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
(“Mermaid’s” Voyage Completed)
27 MARCH–7 APRIL, 1818
1818 March 27th. Friday. At 7 a.m. we weighed and bore up west, taking bearings of points as we passed along. The general depression of this part of the coast, the mangrove beaches, and the bodies of water noticed inland behind the immediate banks of the shore, are evident proofs of the coast being subject to the encroachments of the sea. At noon we approached an island of very distinct features from those of the N.W. coast. It is slightly elevated, covered with small timber, appears very grassy, and of easy rise. Its S.W. sides in particular are cliffy, parts of which appear argillaceous, of a ferrugineous tinge. Rounding the points of the island we anchored off a sandy bay in 5 fms.[*]
[* South-West Bay, of South Goulburn Island.]
About noon I accompanied Mr. King and our second officer on shore. We landed on a part of the beach which, from its low grassy appearance, tempted us to conclude fresh water might be discovered near. Our boat people were directed to make a diligent search by tracing this apparent water channel inland. I took a range around among very lofty grasses, and the following are the most remarkable plants I detected this afternoon. Clerodendron sp., a shrub of the habit of Leea sambucina, having an angular stem and bipinnated foliage. In humid, grassy situations with the preceding plants Tacca pinnatifida is very abundant, in fruit at this time, whose roots I observed had been dug up in several spots, either by natives or some animal; and several convolvuli, particularly a species with long white tubular corolla, an Ipomaea with large cordate leaves. The rising grounds are covered with very large fragments of stone-ironstone, (heavy, and of an iron grey colour), which being[p350] hid from the sight by the thick high grass, renders the penetration into the island somewhat difficult.
In these drier, barren, stony spots I gathered specimens of a Crotalaria allied to C. linifolia. C. sp. (allied to C. anthylloides Lamarck.), specimens and seeds. Justicia sp., flowers axillary and terminal, bracts elliptical, acute, mucronated, villous. Justicia sp., spike axillary and terminal, bracts ovate-lanceolate; an ornamental slender shrub. A tree about 30 feet high of spreading irregular growth, fruit drupaceous, one-seeded each seed having a groove on its side. Strychnos sp., in fruit, a small tree 10-12 feet high. The most general timber, which is small, is a Eucalyptus from 30-35 feet high, it was not in flower, but from its habit appears different from any I have seen before. In exposed iron stony soils, near the edge of a perpendicular cliff, I discovered an Acacia with simple very oblique half-rounded leaves, which are 5-nerved, petiole one-glanded, spike cylindrical. Cyperaceae, habit of Eriocaulon or Xyris but petalless, a small gramineous plant, the seeds having a membranaceous fimbriation round them. A very frequent plant is a species of Vitis, fruit small and black. A species of Kennedya, twining among the high grass, afforded me some seeds, and also a twining Clitoria, with narrow, ovate, ternate leaves. Pandanus spiralis has a fine effect, as well on the higher parts of the island as on the sands of the beach. It has a caudex, frequently 10-12 feet high, which is crowned with its spirally disposed foliage. I saw some specimens in green fruit.
We traced very recent impressions of naked feet on the sands, but saw no natives, even doubting of there being any on the island at this time. Bongaree, the native, was with me all the afternoon, and upon our return to the beach we found the jolly boat had gone back to the cutter, but returning at sunset it took us both off. Our people found some water, but it was brackish and in small portions. Continuing their search they found some better, and in order to collect it they dug a well about 6 feet deep, trusting it would be filled in the course of the night. Native fires were observed at dusk, on the main to the eastward of us.
1818 March 28th. Saturday. At an early hour Mr. King and Mr. Roe landed, to measure a base line on the beach, and I was occupied till 8 o’clock shifting out my specimens. I went[p351] on shore with a wooding party, intending to penetrate some distance from the beach to ascertain the character of the botany inland. Passing through a thickly wooded land, among lofty grass, on an iron-stony soil and in a north westerly direction, I discovered but little variety, several I had seen yesterday appearing more generally around me. I gathered, however, the following specimens:- Grevillea Dryandri of Mr. Brown, a beautiful spreading shrub of low stature. Polygala sp., a small pigmy annual plant. Combrelaceae, a shrub of the habit of Sterculia, with a drupaccous acute 1-seeded fruit. Sterculia sp., a dwarf strong shrub, with large coriaceous 5-angled leaves; this plant has only some last year’s fruit on it. Bidens sp., an annual plant with linear leaves. Phyllanthus sp. Celastrus sp., a shrub 6-8 feet high. Verbesina dichotoma. Grewia sp., allied to G. verrucosa, a very common plant among the high grass, in flower and fruit. The Crotalaria discovered yesterday, a species with simple elongated lanceolate leaves; raceme terminal; calyx very hairy, longer than the legumen. A. Convolvulus, differing but little from C. medium. Vitis sp. I discovered this vine to-day laden with fruit. Euphorbia sp., a shrub with glossy leaves; berry red, 2 seeded. And the Strychnos observed yesterday, a small tree.
A continuation of the same grassy, thickly wooded barren land appearing before me after I had advanced about 2½ miles inland, and not meeting with any more plants but what were duplicates of those I had already gathered, I made a circuit westerly to that part of the beach where our wooding party were employed. In this route I gathered a few more plants viz:–specimens from a tree 20 feet high, with elliptical, glossy leaves, allied to Hippomane. Amyris sp. Achyranthes sp. Periploca sp., a volubilous shrubby plant. Sapindus, a small tree, with oblique pinnate leaves and a terminal cyme of fruit, on the beach beneath a cliff of marl or pipe-cIay. Hibiscus ficulneus is fine in flower and fruit, of which I gathered seeds.
Our native, Bongaree [KING BUNGAREE], in his rambles on the shores of the island, made a very valuable and seasonable discovery. He found fresh water running into a natural basin under the cliffs, above noticed, in such abundance as to afford us two puncheons per hour.
Our native, Bongaree [King Bungaree], in his rambles on the shores of the island, made a very valuable and seasonable discovery. He found fresh water running into a natural basin under the cliffs, above noticed, in such abundance as to afford us two puncheons per hour. The well dug the last evening was full this morning, but, upon testing, it was found too bad and[p352] brackish to be drunk. Our woodmen complained of the hard timber turning the edges of their axes, though they found it to be hollow at heart, like some of its kindred on the Eastern coast. I went on board to secure my specimens, which were already beginning to wither, by the intensity of the heat. In my absence, Mr. King had gone away to a small island about 2 miles to the southward and westward of our anchorage (and which at my suggestion has been named Sims Island), to take a meridian altitude and make other observations relative to the survey. He returned at 3 p.m., bringing with him a few specimens he had noticed there, and among them a Tournefortia with a compound recurved spike of white flowers, ovate-oblong large silky leaves, and thick short succulent stem. