Narrative of a Survey of the Intertropical and Western Coasts of Australia
Phillip Parker King
Part 3 out of 6
cannot, of course, discriminate between us and the Malays. I regretted to
hear this, for our force was so small that I feared we should, in our
future visits to the coast, be frequently attacked, and perhaps be under
the necessity of convincing them of the destructive power of our weapons,
which they must first experience before they can dread their fatal
During our stay at Coepang the thermometer ranged between 75 and 91
degrees. The latitude of the flag-staff was observed by several
observations to be 10 degrees 9 minutes 40 seconds. No observations were
taken for the longitude, on account of my being confined to my bed with
an attack of ague, the effects of which remained upon me for some time
afterwards; but the result of those made by Captain Flinders and
Commodore Baudin were so satisfactory that I had no hesitation in taking
the mean of the two, 123 degrees 35 minutes 46 seconds, for the
correction of my chronometers, and for the purpose of comparing with the
longitudes I had assigned to several parts of the coast that we had just
Before we sailed from Coepang the departure of a vessel for Batavia
furnished me with the opportunity of acquainting the Lords Commissioners
of the Admiralty of my progress; and the letter fortunately arrived in
time to contradict a report that had reached England of our "having been
wrecked on the South Coast at Cape Northumberland, and that all hands had
perished." This report could never be satisfactorily traced to its
author, but it was supposed to have been spread by the man who commanded
the Mermaid before she was purchased by the government, in revenge for
his having lost his employment.
On the 13th we completed everything, and embarked our stock.
And the next morning at daylight we left the bay, and, passing round the
islands of Samow and Rottee, steered South-West by South (which was as
close to the wind as we could steer to make a direct course) across the
sea, which might, with some degree of propriety, be called the Great
Australian Strait; but this course was too westerly to admit of our
reaching the coast so far to the westward as was wished.
On the 19th we passed over a coral bank with twenty-six fathoms in
latitude 19 degrees 30 minutes and longitude 116 degrees 15 minutes 30
The thermometer now ranged no higher than 76 1/2 degrees and obliged us
to resume our warmer clothing.
At eight o'clock the next morning land was seen bearing South-West by
West, and proved to be that laid down by Captain Baudin, to the southward
of the Montebello Islands; one of which, Trimouille Island, was also
visible in the North-West. We bore up at noon, intending to pass round
the south end of the land, seen in West-South-West; but after running
about five miles further the land proved to be an island, and was called
after John Barrow, Esquire, one of the Secretaries of the Admiralty. We
were prevented from steering round it by a very extensive shoal that
stretches off its south end towards a low sandy islet, which proved to be
one that had been seen by us last February. Several attempts were made to
find a channel through the reef, but without success; and at sunset we
anchored to the north-west of the islet, from which several islands were
recognised by us, particularly a large one to the westward of Cape
As this part of the coast had been previously seen by us, we did not
delay any longer.
But the following morning steered to the northward.
The next day we passed round Trimouille Island and left the coast.
Off the North-West end of Trimouille Island is a considerable reef.
Hermite Island was not seen, but a small lump on the horizon, to the
south of the former, was probably Lowendal Island. As we did not see the
western side of Barrow's Island, that coast is laid down from M. De
Freycinet's chart; the land, although low, is considerably higher than
the usual elevation of the neighbouring islands, but it appeared to be
equally arid and sterile. Trimouille Island appears scarcely better than
a cluster of dry rocks.
Off these islands we had much calm weather, during which we were
surrounded by myriads of fish, of which sharks, and small whales, called
by the whalers fin-backs, were the most conspicuous. The smaller kinds
consisted of bonetas, barracoutas, porpoises, and flying fish. A
voracious dolphin was harpooned, in the maw of which was a barracouta in
a half-digested state, and in the throat a flying fish, bitten in half,
waiting its turn to be swallowed; for its tail had not disappeared out of
the dolphin's mouth.
June 24 to 26.
For a few days we had light south-westerly winds, but they soon gave
place to the South-East trade, which carried us quickly to the
South-West. The situation assigned by the Dutch sloop to the Tryal Rocks
was passed, without our noticing any indication of their existence.
On the 30th we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, between the 106th and
107th degree of east longitude; the South-East trade then died away, and
was succeeded by light baffling winds, between South-West and South, and
from that to East, attended with very cloudy damp weather, and frequent
squalls of heavy rain. This unwholesome state of the air increased the
number of our sick, for soon after leaving Timor the crew were attacked
by dysentery brought on by change of diet; and at one time the disease
wore a very alarming appearance.
1818. July 7.
Having reached with difficulty the latitude of 27 degrees 37 minutes and
longitude 104 degrees 51 minutes, a breeze freshened up, and gradually
veered from South-South-East to East, and East-North-East.
July 9 to 13.
Between the 9th and 13th (on which day we passed the meridian of Cape
Leeuwin) we had variable winds between North-East and North-West: on the
9th the wind blew a heavy gale, in which our jolly-boat was washed away,
and obliging us to bear up to the South-East prevented our seeing the
land about Cape Chatham, as had been intended.
July 14 to 23.
Between this and King's Island we had strong gales from the westward,
veering, at times, between north and south, with thick and sometimes
rainy weather. During the southerly winds the air was very cold, and
lowered the mercury to 47 and 49 degrees; but when the wind veered to the
north it rose to 55 degrees, and gave us considerable relief.
On the 23rd soundings were struck off King's Island
And the next morning we entered Bass Strait by passing round the south
end of the island. Here George Speed, one of our seamen, breathed his
last; his death was occasioned by an excessive indulgence in the
vegetables and fruits obtained at Timor, and he had been sick ever since
we left that place; first with dysentery, and then with an intestinal
The weather was so bad when we passed through the south entrance to the
Strait that we could make no very particular observation upon Reid's
Rocks, but they appear to be correctly placed by Captain Flinders.
We did not get through the Strait until the 26th. In passing the Pyramid
it was found to be placed five miles too much to the northward in Captain
The weather was now thick with heavy rain, and the wind blowing a gale
from West-South-West. I became very anxious to arrive at Port Jackson;
for we had but five men who could keep watch. The damp weather had
attended us with little intermission since our passing Cape Leeuwin, and
our people had been constantly wet with the continued breaking over of
the sea: indeed the decks had only been twice dry, and that even for a
few hours, since we left that meridian.
On the 27th, by sunset, we were abreast of Cape Howe.
And on the 29th, at noon, the lighthouse on the south head of the port
was joyfully descried. At eight o'clock in the evening we entered the
heads, and anchored in Sydney Cove at midnight, after an absence of
thirty-one weeks and three days.
Upon reviewing the proceedings of the voyage, the result of which bore
but a small proportion to what we had yet to do, I saw, with no little
satisfaction, that I had been enabled to set at rest the two particular
points of my instructions, namely, the opening behind Rosemary Island,
and the examination of the great bay of Van Diemen.
Upon rounding the North-West Cape, we had been unfortunate in losing our
anchors, which very much crippled our proceedings, and prevented our
prosecuting the examination of the coast in so detailed a manner as we
otherwise might have done; for we possessed no resource to avail
ourselves of, if we had been so unfortunate as to get on shore. A series
of fine weather, however, on the first part, and a sheltered coast with
good anchorage on the latter part of the voyage, enabled us to carry on
the survey without accident; and nearly as much has been effected with
one anchor as could have been done had we possessed the whole. It
prevented, however, our examining the bottom of Exmouth Gulf, and our
landing upon Depuch Island. The latter was a great disappointment to us,
on account of the following description which M. Peron gives of the
island, in his historical account of Baudin's Voyage, from the report of
M. Ronsard, who visited it.
"Au seul aspect de cette ile, on pouvoit deja pressentir qu'elle etoit
d'une nature differente de toutes celles que nous avions vues jusqu'a ce
jour. En effet, les terres en etoient plus hautes, les formes plus
prononcees: a mesure qu'on put s'en rapprocher, la difference devint plus
sensible encore. Au lieu de ces cotes uniformement prolongees, qui
n'offroient aucune pointe, aucun piton, aucune eminence, on voyait se
dessiner sur cette ile des roches aigues, solitaires, qui, comme autant
d'aiguilles, sembloient s'elancer de la surface du sol. Toute l'ile etoit
volcanique; des prismes de basalte, le plus ordinairement pentaedres,
entasses les uns sur les autres, reposant le plus souvent sur leurs
angles, en constituoient la masse entiere. La s'elevoient comme des murs
de pierre de taille; ailleurs, se presentoient des especes de paves
basaltiques, analogues a ceux de la fameuse Chaussee des Geans. Dans
quelques endroits on observoit des excavations plus ou moins profondes;
les eaux des parties voisines s'y etoient reunies, et formoient des
especes de fontaines, dans chacune desquelles nos gens trouverent une
tres-petite quantite d'excellente eau ferrugineuse. Dans ces lieux plus
humides, la vegetation etoit plus active; on y remarquoit de beaux
arbustes et quelques arbres plus gros, qui constituoient de petits
bosquets tres-agreables; le reste de l'ile, avec une disposition
differente, offroit un coup d'oeil bien different aussi: parmi ces
monceaux de laves entassees sans ordre, regne une sterilite generale; et
la couleur noire de ces roches volcaniques ajoutoit encore a l'aspect
triste et monotone de cette petite ile. La marche y est difficile, a
cause des prismes de basalte qui, couches horizontalement sur le sol,
presentent leurs aretes aigues en saillantes et dehors."
M. Peron then quotes M. Depuch's (the mineralogist to the expedition)
report: "La couleur de ce basalte est d'un gris tirant sur le bleu; sa
contexture est tres-serree, son grain fin et d'apparence
petro-silicieuse; de petites lames brillantes et irregulierement situees
sont disseminees dans toute la masse; il ne fait aucune effervescence
avec les acides, et n'affecte pas sensiblement le barreau aimante; sa
partie exterieure a eprouve une espece d'alteration produite par les
molecules ferrugineuses: cette decomposition n'atteint pas ordinairement
au dela de 3 ou 4 millemetres de profondeur."
M. Peron then continues M. Ronsard's report: "M. Ronsard croit devoir
penser, d'apres la conformation generale et la couleur de la partie du
continent voisine, qu'elle est d'une nature semblable et volcanique.
C'eut ete, sans doute un objet d'autant plus important a verifier, que,
jusqu'alors, nous n'avions rien pu voir de volcanique sur la Nouvelle
Hollande, et que depuis lors encore, nous n'y avons jamais trouve aucun
produit de ce genre; mais notre commandant, sans s'inquieter d'une
phenomene qui se rattache cependant d'une maniere essentielle a la
geographie de cette portion de la Nouvelle Hollande, donna l'ordre de
poursuivre notre route."
