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

Part 3 out of 7

distinguished by the name of Preservation Island. From thence the
Colonial schooner had arrived with what remained of the property. As soon
as she was unloaded, the property was put up to sale for the benefit of
the underwriters; when the little effect of the governor's recommendation
of patience was seen, by the most enormous prices being paid for every
article. The money that should have been expended in the cultivation and
improvement of their farms was thus lavishly thrown away; and it
happened, fortunately enough for the underwriters that the wheat of this
last season had been received into the public granary, and immediately
paid for. Twenty-two shillings were paid at this sale for one common cup
and saucer.

Wishing to obtain some further information respecting the salt-hill seen
by Wilson and his companions in their late excursion, the governor had
sent Henry Hacking thither. At his return he produced some specimens of
various veins of salt which he fell in with in different places, of 10
and 12 feet in depth. He reported, that he found the country every where
intersected with narrow, but deep and rapid branches of fresh water
rivers, over some of which he was obliged to swim; others he was able to

Having been directed to seek for the wild cattle while in their
neighbourhood, he reported, that about five or six miles from the place
where we usually found them, he suddenly fell in with the most numerous
herd that he had yet seen; in which he counted 170 very distinctly, and
afterwards saw a few stragglers. It was some satisfaction to know that
they were perfectly safe.

By the _Francis_, the governor received one of the animals on which
the people had chiefly lived during their abode on Preservation Island.
It was brought to him alive, but thin and faint for want of food, which,
owing to its state of confinement on board the vessel, it would never
take. It, however, appeared to recover on shore; and, although during the
short time it lived, it was not observed to eat during the day, yet there
was reason to think it was not so abstemious in the night. It was offered
flesh; but this it would not touch, although it was supposed to visit the
nests of the puffin which burrowed on the island.

This animal had been found to the southward and south-westward, by Wilson
and his companions, who shot one, and, in their want of provisions, might
be said to feast upon it. They observed, that it resembled pork in
flavour, though not in colour, being red and coarse. It was very fat, as
were the kangaroos which they found in the interior; differing in that
point very widely from any kangaroos which had been before seen; not a
particle of fat having ever been found on one of them.

The mountain natives named this new animal Wombat, and said it was good
eating; but it was wholly unknown to those who were admitted into the

The men who, in the beginning of January last, had boarded and carried
off the boat belonging to Owen Cavanagh, were heard of again. About the
latter end of this month, a report was brought in, that a piratical boat
was infesting the harbour of Broken Bay, and the Hawkesbury. The day
following, the governor received a letter signed by these men, in which
they professed to repent of their former conduct, and implored
forgiveness. They said, they had been wrecked about 400 miles to the
northward, when they with difficulty got on shore, saving as much of the
remains of Cavanagh's boat as enabled them to build a smaller, in which
they had returned, and surrendered themselves to justice; pretending to
have had their eyes opened to the danger with which attempts at desertion
from the colony must ever be attended, and promising to convince the
minds of their ignorant countrymen that every such attempt must be
followed by inevitable ruin. The language of this letter was far above
the capacity of any of the party; and the part of their story which
related to their building a boat capable of carrying the whole number so
great a distance wore very little appearance of probability. The truth
was, they had by some means reached as far as Broken Bay, where they had
been lurking about for some days; meaning, no doubt, to seize the first
boat loaded with grain which they might be able to secure, and then put
off again for as long a time as their provisions would last. They
certainly proposed to live by piracy; but not being able with their small
boat to come up with any of the boats which they pursued, and being no
longer able to exist without provisions, added to the danger they were
always in of being pursued and at length taken, they preferred giving
themselves up. They were armed with five muskets; and certainly had the
will as well as the ability to do a great deal of mischief. They were
placed in confinement, and charges preferred against them for piracy.

This was absolutely necessary; as the suffering such offences to pass
with impunity would have been productive of the greatest evil. Crimes
would have been multiplied on crimes, which the officers who composed the
court of criminal judicature would certainly have deemed unnecessary. The
utmost vigilance was constantly requisite to guard against robberies both
on the land and water. It was impossible, in such a community as this, to
have a police too strict, or to be sufficiently aware at all times of
such a nest of villains. Many examples had been made; but, after a few
days had elapsed, they were forgotten; and every act of lenity or
indulgence was found to be ruinous to the welfare and comfort of the
whole. It was to be hoped, however, that the introduction of more of the
better, and fewer of the worst sort of characters, would in due time give
the balance a favourable turn.

In each grant of land to individuals from the crown, there was a clause,
expressly reserving for the use of government such of the timber which
might be growing thereon as should be deemed fit for naval purposes. The
wanton destruction of this timber occasioned the publication of an order
in the month of December 1795, prohibiting the cutting it down. The
practice, however, continuing from time to time (for of what avail were
orders among such a disorderly set of people), the _Sydney_ schooner
was sent round to the Hawkesbury, to make a seizure of a quantity of
timber that had been cut down by individuals for private sale. This
seizure was of some consequence just at this time; as the governor was
building a brig to replace the _Supply_ (from 125 to 150 tons burden),
which had been condemned by survey as totally unfit for the future
service of the settlement, and a large boat, a new Cumberland, in
the room of that which had been taken away by the crew. The colony was at
this time in such want of naval stores of every kind, that the ruin of
all the floating craft, so lately in good condition, was nearly effected.
The bottoms of the boats were destroyed by the worms, for want of pitch,
tar, paint, and oil; and in order to enable the Colonial schooner to
proceed to Norfolk Island (for which place she was preparing to sail, in
company with the _Reliance_), it had been necessary to reduce part
of the _Supply's_ sails, and convert them to her use.

Arrivals from England, with provisions as well as stores, were now rather
anxiously expected, as 16 months had elapsed since the last were
received. Public works of all kinds went on slowly; the servants of
government being but few in proportion to the labour to be performed by
them, and all kinds of implements bad in quality, and scarce. A few slops
were served to the male convicts in the beginning of this month, they
being nearly naked, and the store unable to supply them with covering.

The tower of the new wind-mill was, under all these disadvantages,
completed, and the machinery put in hand. This tower was of large
dimensions, being 30 feet in height, and erected on a rock which was
considerably higher than the surrounding ground. The wheel was four feet
in thickness, and the diameter within was 20 feet.

There was very little intermission of rain, thunder, and lightning,
during the whole of the month.

April.] This month opened with a necessary act of justice. Five men were
capitally convicted, before the court of criminal judicature, of seizing
two boats, the property of individuals, with an intent of escaping from
the colony. One man was capitally convicted of a robbery; three were
transported to Norfolk Island for 14 years; one for 7; one was adjudged
corporal punishment, and one acquitted.

Two of the five that were condemned for seizing the boats suffered death
at Sydney, after a week's preparation for that awful moment. Their
companions were respited at the place of execution. They were all
extremely penitent, confessed the justice of their sentence, and
acknowledged how much mischief they had done, and how much more they
meditated, had they not been overtaken by justice.

One man, for robbery, was executed at Parramatta, George Mitton, who
certainly was a very fit subject for an example. He had been twice
pardoned when under sentence of death; once in Ireland; and once in this
country, by the present governor, for an offence similar to that for
which he now suffered.

These melancholy instances, had they been properly attended to, must have
shown to the convicts not only the difficulty which accompanied every
attempt to escape privately from the colony, and the danger to which
those who made the trial exposed themselves, but the certainty of meeting
that punishment which the various crimes that they committed on such
occasions so highly merited. The governor, in an order which he now
published, was desirous of calling back to the recollection of these
misguided people, who had been, either through ignorance, or through the
profligacy of their dispositions, so readily prevailed upon to engage in
such dangerous enterprises, that they would find an attention to the
advice which he had so often given them the most effectual means of
ensuring their real happiness. They would also recollect, that an
information was given him on the 19th of January last, in which he
appeared to have foreseen, and had pointed out to those piratical gangs
who wished to make their escape from hence, what would be the fate of
those who were of least use to the general plan of such gangs, that they
would probably, if in danger at sea in their boat, be thrown overboard to
lighten her, or be landed on some part of the coast, where, beyond a
doubt, they would perish. How far this prediction had been verified,
those who were concerned in taking off the settlers' boat, and who might
now be in the settlement, could best tell. It was well known, that they
had treacherously left seven men upon a desolate island far to the
southward, where they must have perished for want, had they not been
discovered in a most miraculous manner. He wished those facts to be
impressed upon the minds of the whole colony; they would then probably
discover in what their real interest consisted, and on what their true
happiness depended. To be honest and industrious had been often hewn to
be the most certain means of procuring those blessings.

Mitton, before he was executed, confessed in a moment of penitence, that
many robberies had been concerted, and were to have been committed by him
and some others. He mentioned, as their chief instigator upon these
occasions, a woman of the name of Robley (the wife of a blacksmith at
Sydney), who received all the property which they might collect in this
way. Dreading this discovery, she found it convenient to offer to accuse
others, or she would inevitably have been convicted herself.

It was reported by a native woman from the Hawkesbury, that she had seen
the two mares which were stolen some time since from Parramatta, and that
they were in the neighbourhood of that river. She also mentioned, that
one of the men who went off with them had been killed by the natives, and
that the other had perished with hunger.

The proprietors of this valuable article of stock were rather unfortunate
in the care of it, notwithstanding the high price which it bore. The
acting commissary lost a very fine mare, through the stupidity of an
Irish servant, who put a short halter round her neck, with a running
knot, by which she was strangled in the night; and information had been
received of the death of two foals belonging to government. This accident
proceeded from want of proper care in those who were appointed to look
after them; but unfortunately, though they were often changed, the change
was never found to be for the better.

When Hacking was sent to the salt-hill in the preceding month, he was
accompanied by Wilson and another man, who were directed to penetrate as
far into the interior of the country as the provisions which they were
able to carry would permit them. They returned after an absence of three
weeks, and reported that they had been about 140 miles in a direction SW
by S from Prospect Hill. In the course of their journey they travelled
over a vast variety of country, and fell in with more salt-hills. They
also met with many narrow rivers or creeks (with which the country
appeared to be much intersected), and found some very extensive tracts of
open luxuriant ground, as well as much unpromising land. They ascended
several hills of great height, from which their prospect was extensive,
and whence they discovered mountains rising upon mountains to the
westward; all of which appeared exceedingly high. They did not, however,
meet a single native in all their journey (a proof that the human race
was but thinly scattered over the interior part of this extensive
country); but they brought with them another of those beautiful birds
before described.

Wishing to ascertain the truth of every report that tended to improve our
knowledge of the internal advantages which this country possessed, the
governor sent a small party, with some natives, to determine whether
there was any salt in the neighbourhood of Broken Bay. Captain Waterhouse
(of the _Reliance_), who undertook the search, found the place that
had been described, and also discovered some salt; but it had been
produced by the spray of the sea near which it laid, and which, breaking
over some rocky parts of the shore in bad weather, and draining down
behind, had occasioned the accumulation of a large quantity of that
article among the sand, and upon the adjacent rocks.

