A Voyage to Terra Australis
Part 8 out of 9
maturity; but the wood is hard and solid, and it may thence be supposed
to grow slowly. With these considerations I should be inclined to fix the
period at not less than ten, nor more than twenty years before our
arrival. This brings us back to La Perouse. He was in Botany Bay in the
beginning of 1788; and if he did pass through Torres' Strait, and come
round to this coast, as was his intention, it would probably be about the
middle or latter end of that year, or between thirteen and fourteen years
before the Investigator. My opinion is not favourable to this conjecture;
but I have furnished all the _data_ to enable the reader to form his own
judgment upon the cause which might have prostrated the woods of these
The soil of that part of Kangaroo Island examined by us was judged to be
much superior to any before seen, either upon the south coast of the
continent or upon the islands near it, with the exception of some
portions behind the harbours of King George's Sound. The depth of the
soil was not particularly ascertained; but from the thickness of the wood
it cannot be very shallow. Some sand is mixed with the vegetable earth,
but not in any great proportion; and I thought the soil superior to some
of the land cultivated at Port Jackson, and to much of that in our stony
counties in England.
Never perhaps had the dominion possessed here by the kangaroo been
invaded before this time. The seal shared with it upon the shores, but
they seemed to dwell amicably together. It not unfrequently happened that
the report of a gun fired at a kangaroo near the beach brought out two or
three bellowing seals from under bushes considerably further from the
water-side. The seal, indeed, seemed to be much the most discerning
animal of the two; for its actions bespoke a knowledge of our not being
kangaroos, whereas the kangaroo not unfrequently appeared to consider us
to be seals.
The _latitude_ of the landing place near Kangaroo Head from an
observation in the artificial horizon, was 35 deg. 43' 0" south; and the
_longitude_ of our anchorage by timekeepers, 137 deg. 58' 31" east. This
last, being deduced from observations only four days after the proof had
of the time keepers having gone correctly since leaving Port Lincoln,
should be as accurate, or very nearly so, as the longitude of that port.
The _variation_ observed from two compasses on board, with the head
south-westward, was 6 deg. 31' east; but when the ship swung to a tide coming
from east-north-east, the change in the bearings of different objects
showed the variation to be about 4 deg. less. The true variation I deduce to
be 4 deg. 13' east; which is an increase upon what was observed on the west
side of Cape Spencer, of 2 deg.; although the distance be no more than
twenty-four leagues, and the previous increase from Cape Catastrophe had
been almost nothing. It seems probable that the existence of magnetic
bodies in the land to the north-westward, and perhaps also in Kangaroo
Island and Cape Jervis, was the cause of this change in the direction of
From appearances on the shore, I judged the rise of _tide_ to be about
six feet. The flood came from the east-north-east, twice in the day, and
by the swinging of the ship, ceased at _two hours and a half after_ the
moon's passage; but the time of high water was afterwards found to be
later by one hour and a half.
Departure from Kangaroo Island.
Examination of the main coast, from Cape Spencer eastward.
The Investigator's Strait.
A new gulph discovered. Anchorage at, and examination of the head.
Remarks on the surrounding land.
Return down the gulph.
Return to Kangaroo Island.
Boat expedition to Pelican Lagoon.
Kangaroo Island quitted.
The coast from Cape Jervis, eastward.
Meeting, and communication with Le Geographe.
Remarks upon the French discoveries on the South Coast.
[SOUTH COAST. INVESTIGATOR'S STRAIT.]
WEDNESDAY 24 MARCH 1802
March 24 in the morning, we got under way from Kangaroo Island in order
to take up the examination of the main coast at Cape Spencer, where it
had been quitted in the evening of the 20th, when the late gale
commenced. The wind had continued to blow fresh from the southward, but
had now moderated, and was at south-west. We steered north-westward from
ten o'clock till six in the evening, and then had sight of land extending
from N. 62 deg. W. to a low part terminating at N. 17 deg. E. distant three
leagues. A hummock upon this low part was named _Troubridge Hill_, and at
first it makes like an island. Nothing was visible to the eastward of the
low land; whence I judged there to be another inlet or a strait between
it and Cape Jervis. Soon after dusk the wind veered to south-by-east, on
which we steered south-westward, and continued the same course until four
in the morning [THURSDAY 25 MARCH 1802]; when the largest Althorp Isle
being seen to the north-west, the ship was hove to, with her head
eastward; and at daylight, before making sail, the following bearings
were taken of the lands to the northward, but no part of Kangaroo Island
Wedge I. (of Gambier's Isles), highest part, N. 641/2 deg. W.
Althorpe Isle, largest, distant 6 miles, N. 83 deg. to 78 W.
Cape Spencer, south point, N. 44 W.
Furthest extreme of the northern land, N. 44 E.
The wind fixed itself at south-east, and it took us two days to work back
against it as far as Troubridge Hill [SATURDAY 27 MARCH 1802]. The shore
is generally low and sandy; but with the exception of one very low point,
it may be approached within two miles. Many tacks were made in these two
days from the northern land across to Kangaroo Island, and gave
opportunities of sounding the intermediate strait. From 45 fathoms, in
the middle of the western entrance, the depth diminished quickly to 25,
then more slowly to 20 after which it is irregular between 12 and 20
fathoms, as far as the mouth of the second inlet. Of the two sides, that
of Kangaroo Island is much the deepest; but there is no danger in any
part to prevent a ship passing through the strait with perfect
confidence, and the average width is twenty-three miles. It was named
INVESTIGATOR'S STRAIT, after the ship. The bottom is mostly broken
shells, mixed with sand, gravel or coral, and appeared to hold well.
From two amplitudes taken to the north-north-west of Point Marsden, and
near the middle of the strait, the variation was 1 deg. 49' east; the ship's
head being south-south-east in one case, and north-east-by-north in the
other. The true variation deduced from these, is 3 deg. 20' east; which is 1 deg.
7' greater than at Cape Spencer, and 0 deg. 53' less than at the anchorage
near Kangaroo Head.
At noon of the 27th, the eastern wind died away; and we dropped a kedge
anchor in 15 fathoms, about two miles from Point Marsden, where the
following observations and bearings were taken.
Latitude, observed to the north, 35 deg. 31' 38"
Longitude by time keepers, 137 42
Kangaroo I., furthest western extreme, S. 82 W.
do., Point Marsden, west side, S. 26 W.
do., innermost head up Nepean Bay, S. 27 E.
do., furthest eastern extreme, S. 571/2 E.
Cape Jervis, south extreme, S. 73 E.
No set of tide was observable until three o'clock, when it made gently to
the north-east, towards the new inlet; and a breeze springing up at
south-east soon afterward, we pursued the same course, and were well
within the entrance at eight o'clock. Fires were seen ahead; but the
soundings being regular, and increasing, we kept on until midnight; when
the land was seen also, and we stood back for two hours. At daylight
[SUNDAY 28 MARCH 1802] I recognised Mount Lofty, upon the highest part of
the ridge of mountains which, from Cape Jervis, extends northward behind
the eastern shore of the inlet. The nearest part of the coast was distant
three leagues, mostly low, and composed of sand and rock, with a few
small trees scattered over it; but at a few miles inland, where the back
mountains rise, the country was well clothed with forest timber, and had
a fertile appearance. The fires bespoke this to be a part of the
Light airs and calms prevailed during the morning, and the ship had very
little way until noon, when a breeze sprung up at south-west. Our
situation was then in
Latitude, observed to the north and south, 35 deg. 4' 13"
Longitude by time keepers, 138 23
Mount Lofty bore N. 71 E.
Southern extreme toward Cape Jervis, S. 17 W.
Northern extreme, trees above the water, N. 32 E.
The situation of Mount Lofty was found from hence and from some other
cross bearings, to be 34 deg. 59' south and 138 deg. 42' east. No land was
visible so far to the north as where the trees appeared above the
horizon, which showed the coast to be very low, and our soundings were
fast decreasing. From noon to six o'clock we ran thirty miles to the
northward, skirting a sandy shore at the distance of five, and thence to
eight miles; the depth was then 5 fathoms, and we dropped the anchor upon
a bottom of sand, mixed with pieces of dead coral.
MONDAY 29 MARCH 1802
In the morning, land was seen to the westward, and also a hummocky
mountain, capped with clouds, apparently near the head of the inlet.
Azimuths with the surveying compass, taken when the ship's head was
south-eastward, gave 2 deg. 27' east variation; but an amplitude taken at the
same anchorage on the preceding evening, when the head was south-by-west,
showed 5 deg. 22' east. These corrected to the meridian, will be severally 4 deg.
43' and 4 deg. 44' east; or half a degree more than was observed near
Kangaroo Head. The observations at this anchorage and the bearings taken
were as follow:
Latitude observed from the moon, 34 deg. 36' S.
Longitude by time keepers, 138 18 E.
Mount Lofty, S. 411/2 deg. E.
Nearest shore, distant 7 miles, N. E. to N.
Hummock mount, highest top, N. 121/2 W.
Western land, furthest extremes, N. 51 deg. to S. 65 W.
There being almost no wind in the morning, we remained at anchor until
nine o'clock, to set up afresh the rigging of the new top masts; and I
took a boat to sound upon a rippling near the ship, but found the same
depth of 5 fathoms. Very little progress was made until noon, at which
time shoal water obliged us to steer westward. At three the soundings had
increased from 31/2 to 10 fathoms, which was the deepest water to be found;
for it became shallower on approaching the western shore. After steering
various northwardly courses, we anchored at sunset in 5 fathoms, sand,
shells and broken coral; the shores then appeared to close round at the
distance of seven or eight miles; and the absence of tide gave no
prospect of finding any river at the head of the inlet.
According to lieutenant Flinders' observations, the situation of the
anchorage was in
Latitude, 34 deg. 16' 36"
Longitude by time keepers, 138 6
Mount Lofty, dist. 17 leagues, bore, S. 35 E.
Hummock Mount, highest part, N. 5 E.
A low sandy point, dist. 3 or 4, miles, N. 69 E.
A low point covered with mangroves, N. 53 W.
The variation from an amplitude, observed when the ship's head was
south-eastward, was 2 deg. 50' east; but the compass being upon a stand out
of its usual place, I cannot deduce the true variation, but took it to
be; 4 deg. 40' east, nearly as found at the preceding anchorage.
TUESDAY 30 MARCH 1802
Early in the morning I went in a boat, accompanied by the naturalist, to
examine more closely the head of the gulph. We carried from 4 to 3
fathoms water four miles above the ship, when it shoaled to fifteen and
eight feet, which brought us to mud flats, nearly dry; but by means of a
small channel amongst them we got within half a mile of the shore, and
walked to it upon a bank of mud and sand.
It was then ten o'clock, and the tide was out; so that I judged the time
of high water to be _about seven hours after_ the moon's passage, or
three hours later than at Kangaroo Island; and the ordinary rise appeared
to be six or eight feet. An observation of the sun's meridian altitude
from the artificial horizon showed the landing-place to be in latitude
34 deg. 8' 52", and the uppermost water might be 30" less; whence the extent
of this inlet, from Cape Jervis on the east side of the entrance, is 1 deg.
30' of latitude.
Microscopic shells of various kinds, not larger than grains of wheat,
were heaped up in ridges at high-water mark; further back the shore was
sandy, but soon rose, in an undulating manner, to hills covered with
grass; and several clumps of trees scattered over them gave the land a
pleasing appearance from the water side. We set off in the afternoon for
the Hummock Mount, which stands upon a northern prolongation of the hills
on the west side of the inlet, and about eight miles from the water; but
finding it could not be reached in time to admit of returning on board
the same evening, I ascended a nearer part of the range to inspect the
head of the inlet. It was almost wholly occupied by flats, which seemed
to be sandy in the eastern part and muddy to the westward. These flats
abounded with rays; and had we been provided with a harpoon, a boat load
might have been caught. One black swan and several shags and gulls were
I found the grass upon these pleasant-looking hills to be thinly set, the
trees small, and the land poor in vegetable soil. The mountainous ridge
on the east side of the inlet passes within a few miles of Hummock Mount,
and appeared to be more sandy; but the wood upon it was abundant, and of
a larger growth. Between the two ranges is a broad valley, swampy at the
bottom; and into it the water runs down from both sides in rainy weather,
and is discharged into the gulph, which may be considered as the lower
and wider part of the valley.
