by Ida Lee
F.R.G.S and Hon. F.R.A.H.S
From the Log-Books and Journals
with maps and illustrations
First Published 1925 by
Methuen & Co Ltd
36 Essex Street WC London
Transcribed to eText by
Permission to use eText given by
Col Choat of Project Gutenburg Australia 2003
Converted to Web Enhanced eText by
J&DChallenor of The Allan Cunningham Project 2009
KING’S WEST COAST VOYAGE
Departure from Port Jackson on board H.M. Cutter “Mermaid” on a voyage of discovery on the N. and N.W. Coasts of Australia, under the direction of P. P. King, Esq., Lieut. and Commander.
1817 Dec 21st Sunday. Cloudy but fair. This morning I sailed from Sydney Cove agreeable to instructions from Sir Joseph Banks. Cleared the heads of Port Jackson harbour in order to stand out to sea, but was obliged to return in consequence of foul winds. Came to an anchor in Camp Cove, within the heads, in about 5 fms. water. The individuals on board H.M. Cutter “Mermaid” engaged in this service under the command of Lieut. P. P. King are his two officers, Mr. Bedwell and Mr. Roe,[*] myself, twelve able seamen, two boys and Bongaree, a chief of natives of a tribe of Broken Bay, who accompanied Captain Flinders in the “Investigator”, and who was taken on this voyage at his own particular request.
[* Frederick Bedwell and John Septimus Roe. The “Mermaid” was of eighty-four tons burthen.]
1817 Dec 22nd Monday. We got under way about 6 a.m. and stood out to sea. The “Harriet,” which had sailed from Sydney Cove on her voyage to England, passed us under our lee with a heavy press of sail.
1817 Dec 26th Friday. We bore up N.N.E. yesterday and headed in for land. We made Green Cape, entered Twofold Bay and anchored about 11 o’clock in Snug Cove, being completely landlocked. I landed with Mr. King, and on the slopes of the hills I gathered specimens of a Stylidium with broad lanceolate radical leaves. A plant with the largest foliage of this genus I have seen, scape and spike glandulously haired. Lomatia sp.or a variety of L. polymorpha of Mr. Brown; Trachymene sp. (= Azorella, Labill); a syngenesious plant;[p311] Cacalia (Senecio), with obovate wedge-shaped leaves, white beneath, and flowers in corymbs; Goodenia sp., a shrub of irregular growth, leaves elliptical-obovate-oblong, smooth, flowers axillary.
On the immediate shores in confined wooded situations I observed a Melaleuca appearing distinct from M. armillaris. I gathered specimens of Myoporum sp. agreeing with M. ellipticum, but leaves rather more acute. Many Port Jackson plants present themselves, but none so remarkable as a Pittosporum, at this period in fruit. It forms a tree 21-25 feet high and about 14-15 inches diameter.
The fresh water is procured from a low swamp formed by rains from the hills finding there a lodgement, and although of no great depth (and hence the operation of filling casks tedious) it is of good quality. Its surface is covered with Azolla, and Menyanthes exaltata was growing in it in great luxuriance. On the boggy land near this water place I detected a very long-leaved Dianella, and flowering specimens of a species of Veronica with a compound spike of white flowers, which I discovered first in the Western Interior on the Fish River and margins of creeks running into the Macquarie River. The wooded slopes and higher lands, covered with Eucalypti and Casuarina stricta, are of a good rich soil, which is abundantly indicated by the luxuriance of the herbage and strength and height of its grasses. The beach has Pelargonium australe and some Atriplicinae, as also a small Casuarina in fruit, of which I gathered specimens, with the seeds of an Acaena. Zieria revoluta, a species discovered at View Rocks at the extremity of plains beyond Bathurst, I have observed accompanying Aster dentatus [= Olearia dentata] on the sides of the hills. Distant smokes ascending over the trees indicated natives, and towards evening, whilst our people were hauling the seine, some natives came down from the wooded lands to the watering place, but made a precipitate retreat upon finding they were noticed. The lat. of the anchorage is about 37°04’30” S_ and long. 150°04’00” E.
1817 Dec 27th Saturday. On the return of the jolly boat, which had been sent on shore for a few more barecas (breakers) of water, we got under way with a favourable wind. As we were rounding Haycock Point (of Flinders) we noticed several natives on the high grassy banks, who hailed us, making many[p312] ludicrous challenging grimaces as we passed. The shores southerly are spacious, and the sterile hills of deep white drift sand from Cape Howe towards the Ram’s Head are clothed with small low dense bushes. The distant background is well wooded mountains and irregular presenting points, bearings of which were taken.
1817 Dec 28th. to 1818 Jan 15th. Between the spaces of 19 days we had frequently much bad squally weather, which opposed us very considerably as we passed through Bass Strait on the 3rd of January. We found on the 15th we were drawing near the land on the south coast[*] called the Archipelago of the Recherche, but nothing could be distinguished from the masthead and no soundings were obtained in 80 fms.
1818 Jan 16th Friday. At 5 a.m. we saw the S.E. islands of the Archipelago, and the wind being at S.W. Mr. King determined to anchor for a few hours under the lee of Middle Island until the wind became fair, which we accordingly did, abreast a sandy beach within a half a mile of the shore. It was late in the afternoon before we anchored, and about an hour before dusk, affording me some time to observe the botany of the sandy shores of the island. I gladly accompanied Mr. King and his 2nd officer Mr. Roe to the beach. The vegetable kingdom here has a very distinct character from that of the East coast, and it was with very much pleasure I noticed plants that I had previously only seen in a cultivated state. Stylidium fruticosum is frequent in quartzose rocky situations, at this time not in flower or capsule; Scottea (= Bossiaea) dentata, with the preceding, forming a handsome dense shrub. On the shores and sterile sandy hills I gathered the following specimens. Pimelea sp., leaves ovate-lanceolate, alternate, capitulum small conical, calyx woolly on its exterior. Polygonum sp., leaves cordate, undulately curved, 3-nerved, stem fruticose, twining, flowers axillary. Ceanothus sp., leaves ovate, entire, hoary beneath; flowers in terminal racemes; a shrub 6-8 ft. high. Baeckia sp., leaves linear, flowers clustered, axillary, solitary. Malaleuca sp., a shrub in fruit. Atriplicinae, a procumbent reclining shrub with a terminal spreading panicle, in fruit. Westringia sp., appears to be the W. Dampieri of Mr. Brown, afforded me a few seeds. I gathered seeds of an Acacia, forming a close bushy plant, with narrow lanceolate leaves.
[* Of Western Australia,]
[p313] No marks or signs of natives appeared, but we observed numerous impressions of the smaller kangaroo on the higher grassy parts of the island, as well as several deserted nests of sea fowl. At 8 o’clock p.m. we all returned on board in the jolly boat. No fresh water was found on this island.
1818 Jan 17th. Saturday. At 4 a.m. we got under way, with a fair wind and stood a course direct for King George’s Sound under a heavy press of sail.
KING GEORGE’S SOUND AND OYSTER HARBOUR, 20-31 JANUARY, 1818
1818 Jan 20th. Tuesday. This morning our course for the land was E. to E. by S. and we got soundings in 38 fms. At noon the haze cleared off and we entered King George’s Sound. Doubling Bald Head we anchored for the night off a white shore bounded by a very remarkable ridge of sand,[*] and Mr. King proposing a visit to Seal Island (bearing E. by N. about 1½ miles from us) I joined him in the boat with Mr. Bedwell, our first officer. In consequence of the heavy surf rolling in from the open sea against this rocky island, it was not without some difficulty we landed on its lee side. Several seals of a large size were asleep on those parts of the rocks near the water’s edge and, with others which were ambling among the brushwood on the higher parts of the island, they made a precipitate retreat headlong into the sea on being disturbed, with the exception of one which was killed with clubs, and proving to be of the hair kind was nothing worth.
[* “Between Seal Island and the first sandy beach.”–King.]
The plants on this naked granite rock are very inconsiderable. An ornamental plant called Candollea cuneformis, of Labillardière, is the most conspicuous; it was in flower, and I gathered with it the following species. Lavatera sp., flowers axillary, white. Lobelia sp., leaves ovate, glossy; flowers, solitary and small. This plant is abundant beneath large stones and under the immediate shade of rocks. The shrub of the Atriplicinae noticed at Middle Island, from its density, affords a comfortable refuge and habitation to a small blue-backed penguin, of which our people secured several, with some gulls. The bottle left by Captain Flinders was not found, but the square bottom of a case bottle was[p314] picked up;[*] from which circumstance it may be inferred that subsequent vessels might have touched here, and landing upon the island had destroyed it. We quitted the island and returned to the cutter, and thence landed on the sandy western shore near our anchorage. We ascended to the summit of the deep loose sandy ridge, and from there we had a good view of the sea to the southward and westward and of Vancouver’s Breakers. A Scaevola, with oblong serrulated leaves and elongated terminal spike of blue flowers, grew extremely strongly and luxuriant on these and slopes, with Pimelea decussata (= ferruginea), having the habit of P. nivea, and the following interesting plants covered the sides of the ridge. Adenanthos sericea in flower, a large close shrub. Malaleuca sp., leaves linear, rigid, roundish, sulcated. Several shrubs of the Epacrideeae, but not in flower. Acacia biflora (H.K.), some Gnaphalia, and a Trachymene with remains of flowers, probably the Azorella compressaof Labill.
[* Left on the island by Lieutenant Forster of H.M.S. “Emu” in 1815.]
We found some shells on the highest part of this sandy ridge, and in our descent, knee deep in the sand, we picked up specimens of the petrified branches of trees, observed before by Captain Flinders, which were light and sonorous when struck against each other. It was dark when we left this beach for the cutter, on board of which we arrived at 8 p.m.
