A Voyage to Terra Australis
Part 6 out of 9
in passing the entrance was 4 fathoms; but to those who may wish to go
in, the plan in Plate II of the Atlas, and a good look-out from the
masthead, will be of more service than any written directions.
So soon as the ship was secured, I landed with the naturalists; and after
fixing upon a place for our tents, ascended the highest hill to take
angles. Amongst other objects I perceived in the bearing of N. 87 deg. 20' W.
two distant pieces of water, at the back of the bight near West Cape
Howe; but whether they were lakes or an inlet of the sea could not be
distinguished. Our tents, under the guard of a party of marines, were set
up this evening; and in the morning [SUNDAY 13 DECEMBER 1801] the
observatory and instruments were sent on shore, under the care of
lieutenant Flinders, who had undertaken to assist me in performing the
office of astronomer.
Marks of the country being inhabited were found every where, but as yet
there was nothing to indicate the presence of the natives in our
neighbourhood; I therefore allowed a part of the ship's company to divert
themselves on shore this afternoon; and the same was done every Sunday
during our stay in this harbour. On Monday [14 DECEMBER 1801] the
topmasts were struck, and our various duties commenced; the naturalists
ranged the country in all directions, being landed at such places as they
desired; whilst my own time was divided betwixt the observatory and the
survey of the Sound.
Some smokes being perceived at the head of the harbour, Mr. Brown and
other gentlemen directed their excursion that way and met with several of
the natives, who were shy but not afraid. One man with whom they had
communication was admired for his manly behaviour, and they gave him a
bird which had been shot, and a pocket-handkerchief; but, like the
generality of people hitherto seen in this country, these men did not
seem to be desirous of communication with strangers; and they very early
made signs to our gentlemen to return from whence they came. Next morning
[TUESDAY 15 DECEMBER 1801], however, we were agreeably surprised by the
appearance of two Indians, and afterwards of others, upon the side of the
hill behind our tents. They approached with much caution, one coming
first with poised spear, and making many gestures, accompanied with much
vociferous parleying, in which he sometimes seemed to threaten us if we
did not be gone, and at others to admit of our stay. On Mr. Purdie, the
assistant-surgeon, going up to him unarmed, a communication was brought
about, and they received some articles of iron and toys, giving in
exchange some of their implements; and after a short stay, left us,
apparently on very good terms.
MONDAY 17 DECEMBER 1801
On the 17th one of our former visitors brought two strangers with him;
and after this time, they and others came almost every day, and
frequently stopped a whole morning at the tents. We always made them
presents of such things as seemed to be most agreeable, but they very
rarely brought us anything in return; nor was it uncommon to find small
mirrors and other things left about the shore, so that at length our
presents were discontinued.
WEDNESDAY 23 DECEMBER 1801
I formed a party on the 23rd, consisting of the officers of the ship, the
scientific gentlemen, and others, amounting to thirteen, well armed and
provided for two days, in order to visit the lakes behind West Cape Howe.
We walked along the shore to the north-western extremity of
Princess-Royal Harbour, where several small runs of fresh water were
found to drain in from peaty swamps. Striking from thence into the
country in a western direction, we had not advanced far when a native was
seen running before us; and soon afterward an old man, who had been
several times at the tents, came up, unarmed as usual. He was very
anxious that we should not go further; and acted with a good deal of
resolution in first stopping one and then another of those who were
foremost. He was not able to prevail; but we accommodated him so far as
to make a circuit round the wood, where it seemed probable his family and
female friends were placed. The old man followed us, hallooing frequently
to give information of our movements; and when a paroquet was shot, he
expressed neither fear nor surprise, but received the bird with gladness
and attended with some curiosity to the reloading of the gun.
Our course for the lakes led us through swamps and thick brushwoods, in
which our new acquaintance followed for some time; but at length, growing
tired of people who persevered in keeping a bad road in opposition to his
recommendation of a better, which, indeed, had nothing objectionable in
it but that it led directly contrary to where our object lay, he fell
behind and left us. We afterwards took to the skirts of the sea-coast
hills and made better progress; but were obliged to recross the swamps
and force our way through a thick brush before reaching the eastern lake.
This piece of water was found to be one mile and a half east and west,
and one mile in breadth, and appeared to receive the drainings from the
numerous swamps round about. In coasting round the north side, to reach
the south-western lake, we were stopped by a serpentine stream, upon
which were two black swans; but they took to flight before we could get
near to shoot them. After following the windings of this riverlet some
distance to the north-west, without being able to pass over, we struck
inland towards the skirt of some rising hills, and crossed the stream
early enough to walk a mile to the south-west before sunset, when the
convenience of dry ground, with wood and water at hand, induced us to
halt for the night.
THURSDAY 24 DECEMBER 1801
On Thursday morning we reached the south-western lake, and found it to be
larger than the first. Its water was brackish, which bespoke a
communication with the sea; and as there was no certainty that this
communication might not be too deep to be passed, it was thought prudent
to give up the intention of proceeding to the sea side, and our steps
were retraced across the rivulet and round the northern lake. We then
struck southward and ascended the hills to the top of the cliffs facing
the sea; from whence I had an opportunity of seeing the bight near Cape
Howe, and the form of the lakes; but no water communication was visible
Our course homeward was pursued along the sandy ridge at the back of the
cliffs, where the want of water was as great as the superabundance had
been in the low land going out. Towards sunset, when Princess-Royal
Harbour was still some miles distant, the natural-history painter became
unable to proceed further, being overcome with the labour of the walk,
with the excessive heat, and with thirst. To have detained the whole
party in a state of sufferance would have been imprudent; and Mr. Brown
and two others having volunteered to stay, we left them the scanty
remains of our provision, and pushed forward to the tents, which we
reached at eight o'clock. At midnight we had the pleasure to see our
friends arrive, and the preparation made for sending to their assistance,
at daybreak, became unnecessary.
The country through which we passed in this excursion has but little to
recommend it. The stony hills of the sea coast were, indeed, generally
covered with shrubs; but there was rarely any depth of vegetable soil,
and no wood. The land slopes down gradually behind these hills; and at
the bottom water drains out and forms a chain of swamps extending from
Princess-Royal Harbour to the lakes. Here the country is covered with
grass and brushwood, and in the parts a little elevated there are forest
trees; nevertheless the soil is shallow and unfit for cultivation.
WEDNESDAY 30 DECEMBER 1801
On the 30th, our wooding and the watering of the ship were completed, the
rigging was refitted, the sails repaired and bent, and the ship unmoored.
Our friends the natives continued to visit us; and the old man with
several others being at the tents this morning, I ordered the party of
marines on shore to be exercised in their presence. The red coats and
white crossed belts were greatly admired, having some resemblance to
their own manner of ornamenting themselves; and the drum, but
particularly the fife, excited their astonishment; but when they saw
these beautiful red-and-white men, with their bright muskets, drawn up in
a line, they absolutely screamed with delight; nor were their wild
gestures and vociferation to be silenced but by commencing the exercise,
to which they paid the most earnest and silent attention. Several of them
moved their hands involuntarily, according to the motions; and the old
man placed himself at the end of the rank, with a short staff in his
hand, which he shouldered, presented, grounded as did the marines their
muskets, without, I believe, knowing what he did. Before firing, the
Indians were made acquainted with what was going to take place; so that
the vollies did not excite much terror.
SUNDAY 3 JANUARY 1802
The tents and observatory were already struck; and everything being sent
on board, we took leave of the natives, and embarked with the intention
of running into the Sound this evening; but a change in the wind, to
south-by-east, prevented it. This wind veered to east and north-east, and
for a short time blew strong; so that it was the 3rd of January in the
afternoon before we steered out of Princess-Royal Harbour. It was not my
intention to proceed immediately to sea; and I therefore took the
opportunity of standing backward and forward in the Sound, with the
dredge and trawl overboard; and a variety of small fish were brought up.
These were of little use as food; but with the shells, sea weeds, and
corals they furnished amusement and occupation to the naturalist and
draughtsman, and a pretty kind of hippocampus, which was not scarce, was
In the evening the anchor was dropped in 7 fathoms, abreast of the second
sandy beach near a flat rock on the south side of the Sound, almost in
the same spot where captain Vancouver had anchored in 1791. I think the
Sound does not afford a more secure place, the sole points of exposition
being between Bald Head and Break-sea Island, making an angle of no more
than 10 deg.; and as both wood and water are procurable here, though neither
very good, a ship proposing to stay only a few days is under no necessity
of having recourse to the harbours.
MONDAY 4 JANUARY 1802
On the 4th a fresh gale blew from the westward and prevented me from
moving the ship. A bottle, containing a parchment to inform future
visitors of our arrival and intention to sail on the morrow, was left
upon the top of Seal Island; and the wind having moderated next day, and
the weather become finer, though still squally, we then made sail out of
King George's Sound to prosecute the further examination of the coast.
TUESDAY 5 JANUARY 1802
The refreshments we had procured were fish and oysters. The seine was
frequently hauled upon the different beaches; but although it was done in
the evening, round fires which had been previously kindled, little
success was obtained in this way. With hook and line we were more
fortunate, both alongside and from boats stationed off the rocky points;
and the whole ship's company had generally a fresh meal once in three or
four days. Of oysters, as many were taken from the shoals in both
harbours as we chose to spare time for gathering. Our fire wood was
procured from the north point of entrance to Princess-Royal Harbour, at
the inner end of the long middle beach; but the trees best calculated for
sawing into planks were obtained at the easternmost of the two woody
projections on the south side of the harbour. A good number of planks and
logs were taken on board for making garden boxes to contain the most
curious plants collected by the naturalist, and for a variety of other
purposes. The fresh water, procured by digging near the tents, was a
little discoloured, but good; and it was sufficiently abundant for every
purpose: its specific gravity was 1.003 at the temperature of 69 deg..
Captain Vancouver has described the country in the neighbourhood of King
George's Sound, and therefore a few observations upon it will suffice.
The basis stone is granite, which frequently shows itself at the surface
in the form of smooth, bare rock; but upon the seacoast hills, and the
shores on the south sides of the Sound and Princess-Royal Harbour, the
granite is generally covered with a crust of calcareous stone; as it is,
also, upon Michaelmas Island. Captain Vancouver mentions (Vol. I. p. 49)
having found upon the top of Bald Head, branches of coral protruding
through the sand, exactly like those seen in the coral beds beneath the
surface of the sea; a circumstance which should seem to bespeak this
country to have emerged from the ocean at no very distant period of time.
This curious fact I was desirous to verify; and his description was
proved to be correct. I found, also, two broken columns of stone three or
four feet high, formed like stumps of trees and of a thickness superior
to the body of a man; but whether they were of coral or of wood now
petrified, or whether they might not have been calcareous rocks worn into
that particular form by the weather, I cannot determine. Their elevation
above the present level of the sea could not have been less than four
But little calcareous matter was found elsewhere than on the southern
shores. In Oyster Harbour a rather strongly impregnated ironstone
prevails, but mixed with quartz and granite; and in some parts of both
harbours a brown argillaceous earth was not uncommon.
The soil of the hills is very barren, though, except near the sea coast,
generally covered with wood; and that of the plains at the head of
Princess-Royal Harbour has been described as shallow, and incapable of
cultivation. In the neighbourhood of Oyster Harbour the land was said to
be better, especially near the rivulet which falls into the northern
corner; and on the borders of a small lake, at the back of the long beach
between the two harbours, the country was represented to be pleasing to
the eye and tolerably fertile.
The timber trees of the woods consist principally of different species of
that extensive class called _gum tree_ by the colonists at Port Jackson,
by botanists _eucalyptus_. They do not grow very large here, and the wood
is heavy and seldom fit for other than common purposes. Amongst the
plants collected by Mr. Brown and his associates was a small one of a
novel kind which we commonly called the pitcher plant. Around the root
leaves are several little vases lined with spiny hairs, and there were
generally found to contain a sweetish water, and also a number of dead
ants. It cannot be asserted that the ants were attracted by the water,
and prevented by the spiny hairs from making their escape; but it seemed
not improbable that this was a contrivance of nature to obtain the means
necessary either to the nourishment or preservation of the plant.