(*Footnote. Peron Voyage de Decouvertes aux Terres Australes volume 1
The rise of the tide was found by the French officer who landed upon it
to be at least twenty-five feet, which fact of itself was sufficient to
have induced us to examine into the cause of so unusual a circumstance;
for the greatest rise that we had hitherto found was not more than eight
or nine feet.
The hills at the back of this group of islands, which Commodore Baudin
called L'Archipel Forestier, recede from the coast in the shape of an
amphitheatre, which made me suppose that the coast trended in and formed
a deep bay; but this still remains to be ascertained, and we quitted the
place with much regret: for it unquestionably presented a far more
interesting feature than any part that we had previously seen.
On our passage to the north coast we saw the Imperieuse and Clerke's
Shoals, and also discovered a third, the Mermaid's.
On the north coast we found some deep bays and excellent ports, and at
the bottom of the great bay of Van Diemen we discovered several rivers,
one of which we ascended for forty miles. The thickly-wooded shores of
the north coast bore a striking contrast to the sandy desert-looking
tract of coast we had previously seen, and inspired us with the hope of
finding, at a future time, a still greater improvement in the country
between the two extremes.
Mr. Cunningham made a very valuable and extensive collection of dried
plants and seeds; but, from the small size of our vessel, and the
constant occupation of myself and the two midshipmen who accompanied me,
we had neither space nor time to form any other collection of Natural
History than a few insects, and some specimens of the geology of those
parts where we had landed.
Visit to Van Diemen's Land, and examination of the entrance of Macquarie
Anchor in Pine Cove and cut wood.
Description of the Trees growing there.
Return to the entrance, and water at Outer Bay.
Interview with the Natives, and Vocabulary of their language.
Arrive at Hobart Town, and return to Port Jackson.
The construction of the charts of the preceding voyage, together with the
equipment of the vessel, fully occupied me until the month of December;
when, having some time to spare before we could leave Port Jackson on our
second voyage to the north coast, in consequence of its being the time
when the westerly monsoon prevails, I acquainted His Excellency the
Governor of my intention of surveying the entrance of Macquarie Harbour,
which had lately been discovered on the western coast of Van Diemen's
Land. To make my visit there as useful as possible to the colony, a
passage was offered to Mr. Justice Field, the Judge of the Supreme Court,
who was at that time about to proceed to Hobart Town to hold his court;
and as it was probable that his business would terminate about the time
of our return, it was arranged that the Mermaid should also convey him
We left Sydney Cove on the 24th December.
But did not clear the heads of the port until eight o'clock on the
following morning, when we sailed with a fresh wind from the North-East.
Red Point was passed soon after noon, at the back of which some of the
lately settled farms in the Five Island District were plainly
distinguished. The hills here recede from the coast, and form an
amphitheatre of rich grazing land, on which is the Lake Alowrie and Tom
Thumb's Lagoon of Captain Flinders.
Off Red Point, so named by Captain Cook (but which by the natives is
called Illawarra), are five small rocky islands. This group gives a name
to the district, which has proved a valuable acquisition to the colony.
About ten miles to the southward of Red Point the hills again approach
the coast; which then becomes steep and thickly wooded, until near to
Shoal Haven; when they again fall back, and form another large tract of
low country, which as yet is little known.
On the 27th after sunset we passed Cape Howe and crossed the entrance of
Bass Strait with a heavy gale from the South-West.
1819. January 1.
At daylight on the 1st of January Schouten Island, on the east coast of
Van Diemen's Land, was seen; before dark Cape Pillar made its appearance.
And at two o'clock the next afternoon the Mermaid was anchored off Hobart
On our arrival I learnt that a part of my object had been already
accomplished by a Mr. Florance, who had just returned from a partial
survey of Macquarie Harbour; but upon examining his chart I found it to
be merely a delineation of its coastline; without noticing the depth of
water or any of the numerous shoals which crowd the entrance of this
As the most essential part therefore remained still to be performed, we
left Hobart Town on the 10th of January, and passed through
D'Entrecasteaux Channel; which is by the colonists at the Derwent
improperly called The Storm Bay Passage. By eight p.m. we were abreast of
the South Cape, when the wind veered round to the North-West, and
compelled us to stand to the southward.
At daylight on the 12th we were abreast of the range of hills, one of
which Captain Flinders had named Mount Dewitt; and our course was held
parallel to the shore with a fresh breeze from South-South-East and fine
weather. Soon after noon we passed Point Hibbs; and at four o'clock
hauled round the point of land which forms the western head of the outer
road of Macquarie Harbour, which I named Cape Sorell, in compliment to
the Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land. Between this Cape and Point
Hibbs the coast is very rocky, and ought not to be approached. Off the
Cape, at the distance of a quarter of a mile, is a detached rock on which
the sea continually breaks.
It was dark before we reached an anchorage off the bar of the harbour;
having had to work against a strong South-South-East wind blowing
directly out. The anchorage was rather exposed to the North-West; but as
the weather had a settled appearance I was reconciled to remain for the
night, which turned out fine.
At daylight the bar was sounded, and a buoy placed on its deepest part to
indicate the channel; on which, at that time of tide (about half-flood)
there was nine feet water: this was sufficient to allow us to pass it;
but in order to prevent delay, I caused the cutter to be lightened as
much as possible; and having reduced her draught to seven feet and a half
by emptying the water-casks, she was warped over the bar to an anchorage
between it and the entrance. As the cutter passed the shoalest part she
struck twice, but so lightly as to occasion neither damage nor delay.
January 13 to 16.
An anchorage was taken up in Outer Bay in order to sound the bar whilst
the weather was so favourable for the purpose, which employed us until
the 16th, when a westerly wind enabled us to enter the harbour; but, from
baffling winds and the ebbing tide, and the width of the entrance being
only seventy yards, we found a considerable difficulty in effecting it.
The anchor was dropped as soon as the cutter was inside, and she was
afterwards warped to a more convenient situation out of the strength of
Here we remained during the evening, in order to obtain bearings from two
contiguous stations on the hills. Near one of them we found lying on the
rocks a bundle of garments, which, upon examination, were found to be of
colonial manufacture; they bore no marks of ever having been worn, and as
I afterwards found had been given by Mr. Florance to the natives; who,
disliking the confinement of clothes, had abandoned them as useless.
The next day we were employed in moving the vessel up the harbour to
Mount Wellington and in the examination of Channel Bay. In doing this a
brig passed us on her way out; she proved to be the Sophia of Hobart
Town, commanded by Mr. Kelly, the original discoverer of the place. He
had just procured a load of pine logs from Pine Cove at the North-East
corner of the harbour, and was now homeward bound. In the afternoon we
anchored off Round Head and Mr. Kelly came on board to assist me in
buoying and examining the channel, which bears his name in my plan, and
in which the deepest water in one part is but eight feet. In order that
the cutter might pass through this, for it was the only one that
communicated with the harbour, we were obliged to buoy it, since the
breadth was not more than thirty-five yards, and only six inches deeper
than the cutter's draught of water.
January 19 to 21.
While our people were at dinner, a party of natives came to the verge of
Round Head, and remained for some time calling to us. As soon as we had
dined, we landed, with the intention of communicating with them; they had
however left the place, and we returned on board without seeing them: the
following day, when I was away with the boat sounding the channels
towards Betsey's Island, they came down again, but seeing no boat near
the vessel they walked round to the Sophia, which was still at anchor
near Mount Wellington: we afterwards found that they had been induced to
go on board the brig, and were much pleased with their visit, and
gratified with the presents which Mr. Kelly gave them.
On the 21st with a breeze from the North-West we got under weigh and
passed through Kelly's Channel; but at eleven o'clock the wind fell, and
we were obliged to anchor upon the edge of the bank off River Point; we
had not, however, to wait long, for the breeze freshened up again, and we
arrived at Pine Cove in time to land and examine the place before sunset.
January 21 to 24.
On our way to the shore in our boat we disturbed two flights of black
swans who flew away at our approach. Having landed at the bottom of the
cove where the Sophia had obtained her cargo, we found the Huon
pine-trees, interspersed with many others of different species, growing
in great profusion, within three yards of the edge of the water, upon a
soil of decomposed vegetable matter, which in many parts was so soft that
we often suddenly sank ankle-deep, and occasionally up to the knees in
it: this swampy nature of the soil is to be attributed to the crowded
state of the trees; for they grow so close to each other as to prevent
the rays of the sun from penetrating to the soil.
The ground is also strewed with fallen trees, the stems of which are
covered with a thick coat of moss, in which seedlings of all the
varieties of trees and plants that grow here were springing up in the
prostrate stem of perhaps their parent tree; and it was not rare to see
large Huon pines of three feet in diameter rooted in this manner on the
trunk of a sound tree of even larger dimensions that had, perhaps, been
lying on the ground for centuries; while others were observed, in
appearance sound, and in shape perfect, and also covered with moss,
which, upon being trod upon, fell in and crumbled away.
The fructification of this tree, so called from the river, which was
named after Captain Huon Kermadie, who commanded L'Esperance under the
order of Admiral D'Entrecasteaux, never having been seen, its detection
was matter of much curiosity to Mr. Cunningham, who diligently examined
every tree that had been felled. It was, however, with some difficulty
that he succeeded in finding the flower, which was so minute as almost to
require a magnifying lens to observe it; it is a coniferous tree and was
supposed by Mr. Cunningham to be allied to dacrydium. Several saplings of
this wood were cut for studding-sail booms and oars, as also of the
Podocarpos aspleniifolia, Labillardiere; this latter tree is known to the
colonists by the name of Adventure Bay Pine, and grows on Bruny Island in
Storm Bay; but it is there very inferior in size to those of Pine Cove.
The Carpodontos lucida, or Australian snowdrop, of which Labillardiere
has given a figure in his account of Admiral D'Entrecasteaux's voyage,
was in full flower, and had a most beautiful appearance.
The following is a list of the several species of trees that grow in this
Cove, for which I am indebted to Mr. Cunningham:
COLUMN 1: Natural Orders, Jussieu.
COLUMN 2: Linn. Sex. Syst.
COLUMN 3: Name used by Colonists.
COLUMN 4: Ordinary Dimensions. Height in feet.
COLUMN 5: Ordinary Dimensions. Diameter at the Base.
Coniferae : Dacrydium sp.? : Huon Pine : 40 to 60 : 2 feet to 5 feet.
Coniferae : Podocarpos aspleniifolia, Labillardiere : Adventure Bay Yew,
or Pine : 40 to 50 : 12 to 16 inches.
Cunoniaceae : Weinmannia, sp. : Native Beech : 20 to 25 : 4 to 5 inches.