The settlers, although certainly undeserving of the attention which they
met with from the governor, were constantly laying their complaints
before him. He now received a petition from them, in which they
represented the great distress that they laboured under, as well from the
high wages which they gave to hired servants for working their ground, as
from the immense price which they paid for every article necessary to
carry on that business. On this account, they requested that the price of
maize might be continued at the same rate as in the last year.

The governor, sensible of their distresses, and ever ready to listen to
any reasonable application which those distresses might induce them to
make, gave directions to the commissary to receive it at the price which
they petitioned for. But, as it was no less his duty to diminish the
heavy expenses of the colony, than it was his wish to render the
situation of the industrious farmer easy and comfortable, they were
informed, that they must very shortly look forward to a reduction in the
price of grain of every kind.

They laboured, however, under another evil, which was the effect of an
unbounded rage for traffic that pervaded nearly the whole settlement. The
delivery of grain into the public storehouses, when open for that
purpose, was so completely monopolised, that the settlers had but few
opportunities of getting the full value for their crops. A few words will
place this iniquitous combination in its proper light. The settler found
himself thrust out from the granary, by a man whose greater opulence
created greater influence. He was then driven by his necessities to
dispose of his grain for less than half its value. To whom did he dispose
of it! to the very man whose greater opulence enabled him to purchase it,
and whose greater influence could get it received into the public store!

Orders had been repeatedly issued on this very subject, the store-keepers
being most pointedly directed to give the preference to the man whose
grain was the produce of his own labour; and if any favour were shown, to
let it be to the poor but industrious settler who might be encumbered
with a large family. But these necessary and humane directions had been
too often frustrated by circumstances which were carefully kept from the
knowledge of the governor; it was, however, proved to him, that on
occasion of the store at the Hawkesbury being opened for the reception of
1500 bushels of wheat, the whole was engrossed by two or three of these
opulent traders, to the exclusion and injury of others, and the petty
farmers in general. The store-keeper was not dismissed, because a better
might not have been found; but the governor directed, that half the
quantity of wheat thus partially and improperly put in should be taken
away, and room made for the accommodation of the settlers.

A report prevailed at this time among the labouring people, particularly
the Irish, who were always foremost in every mischief and discontent,
that an old woman had prophesied the arrival of several French frigates,
or larger ships of war, who were, after destroying the settlement, to
liberate and take off the whole of the convicts. The rapidity with which
this ridiculous tale was circulated is incredible. The effect was such as
might have been expected. One refractory fellow, while working in a
numerous gang at Toongabbie, threw down his hoe, advanced before the
rest, and gave three cheers for liberty. This for a while seemed well
received; but, a magistrate fortunately being at hand, the business was
put an end to, by securing the advocate for liberty, tying him up in the
field, and giving him a severe flogging.

A few days after he had been informed of this circumstance, the governor
visited the working gangs at Toongabbie. On his return to Parramatta, he
met the prophetess upon the road, a very old Scotch woman, who, as soon
as she discovered the governor, held up her hands, and begged that he
would listen to her for a few minutes, while she would endeavour to
contradict the malicious reports which had been propagated in her name.
She said, that she had heard that he was offended with her; which he
assured her depended upon the truth of the information which he had
received. This, she was anxious to convince him, was totally false, and
had proceeded from a bad man, who, as she made a little beer, and sold it
to the labouring people, had called for some one day at her hut, and
entered into conversation with her about the expected arrival of ships
with stores from England. This induced the old woman to recount a dream
which she had had the night before, and from which she was led to hope
that ships would soon arrive. Out of this conversation and dream, a story
had been fabricated, purporting that this harmless old creature had
prophesied many extraordinary things; so that she had the credit of all
the absurd and extravagant additions which some designing and wicked
villains had made to the original story.

The governor told her that he saw through the whole business, and desired
that she would no longer be uneasy about the impression which the first
account had made upon him. With this condescension she appeared to be
highly gratified; for she had been under much distress and vexation
before she met with this accidental opportunity of showing him from
whence this mischievous story had originated.

The timber for the new wind-mill was brought in during this month; and the
floor of the government house having given way, the carpenters were
employed to repair it.

Arrivals from England were now hourly expected, as strong gales had blown
for some time from the southward.


Some Irishmen providentially saved from perishing
The _Nautilus_ arrives from Otaheite
Order respecting the sawyers
The _Barwell_ arrives with convicts
A judge-advocate sent out
The _Reliance_ and _Schooner_ sail for Norfolk Island
Information sent thither
Works and weather in May
Ground fixed on for the missionaries
The Hunter arrives from Bengal
The commander of the _Sydney Cove_ dies
A decked boat arrives from Norfolk Island
Maize harvest completed

May.] In the afternoon of the 2nd of this month, certain Irishmen, who
had been for some time employed in searching for a road to China (that
delirium still remaining unsubdued among them), were brought in by one of
the settlers upon George's river. They had been wandering through the
woods, until they were near perishing for want of food, and were
discovered in a most unlooked-for manner. Some people in going from
Botany Bay up George's river had lost their way, the weather being
exceedingly hazy, by following a branch of that river which had never
been looked into. By this mistake, they fell in with these people, whose
ignorance of the country had led them down upon a point of land which was
placed between two waters, where they had been for nine days, unable to
find their way back, and must soon have perished, had it not been for the
accidental mistake of the people in the boat. The account which they gave
of their travels and distresses was not worth giving a place to here,
being nothing more than what might be conjectured.

It was hoped, however, that their appearance, for they were weak and
languid when brought in, together with their story, would teach their
countrymen a little more wisdom.

While such vagabonds as these were roaming about the country, the safety
of the stock was much endangered. A fine bull calf belonging to an
officer was about this time taken from the herd; and, though considerable
rewards were offered for the discovery of the offender, nothing
transpired that could lead to it. This was a serious evil; for the care
and attention of years might in one night's time be destroyed, by the
villainy of a few of these lawless people. It was, however, visible that
the improvement which had taken place in the civil police within the last
two years had considerably checked the commission of robberies of every

In the evening of the 14th, a small brig, the _Nautilus_, arrived
from the island of Otaheite, in very great distress. This little vessel
had been unfortunate in losing her passage to the NW coast of America,
and had been at Kamschatka, the Sandwich Islands, and Otaheite. Being
exceedingly infirm and worn out, the master found it impossible to effect
the repairs which his vessel wanted at either of those places, and had
touched at Otaheite for such refreshment as the crew required,
determining to endeavour in their very leaky condition to reach this
port, where they hoped to receive such assistance as might enable them to
get to India.

On their arrival at Otaheite, they found that the missionaries, who had
been sent thither from England for the purpose of propagating the
Christian religion, were not on so comfortable a footing with the natives
as could have been wished, being in a manner shut up within their little
fortress. The natives had made use of threats, and had signified an
intention of taking off their women (several of the missionaries having
been accompanied by their wives and families). The arrival at Otaheite of
this little vessel in some degree relieved them from the anxiety under
which they had for some time laboured, and they determined to quit the
island in her, if it should be practicable. Her commander, Mr. Bishop,
showed them every attention which the shattered state of the brig would
admit; embarked men, women, and children, to the number of 19; and,
though with infinite difficulty, brought them in safety to this port, the
vessel being so extremely leaky, that it required the labour of the whole
company to keep her above water. She was not able to bring them all away,
six or seven remaining upon the island, whose fate was certainly very
precarious. Those who had arrived were treated by the colonists with
every attention, and every possible relief administered to their

The deceptions and impositions which were daily in practice among the
labouring part of the colony, to the great injury of the concerns of
government, rendered it highly expedient that the governor, who had those
concerns to attend to, should be assisted by trusty and active persons in
every situation where public works might be carrying on. Having made some
discoveries of this nature in the department of the sawyers, he issued a
public order, specifying the hours which should be employed in every
branch of public labour. This had by no means been the first attempt to
check the impositions of these people; but it was found, that the private
concerns of those who should superintend the various public works
occupied so much of their time, that their duty was either wholly
neglected or carelessly performed. This created such a relaxation of
discipline, that a repetition of orders and regulations were from time to
time published, to keep the labouring people constantly in mind that they
were the servants of the crown, and remind those who were appointed to
look after them, that they had neglected that duty which should ever have
been their first and principal consideration.

The expected signal for a vessel was at length made at the South Head on
the morning of the 18th; and in the afternoon the ship _Barwell_
arrived from England, with male convicts, some stores, and provisions. It
must be supposed, that while the mother country was engaged in such a war
as then subsisted, she would not spare from the service of the state any
other than the most worthless characters, who, instead of assisting in
the public defence against the common enemy, were employed in
perpetrating private injuries. The weakness of the public gangs, however,
was such, that this allotment of villainy was considered as an
acquisition to the general strength, and it was hoped that they might be
employed to advantage.

The _Barwell_, touching at the Cape of Good Hope, brought an account
of the loss of the _Lady Shore_ transport in her passage to this
settlement, having on board about 60 convicts, three only of whom were
males, and a large assortment of all kinds of stores which had been so
long and so much wanted. There was also a complete company of recruits
for the New South Wales Corps on board, to whom was owing the loss of the
ship; for, after murdering the commander, Mr. Wilcox, and his first mate,
they took possession of the ship, and carried her into Rio de la Plata,
where she was delivered up to the Spaniards. This ship, besides the
public stores, had a great deal of private property on board, and was a
serious loss to the colony.

It will be seen, by referring to the former account of this settlement,
that an accident happened to his Majesty's ship the _Guardian_,
whereby much public and private property was prevented from reaching the
settlement. This made only the second misfortune that had happened to
ships coming from England in the course of 11 years; and, when it is
considered, that the major part of them were filled with people who would
have run any hazard rather than reach the place of their destination, it
may be matter of surprise and satisfaction that so few had occurred.

In the _Barwell_ arrived another judge-advocate*, in the room of
Captain Collins, who had resigned that situation. It was also signified,
that two ships, the _Buffalo_ and the _Porpoise_, were fitting
for the service of the colony in the room of the _Reliance_ and the

[* Mr. Richard Dore.]

Instructions had also been received from his Majesty's ministers by the
governor, upon some points on which he had requested orders, particularly
relative to the number of labouring people who had for such a length of
time been allowed to the civil and military officers at the public
expense. By these instructions, the number was now limited to two; and
such others as they might be disposed to employ were to be maintained and
clothed by their employers; or, if fed and clothed at the public expense,
to be paid for to government at a certain rate, which payment might be
made in the produce of the farms that they were employed to cultivate.

The distance at which the settlement was placed from the mother country
was such, that the victories of one year were succeeded by those of
another before the fame of them reached the colony. By this ship accounts
were first received of the complete victory gained by the superior
abilities of Earl St. Vincent over the Spanish fleet, and of the
brilliant conquest of the Dutch fleet obtained by Lord Duncan.

Among the convicts who were received by the _Barwell_ were some
useful mechanics; a real acquisition, as the governor would thereby be
enabled to discharge some free people, whom he had been obliged to hire
for various necessary and unavoidable purposes.

On the 29th, the _Reliance_ and _Francis_ schooner sailed for
Norfolk Island, carrying with them such a proportion of the stores
received by the _Barwell_ as could be spared. On board of the
_Reliance_ were sent 100 casks of salt provisions, and 1200 bushels
of wheat, an article to which the soil and temperature of the island was
not favourable.

As the governor had received several petitions and complaints from the
settlers there, he caused the following order to be printed and sent
thither for their information:

From the nature of the difficulties of which the settlers upon Norfolk
island have complained, difficulties which have not until very lately
been known to have an existence, the governor is led to suspect, that the
same rage for traffic, and an intemperate indulgence in some of those
destructive gratifications which have so effectually ruined many of the
most forward and promising settlers in New South Wales, have reached
Norfolk Island.

His Excellency, from an earnest desire to promote the prosperity of the
island, and the true happiness of its inhabitants, has, since his arrival
in this country, availed himself of every opportunity of forwarding for
their accommodation a share of such little comforts, as accidental ships
may have brought hither. But he is sorry to observe, that, instead of
those attentions being felt as an advantage, they appear only to operate
as an incitement to more extensive dealings; a circumstance which he
foresees must end in the ruin of many of the settlers, for whose welfare
he is extremely anxious. He therefore urges them not to be led away from
their real interest, by speculative ideas, or a desire of indulging in
dangerous gratifications, squandering the whole produce of their hard
labour in trifles, or in scenes of dissipation which must eventually end
in their complete ruin. He desires that they will persevere with patience
in the management of their farms, and the rearing of stock; and assures
them, that he has taken such steps as he hopes will incline the
government to consider the inconveniences which are sustained in this
distant part of the world, and induce them to adopt such measures as will
procure the colonists, before long, every European article that they may
have occasion for at a very moderate expense; and by that means put an
effectual stop to the impositions under which the industrious settlers
have too long laboured.

Toward the latter end of the month, the settlers at the northern farms
were much annoyed by the natives, who came down in a body, and burnt
several of their houses. This was the more unfortunate, as those farms
appeared to have had some industry bestowed upon them; and it had not
been thrown away; for the land was of a superior quality, and the
surrounding country exceedingly picturesque and well-adapted for

The bricklayers were not idle during this month at the new granary at
Sydney, and were also employed in erecting a house for the master
boat-builder. The timber carriages drawn by oxen were employed in
bringing in the beams and joists for the new granary; and a gang was sent
up the harbour to cut crooked timber for the boat-builder. The maize
granary at Parramatta was also in a state of forwardness.

On the 14th there was a squall of wind from the southward, attended with
a shower of hall stones of an uncommon size, many of them measuring six
inches in circumference, and appearing to be an accumulation of smaller
hall stones, which had adhered together by the intensity of the cold in
the higher region of the air, until they became of the above size. Much
rain fell in this month.

June.] His Majesty's birthday was observed on the 4th, with all the
respect and attention which were so peculiarly its due.

On the 6th, the governor went up to Parramatta, in order to travel into
the northern district in search of a proper place for settling as farmers
such of the missionaries, lately arrived from Otaheite, as were disposed
to continue in the settlement. He also proposed to fix there some free
settlers* who had been lately sent out by the government, if he should
find a sufficiency of good ground. On a minute examination of the
country, he had every reason to pronounce it superior to any that had
been yet seen, and in quantity equal to the establishment of several
families. The land was not only good and well watered, but every where
easily cleared, and at the convenient distance of five or six miles from
Parramatta. Being satisfied with the eligibility of the situation, he
recommended it to the missionaries; but some of them appeared so
undetermined, that there was reason to believe some officious person had
been giving them advice which might not terminate to their advantage. A
few, however, resolved to settle there, and received such a proportion of
tools, grain, and assistance, as could be spared them.

[* Of this description of people four had arrived, with their
families, in the _Barwell_.]

The house of Campbell and Clarke at Calcutta, not discouraged by the fate
of their unfortunate ship, the _Sydney Cove_ (of which they were the
proprietors), fitted out another, a snow, which, in compliment to the
governor, they named the _Hunter_, and sent her down with an
assortment of India goods, and a few cows and horses. She arrived on the
10th of this month; when the governor, to crush as much as possible the
spirit of monopoly which had so long subsisted, gave public notice that a
ship had arrived from Bengal with a cargo of goods for sale; and, in
order that every inhabitant might have an opportunity of purchasing
whatever his circumstances might afford, he gave directions, that no part
of the cargo should be disposed of, until the settlers in the different
districts had stated to him what sums of money they could severally
raise. A day was fixed for them to give in this account; and it was
recommended to them to choose some person capable of managing their
concerns, and in whose hands they could deposit their money, which, it
was to be understood, must be in government notes then in their
possession, and not those which they could purchase upon the strength of
their crops.

It was also ordered, that no boat or person whatsoever should attempt to
board any ship arriving in the harbour, until she should be properly
secured in the Cove, and the master had been with the governor and
received the port orders. The pilot-boat, or such other as might be sent
with an officer to bring up the public dispatches, were not included in
this regulation, which certainly, with the preceding, seemed calculated
more for general than private advantage.

Captain Hamilton, the commander of the _Sydney Cove_, survived the
arrival of the _Hunter_ but a few days. He never recovered from the
distresses and hardships which he suffered on the loss of his ship, and
died exceedingly regretted by all who had the pleasure of his

Many complaints having been made, that the people who were employed in
bringing grain upon freight from the Hawkesbury to Sydney were in the
habit of practising a variety of impositions upon the farmers, and among
others by the use of false measures, the governor, desirous to put an
early stop to such a species of robbery, directed the magistrates of
Sydney and Parramatta to issue their orders for all measures to be
forthwith brought to the public store at Sydney, there to be proved and
marked; and to signify, that any measure which might be used without such
mark would subject the owner to a prosecution.

How perpetually was invention at work on the one hand to impose, and on
the other to provide a remedy against the evil! No one, from the picture
of his arduous situation which these and the preceding pages have held
up, will envy the office of the governor, or of those officers who
supported his authority, or think that they cheaply earned the salaries
that they were allowed.

The necessity of a vessel to keep up a more frequent intercourse with
Norfolk Island, having been much felt by the want of various stores for
the use of the inhabitants, occasioned Captain Townson, the commanding
officer, to construct a small decked boat, sloop rigged, in which he sent
his letters to this port, where she arrived on the 15th; but through the
want of a harbour at that island, a want that must ever be felt, they
were obliged to launch her from the shore, and proceed immediately to
sea, whether she was sufficiently tight or not. The consequence was, that
she proved very leaky; but with two pumps, which they fortunately had
fitted on board her, they were able to keep the water under.*

[* A man upon the island had sufficient ingenuity to make a
quadrant for navigating this vessel.]

The maize harvest on the part of government was all got in during this
month; but some of the new buildings were rather retarded by the rain
which fell toward the latter end of it.


Three southern whalers arrive, and an American from the Isle of France
A transport with female convicts arrives from England
_Reliance_ arrives from Norfolk Island
John Raynor executed
Profligacy of the female part of the settlement
Civil regulations
The Sabbath neglected
Attendance enforced
Two whalers arrive
Public works
A native girl killed
An extraordinary custom among them
The _Barwell_ sails for China, and the _Hunter_ for New Zealand
The bones of two horses found
Whalers sail
Public works
Fears for the approaching harvest

July.] The month opened with the arrival of the _Cornwall_, Southern
whaler, the master of which brought an account, that some Spanish
cruisers having appeared off Cape Horn, the whalers of the southern
fishery were directed to pass into these seas during the war. This ship
was directly followed by two others, the _Eliza_ from the Cape of
Good Hope, and the _Sally_.

This circumstance was likely to be attended with some advantages to the
settlement. The whale fishing on the coast would be effectually tried,
and the position of shoals, or the existence of harbours or rivers, be

Having in a few days refitted their ships, the three whalers sailed upon
their fishing voyages.

Previous to their departure, the _Argo_, a small American schooner,
arrived, last from the Isle of France, having on board a cargo of salt
provisions, some French brandy, and other articles, upon speculation; all
of which was brought to a good market. From the circumstance of this
ship's coming from the Mauritius, the governor entertained some jealousy;
and, as it was not impossible or improbable but that, under neutral
colours, a spy might be concealed, he judged it necessary to put the
battery on Point Maskelyne into a more secure and respectable state, and
to construct two redoubts in proper and convenient situations.

The ready sale which the speculators who called here constantly found for
their cargoes, together with the ruinous traffic which was carried on by
means of the monopolies that existed in opposition to every order and
endeavour to prevent them, would, beyond a doubt, without the
establishment of a public store on the part of government, keep the
settlers and others in a continual state of beggary, and extremely retard
the progressive improvement of the colony.

On the 18th arrived the _Britannia_ whaler from England, with 94
female convicts, who were forthwith landed, and some of them were sent to
Parramatta and Toongabbie. The cattle that were brought in the
_Hunter_, and which were sold by auction at this time, were not
greater objects of contest than were these females, the number of women
in the settlements bearing no proportion to the men.

The _Reliance_ and _Francis_ schooner, which had been sent to
Norfolk Island at the latter end of May, returned the 25th and 27th of
this month, having been absent on that service about 60 days, 27 of which
were taken up by the _Reliance_ on her passage back, she meeting
with blowing weather and much sea the whole way.

By her, the officer commanding on the island wrote, that a most improper
association had been entered into by the settlers and others which they
termed the Fraternal Society of Norfolk Island; and which, among others,
had for its object the uniting for the purpose of distressing the
government, by withholding the produce of their farms from the store; in
consequence of some misconduct on the part of the store-keepers, who
suffered the same monopoly to take place there, as was complained of in
New South Wales. They wrote at the same time to the governor, positively
denying their giving any name to their meeting but heavily complaining;
that, after much expense and trouble in rearing swine, the store-keepers
would not receive it.

The governor highly censured this manner of assembling, and, in a printed
notice which he sent thither, pointed out to the inhabitants, that if
they felt themselves labouring under any grievance real or supposed, they
were to submit their complaints respectfully to the officer in the
direction of the settlement, by one or two persons chosen for that
purpose, and not by a numerous body of people. Every other mode of
procuring redress was highly illegal, and could only tend to expose those
who might be concerned to a very considerable degree of danger.

It was necessary to assemble the court of criminal judicature once in
this month for the trial of an incorrigible offender, John Raynor. who
was convicted of house-breaking, and whose fate had been often merited
and long predicted. He left a letter, previous to his execution, in which
he enumerated the many offences that he had committed, and denied several
with which he had been charged.

Great complaints were now made of the profligacy of the women; who,
probably from having met with more indulgence on account of their sex
than their general conduct entitled them to, were grown so idle and
insolent, that they were unwilling to do any thing but nurse their
children; an excuse from labour which very few were without. Were their
value to be estimated by the fine children with which they had increased
and multiplied the numbers in the settlement, they certainly would have
been found to deserve every care and attention as useful members of
society; but their vices were too conspicuous and prominent to admit of
much palliation.

