An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Vol. 2
David Collins

Part 2 out of 7

To look for these unfortunate people, a whale boat was dispatched the
following day, properly provided with such comforts as were necessary for
persons in their weak and wretched condition. The man who had met with
the supercargo was sent in the whale boat, and they proceeded to the spot
which Mr. Clarke had described as that where they had lost sight of their
companions; but, after a long search, they could only find some trifling
articles, which were known to have been in their possession; and, these
being bloody, it was conjectured that they had been killed in this very
helpless condition by the natives, whom, in the course of their long
march, they had found frequently very kind, and at other times extremely
savage. To add to the probability of this having been their end, Mr.
Clarke mentioned the morose, unfeeling disposition of the carpenter, who
often, when some friendly natives had presented him with a few fish,
growled that they had not given him all, and insisted, that because they
were black fellows, it would be right to take it by force. By some
illiberal and intemperate act of this nature, there was too much reason
to believe he had brought on himself, and his ill-fated companion, the
mate (a man cast in a gentler mould), a painful and premature death.

Mr. Clarke and the two other people who arrived with him were very much
exhausted, and could not probably have borne up much longer against the
toil that attends travelling in such a country as the unsettled part of
New Holland every where presents. All possible attention, however, being
paid to their situation, they quickly recovered their strength and

In the account already published of this colony, several instances were
given of the danger and difficulty that attended travelling through the
woods, in which many people have either wandered till they died, or have
been assassinated by the natives. Every caution that humanity could
suggest had been given; yet even at this day an instance occurred that
proved to how little purpose. A soldier who had taken his passage in a
boat to go to the Hawkesbury prevailed on the crew to land him on the
south shore of Broken Bay, intending to proceed to the settlement by
land, but which he was never able to accomplish. Several parties of
soldiers were sent to look after their comrade, but all returned without
finding him. His end must have been truly deplorable; and not less so was
that of the sergeant-major's daughter, a fine girl of about 10 years of
age, who was burnt to death by a stubble field having taken fire while
she was in the midst of it. The flames were so rapid, that she was
totally unable to escape from them, and perished in this most
extraordinary and terrible manner.

In the evening of the 27th, the ship _Britannia_ anchored between
the heads from Ireland, having on board 150 male and 50 female convicts
from that kingdom, with an officer and 25 recruits for the New South
Wales corps. She got up to the settlement the following day, and the
prisoners were all landed on the 30th. A part of them were immediately
sent up to Parramatta.

On the same day the Colonial schooner, and a long-boat named the
_Eliza_, sailed to the southward, to bring away the remainder of the
ship's company belonging to the unfortunate _Sydney Cove_.

Among other works in which the people were employed in this month, was
the necessary one of erecting paling round the new gaol, now nearly
completed, and round the fresh water, the original enclosure of which had
gone to decay, by which means the stream was so exceedingly polluted, as
to endanger the health of the inhabitants. Some necessary regulations
were published to counteract this evil, and indeed they had long been
loudly called for.

The want of cordage has been already mentioned. The settlement was
likewise so much distressed for canvas, that, the largest and best boat
being in the Hawkesbury, it became necessary to dismantle another boat,
in order to furnish sails to bring her round, those belonging to her
having been split in some bad weather which she met with in her passage
thither. The people were directed at the same time to procure some of the
bark of the tree lately discovered, to be manufactured into cordage; for
which purpose it was reckoned superior to any of the flax that had been
brought from Norfolk island.

The _Mercury_ sailed about the middle of the month; and, as some
return for the liberty of refitting his ship, and remaining four months
in the Cove, the master took away a female convict without the governor's

Very little rain fell during this month.

June.] On the 2nd of June, the ship _Ganges_ arrived from Ireland,
with convicts from that kingdom, and a detachment of recruits for the New
South Wales corps. This ship had touched at the Cape of Good Hope, and
was commanded by Mr. Patrickson, who had visited the settlement in the
year 1792, in the _Philadelphia_, a small American brig. The
convicts in this ship were observed to be in much better health than
those on board of the _Britannia_. These people, indeed, complained
so much of having been treated with great severity during the passage,
that the governor thought it right to institute an enquiry into their
complaints. It appeared, that they had been deserving of punishment, but
that it had been administered with too much severity, in the opinion even
of the surgeon who was present. As these punishments had been inflicted
by the direction of the master, without consulting any of the officers on
board as to the measure of them, he was highly censured, as was the
surgeon, who could stand by and see them inflicted without remonstrating
with the master, which he declined because he had not been consulted by

'Quis talia fando, temperet a lachrymis?'

His Majesty's birthday, falling this year on a Sunday, was observed on
the 5th, with all the honour that could be paid to it. The regiment was
drawn out on the parade, and at noon fired three volleys. At one o'clock
a royal salute was fired from the battery and the ships in the Cove; and
all the officers, civil and military, with those belonging to the ships,
spent the day at the government-house.

Shortly after this the governor visited the settlement at Parramatta, for
the purpose of examining that part of the country which he designed to
cultivate on the public account; and to observe how the convicts who had
lately arrived, the major part of whom had been sent thither, were
provided for. The cattle which had been landed from the _Supply_ had
been also sent thither, and were, with the government stock that was at
Toongabbie, thriving exceedingly.

The ground that it was proposed to clear on the public account was not
more than two miles and a half from Parramatta, and most advantageously
situated in point of fresh water, having a chain of large and excellent
ponds in its vicinity. The deputy surveyor having accompanied the
governor, the spot was marked out for erecting the necessary buildings;
and the whole was named Portland Place, in honour of his Grace the Duke
of Portland.

In consequence of the proclamation which was issued in the last month,
one of the run-away convicts delivered himself up to a constable, and
another was taken and lodged in confinement: they appeared to be half
starved; yet their sufferings were not sufficient to prevent similar
desertions from work in others, nor a repetition of the offence in
themselves; such was the strong aversion which these worthless characters
had to any thing that bore the name of work. More labour would have been
performed in this country by 100 people from any part of England or
Scotland, than had at any time been derived from 300 of these people,
with all the attention that could be paid to them. Had 200 families of
decent labouring farmers been sent out as settlers a few years since, and
had a few convicts to assist them been placed wholly under their
direction and authority, the cultivation would have been much farther
advanced; and, in point of provisions, those families would have been
living in luxury. More grain than could be consumed would have been
grown, instead of crops which in some years were barely sufficient to
last until the following harvest.

These people were brought to trial for a theft which they were stated to
have committed, but of which there was not any positive proof, and they
were acquitted. There was not any doubt of their having associated with
and instructed the natives how to commit, with the least hazard to
themselves, the various depredations which the settlers had sustained
from them; yet there was no proof of this, at least no proof whereby they
might have been capitally punished, nothing short of which would ever be
sufficient to prevent this dangerous intercourse.

After exciting some apprehensions for her safety, his Majesty's ship the
_Reliance _anchored in the Cove on the 26th, from the Cape of Good
Hope, having had a very stormy passage, with 26 cows, 3 bulls, and about
60 sheep on board, on government account. She had been extremely leaky
all the voyage; and it must be remembered, that the other colonial ship,
the _Supply_, arrived in a very infirm state.*

[* At her departure from the Cape, it was generally conjectured
that she would never reach the settlement; but her commander,
Lieutenant William Kent, considered and felt the design of his voyage to
be of so much importance to the colony, that he determined to run every
risk; and fortunately, though with great difficulty, he succeeded.]

A most unexpected and unaccountable desertion took place in the night
after the arrival of the _Reliance_. Two boys belonging to that ship
carried away a small two-oared boat, in which they intended to proceed to
the southward, and there join the natives. Being pursued, they were
brought back, and gave the above account of their scheme; to effect
which, they had provided themselves with a boat-cloak to sleep in, a pair
of pistols, a small quantity of gun-powder, and 50 cakes of portable
soup. That any one who had been accustomed to the habits of civilised
life should find charms in that led by the savages of this country, was
unaccountable; for, admitting that idleness was the inducement, yet
whoever associated with them must accompany them wherever they went, and
they were generally on the move either by day or night. They were seldom
provided with more food than was sufficient for the day; and in their
treacherous visitations at night, for the purposes of revenge, the
European might be easily mistaken for, or confounded with, the savage.
But thus it was, to the great evil of the community to which these
unthinking wretches belonged.

The inhabitants of the town of Sydney having been assessed to supply
thatch for the roof of the new gaol, and completed their respective
proportions, the building was enclosed during this month with a strong
and high fence. A building such as this had certainly been long wanted.
It was 80 feet in length; the sides and ends were constructed of strong
logs, a double row of which formed each partition. The whole was divided
into 22 cells, the divisions of which were logs. The floor and the roof
were of the same solid materials, over which was a coat 8 inches deep of
stiff clay, and the roof besides was thatched. Every accommodation for
prisoners was to be found in separate buildings in the prison yard, in
which also was a distinct brick building for debtors, fenced off from the
_felon side_ (to use an Old Bailey distinction) by a strong and high

This, enclosing a spot of ground which had been marked out on the west
side of the Cove for a ship-yard, landing provisions from the transports,
and completing the granary, formed the principal labour in which the
public gangs were employed this month at Sydney.

The weather was remarkably dry.


The _Francis_ returns from the wreck of the _Sydney Cove_
The _Eliza_ long-boat missing
Gale of wind
Cattle from the Cape landed
Station altered
Public works
An officer dies
Accident on board the _Schooner_
The ships sail for China
Coal discovered
Courts Of justice assembled
The _Supply_ condemned
The _Cumberland_ seized and carried off to sea
Is pursued, but not retaken
More coal found; and a new river
The people left by Capt. Bampton at New Zealand arrive at Norfolk Is.
Several runaway convicts landed there by the _Britannia_
The _Deptford_ arrives from Madras
Excursion to the Cow-Pastures
Walk from Mount Taurus to the sea coast
Public works

July.] In the beginning of July, the _Francis_ returned from the wreck of
the _Sydney Cove_, bringing the remainder of her crew, except six,
whom Captain Hamilton, her commander (and the only European belonging to
her, then alive,) had left in charge of the part of her cargo which had
been saved. The _Eliza_ long-boat, which sailed from the island with
them, had on board a few Lascars and some property; but having had to
encounter a very heavy gale of wind, and not arriving with the schooner,
many doubts were entertained of her safety. She was under the direction
of Mr. Armstrong, the master of the _Supply_.

On the 17th, twelve days after the return of the _Francis_, it came
on to blow exceedingly hard at SE and SSE by which many large trees and
several chimneys were blown down. The gale was attended with a deluge of
rain, and was so heavy, that some of the ships, even in that secure cove,
brought their anchors home. In addition to other damage done at this
time, two of the vanes of the wind-mill were torn off by the violence of
the wind. This gale considerably increased the apprehensions of every.
one concerned for the safety of the long-boat.