Amentaceae : Fagus : Native Birch : 40 : 12 to 14 inches.
Proteaceae : Cenarrhenes nitida. Labillardiere : Stinking Native Laurel :
20 to 25 : 8 inches.
Hypericineae : Carpodontos lucida. Labillardiere : Snowdrop Tree : 25 to
30 : 4 to 6 inches.
Mimoseae : Acacia melanoxylon. Brown. : Blackhearted Wattle, or Native
Ash : 40 : 8 to 10 inches.
Atherospermeae : Atherosperma moschata. Labillardiere : Sassafras : 30 to
35 : 5 to 8 inches.
Diosmeae : Zieria arborescens : Rue Tree : 12 to 16 : 3 to 4 inches.
Escalloneae Brown. : Anopteros glandulosa. Labillardiere : Rose Bay : 15
to 20 : 3 to 5 inches.
Annonaceae : Tasmania Australis. Brown. : Spice Bark, or Tasman's Bark :
20 to 25 : 4 to 6 inches.
January 21 to 24.
On the 24th, having nearly expended our time and having ascertained the
forms of the shoals and completed the soundings of the channels in the
entrance of this truly remarkable harbour, we left Pine Cove on our
return: having a favourable wind we ran through Kelly's Channel and
anchored in Outer Bay, between Entrance Island and the bar, in order to
complete our water at the stream that runs over the beach, and to obtain
some sights on the Island for the rates of the chronometers. On
anchoring, several natives were seen on the beach calling to us, but the
wind was too fresh to allow of our communicating with them that day.
But early the next morning, our boat being sent on shore with our empty
baricas and some casks for water, our party was amicably received by a
tribe of natives, consisting of six men and four old women; they came
forward unarmed, but as we afterwards found, their spears were concealed
close at hand.
Some presents were distributed amongst them, of which the most valuable,
in their estimation, were empty wine-bottles, which they called moke,
this word was however used by them for water also, so that it was
doubtful whether the word meant the article itself or the vessel that
contained it. Our familiarity increased so rapidly that by the time that
we had dug two wells to receive the water which was flowing over the
beach, they had become very inquisitive, and made no hesitation in
searching our pockets, and asking for everything they saw. One of the
men, upon being detected in the act of pilfering a piece of white paper
from Mr. Cunningham's specimen box, immediately dropped it, and drew
back, much alarmed for fear of punishment, and also ashamed of having
been discovered; but after a few angry looks from us, the paper was given
to him, and peace was soon restored.
Our dog, being a subject of much alarm, was fastened to the stern of our
boat; a circumstance which prevented their curiosity from extending
itself in that direction, and thus our arms were kept in convenient
readiness without their knowledge.
As soon as our boats were loaded and we had embarked the natives retired
to a bush; behind which we observed the heads of several children and
young women. As many as sixteen were counted; so that this tribe, or
family, might be composed of from twenty-five to thirty persons, of which
we only saw six who were grown men.
They were stouter and better proportioned than the natives of New South
Wales; and, unlike them, their hair was woolly: the only covering in use
amongst them was a kangaroo-skin, which they wore as a cloak over their
shoulders. On the return of the boat after breakfast, they did not make
their appearance, and it turned out that they had crossed over to the
sea-side in search of shellfish; but on the boats going in the afternoon
for a third turn of water, two natives whom we had seen in the morning
came towards us: one of them submitted his head to the effects of Mr.
Cunningham's scissors, which had, much to their gratification and
delight, clipped the hair and beard of one of our morning visitors: a
slight prick on the nose was not ill-naturedly taken by him, and excited
a laugh from his companion.
During the day the following specimen of their language was obtained by
Arm : Yir'-ra-wig.
Nose : Me-oun.
Fingers : War'-ra-nook.
Eyes : Nam'-mur-ruck.
Elbow : Nam-me-rick.
Ear : Goun-reek.
Hair of the head : Pipe, or Bi-pipe.
Beard : Ru-ing.
Nipple : Ner-ri-nook.
Knee : None.
Toes : Pe-une.
Teeth : Kouk.
Tongue : Mim.
Neck : Treek, or Lan-gar-ree.
Navel : Wy-lune.
Fire : Lope.
A gull (or a bird) : Tir-ru-rar.
Toe-nails : Wan-dit.
Stone : Jal-lop, or Lone.
Kangaroo : Rag-u-ar.
Kangaroo-skin : Lan-num-mock.
Water, or a vessel to carry it in : Moke.
Yes : Wa-ak.
Come here, or come back : Ar-gar.
NAMES OF PLANTS.
Banksia australis : Tan-gan.
Archistroche lineare : Ta-bel-lak, or Le-vi-lack.
Corrrea rufa : Nirr.
Mesembryanthemum aequilaterale : Nu-ick.
Acacia sophora : Gur-we-er.
Melaleuca : Rone.
A tree : Pill-i-a ere-wig.
Early the next morning we sailed over the bar, though not without
grounding, for the wind being from the westward we were obliged to make
several tacks, by which we necessarily approached the edge of the banks;
this accident however did not detain us and by one o'clock we passed
round Cape Sorell.
On the 29th at eight a.m. the Mewstone was passed and the wind being
fresh from South-West we rounded the South-East Cape at nine o'clock, and
at sunset we were off Cape Frederick Hendrick, which is the northern head
of Adventure Bay: between this and Quoin, or Sloping Island, we stood off
and on during the night. At daylight we entered the Derwent River and
anchored off Hobart town at seven o'clock in the morning.
1819. February 7.
Here we remained until the 7th of February on which day the judge
embarked and we left the place on our return to Port Jackson.
On the 14th at dusk we passed Botany Bay, and it was dark when we were
abreast of Port Jackson; but, being sufficiently acquainted with the
place, and favoured by the wind, we did not hesitate to enter; and
anchored off Sydney Cove at nine o'clock in the evening.
Departure from Port Jackson, and commence a running survey of the East
Examinations of Port Macquarie and the River Hastings in company with the
Lady Nelson, colonial brig, and assisted by Lieutenant Oxley, R.N., the
Surveyor-general of the Colony.
Leave Port Macquarie.
The Lady Nelson returns with the Surveyor-general to Port Jackson.
Enter the Barrier-reefs at Break-sea Spit.
Discover Rodd's Bay.
Visit the Percy Islands.
Pass through Whitsunday Passage, and anchor in Cleveland Bay.
Wood and water there.
Continue the examination of the East Coast towards Endeavour River;
anchoring progressively at Rockingham Bay, Fitzroy Island, Snapper
Island, and Weary Bay.
Interview with the Natives at Rockingham Bay, and loss of a boat off Cape
Arrival off Endeavour River.
1819. February 15 to May 7.
Between the period of my return from the Derwent and the second week of
March we were prevented from making any preparation for our second voyage
to the North Coast by an unusual continuance of the heavy rains incident
to that season; which caused three floods on the Hawkesbury and Nepean
Rivers and did considerable damage to the ripening crops. This
unfavourable weather so retarded our equipment that it was the middle of
April before we were ready for sea; after which time we experienced
further detention from not being able to complete our crew.
But at length we sailed from Port Jackson on the 8th of May.
As it was my intention to take the northerly passage through Torres
Strait, I proposed, in my way up the East Coast, to examine Port
Macquarie; and, in order that his Excellency the Governor might be
informed of the result of our proceedings as soon as possible, Lieutenant
Oxley, R.N., the Surveyor-general of the colony, accompanied me in the
Lady Nelson, colonial brig.
By noon the following day the church of King's Town,* in Port Hunter, was
seen. Between Cape Hawke and the Brothers we passed Wallis, Harrington's,
and Farquhar's Lakes: and, on the north side of the northernmost Brother,
we saw the entrance of Camden Haven; which, although deeper than the
Lakes, is only accessible for very small vessels.
(*Footnote. Now more generally known by the name of Newcastle.)
The next morning we anchored off Port Macquarie; and whilst the Lady
Nelson was beating up to an anchorage Lieutenant Oxley accompanied me in
the whale-boat to examine the entrance.
In pulling in we got among the sand rollers on the north side, on which
the sea broke so heavy as at one time to endanger the boat's upsetting;
but fortunately we escaped with only the loss of an oar; after contending
for some time against the tide, which was ebbing with great strength, we
landed on the south side; when we were met by five natives, who had been
watching us all the morning, and had not been backward in their
invitations and entreaties for us to land. At first they kept aloof until
approached by Lieutenant Oxley, whom they soon recognised: after a short
interview in which they appeared to place the greatest confidence in all
our movements, we ascended the hill to observe the channel over the bar;
the water of which was so clear that the deepest part was easily seen. As
this was the principal object we did not delay longer on shore than was
necessary, and upon our return sounded the depth of water upon the bar
and in the channel, the particulars of which are detailed upon the plan
of the harbour.
The next morning the two vessels were warped into the port; and by eleven
o'clock were anchored within a few yards of the south shore, and secured
to trees near the beach, close to a fresh-water stream which ran into the
The following day we pulled three or four miles up the river; on the way
up two natives were seen in a canoe but on our approach they landed to
avoid us and quickly disappeared. The boat was kept in mid-stream and we
passed by without taking any notice of them. Half a mile further on we
put ashore on the south bank and took bearings to fix the position of our
station and the direction of the next reach upwards, which appeared to be
about three miles long and half a mile broad. We then returned to the
And on the 14th Lieutenant Oxley and Mr. Roe accompanied me in one of our
boats upon the examination of the river.
After reaching our former station on the south bank we proceeded up the
long reach towards Black-man Point, on which a tribe of natives were
collected: the river is here divided into two streams; we followed that
which trended to the westward as it appeared to be the most considerable.
At the end of the next reach the river is again divided into two
branches, and as the southernmost was found upon trial to be the
shoalest, the other was followed. On our left was a small contracted arm,
which probably communicates with the lagoon on Rawdon Island; here we
landed to examine the trees which so thickly and beautifully cover both
banks: several sorts of large growth were noticed, among which was a tree
of the trichillieae, natural order Jussieu (Trichillia glandulosa), which
the colonists have flattered with the name of rosewood, and a ficus of
gigantic growth, both of which are very abundant. We landed at Point
Elizabeth and walked a mile back through a fine open country, well
timbered and richly clothed with luxuriant grass and apparently much
frequented by kangaroos.
From the edge of the bank Mount Cairncross, a remarkable round-topped
hill which is conspicuously seen from the coast over the entrance of the
port,* appeared over the next reach, and formed a rich picturesque
back-ground for the view.
(*Footnote. See Illustration: View of the Entrance of Port Macquarie.)
