could have been selected.*
[* Had I permitted myself any innovation upon the original term, it would
have been to convert it into AUSTRALIA; as being more agreeable to the
ear, and an assimilation to the names of the other great portions of the
In dividing New South Wales from New Holland, I have been guided by the
British patent to the first governor of the new colony, at Port Jackson.
In this patent, a meridian, nearly corresponding to the ancient line of
separation, between New Holland and Terra Australis, has been made the
western limit of New South Wales; and is fixed at the longitude of 135 deg.
east, from the meridian of Greenwich. From hence, the British territory
extends eastward, to the islands of the _Pacific_, or _Great Ocean_: its
northern limit is at _Cape York_; and the extremity of the southern _Van
Diemen's Land_, is its opposite boundary.
The various discoveries which had been made upon the coasts of Terra
Australis, antecedently to the present voyage, are of dates as widely
distant, as are the degrees of confidence to which they are respectively
entitled; the accounts, also, lie scattered through various books in
different languages; and many are still in manuscript. It has, therefore,
been judged, that a succinct history of these discoveries would be
acceptable to the public; and would form an appropriate introduction to a
voyage, whose principal object was to complete what they had left
unfinished. Such a history will not only, it is hoped, be found
interesting, but, from the occasions it will furnish to point out what
remained to be done at the beginning of the nineteenth century, will
satisfy a question which may be asked: Why it should have been thought
necessary to send another expedition to explore the coasts of a country,
concerning which it has been said, near thirty years ago--"It is no
longer a doubt, that we have now a full knowledge of the whole
circumference of this vast body of land, this fifth part of the world." *
An expression, which the learned writer could have intended to apply only
to the general extent of the new continent, and not to the particular
formation of every part of the coasts; since the chart, which accompanies
the voyage of which he was writing the introduction, represents much of
the south coast, as being totally unknown.
[* _Cook's third Voyage_, Introduction. p. xv.]
In tracing a historical sketch of the previous discoveries, I shall not
dwell upon such as depend upon conjecture and probability, but come
speedily to those, for which there are authentic documents. In this
latter, and solely important, class, the articles extracted from voyages,
which are in the hands of the public, will be abridged to their leading
heads; and the reader referred, for the details, to the original works;
but in such articles as have either not appeared before, or but very
imperfectly, in an English dress, as also in those extracted from
unpublished manuscripts, a wider range will be taken: in these, so far as
the documents go, on the one hand, and the limits of an introduction can
allow, on the other, no interesting fact will be omitted.
Conformably to this plan, no attempt will be made to investigate the
claims of the _Chinese_ to the earliest knowledge of Terra Australis;
which some, from the chart of _Marco Polo_, have thought they possessed.
Nor yet will much be said upon the plea advanced by the Abbe PREVOST,*
and after him by the President DEBROSSES,** in favour of _Paulmier de
Gonneville_, a French captain; for whom they claim the honour of having
discovered Terra Australis, in 1504. It is evident from the proofs they
adduce, that it was not to any part of this country, but to Madagascar,
that Gonneville was driven; and from whence he brought his prince
Essomeric, to Normandy.
[* _Histoire generale des Voyages_. Tome XVI. (a la Haye) p. 7-14.]
[** _Histoire des Navigations aux Terres Australes_. Tome I. p. 102-120.]
Within these few years, however, two curious manuscript charts have been
brought to light; which have favoured an opinion, that Terra Australis
had really been visited by Europeans, nearly a century before any
authentic accounts speak of its discovery. One of these charts is in
French, without date; and from its almost exact similitude, is probably
either the original, or a copy of the other, which is in English; and
bears, with the date 1542, a dedication to the KING OF ENGLAND.* In it,
an extensive country is marked to the southward of the Moluccas, under
the name of GREAT JAVA; which agrees nearer with the position and extent
of Terra Australis, than with any other land; and the direction given to
some parts of the coast, approaches too near to the truth, for the whole
to have been marked from conjecture alone. But, combining this with the
exaggerated extent of Great Java in a southern direction, and the animals
and houses painted upon the shores, such as have not been any where seen
in Terra Australis, it should appear to have been partly formed from
vague information, collected, probably, by the early Portuguese
navigators, from the eastern nations; and that conjecture has done the
rest. It may, at the same time, be admitted, that a part of the west and
north-west coasts, where the coincidence of form is most striking, might
have been seen by the Portuguese themselves, before the year 1540, in
their voyages to, and from, India.
[* A more particular account of these charts, now in the _British
Museum_, will be found in Captain Burney's "_History of Discoveries in
the South Sea_." Vol. I. p. 379-383. An opinion is there expressed
concerning the early discoveries in these regions, which is entitled to
But quitting those claims to original discovery, in which conjecture
bears so large a share, we come to such as are supported by undeniable
documents. Before entering upon these, it is proper to premise, that,
instead of following precisely the order of time, these discoveries will
be classed under the heads of the different coasts upon which they were
made: an arrangement which will obviate the confusion that would arise
from being carried back from one coast to another, as must, of necessity,
be the case, were the chronological order to be strictly followed.
The discoveries made in Terra Australis, _prior to the Investigator's
voyage_, will, therefore, be divided into four Sections, under the
following heads: 1. The NORTH COAST; 2. The WESTERN COASTS; 3. The SOUTH
COAST; and, 4. The EAST COAST with VAN DIEMEN'S LAND. But the articles in
the fourth Section, being numerous and more extensive, will be divided
into two parts: PART I. will contain the early discoveries, and such of
the later, as were made independently of the British colony in New South
Wales; and PART II. those which were made in vessels sent from that
colony; and which may be considered as a consequence of its
PRIOR DISCOVERIES IN TERRA AUSTRALIS.
Discoveries of the Duyfhen; of
Tasman; and of
three Dutch vessels.
Bligh and Portlock; and
Bampton and Alt.
The late Hydrographer to the Admiralty, ALEXANDER DALRYMPLE, Esq., in his
curious _Collection concerning_ PAPUA, published, with a translation, a
paper which furnishes more regular and authentic accounts of the early
Dutch discoveries in the East, than any thing with which the public was
before acquainted. This interesting paper was procured by the Right Hon.