1818 Jan 21st. Wednesday. We weighed, and stood over to the entrance of Oyster Harbour, and, having previously sent a whaleboat into the narrow rocky channel to sound, we entered through the mouth of the harbour and anchored near the shore in 5 fms. It was early in the afternoon when I landed with Mr. King, who was anxious to take in as much water and wood as our small vessel could well stow. An old well was found nearly filled upon the beach, which our people opened and enlarged, and the water that oozed through the ground soon afforded us an ample supply of a deep colour but good quality. Aware that our stay here would be but short I was the more anxious to employ my time as profitably as possible.
On the barren, dry, stony hills and grounds rising from the beach Banksia grandis arrests the attention of the collector more particularly than any of its kindred indigenous around it. It forms a small tree of irregular growth, is very abundant, and at this season is in flower and young fruit. B. marcescens and B. attenuata; Dryandra armata, fruit and flowering state;[p315] and D. nivea, I noticed in these exposed sterile spots. Of the Proteaceae I gathered 5 specimens; they were of several of its established genera–Petrophila rigida, and a shrub of like stiff habit, which I suspect is Mr. Brown’s Isopogon attenuatus, Adenanthos cuneata, a large silky shrub, near the shore. Hakea oleifolia and H. linearis, in partly humid situations on the hills, Dasypogon bromeliaefolius, a suffruticose plant with a globular head of flowers and rough foliage, furnished me with seeds and flowering specimens. An Oxylobium is at this time in flower and fruit and decorates the brush on the sands of the immediate beach. Jacksonia spinosa was also in flower, of which, I gathered a few seeds.
Other specimens I collected this morning were the following. Leptospermum linearifolium, tree 12-14 feet high, with pendulous branches, on the immediate shores. Hibbertia perfoliata, a feeble shrubby plant, in humid peaty places near the watering place. Baeckia speciosa, a beautiful, delicate plant. Epacris sp., with large white flowers and attenuated leaves, in similar situations; and a species of Tremandra, a genus allied to Tetratheca, whose purple flowers were particularly conspicuous among the grass and herbage near the well of water. Anigozanthos flavida is of most luxuriant growth in the deeper peaty spots, where the overhanging branches of Banksia attenuata protect and shade it from the more immediate rays of the sun. I gathered its seeds.
The stunted timber trees of these hills are of the Eucalypti, of which I have not seen any flowering specimens. Having returned to the vessel and taken care of the specimens collected, I accompanied Mr. King to an island in the harbour (the Gardener’s Green Island of Captain Vancouver). We could not discover any trace of vegetables that might have been produced from the seeds sown by that navigator. The island in many parts abounds with rats, which might have (long since) destroyed any vegetables raised thus; and their deep burrows in the hollow soil render walking upon it somewhat difficult. The Rhagodia, a plant of the Atriplicinae, of Seal and Middle Islands, abounds here in fruit. I circumambulated the island while Mr. King was occupied in his observations, but made no discoveries in botany. A Salicornia and a Mesembryanthemum, perhaps the M. glaucescens of Haworth, with purple flowers, prevail on its shores, as they do on some parts of the mainland. Of the genus Xanthorrhea[p316] I have this day noticed 3 if not 4 species, but none in flower. I gathered seeds of a species with an arbusculous caudex, the plant observed by Mr. Brown in 1801, having the caudex and foliage of the arborescent Xanthorrhea, but with a different inflorescence. It would appear that the end of March and the beginning of April is the season of flowering of this very remarkable plant.
1818 Jan 22nd. Thursday. Early this morning several of our people were sent to the flats, where they procured quantities of fine large oysters and fair mussels at low water. I landed with an intention to spend the whole of the day on and about the shores on the west side of the sound. Mr. King and one of his officers were fully occupied, with all the hands that could be spared from the duty of the vessel, on the opposite shores at the wooding place, in measuring a base line for a survey of Oyster Harbour. Tracing the sandy beach to the foot of the hills I found many of the plants I had noticed yesterday, with other well-known species, viz:- Dryandra plumosa, Hakea prostrata (= glabella), H. florida, also Acacia alata and A. pulchella, of the latter I gathered seeds, with another species having simple, linear, angular, mucronated leaves and twisted pods.
The rocky shores abound with a blue-flowered Billardiera, probably B. fusiformis, and with it Myoporum appositifolium afforded me specimens for examination. On the hills I gathered specimens in fruit of two species of Eucalyptus, the one with very large capsules, and the other with fruit smaller and hemispherical, forming trees 12-16 feet high; they were the same species as those observed yesterday on the opposite shores, Melaleuca sp., in fruit, allied to M. gibbosa. Pimelea sp., leaves ovate-lanceolate; calyx pubescent and villose outside. Dodecandria, a stunted shrubby plant. I gathered seeds of a specimen of Patersonia, the leaves of which are woody inside, and a twining plant of the Asphodeleae, of the habit of Eustrephus.
About 4 o’clock I returned to the vessel, having made a circuitous round of several miles with little success. I had observed on the Eastern shores, as we passed in the vessel, a remarkable tree on the hills, whose profusion of orange flowers rendered it very conspicuous, and this afternoon I landed to discover what it was and to collect specimens of it. To my surprise I found the shrub I was in search of was a[p317] Loranthus, and the more remarkable as it is arborescent and terrestrial, so contrary to the usual habits of this parasitical genus. Its flowers are generally hexandrous. This species appears to be the L. floribundus of Labillardière. I have traced a considerable analogy between some American species of this genus and those of genera of Proteaceae indigenous on this coast, particularly of some species of Hakea, in the pale colour and diversified shape of foliage, with the corolla not very unlike the long calyx of Adenanthus and the remarkable insertion of the stamina on or near the apices of the petals. In Loranthus may be one proof of its near relation to this extensive Australian family, which had been already suggested by a very eminent botanist. In returning along the rocky shore I gathered specimens of a glutinous shrub of the class Didynamia, a species of Anthocercis with large white flowers; the whole plant is extremely viscid and very graveolent. The Mesembryantheum noticed yesterday being in fruit on the sandy shore I gathered ripe seeds of it. Having occasion to ascend over some fragments of rocks and loose stones, I discovered this afternoon a large nest of very small concavity, built on the summit of an elevated rock 30 or 35 feet high, perpendicular on all sides and hence inaccessible to the emu by which I had suspected it to have been formed. It was deserted and old and might have belonged to the eagle family.
1818 Jan 23rd. Friday. Occupied some time in the shifting of my plants. About 10 o’clock I landed and employed myself on the east and north east shores of Oyster Harbour, where I gathered the following specimens:- Patersonia sp., leaves long and narrow; seeds large and glossy. Lobelia sp., larger than L. alata, flowers blue. Haemodorum, spike elongated, and another species with spreading panicle. These grew in a black peaty soil, generally beneath the shade of trees, particularly Banksia attenuata, whose stems, although short, were 24-30 inches in diameter, and at this time in flower and young fruit. On the immediate shores and sides of the hills I gathered Comesperma virgatum (Labill). Olax sp., a slender shrub, with small, solitary, white flowers. This plant agrees in habit with Spermaxyrum phyllanthi of Labill., and may be the plant he has figured. Scaevola sp., allied to S. crassifolia, corolla very woody outside. Epacris sp., a shrub of low stature, on the sandy shores. Styphelia sp., leaves cordate; flowers small; in dry rocky situations. Xerotes sp., with[p318] Gompholobium tomentosum, in shady peaty spots. On the sides of the hills in exposed situations I gathered specimens of a Stylidium clearly allied to Candollea glauca. Lasiopetalum purpureum and Acacia ciliata were but just past a flowering state, on the rocky, sandy shores. Toward the close of the afternoon I returned on board, having made no further discoveries in botany. The small flies were becoming exceedingly troublesome on board as well as on shore.
1818 Jan 24th. Saturday. Every person fully employed in wooding, or in the necessary duties of the vessel, or engaged with Mr. King’s party on shore. And such was our shortness of hands that it would have occasioned Mr. King much inconvenience had he allowed me one or two seamen, at my request, to accompany me in this day’s distant research, for protection and assistance. Taking my gun with me I left the cutter with an intention to visit as much of the west and north west sides of Oyster Harbour as the day would admit, passing over considerable downs of land, whose point or cape forms a species of promontory between the Sound and the harbour in which we are at anchor, I observed some aged specimens of Dryandra cuneata advancing to a flowering state. It rises to a tree of rugged, irregular growth 14-16 feet in height, with Banksia quercifolia, a shrub in young fruit. In some boggy hollows near these extensive sands, occasionally inundated by the sea, I gathered specimens of Scaevola sp., leaves linear, short; a shrubby plant. An Aster with small oblong linear leaves; flowers terminal, hoary, solitary. A genus intermediate between Westringia and Satureia, leaves ternate, lanceolate, obtuse, upper lamina of corolla villous; a shrubby plant. Stylidium glaucum, this appears to be Candollea glauca, Labill., and is easily distinguished from the plant gathered yesterday by its more attentuated growth and slender smooth spike of flowers.
Avoiding a tract of brushwood on the skirts of the harbour, which had lately been fired by the natives and hence could afford me nothing, I stretched over the shelly flats, being low water, to Bayonet Point of Captain Flinders, a remarkable elevated angle of the harbour, on and in the vicinity of which I procured the following interesting specimens:–Petrophila fastigiata, Br.; Anadenia pulchella, a rigid shrubby plant, remarkable for its glutinous follicles; Adenanthos obovata, a twiggy shrub with red flowers; Hakea ellipitica, specimens[p319] in fruit; Hakea ceratophylla; Persoonia longifolia, leaves elongated, linear and falcated; Persoonia articulata, with the preceding; Conospermum coruleum, of tufted growth. The summit of this point abounds in the beautiful plant named Beaufortia sparsa, in flower with others of the Melaleucae, particularly Melaleuca stiata and M. thymoides, described by Labillardière. The latter has small capitula of flowers yellow. Casuarina nana, a dwarf, stubby shrub.