The cattle which arrived in the _Reliance_ were landed, and,
considering that they had experienced much bad weather on the passage,
looked extremely well. The two Colonial ships had been employed eight
months on this voyage to and from the Cape, and had added 51 cows, 3
bulls, a few horses, and about 90 sheep, to the stock of domestic cattle
in the colony.

This species of provisions was multiplying largely; but the salt meat was
decreasing so fast, that it became necessary to issue only half the usual
ration of pork.

The convicts were employed in enclosing the new ship yard, shingling the
barracks for the assistant surgeons, clearing ground at Portland-place,
where seventy men were at work, and completing the repair of the public
roads, in which necessary labour, the settlers again assisted, having
finished the cropping of their grounds for the ensuing season.

The dry weather had been followed by several days' rain, by which the
appearance of the wheat-grounds was very much improved.

Ensign Birch, of the New South Wales corps, died on the 5th, and was
buried with military honours. He arrived in the _Britannia_.

August.] The Colonial schooner, having been dispatched with some stores
which were wanted at Norfolk Island, left the Cove on the 7th; but the
wind failing, she anchored in the lower part of the harbour. While lying
here, some of her people became drunk, and insisted on taking the boat
ashore. This being resisted, one of the crew fired a pistol at a soldier
who was on board, which, it being dark at the time, missed him, but the
ball went through the leg of a seaman belonging to the _Supply_, who
had been lent to the schooner. He was brought up to the hospital, and the
man who fired the pistol was conducted to prison, to answer for his

The _Britannia_ and the _Ganges_ sailed on their respective
voyages. The commander of the latter was permitted to take on board
several convicts who had become free, and some of the marine soldiers who
had been discharged from the New South Wales corps, having completed
their second engagement in that regiment. They had talked of becoming
settlers, and remaining some years longer in the country; but the
restless love of change prevailed, and they quitted the colony by this

Mr. Clark, the supercargo of the ship _Sydney Cove_, having
mentioned that, two days before he had been met by the people in the
fishing boat, he had fallen in with a great quantity of coal, with which
he and his companions made a large fire, and had slept by it during the
night, a whale-boat was sent off to the southward, with Mr. Bass, the
surgeon of the _Reliance_, to discover where an article so valuable
was to be met with. He proceeded about seven leagues to the southward of
Point Solander, where he found, in the face of a steep cliff, washed by
the sea a stratum of coal, in breadth about six feet, and extending eight
or nine miles to the southward. Upon the summit of the high land, and
lying on the surface, he observed many patches of coal, from some of
which it must have been that Mr. Clarke was so conveniently supplied with
fuel. He also found in the skeletons of the mate and carpenter of the
_Sydney Cove_, an unequivocal proof of their having unfortunately
perished, as was conjectured.

By the specimens of the coal which were brought in by Mr. Bass, the
quality appeared to be good; but, from its almost inaccessible situation,
no great advantage could ever be expected from it; and indeed, were it
even less difficult to be procured, unless some small harbour should be
near it, it could not be of much utility to the settlement.

No circumstance deserving of attention had occurred for some time among
the natives. On the 27th of this month, however, one of their young men
stood the trial practised by his countrymen, for having, as it was said,
killed some person in a quarrel. He stood manfully up against all their
spears, and defended himself with great skill and address. Having had two
shields split in his hand, by the spear passing quite through them, his
friends, who were numerous, attacked his opponents, whom they disarmed,
and broke their shields, with many of their spears.

It had been intended to have thrown some spears at Bennillong at this
time, from its having been reported that a woman, when she was dying, had
declared she dreamed that Bennillong had killed her. Her friends,
therefore, resolved to call him to an account, taking the business up on
the supposition that the woman must have had some cause of complaint
against him, or she would not have dreamed of his doing her an injury. To
this accusation Bennillong pleaded not guilty, declaring that he was an
entire stranger to the woman, and had never in his life offended her; but
there were some who said that he actually wounded this very woman, and
had been the cause of her death.

To those gentlemen who were acquainted with the temper and disposition of
this savage, there appeared much reason to credit the assertions of his
countrymen; for he was now observed to have become so fond of drinking,
that, whenever invited by any of the officers to their houses, he was
eager to be intoxicated, and in that state was so savage and violent as
to be capable of any mischief. On such occasions he amused himself with
annoying the women and insulting the men, who, from fear of offending his
white friends, spared those notices of his conduct which he so often
merited, and which sooner or later he would certainly meet with.

The court of criminal judicature was assembled once during this month,
when three prisoners, one of whom was a seaman belonging to the
_Britannia_, were transported to Norfolk Island for seven years.

The civil court was also assembled, and went through much troublesome and
litigious business, the effect of the spirit of trade which every where

The _Reliance_ having been cleared of her stores, and being now
quite light, was yet found to make as much water as before; and it
appeared, upon opening the ceiling, that the leak was in the guardboard
streak, abreast of the main-mast, the water rushing in there with great

A survey had been held upon her consort, the _Supply_, after which
she was pronounced wholly unfit for further sea service.

The brickmakers, bricklayers, carpenters, and blacksmiths, were all fully
and variously employed at this time. For the latter, a large and
convenient shop, capable of working six or seven forges, was erecting at
Sydney. The different works which were in hand went on with a greater
spirit and more expedition than could have been expected, when the great
want of artificers and labouring people was considered. Some, though but
a few, mechanics had arrived in the last ships.

September.] This month began with a very vexatious circumstance. A boat
named the _Cumberland_, the largest and best in the colony belonging
to government, was, on her passage to the Hawkesbury, whither she was
carrying a few stores, taken possession of by a part of the boat's crew;
being at the same time boarded by a small boat from the shore, the people
in which seized her and put off to sea, first landing the coxswain and
three others, who were unwilling to accompany them, in Pitt Water in
Broken Bay. Those men proceeded overland to Port Jackson, where they gave
the first information of this daring and piratical transaction. Two
boats, well manned and armed, were immediately dispatched after them,
under the command of Lieutenant Shortland of the _Reliance_.

One of these boats returned in a few days, without having seen any thing
of them; but Lieutenant Shortland proceeded with the other, a whale boat,
as far as Port Stephens, where he thought it probable they might have
taken shelter; but on the 19th, having been absent thirteen days, he
returned without discovering the smallest trace of them or the boat. His
pursuit, however, had not been without its advantage; for on his return
he entered a river which he named Hunter river, about ten leagues to the
southward of Port Stephens into which he carried three fathoms water, in
the shoalest part of its entrance, finding deep water and good anchorage
within. The entrance of this river was but narrow, and covered by a high
rocky island, lying right off it, so as to leave a good passage round the
north end of the island, between that and the shore. A reef connects the
south part of the island with the south shore of the entrance of the
river. In this harbour was found a very considerable quantity of coal of
a very good sort, and lying so near the water side as to be conveniently
shipped; which gave it, in this particular, a manifest advantage over
that discovered to the southward. Some specimens of this coal were
brought up in the boat.

About this time a small decked long boat arrived from Norfolk island, and
brought an account that the master of the American snow _Mercury_
had landed there the remainder of the people who had been left by Captain
Bampton in Dusky Bay. When the _Endeavour_ was wrecked there about
20 months before*, the governor, not having any vessel at Port Jackson
fit for such a purpose, had expressed a wish to the master of the snow,
to this effect, when he was about leaving New South Wales. The master
made no objection, only stipulating that he might be permitted to take
from the wreck such stores as he might be in want of, but to this the
governor could not give his sanction, leaving him only to make what terms
he could with any of the people belonging to her whom he might find
alive. This service he performed under many difficulties, and brought off
all that now remained of these unfortunate people, amounting to 35 in
number, and landed them at Norfolk Island.

[* Vide Vol I Ch. XXX Page 384, viz: 'By letters received from
Mr. Bampton, who sailed from his place in the _Endeavour_ in
the month of September last, we now heard, that on his reaching Dusky Bay
in New Zealand his ship unfortunately proved so leaky, that with the
advice and consent of his officers and people she was run on shore and
scuttled.' and

Vol I Ch. XXX Page 388, viz: 'On the 17th the vessel built by the
shipwright Hatherleigh at Dusky Bay arrived, with some of the people left
behind by Mr. Bampton. They were so distressed for provisions, that the
person who had the direction of the vessel could not bring away the
whole; and it was singularly fortunate that he arrived as he did, for
with all the economy that could be used, his small stock of provisions
was consumed to the last mouthful the day before he made the land.']

By this conveyance the governor was also informed, that the
_Britannia_ had touched at the Island, and landed several convicts
who had secreted themselves on board her while she lay in this harbour.
Disappointed as these people generally were in their attempts to escape
from the settlement in this manner, yet it had become so certain a
system, that all the vigilance which could be exerted both on shore and
afloat was insufficient to prevent them. As the masters were seldom
refused permission to ship such as were free, it was their business to
receive no more on board than they could feed; and during the run between
Sydney and Norfolk island, the supernumeraries were generally discovered
and brought up from below. Indeed, considering the description of people
who formed the major or part of these deserters, it was not safe to have
many of them on board, being a lawless, abandoned, daring set of
wretches, to whom the commission of every crime was more familiar than
the practice of any one virtue.

On the 20th of the month, the _Deptford_, a small brig, arrived from
Madras, with a cargo of goods upon speculation for the Sydney market. The
spirit of trade which had for some time obtained in the colony afforded
an opening for adventurers to bring their goods to this settlement. The
voyage from India was short and direct; and, from the nature of their
investments, they were always certain of finding a ready sale, and an
ample return upon the original invoice. But this intercourse was found to
be pregnant with great evil to the colony; for, preferring spirits to any
other article that could be introduced from India, the owners never
failed to make the rum of that country an essential part of every cargo
which they sent upon speculation. And, though every necessary measure was
adopted to prevent all that arrived from being landed, yet, such was the
avidity with which it was sought after, that, if not permitted, it was
generally got on shore clandestinely, and very few ships carried back any
of what they had brought down. To this source might be traced all the
crimes which disgraced, and all the diseases that injured the colony.

Toward the latter end of the month a party set off on an excursion to the
cow pasture plains. On reaching mount Taurus, a distinct herd of the wild
cattle, 67 in number, was seen. It was conjectured, that this valuable
collection of cattle had so considerably increased, as to find a
convenience in dividing into different herds, thereby preventing those
quarrels which might frequently happen among their males. This was
confirmed by their falling-in with, in another place, a herd, in which
there could not have been fewer than 170 of these animals. A couple of
days were pleasantly occupied in examining this part of the country,
which exhibited the beautiful appearance of a luxuriant and well-watered
pasturage. The latitude of mount Taurus was found to be 34 degrees 16
minutes S and the river Nepean was discovered to take its course close
round the south side of this hill. Two gentlemen who were of this party
having, at their setting out, proposed to walk from mount Taurus in as
direct a line as the country would admit, to the seacoast, a whale boat
was ordered to wait for them about five leagues to the southward of
Botany Bay. They expected to have reached the coast in one day, but they
did not reckon on having full 25 miles of a rugged and mountainous road
to cross. Making their course a little to the southward of east, they
fell in with the boat very conveniently, and Mr. Bass, one of the
gentlemen, described their route to have laid, the greatest part of the
way, over nothing but high and steep ridges of hills, the land becoming
more rocky and barren as they drew near the sea coast. In each of the
valleys formed by these hills they found a run of fresh water, in some
places of considerable depth and rapidity. The direction of these streams
or runs being to the northward, they were supposed to fall into a harbour
which lay about five or six miles to the southward of Port Solander, and
had obtained the name of Port Hacking, the pilot of that name having had
the honour of the discovery.*

[* See the chart prefixed to this volume, where the route from Mount Taurus
is laid down.]