The heavy rains which had fallen in part of this and the preceding month
having very much damaged the public road between Sydney and Parramatta,
two gangs were employed in repairing them. The weather was much colder
than common at this season, and in the interior part of the country there
was a sharp frost during the night.

August.] An order having been given in the beginning of the month for
assembling the court of civil judicature, a recommendation to the
inhabitants was added, that when any bargain, contract, or agreement, was
made, between any party or parties, on any subject whatsoever, the same
should be reduced to writing, specifying in direct and clear terms what
the nature of such bargain or contract might be, and causing the same to
be properly witnessed, and subscribed by the parties concerned. This
measure was calculated to prevent disputes, litigation, and
misunderstandings, among the inhabitants, as well as to do away the great
inconvenience which the members of the court experienced every time they
were convened, from the loose and careless manner in which business was
brought before them.

On the 1st day of this month the regulation directed by government,
relative to the number of public servants which the officers were allowed
to retain, was put in force.

The abandoned and dissipated disposition of most of those who were or had
been convicts, so much to be regretted and so often mentioned, was
particularly manifest in a shameful abuse of the Sabbath, and a profane
ridicule with which every thing sacred was treated. A conduct so
derogatory to every Christian principle had from time to time been
severely reprobated; but it had now arrived at a height that called for
the exertion of every advocate for morality to subdue. Observing, that,
instead of employing the Sunday in the performance of those duties for
which that day was set apart, it was passed in the indulgence of every
abominable act of dissipation, the overseers of the different gangs were
strictly ordered to see their men mustered every Sunday morning, and to
attend with them at church. The superintendants and constables were to
see this order complied with, and that the women (who, to their disgrace,
were far worse than the men) were strictly looked after and made to
attend divine service regularly. And, as example might do something, the
officers were not only to send a certain number of their servants, but
they were also called upon, civil and military, to assist in the
execution of this order; to the meaning of which, the magistrates were
required in a particular degree to pay their attention, in compelling a
due obedience thereto, by preventing the opening of the licensed public
houses during the hours of divine service as well as any irregularity on
the day appropriated to the performance thereof.

In the evening of the 20th, the _Pomona_ and _Diana_, whalers
belonging to the southern fishery, anchored in the Cove. They brought an
account of much disturbance and disaffection in Ireland. Too much of the
same evil spirit seemed to prevail here among the late importations from
that kingdom.

Wishing to have that part of the coast examined in which a strait was
supposed to exist (between the latitude of 39 degrees 00 minutes S and
the land hitherto deemed the southern Promontory of New Holland, and
called Van Diemen's land), the governor resolved on sending Lieutenant
Flinders and Mr. Bass of the _Reliance_ on that service, in the
_Norfolk_, the small decked boat which had lately arrived from
Norfolk Island, and began fitting her properly for the voyage.

The battery on Point Maskelyne was nearly completed in this month. A few
carpenters were employed in laying a floor in Government House, and other
repairs; but several of the public works were nearly at a stand, many of
the sawyers being in the hospital. The powder magazine having been found
upon examination to be in a very insecure and dangerous state, the powder
was taken out and sent on board the _Supply_. This removal was the
more necessary, as an attempt had been made to open the door of the
magazine in the night. The weather was bad; and it was supposed that the
sentinel, whose box was thrown down and broken, had endeavoured to
shelter himself in the magazine.

The agricultural hands were employed in breaking up ground for maize in
the vicinity of Parramatta, and others were endeavouring to prepare
materials for a water-mill there.

The natives about this time excited a great deal of interest.

A young woman (nearly related to Bennillong), who had resided from her
infancy in the settlement, was most inhumanly murdered; and a native of
the Botany Bay district had driven a spear through the body of the lad
Nanbarrey. The name of the good-tempered girl (for such she was) was
War-re-weer; but, to distinguish her from others of the same name, an
addition was given to her in the settlement from a personal defect that
she had. Being blind of one eye, she was called, War-re-weer Wo-gul Mi,
the latter words signifying one eye. The circumstance of this girl's
being killed, and Nanbarrey wounded, occasioned much violence on the part
of their friends and relations, of which number were Cole-be and
Bennillong; the former of whom, falling in with the man who had wounded
the boy, revenged his treatment of him so fully that he died of his
wounds the following morning. Bennillong, in consequence of this, was
attacked, when alone, by two men; when he defended himself with much
address, and would have defied and foiled them both, had they kept fairly
and openly in his front; but one of them, with the treachery common to
those savage people, contrived to skulk behind, and throw a spear into
his side, the weapon penetrating seven inches into the cavity of his
body, and, from its direction, being supposed to have wounded the
intestines. He was taken on board the _Reliance_, where at first the
wound was attended with some unfavourable symptoms, nothing remaining
upon his stomach.

Gaining every day some further knowledge of the inhuman habits and
customs of these people, their being so thinly scattered through the
country ceased to be a matter of surprise. It was almost daily seen, that
from some trifling cause or other they were continually living in a state
of warfare; to this must be added their brutal treatment of their women,
who are themselves equally destructive to the measure of population, by
the horrid and cruel custom of endeavouring to cause a miscarriage, which
their female acquaintance effect by pressing the body in such a way, as
to destroy the infant in the womb; which violence not infrequently
occasions the death of the unnatural mother also. To this they have
recourse, to avoid the trouble of carrying the infant about when born,
which, when it is very young, or at the breast, is the duty of the woman.
The operation for this destructive purpose is termed Mee-bra. The burying
an infant (when at the breast) with the mother*, if she should die, is
another shocking cause of the thinness of population among them. The fact
that such an operation as the Mee-bra was practised by these wretched
people was communicated by one of the natives to the principal surgeon of
the settlement.

[* See Vol. I Appendix XI, viz: 'When the body was placed in the grave,
the bye-standers were amazed to see the father himself place the
living child in it with the mother. Having laid the child down,
he threw upon it a large stone, and the grave was instantly filled
in by the other natives. The whole business was so momentary, that
our people had not time or presence of mind sufficient to prevent it; and
on speaking about it to Cole-be, be, so far from thinking it inhuman,
justified the extraordinary act by assuring us that as no woman could be
found to nurse the child it must die a much worse death than that to
which he had put it. As a similar circumstance occurred a short time
after, we have every reason to suppose the custom always prevails among
them; and this may in some degree account for the thinness of population
which has been observed among the natives of the country.']

The death of the young man who was slain by Cole-be was to be revenged,
and a body of the southern or Tag-a-ry natives gave battle to those of
Sydney for that purpose several days after. The contest was carried on
with much desperation on both sides; three natives were killed, and
several others wounded, among whom was Bennillong, who, having perfectly
recovered of his late dangerous wound, appeared and fought on this
occasion as the friend of Cole-be.

The weather in the last month was remarked to be uncommonly cold. In the
latter part of this it was excessively sultry, and the wind high, which
set many parts of the country on fire, and destroyed some property. The
surveyor-general's house, and every article in it, was consumed by one of
these conflagrations.

September.] The _Barwell_ being ready for sea, she dropped down the
harbour on the 12th, and sailed the 17th of this month for China. Captain
Cameron, her commander, was allowed to receive on board about 50 persons
who had completed their period of transportation, and politely offered to
touch at Norfolk Island, for the purpose of landing any people whom the
governor might have occasion to send thither. In this ship Mr. Robert
Campbell, who arrived here in the _Hunter_ from Bengal, took his passage
to China. By this gentleman the governor addressed a letter to the
governor-general of India, informing his lordship, that having
transmitted to the Secretary of State copies of the letters upon the
subject of raising recruits in this country for the army in India, which
had been received in the year 1796*, by the officers who were sent from
Calcutta in the _Britannia_, it was the opinion of his Majesty's
ministers, that the inconveniences attending such a measure would more
than counter-balance the advantages of it, and that permission for that
purpose could not therefore be granted.

[* See Vol I Ch. XXXI, viz 'On board of this ship arrived two officers
of the Bengal army, Lieutenant Campbell and Mr. Phillips, a surgeon
of the military establishment for the purpose of raising two hundred
recruits from among those people who had served their respective
terms of transportation. They were to be regularly enlisted and
attested, and were to receive bounty-money; and a provisional
engagement was made with Mr. Raven, to convey them to India, if no other
service should offer for his ship.']

Indeed, had it been adopted, the army in India could not have been much
benefited; since, if the recruiting officers were nice as to the point of
character, small would be the number of their recruits, and, if not
overnice in this particular, small would be the portion of morality that
they would introduce.

In order to encourage as far as possible the rearing of swine in the
colony, as well as of every other kind of live stock, a circumstance that
must not only prove a great benefit to the public, but be also highly to
the advantage of those who devoted a part of their time to this useful
purpose, and which, from the advanced state of the private farms, might
now be done with far less trouble and expense than formerly, the settlers
and others were informed, that when any individual should have prepared a
number of such animals fit for the public store, they might make the same
known to the commissary, who, in order to prevent any unnecessary expense
to the feeder, would give immediate notice of the day and place when and
where he would receive them. He was also at liberty to enter into an
agreement or contract for a certain length of time, and on such
conditions as should be agreed, with any person who would engage to
furnish the public store either at Sydney, Parramatta, or the Hawkesbury,
with any certain quantity at stated periods.

The commander of the _Hunter_ snow, Mr. Fern, having found, like
most of those who had preceded him, that a voyage to New South Wales was
not a bad speculation, resolved on deriving some profit from his return.
It was understood at his departure, which was on the 20th, that he was
bound for New Zealand, for the purpose of cutting spars to load with back
to Bengal.*

[* Mr. Robert Campbell, who returned some time after to Port
Jackson, mentioned, that Captain Fern proceeded to the river Thames in
New Zealand, where his people cut down a quantity of very fine spars,
sufficient to load his vessel; but, being rather short of hands, he could
not have shipped them, had not the natives with much alacrity and good
humour assisted his people in getting them to the water's side. See Vol I
Ch. XXVIII, viz: 'In the course of that time they cut down upwards
of two hundred very fine trees, from sixty to one hundred and forty feet
in length, fit for any use that the East India Company's ships might
require. The longest of these trees measured three feet and a half in
the butt, and differed from the Norfolk Island pines in having the
turpentine in the centre of the tree instead of between the bark and
the wood. . . .']

Two men, who had been exploring the country to the northwest of Richmond
Hill and of the river Hawkesbury, fell in with the bones of two mares
which had been stolen some time since from Parramatta. It was very
probable, that the people who stole them had, after some time and
experience, found that travelling was not quite so practicable in this
country as they had imagined, and that, not being able to procure a
supply of food, they had been compelled by hunger to the necessity of
destroying their cattle, and living upon them as long as they could
possibly cat of them; after which they, no doubt, followed such route as
their judgment was capable of pointing out; but, unfortunately for them,
they could not have known which way they went. The bones of the mares,
the heads of which the men brought in to prevent any doubt of their
story, were found at not more than a good day's journey from the
Hawkesbury, which river they had no doubt crossed at one of its branches
higher up, where there are many fordable places.