This eastern ridge is the same which rises at Cape Jervis; from whence it
extends northward towards Barn Hill and the ridge of mountains on the
east side of Spencer's Gulph. If it joins that ridge, as I strongly
suspect, its length, taking it only from Cape Jervis to Mount Arden, will
be more than seventy leagues in a straight line. There are some
considerable elevations on the southern part; Mount Lofty is one of them,
and its height appeared nearly equal to that of Mount Brown to the north,
or about three thousand feet. Another lies six or seven miles to the
north-by-east of the Hummock Mount, near the head of this inlet, and
seems to have been the hill set from Spencer's Gulph, at the anchorage of
March 14, in the evening, when it was distant ten or eleven leagues and
appeared above the lower range in front of Barn Hill.
From my station on the western hills of the new inlet, across to
Spencer's Gulph, the distance was not more than thirty miles; but as I
did not ascend the highest part of the range, the water to the westward
could not be seen. Had the Hummock Mount been within my reach, its
elevation of near fifteen hundred feet would probably have afforded an
extensive view, both across the peninsula and of the country to the
[SOUTH COAST. GULPH OF ST. VINCENT.]
In honour of the noble admiral who presided at the Board of Admiralty
when I sailed from England, and had continued to the voyage that
countenance and protection of which Earl Spencer had set the example, I
named this new inlet the GULPH OF ST. VINCENT. To the peninsula which
separates it from Spencer's Gulph I have affixed the name of YORKE'S
PENINSULA, in honour of the Right Honourable Charles Philip Yorke, who
followed the steps of his above-mentioned predecessors at the Admiralty.
WEDNESDAY 31 MARCH 1802
On the 31st at daylight we got under way to proceed down the gulph, and
having followed the eastern shore in going up, I wished to trace the
coast of the peninsula in returning; but the wind being nearly at south,
it could only be done partially. At two in the afternoon we tacked in 3
fathoms from the eastern shoals, and at sunset in the same depth one mile
from the western side; our distance from the head of the gulph being then
about ten leagues, and the furthest land of the peninsula bearing S. 3 deg.
E. The western hills come down nearly to the water-side here, and have
the same pleasant appearance as at the head of the gulph, being grassy,
with clumps of wood scattered over them; the coast-line is somewhat
cliffy, and not so low as the eastern shore.
THURSDAY 1 APRIL 1802
During the night the wind veered round to east, and at three in the
morning to north-east; and a fire being seen on the eastern shore, the
fore top sail was laid to the mast. At daybreak we made sail west for the
land of the peninsula; and at half-past nine it was less than five miles
distant, being very low and sandy. The northern extreme then in sight
appeared to be the same land set in the evening at S. 3 deg. E.; the other
extreme was not far from Troubridge Hill, on the west side of the
entrance to the gulph; and near it was an extensive bank, part of it dry,
which I called _Troubridge Shoal_. The bearings taken at this time were,
Northern extreme of the west shore, N. 2 deg. E.
Southern extreme, distant 7 miles, S. 42 W.
Troubridge Shoal, dry part S. 13 deg. W. to 9 E.
Cape Jervis, S. extreme of high land, S. 18 E.
Mount Lofty, N. 85 E.
We now hauled the wind to the south-east, and weathered the dry part of
Troubridge Shoal; but passed amongst several patches of discoloured water
in soundings from 4 to 31/2 fathoms. At noon, when our latitude observed on
both sides was 35 deg. 9' 38" and longitude by time keepers 138 deg. 41/2', the
shoal was distant three leagues to the west-north-west; Cape Jervis bore
S. 12 deg., and Mount Lofty N. 72 deg. E.
Our examination of the gulph of St. Vincent was now finished; and the
country round it had appeared to be generally superior to that on the
borders of Spencer's Gulph. Yorke's Peninsula between them is singular in
its form, bearing some resemblance to a very ill-shaped leg and foot. The
length of the southern part, from Cape Spencer to the sandy point near
Troubridge Shoal, is about forty-five miles; and from thence northward,
to where the peninsula joins the main land, about sixty miles. Its least
breadth is from the head of Hardwicke Bay to the Investigator's Strait,
where it appears to be not more than three leagues.
[SOUTH COAST. KANGAROO ISLAND]
Having now made myself acquainted with the shores of the continent up to
Cape Jervis, it remained to pursue the discovery further eastward; but I
wished to ascertain previously whether any error had crept into the
time-keepers' rates since leaving Kangaroo Island, and also to procure
there a few more fresh meals for my ship's company. Our course was in
consequence directed for the island, which was visible from aloft; but
the winds being very feeble, we did not pass Kangaroo Head until eleven
at night. I purposed to have run up into the eastern cove of Nepean Bay,
but finding the water to shoal from 12 to 7 fathoms, did not think it
safe to go further in the dark, and therefore dropped the anchor about
three-quarters of a mile from the shore, and two miles to the
south-west-by-west of our former anchorage.
FRIDAY 2 APRIL 1802
Early on the following morning a party was sent to shoot kangaroos,
another to cut wood, and the naturalists went to pursue their researches.
The observations taken by lieutenant Flinders, compared with those of
March 24th, showed the timekeepers to have erred 2' 10" of longitude to
the west in the nine days we had been absent; and they had not,
consequently, lost quite so much upon a medium as the Port Lincoln rates
supposed. This small error, which principally affected the Gulph of St.
Vincent, has been corrected in the longitudes there specified and in the
chart by an equal proportion.
The kangaroos were found to be less numerous than at the first anchoring
place, and they had become shy, so that very few were killed. Those few
being brought off, with a boat load of wood, we got under way at daylight
next morning to prosecute the examination of the coast beyond Cape
Jervis; but the timekeepers had stopped, from having been neglected to be
wound up on the preceding day. We therefore came to an anchor again; and
as some time would be required to fix new rates, the ship was moored so
soon as the flood tide made. I landed immediately, to commence the
necessary observations, and a party was established on shore, abreast of
the ship, to cut more wood for the holds. Lieutenant Fowler was sent in
the launch to the eastward, with a shooting party and such of the
scientific gentlemen as chose to accompany him; and there being skins
wanted for the service of the rigging, he was directed to kill some
SUNDAY 4 APRIL 1802
On the 4th I was accompanied by the naturalist in a boat expedition to
the head of the large eastern cove of Nepean Bay; intending if possible
to ascend a sandy eminence behind it, from which alone there was any hope
of obtaining a view into the interior of the island, all the other hills
being thickly covered with wood. On approaching the south-west corner of
the cove, a small opening was found leading into a considerable piece of
water; and by one of its branches we reached within little more than a
mile of the desired sandy eminence. After I had observed the latitude 35 deg.
50' 2" from an artificial horizon, we got through the wood without much
difficulty, and at one o'clock reached the top of the eminence, to which
was given the name of _Prospect Hill_. Instead of a view into the
interior of the island, I was surprised to find the sea at not more than
one and half or two miles to the southward. Two points of the coast
towards the east end of the island bore S. 77 deg. E., and the furthest part
on the other side, a low point with breakers round it, bore S. 33 deg. W., at
the supposed distance of four or five leagues. Between these extremes a
large bight in the south coast was formed; but it is entirely exposed to
southern winds, and the shores are mostly cliffy. Mount Lofty, on the
east side of the Gulph of St. Vincent, was visible from Prospect Hill at
the distance of sixty-nine miles, and bore N. 40 deg. 40' E.
The entrance of the piece of water at the head of Nepean Bay is less than
half a mile in width, and mostly shallow; but there is a channel
sufficiently deep for all boats near the western shore. After turning two
low islets near the east point the water opens out, becomes deeper, and
divides into two branches, each of two or three miles long. Boats can go
to the head of the southern branch only at high water; the east branch
appeared to be accessible at all times, but as a lead and line were
neglected to be put into the boat, I had no opportunity of sounding.
There are four small islands in the eastern branch; one of them is
moderately high and woody, the others are grassy and lower; and upon two
of these we found many young pelicans, unable to fly. Flocks of the old
birds were sitting upon the beaches of the lagoon, and it appeared that
the islands were their breeding-places; not only so, but from the number
of skeletons and bones there scattered, it should seem that they had for
ages been selected for the closing scene of their existence. Certainly
none more likely to be free from disturbance of every kind could have
been chosen than these islets in a hidden lagoon of an uninhabited
island, situate upon an unknown coast near the antipodes of Europe; nor
can anything be more consonant to the feelings, if pelicans have any,
than quietly to resign their breath whilst surrounded by their progeny,
and in the same spot where they first drew it. Alas for the pelicans!
Their golden age is past; but it has much exceeded in duration that of
I named this piece of water _Pelican Lagoon_. It is also frequented by
flocks of the pied shag, and by some ducks and gulls; and the shoals
supplied us with a few oysters. The surrounding country is almost
everywhere thickly covered with brushwood; and the soil appeared to be
generally of a good quality, though not deep. Prospect Hill and the parts
around it are more sandy; and there seemed to be swamps at the head of
both branches of the lagoon. The isthmus which separates the southern
branch from the sea is low, but rises gradually up the cliffs of the
Not being able to return on board the same night, we slept near the
entrance of the lagoon. It was high water by the shore, on the morning of
the 5th [MONDAY 5 APRIL 1802], at six o'clock; but on comparing this with
the swinging of the ship, it appeared that the tide had then been running
more than an hour from the westward. The rise in the lagoon seemed to be
from four to eight feet.
A few kangaroos had been obtained during my absence, as also some seal
skins; but one of the sailors having attacked a large seal incautiously,
received a very severe bite in the leg and was laid up. After all the
researches now made in the island, it appeared that the kangaroos were
much more numerous at our first landing-place, near Kangaroo Head, than
elsewhere in the neighbourhood. That part of the island was clearer of
wood than most others; and there were some small grass plats which seemed
to be particularly attractive and were kept very bare. Not less than
thirty emus or cassowaries were seen at different times; but it so
happened that they were fired at only once, and that ineffectually. They
were most commonly found near the longest of the small beaches to the
eastward of Kangaroo Head, where some little drainings of water oozed
from the rocks. It is possible that with much time and labour employed in
digging, water might be procured there to supply a ship; and I am sorry
to say that it was the sole place found by us where the hope of procuring
fresh water could be entertained.
Having received on board a good stock of wood, the launch was hoisted in
and every thing prepared for going to sea. Next morning [TUESDAY 6 APRIL
1802], so soon as the sun was sufficiently elevated to be observed in the
artificial horizon, I landed to take the last set of observations for the
time-keepers; after which the anchor was weighed, and we steered out of
Nepean Bay with a light breeze from the south-west. Towards noon it fell
calm, and finding by the land that the ship was set westward, an anchor
was dropped nearly in our first place off Kangaroo Head; and Mr. Westall
took the sketch given in the Atlas. (Atlas Plate XVII. View 11.)
The rates of the time keepers were obtained, for the sake of expedition,
from single altitudes of the sun's upper and lower limbs, taken from a
quicksilver horizon with a sextant fixed on a stand; the time being noted
from Arnold's watch, compared with Earnshaw's time keepers before going
on shore and immediately after returning. From the altitudes of the 3rd,
4th, and 6th, in the morning, the rates of the two time keepers and their
errors from mean Greenwich time, reduced to noon there on the last day,
were as under.
Earnshaw's No. 543, fast 0h 0' 18.03" and losing 8.46" per day.
No. 520, slow 0 45 29.66 and losing 18.07" per day.
In deducing these errors, the longitude given by the time keepers on our
first arrival from Spencer's Gulph, which I consider to be equally good
with that of Port Lincoln, was used, with a correction of -1' 20" for the
change of place. The medium of the Port Lincoln rates was something
greater than that now found; which corresponded with the time keepers
having given the longitude of Kangaroo Head less on the second than on
the first arrival. This was some proof that the letting down had not
affected the rates, and tended to give me confidence in their accuracy.
The _variation_ observed on shore, with the theodolite,
was 5 deg. 48' east. Do. with azimuth compass, No. 1 with the theodolite,
was 2 deg. 58' east.
For this difference between the instruments, I find it difficult to
account satisfactorily; but it is the same way, and nearly similar in
quantity to what was observed in Lucky Bay. The true variation on board
the ship, deduced from azimuths taken at anchor two miles to the
north-east, and using the compasses No. 1 and 2, was as before mentioned,
4 deg. 13', nearly the mean of the above; but the bearings taken with the
theodolite at Kangaroo Head and Prospect Hill showed only 21/2 deg. east, as
compared with the bearings on board the ship. There can be little doubt
of the existence of magnetic substances in the lands about here, more
particularly, as I think, in Yorke's Peninsula; and there will presently
be occasion to notice more instances of their effect.