Sir Joseph Banks; and is a copy of the instructions to commodore ABEL
JANSZ TASMAN, for his _second_ voyage of discovery: It is dated January
29, 1644, from the _Castle of Batavia_, and signed by the
governor-general ANTONIO VAN DIEMEN, and by _Vander Lyn_, _Maatsuyker_,
_Schouten_, and _Sweers_, members of the council. The instructions are
prefaced with a recital, in chronological order, of the previous
discoveries of the Dutch, whether made from accident or design, in NOVA
GUINEA, and the _Great_ SOUTH LAND; and from this account, combined with
a passage from Saris,* it appears, that--
THE DUYFHEN. 1606.
On the 18th of November 1605, the Dutch yacht, the _Duyfhen_, was
dispatched from Bantam to explore the islands of New Guinea; and that she
sailed along, what was thought to be, the west side of that country, to
133/4 deg. of south latitude. "This extensive country was found, for the
greatest part, desert; but, in some places, inhabited by wild, cruel,
black savages; by whom some of the crew were murdered. For which reason
they could not learn anything of the land, or waters, as had been desired
of them; and, from want of provisions and other necessaries, they were
obliged to leave the discovery unfinished: The furthest point of the
land, in their map, was called Cape KEER-WEER," or Turn-again.
(ATLAS, Pl. I.)
The course of the Duyfhen, from New Guinea, was southward, along the
islands on the west side of Torres' Strait, to that part of Terra
Australis, a little to the west and south of Cape York; but all these
lands were thought to be connected, and to form the west coast of New
Guinea. Thus, without being conscious of it, the commander of the Duyfhen
made the first authenticated discovery of any part of the great South
Land, about the month of March 1606; for it appears, that he had returned
to Banda in, or before, the beginning of June, of that year.
LUIS VAES DE TORRES, a Spanish navigator, was the next person who saw
Terra Australis; and it is remarkable, that it was near the same place,
and in the same year; and that he had as little knowledge of the nature
of his discovery, as had the Duyfhen.
Torres was second in command to Pedro Fernandez de Quiros; when he sailed
with three vessels, from the port of Callao in Peru, in the year 1605.
One of the purposes of their expedition was to search for the TIERRA
AUSTRAL; a continent which was supposed to occupy a considerable portion
of that part of the southern hemisphere lying westward of America.
After the discovery of several islands, Quiros came to a land which he
named AUSTRALIA DEL ESPIRITU SANTO, supposing it to be a part of the
great Southern Continent; but this, on his separation from the admiral,
Torres found could be no other than an island; and then continued his
course westward, in prosecution of the research.
About the month of August 1606, and in latitude 111/2 deg. south, he fell in
with a coast, which he calls "the beginning of New Guinea;" and which
appears to have been the south-eastern part of the land, afterwards named
Louisiade, by Mons. DE BOUGAINVILLE, and now known to be a chain of
islands. Unable to pass to windward of this land, Torres bore away along
its south side; and gives, himself, the following account of his
"We went along 300 leagues of coast, as I have mentioned, and diminished
the latitude 21/2 deg., which brought us into 9 deg.. From hence we fell in with a
bank of from 3 to 9 fathoms, which extends along the coast above 180
leagues. We went over it along the coast to 71/2 S. latitude, and the end
of it is in 5 deg.. We could not go further on for the many shoals and great
currents, so we were obliged to sail S. W. in that depth to 11 deg.. S.
latitude. There is all over it an archipelago of islands without number,
by which we passed, and at the end of the 11th degree, the bank became
shoaler. Here were very large islands, and there appeared more to the
southward: they were inhabited by black people, very corpulent, and
naked: their arms were lances, arrows, and clubs of stone ill fashioned.
We could not get any of their arms. We caught in all this land 20 persons
of different nations, that with them we might be able to give a better
account to Your Majesty. They give much notice of other people, although
as yet they do not make themselves well understood.
"We were upon this bank two months, at the end of which time we found
ourselves in 25 fathoms, and in 5 deg. S. latitude, and 10 leagues from the
coast. And having gone 480 leagues, here the coast goes to the N. E. I
did not reach it, for the bank became very shallow. So we stood to the
[* See the letter of Torres, dated Manila, July 12, 1607, in Vol. II.
Appendix, No I. to Burney's "_History of Discoveries in the South Sea_;"
from which interesting work this sketch of Torres' voyage is extracted.]
It cannot be doubted, that the "very large islands" seen by Torres, at
the 11th degree of south latitude, were the hills of Cape York; or that
his _two months_ of intricate navigation were employed in passing the
strait which divides Terra Australis and New Guinea. But the account of
this and other discoveries, which Torres himself addressed to the King of
Spain, was so kept from the world, that the existence of such a strait
was generally unknown, until 1770; when it was again discovered and
passed by our great circumnavigator Captain Cook.
Torres, it should appear, took the precaution to lodge a copy of his
letter in the archives of Manila; for, after that city was taken by the
British forces, in 1762, Mr. Dalrymple found out, and drew from oblivion,
this interesting document of early discovery; and, as a tribute due to
the enterprising Spanish navigator, he named the passage TORRES' STRAIT;
and the appellation now generally prevails.
ZEACHEN is said to have discovered the land of Arnhem and the northern
Van Diemen's Land, in 1618; and he is supposed, from the first name, to
have been a native of Arnhem, in Holland; and that the second was given
in honour of the governor-general of the Indies.* But there are two
important objections to the truth of this vague account: first, no
mention is made of Zeachen in the recital of discoveries which preface
the instructions to Tasman; nor is there any, of the North Coast having
been visited by the Dutch, in that year: secondly, it appears from
_Valentyn's_ lives of the governors of Batavia, that Van Diemen was not
governor-general until January 1, 1636.
[* _Hist. des Navigations aux Terres Aust._ Tome 1. p. 432.]
The second expedition, mentioned in the Dutch recital, for the discovery
of the Great South Land, "was undertaken in a yacht, in the year 1617,
with little success;" and the journals and remarks were not to be found.