Some of the whalers that were in the harbour, proceeding on their
fishery, the town was freed from the nuisance of their seamen, who could
not resist the two temptations, spirits and women, so peculiarly
calculated every where to lead them astray. The masters of the ships made
many complaints that they could not keep their people on board.

At Sydney the walls of the granary were completed, and part of the roof
got up. The battery also was finished.

The weather during the month had been so very sultry and dry, that there
was every appearance of being completely disappointed in the sanguine
expectations which had been entertained of a most abundant wheat harvest.
The pasture and garden grounds also were suffering exceedingly through
want of rain.


The _Semiramis_ arrives from Rhode Island
The church at Sydney burnt
Some vessels sail; the _Norfolk_ for Van Dieman's Land;
The _Francis_ for Norfolk Island
Another fire in the town
A ship arrives from the Cape with cattle
Works in hand
The governor's steward destroys himself
An order respecting the women
A battery erected
State of the harvest
The _Francis_ returns; and the _Nautilus_
The _Eliza_ from Sea
Three deaths
One good character recorded
Public works
Great heat
Returns of stock, and land in cultivation

October.] Another adventurer entered the port on the 1st of this month,
viz the _Semiramis_ from Rhode Island, bound to China. She made her
passage in three months and nine days. The master reported, that when he
left the States, they were thought to be on the eve of a rupture with

Between seven and eight o'clock in the evening of this day, the church on
the east side of the cove was discovered to be on fire. Every assistance,
as far as numbers could be useful, was given, but ineffectually; for the
building being covered with thatch, which was at this time exceedingly
dry and combustible, it was completely consumed in an hour.

This was a great loss, for during the working days of the week the
building was used as a school, in which from 150 to 200 children were
educated, under the immediate inspection of Mr. Johnson, the clergyman.
As it stood entirely alone, and no person was suffered to remain in it
after the school hours, there was not any doubt that this atrocious act
was the effect of design, and the consequence of the late order which had
been given out and had been rigidly executed, enforcing attendance on
divine service; and in the view of rendering, by the destruction of the
building, the Sabbath a day of as little decency and sobriety as any
other in the week. The perpetrators of this mischief were, however,
disappointed in their expectation; for the governor, justly deeming this
to have been the motive, and highly irritated at such a shameful act,
resolved, if no convenient place could immediately be found for the
performance of public worship, that, instead of Sunday being employed as
each should propose to himself, the whole of the labouring gangs should
be employed on that day in erecting another building for the purpose; it
happened, however, that a large storehouse was just at that time
finished; and, not being immediately wanted, it was fitted up as a
church; and thus not a single Sunday was lost by this wicked design.

For the discovery of the offender a reward of L30 was offered, together
with absolute emancipation to the informer if a convict, and a
recommendation to the master of any ship to take him or her from the
colony. But it was seen with concern, that rewards and punishments alike
failed in their effect.

This circumstance must impress upon the mind of every one who may read
this account, to what a dreadful state of profligacy the colony had
arrived, which, alarming as it was, must have been still worse, had it
not been for the civil police which fortunately had been established; for
a more wicked, abandoned, and irreligious set of people had never been
brought together before in any part of the colony. The hope of their
amendment seemed every day to lessen. The spirit of trade (not that
liberal spirit which characterises the British trader, but a mean,
selfish, avaricious passion, that hesitated not at any means to be
gratified) proved the source of every evil under which the settlers

Notwithstanding this picture of their vices, the colony was at this time,
generally speaking, in perfect health. For want of slop clothing and
bedding, indeed, they were much distressed; but on this or any other
account they were little deserving of any commiseration.

Since the last failure of those ill-considered attempts of the Irish to
escape from the colony, no further schemes of that nature had been
planned; but, as a matter of common justice to them, it was much wished
that regular accounts of the dates of their conviction, and their several
terms of transportation, might be sent out. They had been informed, that
a promise to this effect had been made by government.

On the 7th, the two Americans, the _Semiramis_, and _Argo_ schooner,
sailed for China. At the same time the _Nautilus_ brig, and
_Norfolk_ long-boat, sailed for Van Diemen's land. The _Nautilus_,
which had been in extreme distress for every kind of repair, was
completely put in order here; and, as the two young men who
had the care and direction of the speculation on which she was fitted out
from India, had been very unfortunate through the infirmities of their
vessel, and other causes, they were determined to try, during this
season, what the seal-fishing among the islands to the southward might

On the day following, the _Francis_ sailed for Norfolk Island, with
a few women and some stores for that settlement. As it was intended, that
on her return she should examine the shoal said to have been discovered
to the northward of Lord Howe Island, and make, if possible, and
ascertain the situation of, the island discovered in 1788 by Lieutenant
Shortland in the _Alexander_ transport, and named by him Sir Charles
Middleton island, Lieutenant John Shortland, of the _Reliance_, a
son of the above officer, was sent in the _Francis_, and was charged
with the sole direction of the vessel upon that service.

In the _Norfolk_ were Lieutenant Flinders and Mr. Bass, who were
instructed to examine the existence of the strait supposed to divide Van
Diemen's land from the continent.

The rage for trade already spoken of, which prevailed so universally in
the colony, occasioned such a continued scene of contention and
litigation among the people, that much public inconvenience was
experienced in the liberties which were taken of imprisoning the public
servants of the crown for debts contracted with many of the petty
dealers; notwithstanding an order which was given out in the year 1788,
by the late Governor Phillip, in which the colony was informed, that the
convicts (by whom were meant the public servants of the crown) had no
property of their own, their clothing, their time, and their labour,
being the property of government, and not at their own disposal. This
order having worn out of their recollection, it became necessary to renew
it, to prevent that loss of labour on the public works which imprisoning
their persons so improperly must occasion. Notice was therefore given,
that the public servants of the crown were not to be detained from their
duty by imprisoning their persons in this way; and if any person should
be desirous of accommodating them with credit, it must be wholly and
absolutely upon the strength of their own good faith in the integrity of
such people, and not under the idea that they could arrest and imprison
them according to the forms of law; and it was to be generally
understood, that government would by no means dispense with the labour of
its servants for the partial accommodation of any private dealings

On the evening of the 11th, another fire happened in the town of Sydney,
which, but for a great deal of care and activity, might have burnt all
the houses on the east side. A row of buildings which had been lately
erected for the nurses and other persons employed about the hospital, was
set on fire, and totally consumed. The flames very nearly reached the
boat-yard, in which were many concerns of value.

On the 20th, an American ship, the _Ann and Hope_, anchored in
Botany Bay, unfavourable winds having prevented her getting up so far as
Port Jackson. As the master only wanted a little wood and water, three
days were sufficient to procure them; and at the end of that period he
sailed for China. He certainly was either pressed for time, or had
nothing on board that he could part with, as the ships of his country had
always found it worth their while to refresh at Port Jackson.

Toward the latter end of the month the governor visited the settlers at
the Hawkesbury; and while he was there made some useful regulations among
the sawyers, who had fixed their own portion of public labour. He gave
notice, that a session should be held quarterly for settling all civil
concerns; and made some other local arrangements, which, if attended to,
would have conduced essentially to the welfare of the settlers, whose
farms he found promising plenty, but whose houses and persons wore the
appearance of poverty and beggary, they converting all the produce of
their farms to the unworthy purpose of purchasing a pernicious spirit
that must ever keep them poor.

In the evening of the 27th, the ship _Marquis Cornwallis_ arrived
from the Cape of Good Hope, with a cargo of cattle on government account,
consisting of 158 cows and 20 bulls, exclusive of a few on private
account. When they were landed, a few appeared weakly; but, in general,
they were in as good health as any that had been before landed, after a
voyage of such extent; and would certainly prove a vast acquisition to
the colony; part of the cows being a mixed breed between the Cape and
English cattle, and the whole appearing to be under the age of two years
and a half.

With the _Marquis Cornwallis_ arrived the _Indispensable_, a
southern whaler, commanded by Mr. Wilkinson, who had twice before visited
the settlement; but he sailed again immediately.

In this month the foundation of a stone building intended for a church
was laid at Sydney. It was to be 150 feet in length, and 52 in breadth.
Preparations were making for a similar building at Parramatta, which was
to be of smaller dimensions than this at Sydney.

The weather proved much too dry and sultry for the harvest. Some rain
fell toward the latter end of the month; but it was greatly feared that
it came too late to be of much benefit to the wheat or maize.

November.] Twice had the criminal court of judicature lately met for the
trial of various offenders; one of whom, being clearly convicted of
wilful perjury, stood in the pillory pursuant to his sentence.

Instead of living peaceably and pleasantly at the governor's house, as he
certainly might always have done, Bennillong preferred the rude and
dangerous society of his own countrymen, visiting the settlement only
when induced by the recollection of the comforts which he could no where
else obtain. Word was now brought in, of his having been again severely
wounded in a contest with some of the natives. This man had lately
received and recovered of several wounds, any one of which would have
been sufficient to have destroyed a European. But these people in general
owed their existence more to their good habit of body (living free from
the use of spirituous liquors and the luxuries of the table) than to any
other cause. Unless this be admitted, it will be difficult to account for
their surviving the desperate wounds which they have been often known to

An instance of the fatal effects of misguided conduct, and a too late
sense of criminality, occurred in the tragical end of Nathaniel Franklyn,
the governor's steward. This man, whom he brought from England, had the
whole care and management of the governor's domestic concerns entrusted
to him. He had been repeatedly cautioned by his master against the many
artful and designing acquaintances which he had formed in the town, and
was pointedly desired to be aware of not suffering himself to be
influenced by their opinions. It was proved that he had not had fortitude
enough to withstand their solicitations, but had consented to rob the
governor to a very considerable amount, abusing the confidence he had
placed in him, and making use of his name in a most iniquitous manner.
Of the infamy of his conduct he was at last sensible, and, retiring into
the shrubbery in the garden of the governor's house, shot himself through
the head.

The wretched state of the settlement appeared but too plainly from this
melancholy circumstance.

The complaints which were daily made of the refractory and disobedient
conduct of the convict women rendered it absolutely necessary that some
steps should be instantly taken to make them more clearly understand the
nature of their situation in this country, and the duties that they were
liable to perform. The governor, therefore, judged it proper to desire
that every officer or other housekeeper in the settlement, who might have
female servants in their families, would immediately forward to the
judge-advocate's office the names of such as they employed. He also
forbade them to protect from public labour any but those whom they were
permitted to retain; and when at any time they were desirous of
discharging from their employment any servant of this description, they
were to send an intimation thereof, together with a character of the
person, to the same office. As they had never been limited in the number
of women servants which they considered requisite to their domestic
concerns, it was hoped that they would afford every assistance in their
power, which might lead to the detection of imposition, and serve to
correct any abuse of such indulgence.