On the immediate shores a very remarkable species of Daviesia, forming a shrub about 5-6 feet high, is by no means common. Another specimen D. flexuosa, branches zigzag, spinescent, the strophiola of the seed bilobed. I gathered a few seeds of a Gompholobium, whose legumen is very large, a dwarf shrub. Kennedya sp., leaves ternate, ovate, hoary. A Myoporum allied to M. viscosum, but distinct in having ovate-lanceolate acute leaves, and glandless peduncles, I found growing on the rocky beach in flower and fruit. The soil of Bayonet Point is of a red, dry, sandy nature, with a very small proportion of loam. The wind at S.W. was very strong about 3 o’clock and, the country in that direction being in flames, the Sound was completely enveloped in smoke from that quarter. I returned on board at the close of the afternoon, and having placed my plants out of danger I accompanied Mr. King to the rock where I had discovered the large nest. The country is now in flames around us in various patches, but none of us have seen any of the natives, although no doubt they are watching our movements.
1818 Jan 25th Sunday. As the French Commander Baudin[*] and Captain Flinders lay down in their charts a river having its embouchure at the bottom of Oyster Harbour, Mr. King proposed a boat excursion up it in order to ascertain its course, depth, width and soundings, with the general character of the land on its banks. Having attended to all my plants that required it I joined the party consisting of Mr. King, Mr. Bedwell, our friend Bongaree, the native, and four able hands. Our course to the supposed river’s mouth, as laid down on the charts, was much impeded by the flats in Oyster Harbour, over which in some places we had scarcely water to float us over. Working into the deep water, we ran down to the extremes of the harbour into a narrow bend, which we supposed to be the river we were in quest of, but soon[p320] found our mistake by shoaling our water to 3 feet. Clearing this bight for the deep water and trending easterly Mr. King took several bearings of our situation and then stood in for the shore, when, upon closing with the land, we found the mouth of the river which we entered. It might be 250 yards wide, although very shallow, 6-9 feet deep, but advancing we got 2 fathoms, and a width from 100-60 yards. The windings are not abrupt or numerous, but easy, the banks are elevated, sloping and grassy. The river abounds in waterfowl of various descriptions, but none were shot. About 3 a.m., having advanced about 4¼ miles up the river, we stopped and landed on its left bank in order to take some refreshment.
[* Rivière des Francais of Baudin.]
While our people were lighting a fire I took a range in these sandy woods and detected the following plants:–Billardiera sp., flowers terminal clustered, leaves ovately lanceolate, undulate, stem subvolubilous (rather twining). Trackymene compressa (Azorella compressa, Labill:) a small weak alated plant. Dasypogon bromeliaefolius was very abundant and strong on the banks.
Previous to embarking in the boat I left a few peach stones in the best spot these banks would afford me as an indication to future navigators that this river had been visited. Its inclination was from the N.E. Pushing off, we descended this river, and after grinding over beds of oyster shells in the flats of the harbour we arrived at the cutter at dusk. This river doubtless receives much fresh water in the rainy seasons as well from the interior as from the hills bounding it. The tributary streamlets being conveyed into it by the small creeks we noticed as we sailed up it. On the flats in the harbour our native chief caught us a large fish weighing 22½ Ibs.
1818 Jan 26th. Monday. Shifting my plants till 8 a.m. and afterwards on shore with Mr. King, who was desirous of taking some necessary bearings from the highest range of hills to the eastward of our anchorage. Following the range northerly, inclining to the westward, I examined many plants of the arborescent Xanthorrhea habit, before made mention of, for specimens of perfect inflorescence, but with no success. In rather damp shaded spots on the slopes of the hills covered with timber I discovered a. species of Dryandra in considerable patches, its involucrum of flowers in decayed condition. It[p321] has the foliage of D. blechnifoliaand D. pteridifolia, and perhaps may prove these singular fern leaved species to be but one genuine kind and not specifically distinct. On the rocky sandy shores I gathered specimens of a Viminaria, scarcely distinct from our Port Jackson V. denudata, but of more slender growth. Several new smokes issuing from the woods above the trees indicated the presence of natives, but none made their appearance.
1818 Jan 27th. Tuesday. I have been looking around me these few days past for a fit situation for planting the seeds of European fruits, the only spot to be chosen for that purpose is near the water-hole, where the soil is a sandy heath-mould. I accordingly marked off a small patch a few feet square, cleared it of the brush and small plants and prepared the ground for the seeds I intend to sow. In the afternoon I accompanied Mr. King to Green Island, where he wished to take a few more bearings and observations. The many sea birds that pass the night on this island were beginning to flock around it in order to take possession of their several spots of rest. Leaving the island we sailed over to the mainland and landed at Bayonet Point. Whilst occupied in taking some angles I rambled on the elevated point among the many interesting shrubs with which it was covered, but having already visited this spot I found at this time nothing but what I had previously detected. The little delicate Stylidium allied to S. glaucum, with lanceolate-spathulate leaves, afforded me good duplicate specimens. Ispogon attenuatus is very fine in the rocky background. I gathered duplicate seeds of Patersonia sp., as also seeds of a Kennedya. The natives, who (from the fires) appear to be all round us, continue to be very shy, and so far from allowing us to communicate with them they keep altogether out of sight, although we noticed this afternoon their fresh fires lighted among the trees near the beach, about half a mile to the southward of us, between us and the cutter.
1818 Jan 28th. Wednesday. This morning I went on shore and sowed the following seeds, stones etc., peach, apricot, lemons and loquats, with scarlet runners, long-podded beans, marrow-fat peas, celery, parsnip, cabbage, lettuce and carrot. Round this small garden I formed a slight hedge of green boughs and large branches. I occupied myself on the western shores of the harbour, chiefly in low woods subject to the encroachments of the sea in spring tides. I gathered specimens of[p322] Leptospermum linearifloium (= Agonis linearifolia), with some other of this genus not in a flowering state. Our people struck the tent that had been fixed up on shore, and with all tools were brought on board, Mr. King intending to get under weigh so soon as the wind became favourable. At night our people drew the seine at the bottom of the harbour in the mouth of the river and were tolerably successful.
1818 Jan 29th. Thursday. It was the intention of Mr. King, should the wind have continued steady at S.E., to have cleared out of Oyster Harbour if not to stand out to sea, but the wind would not allow us to get under weigh. I went on shore to procure a few more seeds on the rocky hills on the Eastern side. Banksia grandis, so very fine and rich in flower at this period, could not be found in ripe fruit. I gathered fine flowering specimens of Tremandra sp., with apposite elliptical leaves and purple flowers.
This afternoon I accompanied Mr. Bedwell and Mr. Roe to Seal Island (distant at 5 miles), who were sent in the whale boat to leave a sealed bottle containing a memorandum, written on parchment, stating our arrival, in a safe and secure situation on the island. Having wooded and watered here, our intention was to proceed by the first fair wind on our voyage to the N.W. coast, and finally that we should leave a similar document on the first accessible island on that coast stating more particularly our future route. I furnished myself with some seeds of Candollea cuneiformis, Labill., the ornament of this solitary rock; and seeds of a reclining shrub of the Atriplicinae. Two seals, a female and a cub, were shot by our people, and others only wounded rolled down into the surf and disappeared in an instant. The bottle was well corded up and fixed securely to the shelving part of a large stone at once visible and at the same time perfectly secure from the action of strong winds or other natural destructive causes. Our boat people plundered the nests of the penguins, of whom sixteen were taken. Leaving the island we hoisted our sail to the light breeze, which wafted us to the cutter about 8 p.m.
1818 Jan 30th. Friday. Expecting that Mr. King would get under weigh every hour, should the wind become fair, I was prevented going away from the shore immediately abreast the vessel. Acacia biflora and A. marginata are now in flower on the beach: Dryandra formosa, common near the watering place[p323] is past a flowering state. I gathered some fair specimens in flower of Olax Phyllanthi (= Spermaxyrum phyllanthi); also a dense stunted shrub of the Diosmeae, flowers decandrous; style elongated, apex glanduliferous; leaves linear, angular, glandulous. The rocks of the immediate shores are covered with a shrubby plant of the Epacrideae, which appears to be Andersonia sprengelioides.
1818 Jan 31st. Saturday. The present unfavourable points from which the wind prevails (S. westerly) rendering exceedingly doubtful whether the cutter could leave the harbour to-day, I landed and directed my course to Princess Royal Harbour, a part I had not yet visited. Tracing my former route along the beach, I ascended the deep, barren, stony hills that bound the Sound to the westward. In making the rocky north point of the entrance into Princess Royal Harbour, I gathered the following specimens and seeds on the rugged hilly country in its vicinity:–A species of Hakea, larger than H. elliptica, leaves more broadly elliptical, rounded at point, triplinerved, Leptospermum marginatum, Labill., a tree 10-12 ft. high. Hovea rhombifolia, a shrub 4 ft. high. Gastrolobium sp., a spreading tree. Oxylobium sp., leaves lanceolate-ovate.
This rocky point of entrance is covered deeply, chiefly with Eucalypti and common Banksia, but the whole side of the harbour being entirely recently fired by natives I added nothing more to my few plants already gathered. Ascending to the highest point I had a fine view of the two harbours, sound, and the lagoon laid down in the charts. I observed the smokes of natives some distance beyond the lower ranges of the hills to the northward and westward. I descended to the lagoon, on the margins of which I hoped to make some further botanical discoveries. I gathered specimens of a Comesperma, with leaves linear, elongated, obtuse; flowers yellow. Comesperma sp., leaves linear, scattered; flowers in a capitated spike, allied to C. calymega Labill. Lobelia sp., flowers terminal, and blue stem. Epacris sp., leaves sheathing, lanceolate, acute; flowers solitary, scarlet; Santalaceae, a shrubby plant, flowers very small. Leptospermum sp., leaves lanceolate, attenuated at base; branches and calyx smooth; flowers axillary, solitary. Leptospermum sp., leaves lanceolate, rigid, and crowded; flowers in racemi, calyx teeth shorter than the calyx-tube. I made a diligent search for the curious Pitcher Plant, Cephalotus follicularis,[p324] Labill. around the lagoon and in the boggy parts near it, but without success.