In January 1623, the yachts _Pera_ and _Arnhem_, under the command of JAN
CARSTENS, were despatched from _Amboina_, by order of His Excellency Jan
Pieterz Coen. Carstens, with eight of the Arnhem's crew, was
treacherously murdered by the natives of New Guinea; but the vessels
prosecuted the voyage, and _discovered_ "the great islands ARNHEM and the
SPULT." * They were then "untimely separated," and the Arnhem returned to
Amboina. The Pera persisted; and "sailed along the south coast of New
Guinea, to a flat cove, situate in 10 deg. south latitude; and ran along the
West Coast of this land to Cape Keer-Weer; from thence discovered the
coast further southward, as far as 17 deg., to STATEN RIVER. From this place,
what more of the land could be discerned, seemed to stretch _westward_:"
the Pera then returned to Amboina. "In this discovery were found, every
where, shallow water and barren coasts; islands altogether thinly peopled
by divers cruel, poor, and brutal nations; and of very little use to the
(Dutch East-India) Company."
[* In the old charts, a river Spult is marked, in the western part of
Arnhem's Land; and it seems probable, that the land in its vicinity is
here meant by THE SPULT.]
POOL. PIETERSEN. 1636.
GERRIT TOMAZ POOL was sent, in April 1636, from _Banda_, with the yachts
_Klyn Amsterdam_ and _Wezel_, upon the same expedition as Carstens; and,
at the same place, on the coast of New Guinea, he met with the same fate.
Nevertheless "the voyage was assiduously continued under the charge of
the supra-cargo Pieterz Pietersen; and the islands _Key_ and _Arouw_
visited. By reason of very strong eastwardly winds, they could not reach
the west coast of New Guinea (Carpentaria); but shaping their course very
near south, discovered the coast of Arnhem, or Van Diemen's Land, in 11 deg.
south latitude; and sailed along the shore for 120 miles (30 mijlen),
without seeing any people, _but many signs of smoke_."
This is all that appears to have been known of the North Coast, when ABEL
JANSZ TASMAN sailed upon his second voyage, in 1644; for the instructions
to him say, that after quitting "Point Ture, or False Cape, situate in 8 deg.
on the south coast of New Guinea, you are to continue eastward, along the
coast, to 9 deg. south latitude; crossing prudently the _Cove_ at that place.
Looking about the _high islands_ or _Speult's River_, with the yachts,
for a harbour; despatching the tender _De Braak_, for two or three days
into the Cove, in order to discover whether, within the GREAT INLET,
there be not to be found an entrance into the South Sea.* From this place
you are to coast along the west coast of New Guinea. (Carpentaria,) to
the furthest discoveries in 17 deg. south latitude; following the coast
further, as it may run, west or southward."
[* The Great Inlet or Cove, where the passage was to be sought, is the
north-west part of Torres' Strait. It is evident, that a suspicion was
entertained, in 1644, of such a strait; but that the Dutch were ignorant
of its having been passed. The "high islands" are those which lie in
latitude 10 deg., on the west side of the strait. Speult's River appears to
be the opening betwixt the Prince of Wales' Islands and Cape York;
through which captain Cook afterwards passed, and named it Endeavour's
Strait. This _Speult's River_ cannot, I conceive, be the same with what
was before mentioned under the name of THE SPULT.]
"But it is to be feared you will meet, in these parts, with the
south-east trade winds; from which it will be difficult to keep the coast
on board, if stretching to the south-east; but, notwithstanding this,
endeavour by all means to proceed; that we may be sure whether this land
is divided from the _Great Known_ SOUTH CONTINENT, or not."
The Dutch had, by this time, acquired some knowledge of a part of the
south coast of Terra Australis; of the west coast; and of a part of the
north-west; and these are the lands meant by "the Great Known South
Continent." Arnhem's, and the northern Van Diemen's Lands, on the North
Coast, are not included in the expression; for Tasman was directed "from
_De Witt's Land_ (on the North-west Coast,) to run across, very near
eastward, to complete the discovery of _Arnhem's_ and _Van Diemen's
Lands_; and to ascertain perfectly, whether these lands are not _one and
the same island_."
It is a great obstacle to tracing correctly the progress of early
discovery in Terra Australis, that no account of this voyage of Tasman
has ever been published; nor is any such known to exist. But it seems to
have been the general opinion, that he sailed round the _Gulph of
Carpentaria_; and then westward, along _Arnhem's_ and the northern _Van
Diemen's Lands_; and the form of these coasts in Thevenot's chart of
1663, and in those of most succeeding geographers, even up to the end of
the eighteenth century, is supposed to have resulted from this voyage.
The opinion is strengthened by finding the names of Tasman, and of the
governor-general and two of the council, who signed his instructions,
applied to places at the head of the Gulph; as is also that of _Maria_,
the daughter of the governor, to whom our navigator is said to have been
attached. In the notes, also, of Burgomaster Witsen, concerning the
inhabitants of NOVA GUINEA and HOLLANDIA NOVA, as extracted by Mr.
Dalrymple; Tasman is mentioned amongst those, from whom his information
THREE DUTCH VESSELS. 1705.
The President De Brosses* gives, from the miscellaneous tracts of
_Nicolas Struyck_, printed at Amsterdam, 1753, the following account of
another, and last voyage of the Dutch, for the discovery of the North
[* _Hist. des Nav. aux Terres Aust_. Tome I. page 439.]
"March 1, 1705, three Dutch vessels were sent from _Timor_, with order to
explore the north coast of _New Holland_, better than it had before been
done. They carefully examined the coasts, sand banks, and reefs. In their
route to it, they did not meet with any land, but only some rocks above
water, in 11 deg. 52' south latitude:" (probably the south part of the great
_Sahul Bank_; which, according to captain Peter Heywood, who saw it in
180l, lies in 11 deg. 40'.) "They saw the west coast of New Holland 4 deg. to the
eastward of the east point of Timor. From thence they continued their
route towards the north; and passed a point, off which lies a bank of
sand above water, in length _more than five German miles_ of fifteen to a
degree. After which, they made sail to the east, along the coast of New
Holland; observing every thing with care, until they came to a gulph, the
head of which they did not quite reach. I (Struyck) have seen a chart
made of these parts."
What is here called the _West_, must have been the North-west Coast;
which the vessels appear to have made somewhat to the south of the
western _Cape Van Diemen_. The point which they passed, was probably this
same Cape itself; and in a chart, published by Mr. Dalrymple, Aug. 27,
1783, from a Dutch manuscript (possibly a copy of that which Struyck had
seen), a shoal, of _thirty geographic miles_ in length, is marked as
running off, from it; but incorrectly, according to Mr. Mc. Cluer. The
gulph here mentioned, was probably a deep bay in Arnhem's Land; for had
it been the Gulph of Carpentaria, some particular mention of the great
change in the direction of the coast, would, doubtless, have been made.