To the list of public buildings, which, young as was the settlement, time
had overthrown, was now added the government-house at Parramatta; the
roof of which falling-in in some bad weather, the building was surveyed,
and found so weak and decayed as not to admit of repairs. It was
therefore determined to take this entirely down, and erect a new one; for
which purpose a gang of brickmakers was shortly after sent up there.

At this place and at Toongabbie additional stock-yards were preparing for
the cattle lately arrived; and materials were collecting for building a
church and water-mill at Parramatta.

At Sydney the ship's company of the _Supply_ were actively and
usefully employed in constructing a half-moon battery on the east point
of the cove, where stood the house built by Governor Phillip for
Bennillong, in those days when it was thought an object of some moment to
soothe and conciliate the friendship of that savage.

There was but little variation in the weather, except that on the 25th
there was a violent burst of thunder, attended with partial whirlwinds,
by which several buildings were much damaged.

December.] At the departure of the ship _Marquis Cornwallis_ for
Bengal, which was on the 3rd of this month, several convicts were taken
from the settlement without permission. This evil could alone be checked
by severe prosecutions and penalties.

The harvest which was begun in the last, was completed in this month. In
the abundance that was expected, every one was disappointed; for, owing
to a most tedious and unfortunate drought during ten months, the wheat
did not turn out more than one-third of what, from the quantity of ground
sown with that grain, there was a reasonable expectation of its
producing, had the season been moderately favourable. This was the more
seriously felt, as at one time a hope was entertained of reaping grain
sufficient to supply the colony with bread for two years.

The conclusion of the harvest was productive of a slight disturbance
among the Irish convicts at Toongabbie. Having, each man and woman who
had been employed, received a small quantity of spirits and water, which
had been ordered them, it produced at first cheerfulness and play, but
terminated in riot and ill-humour; a circumstance not uncommon with that
class of people. They were, however, easily separated and sent to their
respective huts.

On the 19th, the _Francis_ schooner arrived from Norfolk Island,
where all were in good health. Lieutenant Shortland, who had received
directions to search for Sir Charles Middleton Island and shoal, on his
return produced his journal and a chart of the various traverses which he
had made in quest of the island, and compared them with those made
formerly by Lieutenant (now Captain) Ball in his Majesty's armed brig
_Supply_, who had been sent by Governor Phillip expressly on the
same pursuit. The extensive range taken by those two officers in the
search, and their not having met with even any indications of land near
that situation, left little reason to believe in the existence of the
island. That of the shoal was not so doubtful; and, although Mr.
Shortland did not fall in with it, yet, as a shoal had been seen by two
or three different persons near the spot in which that reef was laid
down, there was much reason to believe that a dangerous bank or shoal did
somewhere thereabout exist; but its exact situation in point of latitude
and longitude had not yet been correctly fixed, nor was its extent
supposed to be so great as was at first believed.

On the evening of the 25th, which had been duly observed as Christmas
Day, the _Nautilus_ arrived from the southward. She had been at
Preservation Island, where, and among the neighbouring islands, she had
been tolerably successful in seal-catching. The master left 14 of his
people on the island of Cape Barren, to provide as many skins and as much
oil as they could against his return. Those with which he now arrived
were in a few days sold by auction.

The two whalers, the _Indispensable_ and _Britannia_, which had
been fishing on the coast, returned on the 29th for a few days to repair
some defects and refresh their crews. They had cruised chiefly from the
latitude of 32 degrees 00 minutes to 35 degrees 00 minutes, and not
farther from the coast than from 20 to 30 leagues, and thought themselves
rather successful for the time (only two months), the one having got 54,
and the other 60 tons of spermaceti oil.

The _Eliza_ (more wisely) put into Botany Bay, to wood and water.
She, although much longer at seal had not been so successful, having got
only 45 tons of oil. The master of this ship stated, that he saw off the
NE part of New Caledonia a ship on shore upon a reef, the lower masts of
which were above water, and one of the tops was on the mast. The weather
was thick and hazy, and blew too fresh to allow him to send to examine
her; but a piece of a boat, which he took to be part of a whale boat,
floating near him, he judged the wreck to be that of a whaler. He also
fell in with a very dangerous and extensive shoal, lying NNW about 40
leagues from Sandy Cape, upon the coast of New South Wales. It was so
large, that, finding himself entered upon it, and unable to get back, it
took him from nine in the morning until six in the evening, going at the
rate of six knots (or miles) an hour, before he ran through it.

Thus already did the settlement and the public at large derive some
advantage from the fishing on the coast, by the discovery of this shoal.

There happened three deaths in this month which were out of the common
way: a woman at the Hawkesbury died of the bite of a snake; another woman
was drowned in attempting to land at Norfolk island; and on the 19th
died, very suddenly, Mr. Stephenson, the store-keeper at Sydney. As his
death was not exactly in the common way, so neither had been the latter
part of his life; indeed, all that part of it which he had passed in this
country; for, by an upright conduct, and a faithful discharge of the
duties of the office with which he had been entrusted, he secured to
himself the approbation of his superiors while living, and their good
name at his death.

Stephenson had been emancipated for his orderly behaviour, and to enable
him to execute the office of store-keeper.

The annual election of constables recurring about this time, the
magistrates were desired to be very particular in their selection of the
persons returned to them for that purpose; as there was reason to fear,
from the frequent escapes of prisoners from the different gaols, that the
constables had been tampered with, so shamefully to neglect their duty.

The wheat harvest being over, and the country, as happened generally at
this season of the year, every where on fire, those who were engaged in
farming were reminded of the necessity of their exerting themselves by
every practicable means to secure their crops, when stacked, against
accident by fire. As yet, none had been heard of. In the early part of
the month Farenheit's thermometer at the Hawkesbury stood at 107 degrees
in the shade.

Many people were at this time much afflicted with inflammations of the
eyes*, attended with extreme pain, and supposed by the medical gentlemen
to be occasioned by the excessive dry and sultry weather which had
prevailed for a considerable time. Dysenteric complaints were also very
common, which were attributed to the water, most of the runs and springs
having been nearly dried up. The tanks which were cut in the rocks below
the stream by order of Governor Phillip had proved of infinite utility.

[* In the month of April 1794 and 1796, several adults and
children were troubled with an inflammation of the eyes, which was then
attributed to the variable and unsettled weather that had for some time
prevailed. It must be remarked, that the present appearance of this
complaint was in the summer, the former in the winter season.]

The seamen belonging to the _Supply_ completed their half-moon
battery in this month, and part of that ship's guns were mounted in it.

In addition to other public works, some people were employed in
white-washing the houses in the town of Sydney, and repairing such of the
buildings as required it; an attention highly necessary at least once in
every year, for the preservation of works, the re-construction of which,
when suffered to fall to decay, was attended with a great expense.

The live stock and the ground in cultivation had been considerably
increased in this year, as will be seen by comparing the following
account of each with the return of the preceding year.


Horses 44
Mares 73
Horned Cattle
Bulls and Oxen 163
Cows 258
Hogs 2867
Male 1459
Female 2443
Male 787
Female 1880


Acres in Wheat 4659
Acres in Maize 1453
Acres in Barley 571/2

It will appear from this account, which is brought down to the month of
August, and taken up from that month in the preceding year, that the
goats had not increased so much as the sheep. Many had of course been
slaughtered; but they were found to be afflicted with diseases which
carried them off in numbers, while the sheep were seen to thrive better.


Certificates granted to convicts
Reasons for so doing
Unruly behaviour of the Irish
Agricultural concerns look ill
The _Norfolk_ sloop returns from Van Dieman's Land
Twofold Bay described
The natives there
Kent's Group
Furneaux's Islands
Preservation Island
Curious petrifaction there
Cape Barren Island
The wombat described

January.] On the second of this month, certificates were granted to
such convicts as had completed their several terms of transportation.

That none might have it in their power to make a plea of any injustice
being exercised upon them with respect to that critical point their
servitude, it had been made a rule, three or four times in the year, to
issue discharge certificates to such as were found, on consulting the
proper documents, to be entitled to them; and, if desirous of being at
their own disposal, to strike them off from the victualling books. Many
convicts having been sent out, who had not more than two years to serve
after their arrival, proved, by claiming their discharge, a considerable
drawback on field-labour, as well in Norfolk Island as in New South
Wales. But this was not the only evil. In this way there were let loose
upon the public a number of idle and worthless characters, who, not
having any means of getting out of the country, became a dangerous and
troublesome pest. They refused all kind of labour, but continued to form
connections with the equally worthless part of the other inhabitants,
who, from their domestic situations, had an opportunity of affording the
best information where robberies and burglaries could be most readily
committed. They also consumed a vast proportion of the provision which
was raised in the colony. Still, as the law had spent its force against
them, there was no denying them the restoration of their rights as free
people. The convicts in general had suffered much through want of
clothing and bedding. Indeed, during the late harvest, several gangs were
seen labouring in the fields, as free of clothing of any kind as the
savages of the country. This had made them insolent; and anonymous
letters were dropped, in which were threatenings of what would be done at
the proper season.

At this time, when the certificates were granted, a numerous body of the
Irish convicts, many of whom had but lately arrived, insisted that 'their
times were out,' and could not be persuaded that they were mistaken by
any remonstrance or argument. They grew noisy and insolent, and even made
use of threats; upon which a few of the most forward and daring were
secured, and instantly punished; after which they were ordered to go
peaceably back to their work. They had also taken up the idea that
Ireland had shaken off its connection with England, and that they were no
longer to be considered as convicts under the British government. This
was a most pernicious idea to be entertained by such a lawless set of
people, and required the strong arm of government to eradicate it.

Agricultural concerns at this time wore a most unpromising appearance.
The wheat proved little better than straw or chaff, and the maize was
burnt up in the ground for want of rain. From the establishment of the
settlement, so much continued drought and suffocating heat had not been
experienced. The country was now in flames; the wind northerly and
parching; and some showers of rain, which fell on the 7th, were of no
advantage, being immediately taken up again by the excessive heat of the

On the 12th, the _Norfolk_ sloop arrived, with Lieutenant Flinders
and Mr. Bass, from the examination of Van Diemen's land.

As the result of this little voyage was the complete knowledge of the
existence of a strait separating Van Diemen's land from the continent of
New Holland, it may not be improper to enter with some degree of
minuteness into the particulars of it; and the writer of these pages
feels much gratification in being enabled to do this, from the accurate
and pleasing journal of Mr. Bass, with the perusal and use of which he
has been favoured.

The _Norfolk_ sailed, as has been already stated, upon this voyage
of discovery about the 7th of October last, with Lieutenant Flinders and
Mr. Bass; and on the 11th, when nearly off Cape Howe, being met by a
fresh gale at SW they bore up, and anchored in Twofold Bay. This bay had
been visited by Mr. Bass when he was on the coast in the whale boat; but
he had not at that time so good an opportunity of examining it as he
desired, and now had. He found Twofold Bay situated at the southern end
of a short chain of hummocky hills, one part of which is much more
conspicuous than the rest, and lies immediately behind the bay. The land
on the west side, being a part of this chain of hills, is high and rocky.
The shore is divided into steep cliff heads, with small intermediate
beaches; the one formed by the most prominent of the ridges, the others
by the sand thrown up at the foot of their valleys. Behind the beaches
are ponds of brackish water.