The approach of the winter season, and an apprehension that the discovery
of the remaining unknown part of the South Coast might not be completed
before a want of provisions would make it necessary to run for Port
Jackson, prevented me from stopping a day longer at Kangaroo Island than
was necessary to obtaining rates for the time-keepers, and consequently
from examining the south and west parts of that island. The direction of
the main coast and the inlets it might form were the most important
points to be now ascertained; and the details of particular parts, which
it would interfere too much with those objects to examine, were best
referred to the second visit, directed by my instructions to be made to
this coast. When, therefore, the rising of a breeze made it advisable to
get under way from Kangaroo Head, which was not until two in the
afternoon, we proceeded for the eastern outlet of the Investigator's
Strait, in order to prosecute the discovery beyond Cape Jervis.
The wind was at south-east; and the tide being against us, but little
progress was made until the evening, when it became favourable. Our
soundings were irregular, and some rocky islets being seen without side
of the opening, I stood in at nine o'clock, to look for anchorage at the
east end of Kangaroo Island; and finding no shelter there, we ran a
little to leeward into a small bay which I had observed before dark, and
anchored at half past ten, in 41/2 fathoms, on a bottom of hard sand. At
daylight [WEDNESDAY 7 APRIL 1802], the following bearings were taken.
East point of the little bay, dist. 11/2 mile, East.
West point, distant three miles, N. 38 deg. W.
Cape Jervis, inner low point, N. 3 W.
Eastern extreme of the coast, N. 65 E.
The bay is perfectly sheltered from all southern winds; and as there were
several spots clear of wood near the beach, it is probable that the
kangaroos, and perhaps cassowaries, might be numerous. We did not stop to
land, but got under way so soon as the bearings were taken, to beat out
of the strait against the south-east wind; so little was gained, however,
after working all the day, that at eight in the evening the ship was
still off the east end of Kangaroo Island.
This part of the Investigator's Strait is not more, in the narrowest
part, than seven miles across. It forms a private entrance, as it were,
to the two gulphs; and I named it _Back-stairs Passage_. The small bay
where we had anchored is called the _Ante-chamber_; and the cape which
forms the eastern head of the bay and of Kangaroo Island, and lies in 35 deg.
48' south and 138 deg. 13' east, received the appellation of _Cape
Willoughby_. Without side of the passage, and almost equidistant from
both shores, there are three small, rocky islets near together, called
the _Pages_, whose situation is in latitude 35 deg. 461/2' and longitude 138 deg.
21' east; these are the sole dangers in Back-stairs Passage, and two of
them are conspicuous. Our soundings in beating through were from 8 to 23
fathoms; and in a strong rippling of tide like breakers there was from 10
to 12, upon a bottom of stones and shells.
At eight in the evening we tacked from Cape Willoughby; and having passed
to windward of the Pages, stretched on east and north-eastward until four
in the morning [THURSDAY 8 APRIL 1802]. Land was then seen under the lee,
and a tack made off shore till daylight, when we stood in with the wind
at east-south-east. At nine the land was distant five miles, and of a
very different aspect to that of Cape Jervis. As far as six leagues from
the cliffy southern extremity of the Cape the land is high, rocky and
much cut by gullies or ravines; a short, scrubby brush-wood covers the
seaward side, and the stone appeared to be slaty, like the opposite
cliffs of Kangaroo Island. But here the hills fall back from the sea, and
the shore becomes very low with some hummocks of sand upon it; and the
same description of coast prevailed as far as could be seen to the
Our situation at nine o'clock, when we tacked to the south, was as
Longitude by time keepers, 138 deg. 471/2'
Cape Jervis, two southern parts, bore S. 84 W.
A round hummock, N. 85 W.
A rocky islet, under the land, N. 62 W.
Furthest visible part of the sandy coast, S. 87 E.
Before two in the afternoon we stretched eastward again, and at four a
white rock was reported from aloft to be seen ahead. On approaching
nearer it proved to be a ship standing towards us, and we cleared for
action, in case of being attacked. The stranger was a heavy-looking ship,
without any top-gallant masts up; and our colours being hoisted, she
showed a French ensign, and afterwards an English jack forward, as we did
a white flag. At half-past five, the land being then five miles distant
to the north-eastward, I hove to, and learned, as the stranger passed to
leeward with a free wind, that it was the French national ship _Le
Geographe_, under the command of captain NICOLAS BAUDIN. We veered round
as Le Geographe was passing, so as to keep our broadside to her, lest the
flag of truce should be a deception; and having come to the wind on the
other tack, a boat was hoisted out, and I went on board the French ship,
which had also hove to.
As I did not understand French, Mr. Brown, the naturalist, went with me
in the boat. We were received by an officer who pointed out the
commander, and by him were conducted into the cabin. I requested captain
Baudin to show me his passport from the Admiralty; and when it was found
and I had perused it, offered mine from the French marine minister, but
he put it back without inspection. He then informed me that he had spent
some time in examining the south and east parts of Van Diemen's Land,
where his geographical engineer, with the largest boat and a boat's crew,
had been left, and probably lost. In Bass Strait captain Baudin had
encountered a heavy gale, the same we had experienced in a less degree on
March 21 in the Investigator's Strait. He was then separated from his
consort, _Le Naturaliste_; but having since had fair winds and fine
weather, he had explored the South Coast from Western Port to the place
of our meeting without finding any river, inlet or other shelter which
afforded anchorage. I inquired concerning a large island said to lie in
the western entrance of Bass Strait; but he had not seen it, and seemed
to doubt much of its existence.
Captain Baudin was communicative of his discoveries about Van Diemen's
land; as also of his criticisms upon an English chart of Bass Strait
published in 1800. He found great fault with the north side of the
strait, but commended the form given to the south side and to the islands
near it. On my pointing out a note upon the chart, explaining that the
north side of the strait was seen only in an open boat by Mr. Bass, who
had no good means of fixing either latitude or longitude, he appeared
surprised, not having before paid attention to it. I told him that some
other and more particular charts of the Strait and its neighbourhood had
been since published; and that if he would keep company until next
morning, I would bring him a copy, with a small memoir belonging to them.
This was agreed to, and I returned with Mr. Brown to the Investigator.
It somewhat surprised me that captain Baudin made no enquiries concerning
my business upon this unknown coast, but as he seemed more desirous of
communicating information, I was happy to receive it; next morning
[FRIDAY 9 APRIL 1802], however, he had become inquisitive, some of his
officers having learned from my boat's crew that our object was also
discovery. I then told him, generally, what our operations had been,
particularly in the two gulphs, and the latitude to which I had ascended
in the largest; explained the situation of Port Lincoln, where fresh
water might be procured; showed him Cape Jervis, which was still in
sight; and as a proof of the refreshments to be obtained at the large
island opposite to it, pointed out the kangaroo-skin caps worn by my
boat's crew, and told him the name I had affixed to the island in
consequence. At parting the captain requested me to take care of his boat
and people in case of meeting with them; and to say to Le Naturaliste
that he should go to Port Jackson so soon as the bad weather set in. On
my asking the name of the captain of Le Naturaliste, he bethought himself
to ask mine; and finding it to be the same as the author of the chart
which he had been criticising, expressed not a little surprise, but had
the politeness to congratulate himself on meeting me.
The situation of the Investigator, when I hove to for the purpose of
speaking captain Baudin, was 35 deg. 40' south and 138 deg. 58' east. No person
was present at our conversations except Mr Brown; and they were mostly
carried on in English, which the captain spoke so as to be understood. He
gave me, besides what is related above, some information of his losses in
men, separations from his consort, and of the improper season at which he
was directed to explore this coast; as also a memorandum of some rocks he
had met with, lying two leagues from the shore, in latitude 37 deg. 1', and
he spoke of them as being very dangerous.
I have been the more particular in detailing all that passed at this
interview from a circumstance which it seems proper to explain and
discuss in this place.
At the above situation of 35 deg. 40' south and 138 deg. 58' east, the
_discoveries_ made by captain Baudin upon the South Coast have their
termination to the west; as mine in the Investigator have to the
eastward. Yet Mons. Peron, naturalist in the French expedition, has laid
a claim for his nation to the discovery of all the parts between _Western
Port_ in Bass Strait, and _Nuyts' Archipelago_; and this part of New
South Wales is called _Terre Napoleon_. My Kangaroo Island, a name which
they openly adopted in the expedition, has been converted at Paris into
_L'Isle Decres_; Spencer's Gulph is named _Golfe Bonaparte_; the Gulph of
St. Vincent, _Golfe Josephine_; and so on along the whole coast to Cape
Nuyts, not even the smallest island being left without some similar stamp
of French discovery.*
[* The most remarkable passages on the subject are the following, under
the title of _Terre Napoleon_.
"De ce grand espace (the south coast of Terra Australis), la partie seule
qui du Cap Leuwen s'etend aux iles St. Pierre et St. Francois, ecoit
connue lors de notre depart d'Europe. Decouverte par les Hollandois en
1627, elle avoit ete, dans ces derniers temps, visitee par VANCOUVER et
surtout par DENTRECASTEAUX; mais ce dernier navigateur n'ayant pu
lui-meme s'avancer au-dela des iles St. Pierre et St. Francois, qui
forment la limite orientale de la terre de Nuyts, et les Anglois n'ayant
pas porte vers le Sud leurs recherches plus loin que le port Western, il
en resultoit que toute la portion comprise entre ce dernier point et la
terre de Nuyts etoit encore inconnue au moment ou nous arrivions sur ces
rivages." p. 316. That is on March 30, 1802. M. Peron should have said,
not that the south coast from Western Port to Nuyts' Land was then
unknown; but that it was unknown _to them_; for captain Grant of the Lady
Nelson had discovered the eastern part, from Western Port to the
longitude 1401/4 deg., in the year 1800, before the French ships sailed from
Europe; and on the west I had explored the coast and islands from Nuyts'
land to Cape Jervis in 138 deg. 10', and was, on the day specified, at the
head of the Gulph of St. Vincent.
"Dans ce moment, le capitaine Anglois nous hela, en nous dernandant si
nous n'etions pas l'un des deux vaisseaux partis de France pour faire des
decouvertes dans l'hemisphere Austral. Sur notre reponse affirmative, il
fit aussitot mettre une embarcation a la mer, et peu d'instans apres nous
le recumes a bord. Nous apprimes que c'etoit le capitaine FLINDERS,
celui-la meme qui avoit deja fait la circonnavigation de la terre de
Diemen; que son navire se nommoit _the Investigator_; que, parti d'Europe
depuis huit mois dans le dessein de completer la reconnoissance de la
Nouvelle Hollande et des archipels du grand Ocean equatorial, il se
trouvoit, depuis environs trois mois, a la terre de Nuyts; que, contrarie
par les vents, il n'avoit pu penetrer, comme il en avoit eu le projet,
derriere les iles St. Pierre et St. Francois; que, lors de son depart
d'Angleterre," etc. p. 324, 325.
"En nous fournissant tous ces details. M. FLINDERS se montra d'une grande
reserve sur ses operations particulieres. Nous apprimes toutefois par
quelques-uns de ses matelots, qu'il avoit eu beaucoup a souffrir de ces
memes vents de la partie du Sud qui nous avoient ete si favorables, et ce
fut alors sur-tout que nous pumes apprecier davantage toute la sagesse de
nos propres instructions. Apres avoir converse plus d'une heure avec
_nous_," (no person except Mr. Brown was present at my conversation with
captain Baudin, as I have already said), "le capitaine FLINDERS repartit
pour son bord, promettant de revenir le lendemain matin nous apporter une
carte particuliere de la riviere _Dalrymple_, qu'il venait de publier en
Angleterre. Il revint en effet, le 9 avril, nous la remettre, et bientot
apres nous le quittames pour reprendre la suite de nos tra vaux
geographiques." p. 325.
"L'ile principale de ce dernier groupe" (their _Archipel Berthier_) "se
dessine sous la forme d'un immense hamacon." (Thistle's Island seems to
he here meant.) "Independamment de toutes ces iles, il en existe encore
plus de vingt autres disseminees aux environs de la pointe occidentale du
golfe et en dehors de son entee: chacune d'elles fut designee par un de
ces noms honorables dont notre patrie s'enorgueillit a juste titre." p.