After refreshing ourselves, we re-embarked, and passed on our right a
shoal inlet, in which we saw a native's weir, for the purpose of taking
fish; it was formed by sticks stuck in the mud, and so close as to
prevent the retreat of such as were inside: three miles above this we
landed on an open grassy spot on the south bank, and pitched our tent for
About half an hour before we landed we heard the voices of natives in the
woods; who, after we passed by, embarked in two canoes and followed us
for some distance, but the near approach of night obliged us to look out
for a convenient spot to encamp upon; so that the natives, finding they
were unattended to, soon gave up their pursuit.
In the morning, before we embarked, our barica was filled at a water-hole
close at hand; on walking about a quarter of a mile back, we came to the
borders of a large circular plain, about one mile in diameter, covered
with reeds and other indications of its being a morass or lagoon.
We then pursued our way up the river; it soon trended sharply round to
the South-East and joined the main stream which we had unknowingly left
the preceding evening. There we had to unload and drag the boat over a
fall; but, as the ascent was not more than ten or twelve inches, no
difficulty was experienced in effecting it. Whilst thus employed, we were
visited by ten natives, some of whom, by being painted and ornamented in
a remarkable manner, were recognised as those who followed us last
evening: their timidity was at first very great, but our conduct gave
them confidence, and they very soon came to the boat, and assisted in
launching her into deeper water, for which service they were presented
with fishing hooks and lines, which they gladly received. Everything we
said or did was repeated by them with the most exact imitation; and
indeed they appeared to think they could not please us better than by
mimicking every motion that we made. Some biscuit was given them which
they pretended to eat, but on our looking aside were observed to spit it
out. They wished much to take us to their huts; but, the day being much
advanced without our having made any progress, we were obliged to decline
their invitation; and as soon as the boat was reloaded we took leave of
these friendly Indians, whose voices we heard until a turn of the river
hid their persons from our view. About two miles higher, at King's
River,* Lieutenant Oxley landed and recognised his former tracks which
were now much overgrown and nearly effaced; the marks of the axe were,
however, sufficiently evident for us to follow them for half a mile along
the banks of the river, when we re-embarked, and continued our course
(*Footnote. See Illustration: View of the River Hastings at its Junction
with King's River.)
The river now became much narrower, not being more than seventy or eighty
yards wide; four miles higher up we landed and joined Mr. Cunningham, who
was botanizing in the Lady Nelson's boat: this gentleman had overtaken us
about an hour before and passed on to look for a convenient place to
encamp for the night; but for want of a better situation, was obliged to
land in a brush, the banks of which were so thickly lined with trees and
climbing plants that we should have passed it if the station had not been
indicated to us by his boat made fast to the landing place.
Some rain fell during the night, but this inconvenience was trifling
compared to the discordant screams of a bird which had roosted over our
fires, and which the people called the cat-bird. The trichillia and the
ficus, before noticed, are abundant on these banks, and are all
intricately connected with each other by climbing plants which grow to an
incredible size, and hang down in rich clusters from the summit to the
root of the tree, tending considerably to beautify the richness of the
The woods included every tree of the soil and climate, excepting a white
and straight stemmed eucalyptus, which is common at Hunter's River, and
there called the Flooded Gum; it is used and reckoned valuable for spars,
but the few specimens that I have seen of it have been very brittle and
bad. Some of these trees were observed by us to be from fifty to sixty
feet high, perfectly straight, and without a fork for forty feet.
The next morning our boats in company proceeded for two miles farther up;
in this space we crossed four falls, the last of which, running with
great rapidity, occasioned some difficulty and trouble in passing over
it: a little above this fall our exploration terminated, and we stopped
to examine the timber. Several cedar-trees (Cedrelea toona), of large
growth, were observed; one of which, being measured, was found to be ten
feet in diameter at the base.
The upper part of the river is studded with islets covered with the
Casuarina paludosa which is abundant in the swamps and low grounds at
Port Jackson, where the colonists call it the Swamp Oak. The river
appeared to be subject to inundations, for marks of floods were visible
in all parts, and some considerably beyond the banks.
On our return we landed at a high rocky head on the north bank, from
which a tract of open country appeared to recede. From hence Brown's
Bluff bore South 32 degrees West. This Bluff is a remarkable hill, and is
distinctly seen from the coast: its position was fixed by Mr. Oxley on
his last journey, who passing within a few miles, rode to its summit to
gain a view of the country, which he described as very extensive and
beautiful, and as having abundantly repaid him for his labour.
As we had before passed through the Loudon Branch, we now followed the
main stream, and on our way landed on the south bank, upon a piece of
open forest land, abundantly clothed with luxuriant grass and
moderate-sized timber. The water here began to taste brackish, but it was
quite fresh about a quarter of a mile higher up, above a spit of rocks
which nearly crosses the channel, leaving a passage of ten feet water,
over which there is a trifling fall. About three-quarters of a mile lower
down we landed on the north bank, on Rawdon Island, on the edge of the
swamp seen near our tent in the Loudon Branch.
We also landed at Black-man Point, and had an interview with twenty-five
natives; amongst whom we recognised several that had visited us at the
anchorage, and who appeared delighted and happy at meeting us again:
after spending half an hour with them we re-embarked, and arrived on
board by sunset.
Between this and the 20th our time was busily spent in laying down and
making further observations upon the soundings of the port and bar.
On the 21st at highwater, having completed our object, we left the
harbour; and in steering over the bar found eleven feet water at about
thirty-five yards from the sunken rocks. The Lady Nelson, in following,
kept more over towards the north side of the channel and, being near the
edge of the sand rollers, had but nine feet.
On reaching the offing Lieutenant Oxley embarked in the Lady Nelson to
return to Port Jackson, and soon afterwards the two vessels parted
In consequence of the report made by Lieutenant Oxley to the Governor
upon the result of the expedition, an establishment has been since formed
at this harbour; which at present is used only as a penal settlement:
hitherto no settlers have been permitted to take their grants at Port
Macquarie; but when this is allowed it will, from the superiority of its
climate and the great extent of fine country in the interior, become a
very important and valuable dependency of the colony of New South Wales.
The natural productions of this place are, in a great measure, similar to
those of the neighbourhood of Port Jackson; but many plants were found
which are not known in the colony; and as these grow in all parts within
the tropic, the climate of Port Macquarie may naturally be suspected to
be favourable to the cotton-plant and the sugar-cane, neither of which
have yet been cultivated to the southward: among these plants, we found
the Pandanus pedunculatus, which Mr. Brown found in the Gulf of
Carpentaria, and many other parts within the tropic, in Captain Flinders'
voyage. The face of the hill on the south side of the entrance possesses
some good soil; and at the time of our visit* was covered with a
profusion of herbage, and studded with groups of banksia, which the
colonists call the honeysuckle; the wood of which is useful in
ship-building on account of the crooked growth of its stem.
(*Footnote. It is on this hill that the penal settlement of Port
Macquarie is now built, the situation having been selected at the
recommendation of Lieutenant Oxley. It was settled by Captain Allman of
the 48th regiment in the early part of the year 1821.)
The banks of the river on both sides were thickly wooded; in most parts
the country is open and grassy and is profusely timbered with the
varieties of eucalyptus that are common at Port Jackson. There is however
a great extent of brushland in which the soil is exceedingly rich, and in
which the trees grow to a large size; these, being covered with
parasitical plants and creepers of gigantic size, render the forest
almost impervious: it is in these brushes that the rosewood and
cedar-trees grow, and also the fig-tree before alluded to; this last tree
is of immense size and is remarkable for having its roots protruding from
the base of the stem, like huge buttresses, to the distance of several
The natives are numerous, but they appear to depend more upon hunting
than the sea for their subsistence. This I judged from the very inferior
state of their canoes which are very much less ingeniously formed than
even the frail ones of the Port Jackson natives; being merely sheets of
bark with the ends slightly gathered up to form a shallow concavity, in
which they stand and propel them by means of poles. Their huts are more
substantially constructed and more useful as dwellings than any to the
southward, and will contain eight or ten persons; while those to the
southward are seldom large enough to hold three; they are arched over and
form a dome with the opening on the land side; so that they are screened
from the cold sea-winds, which, unless they blow in the character of the
sea-breeze, are generally accompanied by rain. Kangaroos are very
numerous, and from their traces appeared of large size; but we saw
neither emus nor native dogs.
As a port this place will never be the resort of vessels of larger
burthen than 100 tons, there not being more than ten feet water on the
bar; which on account of the swell will not admit vessels of a greater
draught than nine feet: this is a great drawback upon its prosperity; but
the small coasting vessels from Sydney will be sufficiently large for the
purposes of conveying produce to Port Jackson. It cannot long remain as a
penal establishment for its utility in that respect is already lost,
since the convicts find their way back to the colony as soon as an
opportunity offers of escaping; and then, for fear of detection, remain
concealed in its outskirts, and are necessarily driven to plunder and rob
A very great advantage attending the settling of this part is its free
communication with the interior, and with that vast space of fine country
situated between Lieutenant Oxley's Track on the parallel of 30 degrees,
and Bathurst. This region has lately (1823) been travelled over by my
indefatigable friend Mr. Cunningham and found to possess a large portion
of excellent soil and rich pasturage; it contains altogether at least
twelve millions of acres in which it would be difficult to discover a bad
tract of country of any extent; but as one-fourth part is the general
calculation in the colony for waste land, nine millions of the richest
country will be left for future colonization: many years however must
elapse before it can be occupied.
The description of the interior of New South Wales is so foreign to my
object, and so irrelevant to the subject before me that I must entreat
the indulgence of my reader for this digression; and return to the
Mermaid, already described as having left the port and parted company
with the Lady Nelson, conveying my friend Lieutenant Oxley to Port
Jackson, and leaving us to resume our voyage.
As soon as we had obtained an offing the wind freshened up to a strong
breeze from the westward, attended with squally and unfavourable weather;
but we were enabled to make some useful observations upon the coastline
as far as the next point to the southward of Smoky Cape; when night
obliged us to steer more off shore.
The country behind the beach was lined with natives' fires which were
kindled as we passed to attract our notice. To the southward of Smoky
Cape the land is very low and probably occupied by large lagoons.
The next evening Mount Warning was seen from the deck although we were at
least seventy-eight miles from it.
On the 23rd at noon our latitude was 28 degrees 9 minutes 5 seconds, when
the Mount bore South 58 degrees West (Magnetic). At sunset the wind died
away; and, from the land in the vicinity of the mountain indicating every
appearance of the existence of either a large sheet of water or an
opening of consequence, I was induced to remain two days to examine the
beach more narrowly; but, after beating about with a strong
south-easterly current which prevented my tracing the beach to the
northward of the Mount, and having only seen an inconsiderable opening
that communicates by a shoal channel with a small lagoon at the back of
the beach, I gave up the search; still without satisfying myself of the
non-existence of an inlet, which, if there be one, probably communicates
with the sea nearer to Point Danger.*
(*Footnote. Lieutenant Oxley has since (1823) discovered this to be the
case, for he found a stream emptying itself into the sea, by a bar
harbour close to Point Danger. Lieutenant Oxley called it the Tweed.)