Returning over some downs of sand I observed a succulent plant, with linear-lanceolate acuminate leaves, in fruit; the capsules angled, and sulcated habit of Crassula. I gathered a few more seeds of Candollea cuneiformis, frequent near the beach, forming an irregular stunted shrub. Dryandra nivea and D. armata with Lasiopetalum solanaceum, the latter at this period in flower, and fruit in a very young state, is frequent on the hills I passed over in the day’s route, on which, in thick brushwood, I started a kangaroo of the size and kind called Wallabaa[*] in New South Wales. At 4 p.m. I returned to the cutter. Fresh native fires seen in Oyster Harbour near the entrance of the river, at dusk.
BeforeItake my leave of the rich botanical repository of sterling worth–King George’s Sound–a few remarks may not be altogether unuseful and unnecessary. The extensive family of Proteaceae, whose genera and species occupy a considerable portion of the shores of the Sound, have a varied diffusion. Banksia grandis is only to be found on the above mentioned dry exposed sides of the hills, where it flowers and fruits in a limited but healthy state of luxuriance. B. attenuata has been observed on the shores, in a deeper peaty soil, forming a tree of some bulk. B. marciscens, B. cocinea, and B. quercifolia grow near the immediate shores in and dry places, but rarely on the hills, and never in loose sand. Excepting Dryandra pteridifolia and D. blechnifolia the whole of this genus inhabits dry sterile hills with Banksia grandis. Other genera such as Isopogon, Petrophila, Hakea, Anadenia, Adenanthos, are likewise found in and rocky and sandy situations, while Franklandia and some Persooniae enjoy the moist peaty levels or damp heathy spots on these hills. . . . Thus the culture of these interesting plants will be better understood in England at all events their native habits and soil whereof little or no loam forms a component part.
It is a well-known fact that our pride of New South Wales, Telopea speciosissima, so tenacious of life in its natural, sterile, rocky places of growth, seldom retains it when removed by the settlers into the richer loamy soil of their gardens.
OYSTER HARBOUR TO ENDERBY ISLAND,
1-25 FEBRUARY, 1818
1818 Feb 1st. Sunday. The wind shifting to S.E. by S. induced Mr. King to get under weigh. By the assistance of a kedge-anchor we hauled out of Oyster Harbour about 10 o’clock a.m., and after many tacks we beat out of the Sound. At 4 p.m. we had rounded Bald Head and stood westerly along the coast.
The hills overlooking the immediate coast were one grand blaze of fire, having been kindled by the natives, and its running course before the wind illuminating all around, these sterile elevations had a brilliant effect.
1818 Feb 2nd. Monday. No land in sight.
1818 Feb 3rd. Tuesday to Feb 9th. Monday. The slight dysenteric (and other) complaints which had afflicted the whole of the crew are less violent. Early this morning we passed the Tropic of Capricorn in about 113° East Long. Expecting from our situation that we were drawing near the land, we wore ship at 8 p.m. and stood off for a few hours. No soundings in 80 fms.
1818 Feb 10th. Tuesday. At 5 a.m. we stood in for the land, and at 8 we got soundings in 35 fms. The land, which is called Terre d’Endracht by the French, is extremely sterile, is somewhat elevated and hilly, gradually tapering at its extremes and, with the immediate shores, is very sandy and covered with low stunted shrubs. At 1 p.m. we approached the northern low extremity (N.W. Cape) which extends out westerly in a depressed point of sand, with apparently a deep bight or bay behind it. Passing some very dangerous breakers half a mile from us we stood on for the cape and got a bottom in 7½ fms. The latitude of the North West Cape is 21°52’43” S. and long. 114°30’30” E.[*] We saw a sea snake, several large turtle and some dolphin near the vessel. Several large fine butterflies and small flies came off to us from the land. The latter became very troublesome. No fires or appearance of natives were observed on this dreary coast. The deep bay which trends in here to the eastward from the cape and which we are about to examine is entitled Exmouth Gulf, in honour of Lord Viscount Exmouth. Falling calm we sounded and got a bottom in 13 fms. when we dropped an anchor with coir[p326] (made of the fibre of the cocoa nut) cable for the night, about 7 miles distant from the land and 2 miles from a sand island.[**] Violent gusts of wind with heavy cross swell made the vessel labour considerably.
[* 21°47′ S. 114°10′ E.]
[** “Three or four miles eastward of the Cape.”–King.]
1818 Feb 11th. Wednesday. In heaving up our anchor we most unfortunately parted from it, and having but an indifferent buoy lost it altogether, with some fms. of cable.
1818 Feb 12th. Thursday. Tacked at 6 a.m., being close on board an island from which ran a reef of rocks.[*] Our leadsman had 9 and 8½ fms. In the course of the morning’s examinations several islands were seen from the mast head, of which some were distinguished from the deck, low and barren. These islands are no doubt much visited by turtle, of which we have now abundance floating around us. Stood in for the main. Anchored in a bottom of sand and small shells.
[* Baudin’s Muiron Island.]
1818 Feb 13th. Friday. In consequence of the foulness of the bottom we had the misfortune to break one of the flukes of a second anchor upon weighing this morning. It appears it is a rock crusted over with mud, sand, and shells, a few inches thick. Mr. King was in consequence under the necessity of running back to the last anchorage in hopes of being able through the medium of the buoy attached to the lost anchor, to find the particular spot and endeavour to weigh it. The buoy not “watching” (or floating over the water) the anchor was not discovered. Occupied at my specimens. Several large turtle, and seasnakes of an orange colour are seen around us.
1818 Feb 14th. Saturday. At 7 a.m. we made sail and stood on for the mainland, our soundings varying from 12-8-7-½ fms. within 1½ miles of the shore; some islands observed from the mast head are low banks of sand, bare of vegetation, but the shores of the main are bounded by sandy hills or ridges and covered with small shrubs. The heat was very oppressive during this day. The thermometer in the face of the sun rose to 119½° on deck.
1818 Feb 15th. Sunday. At 6 o’clock a.m. we were within half a mile of the shore, tacked and stood along the coast northerly, sounding continually. We had a slight breeze from southward and westward. This day we carried on our survey among an archipelago of sterile sand islands, in various depths[p327] of water. At 5 we anchored in 3 fms. in a little bay[*] about 1½ miles to the westward of a long low island. I accompanied Mr. Bedwell, 1st officer, on the shores of the bay; he was sent to procure turtle and make some observations as to the resources for wood, water etc. The beach is rather steep, rocky and clothed with the mangrove, Avicennia tomentosa, forming large round bushes, which at sea, in other situations, had been mistaken for clusters of rocks. It was dark when we landed and few observations could be made. The vegetable kingdom appeared from the sands to be very inconsiderable, some species of Salsola, Mesembryanthemum, with Salicornia and some of the Atriplicinae scattered on the shores. Some Acacias of very humble growth were flourishing in these sterile flats, but none were discovered in flower; and a very noxious Spinifex seemed to overwhelm all other vegetation. Our people dug in the sands a few feet deep, but could find no trace of water; on the contrary, a dry heat prevails. At half past 8 we left the shore, being obliged to launch the boat about half a mile over shallow rocky coral flats before we could find water enough to float her.
[* Bay of Rest or Jogodor, on west side of Exmouth Gulf and thirty miles south of North-West Cape.]
1818 Feb 16th. Monday. Mr. King intending to remain at the present anchorage so long as the southerly winds prevail, I went on shore with Mr. Roe, second officer, wishing to employ myself in examining the botany of the extensive sands in the vicinity of the bay, and make such collections as the apparently scanty materials would afford me. Beyond the beach, commenced a low depressed and tract of sand dunes, covered with attenuated brush and bounded by distant elevated land. In a northerly route over this flat I gathered the following specimens:–Acacia sp., a small tree, on which I discovered a Loranthus parasitical. Hakea longifolia. Hakea oleifolia of King George’s Sound, a small tree 12-16 feet high, afforded me seeds. Hakea stenophylla, a small tree of the size of the preceding. Acacia sp., a spreading small tree 10-12 ft. high. A round, dense, junceous, aphyllous shrub allied to Thesium or Leptomeria. I noticed a species of Acacia, with small, oblong, wedge-shaped, obtuse, smooth leaves, having a gland inserted upon the tendrils in the upper surface, but I could not discover it in flower. On the sandy ridges I gathered specimens of Melaleuca in fruit; leaves alternate, small,[p328] cordate, sessile, many-nerved; capsule and branches smooth; and Olax sp., a slender shrub. On the depressed flats a junceous shrubby plant of the Asclepiadaceae is very frequent; it forms round close bushes, but has no appearance of flowers, fruit or leaves, and is very lactescent when bruised. I gathered seeds of a Gnaphalium. The loose sand hollows in the soil, in consequence of being bored by kangaroo rats, and the abundance of the prickly spinifex, were no little inconveniences when passing over this sterile waste, which were increased by the great reflecting heat from it. My pocket thermometer rose to 115°, although not exposed to the solar ray. I measured some ant-hills of brown and blackish colours, according to the tinges of the soil on which they are situated; their average dimensions were about 8 feet high and 81 feet in diameter. They have at a distance the appearance of native huts–were abandoned by their original tenants and were fast mouldering away–forming nurseries for lizards and several species of insects, particularly the wasp, hornet and others of the Hymenopterous order. Making the coast, we traced it to our boat over extensive beds of dead shells bleached by the weather–the remains of once beautiful specimens. I observed fragments of coral, madrepores and shells scattered over the whole of the distant flat land in our route, this morning, all proofs of the sea having receded from it at no very distant period.