_Voyage de Decouverte aux Terres Australes_, redige par M. F. Peron,
Naturaliste de l'expedition, etc. Paris, 1807.]
It is said by M. Peron, and upon my authority too, that the Investigator
had not been able to penetrate behind the Isles of St. Peter and St.
Francis; and though he doth not say directly that no part of the before
unknown coast was discovered by me, yet the whole tenor of his Chap. XV
induces the reader to believe that I had done nothing which could
interfere with the prior claim of the French.
Yet M. Peron was present afterwards at Port Jackson when I showed one of
my charts of this coast to captain Baudin, and pointed out the limits of
his discovery; and so far from any prior title being set up at that time
to Kangaroo Island and the parts westward, the officers of the Geographe
always spoke of them as belonging to the Investigator. The first
lieutenant, Mons. Freycinet, even made use of the following odd
expression, addressing himself to me in the house of governor King, and
in the presence of one of his companions, I think Mons. Bonnefoy:
"Captain, if we had not been kept so long picking up shells and catching
butterflies at Van Diemen's Land, you would not have discovered the South
Coast before us."
The English officers and respectable inhabitants then at Port Jackson can
say if the prior discovery of these parts were not generally
acknowledged; nay, I appeal to the French officers themselves, generally
and individually, if such were not the case. How then came M. Peron to
advance what was so contrary to truth? Was he a man destitute of all
principle? My answer is, that I believe his candour to have been equal to
his acknowledged abilities; and that what he wrote was from over-ruling
authority, and smote him to the heart; he did not live to finish the
The motive for this aggression I do not pretend to explain. It may have
originated in the desire to rival the British nation in the honour of
completing the discovery of the globe; or be intended as the forerunner
of a claim to the possession of the countries so said to have been first
discovered by French navigators. Whatever may have been the object in
view, the question, so far as I am concerned, must be left to the
judgment of the world; and if succeeding French writers can see and admit
the claims of other navigators as clearly and readily as a late most able
man of that nation* has pointed out their own in some other instances, I
shall not fear to leave it even to their decision.
[* M. DE FLEURIEU.]
Examination of the coast resumed.
The capes Bernouilli and Jaffa.
Differences in the bearings on tacking.
Cape Buffon, the eastern limit of the French discovery.
The capes Northumberland and Bridgewater of captain Grant.
Danger from a south-west gale.
King's Island, in Bass' Strait: Anchorage there.
Some account of the island.
New Year's Isles.
Cape Otway, and the north-west entrance to Bass' Strait.
Anchorage in, and examination of Port Phillip.
The country and inhabitants.
[SOUTH COAST. ENCOUNTER BAY]
FRIDAY 9 APRIL 1802
I returned with Mr. Brown on board the Investigator at half past eight in
the morning, and we then separated from Le Geographe; captain Baudin's
course being directed to the north-west, and ours to the southward. We
had lost ground during the night, and the wind was very feeble at east,
so that the French ship was in sight at noon, and our situation was as
Latitude observed, 35 deg. 44'
Longitude by time keepers, 138 53
Cape Jervis bore N. 821/2 W.
Hummock at the east end of the high land, N. 41/2 E.
Nearest sandy hillock, dist. 3 or 4 leagues, N. 65 E.
At the place where we tacked from the shore on the morning of the 8th,
the high land of Cape Jervis had retreated from the waterside, the coast
was become low and sandy, and its trending was north-east; but after
running four or five leagues in that direction it curved round to the
south-eastward, and thus formed a large bight or bay. The head of this
bay was probably seen by captain Baudin in the afternoon; and in
consequence of our meeting here, I distinguished it by the name of
ENCOUNTER BAY. The succeeding part of the coast having been first
discovered by the French navigator, I shall make use of the names in
describing it which he or his country men have thought proper to apply;
that is, so far as the volume published enables me to make them out; but
this volume being unaccompanied with charts, and containing few latitudes
and longitudes by which the capes and bays can be identified, I must be
excused should any errors be committed in the nomenclature.
There was no wind from noon to two o'clock; and it appeared by the lead
that the ship was drifted to the west-north-west, probably by a flood
tide. On a breeze springing up from the southward we stretched in for the
shore; and at six in the evening it was four miles distant, being sandy
and generally very low; but there were several hillocks upon it high
enough to be seen four or five leagues from a ship's deck, and one of
them, more bluff than the rest, and nearly destitute of vegetation, bore
N. 17 deg. E. Next day [SATURDAY 10 APRIL 1802] at noon our situation was
within three miles of the land, but very little advanced beyond that of
the preceding day, our latitude being 35 deg. 49 1/3', and the bluff hummock
in sight bearing N. 22 deg. W.
A tide or current setting along the shore appeared to retard us
considerably, for at sunset we were not so much as two miles from the
noon's place; the hummock then bore N. 25 deg. W., and the furthest part of
the coast south-east-by-east from the mast head.
An amplitude taken in the morning, with the ship's head west-by-south,
gave 5 deg. 11' _east_ variation; and in the afternoon, when the land was
only three miles distant and the head south-east, azimuths with the same
compass gave 0 deg. 50' _west_. These, corrected to the meridian in the mode
I have adopted, will be severally 1 deg. 57' and 1 deg. 30' east; and the mean 1 deg.
44'. The variation had therefore _decreased_ considerably since leaving
Kangaroo Island, contrary to the natural order; which proves that the
quick increase on passing Yorke's Peninsula, was owing to some peculiar
attraction, either in that or the neighbouring lands. Whilst beating
through the Back-stairs Passage, I had observed an amplitude when the
ship's head was south-south-west, which gave the extraordinary variation
of 2 deg. 41' east, or reduced to the meridian, 1 deg. 27' east; although we were
then not so much as four miles from the anchorage where it had been found
4 deg. 13' east. Another amplitude was observed at eight leagues to the east
of Cape Willoughby, when the head was north-east-half-east, and gave 2 deg.
5' east variation, or reduced, 4 deg. 36'. This last is correspondent with
what was observed near Kangaroo Head and in the Gulph of St. Vincent; but
the variation of 1 deg. 27' in the passage is totally irregular, and must I
think be ascribed to an attraction either in Cape Jervis to the
north-east, or in the east end of Kangaroo Island to the south-east, or
to both. When the great variation Of 4 deg. 36' was obtained, both these
lands were to the west; and when afterwards the 1 deg. 57' and 1 deg. 30' were
observed, the nearest land was again to the eastward of the ship; and
nearest in the last case.
The winds continued to be light and unfavourable; but by taking advantage
of the changes in direction, and keeping further from the land, out of
the tide or current, we had gained eight leagues by noon of the 11th
[SUNDAY 11 APRIL 1802]. About twenty miles of coast beyond what had been
set as the furthest extreme on the preceding day, was then in sight
(Atlas Plate V.); and our situation and bearings were as follow:
Latitude by corrected log, 36 deg. 11'
Longitude by time keepers. 139 291/2
Northern extreme, from the mast head, N. 10 E.
Nearest part, distant 7 or 8 miles, N. 59 E.
A broad patch of white sand, N. 78 E.
Southern extreme, from the mast head, S. 66 E.
At one o'clock we bore away along the coast with a light breeze from the
north-eastward; and having run five leagues, tacked to seaward soon after
dark. Next morning [MONDAY 12 APRIL 1802] we again followed the coast at
the distance of from five to three miles; and at noon a somewhat
projecting part, which appears to be the _Cape Bernouilli_ of the French
navigators, was three or four miles distant to the east. Its latitude is
36 deg. 33' and longitude 139 deg. 51'; and about six miles to the
south-south-east there are two low, black rocks lying close under the
[SOUTH COAST. TOWARDS CAPE NORTHUMBERLAND.]
From Encounter Bay to this slight projection the coast is little else
than a bank of sand, with a few hummocks on the top, partially covered
with small vegetation; nor could anything in the interior country be
distinguished above the bank. The shore runs waving between
east-south-east and south-south-east; but to form what is called Cape
Bernouilli it trends south, and then curves back south-eastward into a
bight. The land then becomes better clothed with bushes and small trees;
and it also differs from the more northern part in that some little
risings of back land were visible.
Our soundings were more shallow along this part of the coast than before.
The depth in passing Cape Bernouilli was from 8 to 12 fathoms; and on
tacking out of the southern bight, at half past five in the evening, it
was no more than 6, at three miles from the shore. We then saw land
extending as far out as S. 29 deg. W., which was the south head of the bight,
and appears to be the _Cape Jaffa_ of the French; but I do not find that
they have given any name to the bight or bay, although much more
deserving than some other sinuosities in the coast on which that honour
This evening the variation from azimuths was 1 deg. 25' east, taken when the
ship's head was S. S. E. 1/2 E.; which being corrected upon the same
principle as before, is 3 deg. 0' east, and showed the variation to be now
increasing, according to the regular order.
During the night, we worked up successfully against a south-south-east
wind, for at six in the morning [TUESDAY 13 APRIL 1802] the low, outer
extreme of Cape Jaffa bore N. 15 deg. E., six or seven miles. The shore is
sandy, but rises from the beach to a moderate elevation, and is then well
clothed with small wood. About three leagues to the south of the cape is
a cluster of low rocks, apparently the same of which captain Baudin had
given me information; they do not, however, lie exactly in the situation
expressed in his memorandum, and are not more than two miles from the
land. We called them _Baudin's Rocks_; and since no name is applied to
them in M. Peron's account of their voyage, the appelation is continued.
Four miles beyond the rocks is a point of moderate elevation; sandy, but
mostly overspread with bushes. This is their _Cape Lannes_; and on its
north side is a small bay, called the _Baye de Rivoli_, with a sandy
shore and open to west winds. The bearings of these places, and our
situation at noon, half an hour after tacking from Baudin's Rocks, were
Latitude, observed to the north 37 deg. 71/4'
Longitude by time keepers, 139 41
Cape Jaffa, extreme, N. 2 E.
Baudin's Rocks, distant 3 miles, N. 70 E.
Rivoli Bay, about the middle, S. 72 E.
Cape Lannes, distant 4 or 5 miles, S. 46 E.
Furthest extreme of the coast, S. 38 E.
WEDNESDAY 14 APRIL 1802
For the last two days there had been a little current in our favour, and
notwithstanding that the winds had been mostly adverse, we made some
progress along the coast; but on opening out the land beyond Cape Lannes,
the current took a northern direction, and at noon of this day we were no
further advanced than to have that cape bearing N. 86 deg. E. at the distance
of nine or ten miles. The furthest part of the coast then visible was a
peaked sandy hummock, bearing S. 681/2 deg. E. In the night, the wind came more
off the land, and permitted us to make an advantageous tack to the
southward; and at noon next day [THURSDAY 15 APRIL 1802], when we had
reached in again with the coast, our situation was in
Latitude observed, 37 deg. 231/2'
Longitude by time keepers, 139 50
Cape Lannes, west extreme, bore N. 13 W.
The peaked sandy hummock, dist. 5 miles, N. 29 E.
Furthest extreme, S. 59 E.
In the evening we got sight of a projecting and somewhat elevated part
which lies ten leagues to the south-eastward of Cape Lannes, and appears
to be the _Cape Buffon_ of the French navigators. The intermediate coast
is similar to that between Encounter Bay and Cape Bernouilli, with the
sole difference that the hummocks upon the sandy bank are somewhat
higher: nothing inland appeared above them.
The wind was again favourable in the night for making a long stretch to
the southward; and it was prolonged to the next day at noon [FRIDAY 16
APRIL 1802], when our distance from the coast was judged to be ten
leagues; but no part of it was in sight, and we had then got out of
soundings, there being no bottom at 200 fathoms. The latitude was 37 deg. 57'
south, and longitude from six sets of distances of stars east and west of
the moon, 139 deg. 39', but by the time keepers corrected, 139 deg. 45' east. Not
more than seven or eight leagues from this situation, there should lie an
island according to the account given by captain Turnbull of the
Britannia south whaler, who saw it in his passage out to Port Jackson.
Having thick weather at the time, he was not able to ascertain its
latitude or longitude, otherwise than by the log; and as it was not in
sight from our mast head, its position must be considered as very
The variations observed this day, with the same compass always on the
binnacle, were as under:
By morning's amplitude, ship's head S. E. by S. 2 deg. 39' east.