From this imperfect account of the voyage of these three vessels, very
little satisfactory information is obtained; and this, with some few
exceptions, is the case with all the accounts of the early Dutch
discoveries; and has usually been attributed to the monopolizing spirit
of their East-India Company, which induced it to keep secret, or to
destroy, the journals.
The north coast of Terra Australis does not appear to have been seen by
any succeeding navigator, until the year 1770; when our celebrated
captain JAMES COOK passed through _Endeavour's Strait_, between Cape York
and the Prince of Wales' Islands; and besides clearing up the doubt
which, till then, existed, of the actual separation of Terra Australis
from New Guinea, his more accurate observations enabled geographers to
assign something like a true place to the former discoveries of the
Dutch, in these parts. Captain Cook did not land upon the main; but, at
_Possession Island_, he saw ten natives: "Nine of them were armed with
such lances as we had been accustomed to see, and the tenth had a _bow_,
and a bundle of _arrows_, which we had never seen in the possession of
the natives of this country before." *
[* _Hawkesworth's Voyages_, Vol. III. page 211.]
Mc. CLUER. 1791.
At the end of the year 1791, lieutenant JOHN Mc. CLUER of the Bombay
marine, in returning from the examination of the west side of New Guinea,
made the Land of _Arnhem_, in longitude 1351/4 deg., east of Greenwich. He then
sailed westward, along the shore, to 129 deg. 55'; when the coast was found
to take a southern direction. The point of turning is placed in 11 deg. 15'
south latitude; and is, doubtless, the Cape Van Diemen of the old charts,
and the west extremity of the north coast of Terra Australis.
It does not appear that any other account has been given of this
navigation, than the chart published by Mr. Dalrymple, in 1792. According
to it, though lieutenant Mc. Cluer constantly had soundings, in from 7 to
40 fathoms; yet he was generally at such a distance from the land, that
it was not often seen; and, consequently, he was unable to identify the
particular points. No landing seems to have been effected upon the main;
but some service was rendered to navigation, by ascertaining the
positions of several small islands, shoals, and projecting parts of the
coast; and in conferring a certain degree of authenticity upon the
discoveries of the early Dutch navigators.
Lieutenant Mc. Cluer is the last person, who can strictly be said to have
added to our knowledge of the north coast of Terra Australis, previously
to the time in which the voyage of the Investigator was planned; but
several navigators had followed captain Cook through Torres' Strait, and
by considerably different routes: these it will be proper to notice; as
their discoveries are intimately connected with the present subject.
After the mutineers of the _Bounty_ had forced their commander,
lieutenant (now rear-admiral) WILLIAM BLIGH, to embark in the _launch_,
near the island _Tofoa_; he steered for Coepang, a Dutch settlement, at
the south-west end of _Timor_. In the way, he made the east coast of New
South Wales, in about 121/2 deg. of South latitude; and, sailing northward,
passed round Cape York and the Prince of Wales' Islands.
It was not to be supposed, that captain Bligh, under the circumstances of
extreme distress, of fatigue, and difficulty of every kind, could do much
for navigation and geography; yet, he took views and made such
observations and notes, as enabled him to construct a chart of his track,
and of the lands and reefs seen from the launch. And as captain Bligh
passed to the _north_ of the Prince of Wales' Islands, whereas captain
Cook had passed to the south, his interesting narrative, with the
accompanying chart, made an useful addition to what little was yet known
[* Bligh's "_Voyage to the South Seas in H. M. Ship Bounty_," page
CAPTAIN (now admiral) EDWARD EDWARDS of HIS Majesty's frigate _Pandora_,
on his return from the island Taheity,* made the reefs of Torres' Strait,
on Aug. 25; in about the latitude 10 deg. south, and _two degrees_ of
longitude to the east of Cape York. Steering from thence westward, he
fell in with three islands, rather high, which he named MURRAY'S; lying
in latitude 9 deg. 57' south, and longitude 143 deg. 42' east;** and some canoes,
with two masts, were seen running within side of the reef which lay
between the islands and the ship. This reef was of considerable extent;
and, during the whole of August 26, captain Edwards ran along it to the
southward, without finding any passage through. On the 27th, the search
was continued, without success; but on the 28th, a boat was despatched to
examine an opening in the reef; and the ship stood off and on, waiting
the result. At five in the evening, the boat made a signal for a passage
being found; but fearing to venture through, so near sunset, without more
particular information, captain Edwards called the boat on board. In the
mean time, a current, or tide, set the Pandora upon the reef; and, after
beating there till ten o'clock, she went over it into deep water; and
sunk in 15 fathoms, at daylight of the 29th.
[* Commonly written _Otaheite_; but the 0 is either an article or a
preposition, and forms no part of the name: Bougainville writes it
[** In Plates I. and XIII. Murray's Islands are laid down according to
their situations afterwards ascertained in the Investigator; and the
reefs, seen by the Pandora, are placed in their relative positions to
A dry sand bank was perceived within the opening, at the distance of four
miles; and thither the boats repaired with the remaining officers and
people; thirty-nine men having lost their lives in this melancholy
disaster. This opening was ascertained to lie in latitude 11 deg. 24' and
longitude 143 deg. 38'; and is represented as very practicable for ships.
Not being able to save any thing from the wreck, captain Edwards, almost
destitute of provisions and water, set sail on Aug. 30, with his squadron
of four boats; and steered for the north-east part of Terra Australis. No
reefs, or other dangers, appear to have been encountered in the way to
the coast; but in the course northward, along it, some islands and reefs
were seen. From one part of the coast, two canoes with three black men in
each, paddled hard after the boats; but though they waved and made many
signs, it was not thought prudent to wait for them. At one of the York
Isles, the natives, for some trifling presents, filled a keg of water for
captain Edwards; but refused to bring down any more; and, soon afterward,
they let fly a shower of arrows amongst the unfortunate sufferers.
Happily no person was wounded; and the aggressors were put to flight, by
a volley of musketry.