A church clock having been brought to the settlement in the _Reliance_
when that ship arrived from England, and no building fit for its
reception having been since erected, preparations were now making
for constructing a tower fit for the purpose; to which might be added a
church, whenever at a future day the increase of labourers might enable
the governor to direct such an edifice to be built.

One mill not being sufficient to grind the flour required by the
inhabitants at Sydney, the stone masons were employed in breaking out and
preparing stone for another at that place.

The blacksmith's shop, begun in the last month, was nearly completed at
the end of this.

The weather was observed to be growing warm. Toward the middle of the
month strong southerly winds, with rainy and unsettled weather,
prevailed, particularly at the change of the moon.


Another boat seized and carried off
Order in consequence
The criminal court thrice assembled
Three men stand in the pillory
Perjury explained to the convicts
Natives very troublesome; seize a boat
Various works in hand
An attempt to seize another boat frustrated
Prospect of a fine harvest
Wilson gives himself up
Is made use of
Two mares stolen
The clergyman's servant attempts to rob him
Information sent to India respecting the boats
An amphibious animal discovered

October.] The month of October opened with a repetition of the vexatious
circumstances that marked the opening of the preceding month. In the
night of the 2nd, a boat was taken from Parramatta by some people who got
unobserved out of the harbour. The three men who were put on shore from
the _Cumberland_ at the time she was seized upon, from an
unwillingness to accompany them, being in this party, it was supposed
they were connected in some way with those who were in that boat, and
whom they might know where to find. An armed boat from the _Supply_
was immediately dispatched after them; but in three days returned, as
unsuccessful as Lieutenant Shortland had unfortunately been in his

From this circumstance there was reason to suppose that they had stood
off from the land; in which case, as the weather since their departure
had been unusually bad, the wind blowing a gale from the southward, with
much rain, and their boat being a very bad one, it was probable they had

In these two boats 15 convicts had made their escape from the settlement;
six of whom had been transported for life; six others were from Ireland,
of whose term of transportation no account had been sent out; and of the
remainder, one had to serve until the 23rd of May 1799, another until the
2nd of April 1801, and the third until the 15th of April 1804.

Whatever might be the fate of these people, the evil was of great extent;
since all that could be known of them to their fellow prisoners was, that
they had successfully effected their escape. Had Bryan and his party, who
went off with one of the King's boats in the year 1791, instead of
meeting with the compassion and lenity which were expressed in England
for their sufferings, been sent back and tried in New South Wales, for
taking away the boat, and other thefts which they had committed, it was
probable that others might have been deterred from following their

On this occasion an order was published, stating that, as, for the
private convenience of various individuals, permission had been granted
for the building of boats under certain dimensions, yet those boats had
been frequently found so improperly secured in the night, and left by
their respective owners in situations so favourable to the views of those
ignorant beings who were perpetually looking out for means to escape from
the settlement, the governor therefore found it expedient positively to
prohibit the building of a boat of any kind without having previously
obtained his express permission; and to declare, that if any of the boats
then in use in the settlement should thenceforward be found improperly
secured at night, or left with oars, rudder, masts, or sails on board,
they would be laid on shore and burnt.

Such was the increase of crimes, that thrice in this month was the court
of criminal judicature assembled. The offences that came under their
cognisance were those of murder, perjury, forgery, and theft.

Two men were tried for having killed a native youth, well known in the
settlement*; but it appearing to the court that he had been accidentally
shot, they were acquitted. The natives certainly behaved ill, and often
provoked the death which they met with; but there was not any necessity
for wantonly destroying them, a circumstance which it was feared had but
too often occurred. On the acquittal of these prisoners, they were
assured by the governor, that he was determined to make an example of the
first person who should be convicted of having wantonly taken the life of
a native.

[* By the name of Tom Rowley (after one of the officers of the regiment).
He had accompanied Mr. Raven, in the _Britannia_, to Bengal, in the
year 1795.]

Another prisoner, John Morris, was tried for the murder of Charles
Martin, by violently kicking and beating him, so that he died the
following day. He was found guilty of manslaughter, and sentenced to be
burned in the hand and imprisoned for 12 months.

One man was found guilty of uttering a bill knowing it to be forged, and
adjudged to suffer death; and two others, for theft, were ordered to be
transported to Norfolk Island, one for the term of his life, and another
for seven years.

It appearing on one of these trials, that three of the witnesses had
manifestly and wilfully committed the crime of perjury, they were brought
to trial; and, being found guilty, were sentenced to stand in the
pillory; to which, as an additional punishment, their ears were to be
nailed. Their sentence was put in execution before the public provision
store, when the mob, either to display their aversion to the crime, or,
what might be more probable, to catch at any thing that wore the form of
amusement, pelted them with rotten eggs and dirt.

These people were three of the worst characters in the colony, Luke
Normington, John Colley, and William Osborne. It amounted nearly to a
mockery and profanation of religion to administer an oath to such
hardened and unprincipled wretches; yet their testimony could not be
refused when called for by a prisoner who was standing under the weight
of a capital charge; but of the credibility of such testimony it was
always in the breast of the court to judge.

On this occasion the governor deemed it advisable to explain, in public
orders, the nature of this dreadful offence, an offence so certainly
ruinous both to their temporal and eternal welfare. He pointed out to
them, that, as every man who stood convicted of this dangerous breach of
the law was thereby rendered infamous ever after, no one who had a
character to lose (alas! how few were there who would feel themselves
affected by this observation) would associate with such criminals, lest
he should endanger his own reputation, and be considered as a voluntary
approver and partaker in the infamy.

It may be some relief to turn from the contemplation of such iniquity,
though it should be only to the transactions of savages, differing from
these wretches but in complexion.

On the 20th of this month the settlement were spectators of a severe
contest which took place between two parties of natives; one of which was
desirous of revenging the death of a friend, who had been killed by some
native of a part of the country from which a young man had just then
accidentally come amongst them. He was therefore immediately devoted to
their vengeance. Finding their determination, he most gallantly stood up,
and, being attacked by numbers, defended himself with the greatest
bravery and address, until, being wounded in several places, he fell. As
he lay upon the ground, several of his opponents treacherously rushed in
upon him, and stabbed him repeatedly with a pointed stick, which they
call a Doo-ul. In this situation he endeavoured to cover himself with his
shield, on which, having risen from the ground, and being again attacked,
he received their spears for some time with great dexterity, until some
one, less brave and more treacherous than the rest, took a station
unobserved on one side, and launched a spear, which went into his back
and there remained. Seeing this, they were proceeding a second time to
rush in upon him, when he had just strength enough left to make his
escape into an adjoining house, where he received shelter, and from the
severity of his wounds immediately fainted.

The spear was withdrawn, and his wounds dressed, by one of the surgeons
who happened to be present; and in a few days he was able to walk about
again. His brother, who had accompanied him to the field of battle, stood
up in his defence, and was wounded in the leg and thigh.

The principal sufferer in this affair was known in the settlement by the
name of William and Ann (corrupted by their pronunciation to
Wil-lam-an-nan) which he had adopted from a ship of the same name that
arrived here in the year 1791.

Several of their women attended upon this occasion, and, as is common
with them, howled and cried alternately during the most of the time; but
when they were enraged, which often happened, they danced, and beat their
sides with their arms; a certain proof of their passions being wrought up
to the highest pitch.

Shortly after this, these people again exhibited themselves to the notice
of the settlement, but in a very different point of view. On the 31st, an
open boat arrived from the Hawkesbury, with a cargo of Indian corn,
having been boarded in her passage down by a party of natives in canoes.
Assuming an appearance of friendship, they were suffered to come into the
boat, when, watching an opportunity, they threw off the mask, and made an
attempt to seize the small arms. This occasioned a struggle, in which the
boat's crew prevailed, but not before some of these unexpected pirates
had paid for their rashness with their lives.

It was now discovered, that a boat belonging to a settler, which had been
for some time missing, and was supposed to have been driven out to sea
and lost with her crew and cargo of Indian corn, had actually been taken
by the natives in the river, after murdering the men who were in her. The
boat, on searching, was afterwards found in the possession of some of
these people.

This was so novel a circumstance that it could scarcely be credited; but
it was no less true; and there was but little doubt, that the white
people who were living amongst them had been the unseen instigators of
this mischief.

During this month a strong and durable bridge, capable of sustaining any
weight which it might have occasion to bear, was erected over Duck river,
for the convenience of land carriage between the towns of Sydney and

The military hospital which stood on the west side of the Cove was taken
to pieces; and, a stone foundation (it had been hitherto fixed on blocks
of wood) having been laid farther from the road side, it was removed
during this month, and put together again in its new situation.

The wheat every where wore the most promising appearance, and the weather
had been very favourable for bringing it to maturity.

Decreasing daily as did the number of working men in the employ of
government, yet the governor could not refuse granting certificates to
such convicts as had served their respective times of transportation; and
no less than 125 men were at this time certified by him to be free. Most
of these people had no other view in obtaining this certificate, than the
enabling them when an opportunity offered to quit the settlement, or
following their own pursuits until that time should arrive.

November.] There being a scarcity of wheat in the public stores, owing to
some local disappointments, the governor was obliged to make a reduction
in the weekly allowance of that article, until the present crops should
be gathered.

The facility with which the seizure of the _Cumberland_ had been
accomplished, and the subsequent escape of two parties of convicts.
induced 14 others to form a plan for taking away a boat, and making a
similar attempt at liberty. Having made a depot of all the stores which
they meant to carry with them, at a place convenient for the purpose, the
night was fixed for their departure; and they were on the point of
embarking, when, to their great surprise, they found themselves
surrounded by a party of magistrates and constables armed, who took them
and their property into custody. They had not proceeded with all the
caution necessary for such an enterprise, and a hint was given in time to
defeat the execution of their project.

The following day these unthinking people, instead of being at large on
the ocean, in possession of their fancied freedom, found themselves
severely punished, and sent up to Parramatta there to be set to hard

On the subject of these mad and hazardous schemes, the governor first
addressed the convicts in person, and afterwards published in order,
wherein he pointed out the risk that must ever attend such ill-judged
enterprises; into which, he was of opinion, a few weak and ignorant
people had been led by the deep and wicked designs of some who pretended
to a greater share of wisdom, and who would not hesitate to sacrifice any
that might be thought of less consequence to the general design, or less
capable of rendering themselves useful when embarked, by forcing them on
shore, if near the land, among a savage people where death must be
inevitable; or by throwing them overboard, if at sea, to lighten their
miserable vessel, and prevent, if possible, her drowning the whole.