By morning's azimuth, ship's head S. S. E. 2 2
By evening's azimuth, ship's head N. E. 2 2
The mean, reduced to the meridian, will be 4 deg. 5' east. Nine leagues to
the north, and half the distance nearer to the land, an amplitude had
been taken with the ship's head in the meridian, which gave 4 deg. 8' east.
On the three preceding days many tacks had been made from the shore, and
I had frequently taken bearings just before the helm was put down; and so
soon as the ship was round and the compass steady, they were again taken.
Differences always took place; and without any exception the bearings
required a _greater_ allowance of variation to the right after tacking,
when the head was _westward_, than before, when eastward; agreeing with
the differences so frequently found in the azimuths and amplitudes, which
had always been to show a greater east or less west variation when the
head was on the west side of the meridian. The least average difference
in any one of five sets of bearings was 5 deg., the greatest 61/2 deg., and the
mean 5 deg. 54'; and according to the system adopted in correcting the
variations, explained in the Appendix No. II. to the second volume, the
mean difference arising from the five changes in the direction of the
ship's head, should be 5 deg. 33'.
The eastern wind died away at noon of the 16th, and the ship scarcely had
steerage way until after midnight; a breeze then sprung up from the
north-westward, and we steered north-east to make the land near Cape
Buffon. At half-past seven [SATURDAY 17 APRIL 1802] the cape bore N. 1 deg.
W. seven miles, and was ascertained to be in nearly 37 deg. 36' south and
140 deg. 10' east. There is a bight in the coast on its north side where the
land was not distinctly seen all round, owing probably to its being a low
beach. At nine o'clock we bore away southward, keeping at the distance of
two or three miles from the shore. It was the same kind of hummock-topped
bank as before described; but a ridge of moderately high hills,
terminated to the southward by a bluff, was visible over it, three or
four leagues inland; and there was a reef of rocks lying in front of the
shore. At noon, two larger rocks were seen at the southern end of the
reef, and are those called by the French the _Carpenters_. They lie one
or two miles from a sandy projection named by them _Cape Boufflers_; and
here a prior title to discovery interferes.
On arriving at Port Jackson I learned, and so did captain Baudin, that
this coast had been before visited. Lieutenant (now captain) James Grant,
commander of His Majesty's brig Lady Nelson, saw the above projection,
which he named _Cape Banks_, on Dec. 3, 1800; and followed the coast from
thence through Bass Strait.* The same principle upon which I had adopted
the names applied by the French navigators to the parts discovered by
them will now guide me in making use of the appellations bestowed by
[* See _A Voyage in the Lady Nelson to New South Wales_, by James Grant.
London, 1803. This voyage was published four years previously to M.
Peron's book; but no more attention was paid at Paris to captain Grant's
rights than to mine; his discoveries, though known to M. Peron and the
French expedition in 1802, being equally claimed and named by them.]
The termination to the west of that part of the South Coast discovered by
captain Baudin in Le Geographe has been pointed out; and it seems proper
to specify its commencement _to the east_, that the extent of his _Terre
Napoleon_ may be properly defined. The beginning of the land which, of
all Europeans, was first seen by him, so far as is known, cannot be
placed further to the south-east than Cape Buffon; for the land is laid
down to the northward of it in captain Grant's chart, though
indistinctly. The Terre Napoleon is therefore comprised between the
latitudes 37 deg. 36' and 35 deg. 40' south, and the longitudes 140 deg. 10' and 138 deg.
58' east of Greenwich; making, with the windings, about fifty leagues of
coast, in which, as captain Baudin truly observed, there is neither
river, inlet nor place of shelter, nor does even the worst parts of
Nuyts' Land exceed it in sterility.
At noon of the 17th we were in
Latitude observed, 37 deg. 471/2'
Longitude by time keepers, 140 161/2
Cape Buffon bore N. 26 W.
Reef of rocks, (nearest part dist. 21/2 miles) N. 51 deg. to S. 42 E.
Hills behind the coast, N. 38 to N. 79 E.
Sandy hummock on _West_* Cape Banks S. 44 E.
[* The addition of West is made to the name, to distinguish it from Cape
Banks on the East Coast, named by captain Cook. It is to be regretted,
that navigators often apply names in so careless a manner as to introduce
confusion into geography.]
In the afternoon the wind veered to the southward, and we tacked from the
shore, not being able to weather the Carpenters at the south end of the
reef. A long swell rolled in at this time, and seemed to announce a gale
from the southward, yet the wind died away in the night, and at daybreak
[SUNDAY 18 APRIL 1802] a light breeze sprung up at north-west, and
enabled us to close in with the land. We passed the Carpenters at the
distance of four miles; but at two in the afternoon the wind again died
away. A cliffy point, which proved to be the _Cape Northumberland_ of
captain Grant, was then in sight, as also were two inland mountains lying
to the north-east; the nearest is his _Mount Schanck_, of a flat,
table-like form; the further one, Mount Gambier, is peaked. The following
bearings were taken whilst lying becalmed.
West C. Banks, sandy hummock, dist. 2 leagues, N. 2 deg. W.
Mount Schanck, N. 70 E.
Cape Northumberland, dist. 3 or 4 leagues, S. 82 E.
The long swell from the southward still prevailed, and the barometer was
fast falling; but at seven in the evening a breeze sprung up once more
from the north-west, and after stretching a little off from the shore, we
laid to for the greater part of the night. At daylight [MONDAY 19 APRIL
1802] the wind was at north-north-west, and blew fresh, with squally
weather. We reached in for the land; and at eight,
C. Northumberland, dist. 6 or 7 miles, bore N. 32 deg. W.
Mount Schanck, N. 1 W.
Furthest extreme, obscured by haze, S. 66 E.
Close to Cape Northumberland are two pointed rocks resembling the back
fins of sharks; and on its eastern side were heavy breakers, extending
more than a mile from the shore. The situation of the cape, as near as it
could be ascertained, is in 38 deg. 2' south and 140 deg. 371/2' east.
Beyond Cape Northumberland the coast was found to trend east-by-north,
but curved afterwards to east-by-south; it was higher than we had lately
seen and not so barren; nevertheless, the shrubs and small trees did not
more than half cover the sandy surface. We pursued the round of the coast
at the distance of four or five miles, having three reefs in the
top-sails on account of the squally weather. At ten o'clock, in a clear
interval, land was seen bearing S. 51 deg. E.; and a thick squall with rain
coming on, in which the wind shifted suddenly from north-north-west to
south-west, we were forced to haul close up and let out the third reefs
in order to weather the coast. A constant succession of rainy squalls
prevented us from knowing how the land lay for some time, nor could an
observation for the latitude be obtained; but at half-past noon our
anxiety was relieved by distinguishing the furthest extreme, a bold,
cliffy, cape, bearing S. 721/2 deg. E., broad on the lee bow.
[SOUTH COAST. OFF CAPE BRIDGEWATER.]
This high projection was the _Cape Bridgewater_ of captain Grant. A hill
upon it slopes to the edge of the cliffs in which the cape is begirt
toward the sea; and on the land side it descends so low that the
connection of the hill with the main could not be clearly discerned. To
the northward, and nearly in a line with the first, are two other hills
almost equal to it in elevation. As we passed Cape Bridgewater, a second
cliffy head opened at S. 731/2 deg. E., and a further round the last at N. 83 deg.
E. These are the _Capes Nelson_ and _Sir W. Grant_, though differing
considerably in relative position from what they are laid down in captain
At two o'clock, the weather having become somewhat finer, I ventured to
bear away along the coast; and presently a small island with two hummocks
on it and a rock nearer to the shore were visible: these are _Lawrence's
Isles_. The bearings of the land at four were,
C. Bridgewater, top of the hill, dist. 4 leagues, N. 44 deg. W.
Cape Nelson, the south-west extreme, N. 21 W.
Cape Sir W. Grant, east part of the cliffs, N. 12 E.
Lawrence's double Isle, dist. 3 leagues, N. 25 E.
Before six we hauled the wind off shore; having set the double isle at N.
43 deg. W., six or seven miles, and seen the land indistinctly as far as
During the night there were squalls of wind with hail and rain, but
tolerably moderate weather in the intervals. At daylight [TUESDAY 20
APRIL 1802], we bore away for the land; and at half past seven, the
Hill on Cape Bridgewater bore N. 66 deg. W.
Lawrence's double isle, N. 53 W.
A cliffy, flat-topped isle, west extreme, N. 16 E.
This last is _Lady Julia Percy's Isle_; and when it bore N. 64 deg. E. five
miles, we steered eastward along the coast. At some distance inland, to
the northward of Lady Percy's Isle, a round hill was distinguished; but
the shore was scarcely perceptible through the squalls and haze: what
little of it could be seen, appeared to be sandy and of moderate
At eleven, the land was perceived to the eastward, and we hauled up
east-south-east. Our latitude at noon, from an indifferent double
altitude, was 38 deg. 331/2' and it is upon this uncertain observation, that
the correctness of the neighbouring lands in the chart principally
depend; I do not, therefore, specify here either the latitudes or
longitudes. The coast was seen to leeward at times, and appeared to he
moderately high; we ran along it at the distance of five, and from that
to eight miles, clewing down the treble-reefed top sails occasionally,
and setting them after the squalls were passed. At two o'clock, the land
appeared to be trending south-east, which obliged us to haul up to the
wind and take in close reefs; and the gale increasing, the fore and mizen
top sails were handed.
It was seldom that the weather would allow of any thing being
distinguished beyond two miles; and when the night came on we were quite
uncertain of the trending of the coast. At eight o'clock, by favour of
moon light and a short cessation of rain, land was perceived on the lee
beam; it seemed to be a head of considerable elevation, and was judged to
be from three to six miles off. The fore and mizen top-sails and reefed
main-sail were immediately set, notwithstanding the danger to the masts;
and there being much sea running, the ship was kept one point from the
wind to make her go through the water. We had no chance of clearing the
land on the other tack, and therefore our sole hope was that the coast
might not trend any further to the southward.
WEDNESDAY 21 APRIL 1802
At two in the morning the strength of the gale obliged us to take in the
fore and mizen top sails and main sail; and we had soundings in 45
fathoms, small stones. Our anxiety was great until daylight, when it was
dissipated by not finding any land near us; and in the course of the
morning the wind moderated, the barometer began to ascend, and the
weather became even fine. Our latitude at noon was 39 deg. 101/2' and longitude
144 deg. 22'; the last being 22' more than given by the log. High land was
then visible astern, extending from about N. 50 deg. to 17 deg. W., at the
supposed distance of twelve or fifteen leagues.
[SOUTH COAST. BASS' STRAIT.]
We were now entered into Bass' Strait; and the subsiding of the sea made
me suspect that the large island, concerning which I had made inquiry of
captain Baudin, was to windward. The south part of this island was
discovered by Mr. Reid in a sealing expedition from Port Jackson; and
before quitting New South Wales in 1799, I had received an account of its
lying to the north-west of Hunter's Isles. It afterwards appeared that
the northern part was seen in January 1801 by Mr. John Black, commander
of the brig Harbinger, who gave to it the name of KING'S ISLAND.* Of this
I was ignorant at the time; but since it was so very dangerous to explore
the main coast with the present south-west wind, I was desirous of
ascertaining the position of this island before going to Port Jackson,
more especially as it had escaped the observation of Captain Baudin.
[* _Grant's Voyage to New South Wales_, page 86.]
Our soundings in the afternoon, and until four in the morning [THURSDAY
22 APRIL 1802] when we tacked to the westward, were from 35 to 28
fathoms, sand and shells. At eight o'clock, land was seen to the
south-west; and at noon our
Latitude observed was 39 deg. 311/4'
Longitude by time keepers, 144 16
King's Island, south extreme, bore S. 18 W.
King's Island, a middle hummock, S. 37 W.
King's Island, northern extreme, S. 74 W.
High main land from the mast head, N. 23 W.
We tacked to the south-south-east at three o'clock, working up for King's
Island, which was distant about five or six leagues directly to windward.
In the night we lay up south, parallel with the east side of the island;
but the soundings having diminished to 16 fathoms, I feared we might be
approaching a reef of rocks lying off the south-east end, of which Mr.