[*] A doubt having arisen whether this expanse of desert formed a part of the main or was an island detached from it, I wished to clear up the matter by proceeding across the same towards the distant highland. Mr. Roe had gone off to the cutter and had taken the specimens I had collected this morning. After walking 3 miles in a S.E. direction over these burning sands, the heat became so extremely oppressive as to oblige me to relinquish my object, in some measure although the appearance before me being a slight ascent towards the high land left little or no doubts as to its belonging to and forming part of the main, and as a presumptive proof of this, numerous tracks of emu were noticed on those parts where the sands had been crusted together, as if by the effect of water upon the surface. Seeking shelter and shade from the steady fervid heat of the sun, among some close mangrove[p329] trees, my thermometer was stationary at 105° in the shade, being influenced by the cool fanning sea breeze then setting on the land. During the route the same plants presented themselves to me as I observed this morning, but less frequent. Dense masses of spinifex covered this tract almost to the exclusion of other vegetation. I, however, observed a recumbent plant with broad, elliptical leaves. It has the character of an Acacia, with a glaucous hue (A. oteaefolia = I. lunata). I could not discover flowering specimens. At 4 P.m. the jolly boat took me off to the cutter. Bongaree, our native, had with great skill speared some fish, which afforded us a fresh meal. Large smokes were observed near the higher lands, proving to us that natives exist in these extremes of sterility.
[* Cunningham, having heard that this peninsula was called Cloates Island, attempted to clear up the mystery.]
1818 Feb 17th. Tuesday. In the afternoon Mr. Bedwell, First officer, was sent on shore, and I availed myself of the opportunity and landed, trusting I might procure a few more seeds, and perhaps specimens. I discovered some small trees of the Hakea with long filiform leaves, seen yesterday, loaded with last year’s capsules, of which I gathered some specimens. In similar situations I furnished myself with specimens in fruit of a shrub with filiform, rounded, channelled, succulent leaves; the capsules are many, collected in a small pyriform figure, each unilocular and 1-seeded. I gathered seeds of an Iberis, a shrub with obovate, emarginate, glaucous leaves; and a dead syngenesious shrubby plant afforded me a large paper of seeds, which are large, compressed, and membranaceous. The greater part of the flat over which I passed this afternoon is of a pale loose soil, compounded partly of decomposed shells, sand and decomposition of vegetables, but approaching the boundary ridges this description of soil disappears and a beautiful glittering red dry sand succeeds, in which the Acacia grows with considerable luxuriance, throwing out long sappy branchlets, which appeared the more surprising as we found the sand so extremely hot as scarcely to allow us to stand upon it any length of time without inconvenience. I gathered seeds of an Acacia growing thus in the sand, with ovate-lanceolate, obtuse, mucronated leaves,having a gland inserted on the interior margin; legumen small, compressed, seeds round. We chased a lizard about 5 feet long, on the flat, but running under the excavated base of an ant-hill he found a secure[p330] retreat and could not be dislodged. Having procured a few shells of no consideration we returned on board at dusk. This bight is called the Bay of Rest, by Mr. King, who has ascertained it to be in lat. 22°17’05” S., and long. 114° E.
1818 Feb 18th. Wednesday. At 5 a.m. we got under weigh and stood out of the bay. I shifted my specimens and exposed them to the air. Having surveyed the gulf, Mr. King intends now to run north east along the coast and examine those parts more particularly not observed by the French.
1818 Feb 19th. Thursday. We passed several sand islands thinly covered with alkaline, succulent plants. Water snakes of brilliant colours afloat near the vessel. At 4 p.m. we changed our course and stood on for the mainland, in consequence of a break in the beach appearing like the mouth of a river.[*] From the masthead this opening appeared more clear and evident, presenting a large bay or inlet of water bounded by wooded shores, whose verdure forms a striking contrast to the sparse stunted vegetation of the coast in general. At 5 p.m. we dropped anchor in 2¼ fms. muddy bottom; having previously worked in shore a quarter of a mile from the beach, which is rocky and bluff, with a heavy surf, rendering the landing very difficult and dangerous. The sandy ridge bounding the beach is covered with brushes and small shrubs, beyond which are large swampy flats or salt marshes distinguished from the masthead of the cutter. Mr. King, accompanied by the second officer, took some bearings round the vessel and along shore, the results of which showed that the same depth continues close to the rocks of the beach, from which we might anchor the length of the vessel. He also went to the mouth of the Inlet, across which is a bar of sand . At dusk he returned to the vessel with an intention of examining the opening in the morning.
[* Ashburton or Curlew River. “We succeeded in finding an anchorage three miles to the eastward of the inlet.”–King.]
1818 Feb 20th. Friday. About 5 a.m. I went on shore (on the mainland) with Mr. King, who was desirous of ascertaining the nature of the low swampy country at the back of the beach and of giving me a few moments to make some observations as to the botany of the immediate shores. The water had fallen 6 ft. and we landed without any difficulty. The Convolvulus was decorating the sandy hilly ranges with its large purple flowers, spreading its elongated branches in every direction[p331] on the beach. I gathered the following specimens:- Gyphia sp., a suffruticose plant with blue flowers. Tribulus sp., a procumbent villous plant with pinnate leaves and echinated capsules; flowers yellow. Euphorbia sp. Crolon acerifolius, this species appears to be the same as the plant discovered by me on the banks of the Lachlan River in May, 1817, and of which specimens were sent home by the “Harriet.” Asphodeleae, a small liliaceous plant. An arbusculous Acacia, before stated, indigenous in the Bay of Rest, is the only woodIsaw, mangroves excepted, and it is singular that neither here nor in the Bay of Rest were any specimens of Eucalyptus seen. Beyond the boundary line of sand the flats are very low, almost level with the sea, which has, at spring tides, communication with them by the breaks and small inlets on the beach. We returned on board at 7 to prepare for the examination of the river supposed to lead into the interior or terminate in the lagoon seen this morning.
Mr. King, Mr. Roe, self, Bongaree and four of the crew left the cutter in the second whale boat about 9 o’clock. We kept within the sandy islands (forming projecting low points to the sea), being almost surrounded by mangroves. Crossing the bar at the entrance to the mouth of the river or inlet, which is about 150 yards wide, we pulled up in a fathom to 11 fms., although frequently on the left shore we had 2 and 2½ fms. At 2½ miles from the entrance, the shores, which had been thickly clothed with Rhizophora and Avicennia, are very low, gradually becoming somewhat higher, and are nearly bare, with here and there small sapling Eucalypti. We all landed to look around. Mr. King and myself went over the scorching flats to a sandy elevation in hopes of taking some bearings and to make a few observations relative to this channel of water. No information could be gathered from this ridge, and it being the highest part we could see we returned to the boat.
Mr. King was satisfied that it would only be a waste of time to examine further up this inlet, inferring from its red muddy bottom, its effects among the mangroves and its general shoaliness, that it was a body of water of no consideration; that the whole of the flats crusted with mud and white with salt (crystallizing, the sun having evaporated the stagnant salt water) had lately been inundated; that its decrease of width, its many little channels running from it,[p332] indicate its termination to be at no great distance; and that the whole flat country on this coast is one general salt marsh, continually subject to the inundations and encroachments of the sea.
On these sandy flats I gathered fine flowering specimens of an Acacia with obovate oblique leaves, first observed in the Bay of Rest. Scaevola spinosa, discovered in the western interior in June 1817, is common on the banks of this inlet in flower, with a shrubby plant of spreading depressed habit, allied to the genus Saponaria. The sandy hills produce a shrub of the Asclepiadaceae having decayed folicles and elongated lanceolate leaves, but not in flower. I gathered a few specimens of grasses on the immediate banks. Our boat people had been busy in our absence and had caught some fish, but chiefly of the kind called catfish. In our return we traced the impressions of the feet of natives on the soft mud in and about a small inlet or branch of the river, the mouth of which had been stopped with twigs, in order to retain the fish in a basin within them at low water. It was hence presumed that fresh water could not be far distant From the great numbers of curlews observed on this large salt water inlet Mr. King has given it the name of that bird. Our first officer had landed on the main and had visited the salt marsh at the back of the beach, and reports the quantities of crystallized salt he saw on these flats. He brought me specimens of a Dolichos with axillary stalks, which he had gathered on the sand (D. foliolis).
1818 Feb 21st. Saturday. This morning at 6 o’clock our water was reduced to 9 feet. We weighed anchor and stood off E.N.E. Nothing can convey to us the idea of smokes of natives better than the spiral manner in which large bodies of sand are carried into the air by whirlwinds. We have seen several this day, and had we not been witnesses of the ascent of a column of sand near us yesterday on shore, we should most naturally have allowed ourselves to be deceived to-day, concluding them to be the smoke of native fires.
Very large turtle 3½ and 4 ft. diameter over their backs, and abundance of albicore are observed around us. Passed several small islands, and frequently tacked in consequence of shoaly water. At half past 5 we came to an anchor in 5 fms., on a bottom of small stones.[*] The connection of[p333] sand islands chained together by banks of sand prevented us from standing within sight of the mainland, but from the circumstances of the tide setting in the N.E., a bight or bay is expected in that direction. We had a good run of 45 miles to-day.
[* Under “an island of larger size about four miles off the main.”–King.]
1818 Feb 22nd. Sunday. At half past 8 we weighed, with a light air, and stood in for the main (which appeared at noon to trend in deeply to the eastward); it is very low, and from the masthead has a broken rugged shore. The land around us is either covered with salt water in a chain of lagoons or is dry and white with salt as seen at Curlew River. The breaks in the line of coast are clothed with large bodies of mangroves, and appear to be drains to the inland marshes, which to the eastward are bounded by high hills, distinguished from the deck. Several new islands were observed to windward, of which bearings were taken. At half past 7 we anchored in about a quarter of a mile from a slightly elevated sandy island, bearing N.W. by W., lat. 21°13’01” S., long. 115°58’35” E.