Amongst the animal productions the kangaroo and cassowary hold the first
ranks. The kangaroo appeared to be numerous, and of more than one
species; but none were caught. Three of them seen by me bore a
resemblance to the large kind which inhabits the forests of Port Jackson;
and the cassowary showed nothing distinguishable at a distance from the
same animal at that place: both were shy; as were the ducks, swans, and
all the birds.
Near Point Possession were found two nests of extraordinary magnitude.
They were built upon the ground, from which they rose about two feet; and
were of vast circumference and great interior capacity, the branches of
trees and other matter, of which each nest was composed, being enough to
fill a small cart. Captain Cook (see Hawkesworth, Vol. III. p. 195) found
one of these enormous nests upon Eagle Island, on the East Coast; and if
the magnitude of the constructor be proportionate to the size of the
nest, Terra Australis must be inhabited by a species of bird little
inferior to the condor of the Andes.
Amongst the reptiles was a variety of lizards; one of which, of the
larger size, was met with by Dampier on the West Coast, and is described
by him "as a sort of guano, but differing from others in three remarkable
particulars: for these had a larger and uglier head, and had no tail: and
at the rump, instead of the tail there, they had a stump of a tail, which
appeared like another head; but not really such, being without mouth or
eyes. Yet this creature seemed, by this means, to have a head at each
end; and, which may be reckoned a fourth difference, the legs, also,
seemed all four of them to be fore legs, being all alike in shape and
length, and seeming by the joints and bendings to be made as if they were
to go indifferently either head or tail foremost. They were speckled
black and yellow like toads, and had scales or knobs on their backs like
those of crocodiles. They are very slow in motion and when a man comes
nigh them they will stand and hiss, not endeavouring to get away. Their
livers are also spotted black and yellow; and the body when opened hath a
very unsavoury smell. The guano's I have observed to be very good meat,
and I have often eaten of them with pleasure; but though I have eaten of
snakes, crocodiles, and alligators, and many creatures that look
frightfully enough, and there are but few I should have been afraid to
eat of, if pressed by hunger, yet I think my stomach would scarce have
served to venture upon these New Holland guano's, both the looks and the
smell of them being so offensive." The animal is certainly of a singular
form; but it is scarcely necessary to say that the merit of Dampier's
description does not consist in being strictly accurate.
The fish caught with hook and line were principally small mullet, and an
excellent kind of snapper, nearly the same as that called _wollamai_ by
the natives of Port Jackson; but these were larger, weighing sometimes as
much as twenty pounds.
Our frequent and amicable communication with the natives of this country
has been mentioned. The women were, however, kept out of sight with
seeming jealousy; and the men appeared to suspect the same conduct in us,
after they had satisfied themselves that the most beardless of those they
saw at the tents were of the same sex with the rest. The belief that
there must be women in the ship induced two of them to comply with our
persuasion of getting into the boat, one morning, to go on board; but
their courage failing, they desired to be relanded, and made signs that
the ship must go on shore to them.
It was with some surprise that I saw the natives of the east coast of New
South Wales so nearly portrayed in those of the south-western extremity
of New Holland. These do not, indeed, extract one of the upper front
teeth at the age of puberty, as is generally practised at Port Jackson,
nor do they make use of the _womerah_, or throwing stick; but their
colour, the texture of the hair, and personal appearance are the same;
their songs run in the same cadence; the manner of painting themselves is
similar; their belts and fillets of hair are made in the same way, and
worn in the same manner. The short, skin cloak, which is of kangaroo, and
worn over the shoulders, leaving the rest of the body naked, is more in
the manner of the wood natives living at the back of Port Jackson than of
those who inhabit the sea coast; and everything we saw confirmed the
supposition of captain Vancouver, that they live more by hunting than
fishing. None of the small islands had been visited, no canoes were seen,
nor was any tree found in the woods from which the bark had been taken
for making one. They were fearful of trusting themselves upon the water;
and we could never succeed in making them understand the use of the fish
hook, although they were intelligent in comprehending our signs upon
The manners of these people are quick and vehement, and their
conversation vociferous, like that of most uncivilised people. They
seemed to have no idea of any superiority we possessed over them; on the
contrary, they left us, after the first interview, with some appearance
of contempt for our pusillanimity; which was probably inferred from the
desire we showed to be friendly with them. This opinion, however, seemed
to be corrected in their future visits.
Notwithstanding the similarity of person and manner to the inhabitants of
Port Jackson, the language of these people is very different. We found
their pronunciation difficult to be imitated; more so, indeed, than our
language was to them. Several English words they pronounced perfectly;
whilst of such where an _f_ or an _s_ entered they could make but little:
Finger, was pronounced _bing-gah_, ship, _yip_; and of King George they
make _Ken Jag-ger_. In the difficulty of pronouncing the _f_ and _s_ they
resemble the Port Jackson natives; and the word used by them in calling
to a distance, _cau-wah_! (come here) is nearly similar to _cow-ee_! The
word also to express _eye_ is nearly the same. But in the following
table, which contains all the words that, with any certainty, I was able
to collect, the most essential differences will be found both from the
Port Jackson language and from that of the south end of Van Diemen's
Land; and the words collected by Captain Cook at Endeavour River bear no
resemblance to any of them.
English. K. George's Sound. Port Jackson.* Van Diemen's Land.**
Head Kaat Ca-ber-ra
Hair Kaat-jou De-war-ra Pelilogueni
Nose Mo-il No-gro Mugui (Muidge, Cook)
Cheek, or beard Ny-a-nuk Yar-rin Canguine
Teeth Yea-al Da-ra Pegui or Canan (Kamy,
Ear Du-ong Go-ray Vaigui (Koygee, Cook)
Lips Ur-luk Wil-ling Mogude lia
Throat Wurt Cad-le-an
Nipple Bpep Na-bung
Belly Ko-bul Bar-rong Lomangui
Posteriors Wa-la-kah Boong Nune
Knee Wo-nat Go-rook Ronga
Leg Maat Dar-ra Lerai
Foot Jaan Ma-no-e Pere
The sun Djaat Co-ing Panubere
[* From Collins' _Account of the English Colony in New South Wales_, Vol.
I. p. 610-611]
[** _Voyage de D'Entrecasteaux_, par M. de Rossel. Tome I. p. 552 _et.
seq._ These words are written after the French pronunciation of the
The following anatomical admeasurement of one of the best proportioned of
our visitors was furnished by the surgeon, Mr. Hugh Bell:
Full height Ft. in.
Circumference of the head 5 7 6
From the transverse nasal suture to the posterior ridge 1 11 0
of the occiput 1 3 0
From the small rim of each ear across the forehead 1 0 0
From the nasal suture, over the nose, to the tip of the chin 0 5 2
From ditto to the tip of the nose 0 1 0
From the tip of the nose to the edge of the upper lip 0 1 0
From the edge of the under lip to the tip of the chin 0 1 5
Extent of the mouth 0 2 1
nostrils 0 1 6
lower jaw from each angle 0 8 6
Length of the arm 1 1 6
fore arm 1 0 0
middle metacarpal bone 0 4 0
middle finger 0 4 3
femur, from the great trochanter
to its lower end 1 5 6
tibia 1 4 6
foot 0 10 0
Length from the protuberance of the inner ankle to the tip
of the heel 0 3 9
Ditto to the end of the great toe 0 8 6
Circumference of the neck 1 0 6
chest 2 8 9
pelvis 2 4 9
arm 0 10 6
elbow joint 0 9 6
fore arm 0 9 9
wrist 0 6 0
thigh 1 7 6
Circumference just above the knee joint 1 1 0
of the knee joint 1 1 0
of the leg, immediately below the knee joint 0 11 0
of the leg 1 0 0
of the leg small 0 7 6
of the foot 0 10 6
Our operations at the observatory were not favoured by the weather; but a
sufficient number of observations was obtained for all the purposes of
The _Latitude_ of the tents in Princess-Royal Harbour, from three
meridian zenith distances of the sun, observed with Ramsden's universal
35 deg. 2' 5" south.
_Longitude_ from thirty-one sets of distances of the sun east and west of
the moon, of which the particulars are given in Table I. of the Appendix
to this volume,
117 deg. 53' 10" east.
These being reduced by the survey to BALD HEAD,
at the entrance of the sound, will place it in
Latitude 35 deg. 6' 15" south.
Longitude 118 deg. 0' 45" east.*
The mean rates of the time keepers, deduced from equal altitudes taken on
and between Dec. 15 and Jan. 1, and their errors from mean time at
Greenwich, at noon there on the last day of observation, were as under:
h ' " "
Earnshaw's No. 543, slow 0 21 46,69 and losing 6,46 per day.
No. 520, 0 51 2,81 16,72
Arnold's No. 176, 1 0 45,46 9,26
No. 82 went too irregularly to be worth taking.
The longitude of the tents given by the time keepers on the first day of
observation, with the Cape rates, was as follows:
Earnshaw's No. 543, 118 deg. 14' 49" east.
520, 117 59 22
Arnold's 176, 118 1 14
The two first, which generally throughout the voyage showed themselves to
be the best time keepers, were on a mean 13' 56" to the east of the lunar
observations; but by using rates accelerating in arithmetic progression
from those of the Cape of Good Hope to the new ones of King George's
Sound, the mean of Earnshaw's two time keepers will then differ only 8'
19" to the east in forty-four days. In fixing the position of places from
Cape Leeuwin to the Sound, these accelerating rates have been used; and
the longitude has been further corrected by allowing an equal proportion
of the error, 8' 19", according to the number of days after Nov. 1, when
the last observations were made at the Cape of Good Hope. In the
Appendix, the nature of these corrections is more particularly explained.
[* The situation of Bald Head, in captain Vancouver's chart, is 35 deg. 6'
40" south, and 118 deg. 16' 30" east from lunar observations which were not
corrected for the errors of the astronomical tables. The situation
assigned to Bald Head in the voyage of the French admiral
D'Entrecasteaux, is 35 deg. 10' south, and 118 deg. 2' 40" east; but since the
admiral passed it at six in the evening, and in blowing weather, an error
of a few minutes may have entered into both latitude and longitude.]
The height of the thermometer at the tents, as observed at noon, varied
between 80 deg. and 64 deg.. On board the ship, it never exceeded 701/2 deg., nor was
below 60 deg.. The range of the barometer was from 29,42 inches in a gale of
wind from the westward, to 30,28 inches in a moderate breeze from
Mean Dip of the S. end of the needle, taken onshore, 64 deg. 1'
On board, upon the cabin table, 64 deg. 52'.
The increase being probably occasioned by the iron ballast in the bread
The _Variation_ given by three compasses at the observatory was 6 deg. 221/2'
west, by Walker's meridional compass 5 deg. 25', and by the surveying
theodolite 8 deg. 17'; but upon the _eastern_ part of the flat granite rock,
on the south side of the sound, two theodolites gave only 4 deg. 1' west. On
board the ship, at anchor off Point Possession, the variation from the
three compasses on the binnacle., when the head was southeastward, was 9 deg.
28'; or, corrected to the meridian, 7 deg. 12' west. It seems not easy to say
what ought to be considered as the true variation; but the mean of the
observations at the tents being 6 deg. 42', and on board the ship 7 deg. 12', I
conceive it will not be far wrong if taken at 7 deg. 0' west.
This is what I allowed in tracing a base line upon the beach between the
two harbours; and the back bearings from different stations did not vary
more than a degree from it, except at the _west_ end of Michaelmas
Island, where the variation, in one spot, was _greater _by 3 deg..