Mount Warning is the summit of a range of hills which is either distinct
from others near it or separated from them by deep ravines. It is very
high and may be seen twenty-eight leagues from a ship's deck.
West-North-West from it is a much higher range but, having a more regular
outline than the mount, is not of so conspicuous a character. Several
detached ranges of hills lie between Mount Warning and the beach; they
are thickly covered with timber, amongst which was a pine, supposed to be
the same that Captain Flinders found growing on Entrance Island in Port
Bowen, which is 6 1/2 degrees more to the northward.* Mount Warning is on
the same parallel as Norfolk Island, where the Araucaria excelsa grows in
remarkable luxuriance and beauty and attains a very large size; if this
be the same tree, it is of very stunted growth.**
(*Footnote. Flinders volume 2 page 36.)
(**Footnote. Lieutenant Oxley, in his late expedition to Moreton Bay
(1823), found reason to doubt whether the pine that he found in the
Brisbane River was the Araucaria excelsa of Norfolk Island.)
The country in the vicinity of Mount Warning appears to be productive and
wooded; for although the hills are steep and rather precipitous, yet
their verdant and agreeable appearance augurs favourably for the
fertility of the valleys between them.
Light winds retarded our progress along the coast until the evening of
the 25th, when the wind freshened up from the westward, and by the
following sunset we were abreast of Cape Moreton.
The following morning part of the sandy peninsula was in sight.
But we did not pass round Breaksea Spit until the next day. We then
steered across Hervey's Bay towards Bustard Bay and passed a small island
that was discovered by the ship Lady Elliot in 1816 and that had not yet
a place upon the chart of this part of the coast.
(*Footnote. See Appendix A Part 2.)
The next day at noon we were off Bustard Bay and passed half a mile
without the dry rock which lies off its north end.
The course was now directed for Gatcombe Head of Port Curtis, whither it
had become necessary to proceed, to repair some little damage that we had
met with during the preceding night; as we proceeded a shoal opening
presented itself round the north head of Bustard Bay, probably
communicating with the inundated lands at the back: here the coast is
lined with rocky hills, on which we saw no timber but what was stunted.
The trending in of the land round the next point led us to the discovery
of a considerable inlet which had escaped Captain Flinders' observation.
On hauling round the point and steering towards what had at first the
appearance of being the principal opening, another presented itself to
the eastward, divided from the first by a projecting point (Middle Head);
which appeared to be well furnished with grass and trees, and was as
picturesque as it was prominent.
As this latter opening appeared to be more considerable than that which
trends round the west side of Middle Head and had at first occupied our
attention, we proceeded to examine it; and without difficulty found the
channel, with good and well-sheltered anchorage within the entrance. In
working in, the cutter took the ground on the south side of the port, but
was got off again without suffering any damage.
In the morning we landed and ascended a hill on the west side of the bay,
whence we had an extensive prospect; but it did not impress us with any
better opinion of the utility or merits of the bay than that it would
afford shelter to moderate-sized vessels. It is a large sheet of water,
full of shoals, and probably communicates with the sea by a small opening
near the point
next to the northward of Bustard Bay; the dry rock off which was
distinctly seen over the land. There was also an appearance of its
communicating with the swamps at the head of Bustard Bay; but in that
direction the trees prevented my ascertaining it with certainty: the
opening to the westward of Middle Head appeared to trend to the
South-West through a low marsh; and to the southward and south-eastward
the face of the country is irregular and mountainous. The hills which
surround the bay are rocky; and although they are not deficient in wood
and grass the soil is very shallow; and the trees, principally of
eucalyptus, are of stunted growth.
1819. June 1.
Thick and rainy weather prevented our leaving this port, which was named
Rodd's Bay, until the 1st of June. At four o'clock in the afternoon we
hauled round Cape Capricorn and at dark anchored on the bank between that
projection and Cape Keppel.
The next morning we resumed our course to the northward and passed inside
of Hummock Island and between Keppel's great Island and the First Lump.
As we passed Port Bowen we were near enough to the shore to observe the
anchorage under Entrance Island. In the evening we anchored about one
mile from the Pine Islets in the mouth of the opening round Island Head,
in four and three quarters fathoms, fine sand.
At daylight the next morning we were steering a course for the Percy
Islands; on our way to which we passed three or four miles to the
eastward of the 3rd Northumberland Island, which is a steep rock crowned
At eleven o'clock we were half a mile from a low rock that has not
hitherto been noticed in the charts: it lies five miles North 15 degrees
East from the 3rd island; and being very low is dangerous for vessels
passing near it in the night; but with the 3rd island in sight it may be
Steering on we passed inside the rock that lies off the west end of the
Percy Island, Number 1; and anchored in its westernmost sandy bay, to the
westward of the small Pine Islet, at about a quarter of a mile from the
shore, in two and a half fathoms. The bank being very steep, the
anchorage was not considered secure; but as the wind blew off the land
and the weather was fine I was reconciled to remain. Upon examining the
beach it was found that our water might be very conveniently completed at
a stream which ran over its east end. I therefore determined upon taking
this opportunity of filling our casks, as well as of repairing our small
whale-boat; whilst the sailmaker was employed in altering a tent, and a
part of our crew in cutting wood.
The birthday of our late venerable and good king was passed at this
And the following morning (5th), our tasks being completed, we left the
This island having been already described by Captain Flinders, little is
left for me to say. The hills are intersected by numerous gullies and are
consequently supplied with streams: but the most convenient
watering-place for ships is the one we used, except during a northerly or
a westerly wind, when the practicability of landing on any part of the
north side of this island is very questionable; for the task was
difficult even with the wind blowing off the shore. Tracks of natives,
but not of recent date, were noticed. In our walks over the hills we saw
abundance of quails but no animals were observed; very few sea-birds
frequented the beaches perhaps on account of the contiguity of the
barrier reefs, upon which they can much more plentifully procure their
On the hills, which are very rocky, the grass grew luxuriantly, although
the soil is shallow and poor; but in the gullies Mr. Cunningham found
some good loamy ground, in which he sowed a few peach-stones, which would
doubtless thrive, were it not for the fires of the natives.
We saw very few pine-trees that exceeded forty feet in height, and the
cones were not yet formed. Mr. Cunningham remarked a great similarity
between the botanical productions of this part and of the north coast,
although there is a difference in latitude of ten degrees.
After weighing, the wind, which was at South-West, gradually died away.
During the evening we passed Beverly Group (the Five Island cluster of
Captain Flinders) and at sunset anchored in sixteen fathoms fine sand and
shells, near Double Isle.
The whole of the next day and night was spent in endeavouring to approach
the main, but we made very little progress. During the day natives' fires
were burning on many of the islands and the coast of the main was
enveloped in smoke.
At daylight on the 7th the cutter was about eight miles East by South
from Point Slade, with a projecting bluff cape in sight, which proved to
be Captain Cook's Cape Hilsborough.
The country in the vicinity and particularly to the southward of the Cape
is rocky and mountainous; but the lower grounds are verdant and well
clothed with timber; and, judging from the numerous fires along the
coast, it must be very populous; the islands near it are rocky and very
barren, but many of them being wooded with pine-tree have a picturesque
In the evening, having passed round the Cape, we anchored in Repulse Bay,
at about three miles from the shore, which is here low and fronted by a
chain of low islands, apparently connected by reefs. Water was seen over
the low land at the bottom of the bight in the South-West side of the
bay, and is probably a lagoon.
The next morning we steered to the North-West to look at the head of
Repulse Bay; the bottom of which appears to be correctly described by
Captain Cook as being bounded by low land. I obtained a view of it from
the summit of one of the islands, named in my chart the Repulse Isles,
off which we anchored in the afternoon.
These islets are furnished with a very poor and shallow soil. On the
sides of the hills we noticed a species of xanthorrhoea, remarkable for
its stunted growth and for the curly habit of its leaves. Pumice-stone
was found at the foot of the hills, washed up, perhaps, by the tide; and
on the beach was a European ashen oar. Under the projecting rocks several
firing and sleeping places were observed which had been recently occupied
by the natives.
The following morning we sailed and steered for Whitsunday Passage; a
little before noon, I landed with Mr. Roe and Mr. Cunningham in a small
bight round the north side of Cape Conway, for a meridional observation
This Cape is formed by steep rocky hills, rising to the height of nearly
800 feet above the sea; the sides of which were so steep and so
impenetrably covered by a thick underwood that we could not accomplish
its ascent; we were therefore obliged to confine our observations to the
beach. Tracks of natives were observed, and either a wrecked or a
worn-out canoe, made of bark, was lying near the ruins of two or three
Excellent water, supplied by a stream from the hills, was found just
within the beach, which is very steep and affords easy landing. In
moderate weather a ship may water here with great facility.
When we returned on board, the cutter was becalmed nearly abreast of
Pentecost Island, and was rapidly drifting in a direction towards the
west shore, on which course we soon shoaled the water from twenty-eight
to ten fathoms. The vessel being quite ungovernable, the boat was sent
ahead to tow her round, which we had scarcely time to do, before she was
carried by the tide over a bank of hard sand on which the least water was
three fathoms; fortunately for us it was nearly high water, or we should
have been left dry: its western edge was so steep that we were very
quickly in deep water again. We anchored at sunset in the centre of a
tide eddy under Pine Head, in sixteen fathoms sand and shells: the night
was passed without accident.
The next morning we landed on the Island of which Pine Head is the
south-easternmost extremity and from its summit obtained an extensive set
The island possesses the same rocky character with the rest of this
group; but the soil, although shallow, nourished some luxuriant grass
which reached up to our middle and concealed the rocks that are
plentifully strewed over the ground. The trees are low and stunted, but
the steep slope of the head is covered with pines and forms one of the
most remarkable features of Whitsunday Passage.
Whilst we were on shore Mr. Bedwell shortened in the cable preparatory to
weighing; but on doing it the anchor tripped, and it was with difficulty
that the cutter was kept clear of the rocks, close to which she was
drifted by the eddies. On arriving on board, we steered to the northward
through Whitsunday Passage and afterwards stood towards Captain Cook's
Cape Gloucester, the extremity of which turned out to be an island
(Gloucester Island) of five miles long: it is separated from the real
Cape by a Strait, a mile and a half wide.
On passing round Gloucester Island we saw Holborne Island which Captain
Cook discovered and named. We then hauled into Edgecumbe Bay, but as the
night was advancing had not time to explore its shores. We therefore
passed round Middle Island, which had escaped Captain Cook's observation,
and steered to the North-West, parallel with the shore of the main, which
appeared to be very low.