Reid had spoken. We therefore tacked to the northward at eleven o'clock;
and after beating until three in the following afternoon [FRIDAY 23 APRIL
1802], got to an anchor in 9 fathoms, fine sand, under the north-east end
of King's Island; the nearest part of the shore being distant a short
half mile, and the extremes bearing S. 37 deg. E. and N. 69 deg. W.
A boat was immediately hoisted out, and I landed with the botanical
gentlemen. On stepping out of the boat I shot one of those little
bear-like quadrupeds called _Womat_; and another was afterwards killed. A
seal, of a species different to any yet seen by us, was also procured;
its phippers behind were double when compared to the common kinds of
seal, and those forward were smaller, and placed nearer to the head; the
hair was much shorter, and of a blueish, grey colour; the nose flat and
broad; and the fat upon the animal was at least treble the usual
quantity. I never saw the sea elephant, and possibly this might have been
a young female; but there was no appearance of any trunk. A top-mast
studding-sail boom, not much injured, was lying near the landing-place;
and as I afterwards learned that the wreck of a vessel had been found
upon the west side of the island, this boom had probably drifted from
The north-east part of King's Island extends south-east-by-east, three or
four leagues. The shore is mostly of sand, and behind the beach it was
washed or blown up in great ridges, but partly overspread with a kind of
dog grass which kept the sand together. In general the land is low; but
some little eminences appeared at a distance, and at the north end of the
island there is a short range of hills, moderately high and covered with
wood. Granite seemed to be the basis of the shore where we landed. Behind
the front ridges of sand was a brush wood, so thick as to be almost
impenetrable; but whilst I was occupied in taking bearings, the botanists
found some openings in the brush, and picked up so many plants as to make
them desirous of a further examination. We returned on board at dusk,
with our womats, the seal and a kangaroo; the last being of a middle size
between the small species of the lesser islands and the large kind found
at Kangaroo Island and on the continent. It appeared indeed, all along
the South Coast, that the size of the kangaroo bore some proportion to
the extent of land which it inhabited.
SATURDAY 24 APRIL 1802
In the morning the wind blew fresh from the southward. A boat was sent on
shore with Mr. Brown and his party; and at eleven o'clock, when they
returned, we got under way.
A small lake of fresh water was found at a little distance behind the
sandy ridges in front of the shore. This was surrounded by a good
vegetable soil; and the number of plants, collected near it was greater
than had before been found upon any one island. The small lake is too far
from the sea side for a ship to obtain water from it conveniently; but
two little streams which drained from the sand hills made it probable
that fresh water might have been obtained anywhere at this time by
digging. The water of these rills was tinged red, similar to that
obtained at King George's Sound and to the pools I had before seen at
Furneaux's Islands; and as the stone in these places is granite, and
water so discoloured was not found any where else, it seems very probable
that the discolouring arises from the granite and granitic sand.
Two more womats were killed this morning; and a skull was picked up which
was thought to be of a small dog, but more probably was that of an
From the observations taken whilst beating up to the anchorage, the top
of the highest hill at the north end of King's Island will be in
_latitude_ 39 deg. 361/2' south, and _longitude_ 143 deg. 54' east. The _variation_
of the compass, taken on the binnacle with the ship's head at south, was
7 deg. 59' east; but ten leagues to the eastward it was 11 deg. 52', with the
head west-south-west, or reduced to the meridian, 8 deg. 43' east. The
_tides_ set one mile and a half an hour past the ship, northwest-by-west
and south-east-by-east, nearly as the coast lies; that from the eastward
running nearly eight hours, and turning about two hours after the moon
had passed the meridian; but, which tide was the flood, or what the rise,
we did not remain long enough to determine.
The time was fast approaching when it would be necessary to proceed to
Port Jackson, both on account of the winter season, and from the want of
some kinds of provisions. Before this took place I wished to finish as
much of the South Coast as possible, and would have recommenced at Cape
Bridgewater had the wind been favourable; but it still blew fresh from
the southward, and all that part remained a lee shore. I determined,
however, to run over to the high land we had seen on the north side of
Bass' Strait, and to trace as much of the coast from thence eastward as
the state of the weather and our remaining provisions could possibly
In steering north-north-west from King's Island, two small isles were
seen lying off the north-west side; the first opening from the northern
extreme at S. 50 deg., and the second being clear of it at S. 36 deg. W. These
are the same which Mr. Black named New Year's Isles; and his Harbinger's
Reefs were seen to extend, in patches, nearly two leagues from the north
end of King's Islands; but there is, as I afterwards learned, one or more
passages between the reefs, and another between them and the island.*
[* The New Year's Isles form a small roadsted, in which the brig
Harrington from Port Jackson, commanded by Mr. W. Campbell, had rode out
the south-west gale; and was lying there at this time, engaged in a
sealing speculation. Bass' Strait had not been discovered much above two
years, and it was already turned to purposes of various utility; a strong
proof of enterprising spirit in the colonists of New South Wales.]
At three in the afternoon the northern land was in sight, and the highest
hills of King's Island were sinking below the horizon as seen from the
deck. Their distance was twenty-five miles; and consequently the
elevation of them is between four and five hundred feet above the level
of the sea. At five o'clock a bluff head, the most projecting part of the
northern land, was distant three or four leagues; it was Captain Grants'
Cape Otway, and bore N. 54 deg. W.
The extremes of the land, N. 58 W. to 23 deg. E.
We then hauled to the wind and stood off and on; at daylight [SUNDAY 25
APRIL 1802] bore away for the land with a moderate breeze from the
southward; and at eight o'clock, when Cape Otway bore N. 69 deg. W. ten miles
we steered north-eastward along the shore. On the west side of Cape Otway
the coast falls back somewhat to the north, and projects again at the
distance of ten or eleven miles, where it is not, as I think, more than
three leagues to the east of the headland seen under the lee at eight in
the evening of the 20th. From Cape Otway, eastward, the shore trends
east-north-east about three leagues, to a projection called Cape Patton,
and according to Captain Grant a bay is formed between them; but at three
leagues off nothing worthy of being called a bay could be perceived.
Beyond Cape Patton the coast took a more northern direction to a point
with a flat-topped hill upon it, and further than this it was not
The whole of this land is high, the elevation of the uppermost parts
being not less than two thousand feet. The rising hills were covered with
wood of a deep green foliage, and without any vacant spaces of rock or
sand; so that I judged this part of the coast to exceed in fertility all
that had yet fallen under observation.
Cape Otway lies very nearly in latitude 38 deg. 51' south and longitude 143 deg.
29' east. The width of the north-west entrance to Bass' Strait, between
this cape on the north and King's Island to the south, is therefore
sixteen leagues; and with the trifling exception of the Harbinger's
Reefs, which occupy not quite two leagues of the southern part, the
passage is free from danger. In such parts of it as we got soundings the
depth was between 38 and 50 fathoms.
At noon, the wind had veered to the south-east, which being directly upon
the shore, I did not think it prudent to follow the land too closely; and
we therefore kept up nearly to the wind. In the course of the afternoon,
land came in sight to the eastward; and the bearings taken at sunset were
Furthest extreme towards C. Otway, S. 73 deg. W.
Furthest connected part to the northward, N. 18 W.
Two small distant peaks, N. 1 W.
Bluff head, like the N. end of an island, N. 63 E.
Extreme of the eastern land, N. 83 E.
Between the first and last of these bearings there was a deep bight
formed, at the head of which no other land than the two small peaks could
MONDAY 26 APRIL 1802
In the morning we kept close to an east-south-east wind, steering for the
land to the north-eastward; and at nine o'clock captain Grant's Cape
Schanck, the extreme of the preceding evening, was five leagues distant
to the N. 88 deg. E., and a rocky point towards the head of the bight bore N.
12 deg. E. On coming within five miles of the shore at eleven o'clock we
found it to be low, and mostly sandy, and that the bluff head which had
been taken for the north end of an island was part of a ridge of hills
rising at Cape Schanck. We then bore away westward in order to trace the
land round the head of the deep bight; and a noon, the situation of the
ship and principal bearings were as under:
Latitude observed, 38 deg. 22'
Longitude by time keepers, 144 311/2
Cape Schanck, S. 68 deg. E.
The rocky point, distant 6 or 7 miles, N. 48 E.
Highest of two inland peaks, N. 15 W.
A square-topped hill near the shore, N. 28 W.
Extr. of the high land towards C. Otway, S. 56 W.
On the west side of the rocky point there was a small opening, with
breaking water across it; however, on advancing a little more westward
the opening assumed a more interesting aspect, and I bore away to have a
nearer view. A large extent of water presently became visible within
side; and although the entrance seemed to be very narrow, and there were
in it strong ripplings like breakers, I was induced to steer in at
half-past one, the ship being close upon a wind and every man ready for
tacking at a moment's warning. The soundings were irregular between 6 and
12 fathoms until we got four miles within the entrance, when they shoaled
quick to 23/4. We then tacked; and having a strong tide in our favour,
worked to the eastward between the shoal and the rocky point, with 12
fathoms for the deepest water. In making the last stretch from the shoal
the depth diminished from 10 fathoms quickly to 3, and before the ship
could come round, the flood tide set her upon a mud bank and she stuck
fast. A boat was lowered down to sound, and finding the deep water lie to
the north-west, a kedge anchor was carried out; and having got the ship's
head in that direction, the sails were filled and she drew off into 6 and
10 fathoms; and it being then dark, we came to an anchor.
[SOUTH COAST. PORT PHILLIP.]
The extensive harbour we had thus unexpectedly found I supposed must be
Western Port, although the narrowness of the entrance did by no means
correspond with the width given to it by Mr. Bass. It was the information
of captain Baudin, who had coasted along from thence with fine weather,
and had found no inlet of any kind, which induced this supposition; and
the very great extent of the place, agreeing with that of Western Port,
was in confirmation of it. This, however, was not Western Port, as we
found next morning [TUESDAY 27 APRIL 1802]; and I congratulated myself on
having made a new and useful discovery; but here again I was in error.
This place, as I afterwards learned at Port Jackson, had been discovered
ten weeks before by lieutenant John Murray, who had succeeded captain
Grant in the command of the Lady Nelson. He had given it the name of PORT
PHILLIP, and to the rocky point on the east side of the entrance that of
Our situation was found in the morning to be near two miles from the
south shore, and the extreme towards Point Nepean bore N. 83 deg. W., two
leagues. About three miles to the north-by-west were some dry rocks, with
bushes on them, surrounded with mud flats; and they appeared to form a
part of the same shoal from which we had three times tacked in 21/2 and 3
fathoms. The mud bank where the ship had grounded is distinct from the
middle shoal; but I am not certain that it is so from the south shore,
from which it is one mile distant. The Bluff Mount (named _Arthur's Seat_
by Mr. Murray, from a supposed resemblance to the hill of that name near
Edinburgh) bore S. 76 deg. E.; but from thence the shore trended northward so
far that the land at the head of the port could not be seen even from
aloft. Before proceeding any higher with the ship I wished to gain some
knowledge of the form and extent of this great piece of water; and
Arthur's Seat being more than a thousand feet high and near the
water-side, presented a favourable station for that purpose.
After breakfast I went away in a boat, accompanied by Mr. Brown and some
other gentlemen, for the Seat. It was seven or eight miles from the ship;
and in steering nearly a straight course for it we passed over the
northern skirt of the shoal where the ship had touched; but afterwards
had from 7 to 5 fathoms nearly to the shore. Having observed the latitude
there from an artificial horizon, I ascended the hill; and to my surprise
found the port so extensive, that even at this elevation its boundary to
the northward could not be distinguished. The western shore extended from
the entrance ten or eleven miles in a northern direction to the extremity
of what, from its appearance, I called _Indented Head_; beyond it was a
wide branch of the port leading to the westward, and I suspected might
have a communication with the sea; for it was almost incredible that such
a vast piece of water should not have a larger outlet than that through
which we had come.
I took an extensive set of bearings from the clearest place to be found
on the north-western, bluff part of the hill; and we afterwards walked a
little way back upon the ridge. From thence another considerable piece of
water was seen, at the distance of three or four leagues; it seemed to be
mostly shallow; but as it appeared to have a communication with the sea
to the south, I had no doubt of its being Mr. Bass's Western Port.
Arthur's Seat and the hills and vallies in its neighbourhood were
generally well covered with wood; and the soil was superior to any upon
the borders of the salt water which I have had an opportunity of
examining in Terra Australis. There were many marks of natives, such as
deserted fire-places and heaps of oyster shells; and upon the peninsula
which forms the south side of the port a smoke was rising, but we did not
see any of the people. Quantities of fine oysters were lying upon the
beaches, between high and low water marks, and appeared to have been
washed up by the surf; a circumstance which I do not recollect to have
observed in any other part of this country.