The abruptness and sudden rise of the hills for the most part permit the
vegetable earth to be washed down into the vallies as fast as it is
formed. Some of the more gradual slopes retain a sufficiency of it to
produce a thick coat of tolerably succulent grass; but the soil partakes
too much of the stony quality of the higher parts to be capable of

The dark luxuriant foliage of the valleys points out the advantages which
they had received from the impoverished hills. Their soil is rich and
deep, but their extent is narrow and limited. Some three or four hundred
acres of excellent soil might be found upon the edges of the ponds, and
by the sides of the occasional drains that supply them with the fresh
part of their water.

Both hill and valley produce large timber and brush-wood of various
heights; upon the hills, the brush grows in small clumps; while in the
valleys it not only covers the whole surface, but is also bound together
by creeping vines, of every size between small twine and a seven inch

In the SW corner of the bay, is a lagoon, or small inlet, that
communicates with the sea, through the beach at the back of which it
lies. The chain of hills here runs back to some little distance from the
water, and leaves a few square miles of rather good ground, through which
the inlet was found to take its course in a winding direction to the SW
for six or eight miles, where it ends in small swamps and marshes. Large
boats might enter this place at a third flood, and proceed to the farther
part of it. Upon its banks from five to seven hundred acres of a light
sandy soil might be picked out, in patches of from fifty to a hundred
acres each; but on the side next the mountain it soon became stony, and
on that next the lagoon it was wet and salt.

The country along the back of the bay lies in rounded stony hills
scarcely fit for pasturage, but covered with timber, and patches of short

On the south side was another shallow inlet, larger than that on the SW
running in by the end of a beach, and winding along to the SSW with
little or no cultivable or low ground upon its borders. The returning
tide did not allow time enough to proceed to the head of it.

On the eastern side, the hills being neither steep nor prominent, some
extensive slopes of tolerably good, though sandy soil, have been formed.
Several which extended to the water, being well covered with grass and
thinly set with timber, had a pleasing appearance from the bay, and
resembled some of the most beautiful parts of Mount Edgecumbe, near
Plymouth. Speaking generally of the land round the bay, it might be said
to be much more barren that productive; that there are several patches of
tolerably good, and some few of excellent soil; but by far the greater
part is incapable of cultivation, and fit only for pasturage.

The most common timber is a sort of gum tree, the bark of which along the
trunk is that of the iron bark of Port Jackson; and its leaf, that of the
blue gum tree; but its branches toward the head are of a yellow colour,
smooth, and resembling the barked limbs of trees. The wood is longer
grained, and more tough, splitting easier and more true than any other
species of the gum tree.

The natives are, in person, similar to those living about Port Jackson,
but their language was perfectly unintelligible. They used canoes, of
which they seemed very careful; for on his rowing round the point of Snug
Cove, when Mr. Bass was on his first visit to this bay in the whale boat,
a party of them paddled hastily on shore, taking their canoes upon their
heads, and running off with them into the woods. They, however, did not
appear so shy of their visitors now as they had formerly been; and there
was reason to believe that a friendly intercourse might have been easily
established with them.

Not meeting with any grass trees, and the few spears that were seen being
made of solid wood, it may be conjectured that the light grass reed
spear used by the natives of Port Jackson is unknown among these people,
as well as the use of the throwing-stick.

But very few marks of the kangaroo were seen. Both quadrupeds and birds
appeared to be less numerous here than in other places. The dogs found a
porcupine ant-eaters, but they could make no impression on him; he
escaped from them by burrowing in the loose sand, not head foremost, but
sinking himself directly downwards, and presenting his prickly back
opposed to his adversaries.

There were a few ducks, teal, herons, cranes, and a bird named from its
bill the Red-bill, upon the lagoons, with some small flights of curlew
and plover of a beautiful feather.

The rocks consist of hardened clay, in which are mixed great numbers of
small stones, variously tinged, some with red, others with yellow. Small
portions of calcareous spar lie scattered about the surface of the rocky
ground; strata of which are deposited irregularly in fissures formed in
the body of the rocks themselves.

Leaving Twofold Bay upon a favourable shift of wind, the sloop proceeded
to the southward, and on the 17th made a small cluster of islands, in
latitude 38 degrees 16 minutes, which now bears the name of Kent's Group
(a compliment to the commander of his Majesty's ship _Supply_).
These are six or seven in number, and of various sizes. Their height is
very considerable, and as irregular in figure as can well be imagined in
land whose hummocks are no one of them more lofty than another. This
small group appears to be formed of granite, which is imperfectly
concealed by long straggling dwarfish brush, and some few still more
diminutive trees, and seems cursed with a sterility that might safely bid
defiance to Chinese industry itself. Nature is either working very slowly
with those islands, or has altogether ceased to work upon them, since a
more wild deserted place is not easily to be met with. Even the birds
seemed not to frequent them in their usual numbers. There was, in short,
nothing that could tempt our explorers to land.

Having passed Kent's Group standing to the southward, the next morning
Furneaux's Islands were in sight, and on the following day they anchored
at Preservation Island, which is one of them. These islands, from what
was seen of them during this run along their shore, and what had been
seen of them before by Mr. Bass, appear to consist of two kinds,
perfectly dissimilar in figure, and most probably of very unequal ages,
but alike in the materials of which they are formed. Both kinds are of
granite; but the one is low, and rather level, with a soil of sand
covered with low brush and tufted grass: the other is remarkably high,
bold, and rocky, and cut into a variety of singular peaks and knobs. Some
little vegetable soil lies upon these, and the vegetation is large; trees
even of a tolerable size are produced in some places. There are attached
to some parts of these high islands slips of low sandy land, of a similar
height with the lower islands, and probably coeval with them.

Preservation Island, which takes its respectable name from having
preserved the crew of the ship _Sydney Cove_, arranges itself in the
humble class of islands, and is of a very moderate height. A surface of
sand, varying in depth, and mixed in different scanty proportions with
vegetable soil, scarcely hides from view the base, which is of granite.
In several places vast blocks of this stone lie scattered about, as free
from vegetation and the injuries of weather as if they had fallen but
yesterday: and, what is remarkable, most of them, probably all, are
evidently detached from the stone upon which they rest, so entirely that
they might be dragged from the places where they lie, if it were thought
worth while to apply a power sufficient to produce so useless an effect.
It should seem then that these loose blocks have fallen from some place
higher than that upon which they were found; but that is impossible, for
they are higher than any other part of the island. And the supposition
that the injuries of the air and the rain caused the removal of that part
of the granite which might originally have been of a corresponding height
with these remaining blocks, seems hardly admissible in the present
instance. Perhaps subterraneous or volcanic fire may have caused this
curious appearance.

The great bulk of these blocks renders them so conspicuous, that the
attention is first struck with them upon approaching the island. But,
besides granite, there is on the north side, where the island is
particularly low and narrow, a slip of calcareous earth, of a few hundred
yards in length, which discovers itself near the broken surface of the
water. It is not for the most part pure, for broken pieces of the granite
are mixed with it in various proportions. Some parts are a mere mass of
these broken pieces cemented together by the calcareous matter; whilst
others are an almost perfect chalk, and are capable of being burnt into
excellent lime. Broken sea shells and other exuviae of marine animals are
apparent throughout the whole mass.

Upon the beach at the foot of this chalky rock, was found a very
considerable quantity of the black metallic particles which appear
in the granite as black shining specks, and are in all probability
grains of tin.

To find this small bed of the remains of shell animals, of which chalk is
formed wherever found, in such an unexpected situation, excited some
surprise; and Mr. Bass endeavoured to investigate the cause of this
deposit, by examining the form of the neighbouring parts of the island.

The result of his inquiries and conjectures amounted to this: that as
traces of the sea, and of the effects of running waters, were plainly
discernible in many parts of the island, and more particularly in the
vicinity of this deposit of chalk and granite, it seemed highly probable
that it had been formed by two streams of the tide, which, when the
island was yet beneath the surface of the sea, having swept round a large
lump of rocks, then met and formed an eddy, where every substance would
fall to the bottom. The lump of rocks is now a rocky knoll, which runs
tapering from the opposite side of the island toward the chalk. On each
side of it is a gap, through which the two streams appear to have passed.

The vegetation on the island seems brown and starved. It consists of a
few stunted trees; several patches of brush, close set and almost
impenetrable; large tufts of sour and wiry grass, and abundance of low
saltish plants, chiefly of the creeping kind.

A small spot upon the east end of the island presented a phenomenon which
seemed not easily explicable by any known laws of that class of natural
history to which it alone was referable.

Amidst a patch of naked sand, upon one of the highest parts of the
island, at not less than 100 feet above the level of the sea, within the
limits of a few hundred yards square, were lying scattered about a number
of short broken branches of old dead trees, of from one to three inches
in diameter, and seemingly of a kind similar to the large brush wood.
Amid these broken branches were seen sticking up several white stony
stumps, of sizes ranging between the above diameters, and in height from
a foot to a foot and a half. Their peculiar form, together with a number
of prongs of their own quality, projecting in different directions from
around their base, and entering the ground in the manner of roots,
presented themselves to the mind of an observer, with a striking
resemblance to the stumps and roots of small trees. These were extremely
brittle, the slightest blow with a stick, or with each other, being
sufficient to break them short off; and when taken into the hand, many of
them broke to pieces with their own weight.

On being broken transversely, it was immediately seen that the internal
part was divided into interior or central, exterior or cortical. The
exterior part, which in different specimens occupied various proportions
of the whole, resembled a fine white and soft grit-stone; but acids being
applied, showed it to be combined with a considerable portion of
calcareous matter. The interior or central part was always circular, but
seldom found of the same diameter, or of the same composition, on any two
stumps. In some the calcareous and sandy matter had taken such entire
possession, that every fragment of the wood was completely obliterated;
but yet a faint central ring remained. In others was a centre of chalk,
beautifully white, that crumbled between the fingers to the finest
powder; some consisted of chalk and brown earth, in various quantities,
and some others had detained a few frail portions of their woody fibres,
the spaces between which were filled up with chalky earth.

It appeared, that when the people of the _Sydney Cove_ first came
upon the island, the pieces of dead branches that at this time were lying
round the stumps, then formed, with them, the stem and branches of dead
trees complete. But by the time Mr. Bass visited the place, the hands of
curiosity, and the frolics of an unruly horse that was saved from the
wreck, had reduced them to the state already described.

Mr. Bass had been told from good authority, that when the trees were in a
complete state, the diameter of the dead wood of the stem that rose
immediately from the stoney part was equal to the diameter of that part;
and also that a living leaf was seen upon the uppermost branches of one
of them. But he could never learn whether the stony part of the stem was
of an equal height in all the trees.