At the Prince of Wales' Islands, good water was found; and much
alleviated the distress of captain Edwards and his people. They heard
here the howling of wolves, (probably of wild dogs,) and "discovered a
_morai_, or rather heap of bones. There were amongst them two human
skulls, the bones of some large animals, and some turtle bones. They were
heaped together in the form of a grave; and a long paddle, supported at
each end by a bifurcated branch of a tree, was laid horizontally along
it. Near to this, there were marks of a fire having been recently made;
and the ground about was much footed and worn." *
[* See "_A Voyage round the World in H. M. frigate Pandora_," by George
Hamilton, Surgeon; page 123, _et seq._]
A few small oysters, a harsh austere fruit, resembling a plum, and a
small berry of a similar taste to the plum, were all that could be found
"There is a large sound formed here, to which," says Mr. Hamilton, "we
gave the name of _Sandwich's Sound_; and commodious anchorage for
shipping in the bay, to which we gave the name of _Woy's Bay_, in which
there is from five to seven fathoms all round. Near the centre of the
sound is a small, dark-coloured, rocky island."
Sept. 2. In the afternoon, captain Edwards passed out to the northward,
with his little squadron, from amongst the Prince of Wales' Islands; and
the same evening, by steering westward, cleared all the islands and reefs
of Torres' Strait: on the 14th he reached Timor.
The track and discoveries of the Pandora, in Plate XIII. are taken from a
chart published in 1798, by Mr. Dalrymple, upon the authority of one
constructed by lieutenant Hayward; but it does not contain the track of
the boats after the loss of the Pandora. This chart, and the account
given by Mr. Hamilton, which, though more than sufficiently explicit upon
some points, is very defective in what concerns navigation and geography;
are all that appears to have been published of this voyage.
BLIGH and PORTLOCK. 1792.
Neither the great extent of the reefs, to the eastward of Cape York, nor
the loss of the Pandora, were known in 1792; when captain WILLIAm BLIGH
came a second time to Torres' Strait, with His Majesty's ship
_Providence_, and the brig _Assistant_ commanded by lieutenant (now
captain) NATHANIEL PORTLOCK. The objects of his mission were, to
transport the bread-fruit plant from Taheity to the West Indies; and, in
his way, to explore a new passage through the Strait; in both of which he
A chart of the discoveries made in Torres' Strait, was lodged, by captain
Bligh, in the Admiralty Office; and is incorporated with other
authorities, in Plate XIII. of the accompanying Atlas. No account of this
voyage having yet been published; it is conceived, that the following
brief relation of the passage through the strait, will be acceptable to
the nautical reader; and, having had the honour to serve in the
expedition, I am enabled to give it from my own journal, with the
sanction of captain Bligh.
Aug. 31. Latitude at noon 9 deg. 25' south; longitude from fifteen sets of
distances of the sun west, and star east, of the moon, taken on the 24th,
25th, and 26th, preceding, 145 deg. 22' and by time keepers, 145 deg. 23' east.
No land seen since passing _Louisiade_ the preceding day; but many birds
and fish, and much rock weed. At dusk, having steered W. 1/4 S. 27 miles,
breakers were seen ahead, at the distance of two miles; and the vessels
hauled to the wind: no bottom at 94 fathoms.
Sept. 1. They bore away W. by S.; but hauled up gradually to South, on
account of the breakers; and not being able to weather them, tacked to
the N. E. At noon, latitude 9 deg. 37' south, longitude by time keepers, 144 deg.
59' east:* part of the reef, which was named after captain Portlock, seen
in the N. N. W. from the mast head. At four o'clock, the vessels edged
away round the north end of _Portlock's Reef_, which, at dusk, bore
South, about two leagues; and the wind was then hauled for the night.
[* In Plate XIII. some small alterations are made in the longitudes given
by captain Bligh's time keepers, to make them correspond with the
corrected longitudes of the Investigator and Cumberland.]
Sept. 2. The breakers bore South, four or five miles; and captain Bligh
steered westward: the Assistant leading. At noon, the latitude being 9 deg.
26', longitude, by time keepers, 144 deg. 23', other breakers were seen
ahead, and the vessels hauled the wind to the southward; but finding
another reef in that direction, with a dry bank upon it, they tacked to
the N. E. at half past one; and got ground, for the first time, in 64
fathoms, coral bottom. During the following night, they stood off and on,
constantly getting soundings.
No breakers were in sight in the morning of Sept. 3. At seven, a boat was
sent ahead; and the vessels bore away after her to the N. W., in order to
try the New-Guinea side of the Strait. At noon, their course was
interrupted by a reef, which was named _Bonds Reef_, extending from W. N.
W. to North, and distant four or five miles: observed latitude 9 deg. 6',
longitude 144 deg. 13'. The north side of the Strait being judged
impracticable, the wind was again hauled to the southward; and, at dusk,
the vessels anchored in 37 fathoms, fine grey sand; five or six miles
north of a reef, upon which was a dry bank, called _Anchor Key_. An
island of considerable height, bearing S. W. by W. ten leagues, was then
seen from the mast head: Captain Bligh gave it the name of _Darnley's
Island_; and to the space between Portlock's and Bond's Reefs, by which
the vessels had entered the Strait, that of _Bligh's Entrance_.
Sept. 4. A boat was sent to the S. S. W., and the vessels followed. Other
high lands (_Murray's Isles_) were seen to the southward; and a reef with
a sand bank on it, to the west. At noon, the latitude was 9 deg. 32' south,
and longitude 143 deg. 59' east: Darnley's Island bore S. 74 deg. to 82 deg. W., four
leagues; and the largest of Murray's Isles, S. 13 deg. to 21 deg. E.: the western
reef was about three miles distant, but nothing was visible ahead in the
S. by W. At four o'clock, the vessels anchored in 21 fathoms, sandy
bottom; with Darnley's Island bearing N. 60 deg. W., three leagues. Betwixt a
sand-bank, called _Canoe Key_, which bore S. 60 deg. W., two leagues, and a
reef lying in the W. by S., there appeared to be a passage, which the
boats were sent to examine.