WEDNESDAY 28 APRIL 1802
We returned on board at dusk in the evening; and at daylight the anchor
was weighed with the intention of coasting round the port with the ship.
The wind was at north-east, but the flood tide was in our favour; and
having made a stretch toward the middle shoals, we tacked and ran
east-south-east along their south side, until past eight, when, the flood
having ceased, we came to in 7 fathoms. At slack water in the afternoon
we again steered eastward, but were soon obliged to anchor for want of
wind; and I found that this slow mode of proceeding was not at all suited
to the little time for which we had provisions remaining, besides that
there was much probability of getting frequently aground; the plan of
examining the port with the ship was therefore abandoned.
Having left orders with Mr. Fowler, the first lieutenant, to take the
ship back to the entrance, I went in a boat early next morning [THURSDAY
29 APRIL 1802] with provisions for three days, in order to explore as
much of the port as could be done in that time. Round the east end of the
middle shoals I carried 6 and 7 fathoms; and keeping north-eastward, had
8 and 9 fathoms at a mile or more from the shore, and 4 close past the
second rocky point above Arthur's Seat. The wind being at north-west, I
was obliged to land behind some rocks more than two miles short of the
third point, but walked to it with my surveying instruments. This was
nine miles from the Seat, and the furthest part of the shore seen from
thence; further on the shore falls back more eastward, in long sandy
beaches, and afterwards curves to the north-west; but it was lost to
sight long before joining the land on the west side of the port. After
taking angles and observing for the latitude and longitude, I rowed to
windward for Indented Head, five leagues off. At the end of the first
mile and a half the depth was 11 fathoms, but afterwards no bottom at 12
until within two miles of the western shore, where it was 9 fathoms. We
landed at nine o'clock at night, near the uppermost part which had yet
FRIDAY 30 APRIL 1802
In the morning a fire was perceived two hundred yards from the tent; and
the Indians appeared to have decamped from thence on our landing. Whilst
I was taking angles from a low point at the north-easternmost part of
Indented Head, a party of the inhabitants showed themselves about a mile
from us; and on landing there we found a hut with a fire in it, but the
people had disappeared, and carried off their effects. I left some strips
of cloth, of their favourite red colour, hanging about the hut, and
proceeded westward along the shore to examine the arm of the port running
in that direction.
Three natives having made their appearance abreast of the boat, we again
landed. They came to us without hesitation, received a shag and some
trifling presents with pleasure, and parted with such of their arms as we
wished to possess without reluctance. They afterwards followed us along
the shore; and when I shot another bird, which hovered over the boat, and
held it up to them, they ran down to the water-side and received it
without expressing either surprise or distrust. Their knowledge of the
effect of fire-arms I then attributed to their having seen me shoot birds
when unconscious of being observed; but it had probably been learned from
At noon I landed to take an observation of the sun, which gave 38 deg. 7' 6"
for the latitude; my position being nearly at the northern extremity of
Indented Head. Some bearings were taken from the brow of a hill a little
way back; and after a dinner of which the natives partook, we left them
on friendly terms to proceed westward in our examination. The water
became very shallow abreast of a sandy point, whence the shore trends
nearly south-west; and there being no appearance of an opening to the sea
this way, I steered across the western arm, as well to ascertain its
depth as with the intention of ascending the hills lying behind the
northern shore. Two of the peaks upon these hills had been set from the
ship's deck at sunset of the 25th, at the distance of thirty-seven miles;
and as their elevation must consequently be a thousand feet, or more, I
expected to obtain from thence such a view of the upper parts of the port
as would render the coasting round it unnecessary.
The width of the western arm was found to be six miles; and the soundings
across augmented regularly to 6 fathoms in mid channel, and then
decreased in the same way; but there was less than 3 fathoms at two miles
from the northern shore. That side is indeed very low and marshy, with
mud banks lying along it; and we had difficulty in finding a dry place to
pitch the tent, and still more to procure wood wherewith to cook the
ducks I had shot upon the banks.
SATURDAY 1 MAY 1802
At day dawn I set off with three of the boat's crew for the highest part
of the back hills called _Station Peak_. Our way was over a low plain,
where the water appeared frequently to lodge; it was covered with
small-bladed grass, but almost destitute of wood, and the soil was clayey
and shallow. One or two miles before arriving at the feet of the hills we
entered a wood where an emu and a kangaroo were seen at a distance; and
the top of the peak was reached at ten o'clock. My position was then 21'
of latitude from Point Nepean, in the direction of N. 28 deg. 30' W., and I
saw the water of the port as far as N. 75 deg. E., at the distance of seven
or eight leagues; so that the whole extent of the port, north and south,
is at least thirty miles. The extremity of the western arm bore S. 15 deg.
45' W., which makes the extent, east and west, to be thirty-six miles;
but there was no communication with the sea on that side, nor did the
western arm appear to be navigable beyond seven miles above where I had
crossed it. Towards the interior there was a mountain bearing N. 11 deg. E.,
eleven leagues distant; and so far the country was low, grassy and very
slightly covered with wood, presenting great facility to a traveller of
I left the ship's name on a scroll of paper, deposited in a small pile of
stones upon the top of the peak; and at three in the afternoon reached
the tent, much fatigued, having walked more than twenty miles without
finding a drop of water. Mr. Lacy, the midshipman of the boat, had
observed the latitude at the tent from an artificial horizon to be 38 deg. 2'
22"; and Station Peak bore from thence N. 47 deg. W.
In the evening we rowed back to Indented Head, and landed there soon
after dark. Fires had been seen moving along the shore, but the people
seemed to have fled; though we found two newly erected huts with fires in
them, and utensils, which must have belonged to some of the people before
seen, since there was boiled rice in one of the baskets. We took up our
quarters here for the night, keeping a good watch; but nothing was seen
of the Indians till we pushed off from the shore in the morning [SUNDAY 2
MAY 1802], when seven showed themselves upon a hill behind the huts. They
ran down to examine their habitations, and finding every thing as they
had left it, a little water excepted of which we were in want, they
seemed satisfied; and for a short time three of them followed the boat.
Along the north-east and east sides of Indented Head I found the water to
be shoal for nearly a mile off; but on approaching the entrance of what
Mr. Murray called Swan Harbour, but which I have taken the liberty to
converting into _Swan Pond_, it became somewhat deeper. Seeing swans
there, I rowed into it after them, but found the place full of mud banks,
and seldom more than three or four feet in depth. Three of the birds were
caught; and at the south side of the entrance, upon the sandy peninsula,
or island as it is when the tide is in, I shot some delicate teal, and
found fresh water in small ponds.
The ship was lying about three miles within the mouth of the port, near
to the south shore; and after I had taken bearings at two stations on the
sandy peninsula, we steered a straight course for her, sounding all the
way. It appeared that there was a passage up the port of a mile wide
between the middle banks and the western shore, with a depth in it from 3
to 41/2 fathoms. On the western extremity of the banks I had 21/2 fathoms,
and afterwards 5, 7, 4, 7, 8, 9, 9 to the ship.
Lieutenant Fowler had had a good deal of difficulty in getting back to
the entrance of the port; owing in part to the western winds, and partly
from the shoals, which do not seem to lie in any regular order. He had
touched upon one of these, where there was ten feet on one side of the
ship, and on the other 5 fathoms. This seems to have been a more eastern
part of the same shoal upon which we had before grounded; but no danger
is to be feared from these banks to a flat-floored ship.
I find it very difficult to speak in general terms of Port Phillip. On
the one hand it is capable of receiving and sheltering a larger fleet of
ships than ever yet went to sea; whilst on the other, the entrance, in
its whole width, is scarcely two miles, and nearly half of it is occupied
by the rocks lying off Point Nepean, and by shoals on the opposite side.
The depth in the remaining part varies from 6 to 12 fathoms; and this
irregularity causes the strong tides, especially when running against the
wind, to make breakers, in which small vessels should be careful of
engaging themselves; and when a ship has passed the entrance, the middle
shoals are a great obstacle to a free passage up the port. These shoals
are met with at four miles directly from the entrance, and extend about
ten miles to the east-south-east, parallel with the south shore; they do
not seem, however, to be one connected mass, for I believe there are two
or three deep openings in them, though we had not time to make an
No runs of fresh water were seen in any excursions; but Mr. Charles
Grimes, surveyor-general of New South Wales, afterwards found several,
and in particular a small river falling into the northern head of the
port. Mr. Grimes was sent by governor King, in 1803, to walk round, and
survey the harbour; and from his plan I have completed my chart of Port
Phillip. The parts of the coast left unshaded are borrowed from him, and
the soundings written at right angles are those of his companion,
The country surrounding Port Phillip has a pleasing, and in many parts a
fertile appearance; and the sides of some of the hills and several of the
vallies are fit for agricultural purposes. It is in great measure a
grassy country, and capable of supporting much cattle, though better
calculated for sheep. To this general description there are probably
several exceptions; and the southern peninsula, which is terminated by
Point Nepean, forms one, the surface there being mostly sandy, and the
vegetation in many places little better than brush wood. Indented Head,
at the northern part of the western peninsula, had an appearance
particularly agreeable; the grass had been burned not long before, and
had sprung up green and tender; the wood was so thinly scattered that one
might see to a considerable distance; and the hills rose one over the
other to a moderate elevation, but so gently that a plough might every
where be used. The vegetable soil is a little mixed with sand, but good,
though probably not deep, as I judged by the small size of the trees.
The most common kinds of wood are the _casuarina_ and _eucalyptus_, to
which Mr. Grimes adds the _banksia_, _mimosa_ and some others; but the
timber is rarely sound, and is not large.
Were a settlement to be made at Port Phillip, as doubtless there will be
some time hereafter, the entrance could be easily defended; and it would
not be difficult to establish a friendly intercourse with the natives,
for they are acquainted with the effect of fire-arms and desirous of
possessing many of our conveniences. I thought them more muscular than
the men of King George's Sound; but, generally speaking, they differ in
no essential particular from the other inhabitants of the South and East
Coasts except in language, which is dissimilar, if not altogether
different to that of Port Jackson, and seemingly of King George's Sound
also. I am not certain whether they have canoes, but none were seen.
In the woods are the kangaroo, the emu or cassowary, paroquets, and a
variety of small birds; the mud banks are frequented by ducks and some
black swans, and the shores by the usual sea fowl common in New South
Wales. The range of the thermometer was between 61 deg. and 67 deg.; and the
climate appeared to be as good and as agreeable as could well be desired
in the month answering to November. In 1803, colonel Collins of the
marines was sent out from England to make a new settlement in this
country; but he quitted Port Phillip for the south end of Van Diemen's
Land, probably from not finding fresh water for a colony sufficiently
near to the entrance.
Point Nepean is in _latitude_ 38 deg. 18' south. The _longitude_ from twelve
sets of distances taken by lieutenant Flinders in the port, and six
others by me ten days before arriving, the particulars of which are given
in Table V. of the Appendix to this volume, is 144 deg. 301/2' east; but these
observations being mostly on one side of the moon, the corrected
longitude by time keepers, 144 deg. 38' east, is preferred.
No observations were taken in the port for the _variation_ of the
compass; but at seven leagues to the south-south-west of Point Nepean,
azimuths gave 3 deg. 41' when the ship's head was at N.E. by E. 1/2 E., and an
amplitude at N. N. E. 1/2 E., 6 deg. 48' east. The mean of these, corrected to
the meridian, will be 7 deg. 30', or half a degree less than at King's
Island; I therefore take the variation in Port Phillip to have been
generally, 7 deg., though at some stations it seemed to have been no more
than 6 deg. 30' east.
The rise of _tide_ is inconsiderable in the upper parts of the port; near
the entrance it is from three to six feet. By the swinging of the ship,
which, however, varied at different anchorages, it appeared to be high
water _two hours and a half after_ the moon's passage; but at Point
Nepean the time of high water by the shore is said by Mr. Grimes to be
only _one hour after_ the moon. At Western Port, Mr. Bass found high
water to take place half an hour after the moon's passage, and the tide
to rise from ten to fourteen feet. This great increase, in a place so
near, seems extraordinary; but may perhaps be accounted for by the
meeting of the tides from two entrances, whilst Port Phillip has only
one, and that very narrow.