1818 Feb 23rd. Monday. The closeness last night was very oppressive. Between 5 and 6 a.m. we got under weigh, but the calms obliged us to re-anchor. At half past 9 we weighed again, with a slight breeze from the S.W. We stood along the coast at a considerable distance from the shore, which is low and broken. Bearing up for a projecting rocky cape, we doubled it[*] and stood in for the land, which runs in deeply and forms a bay. Reefs warned us of imminent danger, and obliged us to tack instantly. The more elevated or rising parts of the coast assume a new feature, being thickly covered with brushwood from the water’s edge to the ridge of these small hills. We could clearly distinguish some high land in the interior from the cutter’s deck, and should hope and trust a change for the better is about to take place. About half past 9 p.m. a sudden squall came on from the south-eastward and the wind blowing with incredible force from the elevated sandy hills was exceedingly hot and accompanied by much sand. Our leadsman reported 10 and 11 fms., which gave us great scope to the swell that was getting up to drive us off shore. The thermometer during the squall was stationary at 91°.
[* “We steered close round Cape Preston.”–King.]
1818 Feb 24th. Tuesday. Favoured with light airs we weighed and[p334] steered for an island 2 or 3 miles to the northward, which we have suspected may be the Rosemary Island of Dampier, situated according to the French charts in Dampier’s Archipelago, and while standing on for the island were suddenly shoaled and immediately hauled off. Steering awhile on a new course, Mr. King still desirous if possible of anchoring under this island, we again stood in for it. The soundings were very irregular, till close in upon the island, when we anchored at 6 o’clock within three quarters of a mile of the shore.
This island[*] is very different from the low sandy flats which we have been accustomed to, it is hilly, hummocky, and very irregular, appears covered with grass and small plants, and with large fragments of rock or stone of a red ferruginous colour. The gullies appearing deep, suggested the probability of fresh water being procurable. Several small whale were observed spouting close in shore. Our lat. is 20°44’30” S. The wind was blowing fresh from the S.E., whence thunder and very vivid lightning appeared. We struck our topmast, dropped another anchor, and prepared to meet the blast. It being a matter of very considerable doubt whether we shall be fortunate enough to discover water, it became necessary to reduce our daily allowance to a gallon per day each person.
[* Enderby Island.]
1818 Feb 25th. Wednesday. At anchor off a sandy bay.[*] At daybreak 4 a.m. I accompanied Mr. King and the second officer in the jolly boat to the sandy beach, and whilst they were engaged in taking angles from the highest parts of the islands, I employed myself on the lower sandy flats and on the rocky stony hills. The following specimens I gathered in such situations:–Ficus orbicularis, a shrub 4 ft. high. Ficus sp., a small tree in ravines and rocky gullies. Acacia sp., a low spreading shrub. Acacia sp., a shrub frequently seen at the Bay of Rest. Solanum sp., Echites sp., a slender shrub. I discovered on the gritty, coarse sand near the beach, at the base of the hills, a shrubby plant, perhaps of the genus Triumfelta. About 9 a.m. we all went off on board, and having then secured my specimens I returned to the shore. A party of our people were sent from the vessel to search for water, either by digging under the hills or otherwise, presumed[p335] to be found in the gullies which they were to trace. I took a walk round to the N.E. side of the island, but added only one or two specimens to my collection. In sterile heated valleys of sand a twining plant of the Asclepiadaceae (Cynanchum sp.), with cordate leaves and small white flowers, is most predominant. A syngenesious plant, the Sphaeranthus indicus, Linn., is frequent but not in a flowering state. I gathered some specimens of the shrub Dampier had many years ago published in his voyage Vol. 3, p.m. L4, f3., under the title of rosemary, and which, from its abundance on an island in this archipelago on which he landed, suggested the name of Rosemary Island. It is a large shrub of lax habit, and may be a Conyza, leaves linear, entire, margin revolute, villous beneath. A species of Cassia, with large ovate and elliptical leaflets, oblique at their base, rounded at their points and mucronated, the glands pedicelled and inserted at the base of the petioles, and terminal spike, is a rare shrub on rocky exposed situations.
[* “Anchored off a sandy beach to the eastward of Rocky Head.”–King.
The people had been digging in vain, they could not penetrate to any depth, in consequence of the stony shallow soil, but they discovered in the deep excavations of a rocky gully a quantity of about 12 gallons of water that had been stagnant for some time, but had acquired a sub-putrid taste, and was exceedingly soft, and although shaded from the intense heat by the branches of the Ficus above mentioned was very warm. It was very acceptable, and a bareca was filled with it and carried on board. Upon returning along the shore to the boat I found our two officers had just come on shore, and the one proposed an excursion across the island to the opposite shore, whilst the other, with our worthy friend Bongaree, intended to search the beach for shells. I accompanied Mr. Roe inland. We followed the windings of a gully to an elevated flat between the shoulders of the higher hills, where it is evident, from the number of small dry channels concentrating at the mouth of this gully, that immense bodies of water descend into the lower flats and thence over the beach into the sea. Passing over the highest hills, which are extremely rugged and stony, covered with spinifex, we gradually descended through a ravine and came out upon a sandy beach to the westward of the shores we had intended to have made.
The evening was too far advanced to proceed further from[p336] the vessel, it was therefore determined to range about and then return to the boat. There are remarkable concentrations of gullies and deep furrowed water-courses at this small sandy shore, and a slight humidity being observed on the soil on the more shaded parts, induced us to search the gullies and leading channels. It was, however, fruitless, the water apparently had but just sunk below the depth of the earth a few days previously. A species of Dolichos, in fruit and flower, was spread over the sands. It seems distinct from D. gladiatus, to which it is allied. I gathered one specimen of a papilionaceous plant, a Swainsona, with purple flowers. The Croton of the Interior of Australia and Curlew River is here likewise in the gullies, the shrubs I examined, had all of them male flowers. A very strong scented glutinous plant, of the class Didynamia, with a bilabiated purple corolla, is frequent on the hills among the rocks, in round bushy forms.
Pursuing a rugged route over the hills we arrived at the boat at dusk. The tide had fallen several feet, and the people were therefore obliged to carry the boat over the rocky shore to float her. Among the loose fragments of ironstone, with which this island abounds, numerous pigmy kangaroo find a secure retreat, and the higher cliffy parts are inhabited by numbers of the white cockatoo, whose figure and cry pronounce them the same as those of New South Wales. The bay abounds with fish of various kinds. Sharks are in schools. Sea snakes and turtle are frequent, but the season of the latter visiting the shore being past, we could take none at sea. This island not being the Rosemary Island, as laid down in the charts (French), Mr. King has named it Enderby Island.[*]
[* “An island to the northward on which are three hummocks was soon recognized as Captain Baudin’s Ile Romarin.”]
AMONG THE ISLANDS OF DAMPIER ARCHIPELAGO
26 FEBRUARY- 4 MARCH, 1818
1818 Feb 26th. Thursday. At half past ten got under weigh. In standing between the islands of the group we discovered three natives in the water, appearing from the distance we were from them, to be wading over shoaly flats from one island to another.[*]
[* “Wading towards Lewis Island.”–King.]
[p337] Making more sail, we steered direct for them, whereupon approaching them we observed they were each seated on a canoe-afloat, and were making as much way for the nearest shore as possible, paddling along with their hands. About 2 p.m., coming up with them, we wore ship and lay to, and lowering the jolly boat we sent it after them with four able hands. Our people soon overtook the third man who had not been so active in working to windward as his comrades, and, with difficulty and with as much care as possible, he was seized and lifted into the boat[*] but not before he had dived 2 or 3 times under her bottom in attempting to escape. Upon being brought on board we were presented with a fine figure of a man, of rather thin, spare shape. About 6 ft. 2 inches high, of a good visage, as an Australian, strong bushy beard, tolerably well-proportioned limbs, and apparently 27 or 28 years of age. He was not wanting in the incisive or front teeth, nor were the signs of circumcision, spoken of by authors, visible. He was perfectly naked, tattooed on the breech, wore no ornaments, having only a pointed stick about 7 inches long stuck in his hair, that might be useful to extract fish from their shells or other purposes,
Although sullen and much alarmed at first, he soon assumed a degree of confidence when he experienced the kindness and attention paid him. He occasionally made signs towards the land and talked, but his language was not understood by Bongaree, our Port Jackson native, or ourselves. We decorated him with glass beads, which we hung round his neck, but, like the natives of other Australian tribes, he was not disposed to admire these ornaments, preferring rather useful and beneficial things. He ate but sparingly of our biscuit, but drank freely a quart of fresh water. He took much notice of Bongaree, who had reluctantly at our persuasion stripped and exhibited a scarified body–a counterpart of his own. By this time we had approached so near an island as to be within 1½ miles of its shores, on which were many natives patiently watching us,[*] and apparently in anxiety to know the result of the capture. We therefore shortened sail and anchored in 5 fms.
[* On seeing them, the captive immediately exclaimed, in a loud voice, “cõmã nëgrä.”-King.]
We gave the native an axe showing him its use; a bag containing beef and biscuit, a red cap and some small cordage,[p338] and, expressing a desire to depart, he was taken off in the jolly boat for the beach, on which his countrymen were sitting, the officer on the boat having directions not to land him, but to approach the shore, place him with the gifts round his neck on his float and launch him off. He soon landed on the beach, but his comrades approached him very cautiously, with their spears poised over their shoulders, while others were timid and ran back behind the bushes. This strange symptom of fear and distrust entirely originated in the figure the captive native made with the bag at his back and the red cap on his head; but soon disengaging himself of these encumbrances and throwing the whole carelessly on the sand he joined his comrades, whose numbers, including women and children, were between 36 and 40.