The Irish convicts who arrived in the last ship manifesting daily a
propensity to desert from their work, a party of soldiers, under the
command of a sergeant, was sent up to Toongabbie, where they were to
remain during the harvest, which commenced in this month at that place
and at Constitution Hill.

On the 24th, an order was published, in which the people employed in
agriculture were reminded of the many accidents that happened last year
by fire; strongly recommending more attention to the security of their
present crops when taken off the ground, at the same time directing them
to seize and secure as early as possible all such vagrants as they might
meet with, who, being at large at this season, might do them much injury.

Nine hundred bushels of the last year's crop were brought round from the
Hawkesbury in the _Francis_, and deposited in the public store.
Nothing could promise better than the appearance of the wheat of this
season; but it had ripened suddenly, owing to some heavy rains having
been followed by very hot weather. In the want of sufficient strength the
military were hired to assist in reaping, it being absolutely necessary
that no time should be lost in securing the produce of this year.

Toward the latter end of the month, James Wilson, who had for some time
taken up his abode in the woods, and was one of those named in the
proclamation of the 13th of May last, surrendered himself to the
governor's clemency. He had been herding with the savages in different
parts of the country, and was obliged to submit to have his shoulders and
breast scarified after their manner; which he described to have been very
painful in the operation. He made his appearance with no other covering
than an apron formed of a Kangaroo's skin, which he had sufficient sense
of decency remaining to think was proper.

The governor, well knowing, from his former habits, that if he punished
and sent him to hard labour, he would quickly rejoin his late companions,
thought it more advisable to endeavour to make him useful even in the
mode of living which he seemed to prefer; he therefore pardoned him, and
proposed his attempting, with the assistance of his friends, to take some
of the convicts who were at large in the woods; two of whom had, just
before Wilson's appearance, stolen two mares, the property of private
individuals, but which were allowed to be kept during the night in a
stable belonging to government.

Wilson, among other articles of information, mentioned, that he had been
upwards of 100 miles in every direction round the settlement. In the
course of his travelling he had noticed several animals, which, from his
description, had not been seen in any of the districts; and to the
northwest of the head of the Hawkesbury, he came upon a very extensive
tract of open and well-watered country, where he had seen a bird of the
pheasant species, and a quadruped, which he said was larger than a dog,
having its hind parts thin, and bearing no proportion to the shoulders,
which were strong and large.

It is not improbable, that Wilson invented these circumstances in the
hope of obtaining some attention, and thereby averting the punishment
which he expected, and well knew that he had long deserved.

If it be painful to the writer of these sheets to find little else than
crimes and their consequences to record, how much more painful must it
have been to have lived where they were daily committed. Particularly so
must it have proved to the gentleman who was in the chief direction of
the settlement, who found himself either obliged to punish with severity,
or to be fearful even of administering justice in mercy, lest that mercy
should prove detrimental in the end, by encouraging others to offend in
the hope of impunity.

There can scarcely be recorded a stronger instance of human depravity,
than what the following circumstance, which happened in this month,
exhibits. A convict, who had formerly been a school-companion with the
Rev. Mr. Johnson, had been taken by that gentleman into his service,
where he reposed in him the utmost confidence, and treated him with the
kindest indulgence. He had not been long in his house before Mr. Johnson
was informed that his servant, having taken an impression of the key of
his storeroom in clay, had procured one that would fit the lock. He
scarcely credited the information; but, being urged to furnish him with
an opportunity, he consented that a constable should be concealed in the
house, on a Sunday, when all the family, this servant excepted, would be
attending divine service. The arrangement succeeded but too well.
Concluding that all was safe, he applied his key, and, entering the room,
was proceeding without any remorse to plunder it of such articles as he
wanted; when the constable, seeing his prey within his toils, started
from his concealment, and seized him in the act of taking the property.

Thus was this wretched being without 'one compunctious visiting of
nature,' detected in the act of injuring the man, who, in the better day
of his prosperity, had been the companion of his youth, and who had
stretched out his hand to shelter him in the present hour of his

The _Deptford_ brig sailing this month for the coast of Coromandel,
the governor took the opportunity of transmitting to Admiral Rainier, or
the commander in chief of his Majesty's ships in the East Indies, a list
of the deserted convicts, and a description of the two boats which had
lately been taken from the colony. As it was, probably, the intention of
those people to steer along the coast of New South Wales to the
northward, until they should reach some of the Dutch settlements among
the Molucca islands, there was a possibility of their being picked up by
some of the King's cruisers; in the event of which, the governor forcibly
urged their being forwarded, by any opportunity which might offer, to his
government, there to be made an example that should, if possible, deter
others from making the like attempts.

The widow of Ensign Brock's, who died in July last, availed herself of
this opportunity to get, with her family, partly on her way to England.

Although the settlement had now been established within a month of ten
years, yet little had been added to the stock of natural history which
had been acquired in the first year or two of its infancy. The Kangaroo,
the Dog, the Opossum, the Flying Squirrel, the Kangaroo Rat, a spotted
Rat, the common Rat, and the large Fox-bat (if entitled to a place in
this society), made up the whole catalogue of animals that were known at
this time, with the exception which must now be made of an amphibious
animal, of the mole species, one of which had been lately found on the
banks of a lake near the Hawkesbury. In size it was considerably larger
than the land mole. The eyes were very small. The fore legs, which were
shorter than the hind, were observed, at the feet, to be provided with
four claws, and a membrane, or web, that spread considerably beyond them,
while the feet of the hind legs were furnished, not only with this
membrane or web, but with four long and sharp claws, that projected as
much beyond the web, as the web projected beyond the claws of the fore
feet. The tail of this animal was thick, short, and very fat; but the
most extraordinary circumstance observed in its structure was, its
having, instead of the mouth of an animal, the upper and lower mandibles
of a duck. By these it was enabled to supply itself with food, like that
bird, in muddy places, or on the banks of the lakes, in which its webbed
feet enabled it to swim; while on shore its long and sharp claws were
employed in burrowing; nature thus providing for it in its double or
amphibious character. These little animals had been frequently noticed
rising to the surface of the water, and blowing like the turtle.

The subjoined engraving is from a drawing made on the spot by Governor

Among the few circumstances that occurred out of the common course of
events, must be mentioned that of a man belonging to the hospital, who,
in endeavouring to get hold of a boat which was close to the shore,
over-reached himself and fell into deep water, where he was drowned. The
body being immediately found, the means recommended by the Humane Society
in such cases were made use of, but without the desired effect.

The barracks for the assistant surgeons, and the tower of the intended
church, were nearly completed during this month, and the paling round the
new store-house was begun. The _Reliance_, whose leaks had been
discovered, was strengthened with riders, several people being employed
to bring in timber for that purpose. These formed some of the public
works at Sydney. At Parramatta, Toongabbie, and the other interior
settlements, all were actively employed in securing the abundant crops
which every where promised to reward the industry of the settler and the

The annual election of constables took place in this month. These
municipal regulations were attended at least with the advantage of
introducing something like a system of regularity into the settlement,
than which nothing was more likely to check the relaxation which had
lately prevailed in it.

The weather in November was, for the first and middle parts, very
unsettled, blowing hard at times with much rain. On one day, there fell a
shower of hail, the stones of which were each as big as a lark's egg. The
latter part of the month was fair, and favourable for reaping the grain.


Bennillong and Cole-be
Various particulars respecting the natives
Ye-ra-nibe killed
A settler's house burnt through malice
Schools at Sydney
Two settlers drink for a wager
The body of a soldier found
Criminal court
The _Francis_ sails for the wreck
Houses burnt
Public labour
Account of live stock and ground in cultivation

December.] A circumstance occurred about the beginning of this month,
that excited much interest in the town of Sydney, and great commotion
among the natives. Two of these people, both of them well known in the
settlement, (Cole-be, the friend of Bennillong, and one of the
Ye-ra-ni-bes) meeting in the town, while their bosoms were yet swelling on
occasion of some former difference, attacked each other. Cole-be had
always been remarked for his activity, but Ye-ra-ni-be had more youth
than his adversary, and was reckoned a perfect match for him. On closing
on each other, with their clubs, until which time Cole-be had not gained
any advantage over Ye-ra-ni-be, the handle of Ye-ra-ni-be's shield drew
out, and it consequently fell from his grasp: while stooping to take it
up, the other struck him on the head with a club, which staggered him,
and followed his blow while he was in that defenceless situation.

Cole-be knew that this would ensure him the appellation of jeerun, or
coward, and that the friends of Ye-ra-ni-be would as certainly take up
his cause. As the consequences might be very serious if he should die of
the blow, he thought it prudent to abscond for a while, and Yera-ni-be
was taken care of by some of his white friends. This happened on the
10th, and on the 16th he died. In this interval he was constantly
attended by some of his male and female associates, particularly by his
two friends, Collins (for Gnung-a Gnung-a still went by the late
judge-advocate's name) and Mo-roo-bra. On one of the nights when a most
dismal song of lamentation had been sung over him, in which the women
were the principal performers, his male friends, after listening for some
time with great apparent attention, suddenly started up, and, seizing
their weapons, went off in a most savage rage, determined on revenge.
Knowing pretty well where to meet with Cole-be, they beat him very
severely, but would not kill him, reserving that gratification of their
revenge until the fate of their companion should be decided. On the
following night, Collins and Mo-roo-bra attacked a relation of Cole-be's,
Boo-ra-wan-ye, whom they beat about the head with such cruelty that his
recovery was doubtful. As their vengeance extends to all the family and
relations of a culprit, what a misfortune it must be to be connected with
a man of a choleric disposition!

Ye-ra-ni-be was buried the day after his decease by the side of the
public road, below the military barracks. He was placed by his friends
upon a large piece of bark, and laid into a grave, which was formed by
them after our manner (only not so deep), they seeming in this instance
to be desirous of imitating our custom. Bennillong assisted at the
ceremony, placing the head of the corpse, by which he struck a beautiful
war-ra-taw, and covering the body with the blanket on which he died.
Being supplied with some spades, the earth was thrown in by the
by-standers, during which, and indeed throughout the whole of the
ceremony, the women howled and cried excessively; but this was the effect
of the violent gusts of passion into which the men every moment threw
themselves. At this time many spears were thrown, and some blows were
inflicted with clubs; but no serious mischief ensued. On the death of
Cole-be, all seemed determined; for the man whose life he had in so
cowardly a manner taken away was much beloved by his countrymen.