The above different variations show that the needle was affected by the
rocks; and there will be frequent occasion, in the course of the voyage,
to point out similar anomalies in the observations on land; for they were
found to take place upon almost all those parts of Terra Australis, where
the basis stone is of granite, as here; and also in those where
green-stone, porphyry, basaltes, or iron-stone prevail; whereas in the
lime, or grit-stone countries, the needle did not appear to suffer any
derangement. In the Appendix No. II. to the second volume, where the
changes on ship board, which arose from altering the direction of the
head, are explained, this subject of the differences on shore is
mentioned; for they also were not without a certain degree of regularity.
No set of _Tide_ was perceived on board, either whilst the ship was in
the Sound or in Princess-Royal Harbour; nevertheless it was sometimes
found to run with considerable strength in the narrow entrances of both
harbours. According to lieutenant Flinders' observations on shore during
sixteen days there was only one high water in twenty-four hours, which
always took place between six and twelve at night; for after, by
gradually becoming later, it had been high water at twelve, the next
night it took place soon after six o'clock; and then happened later by
three-quarters of an hour each night as before. The greatest rise
observed was three feet two inches, and the least two feet eight inches.
The accumulation was made in this manner: After low water it rose for
several hours; then ceased, and became stationary, or perhaps fell back a
little. In a few hours it began to rise again; and in about twelve from
the first commencement was high water. It was observed by Captain Cook
upon the east coast of this country*, and since by many others, including
myself, that the night tide rose considerably higher than that of the
day; which is conformable to our observations in King George's Sound; but
with this difference, that in the day we had scarcely any tide at all.
[* See Hawkesworth's Voyages, Vol. III. p. 224.]
The base line for my survey of the Sound was of 2.46 geographic miles,
measured round the curve of the long beach between the two harbours. The
other stations whence bearings were taken with the theodolite were--in
the Sound, four; at the entrance of and within Princess-Royal Harbour,
three; and in Oyster Harbour, four; at each of which a point with a
circle is marked in the plan. The soundings were either taken in the
ship, with simultaneous cross bearings, or in boats, generally
accompanied with notices of known objects in a line, or the angles
between them taken with a sextant.
There are many small but no very essential differences between my plan
and that of captain Vancouver. The most important to navigation is that
in the soundings going into Oyster Harbour; I could find only thirteen
feet over the bar, whereas he marked seventeen; a difference, however,
which may not improbably have taken place between 1791 and 1801.
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.
[SOUTH COAST. FROM KING GEORGE'S SOUND.]
In running along that part of the South Coast which lies to the west of
King George's Sound, I had endeavoured to keep so close in with the land
that the breaking water on the shore should be visible from the ship's
deck; by which means our supposed distance would be little subject to
error, and no river or opening could escape being seen. This close
proximity could not, however, be obtained in every part, especially where
the coast retreated far back; but it was always attempted where
practicable and unattended with much danger or loss of time; and when it
could not be done, I was commonly at the mast head with a glass. All the
bearings were laid down so soon as taken whilst the land was in sight,
and before retiring to rest I made it a practice to finish up the rough
chart for the day, as also my journals of astronomical observations, of
bearings, and of remarks. When we hauled off from the coast at night,
every precaution was taken to come in with the same point in the morning,
as soon after daylight as practicable; and when the situation of the ship
relatively to the land of the preceding evening was ascertained, our
route along the coast was resumed. This plan, to see and lay down
everything myself, required constant attention and much labour, but was
absolutely necessary to obtaining that accuracy of which I was desirous;
and now, on recommencing the survey from King George's Sound to the
eastward, I persevered in the same system; and it was adhered to,
although not particularly mentioned, in all the succeeding part of the
TUESDAY 5 JANUARY 1802
(Atlas, Plate II.)
On the 5th of January, in the morning, we got under way from the Sound,
having a fresh wind from the westward and squally weather. I steered
between Michaelmas Island and the main, in order to explore better that
part of the Sound, and ascertain the extent of a shoal running off from
the north-west end of the island. It was found to run out not further
than half a mile, at which distance we passed in 5 fathoms water; and at
noon, when the east end of Break-sea Island bore S. 30 deg. W., we had 33
Mount Gardner is a high, conic-shaped hill, apparently of granite, very
well delineated in captain Vancouver's atlas. It stands upon a projecting
cape, round which the shore falls back to the northward, forming a sandy
bight where there appeared to be shelter from western winds; indeed, as
the coast-line was not distinctly seen round the south-west corner of the
bight, it is possible there may be some small inlet in that part.
The south end of an island, called Ile Pelee (Bald Island) by
D'Entrecasteaux, opened round the cape of Mount Gardner at N. 69 deg. E. The
French navigator having passed without side of this island, I steered
within, through a passage of a short mile wide; and had 17 fathoms for
the shoalest water, on a sandy bottom. Bald Island is of moderate
elevation, and barren, as its name implies; it is about two-and-half
miles in length, and the south end lies in 34 deg. 55' south and 118 deg. 29'
east. It lies off a rocky projection of the mainland, at which terminates
a ridge of mountain extending three leagues along the shore from the
bight behind Mount Gardner. There are a number of small peaks upon the
top of this ridge which induced me to give it the name _Mount Manypeak_.
After clearing the passage of Bald Island I found the shore to trend
north-eastward, and to be low and sandy; but at the distance of eight
leagues inland there was a chain of rugged mountains, of which the
eastern and highest peak, called _Mount Rugged_, lies N. 111/2 deg. W. from the
passage. At six we came up with a steep rock, one mile from the main, and
then hauled to the wind, offshore, for the night. This lump, which
appeared to be of granite, I called _Haul-off Rock_; it lies in 31 deg. 43'
south and 118 deg. 39' east, and two leagues to the south-west of a cliffy
point which bears the name of Cape Riche in the French chart.
WEDNESDAY 6 JANUARY 1802
At one in the morning, being seven or eight leagues from the coast and in
45 fathoms, we tacked ship towards the land, having a fresh breeze at
west-south-west, with fine weather. Haul-off Rock bore N. 77 deg. W., three
or four miles, at six, and we then bore away along the coast. Beyond Cape
Riche the shore forms a sandy bight, in which is a small island; and on
the north side of another cliffy projection, four leagues further, there
is a similar falling back of the coast, where it is probable there is
also good shelter for boats, if not a small inlet. At noon a projecting
head two miles long, which, from the lumps of rock at the top, I called
_Cape Knob_, was three miles distant; and our observations and bearings
of the land were then as under;
Latitude, observed to the north and south 34 deg. 35' 26"
Longitude by time keepers, 119 15
The cliffy projection past Cape Riche,
with Mount Rugged behind it, N. 75 W.
Two rocks, distant 7 or 8 miles, N. 56 W.
Cape Knob, eastern extremity, N. 11 E.
A cliffy projection further eastward, N. 46 E.
One of the Doubtful Isles, N. 54 E.
The coast is sandy on both sides of Cape Knob, but especially on the west
side, where the hillocks at the back of the shore are little else than
At four o'clock we had passed the Point Hood of Vancouver; and seeing a
channel of nearly a mile in width between it and the two outer of his
Doubtful Islands, steered through it with soundings from 20 to 24
fathoms. I then hauled up south-westward, along the inner island and
point, and sent away the master to sound between them; it being my
intention to anchor, if a sufficient depth should be found for the ship
to escape in case the wind came to blow from the eastward: it was then
light at south-east-by-south. Mr. Thistle found the opening to be very
narrow, and no more than 2 fathoms in the shoalest part; we therefore
stood out, repassing within a small black islet, upon which were some
seals. At eight, tacked to the southward and weathered the Doubtful
On the north side of the isles and of Point Hood the shore falls back
five or six miles to the west-south-west before it curves northward, and
affords good shelter against all winds which do not blow strong from
between north-east and east. At the time we stood out of the bay the ship
was three miles within the outermost islands, and not more than a cable's
length from the shore of Point Hood, and we had 71/2 fathoms, sandy bottom.
The point and islands are steep and rocky, but the western shores of this
great bay are mostly sandy beaches. On the north-western and north sides
there are some masses of tolerably high land which appeared to be
granitic; and for distinction in the survey they are called _West_,
_Middle_, and _East Mount Barren_.
THURSDAY 7 JANUARY 1802
The wind was variable between east and north-by-east during the night. At
daybreak the three mounts were in sight, and the north end of the
Doubtful Isles bore N. 74 deg. W. three leagues. As the wind veered round to
the west and southward, we steered more in for the north side of Doubtful
Island Bay; and at noon, our situation and the bearings of the land were
Latitude, observed to the north and south 34 deg. 16' 40"
Longitude by time keepers 119 47
Doubtful Isles, south extreme, dist. 11 miles, S. 55 W.
West Mount Barren, N. 771/2 W.
Middle do., N. 25 W.
East do., the furthest visible land, N. 28 E.
Our course was directed to the northward, with the wind at
south-east-by-south; but seeing the appearance of an opening in the
north-west corner of the bay, with smokes rising there, we steered
north-west for it. In an hour the low land was seen from the mast head to
extend across the supposed opening, and we then hauled up east-by-north,
to the wind, at the distance of five or six miles from the high, rocky
shore between the Middle and East Mount Barren. At seven in the evening
the eastern mount bore N. 44 deg. W., three leagues, and the coast, which
from thence becomes sandy, was seen as far as N. 76 deg. E. A small reef, one
of two before laid down both by Vancouver and D'Entrecasteaux, was then
observed three or four miles to seaward. It was important to get sight of
this reef before dark, for we should otherwise have been at great
uncertainty during the night, more especially as the surf upon it broke
only at times.
The wind being at south-by-east, we tacked and stood westward, nearly in
our afternoon's track, until midnight; and the breeze having then veered
to south-west, we were able to stretch off south-south-east to windward
of the breakers. At half-past five in the morning [FRIDAY 8 JANUARY
1802], East Mount Barren was four leagues distant to the northward, and
our course was resumed along the shore. The breakers were passed at the
distance of two miles, and the mount was set over them, bearing N. 38 deg. W.
at seven o'clock. The second small reef lies nearly east-north-east from
the first, and was left three miles to the northward.
On the preceding evening a small rocky island had been seen indistinctly
from the mast head, and it now again came in sight to the eastward. The
French ships had passed without side of this island, and I therefore
steered to go between it and the mainland; but breaking water was seen to
extend so far to the north that the uncertainty of finding a passage made
the attempt too dangerous with the wind right aft. We accordingly hauled
up to windward of the island, and had 38 fathoms between it and a small
reef lying S. 72 deg. W., between two and three miles from it. The island is
low, smooth, and sterile, and is frequented by seals; its latitude is 34 deg.
6' and longitude 120 deg. 28', and it lies eight or nine miles from the
At noon the rocky island was near ten miles astern, and a cluster of four
small islets appeared in the offing at the distance of four leagues. The
nearest part of the main land, seven or eight miles distant, was low and
sandy, as it had been all the way from East Mount Barren, and continued
to be to the furthest extreme visible from the masthead; there were,
however, a few scattered sandy hillocks on the shore, but nothing could
be seen of the back country. Our situation, and the bearings taken at
this time were as under:
Latitude, observed to the north and south, 34 deg. 1' 48"
Longitude by time keepers, 119 38
East Mount Barren, N. 801/2 W.
The small island astern, S. 65 W.
Four islets in the offing, S. 77 E.
Mast-head extreme of the coast, N. 59 E.
We passed at nearly an equal distance between the four rocky islets and
the main land, that is to say, at six or eight miles from each; and at
five o'clock were abreast of a projecting part of the coast where the
sandy hills seemed to form white cliffs. This is called Cap des Basses
(Shoal Cape) in the French chart; and we saw, in fact, an islet under the
land, surrounded with much broken water, and the soundings decreased from
35 to 25 fathoms soon after passing it at the distance of five or six
miles. There was an appearance of small inlets on each side of Shoal
Cape, but as admiral D'Entrecasteaux passed within three miles and does
not mark any, it was probably a deception, caused by the land being very
low between the sand hills.
[SOUTH COAST. RECHERCHE'S ARCHIPELAGO.]