On the 5th, boats were again sent to sound the passage. Several large
sailing canoes were seen; and the cutter making the signal for
assistance, the pinnace was sent to her, well manned and armed. On the
return of the boats in the afternoon, it appeared, that, of four canoes
which used their efforts to get up to the cutter, one succeeded. There
were in it fifteen Indians, black, and quite naked; and they made signs
which were interpreted to be amicable. These signs the officer imitated;
but not thinking it prudent to go so near as to take a green cocoa-nut,
which was held up to him, he continued rowing for the ship. A man, who
was sitting upon the shed erected in the centre of the canoe, then said
something to those below; and immediately they began to string their
bows. Two of them had already fitted arrows, when the officer judged it
necessary to fire in his own defence. Six muskets were discharged; and
the Indians fell flat into the bottom of the canoe, all except the man on
the shed: the seventh musket was fired at him, and he fell also. During
this time, the canoe dropped astern; and the three others having joined
her, they all gave chase to the cutter, trying to cut her off from the
ship; in which they would probably have succeeded, had not the pinnace
arrived, at that juncture, to her assistance. The Indians then hoisted
their sails, and steered for Darnley's Island.
No boats could have been manoeuvred better, in working to windward, than
were these long canoes by the naked savages. Had the four been able to
reach the cutter, it is difficult to say, whether the superiority of our
arms would have been equal to the great difference of numbers;
considering the ferocity of these people, and the skill with which they
seemed to manage their weapons.
September 6. Two boats were sent ahead; and the vessels followed them,
between Canoe Key and the reef lying from it half a mile to the north.
After running twelve miles beyond this narrow pass, they anchored in 13
fathoms; the latitude being 9 deg. 37', and longitude 143 deg. 41'. In the
afternoon, they proceeded five miles further, to the N. N. W.; and
Darnley's Island then bore S. 74 deg. to 55 deg. E. two leagues: except on the
north side, this island appeared to be surrounded with reefs and sand
banks to a considerable distance. In sailing from Canoe Key, the vessels
had left, on the larbord hand, a long chain of reefs and banks; at the
north-west end of which, were three low, woody islands: the nearest of
these, bearing S. 41 deg. W. two or three miles from the anchorage, was named
_Nepean Island_. The view to the northward, from W. by N. to E. by S.,
was free from dangers; but in every other direction there were reefs,
islands, or dry banks.
This day, several canoes from Darnley's Island came off to both vessels.
On approaching, the Indians clapped upon their heads, and exclaimed
_Whou! Whou! Whoo!_ repeatedly, with much vehemence; at the same time,
they held out arrows and other weapons, and asked for _toore-tooree_! by
which they meant iron.* After much difficulty, they were persuaded to
come along-side; and two men ventured into the ship. They had bushy
hair--were rather stout made--and nearly answered the description given
of the natives of New Guinea.** The cartilage, between the nostrils, was
cut away in both these people; and the lobes of their ears slit, and
stretched to a great length, as had before been observed in a native of
the _Fejee Islands_. They had no kind of clothing; but wore necklaces of
cowrie shells, fastened to a braid of fibres; and some of their
companions had pearl-oyster shells hung round their necks. In speaking to
each other, their words seemed to be distinctly pronounced.
[* The name for iron at Taheity, is _eure-euree_, or _ooree_, orj,
according to Bougainville, _aouri_.]
[** See _a Voyage to New Guinea_, by Captain Thomas Forrest.]
Their arms were bows, arrows, and clubs, which they bartered for every
kind of iron work with eagerness; but appeared to set little value on any
thing else. The bows are made of split bamboo; and so strong, that no man
in the ship could bend one of them. The string is a broad slip of cane,
fixed to one end of the bow; and fitted with a noose, to go over the
other end, when strung. The arrow is a cane of about four feet long, into
which a pointed piece of the hard, heavy, _casuarina_ wood, is firmly and
neatly fitted; and some of them were barbed. Their clubs are made of the
_casuarina_, and are powerful weapons. The hand part is indented, and has
a small knob, by which the firmness of the grasp is much assisted; and
the heavy end is usually carved with some device: One had the form of a
parrot's head, with a ruff round the neck; and was not ill done.
Their canoes are about fifty feet in length, and appear to have been
hollowed out of a single tree; but the pieces which form the gunwales,
are planks sewed on with the fibres of the cocoa nut, and secured with
pegs. These vessels are low, forward, but rise abaft; and, being narrow,
are fitted with an outrigger on each side, to keep them steady. A raft,
of greater breadth than the canoe, extends over about half the length;
and upon this is fixed a shed or hut, thatched with palm leaves. These
people, in short, appeared to be dextrous sailors and formidable
warriors; and to be as much at ease in the water, as in their canoes.
Sept. 7. The boats having found deep water round the north end of the
three low islands, the vessels followed them; but anchored again, soon
after noon, in latitude 9 deg. 31', and longitude 143 deg. 31'; being sheltered
by the two western islands, named _Stephens'_ and _Campbell's_, and the
reefs which surround them. There were then no less than eight islands in
sight, at different distances; though none further to the westward than
W. S. W. All these, except Darnley's Island, first seen, were small, low,
and sandy; but generally well covered with wood in the central parts.
On the 8th, the vessels steered westward, with the usual precautions. No
land, or other obstruction, had been seen in that quarter; but, at ten
o'clock, they were forced to haul the wind to the southward, their course
being impeded by reefs; upon one of which, was _Pearce's_ sandy _Key_. At
noon, they had anchored in 15 fathoms, under the lee of _Dalrymple's
Island_, the westernmost before seen; but two other islands were then
visible in the S. by W.; and reefs extended from N.4 deg., to S. 55 deg. W., at
the distance of three or four miles. The latitude here was 9 deg. 37'; and
longitude, from six sets of distances of the sun and moon, 143 deg. 31'; but,
by the time-keepers, 143 deg. 15' east.
Several canoes were lying upon the shore of Dalrymple's Island; but no
natives could he distinguished from the ships. When the boats returned,
however, from sounding, in the afternoon, they came out upon the beach;
waving green branches and clapping upon their heads, in token of
friendship. Boats were afterwards sent to them, and were amicably
received; the natives running into the water to meet them, and some
getting into one of the boats. They eagerly asked for _toore-tooree_; and
gave in exchange some ornaments of shells, and a kind of plum somewhat
resembling a _jambo_. When the boats pushed off from the shore, the
natives followed into the water, and appeared anxious to detain them; but
offered no violence. A moderately-sized dog, of a brown, chestnut colour,
was observed amongst the party.