With this design, a number of natives assembled a few days afterwards
before the barracks, breathing revenge; at which time a young man, a
relation to the object of their vengeance, received so many wounds, that
he was nearly killed; and a lad, who was also related to him
(Nan-bar-ray, the same who formerly lived with Mr. White, the principal
surgeon), was to have been sacrificed; but he was saved for the present
by the appearance of a soldier, who had been sent to the place with him
for his protection; and it was thought that when the present tumult
against his uncle (for Cole-be was the brother of this boy's father) had
subsided, nothing more would be thought of him.

Cole-be, finding that he must either submit to the trial usual on such
occasions, or live in the continual apprehension of being taken off by a
midnight murder and a single hand, determined to come forward, and suffer
the business to be decided one way or the other. Having signified his
resolution, a day was appointed, and he repaired armed to the place of
rendezvous. The rage and violence shown by the friends of the deceased
were indescribable; and Cole-be would certainly have expiated his offence
with his life, but for the interference of several of the military,
before whose barrack the affair took place. Although active, and
extremely _au fait_ in the use of the shield, he was overpowered, and,
falling beneath their spears, would certainly have been killed on the
spot, but several soldiers rushed in, and prevented their putting him to
death where he lay; he himself, from the many severe wounds which he had
received, being wholly incapable of making any resistance. His friends,
the soldiers, lifted him from the ground, and between them bore him into
the barracks.

Bennillong, the particular friend and companion of Cole-be, was present
at this meeting; but, it was supposed, without intending to take any part
in it either way. The atrocity of his friend's conduct had been such that
he could not openly espouse his quarrel; perhaps he had no stomach to the
fight; and certainly, if he could avoid it, he would not, by appearing
against him, add to the number of his enemies. He was armed, however, and
unencumbered with clothing of any kind, and remained a silent spectator
of the tumultuous scene, until the moment when the soldiers rushed in to
save the life of Cole-be. His conduct here became inexplicable. On a
sudden, he chose to be in a rage at something or other, and threw a spear
among the soldiers, which dreadfully took effect on one of them, entering
at his back and coming out at the belly, close to the navel. For this he
would instantly have been killed on the spot, had not Mr. Smith, the
provost-marshal, interfered and brought him away, boiling with the most
savage rage; for he had received a blow on the head with the butt-end of
a musket.

It became necessary to confine him during the night, as well to prevent
the mischief with which he threatened the white people, as to save him
from the anger of the military, and on the following morning he quitted
the town.

This man, instead of making himself useful, or showing the least
gratitude for the attentions which he received from every one, had become
a most insolent and troublesome savage. As it was impossible sometimes to
avoid censuring him for his conduct, he had been known to walk about
armed, and heard to declare it was for the express purpose of spearing
the governor whenever he saw him. This last outrage of his had rendered
him more hateful than any of his countrymen; and, as the natives who had
so constantly resided and received so many comforts in the settlement
were now afraid to appear in the town, believing that, like themselves,
we should punish all for the misconduct of one, it might rather be
expected that Bennillong could not be far from meeting that punishment
which he certainly provoked and merited.

During the time that Ye-ra-ni-be was alive, the attendance of the natives
who were then in the town was called to the performance of the ceremony
named Yoo-lahng Era-ba-diang, the particulars of which have been
described in the preceding* part of this account. The place of meeting at
this time was in the middle harbour; and the various exhibitions which
took place were not observed to differ from those of the preceding years.
The season of the year was the same, but not precisely the month, which
confirmed the conjecture of their not being influenced by any particular
motive in the choice of the month of February for the celebration of this
curious and peculiar ceremony.

[* Vide Appendix to Vol I.]

Bennillong, who assisted at it, returned without his wife, the lady
having been without much difficulty persuaded by her mother, whom she
accidentally met at the Yoo-lahng, to leave her husband, and return with
her to the place of her residence. Bennillong, notwithstanding the
European polish which he could at times assume, was by no means a
favourite with, or held in much estimation by the females of his own
complexion. If any unfortunate girl was seen to be in his train for any
time, she was well known to be actuated less by inclination than by the
fear of his exercising that right which the stronger always claimed the
privilege of possessing over the weaker sex.

The business of the settlement now reclaims our notice.

Some time in this month the house of John Mitcham, a settler in the
district of Concord, was attacked by three villains, and set on fire,
together with a stack of wheat, which he had just completed and secured
against the weather. This unfortunate man was indebted about L33 which
the contents of his wheat-stack would have paid off, but now, besides
being very much beaten, he had the world to begin again, with a load of
debt which this untoward accident would much increase. The man himself
knew not to what cause to attribute it; and he was as ignorant who were
his enemies; for two of them had blackened their faces, and to the third
he was a stranger.

On its being represented to the governor, he gave information of the
mischief in the public orders; and at the same time called upon every man
who valued the safety of his person, and the security of his property, to
use the utmost vigilance in discovering and bringing to justice these
daring offenders, that the law might have an opportunity of showing its
ability to defend the property of every inhabitant of the colony, by the
punishment of those who dared to attack it. He also observed, as a
further inducement, that the inhabitants could not fail to see the danger
of suffering evils of this kind to pass unnoticed; as the most ignorant
must know, that every reduction in the quantity of wheat must be attended
with a reduction in the weekly ration; a circumstance by which every man,
whether on or off the public store, was affected. The Order concluded
with an offer of conditional freedom, and permission to become a settler,
to any person, who, being a convict, would come forward and give such
information as might serve to convict the offenders before a court of
criminal judicature.

Dogs had increased to such an extent as to occasion their becoming the
object of a public order, restricting the number kept by each person to
no more than were absolutely necessary for the protection of his house
and premises. Much mischief had been done by them among the hogs, sheep,
goats, and fowls of individuals.

There were at this time in the town of Sydney three schools for the
education of children; and this being the period of their breaking-up for
the Christmas holidays, the governor was gratified with the sight of 102
clean and decently dressed children, who came with their several masters
and mistresses, and in form paid their respects to his excellency, who
examined the progress of the elder scholars in writing, specimens of
which he kept for the purpose of comparing with those which they should
present to him on the following Christmas.

One moment's reflection on the vices that prevailed in the colony will be
sufficient to excite a wish, that some institution could have been
devised for separating the greater part of these (at present, innocent)
members of the community from their vicious parents, where they could
have been educated at the public expense, their propensities to evil
corrected, and that turn given to their attainments which should secure
them a stock of useful knowledge. An arrangement of this nature was every
day becoming more necessary; for there were not less than 300 young
people at this time in the town of Sydney, none of whom, with the
exception of a very few, had been born in England.

On the eve of Christmas Day two young men, settlers on some land midway
between Sydney and Parramatta, having been boasting of their respective
abilities in drinking, regardless of the solemnity of the time,
challenged each other to a trial of their skill; on which they were so
deliberately bent, that, to prevent their being interrupted, they retired
to the skirts of a neighbouring wood, with a quantity of raw spirits
which they had provided for the purpose. Their abilities, however, were
not equal to their boasting; for one of them died upon the spot, and the
life of the other was fast ebbing when he was taken up. Had another hour
elapsed, he too must have perished, like his wretched companion. They had
not been able to finish all the pernicious spirit which they had
prepared, some of it remaining by them in a case bottle when they were

On the morning of Christmas Day, the governor was informed that two
seamen belonging to the _Reliance_ had discovered the body of a
soldier (who had been for two days missing from the look-out post on the
South Head, where he was on duty), lying in a mangled state, the head and
hands being cut off. Some words having passed between him and a soldier,
who had been also heard to threaten him, he was suspected of having
committed the murder, and on the 30th was put on his trial for the same.
Nothing, however, appeared before the court that could substantiate the
charge of murder against him; neither was it clearly ascertained that
violent hands had been laid on the deceased. As it had been foreseen that
direct proof would be wanting, it was deemed expedient to obtain what
might be, though not positive, yet of a nature to be nearly as
satisfactory. With this view, the suspected person was directed to handle
and bury the body, which he did without any apparent emotion; nor did the
body bleed at his touch, or exhibit any sign that superstition or
ignorance could turn into an accusation against him; he observing at the
same time, that, as he had never had any quarrel with the deceased, he
could have no objection to perform this last friendly office for him.

At this court a settler was fined the sum of 40 shillings, and ordered to
labour for six weeks, being convicted of disobeying the public orders of
the colony.

The commander of the wrecked ship, _Sydney Cove_, having solicited
the governor to spare him the Colonial schooner for the purpose of
visiting the wreck of his ship, and the six men whom he had left upon the
island in charge of what had been landed; though he could very ill part
with the services of the vessel at this time, yet, in consideration of
the melancholy situation of the people, and the chance that there might
be of saving something for the benefit of the underwriters, he consented;
and about the latter end of the month the _Francis_ sailed with
Captain Hamilton to the southward.

The weather was now becoming exceedingly hot; and as, at this season of
the year, the heat of the sun was so intense that every substance became
a combustible, and a single spark, if exposed to the air, in a moment
became a flame, much evil was to be dreaded from fire. On the east side
of the town of Sydney, a fire, the effect of intoxication or
carelessness, broke out among the convicts' houses, when three of them
were quickly destroyed; and three miles from the town another house was
burnt by some run-away wretches, who, being displeased with the owner,
took this diabolical method of showing it.

The public labour of the month at Sydney comprised the covering of the
new store-house; finishing the church tower; constructing another
wind-mill, of which the beams of the second floor were laid; completing
the barracks of the assistant surgeons, with necessary offices; digging
the foundation of a house for the master boat-builder; and taking down
one of the old marine barracks, on the site of which the governor
proposed to erect a granary.

At Parramatta and Toongabbie the wheat was nearly all got in and secured.
At the latter of these places, a capital barn had been erected for its
reception, 90 feet in length, with a complete floor, on which eight or
nine pairs of thrashers could be employed without any inconvenience.

In order to mark the annual* increase, it may be proper to insert in this
place an account of the live-stock and land in cultivation at the close
of the year, belonging to government, the civil and military officers,
the settlers, and others.

[* Vide Vol I Ch. XXXII p 411, viz: 'ACCOUNT OF LIVE STOCK IN


Horses 26
Mares 58
Horned Cattle
Bulls and Oxen 132
Cows 195
Hogs 4247
Male 743
Female 1714
Male 781
Female 1495


Acres in Wheat 33611/2
Acres for Maize 1527
Acres in Barley 261/2

In addition to these, a considerable quantity of garden-ground was in
potatoes, callevances, and vines.


Attempt of some Irish convicts to desert in search of a new settlement
Some punished
Steps taken to prevent future desertion
A settler's boat stolen
The _Francis_ returns from the southward
Conjectures as to a strait
A convict providentially saved
Public works

January.] The Irish prisoners who had arrived in the last ships from
that country had about this period become so turbulent and refractory,
and so dissatisfied with their situation, that, without the most rigid
and severe treatment, it was impossible to derive from them any labour
whatever. In addition to their natural vicious propensities, they conceived
an opinion that there was a colony of white people, which had been
discovered in this country, situated to the SW of the settlement, from
which it was distant between three and four hundred miles, and in which
they were assured of finding all the comforts of life, without the
necessity of labouring for them.