To ascertain to what depth the petrification had extended, Mr. Bass
scratched away the sand from the foot of many of the stumps, and in no
instance found it to have proceeded more than three or four inches
beneath the surface of the sand, as it then lay; for at that depth the
brown and crumbling remains of the root came into view. There were,
indeed, parts of the roots which had undergone an alteration similar to
that which had taken place in the stems: but these tended to establish
the limits of the petrifying power; for they had felt it only either at
their first outset from the bottom of the stems, or when, being
obstructed in their progress, they had of necessity arched upwards toward
the surface.

In attempting to account for the cause that had operated to produce this
change in the structure of the lower parts of the stems of these trees,
Mr. Bass feels the utmost diffidence. He found that all his conjectures
which were best supported by existing facts, led him to place them among
petrifications; although no strict analogy could be seen between them and
the subjects usually met with of this kind.

Admitting them, however, as petrifications, it is certain that there must
once have existed a pond in which the petrifying water was contained; but
the ground in their neighbourhood retained no positive traces of any such
receptacle. There were, indeed, near them, some few lumps or banks
consisting of sand, and a little vegetable earth which was held together
by dead roots of small trees, and elevated above the rest of the ground,
to the height of five, six, or eight feet; but the relative position of
these with each other was so confused and irregular, that nothing but the
necessity of a once existing reservoir could ever lead any one to
conjecture that these might have been parts of its bank. Mr. Bass,
however, rather concluded that this must have been the case, and that the
remainder of the bank had been torn away, and the pond itself annihilated
by some violent effort of an unknown power.

Notwithstanding the narrow limits of the island, abundance of small
kangaroos were found to inhabit its brushy parts; but so many had been
destroyed by the people of the _Sydney Cove_, that they had now
become scarce.

The sooty petrel had appropriated a certain grassy part of the island to
herself, and retained her position with a degree of obstinacy not easily
to be overcome. For although it so happened, that the storehouse for the
wrecked cargo was erected upon the spot, and the people for more than a
year drew the favourite part of their food from these birds, and were
besides continually walking over their habitations, yet at the end of
that time the returning flights in the evening were as numerous as they
had been observed to be upon their first arrival.

When Mr. Hamilton, the commander of the _Sydney Cove_, quitted the
house, he left two hens sitting upon their eggs, some breeding pigeons,
and a bag of rice; but no traces were now to be discovered either of the
birds or their food. It is probable, that so long as this little colony
continued within doors, it did well; but that, when forced by its
necessities to go abroad in quest of food, it fell a quiet sacrifice to
the rapacity of the hawks.

Several snakes with venomous fangs were found here; but, no person having
been bitten by them, the degree of their power was unknown.

The water of the island was thought to have been injurious to the health
of the people of the _Sydney Cove_. It was supposed to contain
arsenic, which was highly probable from an experiment that was made with
the metallic particles, which were taken to be tin. A large fume of what
bore many marks of arsenic arose from the crucible during the time of
smelting it. Water was very scarce while these people were upon the
island; but, owing to some unusual falls of rain, several little runs and
swamps were found by Mr. Bass; and a low piece of ground where they had
deposited their dead was now a pond of an excellent quality.

Although he had seen but few of the low islands of Furneaux, yet Mr. Bass
had not any doubt but that this account of Preservation Island would in
general answer for the description of any of them.

He next proceeds to describe what little he saw of Cape Barren Island,
which he understood, from the people of the _Nautilus_ snow, who had
been there sealing, was an exact specimen of those of the higher kind, so
far as they had observed of them.

Cape Barren Island, which takes its name from the cape so called by
Captain Furneaux, is a small island when compared with that lying to
the northward of it. From what was seen of it in the sloop, it could only
be conjectured that these two were separate islands; but Mr. Bishop had
passed in the _Nautilus_ through the channel that divides them.

Mr. Bass did not land upon the large island, and it is only of the
southern end of Cape Barren Island that he could speak from his own
particular observation.

This island is one of those of the higher kind that consist of both high
and low land. The high part is composed of granite, in many places almost
bare, in others poorly clothed with moderate sized gum trees, which draw
their support through some small quantity of vegetable earth lodged by
the broken blocks and fragments of the stone, and some straggling
brush-wood shooting up round the trees, and completing the appearance of
a continued vegetation.

The base of the low part is granite; its surface chiefly sand; its
produce, variety of brush, with some few small gum trees, and a species
of fir, that grows tall and straight to the height of 20 or 25 feet.
There are within the body of the brush several clear spots, where the
ground is partly rocky or sandy, partly wet and spongy. These are
somewhat enlivened by beautiful flowering heath, and low shrubs, but have
upon the whole a dark sombrous aspect, too much resembling the barren
heaths of Hampshire.

A grass tree grows here, similar in every respect to that about Port
Jackson, except that no reed, neither living nor dead, could be found to
belong to it. It is certain, however, that there must be a reed, or a
flowering part of some kind. In the brushes, where the sandy soil is
somewhat ameliorated by the decay of vegetation, a few tufts of
indifferent grass might be seen; but the greater part of it was the
coarse wiry sort that grows in hassocks.

It is singular, that a place wherein food seemed to be so scarce should
yet be so thickly inhabited by the small brush kangaroo, and a new
quadruped, which was also a grass-eater.

This animal, being a new one, appears to deserve a particular
description. The Wombat (or, as it is called by the natives of Port
Jackson, the Womback) is a squat, thick, short-legged, and rather
inactive quadruped, with great appearance of stumpy strength, and
somewhat bigger than a large turnspit dog. Its figure and movements, if
they do not exactly resemble those of the bear, at least strongly remind
one of that animal.

Its length, from the tip of the tail to the tip of the nose, is thirty-one
inches, of which its body takes up twenty-three and five-tenths. The head
is seven inches, and the tail five-tenths. Its circumference behind the
forelegs, twenty-seven inches; across the thickest part of the belly,
thirty-one inches. Its weight by hand is somewhat between twenty-five and
thirty pounds. The hair is coarse, and about one inch or one inch and
five tenths in length, thinly set upon the belly, thicker on the back and
head, and thickest upon the loins and rump; the colour of it a light
sandy brown, of varying shades, but darkest along the back.

The head is large and flattish, and, when looking the animal full in the
face, seems, excluding the ears, to form nearly an equilateral triangle,
any side of which is about seven inches and five tenths in length, but
the upper side, or that which constitutes the breadth of the head, is
rather the shortest. The hair upon the face lies in regular order, as if
it were combed, with its ends pointed upwards in a kind of radii, from
the nose their centre.

The ears are sharp and erect, of two inches and three-tenths in length,
stand well asunder, and are in nowise disproportionate. The eyes are
small, and rather sunken than prominent, but quick and lively. They are
placed about two inches and five tenths asunder, a little below the
centre of the imaginary triangle towards the nose. The nice co-adaptation
of their ciliary processes, which are covered with a fine hair, seems to
afford the animal an extraordinary power of excluding whatever might be

The nose is large or spreading, the nostrils large, long, and capable of
being closed. They stand angularly with each other, and a channel is
continued from them towards the upper lip, which is divided like the
hare's. The whiskers are rather thick and strong, and are in length from
two to three inches and five tenths.

The opening of its mouth is small; it contains five long grass-cutting
teeth in the front of each jaw, like those of the kangaroo; within them
is a vacancy for an inch or more, then appear two small canine teeth of
equal height with, and so much similar to, eight molars situated behind,
as scarcely to be distinguishable from them. The whole number in both
jaws amount to twenty-four.

The neck is thick and short, and greatly restrains the motions of the
head, which, according to the common expression, looks as if it was stuck
upon the shoulders.

From the neck the back arches a little as far as the loins, whence
it goes off at a flat slope to the hindmost parts, where not any tail
is visible. A tail, however, may be found by carefully passing the
finger over the flat slope in a line with the backbone. After separating
the hairs, it is seen of some five tenths of an inch in length, and
from three to one tenth of an inch in diameter, naked, except for a few
short fine hairs near its end. This curious tall seemed to hold a much
bolder proportion in the young than in the full-grown animal.

The fore legs are very strong and muscular: their length, to the sole of
the paw, is five inches five tenths, and the distance between them is
five inches and five tenths. The paws are fleshy, round, and large, being
one inch and nine tenths in diameter. Their claws are five in number,
attached to as many short digitations. The three middle claws are strong,
and about eight or nine tenths of an inch in length; the thumb and little
finger claws are also strong, but shorter than the others, being only
from six to seven tenths of an inch. The fleshy root of the thumb claw is
smaller and more flexible than the others. The sole of the paw is hard,
and the upper part is covered with the common hair, down to the roots of
the claws which it overhangs. The hind legs are less strong and muscular
than the fore; their length, to the sole, is five inches and five tenths;
the distance between, seven inches and five tenths. The hind paw is
longer than the fore, but not less fleshy; its length is two inches and
seven tenths, its breadth two inches and six tenths. The claws are four
in number: the three inner ones are less strong, but about two tenths of
an inch longer than the longest of the fore claws; and there is a fleshy
spur in the place of a thumb claw. The whole paw has a curve, which
throws its fore part rather inward.

In size the two sexes are nearly the same, but the female is perhaps
rather the heaviest.

In the opinion of Mr. Bass, this Wombat seemed to be very economically
made; but he thought it unnecessary to give an account of its internal
structure in his journal.

This animal has not any claim to swiftness of foot, as most men could run
it down. Its pace is hobbling or shuffling, something like the awkward
gait of a bear. In disposition it is mild and gentle, as becomes a
grass-eater; but it bites hard, and is furious when provoked. Mr. Bass
never heard its voice but at that time; it was a low cry, between a
hissing and a whizzing, which could not be heard at a distance of more
than thirty or forty yards. He chased one, and with his hands under his
belly suddenly lifted him off the ground without hurting him, and laid
him upon his back along his arm, like a child. It made no noise, nor any
effort to escape, not even a struggle. Its countenance was placid and
undisturbed, and it seemed as contented as if it had been nursed by Mr.
Bass* from its infancy. He carried the beast upwards of a mile, and often
shifted him from arm to arm, sometimes laying him upon his shoulder, all
of which he took in good part; until, being obliged to secure his legs
while he went into the brush to cut a specimen of a new wood, the
creature's anger arose with the pinching of the twine; he whizzed with
all his might, kicked and scratched most furiously, and snapped off a
piece from the elbow of Mr. Bass's Jacket with his grass-cutting teeth.
Their friendship was here at an end, and the creature remained implacable
all the way to the boat, ceasing to kick only when he was exhausted.

[* The kangaroo, and some other animals in New South Wales, were
remarkable for being domesticated as soon as taken.]

This circumstance seemed to indicate, that with kind treatment the Wombat
might soon be rendered extremely docile, and probably affectionate; but
let his tutor beware of giving him provocation, at least if he should be
full grown.

Besides Furneaux's Islands, the Wombat inhabits, as has been seen, the
mountains to the westward of Port Jackson. In both these places its
habitation is under ground, being admirably formed for burrowing, but to
what depth it descends does not seem to be ascertained. According to the


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