We were at a loss to know the kind of wood of which his simple kind of float or bark was made. It is about a foot in diameter and might be 7 or 8 feet long, solid and cylindrical, or tapering slightly towards the extremes, which were detached pieces, joined by the means of sticks forced into the ends of the mainpiece. They sit upon it, about the middle, astride, allowing their legs to hang down in the water, or can at pleasure place their feet horizontally along the float, resting the heel on its forepoint. Practice and habit have enabled them to sit so in equilibrio as to prevent their bark turning with them, and when they wish to advance rapidly they incline the body forward, put their feet in motion and paddle with their hands. Only the head of the float is seen, the greater part being under water, diagonally to its horizontal surface.
At 5 o’clock p.m. our second officer with Bongaree and four of the crew, all well armed, were sent towards them, with a view of landing and effecting an amicable interview and communication, I accompanied Mr. Roe in the boat. On our near approach they came to meet us making signs to us to land, but the heavy surf rolling over the rugged rocks lining the shore altogether prevented us. We stood off and on, rowing along the rocky beach, answered the calls of the natives, who waded up to their breasts towards us, and gave some ornaments to those who ventured within the length of their spears from the boat, but their whole desires and wishes were that we should land among them. Finding it altogether unsafe, in consequence of the rugged shore and[p339] great swell, we left them for the vessel, when they expressed their disappointment by shouting loudly as we rowed off.
A friendly interview would be very desirable, as it might be the means of discovering the spot where fresh water is to be procured, the existence of which the very presence of these poor creatures, with their wives and children, plainly indicates. Among the natives we distinguished some aged grey bearded men, some athletic adults, and some full grown boys; and the captured native was observed among the group and appeared rather shy, and he had left his axe on the beach when he came into the water towards us.
Their spears are very thick and stout, round, sharp pointed, but barbless, and appeared 9-10 ft. long. At sunset a fire was observed near the water’s edge on an island to windward.
[* The group between Lewis Island and the main was called Intercourse Islands. Seven in number, they are situated in the south-east portion of Mermaid Strait.]
1818 Feb 27th. Friday. The natives still continue at their temporary encampment on the rising parts of the island, some of whom were observed bathing in the course of the forenoon. Immediately after dinner, Mr. King, Mr. Bedwell, and myself, left the cutter in the large whale boat for the island, in order to get an interview with the natives, and by signs endeavour to obtain the information where fresh water might be procured. We landed on a sandy beach at nearly the lee side of the island, but found the natives had left it in the course of the forenoon, nor was it until some time had elapsed that they were discovered on the shores opposite to us to the eastward. Their huts were of green boughs, very temporary, and could form no shelter in rainy weather, and their fires were small and many in number. It was with no small surprise we found near the huts the axe and other things we had given the native on board, the bag with provisions appeared not to have been even opened. This island is sand, chiefly of a red colour, over which large pieces of ironstone are scattered. I gathered the following specimens:–Stylosanthes sp., a pinnated-leaved prostrate plant. Velleia sp., a suffruticose[p340] plant. Leschenaultia sp., large yellow flowers. Cleome sp. Vicia sp., a weak plant, frequent with the Dolichos of Enderby Island. The more rocky exposed parts are covered with a plant of the Asclepiadaceae. The Spinifex is frequent on the island, and Convolvulus pes-caprae is stretched over the sands near the beach. A small plant of the Cucurbitaceae and some shrubs of the Atriplicinae, before noticed, and of which the native huts were made, were abundant on the shore. Leaving the place and stretching over to the opposite shores, on which we could distinguish several natives, as well as two in the water on their barks, we made for a sandy beach; the natives came to meet us, shouting and making many signs, inviting us to land. Mr. King, and Bongaree (naked) landed first, and walked up to them, and a friendly conference took place, one of the natives advancing and receiving Mr. King with open hands.
We all landed, and found our commander with the natives, who, including the two who had been in the water, now amounted to about a dozen. We decorated their persons with beads, and the reflection of their frizzled visages in a glass created much laughter among them. To the one who had advanced towards us first, we gave the cap and axe and, having found a piece of wood on the beach, Bongaree was directed to show him how to use it. Some old rusty nails, files, sharpened chisels, were also presented to this person, who although he appeared the most intelligent among them, received all with a careless indifference and unconcern. It is evident they never saw iron before, and knew nothing of its valuable uses. The captured native was not among them, nor did we observe any so well proportioned as he was.
The eyes of most of them are bad, and affected much with watery humours, occasioned by their habits of sitting over the smokes of their little fires. Some of their faces were covered with fish oil, over which they had sprinkled the dust of powdered charcoal, rendering them still more disgusting than they naturally are. The whole of them were scarified on the back and shoulders, and one poor lad, on whom the operation had been recently made, still smarted under its pains, which were aggravated by the myriads of small flies continually annoying him. We attempted in vain to form a vocabulary of their language, but they understood our desire to find fresh water, and pointed to some elevated rocky[p341] islands. We did not attempt to leave the beach to look around the low land lying beyond it, whence a few stragglers came unarmed seemingly from their encampment, where probably their women were, for we saw none.
Pulling off, we set sail for the sandy beach of another island, where we intended to land and search for water. Upon approaching the shore we noticed several natives descending from a steep rocky point to the little bay, where we wished to have landed. Their numbers were upwards of 20, all armed with spears and appeared bold and courageous. Four men left their companions on the right entrance and ran over the sands to the left side. and wading in the water informed us by their gestures that we should not land. And their wild defying grimaces and vociferous yells were clear and palpable proofs that their intentions were decidedly hostile. It was considered much more prudent to leave them than occasion bloodshed. In consequence of its being the first communication that we have had with natives since we left Port Jackson, the first island on which we saw natives, the second on which we had an interview with them, and the third where they opposed our landing, have collectively been called Intercourse Islands, whereof the first is in about lat. 20°35′ S.[*]
[* East Intercourse, West Intercourse, and Intercourse Islands are the largest of of the group.]
1818 Feb 28th. Saturday. At 9 we got under weigh and stood among the islands, and at half past eleven, having got well to the eastward of this group, we anchored in about 5 fms. I accompanied Mr. Roe, who was sent at 3 p.m. to examine the bottom of the bay before us,[*] and if possible to discover water. We sailed to its extreme end, which is bounded by mangroves, and passed up a salt water inlet in hopes of coming out upon the back land, but impenetrable thicket of lofty mangroves of Avicennia and Rhizophora mangle obliged us to return. Rhizophora mangle was in flower, the fruit is long, subulate and clavated.
[* Probably King Bay.]
We landed at a rugged rocky small opening, and walked over the salt plains, now dry, to somewhat more elevated parts of this sterile coast. Scaevola spinescens is very strong, and resists the and barrenness around most surprisingly.
Arriving under some hills, consisting chiefly of rugged[p342] heaps of ironstone, we dug in the valleys between each range for water, but our people were prevented from penetrating deep, it being very shallow and rocky. The idea was therefore abandoned of procuring the invaluable desideratum by such means. On the margin of the stony water channels, now dry, and in the rocky valleys, I discovered many specimens of a small tree, which from habit and a decayed capsule being found on one plant, proved to belong to the Proteacae, of the genus Grevillea. I was not fortunate in my search for flowering specimens. I gathered specimens of a species of Scaevola, with oblong spatulate acute leaves, bilobed, at the base; raceme axillary, three-flowered. Phyllanthus sp., leaves simple, oblong, blunt, decurrent, attenuated at base; flower axillary, the lower ones pedunculated and female; an annual plant. Gomphrena sp., an annual plant. Verbena sp., leaves linear; flowers in a spike. Boehmeria sp., stem hoary, procumbent, diffuse; leaves elliptical, oblong, obtuse, undulate; panicle loose. I likewise furnished myself with specimens of a long slender-stemmed shrub allied to Dalea. Among the large fragments of ironstone a species of Trichosanthes was very conspicuous, fruit small, flowers white and ciliated; the whole plant is fetid as in some Bryoniae.
Our people traced the water-courses between the rocky hills, but all was dry and miserable. The more elevated points of these heaps of stones are crowned with the larger fig of Enderby Island, and the whole is covered densely with spinifex and other grasses, of which I gathered specimens. Returning to the boat, we fell in with the track of natives on the sand, evidently on the same errand as ourselves. One of the boats crew traced their steps to another gully between the rocks, but barely the appearance of humidity existed among the stones. From this situation we rowed over to a sandy beach, where dry channels were followed among high wiry grass between the small rising grounds to no purpose whatever. We therefore returned on board about 7 p.m.
1818. March 1st. Sunday. Mustered the people, and the church service was read on board as usual. At half past 10 we weighed and stood out, with an intention of running northerly. At 2 p.m., being abreast of an elevated rocky island, whose highest points commanded a good view of the numerous islands around us, and a small sandy bay opening[p343] to us, we tacked and stood in for it, anchoring at about half a mile from the shore in 5 fms.[*] About 4 p.m. Mr. King and Mr. Roe went on shore, to take some angles and bearings of the island, and I accompanied them, to examine its scanty vegetable produce. We landed on a fine sandy beach, and the tide was just about the turn (ebb). This island presents to me nothing different in point of character. It is for the most part of the red ferruginous-coloured ironstone, with the same irregular rugged disposition and the same sterile gritty sands so prevalent on the islands visited. Acacia oleaefolia, first seen at the Bay of Rest, of glaucous hue, is very strong on the exposed parts of this island, but not in a flowering state. The aphyllous plant of the Asclepiadaceae, habit of Ceropegia, is very abundant. I gathered the following specirnens:–Opercularia sp., a trailing herbaceous plant, among the rocks. I was not a little surprised to find the Kennedya I discovered in July 1817, in sterile bleak open flats near the Regent Lake on the Lachlan iver, in lat.33°13′ S. and long. 146°40′ E. It is not common I could only see three plants, of which one was in flower. I gathered some ripe seeds of a Cucumis, fruit red, hispid, small and globular, size of a red currant. The vine of this plant has been seen on all the islands of this Archipelago visited, but never in fruit before to-day. On the rocky margins of the dry water-courses, a harsh shrub, perhaps of the Urlicaceae, with clusters of small male flowers, was observed and induced me to gather a few specimens in the imperfect state it was then found. I also gathered seeds of a curious lateral flowering grass .[**] The same signs of rain water having been running in considerable bodies and standing in the hollows, appear here as throughout the archipelago, but not a drop of fresh water now exists! The necessary bearings were very fortunately taken by Mr. King in time before we became enveloped in gloom, occasioned by the action of a strong wind upon the sands, which being raised were blown over to the northward and westward in clouds like smoke. These false appearances of native smoke have no doubt deceived preceding navigators, and perhaps the French, tempting them to conclude parts from whence the clouds arose were[p344] inhabited, however arid and inhospitable. We have seen and proved this fallacy, having been on a sandy flat within a quarter of a mile of one of the columns of loose sand when it was ascending. Several large whales were seen spouting among the islands. No tree or shrub above three feet high was observed on this island, the highest (a south) point of which is called Courtney Head.[***] This island is Isle Malus of the French.