It was discovered, that, in consequence of this extraordinary rumour, a
plan had been formed, by means of a correspondence carried on between
these people, from one district to another, of escaping from the colony;
which was to be put in execution so soon as they had completed a
sufficient stock of provisions. The place of general rendezvous was fixed
upon, and they were furnished with a paper of written instructions for
their guidance to this fancied paradise, or to China; in addition to
which, they had been supplied with the figure of a compass drawn upon

Having received early information of the intentions of this party, the
governor wrote to a magistrate at Parramatta, desiring that he would go
to Toongabbie, where the principal part of the malcontents were employed,
and point out to them the danger to which so ill-advised a step would
expose them; but, as to attempt to reason with ignorance and obstinacy
was only to waste time, he was to acquaint them, that the governor would
allow any four of them whom they should select from their number, and who
they might think capable of travelling over steep and rocky mountains,
through thick and extensive woods, and fording deep and rapid streams, to
proceed as far as they should find themselves able with such provisions
as they could carry. That further, for the preservation of the lives of
those four men, he would order three other people, who were accustomed to
the woods of this country, and well acquainted with the savages of the
mountains, to accompany and lead them in the direction pointed out in
their written instructions,

On conversing with these infatuated people, it appeared, that the history
of the supposed settlement had its rise from some strange and
unintelligible account which one of these men, who had left his work, and
resided for some time with the natives, had collected from the mountain

A very few days demonstrated the effect of the governor's address to
these ignorant people. He received information, that considerable numbers
of them were assembling for the purpose of proceeding in quest of the new
settlement. He, therefore, directed a party of armed constables, to
waylay and secure as many as they were able; which was effected, and
sixteen were taken and put into confinement. On speaking to them the
following day, they appeared to be totally ignorant whither they were
going; but, observing in them as much obstinacy as ignorance, the
governor justly conceived that he could not use an argument more likely
to convince them of their misconduct, than by ordering a severe corporal
punishment to be inflicted at Sydney on those who appeared to be the
principals in this business; which was accordingly put in execution;
seven of them receiving each two hundred lashes; the remainder, after
being punished at Parramatta, were sent to hard labour and strictly
looked after.

On enquiry it appeared, that this party was composed of several who were
present when the magistrate addressed them by order of the governor; and
that others had assembled from different farms, which were situated at a
considerable distance from each other. The trouble taken to collect and
mislead these people proved to him that it was the work of some wicked
incendiary, who designed by this means to embarrass the public concerns
of the colony, and thereby throw obstacles in the way of his government.

Being, on further consideration of the necessity of checking this spirit
of emigration, determined to convince them, by their own experience, of
the danger and difficulties which attended it, the governor caused four
of the strongest and hardiest among them to be chosen by themselves, and
properly prepared for a journey of discovery. They were to be accompanied
by three men, upon whom the governor knew he could depend, and who were
to lead them back, when fatigued and exhausted with their journey, over
the very worst and most dangerous part of the country. This plan was no
sooner settled, than the governor received information on which he could
rely, that a party of these miscreants had concerted with the four
deputies to meet them at a certain place, where they were to murder the
persons intended to be their guides, possess themselves of their arms and
provisions, and then pursue their own route. This diabolical scheme was
counter-acted by the addition of four soldiers to the guides; and on the
14th they set off from Parramatta.

On the 24th the soldiers returned with three of the deputies, who, having
gained the foot of the first mountains, were so completely sick of their
journey, and of the prospect before them, that they requested to return
with the soldiers, whose mission here terminated, being ordered to leave
them at this place in the direction of the guides; one man only expressed
a resolution to persevere, and penetrate further into the country, and
was left with them for that purpose.

The history of these people might well be supposed to end here; but their
restless dispositions were not calculated to remain long in peace.

It will be seen, on recurring to the transactions of the month of October
last, that a boat belonging to a settler had been carried off in the
night, by some people who were supposed to have taken her out to sea,
where, from the weakness of the boat, they must soon have perished: but
they were now heard of again. Owen Cavanagh, a free man, had a boat which
he employed in transporting grain from the Hawkesbury to Sydney. On the
10th of this month, he informed the governor, that, a short time before,
his boat had been boarded in the night, off Mullett Island, by the very
people who had stolen the one from the settler, and carried her off, with
another containing fifty bushels of grain which some other person was
bringing to Sydney. One man, who had, against his wish, been concerned in
the first seizure, now left them, and returned with Cavanagh; and from
him the following account of their proceedings was obtained. Having
effected the capture, they proceeded to the southward, with the intention
of reaching the wreck of the ship _Sydney Cove_. For their guide,
they had a pocket compass, of which scarcely one man of the fourteen who
composed the party knew the use. In this boat they were twice thrown on
shore, and at last reached an island, where, had they not fortunately
found many birds and seals, they must inevitably have perished. From the
inconceivable hardships they underwent, they would to a man have gladly
returned, could they have hoped that their punishment would have been any
thing short of death. Finding it impossible for such a number of
discontented beings to continue of one mind, or to be able to furnish
food in their miserable situation for so many, they judged it necessary,
from a motive of self-preservation, that one half should deceive the
other half; and while these were asleep, those who were prepared took
away the boat, leaving their seven wretched and unsuspecting companions
upon the desolate island, the situation of which this man could not
describe so as to enable the governor at any time to find it. Their
number now being reduced to seven, and thinking themselves in danger near
this port, they had been lurking for some time about Broken Bay, with a
view of capturing a better boat loaded with grain from the Hawkesbury;
which they effected, first by taking the boat of Owen Cavanagh, the
support of whose wife and children it had long been. After securing him,
they took possession of a smaller boat, containing upwards of fifty
bushels of wheat; and, finding Cavanagh's the largest and best of the
two, they ran out about three or four leagues from the land, when they
shifted their prisoners into the smaller boat, and stood off to the
Northward; where it was very probable they would lose their boat, she
being of such a size, that if they should get her on shore by any
accident, they would not be able to launch her again, and must finally

Here we find extreme ignorance, accompanied by great cunning, producing
cruelty; for nothing less can be said of their abandoning the miserable
uninformed companions of their crime. Self-preservation was their plea;
but was there not a method left within their reach, which might have
preserved the whole? Might they not have returned to Sydney, and thrown
themselves upon that mercy which they had so often seen exercised in the
settlement. Could it be imagined, that at this day there was existing in
a polished civilised kingdom a race of beings (for they do not deserve
the appellation of men) so extremely ignorant, and so little humanised as
these were, compared with whom the naked savages of the mountains were an
enlightened people?

Occasional desertions of one or two people at a time had occurred since
the establishment of the settlement; but the first convicts who arrived
from Ireland in the _Queen_ in the year 1791 went off in numerous
bodies, few of whom ever returned. They too were prepossessed with the
possibility of penetrating through the woods to China, and imparted the
same idea to all of their countrymen who came after them, engaging them
in the same act of folly and madness. It was not then to be wondered at,
that Wilson, who lately came in from the woods, should, among other
articles of information, mention his finding more than fifty skeletons,
which the natives assured him had been white men, who had lost their way
and perished. This account was corroborated by different European
articles which were scattered about, such as knives, old shoes, and other
things which were known not to belong to the natives.

On the 20th the _Francis_ returned with Captain Hamilton from the
southward. Previous to his departure for the wreck of his ship, he had
informed the governor that she had on board nearly 7000 gallons of
spirits, and solicited permission to bring back a part with him in the
schooner. The governor, ever averse to the introduction of spirituous
liquors, would certainly have resisted the application; but, it being
generally known in the colony that a considerable quantity of this
article had been saved from the wreck, and that the island abounded with
kangaroos and birds, he conceived these circumstances not only to have
conduced to those desertions and captures of boats which had been
effected, but as likely to prove farther temptations to similar
practices. He therefore determined to purchase the rum of Captain
Hamilton; and, as there was none in store for the public service, to take
it on account of government. An agreement was accordingly entered into by
the commissary, and 3500 gallons were brought round in the _Francis_.

Captain Hamilton stated, that of all the other articles which had been
taken on shore from the wreck, a small quantity of coarse cloth alone had
been saved, the remainder having been destroyed by gales of wind and bad
weather. The wreck of the ship was entirely washed away. Of the six
Lascars who had been left with the property, one had died; the other five
were in health, and had lived tolerably well, killing upon a neighbouring
island as many kangaroos and birds as they could use. These poor fellows
had erected a smoke-house, and had salted and smoke-dried as much meat as
would serve them during the ensuing winter.

These people, though provided only with one small boat, had made some
excursions; and it appeared by their accounts, that this part of the
coast of New South Wales was formed entirely by a group of islands,
extending as far as they had seen to the westward of them, and
interspersed with many shoals. Hence, and indeed from observations which
he had made when on that part of the coast himself, the governor thought
it highly probable that there were many passages or straits quite through
to the ocean westward, making Van Diemen's land, the southernmost part of
New Holland, an island.

Captain Hamilton had left a cow with his people, but she had died; a mare
that he had been more fortunate with was brought away in the _Francis_.

Notwithstanding the severe trial which Cole-be had been put to for the
death of Ye-ra-ni-be, the friends of that young man had not thought it
sufficient to atone for his loss. One of them, Mo-roo-bra, in company
with some other natives, meeting with Cole-be, made an attack upon him,
with a determination to put an end to the business and his life together.
Cole-be, not yet recovered of the wounds that he had received in the last
affair, was unable to make much resistance; and, after receiving several
blows on the head, was supposed to have been dispatched; but Mo-roo-bra,
as they were quitting him, seeing him revive, and attempting to rise,
returned to finish this savage business; which so exasperated another
native, that he snatched up a spear, and in a rage threw it with all his
force at Mo-roo-bra. The spear entered his right side, just over the hip
bone, and went inclining downwards quite through the body, penetrating
the bladder in its passage. Of this wound he died in about an hour. On
the same evening this generous fellow was attacked by the friends of the
deceased in the usual way; and, as might be expected, defended himself
with great gallantry. He was, however, speared twice through the thigh,
once through the leg, and received a bad wound in the right hand. The
spear entered at the side of the hand, rather on the back part of it,
came out in the palm, entered again under the ball of the thumb, and came
out on the back of the hand, near the tendon of the forefinger. The very
little inflammation that attended these painful wounds was remarkable.

Both the officiating magistrates at Sydney being at this time much
indisposed, so great an inconvenience was felt, that the governor found
it necessary, through the want of other magistrates, to take upon himself
the execution of some part of their troublesome office. It must be
observed, that the governor for the time being is a justice of the peace,
by virtue of his Majesty's letters patent.