Before sunset the westernmost isle of D'Entrecasteaux's _Archipel de la
Recherche_ was in sight to the eastward, and at half-past seven our
distance from it was about six miles. The French admiral had mostly
skirted round the archipelago, a sufficient reason for me to attempt
passing through the middle, if the weather did not make the experiment
too dangerous. It was fine at this time, and the breeze moderate at
south-south-west; and I therefore took measures to be in with the western
group as early on the following morning as possible, to have the whole
day for getting through.
SATURDAY 9 JANUARY 1802
At a quarter-past five we bore away for the south end of the westernmost
island, passed in within a mile and a half at seven, and steered eastward
for the clusters rising ahead and on both bows. At noon the number of
rocks above water, the patches of breakers, and the islands with which we
were surrounded made it necessary to heave to, in order to take the
angles of so many objects with some degree of accuracy. The situation of
the ship, and the three most material bearings were these:
Latitude, observed to the north and south 35 deg. 0' 25"
Longitude reduced up from eight o'clock 121 49 45
Observatory I. (Of D'Entrecasteaux) dist. 6 miles, N. 37 W.
High Peak on Cape Le Grand, N. 841/2 E.
Small, high, peaked island, distant 7 or 8 miles, S. 57 E.
This last peak had been visible from daybreak, and appears to be the top
of the imperfectly formed _Ile de Remarque_ of D'Entrecasteaux's chart.
and from it I measured with a sextant the angles of most of the other
objects. The long reef of rocks called _La Chaussee_ (The Causeway) was
four or five miles distant to the southward; and a sunken rock, upon
which the sea broke at times, was three miles off to the north-east. The
islands were more particularly numerous to the east-south-east, where our
course lay; but as they were generally high, with bold rocky shores, and
we had hitherto found deep water, I bore away for them so soon as all the
bearings were obtained.
The chart alone can give any adequate idea of this labyrinth of islands
and rocks, or of our track amongst them until half past five in the
evening. We were then abreast of the _Ile du Mondrain_, and the view from
the mast head was almost as crowded as before; but with this difference,
that the islands were smaller, and the low rocks and patches of breakers
more numerous. Seeing no probability of reaching a space of clear water
in which to stand off and on during the night, and no prospect of shelter
under any of the islands, I found myself under the necessity of adopting
a hazardous measure; and with the concurrence of the master's opinion, we
steered directly before the wind for the main coast, where the appearance
of some beaches, behind other islands, gave a hope of finding anchorage.
At seven in the evening we entered a small sandy bay; and finding it
sheltered everywhere except to the south-westward, in which direction
there were many islands and rocks in the offing to break off the sea, the
anchor was dropped in 7 fathoms, sandy bottom. The master sounded round
the ship, but nothing was found to injure the cables; and except the
water being shallow in the north-west corner of the bay, there was no
danger to be apprehended, unless from strong south-west winds. The
critical circumstance under which this place was discovered induced me to
give it the name of LUCKY BAY.
SUNDAY 10 JANUARY 1802
I had intended to pursue our route through the archipelago in the
morning; but the scientific gentlemen having expressed a desire for the
ship to remain two or three days, to give them an opportunity of
examining the productions of the country, it was complied with; and they
landed soon after daylight. I went on shore also, to make observations
upon the rates of the time-keepers; and afterwards ascended a hill at the
back of the bay to take angles with a theodolite. A party of the
gentlemen were upon the top, eating a fruit not much unlike green walnuts
in external appearance, and invited me to partake; but having
breakfasted, and not much liking their flavour, I did but taste them. Mr.
Thistle and some others who had eaten liberally were taken sick, and
remained unwell all the day afterward. The plant which produced these
nuts was a species of _zamia_ (_Zamia spiralis_ of Brown's _Prodr. flor.
Nov. Holl._, I. 348); a class of plants nearly allied to the third kind
of palm found by captain Cook on the East Coast, the fruit of which
produced the same deleterious effects on board the Endeavour.*
[* Hawkesworth, Vol. III. p. 220.,221.]
The weather, unfortunately for my bearings, was so hazy that unless
objects were eminently conspicuous they could not be distinguished beyond
four or five leagues. My list, however, contained forty-five islands and
clusters of rocks, independently of many patches of breakers where
nothing above water appeared; yet most of those in the western part of
the archipelago were invisible, either from their distance or from being
hidden by other lands.
In turning from the view of these complicated dangers to that of the
interior country the prospect was but little improved. Sand and stone,
with the slightest covering of vegetation, every where presented
themselves on the lower lands; and the many shining parts of the sides of
the hills showed them to be still more bare. The vegetation, indeed,
consisted of an abundant variety of shrubs and small plants, and yielded
a delightful harvest to the botanists; but to the herdsmen and cultivator
it promised nothing: not a blade of grass, nor a square yard of soil from
which the seed delivered to it could be expected back, was perceivable by
the eye in its course over these arid plains.
Upon a rock on the side of the hill I found a large nest, very similar to
those seen in King George's Sound. There were in it several masses
resembling those which contain the hair and bones of mice, and are
disgorged by the owls in England after the flesh is digested. These
masses were larger, and consisted of the hair of seals and of land
animals, of the scaly feathers of penguins, and the bones of birds and
small quadrupeds. Possibly the constructor of the nest might be an
enormous owl, and if so, the cause of the bird being never seen, whilst
the nests were not scarce, would be from its not going out until dark;
but from the very open and exposed situations in which the nests were
found, I should rather judge it to be of the eagle kind, and that its
powers are such as to render it heedless of any attempts from the natives
upon its young.
MONDAY 11 JANUARY 1802
On the following morning I sent the master to examine a small bay or cove
lying two miles to the westward of Lucky Bay. He found it to be capable
of receiving one ship, which might be placed in perfect security in the
western corner, with anchors out on the off bow and quarter, and hawsers
on the other side fast to the shore. She would thus lie in from 3 to 5
fathoms, almost near enough to lay a stage to the beach. There was wood
for fuel; and at less than a hundred yards from the shore, a lake of
fresh water, one mile in circumference, from which a small stream runs
into the cove; but another stream, descending from the hills nearer into
the western corner, would better suit the purposes of a ship. This
account was from the master, after whom this little but useful discovery
was named _Thistle's Cove_. It seems to be much superior to Lucky Bay,
where neither wood nor water can be procured without much time and
trouble, nor is the shelter so complete.
TUESDAY 11 JANUARY 1802
Next day Mr. Thistle was sent to examine the coast and islands to the
eastward, when he found the archipelago to be full as dangerous in that
direction as to the west. He landed upon an island three leagues distant,
and brought me from thence a list of other islands and rocks further on,
whose bearings had been taken. Several seals were procured on this and
the preceding day, and some fish were caught alongside the ship; but our
success was much impeded by three monstrous sharks, in whose presence no
other fish dared to appear. After some attempts we succeeded in taking
one of them; but to get it on board required as much preparation as for
hoisting in the launch. The length of it, however, was no more than
twelve feet three inches, but the circumference of the body was eight
feet. Amongst the vast quantity of substances contained in the stomach
was a tolerably large seal, bitten in two, and swallowed with half of the
spear sticking in it with which it had probably been killed by the
natives. The stench of this ravenous monster was great even before it was
dead; and when the stomach was opened it became intolerable.
WEDNESDAY 13 JANUARY 1802
On the 13th the wind blew fresh from the eastward; and as we could not
sail with the ship, lieutenant Fowler and Mr. Thistle went over to
Mondrain Island, the largest we had yet seen in the archipelago. An
observation of the latitude and a set of angles were there taken, and
they brought back some seals of a reddish fur, and a few small kangaroos
of a species different from any I had before seen. The island was covered
with brush wood; but some of the party, either from accident or design,
set it on fire, and the wind being fresh, there was a general blaze in
the evening all over the island.
Very little other stone was seen about Lucky Bay than granite; and all
the surrounding hills, as well as the islands visited, were composed of
varieties of the same substance; and some specimens from Mondrain Island
contained garnets. In many places the surface of the rocks was scaling
off in layers, and in the steep parts great lumps had fallen off, and
some caverns were formed in the cliffs. This propensity to decomposition
was more remarkable in the high peak of Cape Le Grand, about five miles
to the westward, to which Mr. Brown made an excursion. He found a
perforation at the top forming an arch of great width and height, and
above it, at the very summit of the peak, were loose pieces of granite of
There did not appear to be any Indians at this time in the neighbourhood
of Lucky Bay; but from their fire places, it was judged that they had not
quitted it long since. Geese and ducks were found here, and not being
very shy, some of them were killed by the shore parties. The goose was
also found upon the islands; and is the same bird spoken of in the
Introduction [**] as resembling the bernacle goose, and frequenting
Furneaux's Islands in Bass Strait.*
[* This goose is described by M. Labillardiere, page 258 of the London
translation, as a new species of swan.]
[** Of the birds which frequent Furneaux's Islands, the most valuable are
the goose and black swan; but this last is rarely seen here, even in the
freshwater pools, and except to breed, seems never to go on shore. The
goose approaches nearest to the description of the species called
_bernacle_; it feeds upon grass, and seldom takes to the water. I found
this bird in considerable numbers on the smaller isles, but principally
upon Preservation Island; its usual weight was from seven to ten pounds,
and it formed our best repasts, but had become shy. Gannets, shags,
gulls, and red-bills were occasionally seen; as also crows, hawks,
paroquets, and a few smaller birds. Fish were not plentiful, but some
were taken with hook and line from the rocks.]
The _latitude_, observed upon a point of the main land on the east side
of Lucky Bay, from one supplement of the sun's altitude, was 33 deg. 59' 45";
but as the supplement of the preceding day gave 39" less than the mean of
both observations, I consider the true latitude to be more nearly 34 deg. 0'
The _longitude_ from sixteen sets of distances of the sun east and west
of the moon, of which the individual results are given in Table II. of
the Appendix to this volume, was 122 deg. 15' 42"; but from the two best time
keepers, in which, from the short period since leaving King George's
Sound, I put most confidence, it will be more correctly 122 deg. 14' 14" E.
_Dip_ of the south end of the needle, taken on shore upon the granite
rock, 66 deg. 4' 0"
But I am inclined to think it was attracted by the granite; and that,
had the needle been considerably elevated, it would not have shown more
dip than at King George's Sound, where it was 64 deg..
The _variation_ deduced from observations taken on shore, morning and
evening, with three compasses placed on the same rock, was 2 deg. 35' west;
with Walker's meridional compass, 4 deg. 55'; and with the surveying
theodolite 0 deg. 30' west.* An amplitude taken on board the ship, with the
head east-south-east, gave 7 deg. 25', which, reduced to what it should be
with the head in the meridian, is 4 deg. 26' west. The mean, and what I
consider to be nearest the true variation in this neighbourhood, will be
3 deg. 6' west.
[* It is remarkable, that the difference between these three kinds of
instruments is directly the reverse here of what it was in King George's
This is what I allowed upon the bearings taken with the theodolite upon
the top of the hill behind the bay, and it appeared to be the same upon
two small islands, one to the east and the other west, where Mr. Thistle
took angles; but at Mondrain Island there seemed to be considerable
Before entering the archipelago, the variation was observed to be 9 deg. 21'
west, with the ship's head east-south-east; but at three leagues to the
east of Termination Island, in the following year, and with the head at
east-north-east, it was no more than 3 deg. 50' west. From the first, I
should deduce the true variation on the west side of the archipelago to
be 6 deg. 28', and off Termination Island, from the second, to be 0 deg. 57'
west; both of which coincide with the other observations in showing the
islands of the archipelago to possess a considerable degree of magnetic
The rise of _tide_ in Lucky Bay was so trifling, that under the
circumstances of our stay no attention was paid to it.
THURSDAY 14 JANUARY 1802
In the morning of the 14th, the wind being then light from the northward,
we got under way and steered for Mondrain Island. In our route eastward
from thence, several low rocks and patches of breakers were left on each
side, besides small islands whose bearings had been taken from the hill
behind Lucky Bay; the depth of water, however, was between 20 and 30
fathoms. The wind was then moderate from the south-westward, but the
weather so hazy that there was much difficulty, and some uncertainty, in
recognizing the different islands.