[* At Malus Island the cutter anchored in a bay under the west side of Courtenay Head.]
[** Here too was discovered the Clianthus Dampieri A. Cun.]
[* Dampier’s bluff point.]
1818. March 2nd. Monday. Some turtle having been seen in the evening making for the island, a party was sent on shore at dusk to secure them, and this morning they returned without any success. Mr. King sent the second officer on shore, with some hands, to dig for water. They returned in two hours, having penetrated 10 feet with no signs of humidity. We got under weigh immediately, and bore up S.S.E. for a point of land where we dropt our anchor till the morning.[*]
[* Under north-west end of Baudin’s Legendre I.]
1818. March 3rd. Tuesday. The atmosphere is much more sensibly temperate than we have felt it for some days past, although the mercury of the thermometer was not so materially affected. A thermometer on deck not exposed to the sun, but from its situation somewhat affected by its rays, rose at 4 p.m. to 116° Farenheit. A report was made from the mast head that we were approaching shoaly water, but it appeared that the surface of the sea was covered in patches with a reddish scum, usually termed sea-sawdust, from its resemblance to that of cedar or other light coloured woods. It may in reality be the spawn of minute fish. Not intending to anchor at night, we stood out, the vessel’s head being N. by W. Upon comparing the islands of this archipelago, now laid down by Mr. King, with the published charts of the French, we find that several of them have been named by these navigators, although very badly and inaccurately surveyed, while others of them that we have been round were considered by them as part of the main.
1818. March 4th. Wednesday. We steered outside several islands forming the Archipelago, some of which are long strips of low sand, while others more distant are rocky, rugged and lofty. We attempted to round these islands and steer in among them, but a dangerous rock running off from the weathermost warned us to luff up to windward, and an opening appearing[p345] in the land from the masthead we bore up for it with a light breeze. At sunset we were in a bay, having the supposed opening or channel to the back of the islands passed to-day. This bay is called Nickol’s Bay.[*]
[* In Nickol Bay the pearl fishing of Western Australia was started.]
DAMPIER’S ARCHIPELAGO TO POINT TURNER, 5-26 MARCH, 1818
1818. March 5th. Thursday. The supposed opening is clearly seen from the mast-head this morning to be only a slight trending of the land, which is exceedingly low, with some patches of mangroves. About half past 6 a.m. we left Nickol’s Bay, with a breeze from S.W. A projecting point of the mainland, whose shores to the northward trend in easterly, has been named Cape Lambert, in honour of A. B. Lambert, Esqre., of Grosvenor Street, London.[*] We ran along a very low and dangerous coast, whose adjacent islands could be traced from the mast-head to be chained together by reefs and sandy shoals. Some rocks had their points just above the surface of the water, allowing the waves to beat over them and warn the cautious mariner of the dangers around him.
[* Cape Lambert is on the north-west side of approach to Port Walcott.]
Tracing the coast north-easterly, we bore away for an island seen by the French (Baudin), who in passing kept well out to sea, hence could not distinguish the low mainland as it really exists. At 5 p.m. we were about 2 miles to the westward of the island, which is laid down in the French charts under the title of Isle Depuch, it appears one body of bare naked ironstone, with scarcely a trace of vegetation, and its general aspect cannot under any view convey to the mind any flattering ideas of its fertility, or its springs of water, which have been represented by the authors of the voyage under Commodore Baudin.
1818. March 6th. Friday. In this morning’s run we passed to windward of several low, flat, sandy and rocky islands named by the French, although only seen by them at such a distance as not to enable them clearly to distinguish between islands and mainland.
1818. March 7th. Saturday. Suspecting from the steadiness of the wind from that quarter that the north-easterly monsoon would set in altogether by the latter end of this month or beginning[p346] of April, and fearful should we continue longer on this coast we would not be able to beat up to the eastward, and in that case would be wholly cut off from the means of obtaining fresh supplies of wood and water at Timor or elsewhere, Mr. King has determined to leave the coast and run as far as possible to the eastward on the north coast, and at the change of the monsoon survey westerly.
1818. March 8th. Sunday. Divine Service as usual on board. Being in the latitude of a reef laid down in the charts, but to the westward of it, a good look out was kept at the mast-head, and we sounded hourly. At 8 p.m. we found no bottom in 80 fms.
1818. March 9th. Monday. Tropic birds accompanied us this morning, nine were hovering over the mast-head. Dead calm, and a sultry afternoon. Our lat. is 17°34’28” S., and long. 117°58’06” E.
1818. March 10th. Tuesday. At half past 5 a long narrow water spout was observed to leeward of us, issuing from the clouds in a slender curved form. At intervals it was not seen, and again reappearing we traced it distinctly to the surface of the sea, the clouds at these moments were very dark and heavy, pregnant with water, which is disembogued by means of the spout.
1818. March 11th. Wednesday. A fine sperm whale made his appearance near the vessel, round which he swam twice and disappeared.
1818. March 12th. Thursday. The clouds bounding the visible horizon, particularly to the westward, are very romantic in their disposition, in them many wild irregular shapes and warm delicate tints may be traced. Their singular tendency to form into cones, spires and pyramids, may be peculiar to this Australian coast, as also may be said of these dark threatening clouds whose lowering heavy aspect induced us on several occasions to shorten sail and await the approach of the squall, but which in the sequel had no evil tendency, the hovering storm resolved and cleared off in a few moments, to our great surprise, until accustomed to these phenomena.
1818. March 13th. Friday. We made sail, but it was of little use, making but little way through the water. Aware we were upon the site of the shoals and rocks laid down on the charts of this coast, a good look out was kept at the mast head, but we could discover nothing, or could we find bottom in 23 fms. Our situation at noon, as deduced from many sets of solar and lunar observations, is 17°35′ S. and 118°41′ E.
1818. March 14th. Saturday. At half past 5 p.m. the surf of a reef of sand[p347] bank was seen from the top-gallant-mast head, bearing due east, distance 5 miles. From the nature of the waves breaking it appears to be mostly sand. Wore ship and passed to windward; we got no bottom in 200 fms.
1818. March 15th. Sunday. In consequence of our discovery of the shoal last evening, we lay to at night, and at 5 a.m. tacked to southward. At 7 we saw the breakers from the masthead bearing S.E. by S. Prayers as usual on board to the vessel’s company. At 3 p.m. we lost sight of the shoal, and at 6 hove to. Wind, W. by S. These shoals are extensive flats of sand, perhaps 5 miles long from N. to N.W., with some rocks of small elevation on their margins.[*] Their surfaces as presented to us from the mast-head are shallows covered with water, perhaps 2-20 feet, of great breadth, but no spots were perfectly dry.
[* Named Rowley Shoals, after Captain Rowley, H.M.S. “Imperieuse,” who discovered the westernmost in 1800.]
1818. March 16th. Monday. From the mast-head another shoal was discovered, of considerable extent, and of like appearance of those seen yesterday.
1818. March 17th, Tuesday to 23rd, Monday. Between these periods we have had winds from S.W. to W.S.W. Fine with succeeding squalls, and a damp moist atmosphere.
1818. March 24th. Tuesday. At 7 we hove to for bearings of some islands in sight. It was doubtful which of the islands now seen was New Year’s Island of Captain Flinders.[*] They appear from the deck clothed with trees, and more green and grassy than those of Dampier’s Archipelago. Great flocks of seabirds were hovering about these islands, of which one has been called Fowler’s Island by Captain Flinders, and another Oxley’s Island by Mr. King, the former in honour of the Lieutenant of the indefatigable navigator, and the latter as a compliment to John Oxley, Esqre., Surveyor General of New South Wales; and the whole collectively are called Flinders Group.
[* “The north-easternmost proved to be New Year’s Island of Lieutenant McCluer.” King. This isle is still called New Year Isle, and an isle nine miles to the southward McCluer Isle.]
1818. March 25th. Wednesday. During the forenoon the breeze slackened and again sprang up due cast. We therefore tacked ship and stood southerly for the coast. Some curious Zoophytes were floating around the vessel, particularly Porpita gigantea of the French.
1818 March 26th. Thursday. At 8 a.m., land that had been seen from the mast-head some hours before was plainly distinguished from. the deck. We tacked and stood into a bight in the land thickly enveloped in mangroves, but shoaled to 2½ fms. although 3 miles from the shore. The coast here appears in patches very barren, low and sandy, several of its points were named by Mr. King, who now commenced his survey running westerly. At 6, the soundings, from a rocky hard bottom changed to soft mud, and the appearance of the horizon to windward being favourable, Mr. King resolved to anchor, which he did at half past 6 in 15 fms., off Point Turner.[*]
[* Which forms the western entrance point of King River.]