The next morning we were steering towards Mount Upstart, and at noon
passed within two miles of its extremity. Behind the Mount, which rises
with remarkable abruptness from the low land in its rear, are two
prominent hills; the highest of which, Mount Abbott, has a peaked summit;
the irregular and mountainous appearance of the range upon which this
Mount stands, and a very evident break in the hills on its western side,
would lead one to suspect the existence of a river, of which the bay on
the western side of the Mount may be the mouth. There is also a bay on
the eastern side of Mount Upstart, which also has a river-like
appearance. In fact, it is not at all certain whether Mount Upstart may
not be an island, and the bay behind it the mouth of a considerable
The variation observed by Captain Cook off Mount Upstart was 9 degrees
East; but by an Azimuth observed by me close to the Cape, it was found
not more than 6 degrees 16 minutes East. The result of Captain Cook's
observation must therefore be attributed to some other cause than, as he
supposed, to a magnetical power in the hills of this promontory.
At daylight of the 13th we passed within four miles of the extremity of
Cape Bowling-green, which, although it is very low and sandy, is not
destitute of wood or verdure; between Cape Bowling-green and the back
mountainous ranges, a distance of nearly thirty miles, the country
appears to rise gradually, and gave us reason to regret that the nature
of my instructions did not warrant our making a more particular
examination of this part of the coast, for it appears to offer a much
greater degree of interest and importance than any part of the southward
without the tropic. Indeed, this bay appeared to be equally promising in
its appearance with those near Mount Upstart; and the peculiar feature of
Cape Bowling-green, jutting out into the sea between them, considerably
increases the probability of there being more than one or two rivers of
importance hereabouts. The barren range, which has almost uninterruptedly
continued from the back of Cape Palmerston, a distance of 150 miles, here
ceases or retires, and leaves a gap of ten or twelve miles wide of low
land; to the North-West of which, Mount Eliot, a hill of considerable
height, rises rather abruptly; and, as the shores of the bay were not
distinctly traced, there is fair reason for presuming that there is a
river at its bottom.
The next morning we steered round Cape Cleveland and passed close to some
straggling rocks on a reef that extends for four miles to the eastward of
Cape Cleveland is the extremity of a mountainous projection, and like
Mount Upstart rises abruptly from low land, by which it is separated from
the lofty range of Mount Eliot. The wooded and uneven character of the
land on its west side indicated so great a likelihood of our finding
fresh water that I was induced to despatch Mr. Bedwell to the shore to
ascertain whether a delay might be made profitable by completing our hold
with wood and water. His return bringing a favourable report, the cutter
was anchored in three fathoms, at about one mile from the extremity of
the Cape, bearing North 60 1/2 degrees East.
June 14 to 15.
Wooding and watering parties immediately commenced operations, which
occupied them that and the following day.
On the afternoon of the second day, I landed with Mr. Cunningham and Mr.
Roe to ascend one of the hills that overlooks the bay. After two hours'
climbing over huge rounded masses of granite, and penetrating through
thick bushes of underwood, we arrived only at a summit considerably
beneath the one we wished to reach; but as it was too late in the day to
proceed further we halted; and I took a set of angles and made some
memorandums for the sketch of the bay. A remarkable observation was here
made upon the magnetic influence of this land; the variation was observed
to be 10 degrees 32 minutes West, but on removing the compass eight yards
off, it only gave 2 degrees 50 minutes East. This in some degree
corresponds with Captain Cook's record of the irregularity of his compass
when he passed near this part of the coast, in consequence of which he
called the peaked island to the westward of the cape, Magnetical Island:
this irregularity, however, was not noticed by me in my observations near
the same spot; and the difference observed by him may very probably have
been occasioned by the ship's local attraction, which in those days was
unknown. The view obtained from this station was neither so useful nor so
extensive as I had expected: the coast for six miles back is low and
occupied by a large body of water; beyond which is a range of flat-topped
and precipitous rocky hills that appear to be inaccessible, and to form
almost an impenetrable barrier between the sea-coast and the interior.
From the hazy state of the atmosphere the Palm Islands were not visible:
sunset being near at hand we were obliged to hasten our descent, which,
by following the course of a torrent-worn gully, proved to be much
shorter and easier than, from our rugged and difficult ascent, we were
led to apprehend.
At the bottom of the hill the small stream that was trickling down the
gully, by which we descended, joined another of larger size running over
the beach into the sea, at about a quarter of a mile to the southward of
that from which we watered. At the junction of these streams we
discovered a native path winding among the high grass, which speedily
brought us to our boat.
We remained at the anchorage the following day in order to obtain some
lunar distances; and in the evening Mr. Bedwell sounded across the bay
towards the south end of Magnetical Island, and also the channel between
that island and the main. The soundings therefore laid down are from his
report, from which it appears that there is a good and clear passage
through, and excellent anchorage upon a muddy bottom all over the bay.
No natives were seen during our visit, but the remains of nine huts were
counted in different parts of the bay, near the edge of the beach. The
inhabitants were not however far off, for the tracks of human feet as
well as those of a dog were noticed very recently imprinted on the
gravelly bed of the fresh-water stream; and we were probably watched by
them in all our proceedings. Near the extremity of the Cape some bamboo
was picked up, and also a fresh green coconut that appeared to have been
lately tapped for the milk. Heaps of pumice-stone were also noticed upon
the beach; not any of this production, however, had been met with
Hitherto, no coconut trees have been found on this continent; although so
great a portion of it is within the tropic and its north-east coast so
near to islands on which this fruit is abundant. Captain Cook imagined
that the husk of one, which his second Lieutenant, Mr. Gore, picked up at
Endeavour River, and which was covered with barnacles, came from the
Terra del Espiritu Santo of Quiros;* but, from the prevailing winds, it
would appear more likely to have been drifted from New Caledonia, which
island at that time was unknown to him; the fresh appearance of the
coconut seen by us renders, however, even this conclusion doubtful;
Captain Flinders also found one as far to the south as Shoal-water Bay.**
(*Footnote. Hawkesworth volume 3 page 164.)
(**Footnote. Flinders volume 2 page 49.)
Several kangaroos were started by our wooding party but none were taken.
In the gullies Mr. Cunningham reaped an excellent harvest, both of seeds
Here as well as at every other place that we had landed upon within the
tropic, the air is crowded with a species of butterfly, a great many of
which were taken. It is doubtless the same species as that which Captain
Cook remarks as so plentiful in Thirsty Sound; he says, "we found also an
incredible number of butterflies, so that for the space of three or four
acres, the air was so crowded with them, that millions were to be seen in
every direction, at the same time, that every branch and twig were
covered with others that were not upon the wing."* The numbers seen by us
were indeed incredible; the stem of every grass-tree (xanthorrhoea) which
plant grows abundantly upon the hills, was covered with them, and on
their taking wing the air appeared, as it were, in perfect motion.
(*Footnote. Hawkesworth volume 3 page 125.)
It is a new species, and is described by my friend Mr. W.S. Macleay, in
the Appendix, under the name of Euploea hamata.
On the 17th we left the bay and passed round the north end of Magnetical
Island. Several natives were seen on a sandy beach at the north end,
where deep gullies indicated the presence of fresh water. Our course was
then directed across Halifax Bay towards the Palm Islands, passing inside
a small rocky islet marked i, on the chart, and another of larger size,
k. In a South by East direction from these islands is an opening in the
land round which the sea was observed to trend; it was supposed to
communicate with the water seen from the heights of Cape Cleveland over
the land at the bottom of the bay; and it is probable, from the mist
which this morning occupied a considerable space of the low land fronting
the hills, that a large body of water exists there. Calms and light airs
detained us until two o'clock, when a fresh breeze sprung up from the
eastward, to which we made sail, but the glare of the sun, shining in the
direction of our course, obliged our hauling up to avoid the risk of
running thus dark with excess of bright upon any rocks or shoals that
might be in our way; and as the low coastline of this part of the bar was
distinctly traced, we steered towards the island marked 2, near which the
cutter was anchored, at eight o'clock, in eleven fathoms' mud.
At eight o'clock the following morning we got under sail, but delayed by
light winds we were, at noon, within half a league of the island, 2. As
there was no immediate appearance of a breeze I landed on a steep beach,
at the North-West end of the island, whence the latitude was observed to
be 18 degrees 50 minutes 15 seconds, and from which I obtained a useful
set of bearings. Near our landing-place were some natives' huts and two
canoes; the former appeared to have been recently occupied, and were very
snug habitations. They were of a circular shape, and very ingeniously
constructed by twigs stuck in the ground and arched over, the ends being
artfully entwined so as to give support to each other; the whole was
covered with a thatch of dried grass and reeds; they were not larger than
two people could conveniently occupy. In one of the huts, which was of a
more elliptical shape and of larger dimensions than the other, was a
bunch of hair that had been recently clipped from either the head or
beard. This proves that these operations are not done solely by fire, as
Captain Cook supposed,* but by means of a sharp-edged shell, which must
be both tedious and painful to endure; and we have often witnessed the
delight shown by the natives at the speedy effect a pair of scissors has
produced upon the beard or hair. The canoes were not longer than eight
feet and would not safely carry more than two people; the ends were
stitched together by strips of the stem of the Flagellaria indica.
(*Footnote. Hawkesworth volume 3 page 229.)
Few palm-trees were seen, but at the large islands, according to Captain
Cook's account,* they are probably abundant. A considerable quantity of
pumice-stone was found, as is usual in every place that we have landed at
within the tropic, heaped up above the highwater mark. During the
afternoon we had little wind; in the evening we passed a mile and a half
to the eastward of a low and dangerous reef which escaped Captain Cook's
observation; the only part of it that was visible above the water were
two low rocks, but as the tide ebbed the craggy heads of several smaller
ones gradually uncovered, and at low water it is probably quite dry; we
passed it in ten fathoms. It is not probable that its extent is greater
than what is exposed at low water, but from its steepness it is very
(*Footnote. Hawkesworth volume 3 page 136.)
At sunset we anchored about four miles to the eastward of the position
assigned to a reef, on which the ship Lady Elliot struck, in 1815; but
saw nothing of it.