Departure from Port Phillip.
Wilson's Promontory, and its isles.
Kent's Groups, and Furneaux's Isles.
Hills behind the Long Beach.
Arrival at Port Jackson.
Health of the ship's company.
Refitment and supply of the ship.
Price of provisions.
Arrangement for the succeeding part of the voyage.
Astronomical and nautical observations.
[SOUTH COAST. BASS' STRAIT.]
MONDAY 3 MAY 1802
On the 3rd of May at daylight the anchor was weighed to go out of Port
Phillip with the last half of the ebb; and the wind being from the
westward, we backed, filled and tacked occasionally, dropping out with
the tide. When the entrance was cleared, and five miles distant, Mr.
Westall took a view of it (Atlas Plate XVII, View 13.), which will be an
useful assistance in finding this extensive but obscure port; and at
eleven o'clock, when we bore away eastward to pass Cape Schanck, he
sketched that cape and the ridge of hills terminating at Arthur's Seat
(View 14). Cape Schanck is a cliffy head, with three rocks lying off, the
outermost of which appears at a distance like a ship under sail: the
latitude is 38 deg. 29' or 30' south, and longitude 144 deg. 53' east. It will
always be desirable for vessels to get sight of this cape before they run
far into the great bight for Port Phillip; and if the wind blow strong
from the southward it will be unsafe to run without having seen it.
Cape Schanck is also an excellent mark for ships desiring to go into
Western Port, of which it forms the west side of the principal entrance;
but as there are many breakers and shoals on that side, which extend
almost to mid-channel, it will be necessary to give the cape a wide berth
by keeping over to Phillip Island on the starboard hand.
At noon, Cape Schanck bore N. 36 deg. W. five or six miles; the breeze was
fresh from the westward, with cloudy weather, and we steered for Point
Grant, at the east side of the entrance into Western Port. There is a
square-topped rock surrounded with a reef lying off the point; but the
Lady Nelson has passed between them, with 3 fathoms water. On reaching
within a mile of this reef, at one o'clock, I set
C. Schanck, distant 9 or 10 miles, at N. 85 deg. W.
A cliffy head up the entrance, distant 5 miles, N. 16 W.
Square-topped rock, N. 85 E.
Cape Wollamai, S. 801/2 E.
We then steered eastward along the south side of Phillip Island, and
passed a needle-like rock lying under the shore. Cape Wollamai is the
east end of the island, and forms one side of the small, eastern entrance
to the port; and at three o'clock when it bore, N. 14 deg. E., five or six
miles, its longitude was ascertained by means of the time-keepers to be
145 deg. 25' east: the latitude deduced from bearings is 38 deg. 33' south.
_Wollamai_ is the native name for a fish at Port Jackson, called
sometimes by the settlers light-horseman, from the bones of the head
having some resemblance to a helmet; and the form of this cape bearing a
likeness to the head of the fish, induced Mr. Bass to give it the name of
We ran south-eastward along the shore, at the rate of six or seven knots,
until sunset; when a steep head, supposed to be the Cape Liptrap of
captain Grant, was seen through the haze, and our bearings of the land
Cape Wollamai, distant six leagues, N. 49 deg. W.
A low projection, distant seven miles, N. 21 E.
Cape Liptrap, S. 50 E.
We soon afterwards hauled to the wind off shore, under treble-reefed
top-sails; and the gale increasing, with much swell from the
south-westward, the close reefs were taken in. At midnight, tacked to the
northward, and stood off and on till daybreak [TUESDAY 4 MAY 1802]; the
wind being strong at west, and weather squally with rain. We then bore
away for the land, which was seen to leeward; and at seven, the bearings
of the principal parts were as under:
Land indistinct, apparently C. Liptrap, N. 5 deg. W.
Wilson's Promontory, south extreme, S. 85 E.
A peaked I. (Rodondo of captain Grant), S. 71 E.
Besides Rodondo, which lies about six miles to the south-by-east of the
promontory, I distinguished five or six less conspicuous isles, lying
along the south and west sides of this remarkable headland; these are
called Glennie's Isles. To the N. 88 deg. E. from Rodondo, and distant about
two leagues, was a small island which appears to have been one of
Moncur's Isles; and in steering south-eastward we got sight of the
Devil's Tower, and of the high island and rocks named Sir Roger Curtis'
Isles. These names were given by captain Grant in 1800; but he was not
the discoverer of the places to which they are applied. They are all laid
down upon my chart of 1799, on the authority of Mr. Bass; and when it is
considered that this enterprising man saw them from an open boat, in very
bad weather, their relative positions to Wilson's Promontory will be
thought surprisingly near the truth. Unfortunately the situation of the
promontory itself, owing to some injury done to his quadrant, is
considerably in error, being twelve or fourteen miles wrong in latitude.
A reef is mentioned by captain Grant as lying to the southward between
Rodondo and Moncur's Isles; and a rock, level with the water, was seen in
the same situation by the ships Gato and Castle of Good Hope, from which
last it received the appropriate name of _Crocodile Rock_. This also was
seen by Mr. Bass, and laid down in its relative situation; but in the
Investigator I was not sufficiently near to get sight of this important
We continued to steer south-eastward, round all these islands, having a
fresh gale at west-south-west with squally weather; and at noon our
situation was in
Latitude observed, 39 deg. 35'
Longitude by time keepers, 146 30
Rodondo bore N. 15 W.
Sir R. Curtis' Island, the peak, dist. 7 miles, N. 46 E.
(The Devil's Tower being nearly on with the north side.)
Two pointed rocks, N. 57 deg. and 62 E.
Wilson's Promontory was no longer visible; but from the best bearings I
had been able to obtain in such blowing weather, its south-eastern
extremity lies in latitude 39 deg. 111/2' south, and longitude 146 deg. 24' east.
Not seeing any more islands to the southward from the masthead, we bore
away east soon after noon to make Kent's Groups; and before three o'clock
they both came in sight, as did an island to the northward, which seems
to have been one of the small cluster discovered by Mr. John Black, and
named Hogan's Group. The longitude by time keepers at this time was 146 deg.
58' east, and the following bearings were taken:
Sir R. Curtis' Island, the peak, N. 71 deg. W.
Hogan's highest Island, from the mast head, N. 5 E.
Kent's large Group, south end of the eastern I. N. 70 E.
Small Group, dist. 6 or 7 miles, hiding the
north-west end of the large group, N. 52 deg. to 45 E.
In steering past the south sides of the two groups at the distance of
four to six miles, I was enabled to correct their positions; and also
that of the pyramid, which was set at S. 41/2 deg. E. ten miles at four
o'clock. When these lands had been laid down in the Francis and Norfolk
in 1798, it was without the assistance of a time keeper, and therefore
liable to considerable errors in longitude.
At five in the evening I thought myself fortunate to get a sight of
Furneaux's great island through the haze; and also of a small, craggy
isle which had been before fixed relatively to the inner Sister. To
obtain the positions of these places by our timekeepers was to me an
important object; since they were connected with the former survey of
Furneaux's Islands and the north-eastern part of Van Diemen's Land. The
bearings taken at five were,
Furneaux's great I., hills on the west part, S. 48 deg. E.
Small craggy isle, S. 69 E.
Kent's large Group, extremes, N. 7 deg. to 47 W.
Small Group, the largest isle, N. 77 W.
A small rock, not seen before, N. 88 E.
The hills upon Furneaux's great island, which I believe, but could not
certainly ascertain to have been upon the westernmost point, will
therefore lie very nearly S. 48 deg. E., from the bluff south-west end of
Kent's large Group, instead of S. 38 deg. E., as before marked. This places
the great island 10' of longitude further east from the group, than was
given by my run in the Francis during the night of Feb. 8, 1798.
We passed to the northward of the small new rock at the distance of three
miles, and I judged it to lie four, or four-and-half leagues from the
eastern side of Kent's large Group. No kind of danger was observed
between them, but it was then nearly dark; and the wind being fresh and
favourable, and not having more than ten days provisions in the ship, I
felt it necessary to leave this and some other parts of Bass' Strait to a
future examination; and we steered onward, east-north-east for Port
WEDNESDAY 5 MAY 1802
At daylight of the 5th the course was altered more northward; and at
noon, land was seen from the mast head to the north-north-west, probably
some of the hills at the back of the Long Beach, and distant not less
than twenty leagues: our latitude was 38 deg. 32' south and longitude 149 deg.
35' east. The wind had then moderated and having shifted to north-west we
kept close up to make Cape Howe. At four, hove to and sounded, but no
bottom could be had with 90 fathoms; the land extended in patches from
west-north-west distant twenty-five or more leagues to near the Ram Head
at north; and consequently the hills at the back of the Long Beach must
be of considerable elevation, superior to any other land _near the sea_
in the southern, or perhaps any part of New South Wales.
THURSDAY 6 MAY 1802
On the wind shifting to the east side of north, next day, I tacked to get
in with the land; being desirous of running near to as much of the coast,
and correcting its longitude in our way to Port Jackson, as could be done
without loss of time; but at noon the wind veered back, and our
north-eastern course was resumed. The land could not then be further
distant than nine or ten leagues; but no part of it was in sight, nor
from the dullness of the weather could any observation be taken.
[EAST COAST. PORT JACKSON.]
FRIDAY 7 MAY 1802
After a squally night the wind fixed at west-by-north; and at daybreak of
the 7th the land was visible from west to north-west, and our course was
parallel to it (Atlas Plate VIII). At noon, the latitude was 36 deg. 24'
south, and longitude 151 deg. 16' east; Mount Dromedary was in sight bearing
N. 85 deg. W., and by the difference of longitude, was distant fifty-two
miles: I estimate its highest south part to lie in 36 deg. 19' south, and
150 deg. 11' east. The wind returned to the north-west in the afternoon, and
we lost sight of the land; but becoming fairer afterwards, and the
southern current not having much strength, by four next day [SATURDAY 8
MAY 1802] the heads of Port Jackson were in sight. At dusk the flag-staff
upon the South Head bore west-south-west, and our distance from the shore
was seven or eight miles.
I tried to beat up for the port in the night, being sufficiently well
acquainted to have run up in the dark, had the wind permitted; but we
were still to leeward in the morning [SUNDAY 9 MAY 1802], and Mr. Westall
made a good sketch of the entrance (Atlas Plate XVIII. View 1). At one
o'clock, we gained the heads, a pilot came on board, and soon after three
the Investigator was anchored in Sydney Cove.
There was not a single individual on board who was not upon deck working
the ship into harbour; and it may be averred that the officers and crew
were, generally speaking, in better health than on the day we sailed from
Spithead, and not in less good spirits. I have said nothing of the
regulations observed after we made Cape Leeuwin; they were little
different from those adopted in the commencement of the voyage, and of
which a strict attention to cleanliness and a free circulation of air in
the messing and sleeping-places formed the most essential parts. Several
of the inhabitants of Port Jackson expressed themselves never to have
been so strongly reminded of England as by the fresh colour of many
amongst the Investigator's ship's company.
So soon as the anchor was dropped, I went on shore to wait upon his
Excellency Philip Gidley King, Esq., governor of New South Wales, and
senior naval officer upon the station; to whom I communicated a general
account of our discoveries and examinations upon the South Coast, and
delivered the orders from the Admiralty and Secretary of State. These
orders directed the governor to place the brig Lady Nelson under my
command, and not to employ the Investigator on other service than that
which was the object of the voyage; and His Excellency was pleased to
assure me that every assistance in the power of the colony to render
should be given to forward a service so interesting to his government,
and to himself. The Lady Nelson was then lying in Sydney Cove; but her
commander, lieutenant Grant, had requested permission to return to
England, and had sailed six months before.
Besides the Lady Nelson, there were in the port His Majesty's armed
vessel Porpoise, the Speedy, south-whaler, and the Margaret privateer;
also the French national ship _Le Naturaliste_, commanded by captain
Hamelin, to whom I communicated captain Baudin's intention of coming to
Port Jackson so soon as the bad weather should set in. Le Geographe's
boat had been picked up in Bass' Strait by Mr. Campbell of the brig
Harrington, and the officers and crew were at this time on board Le
The duties required to fit the ship for prosecuting the voyage with
success being various and extensive, Cattle Point, on the east side of
Sydney Cove, was assigned to us by the governor for carrying on some of
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