At half-past ten we steered more towards the main land, that no opening
in it might escape unseen; and at noon, hove to for the purpose of taking
bearings. The latitude observed to the north was 34 deg. 2', and longitude
122 deg. 36'. A chain of islands and breakers lay about two miles to the
northward; and amongst the cluster to the east were two islands with
peaks upon them, which, from their similarity, were named the _Twins_:
the southernmost and nearest bore E. 7 deg. N., three leagues. The nearest
part of the main land was a projection with hills upon it which had been
set from Lucky Bay, whence it is nearly five leagues distant; the
intermediate space being a large bight with a low, sandy coast at the
back, and containing many small islands and breakers. To the eastward of
the hilly projection the coast seemed again to be sandy; but although our
distance from it was not more than six or seven miles, it was scarcely
visible through the haze.
After the bearings were obtained we bore away along the south side of the
chain of islands and rocks; and at half-past one steered north-east to
look for a place of shelter, either amongst the cluster near the Twins or
in the opposite main land. The water shoaled amongst the small islands,
from 30 to 10 fathoms, and suddenly to 3, when the bottom was distinctly
seen under the ship. The next cast was 7 fathoms, and we steered on
eastward for two islets three-quarters of a mile asunder, between which
the master was sent to sound. On his making the signal we followed
through, having 20 fathoms, and afterwards hauled the wind to the
south-east, seeing no hope of shelter either amongst the islands or near
the main land. The coast stretched eastward with little sinuosity, and
was sandy, but not so low as before.
At six o'clock we had some larger, flat islands to windward, and in the
east-south-east was one much higher and of greater extent, which proved
to be the _I. du Milieu_ (Middle Island) of D'Entrecasteaux. Betwixt this
island and his _Cap Aride_ on the main there were many small isles and
apparently passages; and we therefore bore away in the hope of finding
anchorage against the approaching night. Many patches of breakers were
passed; and seeing a small bay in the north side of Middle Island, we
stood in for it under shortened sail, and came to an anchor in 7 fathoms,
sandy bottom, off the first of three small beaches. The island sheltered
us from east-north-east, round by the south to west-by-north; and to the
northward there was, besides the main land, a number of reefs and small
isles, of which the nearest and largest was a quarter of a mile distant,
as Middle Island was on the other side. The master was immediately sent
to examine the passage through to the eastward, that we might know
whether there were a possibility of escape in case the anchor should not
hold; for the wind blew fresh at west-south-west, and threw some swell
into the bay; he found 3 fathoms in the shallow part of the opening.
FRIDAY 15 JANUARY 1802
The botanists landed in the morning upon Middle Island; for I had
determined to stop a day or two, as well for their accommodation as to
improve my chart of the archipelago. I went to the northern island, which
is one mile long and near half a mile in breadth, and found it to be
covered with tufts of wiry grass intermixed with a few shrubs. Some of
the little, blue penguins, like those of Bass Strait, harboured under the
bushes; and amongst the grass and upon the shores were a number of the
bernacle geese, of which we killed nine, mostly with sticks; and sixteen
more were procured in the course of the day.
After taking bearings from the uppermost of the small elevations of GOOSE
ISLAND, as it was now named, I ascended the high north-western hill of
Middle Island, which afforded a more extensive view. The furthest visible
part of the main land was a projecting cape, with a broad-topped hill
upon it bearing N. 58 deg. E., six or seven leagues. This projection not
having been seen by D'Entrecasteaux, was named after the late admiral Sir
Thomas Pasley, under whom I had the honour of entering the naval service.
The shore betwixt Cape Pasley and Cape Arid is low and sandy, and falls
back in a large bight, nearly similar to what is formed on the west side
of Cape Arid. Behind that cape was a high bank of sand, which stretched
from one bight nearly to the other, and had the appearance of having been
the sea shore not very long since.
(Atlas, Plate XVII. View 5.*)
[* This view was taken in the following year, at five leagues distant
from Middle Island, but it shows the form of the mount, and of the
The mount upon which I stood is the highest part of a ridge of almost
bare granite, extending along, or rather forming the west side of Middle
Island. The other parts of the island are low, and thickly covered with
brush wood and some trees, where a small species of kangaroo seemed to be
numerous, though none were caught. In the north-eastern part was a small
lake of a rose colour, the water of which, as I was informed by Mr.
Thistle who visited it, was so saturated with salt that sufficient
quantities were crystallised near the shores to load a ship. The specimen
he brought on board was of a good quality, and required no other process
than drying to be fit for use. This lake is at the back of the
easternmost of three small beaches on the north side of the island, and
it might be concluded that the salt was formed by the evaporation of the
water oozing through the bank which separates it from the sea; but as, in
the small drainings from the hills, the water was too salt to be
drinkable, this may admit of a doubt.
SATURDAY 16 JANUARY 1802
On Saturday morning a part of the people were employed cutting a boat
load of fire wood, and the master was again sent to sound the passage out
to the eastward, and amongst the rocks lying beyond it. The shallowest
depth he found was 3 fathoms, after which the water deepened to 7 and 10,
past the north-east point and out to sea. He landed upon some of the
rocky islets, and brought from thence twenty-seven more geese, some of
them alive. The botanical gentlemen employed the day in going round
Middle Island, but they found very little to reward their labour. A piece
of fir plank, with nails in it, which seemed to have been part of a
ship's deck, was picked up on the shore; but no trace of the island
having been visited, either by Europeans or the natives of the main land,
was any where seen.
The basis stone of this, as it appears to be of all the islands as well
as of the coast of the archipelago, is granitic; but at the south side of
Middle Island there is a thick crust of calcareous rock over it, as there
is at the south end of Goose Island. It was also on the south side of
King George's Sound that the calcareous rock covered the granite; a
coincidence which may perhaps afford some light to the geologist.
The _latitude_ of Goose Island Bay, for so this anchorage was named, is
34 deg. 5' 23" south, and _longitude_ by the two best time keepers corrected
123 deg. 9' 30",5 east; the observations being made on the middlemost of the
three southern beaches.
The _variation_ from azimuth, observed on the binnacle when the ship's
head was west-south-west, was 0 deg. 54' west, and in the following year
similar observations taken at anchor one mile to the eastward, with the
head east, gave 6 deg. 10' west; whence I deduce the variation which would
have been obtained with the head at north or south, to be 3 deg. 25' west.
From the bearings on shore, compared with the latitudes and longitudes,
it appeared to be 51/4 deg. on the centre of Goose Island; and 4 deg. upon the
granitic mount of Middle Island.
No run of _tide_ was observed, notwithstanding the narrowness of the
channel, where the ship lay.
Goose-Island Bay may be useful as a place of refreshment, but the geese
were not found to be so numerous at a different season of the year: a few
hair seals may be procured, probably at all times. The wood is a species
of _eucalyptus_, neither abundant nor large; but two or three ships may
be supplied with fuel. Fresh water was not to be obtained upon either of
the islands; but upon the opposite Cape Arid, five miles to the north, I
judged there might be small streams running down from the hills. The lake
of salt will be the greatest inducement for vessels to stop in this bay;
they must not, however, come to it in the winter season, as there will be
occasion to show hereafter.
SUNDAY 17 JANUARY 1802
On the 17th in the morning, the anchor was weighed and we steered out
eastward. The shallowest water was seventeen feet, between the south-east
point of Goose Island and the opposite west point of the middle beach;
after which it deepened; and abreast of the middle rock there was 7
fathoms. Having cleared the islets lying off the north-east point of
Middle Island, we steered for Cape Pasley, leaving the _South-East Isles_
of the archipelago far distant on the starbord hand. A low islet and some
rocks lie three miles to the south of the Cape, and the soundings we had
in passing between them were 28 and 34 fathoms.
The wind at this time was moderate at south-west, with fine weather.
Middle Island and Cape Arid were still visible at noon, and the _Eastern
Group_, which, according to D'Entrecasteaux, terminated the archipelago,
was coming in sight. Our situation and most material bearings were then
Latitude, observed to the north and south, 33 deg. 54' 55"
Longitude reduced up from eight o'clock, 123 55
Middle Island, top of the mount, S. 65 W.
Cape Pasley, the hill, dist. 6 miles, S. 84 W.
Furthest extreme, a low point, dist. 3 leagues, N. 38 E.
A ragged mount in the interior of the country, N. 21 W.
Eastern Group, the northern hill upon the
highest and southernmost isle, dist. 8 leagues, N. 80 E.
At half-past one we passed within three miles of the point which had been
the furthest extreme at noon; it is low and sandy, and a ledge of rocks
extends from it to the north-east. I named it _Point Malcolm_, in honour
of Captain Pultney Malcolm of the navy. The depth diminished from 20 to
10 fathoms, in passing near a sunken rock two miles to the south-east of
the point, and upon which the sea breaks only at times. The coast from
thence trended rapidly to the northward; and in following its direction
at from three to five miles distance, we left eight islands of the
Eastern Group on the starbord and two on the larbord hand. These, with
the exception of the southernmost, which has a hill at each end and some
vegetation, are little better than low sterile rocks.
At seven in the evening, the water being smotth, we anchored in 8
fathoms, sandy bottom, three or four miles from the shore; where our
calculated situation and the bearings of the land were as follows:
Latitude, 33 deg. 17' S.
Longitude, 124 deg. 6' E.
Northern extreme of the coast, N. 27 E.
Southern extreme, S. 36 W.
A point in the interior country, S. 68 W.
From Cape Pasley to the northern extreme the coast is sandy and low,
presenting, with trifling exceptions, a continued beach. On the north
side of Point Malcolm it stretches north, and then eastward, forming a
bight five miles within the land; after which the general trending is
north-north-east, with very little sinuosity. Four or five miles behind
the shore, and running parallel with it, is a bank of moderately high and
level land, over which the tops of some barren-looking mountains were
occasionally seen. The most remarkable of these is Mount Ragged, lying N.
8 deg. W. nine or ten leagues from Cape Pasley.
[SOUTH COAST. BETWEEN THE ARCHIPELAGOS.]
We had now altogether lost sight of the Archipelago of the Recherche. The
chart which I have constructed of this extensive mass of dangers is much
more full, and in many parts should be more accurate than that of
D'Entrecasteaux; but I dare by no means assert that the very great number
of islands, rocks, and reefs therein contained are the whole that exist;
nor that every individual one is correctly placed, although the greatest
care was taken to obtain correctness. All the islands seem to be more or
less frequented by seals; but I think not in numbers sufficient to make a
speculation from Europe advisable on their account; certainly not for the
China market, the seals being mostly of the hair kind, and the fur of
such others as were seen was red and coarse. There is, besides, a risk of
being caught in the archipelago with strong south or western winds, in
which case destruction would be almost inevitable, for I know of no place
where a ship might take refuge in a gale. The shelter in Thistle's Cove
is, indeed, complete, when a vessel is once placed; but the cove is too
small to be entered except under favourable circumstances, and the
shelter in the western corner could not be attained with winds blowing
strong out of it. The archipelago should not, therefore, be entered
without the assurance of carrying fine weather to the proposed anchorage.
During the night of the 17th there was no current or set of tide past the
ship. Every thing was kept prepared for getting under way at a moment's
notice; but the wind blew gently off the land, and the people of the
watch occupied themselves successfully in catching dog-fish. At daybreak
[MONDAY 18 JANUARY 1802] we made all sail to the north-eastward, along
the same low and, if possible, more sandy coast. The wind was light, and
at nine it fell calm. This was succeeded by a sea breeze at
east-south-east, and we trimmed close to it, keeping on our former course
until four in the afternoon; when the land being one mile and a half
distant, we tacked in 12 fathoms, and stretched to the southward.
The shore curved round here, and took a more eastern direction; and the
bank of level land, which continued to run along behind it, approached
very near to the water side. Three leagues further on it formed cliffs
upon the coast; and a projecting part of them, which I called Point
Culver, bore N. 77 deg. E. four leagues: this was the furthest land in sight.