At daybreak we resumed our voyage and steered for Cape Sandwich after
passing inside the Palm Island Group. We were now approaching Point
Hillock, which is a point of land projecting for two miles into the sea,
with a small hillock at its extremity; from which Captain Cook named it;
the land rises precipitously behind it to the height of about two
thousand feet and forms a mass of bare rocky hills of a singularly grand
and imposing appearance. It rises nearly perpendicularly from the lower
wooded hills at its base and is as abrupt on its land side as on that
which faces the sea. The summit extends from north to south for seven
miles and forms a narrow craggy ridge on which are several remarkable
peaks. It was called Mount Hinchinbrook and is visible from the deck for
An opening was observed to trend round the rear of the Mount, and
probably separates it from the mainland. We passed half a mile outside
the low rock off Cape Sandwich, within a group of low rocky isles
(Brooke's Islands) and then steered towards a peaked hill, which was soon
afterwards found to be on the island laid down by Captain Cook in
Rockingham Bay, it now received the name of Goold Island. We then entered
Rockingham Bay and anchored at two miles off Goold Island.
On passing Cape Sandwich in the afternoon we observed several natives
walking on the shore; and, upon our anchoring, a party was also seen
collected round their huts, on the sandy beach at the west end of Goold
Island; and near them were seven canoes hauled up above the tide mark;
they had kindled a fire to attract our attention, but the day was too far
advanced to allow communicating with them that evening.
At daylight the following morning I was much surprised by being told that
five canoes were paddling off to the cutter, four of which only held each
one native, but the fifth being rather larger contained two.
On approaching the cutter they laid off until invited to come alongside;
when they approached without the least alarm or hesitation, and made
signs for something to eat; some biscuit was given to them which they ate
and, unlike all other Australian savages, appeared to relish its taste.
Some little persuasion was necessary to induce them to venture on board;
but as soon as one mounted the ladder the others followed. Their
astonishment was considerably excited at everything that they saw,
particularly at our poultry and live stock. Fishing hooks and lines were
gladly received by them; and in return they gave us their baskets and
turtle pegs; they remained with us for half an hour; upon leaving the
vessel they pointed out their huts and invited us by signs to return
As soon as they had left us Mr. Bedwell and Mr. Cunningham went to the
islet off the west end of Goold Island, and on their way met two other
canoes, containing three men, coming to the cutter from another part of
the bay; after a short communication with our party they paid us the
intended visit, and were soon induced to come on board, where they
remained for half an hour without betraying the least fear or anxiety for
their safety: before they took their leave we had clothed them with some
damaged slops; and in order to give each something, the feet of a pair of
worsted stockings were cut off to make socks for one, whilst the legs
were placed on another's arms; a leathern cap was given to each of them,
and thus accoutred, and making a most ridiculous appearance, they left
us, highly delighted with themselves and with the reception they had met
As soon as they reached a little distance they began to divest themselves
of their attire, and we had much amusement in witnessing the difficulty
under which the wearer of a shirt laboured to get it off.
Their canoes were not more than five feet long, and generally too small
for two people; two small strips of bark, five or six inches square,
serves the double purpose of paddling and for baling the water out, which
they are constantly obliged to do to prevent their canoe from sinking; in
shoal water the paddles are superseded by a pole, by which this fragile
bark is propelled. We endeavoured to persuade them to bring off some
spears to barter, for they had no weapon of any description with them,
but they evidently would not understand our meaning. In the evening our
gentlemen proceeded to return these visits, at the spot which was pointed
out by our morning guests: on landing they were met by the natives and
conducted to their huts, where they saw the whole of the male part of
this tribe, which consisted of fifteen, of whom two were old and
decrepit, and one of these was reduced to a perfect skeleton by ulcerated
sores on his legs that had eaten away the flesh and left large portions
of the bone bare; and this miserable object was wasting away without any
application or covering to his sores.
No teeth were deficient in their jaws; all had the septum narium
perforated, but without wearing any appendage in it. The only ornament
they appeared to possess was a bracelet of plaited hair, worn round the
upper arm. An open wicker basket, neatly and even tastefully made of
strips of the Flagellaria indica, was obtained from one of them by Mr.
Roe, in which they carry their food and fishing lines; besides which each
native has his gourd, the fruit of the Cucurbita lagenaria, which grows
plentifully on all parts of the beach, and furnishes a very useful vessel
to these simple savages for the purpose of carrying water.
At the north-east end of the sandy beach a fine stream was noticed, from
which water might with facility be obtained. Near this stream Mr.
Cunningham observed several of their ovens, similar to those used by the
natives of Taheite. A circular hole is dug, at the bottom of which is
placed a layer of flat stones, on which, after they have been heated by
fire, the meat is placed; this is covered by another layer of stones, and
over them they make a fire which very soon cooks their repast. In short,
the natives of this bay seem to be much more ingenious and to understand
better what is useful than the generality of their countrymen.*
(*Footnote. Lieutenant Jeffreys, of the Kangaroo, armed transport, on his
passage to Ceylon in 1815 communicated with these natives; they came on
board his vessel and conducted themselves in an amicable manner towards
The next morning we left Rockingham Bay; and steering to the northward
passed within the three easternmost of the Family Islands, as the
Endeavour did, and landed on the north-easternmost of the group, where
the latitude was found to be 18 degrees 2 minutes 9 seconds. This island,
like the rest, is of small extent, and is surrounded by huge detached
rounded blocks of granite, over which it was not easy to pass. It rises
to a peaked summit of a moderate height, but the face of the hill is so
thickly covered with underwood and climbing plants as to render it
Dunk Island, a little to the northward, is larger and higher, and is
remarkable for its double-peaked summit. No natives were seen in passing
these islands, but the smoke of their fires, as usual, lined the coast,
which here began to assume a more improved and favourable appearance: the
shore is diversified by projecting wooded hills and intervening sandy
bays; and, at the back, the hills are very high and separated from each
other by deep valleys, where there must be abundance of water and
probably good soil.
In the evening the anchor was dropped to the eastward of the two
southernmost islands of a group which was named after my friend Edward
Barnard, Esquire. We were followed all the afternoon by a large
hump-backed whale, a fish which appears to be numerous on all parts of
this coast within the reefs. The wind blew so fresh during the night that
having only the stream anchor down it had imperceptibly dragged through
the mud for nearly a mile to the north-west.
At daylight we got under sail but the weather had clouded in and bore a
very unsettled appearance. After steering outside the easternmost island
of Barnard's Group we passed Double Point; two miles north of which a
small opening was seen trending in to the south-west. Between Double
Point and Frankland Islands Captain Cook did not see the coast, having
passed it during the night; we therefore traced it with some care, but
found nothing worth particular notice, being a continuity of sandy bays
formed by projecting heads, in some of which natives were observed
At 11 hours 30 minutes a.m. we passed Point Cooper. The summit of the
back hills (which were named by Mr. Cunningham's desire after John
Bellenden Ker, Esquire) now began to be enveloped in clouds, and the wind
to increase; and no meridional altitude was obtained, from the
unfortunate state of the weather. At one o'clock we passed between
Frankland's largest Island and a group of four smaller ones which are
connected together by a surrounding rocky reef. At four o'clock we
anchored in a bay on the north-west side of Fitzroy Island, at four miles
from the shore, in eleven and a half fathoms' mud, where we found
complete shelter from the wind which now blew a fresh gale from
The weather continued so unfavourable all the following day that we
remained at the anchorage, and made our stay profitable by filling our
water-casks from a hollow at the back of the beach, which is composed
entirely of coral that has been washed up by the surf. The coral was of
various kinds, but a beautiful specimen of Porites clavaria was obtained
by one of our people who dived for it in two fathoms' water, within a few
yards of the shore. In many parts the coral had been consolidated into
large masses of solid rock.
Tracks of natives were seen in many parts of the island; and their beaten
paths were noticed leading from the beach to all parts of it; but it did
not appear that it was inhabited during our visit. This delay gave Mr.
Cunningham a good opportunity of increasing his botanical collection.
Among the various trees which grow upon this island he found a nutmeg
tree (Myristica cimicifera), two species of olive (Olea paniculata and
Notoloea punctata), and three palms, namely the Corypha australis or
large fan palm, the Seaforthia elegans, and another, remarkable for its
prickly leaves. We also found and procured seeds of Sophora tomentosa,
and a plant of the natural order scitamineae, Hellenia coerulea, Brown:
two parasitical plants of orchideae were found growing upon the bark of
trees in the shady place near our watering-place; one was Dendrobium
caniculatum, Brown; the other was also subsequently found at Cape Grafton
and is not yet described; it has oblong, three-nerved, thick and leathery
leaves; we saw no quadrupeds and but very few birds.
On the 24th we left Fitzroy Island and, steering round Cape Grafton,
hauled in towards the centre of Trinity Bay. To the west of Cape Grafton
an opening was observed in the beach that bore every appearance of being
the mouth of a rivulet, from the broken and irregular form of the hills
At noon our latitude was 16 degrees 28 minutes 48 seconds, and three
small islands were in sight ahead, which we passed to seaward of. They
are laid down by Captain Cook as one island, whereas they are distinctly
three, but all connected by a reef which was covered when we passed. At 2
hours 30 minutes p.m. we anchored under Snapper Island (so called by
Lieutenant Jeffreys), but found the anchorage more open than had been
Snapper Island is high and covered with a thick impenetrable mass of
underwood, but no fresh water was found. The ashes of a fireplace,
strewed around with broken shells, was the only trace seen of natives.
The beach, like that of Fitzroy Island, is composed of dead coral and is
fronted by rocks.
We left this anchorage the next morning with a fresh breeze of wind from
south-east; as we steered round Cape Tribulation the sea ran so heavy
that our boat, which was towed astern, filled and overset, and in a
moment went to pieces. The wind had now increased to a gale, and the
weather threatened so much that we were induced to take advantage of a
bight to the northward of the Cape, in which we anchored at three
quarters of a mile from the mouth of a rivulet, the entrance of which was
blocked up by a ridge of rocks on which the water rippled; we were here
tolerably well sheltered by high land from the wind, and the water was
On the following day, the weather continued so unfavourable that we
remained at the anchorage, and Mr. Bedwell was sent to examine the
opening, which was called Blomfield's Rivulet. On his return he reported
the bar to be too shoal to admit an entrance to vessels of greater
draught than four feet, but that having passed it, the inlet runs up a
considerable distance, with soundings from three to four fathoms.
Near the entrance upon the bank of the inlet several huts were noticed,
and near them Mr. Bedwell found a canoe; which, being hollowed out of the
trunk of a tree, was of very different construction to any we had before
seen; its length was twenty-one feet, but its greatest breadth in the
bilge did not exceed fifteen inches, whilst at the gunwale the opening
was only from six to eight and a half inches wide; an outrigger,
projecting about two feet, was neatly attached to one side, which
prevented its liability to overset, and at each end was a projection,
from fifteen to twenty inches long, on which the natives carry their
fire, or sit; nothing was found in the canoe but two paddles and a long
The bay on which we had anchored was called, at first, Shelter Bay; but
it was afterwards changed to Weary Bay in consequence of Captain Cook's
having given that name to the coast in this vicinity.