Towards the latter end of the month, he went up to Parramatta, attended
by his aid-de-camp, to examine the progress of the works carrying on

While on this service, an Irish convict, who had escaped from his work,
and had been for some time missing, was brought in. He had wandered about
for several days in search of a road which he expected to have found, and
which was to have conducted him to China, or the new colony; but, his
strength failing with his provisions, he grew faint, and, despairing of
meeting with any relief, he had just sense enough to reverse the written
instructions which had been calculated solely to carry him out, directing
him to keep the sun on a particular part of his body, varying according
to the time of the day. By this method he travelled eastward, and in a
direction that led him nearly to the head of George's river, where a few
people were settled; and, having one morning heard the report of a gun at
a distance, he endeavoured to walk towards it, but was unable to make
himself heard by hallooing, when night overtook him. Being faint and
wearied, he took a little flour, which he still had in his pocket, and
sprinkling it on some fresh water, drank it, and laid himself down to
rest. In the morning, being somewhat refreshed, he again exerted himself
to get forward in the direction whence the report of the gun had revived
him, and soon after heard a man's voice, upon which he hallooed again,
and to his infinite joy was answered. The man, who was one of the
settlers, took him to his house, recruited his spirits, and brought him
into the town. On being questioned how he found his way back, he said,
'that a paper compass which had been given him was of no utility; he
therefore kept his face toward the place where the sun came from; but if
the hord (sic) had not been on his side, he should have been lost, for he
had been two whole days without any food, except a little flour and

Among the public works that were carrying on during this month must be
reckoned the laying another floor in the granary at Parramatta; repairing
the military barracks, store-houses, and every brick building belonging
to government, which were so far decayed as to be scarcely able to
support their own weight. These repairs, which they had long been in want
of, and which if sooner attended to would have preserved them from the
ruin they were fast approaching, with the various other buildings that
were so essentially requisite, completely stood in the way of making any
exertions in clearing and cultivating land, and considerably added to the
expenses of the colony. At Sydney the tower of the second wind-mill was
begun; and on the 31st, the building being completed for its reception,
the public clock was set up, and, for the first time, announced the hour
to the inhabitants at Sydney. The shipwrights were employed in
constructing a flat-bottomed vessel for the carriage of planks, posts,

Some heavy rain fell in this month, which for the time retarded all
out-door work; but it came very opportunely for the maize, the growth of
which had been rather obstructed by the dry weather which preceded.


The _Francis_ again sails for the wreck
Bennillong and his wife
Report respecting the wild cattle
An anonymous writing found
Account of a journey to the westward
Description of a new bird
A general muster
Mr Bass returns from an excursion in an open boat to the southward
Particulars of it
Three Irishmen picked up
Public works
Weather in February

February.] On the 1st of this month the _Francis_ was again dispatched
to the wreck of the _Sydney Cove_.

When Bennillong accompanied Governor Phillip to England in the year 1792,
he left a young wife to deplore his absence. The manners of savages, in
this instance, were found somewhat to resemble those of civilised life.
The lady surrendered to the importunities of a youthful lover, who, to
say the truth, had in some material points the advantage over Bennillong;
and of him she became so enamoured, that neither the entreaties, the
menaces, nor the presents* of her husband at his return, could induce her
to leave him. From that time, she was considered by every one, Bennillong
excepted, as the wife of Ca-ru-ay. He, finding himself neglected by other
females whose smiles he courted (after the fashion of his country
indeed), sometimes sought to balance the mortification by the forced
embraces of his wife; but, her screams generally bringing her lover or a
friend to her assistance, he was not often successful. In one of these
attempts, at this time, he came off with a severe wound in the head, the
lady and her lover laughing at the rage which it occasioned.

[* Vide Vol I Ch. XXIX p 367, viz: 'His inquiries were directed,
immediately on his arrival, after his wife Go-roo-bar-roo-bool-lo;
and her he found with Caruey. On producing a very fashionable
rose-coloured petticoat and jacket made of a coarse stuff,
accompanied with a gypsy bonnet of the same colour, she deserted her
lover, and followed her former husband. In a few days however, to the
surprise of every one, we saw the lady walking unencumbered with clothing
of any kind, and Bennillong was missing. Caruey was sought for, and we
heard that he had been severely beaten by Bennillong at Rose Bay, who
retained so much of our customs, that he made use of his fists instead of
the weapons of his country, to the great annoyance of Caruey, who would
have preferred meeting his rival fairly in the field armed with the spear
and the club. Caruey being much the younger man, the lady, every inch a
woman, followed her inclination, and Bennillong was compelled to yield
her without any further opposition. He seemed to have been satisfied with
the beating he had given Caruey, and hinted, that resting for the present
without a wife, he should look about him, and at some future period make
a better choice.']

The man who killed Mo-roo-bra had undergone a second attack from his
friends; and, though yet suffering from the wounds which he received in
the first affair, made a most excellent defence.

The governor having been informed, by some of the natives who dwelt in
the neighbourhood of the cow pasture plains, that several of the wild
cattle had been killed, and imagining this mischief to have been done by
some of the Irish convicts (who were nearly as wild themselves as the
cattle), a party of the military, with Hacking, a man well acquainted
with that part of the country, was sent out with orders to surprise, and
if possible to secure them. After being absent some days, they returned
and reported, that, having searched the country round, no traces were
seen of the cattle in any of the places where they had been accustomed to
range, nor did they meet with any white people; but the natives persisted
in asserting their having seen some of them among them, and added that
some of the calves had been run down by them. This was not impossible;
and the idea was somewhat strengthened, by their finding some short
spears pointed with the leg bone of the kangaroo, which were supposed to
be designed for stabbing the calves when caught. Although it was the
opinion of these people, that the cattle had quitted the part of the
country in which they had been so long known to graze, there was yet much
reason to believe that this was not the case; for, on visiting them, they
were not always to be found in one spot.

It will be sufficient to state the following circumstance, to show the
unpleasant and distressing situation of the principal officer of the
settlement, by the construction that was put on his endeavours to rectify
every abuse that the inhabitants might labour under.

An infamous and seditious anonymous paper was dropped in the streets, in
which the governor and every officer in the colony were most scurrilously
abused and libelled, and accused of practising extortions in the way of
trade. This would not have been misplaced, had the abuse been confined
to the description of persons who really deserved it, and truth had been
attended to, which would have afforded them ample materials. But,
although it must have been evident to every one who had sense to see it,
that the governor, from the hour of his arrival, had used his utmost
endeavours to put an end to the practice of so much imposition; yet this
libeller inferred, from his not succeeding, that he was become one in the
number of retail traders who disgraced the settlement.

A reward was immediately offered for the discovery of the offender; but,
as might have been expected, without success.

The three persons who had been sent out with the Irishmen, that were so
desirous of discovering a country wherein they might live more at their
ease, returned on the 9th, so much exhausted with fatigue that two of
them were scarcely able to move when they arrived. Wilson, who was the
third, having been longer in the habit of travelling through the woods,
kept up their spirits, and thereby enabled them to reach Prospect Hill
about sunset; where, from long abstinence, having had nothing to support
them for several days, except two or three small birds, the refreshment
which they procured had nearly overcome them. Such were the difficulties
attending excursions in the interior of this country. With Wilson, who
knew much of the country, and was well qualified to conduct the party,
the governor sent a lad, a free servant of his, who was capable of giving
an account of the occurrences of the journey; and from him the following
particulars were collected:

From Mount Hunter (which was the highest land then known in that part of
the country, and distant from the township of Parramatta from about 30 to
34 miles in a SW direction) they took their departure on the 24th of last
month, travelling in a SSW course for 18 miles, 12 of which laid through
a fine open country. There they fell in with the river Nepean, which was
found winding to the southward and westward, close behind the cow pasture
plains. The banks of the river being at this place exceedingly steep and
rocky, they had some difficulty in getting across. On the other side the
ground wore a barren, unpromising appearance; and during the day they saw
only a few kangaroos of a particular kind, having long, black, and brushy
tails; with a few birds, which from the length of the tail feathers, they
denominated pheasants.

On the 25th they continued in their course, SSW for six miles, through a
country in general open, and apparently of a good black soil. In the
course of the day they saw many kangaroos and several emus; and fell in
with a party of natives, one of whom engaged to accompany them, on
condition of their halting for that night where they then were.
Consenting to this, they had leisure to examine a hill in that
neighbourhood, the face of which appeared white, and proved to be an
immense cliff of salt, a specimen of which they brought in.

On the 26th, they determined to incline more to the westward, and
travelled 16 miles in a direction WSW over a rocky country, covered with
brush wood, and a prickly kind of vine. They did not meet with any
natives; and that animals existed there, they only saw by their faeces.

They continued on the 27th travelling in the same direction about 16
miles; the first six of which were like those of the preceding day. From
thence they got into an open but mountainous country, where they crossed
a small river, and discovered a quantity of coal and limestone. Here
every mile they went the scene improved. The rocky and barren ground was
exchanged for a flat country and beautiful meadows, furnishing pasture
for the kangaroos and emus, several of which they saw. The timber was
observed to run small, and to be thinly scattered about, there being
scarcely ten trees upon an acre of ground. The quality of them was known
in the settlement, where a similar timber was called the Black Wattle.

On the 28th their course was still WSW and their distance increased 20
miles in that direction. The land and the timber on it were much the same
as they had seen the preceding day. In one part they ascended a hill,
from which they obtained a view of the country for some distance round.
To the northward it seemed to be open, and thinly clad with timber: to
the north-westward they saw some high mountains, and an appearance of
much good land in that direction: to the westward they observed a deep
break in the land; this they conjectured to be formed by a river, which,
if one, laid in a SE and NW direction. To the southward the land seemed
high, but still open. In the course of this day's journey they met with a
party of the natives, who appeared much terrified, and instantly ran away
from them. One of the party, however, pursued and came up with a woman
and child, whom he detained, from an opinion that the men might be
thereby induced to return; but, although she remained with them the whole
of the night, which she passed in tears and lamentations, not knowing
what fate might await her, the men did not appear. They, therefore, made
her a present of a small hatchet, and in the morning sent her back to her
friends. Wilson, understanding something of the language of these
mountain natives, hoped to have gained some information of the country
from this woman; but she could not comprehend him.

These natives were all clothed with garments of skins of different
animals, which reached from their shoulders down to their heels.

On the 29th, they again travelled 24 miles in the same direction. During
the first four miles the country was not good, the ground being rocky and
covered with low shrubs, and here and there intersected with creeks,
which appeared all to run toward some river, probably to that which from
the top of the hill they supposed to be one. At the head of those creeks
they saw several falls of water, one of which fell at the least 40 feet,
and two others not less than 20 feet each. They now walked to the
northward for 12 miles, thinking to get round the heads of the creeks;
but unfortunately they fell in with more. They then determined to keep
their former course of WSW, but found the country rocky and barren. Here
they observed a tree which they had not before noticed, about the size of
an apple-tree; the leaves of which were of a lighter blue than the powder
blue used in washing, and the bark resembling that of the mahogany tree.
They also passed the dung of an animal to appearance as large as that of
a horse.