Sept. 9. The vessels steered after the boats, between the cluster of
islands to the southward, and an extensive reef to the west; with
soundings from 15 to 10 fathoms. At noon, the latitude was 9 deg. 48',
longitude by timekeepers 143 deg. 6'; and two other islands came in sight to
the westward. Before two o'clock, an extensive reef, partly dry, to which
the name of _Dungeness_ was given, made it necessary to heave to, until
the boats had time to sound; after which, captain Bligh bore away along
the north side of the reef, and anchored a mile from it, in 17 fathoms,
hard bottom. In this situation, _Dungeness Island_, which is low and very
woody, bore N. 64 deg. to 87 deg. W. three miles; and a small sandy isle, named
_Warriours Island_, N. 6 deg. to 1 deg. W. four miles: this last appeared to
stand upon the great western reef, and was surrounded with dry sands.
Besides these, there were other low isles, called the _Six Sisters_, in
sight, to the south-east; and a long, flat island, bearing S. 33 deg. to 46 deg.
W. over the dry Dungeness Reef; in the west, also, there were islands
visible, at a greater distance, and much higher, than the others. The
Strait, instead of becoming clearer, seemed to be more and more
embarrassed with dangers, as the vessels proceeded westward. The latitude
of this anchorage was 9 deg. 501/2' south, and the longitude 142 deg. 55' east.
Sept. 10. The boats sounded the channel to the north-west, between
Dungeness and Warriours Islands; and finding sufficient water, the
vessels got under way, at noon, to follow them. There were many natives
collected upon the shore of Dungeness Island, and several canoes from
Warriours Island were about the brig. Presently, captain Portlock made
the signal for assistance; and there was a discharge of musketry and some
guns, from his vessel and from the boats. Canoes were also coming towards
the Providence; and when a musket was fired at the headmost, the natives
set up a great shout, and paddled forward in a body; nor was musketry
sufficient to make them desist. The second great gun, loaded with round
and grape, was directed at the foremost of eight canoes, full of men; and
the round shot, after raking the whole length, struck the high stem. The
Indians leaped out, and swam towards their companions; plunging
constantly, to avoid the musket balls which showered thickly about them.
The squadron then made off, as fast as the people could paddle without
showing themselves; but afterwards rallied at a greater distance, until a
shot, which passed over their heads, made them disperse, and give up all
idea of any further attack.
In passing the deserted canoe, one native was observed still sitting in
it. The other canoes afterwards returned to him; and, with glasses,
signals were perceived to be made by the Indians, to their friends on
Dungeness Island, expressive, as was thought, of grief and consternation.
No arrows fell on board the Providence; but three men were wounded in the
Assistant, and one of them afterwards died: The depth to which the arrows
penetrated into the decks and sides of the brig, was represented to be
The vessels passed between Dungeness and Warriours Islands, with from 19
to 13 fathoms; and anchored, at four o'clock, under the lee of Dungeness
Island and Reef. The passage to the westward then appeared clearer; three
high islands, bearing from S. 60 deg. W. three leagues, to N. 76 deg. W. five
leagues, forming the sole visible obstructions.
Sept. 11. Captain Bligh proceeded on his course to the W. N. W., and
passed two islands, to which the descriptive names of _Turtle-backed
Island_ and the _Cap_ were given; and, soon after noon, the vessels
anchored in 7 fathoms, soft bottom. There was a dry sand bearing N. 63 deg.
W. two or three miles; between which, and the third high island, called
_The Brothers_, bearing S. 55 deg. to 69 deg. W. three miles, it was judged
necessary for the boats to sound, before proceeding further. This
anchorage was in latitude 9 deg. 43', and longitude 142 deg. 40'; and, besides
the islands already mentioned, there was in sight a mountainous island,
to which the name of _Banks_ was given, bearing S. 43 deg. W., twelve or
thirteen leagues; also _Burke's Island_, S. 13 deg. W. eight or ten leagues;
and _Mount Cornwallis_, on another island, N. 29 deg. W. six or eight
leagues; and from behind this last, to N. 7 deg. W., there extended a level
land, which was supposed to be a part of the coast of NEW GUINEA.
Sept. 12. The vessels followed the boats to the westward; but were
interrupted by reefs, and obliged to anchor again before noon. The water
had shoaled gradually, and there was then only 6 fathoms: the bottom a
coarse, coral sand. Two other islands were then in sight: a low one,
named _Turn-again Island_, bore N. 53 deg. W. about four leagues; and
_Jervis' Island_, which is rather high, S. 48 deg. W. nine leagues. A reef,
with a dry sand upon it, extended from S. 7 deg. E. to 62 deg. W. four or five
miles; another was distant three miles to the west; and a third bore N.
18 deg. W. five miles. The latitude of the anchorage was 9 deg. 41' south, and
longitude 142 deg. 24' east.
A fresh gale from south-east did not allow the Providence and Assistant
to proceed onward for three days. In the mean time, the passage between
the reefs to the N. W., was sounded by the boats; and found to contain
about 5 fathoms, regularly, upon hard ground. They were also sent to
examine the passage round the southern reefs; and this being deeper, with
a superior bottom, it was chosen as the preferable route.
Sept. 16. The vessels passed to windward of the southern reef; and
steered south-westward, as it trended, in from 7 to 5 fathoms water,
until half past noon; when they anchored in latitude 10 deg. 3', and
longitude, by time-keeper, 142 deg. 14'. The sole direction in which the eye
could range without being obstructed, was that whence the vessels had
come; every where else the view was arrested by rocks, banks, and
islands. The most extensive of these, was Banks' Island, extending from
S. 14 deg. E. to 62 deg. W., two or three leagues; with a high hill upon it named
_Mount Augustus_, which bore S. 4 deg. E:* Another large island, named
_Mulgrave's_, extended from behind the last to a cluster of rocks, whose
extreme bore W. 5 deg. N. The nearest land, bearing S. 24 deg. E., one mile and a
half, was the north-westernmost of three small isles; and to this, the
second lieutenant was sent, for the purpose of taking possession of all
the islands seen in the Strait, for HIS BRITANNIC MAJESTY GEORGE III.,
with the ceremonies used on such occasions: the name bestowed upon the
whole was CLARENCE'S ARCHIPELAGO.