The weather was so thick and unsettled during the afternoon, that we did
not leave this anchorage until nine o'clock the next morning.
When it was found necessary that we should take advantage of the first
safe anchorage, where we might remain during the continuance of the bad
weather, as well as repair our losses and erect the boat that we had on
board in frame, to replace the one we had lately lost; as Endeavour River
would afford us the necessary convenience and shelter it was determined
that we should visit it, and as its distance from Weary Bay did not
exceed ten leagues, there was every reason to expect that we should reach
it early enough to enter before dark. At half past ten o'clock we passed
between the Hope Islands and the Reef, a. The course was then directed
for the hills on the south side of the entrance of Endeavour River, the
highest of which, a conspicuous peaked hill, received the name of Mount
Cook, in memorial of our celebrated navigator, who suffered so much
distress and anxiety at this place. The bay south of it was that which he
first examined for shelter after his ship had been got off the rocks, but
it was found to be shoal and unfit for his purpose.* It was then that
Endeavour River was discovered; and there, as is well known, the ship was
repaired sufficiently to enable her to proceed to Batavia.
(*Footnote. Hawkesworth volume 3 page 149.)
We arrived off the south head of Endeavour River early in the afternoon,
and anchored close to it in three fathoms, with the outer point bearing
South-East. The wind was too fresh to examine the bar until the evening,
and it was then too late to enter.
But early the next morning the cutter was warped in, in doing which she
grounded on the north side of the bar in eight feet. As the water was
quite smooth, this little delay occasioned no damage, and by twelve
o'clock she was secured to the shore, within ten feet of a steep beach on
the south side of the entrance; in all probability the very same spot
that Captain Cook landed his stores upon forty-nine years ago.
Transactions at Endeavour River, and intercourse with the Natives.
Examine the River.
Leave Endeavour River, and resume the examination of the coast.
Anchor among Howick's Group, and under Flinders' Group.
Explore Princess Charlotte's Bay, and the Islands and Reefs as far as
Cape York, anchoring in the way on various parts of the coast.
The cutter nearly wrecked at Escape River.
Loss of anchor under Turtle Island.
Pass round Cape York and through Torres Strait, by the Investigator's
1819. June 28.
As soon as the vessel was secured, the boat's frame was landed, and three
of our people commenced its erection. Previously however to this, the
precaution was taken of burning the grass, to avoid a repetition of the
revengeful and mischievous trick which the natives formerly played
Captain Cook; for in a fit of rage, at not being allowed to take away
some turtles that were lying on the ships' deck, they set fire to the
grass to windward of the tents, by which many stores and sails were
(*Footnote. Hawkesworth volume 3 page 177.)
The moment that a few embers from our fireplace were scattered under the
roots, the grass was in a blaze, and the flames rushed along with
frightful rapidity and destructive effect. Having thus very soon cleared
sufficient space for our purpose, a sail was suspended between two trees,
to shelter the people from the sun at their work upon the boat, the keel
of which was laid the same evening. In the afternoon we discovered two
streamlets near the tent, from which we obtained our water, and wood was
cut close to the beach.
Near the watering-place were some natives' bark-huts and gourds; and two
or three baskets, made of the leaf of the cabbage palm, were hanging on
the branches of the surrounding bushes. The owners of these implements
were not seen, but it was evident they were near at hand, from the recent
appearance of their traces; the bones of the kangaroo and scales of fish
were strewed about their fireplaces, and close by were ovens similar to
those of Goold Island.
The following day Mr. Cunningham, being in search of plants, fell in with
a party of natives consisting of ten or twelve men; two of them carried
each a bundle of spears and a throwing-stick: Mr. Cunningham endeavoured
to persuade the three foremost to approach, but they were alarmed at a
dog that was with him; seeing this he sent away the only man who
accompanied him with the animal, and at last enticed them to draw near.
One of them was an elderly man on whose cheek was a recently-healed
spear-wound; after some little communication they were easily induced to
follow him towards our tent, but the moment they saw the cutter's mast
through the trees they stopped, and could not be prevailed upon to
advance a step nearer; and, after devoting some time in watching us from
the hills, walked away. Upon Mr. Cunningham's making his appearance with
the strangers, I went towards him, to prevail upon them to visit our
encampment, but they seemed more anxious that we should follow them,
intimating by signs that they would give us something to eat; neither
party, however, appearing inclined to yield to the other's invitation,
they soon went away.
But the next day twelve natives boldly visited our watering party, and
followed them to the tent, where they remained some time watching our
movements with great attention. They repeatedly made signs for hatchets,
but evinced great aversion to a clasp-knife, although its use was shown
to them. Mr. Bedwell obtained a shield from one of them, of a crescented
shape, and painted with black stripes; it was made from the wood of the
Erythrina indica or coral tree, which grows abundantly near the
anchorage. This interview lasted two hours, at the end of which we parted
mutually satisfied with each other. Mr. Cunningham saw a kangaroo in one
of his walks, but on mentioning the name of the animal, accompanied by a
gesture descriptive of its leap, the natives did not appear to understand
what was meant, although it was from these very people that Captain Cook
obtained the name;* it was therefore thought to be possible, that in the
space of time elapsed since his visit, this word might have become
(*Footnote. Hawkesworth volume 3 page 174.)
1819. July 1.
The next day no natives came near us, perhaps by reason of the rainy
But on the 2nd whilst our people were at the watering-place washing their
clothes, they were visited by twelve natives, some of whom were
strangers: one of them, an elderly man, who had his son with him, a
little boy of eight or nine years of age, appeared very morose and
captious: everything was done by our people to amuse and keep them in
good humour; but upon one of the sailors attempting to comb the head of
the youngster, the old gentleman became so violently enraged that Mr.
Bedwell found it necessary to send away the offender, in order to
conciliate them, for the whole party had armed themselves with stones.
Peace was thus restored, excepting with the individual before-mentioned,
who still continued to be very angry and sulky. When the people left off
washing to go on board to dinner they took their clothes with them, much
against the wish of the natives who made signs that they should be left
and intrusted to their care; this was however prudently and cautiously
refused, for the natives had become very inquisitive, and wished to
possess themselves of everything they saw: they then followed our party
to the tent and amused themselves about us during dinner. They appeared
to be particularly struck with the progress that we had made upon the
boat, which had by this time assumed its shape. Some of them wanted to go
on board, but not liking their appearance and fearful of a rupture by
being obliged to refuse them many things that were about the decks, and
which they would certainly ask for, I desired Mr. Bedwell to divert them
from their wish. After dinner our people returned to resume their
washing; and, taking their tubs and clothes, walked towards the
watering-place, which was about three hundred yards off. Soon afterwards
the natives took their leave, intimating by signs that they were going
to eat; but upon passing by our people at their washing-tubs they
stopped, and endeavoured to persuade one of the sailors, whose fair
complexion led them to imagine that he was of the softer sex, to undress;
the man complied with their request so far as to take off his shirt, but
upon their requiring still further exposure, he declined it rather
unceremoniously, and dressing himself again returned to his occupation.
This opposition to their wishes incensed them so much that they could not
help showing it; they then wanted to take some of the clothes away by
force, and upon being prevented, their conduct evinced strong signs of an
impending rupture; and as two of the natives, one of whom had been on the
most friendly terms with us, had armed themselves with spears, which had
previously been concealed in the mangrove bushes close at hand, one of
our people was immediately despatched to the tent for a musket. The
spears were then divided amongst the natives who fixed them in their
throwing-sticks ready to throw. They then peremptorily insisted that our
people should retire, and leave their clothes behind them, but this being
again refused, they became highly enraged, and running off to a little
distance made a stand, and threw a spear which passed between three of
our people, and broke in the ground: seeing that it had not taken effect,
another spear was thrown which also fell harmless. At this moment the
muskets arrived, and were fired over their heads, upon which they started
off at full speed, and were quickly out of sight. The report of the
muskets soon brought us to the spot, and being informed of the
circumstance, I became alarmed for Mr. Cunningham's safety, who was alone
on an excursion; but as his route was known, Mr. Bedwell and Mr. Roe set
off with six men to protect his return; in this they were fortunately
successful, having met him about two miles off, just as he was about to
take a path that would have led him among the natives; who, had they seen
him, would certainly have revenged themselves for their previous defeat
and disappointment. They met him in the morning as he was going out, and
as they knew the direction in which he went they would certainly have
Nothing more was heard of the Indians during the day, but this rupture
made us more watchful. A sentry was appointed on shore to protect the
carpenters, and at night four of our people slept close at hand: during
the day a masthead watch was kept to prevent surprise, for the grass
about us was so high that they might have approached unperceived and
wounded some of our people before we could have been aware of their
Our work however proceeded without molestation, and the only
inconvenience experienced was the confinement of Mr. Cunningham to the
vicinity of the tent.
July 2 to 4.
We saw no natives until Sunday the 4th when two, whose faces were not
familiar to us, came down to the end of the dry sand opposite the cutter
and beckoned for us: they had paddled across from the mangroves at the
back of the port to the low sandy point that forms the west end of the
long north sandy beach, behind which they had left their canoe. Mr.
Bedwell was sent to them in our largest boat, but on his approaching
them, and being within ten yards of the beach, they started and ran off
with considerable speed towards their canoe. When about half way to it
they stopped, and, upon looking back and observing that they were not
pursued, beckoned again. Upon seeing this manoeuvre, it was suspected
that they might have a strong party concealed at the back of the point,
to which they were anxious to decoy our people; the boat was therefore
called alongside and armed and again sent after them. By this time they
had embarked in their canoe and were paddling with all their strength
towards the mangroves on the opposite shore, pursued by our boat until it
was stopped by the shoals in the river; the natives, however, easily
shoved their canoe over it with poles and soon arrived at the opposite
bank, where they were met by several other natives, all of whom
immediately retired into the mangrove bushes which concealed them from
our view. This manoeuvre was evidently intended to decoy us into their
power, and served to increase our caution.
Soon afterwards their fires were seen about a mile behind the mangroves
and in the evening the canoe was observed to pass up the river with the
same two natives in it.
On the 5th we landed at the long north sandy point, and measured a base
line of 231 chains from the point to the end of the beach, where it is
terminated by a rocky head that forms the base of a steep hill; this we
climbed, and from its summit obtained a very extensive view of the reefs
near the coast; but as the weather was too hazy to allow of our making
any observation upon distant objects, very few of the reefs in the offing
were distinctly seen.
On the beach we passed the wreck of a canoe, large enough to carry seven
or eight persons; it measured nineteen feet in length, and twenty-two
inches in the bilge, and appeared, like that of Blomfield's Rivulet, to
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