This afternoon we passed a number of pale red medusas, such as I had
usually seen on the East Coast at the entrances of rivers, and which, on
being touched, produced a sensation like the stinging of a nettle. There
was also a red scum on the water, and some of it was taken up to be
examined by Mr. Brown in a microscope. It consisted of minute particles
not more than half a line in length, and each appeared to be composed of
several cohering fibres which were jointed; the joints being of an
uniform thickness, and nearly as broad as long. These fibres were
generally of unequal length, and the extremities of the compound particle
thence appeared somewhat torn. The particles exhibited no motion when in
salt water; and the sole effect produced by immersing them in spirit of
wine was the separation of each into its component fibres.
Until daybreak next morning the wind was unfavourable; but it then veered
round to the south, and enabled us to pass Point Culver. Our situation at
noon, and the bearings taken were these:
Latitude, observed to the north and south, 32 deg. 52' 51"
Longitude reduced up from eight o'clock, 124 58
Point Culver, distant five leagues, S. 78 W.
Small rock under the cliffs, dist. 5 miles, North.
Furthest extreme of the coast, cliffs, N. 39 E.
Our course along the shore was so favoured by the wind that at seven in
the evening we had passed another projecting part of the cliffs, named
POINT DOVER, distant from Point Culver fifty miles; and the extreme in
sight ahead was twenty miles further, and still cliffy. The nearest part
was two or three leagues distant; and the wind being still at south, we
hauled up to it, and at nine o'clock stood back to the westward.
The elevation of these cliffs appeared to be about five hundred feet, and
nothing of the back country was seen above them. In the upper part they
are brown, in the lower part nearly white, and the two _strata_, as also
the small layers of which each is composed, are nearly horizontal. They
were judged to be calcareous, as was the white, grey, and brown sand
which the lead brought up when the bottom was not of coral.
A surveyor finds almost no object here whose bearing can be set a second
time. Each small projection presents the appearance of a steep cape as it
opens out in sailing along; but before the ship arrives abreast of it, it
is lost in the general uniformity of the coast, and the latitude,
longitude, and distance of the nearest cliffs are all the documents that
remain for the construction of a chart. Point Culver and Point Dover are
exceptions to the general uniformity; but it requires a ship to be near
the land before even these are distinguishable. The latter point was
somewhat whiter than the cliffs on each side, which probably arose from
the front having lately fallen off into the water.
TUESDAY 19 JANUARY 1802
In the night of the 19th the wind shifted round to the eastward, and
continued there for three days; and during this time we beat to windward
without making much progress. Several observations were taken here for
the variation of the compass: with the ship's head east-by-north,
azimuths gave 7 deg. 15' west, and at south, 4 deg. 26'; five leagues further
eastward they gave 6 deg. 13' with the head north-east, and eight leagues
further, an amplitude 4 deg. 18' at south-by-east. These being corrected
would be 4 deg. 13', 4 deg. 26', 4 deg. 2', and 3 deg. 42' west; so that the variation
had now reassumed a tolerably regular course of diminution. The mean of
the whole is 4 deg. 6' west variation in the longitude of 125 deg. 51' east.
FRIDAY 22 JANUARY 1802
At the end of three days beating our latitude in the evening of the 22nd
was 32 deg. 22', and longitude 126 deg. 23', the depth in that situation was 7
fathoms at two miles from the land, and the furthest extremes visible
through the haze bore west-half-north and east, the latter being distant
four or five miles. The bank which before formed the cliffs had retired
to a little distance from the coast, and left a front screed of low,
sandy shore. Several smokes arose from behind the bank, and were the
first seen after quitting the archipelago.
The barometer had kept up nearly to 30 inches during the east and
south-east winds, but it now fell to 29,65; and we stretched off for the
night in the expectation of a change of wind, and probably of blowing
weather. At ten the sails were taken aback by a breeze from the westward;
but at daylight [SATURDAY 23 JANUARY 1802] it had veered to
south-by-west, and the mercury was rising. We then bore away for the
land; and having reached in with the low, sandy point which had borne
east in the evening, steered along the coast at three or four miles
distance in from 7 to 11 fathoms water. The latitude at noon from very
indifferent observations was 32 deg. 221/2', and longitude 127 deg. 2'; the coast,
four miles distant to the northward, was low and sandy, but rose quickly
to the level bank, upon which there were some shrubs and small trees.
Nothing of the interior country could be seen above the bank; but this
might possibly have been owing to the haze, which was so thick that no
extremes of the land could be defined. The wind was fresh at
south-south-west, and by seven in the evening our longitude was augmented
55'; the land was then distant six or seven miles, trending
east-north-eastward; and we hauled to the wind, which had increased in
strength though the barometer was fast rising.
Having stood to the south-east till midnight, we then tacked to the
westward; and at five next morning [SUNDAY 24 JANUARY 1802] bore away
north for the land, the wind being then at south-by-east, and the
barometer announcing by its elevation a return of foul winds. At six we
steered eastward, along the same kind of shore as seen on the preceding
day; but the wind coming more unfavourable, and depth diminishing to 5
fathoms soon after eight o'clock, made it necessary to stretch off to
sea. The coast in latitude 32 deg. 1' and longitude 128 deg. 12' was three miles
distant to the north. A league further on it took a more northern
direction, but without much changing its aspect; it continued to be the
same sandy beach, with a bank behind it of level land topped with small
trees and shrubs as before described.
MONDAY 25 JANUARY 1802
The rest of the day and the whole of the 25th were taken up in beating
fruitlessly against an eastern wind. Azimuths observed when the ship's
head was east-by-north gave variation 6 deg. 4'; and ten miles to the south a
little eastward they gave 3 deg. 8' west, at south-by-east; corrected 3 deg. 2'
and 2 deg. 32', and the mean 2 deg. 47' for the true variation, showing a
decrease since the last of 1 deg. 19' for 2 deg. 11' of longitude.
At ten in the evening our situation was less advanced than on the morning
of the 24th, when we tacked off shore; but the mercury was again
descending, and during the night the wind veered to north-east, to north,
and at eight in the morning [TUESDAY 26 JANUARY 1802] to west-by-north,
when we steered in for the land. At ten the shore was eight or nine miles
distant, and our course was north-east, nearly as it trended. The
latitude at noon, from observations to the north and south, was 31 deg. 51'
34", and longitude by timekeepers 128 deg. 41'; the beach was distant three
or four miles in the north-north-west, and the bank behind it lay two or
three miles inland and was somewhat higher, but had less wood upon it
than further westward. The wind was fresh at south-west, and the mercury
was rising; but the haziness of the weather was such that no extremes of
the land could be set.
Our course from noon was nearly east at the distance of five or six miles
from the shore; and we ran at the rate of between seven and eight knots,
under double-reefed top-sails and foresail. Abreast of our situation at
half-past two the level bank again closed in upon the shore, and formed
cliffs very similar to those along which we had before run thirty
leagues. Their elevation appeared to be from four to six hundred feet,
the upper part was brown, and the lower two-thirds white; but as we
advanced, the upper brown _stratum _was observed to augment in
proportional quantity. We could not distinguish, as before, the smaller
layers in the two _strata_; and from the number of excavations in the
white part, apparently from pieces having fallen down (see Mr. Westall's
sketch, Atlas, Plate XVII. View 6.), I was led to think the lower portion
of these cliffs to be grit stone rather than calcareous rock. The bank
was not covered with shrubs, as before it came to the water side, but was
nearly destitute of vegetation, and almost as level as the horizon of the
At dusk we hauled up south-east-by-south to the wind, at one in the
morning [WEDNESDAY 27 JANUARY 1802] tacked to the westward, and at four
bore away north for the land. Having reached within six miles of the
cliffs, we steered eastward again, with a fair breeze; and at noon were
in latitude 31 deg. 40' 52' and longitude 130 deg. 59'; the cliffs were then
distant seven miles to the northward, and at N. 9 deg. E. was their
The length of these cliffs, from their second commencement, is
thirty-three leagues; and that of the level bank, from near Cape Pasley
where it was first seen from the sea, is no less than _one hundred and
forty-five leagues_. The height of this extraordinary bank is nearly the
same throughout, being no where less, by estimation, than four hundred,
nor any where more than six hundred feet. In the first twenty leagues the
ragged tops of some inland mountains were visible over it; but during the
remainder of its long course the bank was the limit of our view.
This equality of elevation for so great an extent, and the evidently
calcareous nature of the bank, at least in the upper two hundred feet,
would bespeak it to have been the exterior line of a vast coral reef,
which is always more elevated than the interior parts, and commonly level
with high-water mark. From the gradual subsiding of the sea, or perhaps
by a sudden convulsion of nature, this bank may have attained its present
height above the surface; and however extraordinary such a change may
appear, yet, when it is recollected that branches of coral still exist
upon Bald Head, at the elevation of four hundred or more feet, this
supposition assumes a great degree of probability; and it would further
seem that the subsiding of the waters has not been at a period very
remote, since these frail branches have yet neither been all beaten down
nor mouldered away by the wind and weather.
If this supposition be well founded, it may, with the fact of no hill or
other object having been perceived above the bank in the greater part of
its course, assist in forming some conjecture of what may be within it;
which cannot, as I judge in such case, be other than flat, sandy plains,
or water. The bank may even be a narrow barrier between an interior and
the exterior sea, and much do I regret the not having formed an idea of
this probability at the time; for notwithstanding the great difficulty
and risk, I should certainly have attempted a landing upon some part of
the coast to ascertain a fact of so much importance.
At the termination of the bank and of the second range of cliffs the
coast became sandy, and trended north-eastward about three leagues; after
which it turned south-east-by-east, and formed the head of the _Great
Australian Bight_, whose latitude I make to be 31 deg. 29' south, and
longitude 131 deg. 10' east. In the chart of admiral D'Entrecasteaux the head
of the Great Bight is placed in 31 deg. 36' and 131 deg. 27'; but I think there
is an error at least in the latitude, for the admiral says, "At daybreak
I steered to get in with the land; and the wind having returned to
south-east, we hauled our starbord tacks on board, being then four or
five leagues from the coast. At _eleven o'clock_ the land was seen ahead
and we veered ship in 32 fathoms, fine sand."* The latitude observed at
noon, as appears by the route table, was 31 deg. 38' 58"; and if we suppose
the ship, lying up south-south-west, to have made 2' of southing in the
hour, as marked in the chart, she must have been in 31 deg. 37' at eleven
o'clock; which is within one mile of the latitude assigned to the head of
the bight, where the shore curves to the south-east-by-east. This does
not accord with the land being only then seen ahead, since the weather
appears to have admitted the sight of it at the distance of four or five
leagues. If we suppose the admiral, when he veered, to have been eight,
instead of one mile from the head of the Great Bight, and the account
strongly favours the supposition, it will then agree with my latitude.
I had only 27 fathoms in crossing the head, and although it is possible
there may be 30 closer in, yet in such a place as this the probability
is, that the ship having the greatest depth of water was the furthest
from the land.
[* _Voyage de D'Entrecasteaux_, par M. de Rossel, Tome I. page 220. The
32 fathoms are, I believe, of five French feet each, making very nearly
30 fathoms English measure.]
After steering east-north-east, east, and east-south-east, and having
seen the beach all round the head of the Great Bight, we hauled up
parallel to the new direction of the coast, at the distance of six miles;
and at five o'clock were abreast of the furthest part seen by the French
admiral when he quitted the examination. The coast is a sandy beach in
front; but the land rises gradually from thence, and at three or four
miles back is of moderate elevation, but still sandy and barren.
According to the chart of Nuyts, an extensive reef lay a little beyond
this part. (Atlas, Plate IV.) It was not seen by D'Entrecasteaux, but we
were anxiously looking out for it when, at six o'clock, breakers were
seen from the mast head bearing S. 43 deg. E. some distance open from the
land. We kept on our course for them, with the wind at south-south-west,
until eight o'clock, and then tacked to the westward in 27 fathoms; and
the ship's way being stopped by a head swell, we did not veer towards the
land until three in the morning, at which time it fell calm.