[* This mountain, in latitude 10 deg. 12' south, longitude 142 deg. 13' east, was
seen by captain Bligh from the Bounty's launch, and marked in his chart,
(_Voyage, etc._ p. 220.) It appears to be the same island indistinctly
laid down by captain Cook, in latitude 10 deg. 10', longitude 141 deg. 14'; and
is, also, one of those, to which the term _Hoge Landt_ is applied in
Thevenot's chart of 1663.]
_North Possession Island_ was found to be little else than a mass of
rocks surrounded by a reef; but it was covered with a variety of trees
and shrubs. Amongst them was a cluster of cocoa-nut trees, bearing a
small, but delicious, fruit; and the tree bearing a plum, such as had
been seen at Dalrymple's Island. Besides these, the botanists found the
_peeha_ and _nono_ of Taheity; and two new plants, of the size of the
common mulberry. One, of the class _polyadelphia_, bears a scarlet,
bell-shaped flower, large as the China rose; the other was a species of
_erythrina_, bearing clusters of butterfly-shaped flowers, of a light
yellow, tinged with purple: both were entirely destitute of leaves, and
their woods remarkably brittle.
There did not appear to be any fixed inhabitants upon Possession Island;
but from a fire which had been recently extinguished, and the shells and
bones of turtle scattered around, it was supposed to have been visited
not many days before. The bushes were full of small, green ants; which
proved exceedingly troublesome to those who had sufficient hardihood to
penetrate their retreats. Another, and larger species of ant, was black;
and made its nest by bending and fixing together the leaves, in a round
form, so as to be impenetrable to the wet. These, and a small kind of
lizard, were all the animals found upon the island.
Sept. 17. The boats led to the westward, steering for a passage between
Mulgrave's and Jervis' Islands; but seeing it full of rocks and shoals,
the vessels anchored a little within the entrance, in 10 fathoms, coarse
ground; until the boats should sound ahead. The latitude here was 10 deg. 2',
and longitude 142 deg. 03'. The flood tide, from the E. N. E., was found to
set through between the islands, at the rate of four miles an hour; and
the breeze being fresh, and bottom bad, the situation was considered to
be very unsafe.
Whilst the boats were sounding, several Indians in three canoes, were
perceived making towards them; but on a swivel shot being fired over
their heads, they returned to Mulgrave's Island, on the south side of the
passage. On the signal being made for good anchorage further on, the
Assistant led to the W. by S.; but on reaching the boats, the bottom was
found much inferior to what had been imagined; the approach of night,
however, obliged captain Bligh to anchor, soon afterward, in 8 fathoms.
In this situation, the vessels were so closely surrounded with rocks and
reefs, as scarcely to have swinging room; the bottom was rocky; the wind
blowing a fresh gale; and a tide running between four and five knots an
hour. This anxious night was, however, passed without accident; and next
morning, Sept. 18, the route was continued through the passage, between
reefs and rocks, which, in some places, were not three quarters of a mile
asunder: the smallest depth was 4 fathoms.
On clearing this dangerous pass, which captain Bligh named, _Bligh's
Farewell_, he anchored in 6 fathoms, sandy bottom; the wind blowing
strong at S. E. with thick weather. The latitude here was 10 deg. 5', and
longitude 141 deg. 56'. From north nearly, round by the east, to S. 8 deg. E.,
there was a mass of islands, rocks, and reefs, at various distances; but
in the western half of the compass, no danger was visible; and as far as
three miles to the W. N. W., the boats found good soundings in 6 and 7
Sept. 19. The wind moderated; and the vessels steered W. by S. until
noon, with a depth gradually increasing from 6 to 8 fathoms. The latitude
was then 10 deg. 81/2' south longitude, by time keeper, 141 deg. 31' east, and no
land was in sight; nor did any thing more obstruct captain Bligh and his
associate, in their route to the island _Timor_.
Thus was accomplished, in nineteen days, the passage from the Pacific, or
Great Ocean, to the Indian Sea; without other misfortune than what arose
from the attack of the natives, and some damage done to the cables and
anchors. Perhaps no space of 31/2 deg. in length, presents more dangers than
Torres' Strait; but, with caution and perseverance, the captains Bligh
and Portlock proved them to be surmountable; and within a reasonable
time: how far it may be advisable to follow their track through the
Strait, will appear more fully hereafter.
In the _Voyage to the South Seas in H. M. ship Bounty_, page 220, captain
Bligh says, "I cannot with certainty reconcile the situation of some
parts of the coast (near Cape York) that I have seen, to his (captain
Cook's) survey;" and from the situation of the high islands on the west
side of the Strait, which had been seen from the Bounty's launch, and
were now subjected to the correction of the Providence's time-keepers; he
was confirmed in the opinion, that some material differences existed in
the positions of the lands near Cape York.
BAMPTON and ALT. 1793.
The last passage known to have been made through Torres' Strait,
previously to the sailing of the Investigator, was by Messieurs WILLIAM
BAMPTON and MATTHEW B. ALT, commanders of the ships _Hormuzeer_ and
_Chesterfield_. Their discoveries were made public, in two charts, by Mr.
Dalrymple, in 1798 and 1799; and from them, and captain Bampton's
manuscript journal, the south coast of New Guinea, and most of the reefs
and islands near it, are laid down in Plate XIII.; after having been
adjusted to the observations of captain Bligh, and to those subsequently
made by me in the Investigator and Cumberland. The journal was obtained
through the kindness of Mr. Arrowsmith; and, though no courses and
distances be given, and the differences from the charts be sometimes
considerable, it is yet so interesting in many points, that I have judged
the following abridgement would be acceptable, as well to the general, as
to the nautical, reader.
The Hormuzeer and Chesterfield sailed together from Norfolk Island; with
the intention of passing through Torres' Strait, by a route which the
commanders did not know to have been before attempted. June 20, 1793, in
the evening, being in latitude 10 deg. 24' south, and longitude 144 deg. 14' east
(by captain Bampton's chart), a dry reef was seen extending from W. 1/2 S.
to N. W. by W., distant four or five miles, and breakers from the mast
head at N. by E. 1/2 E. An island (Murray's), which appeared to be large
and woody, was also seen, and bore N. W. 1/2 W. The ships got ground in 60
fathoms, and hauled the wind to the eastward, till midnight; when, having
no bottom at 70 fathoms, they lay to, till morning.
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