The party were now much exhausted, having had nothing to eat for two
days, except one rat, about the size of a kitten. Wilson was able to go
forward; but his companions were very unwell, and began to wish
themselves back.

On the 30th, they continued for 16 miles in the same direction of WSW. In
the course of the day they fell in with the head of a river, very nearly
as large as the Hawkesbury, appearing to run from SE to NW. Its banks
were so rocky and steep that they would have found infinite difficulty in
descending them; to which they were strongly invited by the appearance of
a level open country on the other side; and Wilson proposed making a
canoe to cross over with; but both the others were so faint and tired,
having had nothing to eat, in addition to the rat, but two small birds
each, that they were afraid to venture. Their shoes being worn out, and
their feet cut and bruised by walking so long, they proposed returning.

This being agreed to, on the 1st of this month they steered back in a
direction SE by E in which having walked about nine miles, they fell in
with many spacious meadows thinly chequered with trees, extending for at
least some hundred acres. The hills which they met with were as slightly
covered with timber; and what there was, was light. The ground was of a
good quality, except on the tops of the hills, where it was stony. Here,
for want of food, they were much exhausted, and observed many birds which
they had not before seen, but could not approach near enough to shoot.

On the 2nd, their course was ENE through a delightful country, full of
capacious meadows, extending for some thousands of acres, with only a
single tree here and there. Some of these meadows were watered by ponds
of great length, but they did not perceive any wild fowl on them. From
thence, to the SW the country looked well. In the latter part of the day,
having passed the first ridge of mountains, they fell in with a vast
number of kangaroos, one of which they had the good fortune to kill, and
were much refreshed by it.

On the morning of the 3rd, they thought they heard the report of two guns
in the SE which they answered; but they were not returned. They were now
in that part of the country which Wilson was acquainted with; but it was
an unfruitful spot, and badly calculated for travellers in their
situation, producing nothing but a few roots and grub worms. They must
even here have perished, had it not been for the great exertions made by
Wilson, who kept up their spirits by assurances of being near Prospect
Hill; which place, after much toil and difficulty, they at length
reached, when despairing of living to see it.

This is the sum of the information given by these people. With respect to
the direction in which they travelled, that might not be very correct,
nor can much reliance be placed on their judgment of the distances which
they went in each day. Of the face of the country their account may be
more just. Of its inability to support the traveller, their appearance
was a most convincing argument: and this narrative of their journey has
been detailed so much at length, not only because these people had
penetrated farther than any European had ever been before; but to show
the labour, danger, and difficulties, which attended the exploring the
interior of this extensive country.

On arranging their courses and distances on paper, they appeared to have
travelled in a direction SW three-fourths W about 140 miles from
Parramatta. They brought in with them one of the birds which they had
named pheasants, but which on examination appeared to be a variety of the
Bird of Paradise.

The size of this curious and handsome bird was that of a common hen; the
colour a reddish black, the bill long, the legs black and very strong.
The tail, about two feet in length, was formed of several feathers, two
of which were the principal, having the interior sides scalloped
alternately of a deeper or lighter reddish brown inclining to orange,
shading gently into a white or silver colour next the stem, crossing each
other, and at the very extremity terminating in a broad black round
finishing. The difference of colour in the scallops did not proceed from
any precise change in the colour itself, but from the texture of the
feather, which was alternately thicker and thinner. The fibres of the
outer side of the stem were narrow and of a lead colour. Two other
feathers of equal length, and of a blueish or lead colour, lay within
those; very narrow, and having fibres only on one side of the stem. Many
other feathers of the same length lay within those again, which were of a
pale greyish colour, and of the most delicate texture, resembling more
the skeleton of a feather than a perfect one. The annexed engraving,
from the pencil of a capital artist, will give a better idea of this
beautiful bird than can be formed from any description.

A general muster took place on the 14th in every district of the colony,
at which every labouring man, whether free or convict, was obliged to
appear. On the following morning the settlers were called over, previous
to which, the governor, who was present, informed them, that he had heard
of much discontent prevailing among them in consequence of certain heavy
grievances which they said they laboured under. For these, as he was
unacquainted with the nature of them, he was unable to suggest any
remedy; he therefore desired that they might be represented to him in
writing; and, to spare them as much trouble as possible, he would direct
two gentlemen on whom he had much dependance to visit the different
districts, and collect from the respective settlers such of their
distresses and grievances as they were desirous of making known. Before
they were dismissed, he gave them much good advice; and assured them,
that he had already, from his own ideas, offered a plan to the secretary
of state for their benefit, which he hoped would in due time be attended

After these, the women and children were mustered, and were found to
compose a very considerable part of the settlement.

With the ripening of the maize fields, the depredations of the natives
returned. On the 19th the governor received a dispatch from Parramatta,
containing an account, that a man had been murdered by them near
Toongabbie, and three others severely wounded; and a few days after two
others were killed in the same manner. It became, from these
circumstances, absolutely necessary to send out numerous well-armed
parties, and attack them wherever they should be met with; for lenity or
forbearance had only been followed by repeated acts of cruelty.

Toward the latter end of the month, Mr. Bass, the surgeon of the
_Reliance_, returned from an excursion in an open boat to the
southward, after an absence of twelve weeks. This gentleman, who had
little to occupy him while his ship was refitting, disliking an idle
life, possessing with a good constitution a mind and body strong and
vigorous, and being endowed with great good sense, ingenuity, and
observation, requested the governor to allow him a boat, and permit him
to man her with volunteers from the King's ships; proposing to go along
the coast, and make such observations as might be in his power. The
governor readily consenting, he set out, as well provided as the size of
his boat would allow; and in her, against much adverse wind and bad
weather, he persevered, as far to the southward as the latitude 40
degrees 00 minutes, visiting every opening in the coast; but only in one
place, to the southward and westward of Point Hicks, finding a harbour
capable of admitting ships. There was every appearance of an extensive
strait, or rather an open sea, between the latitudes of 39 degrees and 40
degrees south, and that Van Diemen's land consisted (as had been
conjectured) of a group of islands lying off the southern coast of the

It appeared from Mr. Bass's account, that there was but very little good
ground to the southward. His occasional excursions into the interior,
situated as he found himself with an open boat, in which he could carry
but a small stock of provisions, could not be very extensive; he,
however, went far enough to discover that there was but little good land
near the sea; but, had it even been superior to those parts which were
known, the want of harbours, even for small vessels, would lessen its
value much. He regretted that he had not been possessed of a better
vessel, which would have enabled him to circumnavigate Van Diemen's land.

In the _Francis_, which was at this time on her passage to the
island where the _Sydney Cove_ was wrecked, the governor had sent
Lieutenant Flinders of the _Reliance_, a young gentleman well
qualified for the purpose, who was instructed to make what observations
he was able relative to the anchorage and situation of those islands.

Mr. Bass, on his return, picked up, on an island near the coast, the
seven men who, it may be remembered, were a part of those who ran off
with a settler's boat, and had been left in this place by their
companions. Being utterly incapable of taking them into his boat, he put
them upon the main land, furnished them with a part of his provisions for
their support, and a gun with some ammunition for their protection. Two
who were ill he took into his boat, and left the other five to begin
their march to the northward, at the distance of upwards of 400 miles
from Port Jackson. They were nearly naked, almost starved, and must
inevitably have perished on the island, had not Mr. Bass discovered a
smoke that they had made to attract his attention; which he, being at no
great distance, took for a smoke made by some natives, and went near to
converse with them.

During this month the beams of the third floor of the new wind-mill were
laid, and bricks were brought in for the new granary. At Parramatta the
people were employed in preparing for the erection of a granary for
Indian corn; which, when finished, would enable the governor to commute a
substantial building now employed for a store-house for that grain, into
a granary for wheat. Much of this latter article was brought round from
the Hawkesbury in this month.

Toward the latter end of the month there was an unusually heavy fall of
rain about ten o'clock at night.


Strange idea respecting him
Civil court meets; nature of the business brought before it
Advice of the governor to the settlers
The _Francis_ returns from Preservation Island
A trusty person sent to look for a salt hill said to be to the westward
The wild cattle seen
A new animal, the Wombat, found; described
Some Irish runaways give themselves up
A seizure made of timber for government
The criminal court meets
Three men executed
Accidents among the stock
Discoveries prosecuted
Settlers and their complaints
An old woman accused of dreaming
Works in hand

March.] A strange idea was found to prevail among the natives respecting
the savage Pe-mul-wy, which was very likely to prove fatal to him in the
end. Both he and they entertained an opinion, that, from his having been
frequently wounded, he could not be killed by our fire-arms. Through this
fancied security, he was said to be at the head of every party that
attacked the maize grounds; and it certainly became expedient to convince
them both that he was not endowed with any such extraordinary exemption.

On the 5th, the court of civil judicature was held at Parramatta. Several
writs were issued, and prosecutions for debt entered; and on the 7th the
court adjourned until the 19th. On that day it met, and continued sitting
until the 24th, when all the business before them was concluded. This
consisted chiefly of litigation about debts contracted between the retail
dealers and the settlers. As a proof to what a height this business had
reached, it need only be mentioned, that an appeal was made to the
governor in one prosecution for a debt of L868 16s 10d; which appeal was
however withdrawn, the defendant consenting to pay the debt.

The governor, having received from the settlers in each district, through
the medium of the two gentlemen whom he sent amongst them for that
purpose (the Rev. Mr. Marsden, and Mr. Arndell), a clear and correct
statement of their grievances and distresses, informed them, that it was
with real concern he beheld the effects of the meeting of each civil
court, which, for the public accommodation, he from time to time had
occasion to assemble. The vast load of debt with which they so frequently
felt themselves burdened, through the imposition and extortion of the
multitude of petty dealers by whom the colony was so much troubled, with
the difficulties under which the industrious man laboured for want of
some other mode of providing the necessaries which he required, were
grievances of which he was determined to get the better; and, as far as
his situation would authorise him, he would adopt every means in his
power to afford them relief. To this end he found it absolutely necessary
to suppress many of those licensed public houses which, when first
permitted, were designed as a convenience to the labouring people; but
which he now saw were the principal cause whence many had candidly
confessed their ruin to have sprung.

He wished it were possible to dissuade them from heaping such heavy debts
upon themselves by the enjoyment of articles which they could do without,
or by throwing away their money in purchasing, at every public auction,
rags and trifles for which such exorbitant sums were exacted. He urged
them, with a paternal anxiety, to consider, that their folly involved
their whole families in ruin and misfortune, and conjured them to wait
with patience the result of some representations which he had made to
government, as well in their behalf, as in behalf of the settlers upon
Norfolk Island; by which he hoped that ere long they would have an
opportunity of purchasing every European article that they might want at
such a reasonable and moderate price as they, by their industry, would be
very well able to afford from the produce of their labour.

The island upon which Captain Hamilton had run his ship, and thereby
prevented her sinking with them at sea, was thenceforward to be


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