THURSDAY 28 JANUARY 1802
On a light breeze springing up from the northward we steered in for the
coast; and at noon were in the following situation:
Latitude, observed to the north, 32 deg. 21/2'
Longitude reduced up from eight o'clock, 131 51
Breakers, distant two or three miles, N. 22 to 42 E.
A sandy projection of the coast, south part, N. 37 E.
Extremes of the land from the deck, N. 15 W. to 89 E.
The breakers lie five or six miles from the land, and did not appear to
have any connection with it, nor with two other sets of small reefs which
came in sight to the east and east-south-east, soon afterward. At two
o'clock our situation was betwixt these last reefs. The southernmost
patches are two or three miles in length, and there are large rocks upon
them, standing above water; the northern patches extend eight miles along
the coast, from which they are distant three miles, and on the eastern
parts there are also some rocks above water, but there were none upon the
western reef first seen. It may be doubted whether the western reef were
known to Nuyts, but there can be no doubt concerning these last; and I
call the whole NUYTS' REEFS.
The aspect of the shore to the northward was nearly the same as that seen
the preceding afternoon, but behind the second reefs it began to assume a
more rocky appearance. A high cliffy cape is formed a little further
eastward; it has a pyramidal rock near it, and the coast there takes a
direction somewhat on the north side of east. This remarkable projection,
being within a few leagues of the furthest part of the main coast
discovered by the Dutch, I have called CAPE NUYTS: its latitude is 32 deg. 2'
south, and longitude 132 deg. 18' east.
After clearing Nuyts' Reefs we steered east-north-east, past the cape, to
look for anchorage in two bights, but there were rocks in both, and they
were open to the southward. Beyond them was a low, cliffy point, lying E.
3 deg. N. seven or eight miles from Cape Nuyts; and seeing a bay behind it
which promised shelter from south-west and south winds, we hauled round
the point at half-past five. The water shoaled gradually from 11 to 3
fathoms, on which I hove the sails aback and sent the master ahead to
sound; and as he did not make the signal for deeper water, as we were
already in tolerable shelter, the anchor was dropped in 31/4 fathoms, sandy
bottom. We had then the following bearings:
Low cliffy point, distant 2 or 3 miles S. 35 deg. E.
Head of the bay, distant 1 1/2 miles, S. 58 W.
Cliffs, appearing like an island, dist. 4 leagues, N. 77 E.
Furthest land visible from the masthead E. S. E.
Between the first and the last of these bearings we were exposed to the
sea, but sheltered at all other points of the compass.
Being arrived at the extremity of that part of the south coast of Terra
Australis which had been previously explored, it may be useful, before
entering on the unknown part, to compare my examination of it with what
was contained in former charts. It will thence appear that the employment
of fifteen days in running along the coast, more than would probably have
been required had I kept at a distance, was not without some advantage to
geography and navigation.
(Atlas, Plate II.)
At Cape Leeuwin, the largest _Ile St. Alouarn_ of D'Entrecasteaux was
seen to be joined to the main, and to form the south-western extremity of
Leeuwin's Land, and of Terra Australis. The coast from thence to King
George's Sound was more accurately investigated than the French admiral
had an opportunity of doing and his omission of soundings supplied.
Captain Vancouver's chart is superior to that of the French from Cape
Chatham to the Sound; but that officer's distance from some parts
prevented him from seeing them correctly. In the Sound, no particular
advantage will be derived from the new survey, the plan given by
Vancouver being sufficiently correct for nautical purposes, with the
exception of the bar to Oyster Harbour, over which he had marked
seventeen feet, but where thirteen now appeared to be the greatest depth.
From King George's Sound to Point Hood the coast had been very
indistinctly, and sometimes not at all seen by Vancouver; but I found it,
speaking generally, to be laid down by D'Entrecasteaux with accuracy,
though the bights in the land are marked somewhat too deep, from his
distance not allowing the low beaches to be always distinguished. These
trifling inaccuracies were remedied, the passages between Bald and
Doubtful Islands and the main land opposite to them ascertained to be
safe, and the omission of soundings along the coast remedied.
In Doubtful Island Bay the French chart does not give the north-western
part sufficiently deep; but the coast from thence to the Archipelago of
the Recherche, as also the reefs and rocks, were well distinguished,
better perhaps than by me; but the usual want of soundings, with the
exception of some distant ones by Vancouver, still continued.
D'Entrecasteaux's chart appeared to be excellent in the western part of
the archipelago, and good in the positions of the islands on the
outskirts; so that I have, in some cases, borrowed from it. With respect
to the inner islands and the main coast, it was necessarily defective,
from the French ships having sailed round the archipelago, and not
through the middle of it as I did in the Investigator. Here, my survey,
though far from complete in the details, will afford much new information
and useful also, since it has brought to light a well-sheltered cove
affording wood and water, and two other tolerable anchorages at which
some refreshments may be procured, and at one, quantities of salt in the
(Atlas, Plate III.)
From the archipelago eastward the examination of the coast was prosecuted
by D'Entrecasteaux with much care, and with some trifling exceptions very
closely; but as far as the 127th degree of longitude from Greenwich no
soundings were given. These have been supplied, and a more minute
description given of the coast. At the 129th degree the French ships seem
to have been closer in with the land than was the Investigator; and it
would appear by the track that they were also closer at the 30th, and at
the head of the Great Bight, but these last are not corroborated by the
soundings. From thence to the bay in which we anchored on the 28th, the
Dutch chart of 1627 was the sole authority; and making allowances for the
state of navigation at that time, it is as correct in form as could
reasonably have been expected.
The latitudes and longitudes of the points and islands along the coast
have been either verified or corrected, for there are commonly some
differences between any longitudes and those of Vancouver and
D'Entrecasteaux. The observations by which certain places, taken as fixed
points, are settled in longitude, are mentioned at those places, as also
are the corrections applied to the time-keepers for laying down the
intermediate parts; and both are more particularly specified in the
Appendix to this volume.
Monsieur _Beautemps Beaupre_, geographical engineer on board La
Recherche, was the constructor of the French charts; and they must be
allowed to do him great credit. Perhaps no chart of a coast so little
known as this was will bear a comparison with its original better than
those of M. Beaupre. That the Plates II and III in the accompanying
Atlas, are offered as being more full and somewhat more correct, does
neither arise from a wish to depreciate those of my predecessor in the
investigation, nor from an assumption of superior merit; there is,
indeed, very little due to any superiority they may be found to possess;
but there would be room for reproach if, after having followed with an
outline of his chart in my hand, improvements should not have been made
in all or some of those parts where circumstances had not before admitted
a close 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.
THURSDAY 28 JANUARY 1802
(Atlas, Plate IV.)
The bay in which we anchored on the evening of January 28, at the
extremity of the before known south coast of Terra Australis, was named
FOWLER'S BAY, after my first lieutenant; and the low, cliffy point which
shelters it from southern winds and, not improbably, is the furthest
point (marked B) in the Dutch chart, was called POINT FOWLER. The
botanical gentlemen landed early on the following morning [FRIDAY 29
JANUARY 1802] to examine the productions of the country, and I went on
shore to take observations and bearings, and to search for fresh water.
The cliffs and rocks of Point Fowler are calcareous, and connected with
the main land by a low, sandy isthmus of half a mile broad. Many traces
of inhabitants were found, and amongst others, some decayed spears; but
no huts were seen, nor anything to indicate that men had been here
lately. Upon the beach were the foot marks of dogs, and some of the emu
or cassowary. I found in a hole of the low cliffs one of those large
nests which have before been mentioned, but it contained nothing, and had
been long abandoned.
No fresh water was discovered round the shores of the bay, nor was there
any wood large enough for fuel nearer than the brow of a hill two or
three miles off. Two teal were shot on the beach, whence it seemed
probable that some lake or pond of fresh water was not far distant; a
sea-pie and a gull were also shot, and a few small fish caught alongside.
These constituted everything like refreshment obtained here, and the
botanists found the scantiness of plants equal to that of the other
productions; so that there was no inducement to remain longer.
Fowler's Bay, however, may be useful to a ship in want of a place of
shelter. It is open to the three points of the compass between
south-east-by-south and east-south-east; and it was evident, from plants
growing close to the water side, that a swell capable of injuring a
vessel at anchor was seldom if ever thrown into it.
The _latitude_ of the east extremity of Point Fowler is 32 deg. 1' south.
_Longitude_ of the point, deduced from twenty-two sets of distances (see
Table III of the Appendix to this volume) is 132 deg. 30'; but that given by
time keepers with accelerated rates and supplemental correction, as
explained at the end of Chap. VI, and in the Appendix, is preferred, and
is 132 deg. 27' east.
The _variation_ observed upon the binnacle, with the ship's head
east-south-east, was 3 deg. 11' west by the surveying compass; and in the
offing, with the head north-north-east, it was 1 deg. 41' west. These,
corrected, will be 0 deg. 19' and 0 deg. 30'; and therefore the variation allowed
upon the bearings on shore was 0 deg. 25' west.
The wind was at south-east-by-south at one in the afternoon, when the
anchor was weighed to beat out of the bay. At half past five we were
three miles from a cliffy head which had been taken for an island at the
anchorage, and set at N 77 deg. E. The shore forms a small bight on the east
side of this head, and then stretches south-south-eastward in a sandy
beach, with a ridge of barren land behind. At sunset we passed to
windward of Point Fowler, and stood off to sea for the night.
[SOUTH COAST. NUYTS' ARCHIPELAGO.]
SATURDAY 30 JANUARY 1802
Cape Nuyts bore north, two or three leagues, soon after daylight, and the
wind was then at east; but as the day advanced it veered to the
south-east, and permitted us to make a stretch toward the furthest land.
At five in the evening we tacked near some low, whitish cliffs, which had
been seen from the mast head when in Fowler's Bay; they were two or three
miles off, and the furthest land visible from the deck bore S. 63 deg. E. at
no great distance. The coast here is broken into sandy beaches and small,
cliffy points, and the same ridge of barren land runs behind it, but the
elevation is not great.
SUNDAY 31 JANUARY 1802
At three in the afternoon of the 31st we reached in again with the coast,
about four leagues beyond our situation on the preceding day. The depth
at two miles off shore was 7 fathoms on a coral bottom; the northern
extreme bore N. 58 deg. W., and a low point on the other side, named _Point
Bell_, S. 45 deg. E., seven miles. To seaward, a flat rock bore W. 3 deg. S., one
mile and a half; it is the largest of four which were called _Sinclair's
Rocks_, and lie scattered at the distance of two or three miles off the
coast. We stood off at this time; but so little could be gained upon the
south-east winds that when we came in next morning [MONDAY 1 FEBRUARY
1802] it was almost exactly in the same spot, and Point Bell was not
passed until late in the afternoon; the weather, also, was adverse to the
examination, being so hazy that the highest land could not be seen beyond
three or four leagues.
At half-past six in the evening, when we tacked to stand off for the
night, Point Bell bore N. 68 deg. W. four miles. It lies in 32 deg. 161/2' south
and 133 deg. 5' east; and there is a broad, flat rock, surrounded with
breakers, one mile to the westward. The main coast beyond the point forms
some bights, and is divided betwixt sand and rock, as before described:
its general trending is nearly east. A small island, somewhat elevated,
lies six miles to the south-east of Point Bell, and has a ledge of rocks
and islets extending from it a league to the north-eastward, and a
separate islet one or two miles to the east: these obtained the name of
_Purdie's Isles_. After we had tacked in 9 fathoms, a wave was perceived
to break upon a sunken rock within less than half a mile of the ship; and
I think it would be dangerous to pass between Point Bell and Purdie's
TUESDAY 2 FEBRUARY 1802
At noon of the 2nd February no land was in sight. The weather was still
hazy, and the wind at south-east; but in the afternoon it favoured us two
points, and we got sight of a higher and larger island than any before
seen on this part of the coast. At half-past four, being then near a
smaller isle and several rocks, we tacked towards the large island which
was six or seven miles to the southward; and soon after eight in the
evening got to an anchor in a little sandy bay on its north side. The
depth was 6 fathoms in passing the north-west point of the bay, but 10
within side, on a fine sandy bottom, where the anchor was dropped. At
daylight [WEDNESDAY 3 FEBRUARY 1802] we found ourselves hall a mile from
the shore, and the extremes bearing from N. 32 deg. W., round by the west and
south, to S. 77 deg. E.; and at the distance of two miles we were sheltered
by four small islands, extending from N. 41 deg. to 88 deg. E. The master was
sent to sound in the bay; but the bottom was everywhere good, and nothing
found to injure the cables. The scientific gentlemen landed upon their
respective pursuits; and I followed them to take angles for my survey,
and see what could be procured for the ship's company.
The island is nearly three miles long, north-west and south-east, and is
moderately high and cliffy at the ends; the middle part is a sandy
isthmus, not more than half a mile broad, but the breadth of the higher
ends is from one-and-half to two miles. This island is the central one of
a group; for besides the four small isles to the north-east, there are
two close to the west end, and two others, something larger, lying off to
the southward. I call these the ISLES OF ST. FRANCIS; in the persuasion
that the central one is that named St. Francis by Nuyts. Independently of
the eight isles and a rock, surrounding this Isle St. Francis, I set from
the north-east point three other islands. The first, named _Lacy's Isle_,
bore N. 28 deg. E., seven miles; and two miles from it to the north-west
there is an islet and a separate rock above water surrounded with
breakers, the same near which we had tacked at half-past four on the
preceding evening. The second was called _Evans' Isle_, and bore N. 49 deg.
E. eleven miles, and the third to which the name of _Franklin_ was given,
bore N. 81 deg. E. sixteen miles. All these are much inferior in magnitude to
the central island of St. Francis.
For several days before anchoring here we had observed large flocks of
sooty petrels; and I found the surface of the island, where it was sandy
and produced small shrubs, to be full of their burrows. Penguins, similar
to those of Furneaux's Islands, had their burrows nearer to the
water-side. A small species of kangaroo, was also found, and at some
preceding season the island had been frequented by geese; but at this
time, the vegetation being almost burnt up, they seemed to have quitted
it from want of food. The heat was, indeed, such as to make walking a
great fatigue; and this was augmented by frequently sinking into the bird
holes and falling upon the sand. The thermometer stood at 98 deg. in the
shade, whilst it was at 78 deg. on board the ship.
Where the surface is not of sand it consists of calcareous rock, mostly
in loose pieces; but the stone which forms the basis of the island is
heavy and of a close grain, and was judged to be porphyry. In the
crevices of a low calcareous cliff, at the south-east side of the bay, I
found some thin cakes of good salt, incrusted upon a stone containing
_laminae_ of quartz.
A party was sent on shore at dusk to collect petrels, and in less than
two hours returned with sufficient to give four birds to every man in the
ship. Early in the morning [THURSDAY 4 FEBRUARY 1802] the boats were
again sent upon the same errand, and to haul the seine; but the birds
were gone off to sea for the day, and no fish were caught. A small
kangaroo was brought off, as also a yellow snake, which was the second
killed on this island. The great heat deterred the naturalists from going
on shore this morning, for the very little variety in the vegetable
productions presented no inducement to a repetition of their fatigue. I
landed to see what further could be discovered of the neighbouring
islands; and we then prepared to get under way so soon as the breeze set
in from the south-eastward, which it usually did about noon, after a few
hours of calm or of light airs.
The small bay in the Isle St. Francis, which I call _Petrel Bay_, affords
excellent shelter for two or three ships; but no fresh water, not even to
rinse our mouths, could be found at this time; and a few scattered bushes
were the nearest approach to wood upon the island. Petrels, penguins, and
a few hair seals may be procured, and probably some geese in the wet
I had hitherto observed upon this coast that the south-east and east
winds produced the same effect upon the barometer as at the Cape of Good
Hope, in keeping the mercury high, commonly at or above 30 inches and
the more fresh was the wind, the higher it stood; but within the last few
days the barometer was much lower with the same winds, and at this time
was at 29.74. The dense haze which prevailed might possibly have caused
the change, but I suspected another reason for it. Winds coming off the
land, I had remarked, had a tendency to depress the mercury, and sea
winds to make it rise, though no change took place in the weather; and it
therefore seemed probable, as the trending of the coast beyond these
islands was unknown, that the south-east and east winds came off the
land, and not from the sea, as before; in which case the unknown coast
would be found trending to the southward, a conjecture which, it will be
seen, was verified. That there was no entrance to a strait, nor any large
inlet near these islands, was almost demonstrated by the insignificance
of the tides; for neither in Fowler's Bay nor at this Isle St. Francis
could any set be perceived; nor was there any rise by the shore worthy of
At half-past one we left Petrel Bay; and having passed between the small
isles to the north-east, steered for Evans' Island, and toward the Isles
of St. Peter, which were expected to lie beyond it. At five o'clock, we
passed between Evans' Island and some rocks above water, with breakers
round them, lying three miles to the eastward. An island, equally high
with that of St. Francis, was then seen to the north, and low land
extended from it to N. 45 deg. E., which had some appearance of being part of
the main. We steered for these lands; and seeing an opening between them
at sunset, I attempted it in the hope of getting anchorage for the night;
but the water shoaled suddenly, from 4 fathoms to sixteen feet upon
rocks, and obliged me to veer on the instant. We then stood back to the
southward till eight o'clock, and nothing being perceived in the way of
the ship's drift, hove to for the night.
FRIDAY 5 FEBRUARY 1802
The wind was north-east in the morning; and at half-past four o'clock we
filled the sails and steered eastward until eight, when the central
island of St. Francis bore N. 71 deg. W., and Franklin's Isles, for there are
two, besides rocks, were distant four leagues, the small opening between
them bearing N. 28 deg. W. To the south-eastward of these islands, at the
distance of eleven miles, is a low projection of the main land, to which
the name of _Point Brown_ was given, in compliment to the naturalist; and
four leagues further, in the same line, was a cliffy head, called _Cape
Bauer_ after the painter of natural history. Between these projections
there was a wide space where no land was visible, and for which we
accordingly steered on the wind veering more to the northward. The
atmosphere was still hazy, more especially about the horizon, and no
observations worthy of confidence could be taken for either latitude or
longitude. At noon,
Franklin's Isles bore N. 481/2 deg. to 561/2 deg. W.
Point Brown, distant four miles, N. 34 W.
Cape Bauer, south extremity, dist. 3 leagues, S. 50 E.
No land was yet visible ahead; and there being much refuse from the
shore, as well as seaweed floating about, some hopes of finding a river
were entertained. At half-past two, however, low, sandy land was seen
from the mast head, nearly all round, the depth had diminished from 19 to
7 fathoms, and the water was much discoloured in streaks at less than a
mile from the ship. Smokes Were rising in three different places; but as
the wind was unfavourable, and there was no prospect of any opening
sufficiently large to admit the Investigator, I gave up the further
examination of this place, and called it STREAKY BAY.
There remained nearly forty miles of space between Point Bell and Point
Brown, in which the main coast had not been seen. This it was necessary
to explore; but the wind being then at north-north-east, I steered to the
southward, to gain some further knowledge of the coast in that direction
West of Cape Bauer, and distant four miles, there is a low island,
extensively surrounded with rocks and breakers, which I called _Olive's
Island_. We passed between it and the cape, and observed the cliffs of
the latter to be stratified, and apparently calcareous. Another cliffy
and somewhat higher projection opened from it at S. 1 deg. W., distant seven
miles, the intermediate low land forming a bight four or five miles deep,
which is mostly skirted by a sandy beach. This projection I named _Point
Westall_, in compliment to the landscape painter; and at six in the
evening, when it bore north-east-by-east two or three miles, we veered
round to the northward. Beyond Point Westall the coast takes a more
eastern direction, the first land which opened out from it being at S.
43 deg. E.: this was a third cliffy projection, terminating another sandy
bight in the coast. No hill nor anything behind the shore could be
perceived, but it does not certainly follow that there are no hills in
the back country, for the haze was too thick to admit of the sight
extending beyond four or five leagues.
The wind having veered to east-north-east, we kept to the northward all
night, under easy sail; and at daylight [SATURDAY 6 FERBRUARY 1802], the
lands around us were in the following bearings:
I. St. Francis, the largest southern cliffs, N. 80 deg. W.
Lacy's Isle, centre, N. 57 W.
Evans' Isle, centre, N. 43 W.
Franklin's Isles, extremes, N. 29 deg. to 10 W.
Point Brown, south extremity, N. 65 E.
Cape Bauer, north extremity, S. 78 E.
Olive's Island, centre, S. 67 E.
Cliffy Head beyond Point Westall, S. 45 E.
All sail was made to fetch between Franklin's Isles and Point Brown, in
order to follow the course of the main land as close as possible; but
finding, after several tacks, the impossibility of weathering the isles,
we bore away; and at noon hauled up north-north-east round them. The wind
was light at east, and the weather fine over head; but there was so dense
a haze below that, the true horizon could not be distinguished from
several false ones, and we had six or seven different latitudes from as
many observers: those taken by me to the north and south differed 19
minutes. This dense haze, from its great refractive power, altered the
appearance of objects in a surprising manner: a sandy beach seemed to be
a chalky cliff, and the lowest islands to have steep shores. The
thermometer stood, at this time, at 82 deg. and the barometer at 29.60
On the north side of Point Brown the shore formed a large open bay, into
which we hauled up as much as the wind would permit, passing near to a
reef of rocks and breakers, two miles to the north-north-east of
Franklin's Isles. At half-past two the water had shoaled to 5 fathoms;
and not being able to distinguish any inlet, we then bore away westward
along the land. The number of smokes rising from the shores of this wide,
open place induced me to give it the name of SMOKY BAY.
At four o'clock we passed the small opening which had been unsuccessfully
attempted in the evening of the 4th, and hauled up northward under the
lee of the island forming its western side. The mainland then came in
sight ahead; but between it and the islands was a space five or six miles
wide, which had the appearance of being the entrance to a river. No land
was visible to the north-east; and besides quantities of grass and
branches of trees or bushes floating in the water, there was a number of
long, gauze-winged insects topping about the surface, such as frequent
fresh-water lakes and swamps. In order to form a judgment of how much
fresh was mixed with the salt water, or whether any, I had some taken up
for the purpose of ascertaining its specific gravity; but before the
experiment could be made, the depth diminished to 3 fathoms, and low land
was distinguished nearly all round. We then veered ship; and at seven
o'clock came to an anchor in 6 fathoms, off a small beach on the north
side of the western and smallest island, being sheltered at all points
except between S. 58 deg. and N. 80 deg. W.
The specific gravity of the water taken up proved to be 1.034, or .008
greater than the water of the Southern Indian Ocean, westward of the
Island Amsterdam, although the temperature in which it was weighed was
higher by 14 deg.. This circumstance, with the shallowness of the inlet and
the land having been seen to close round so nearly, made me give up the
intention of attempting to proceed any higher up, since no river of
importance was to be expected.
Great flocks of sooty petrels were observed coming in from sea to the
island, and at the first dawn next morning [SUNDAY 7 FEBRUARY 1802] a
boat was sent to collect a quantity of them, and to kill seals; but the
birds were already moving off, and no more than four seals, of the hair
kind, were procured. The botanists preferred going on shore to the more
eastern land, which, though low, was much more extensive than the island
nearer to the ship; and in fact it was not yet ascertained whether it
were not a part of the main. I went to the higher island with a
theodolite to take bearings; and as the survey had shown that no
dependence was to be placed in any observations taken on board the ship
during the last five days, I took with me the necessary instruments for
determining the latitude and longitude.
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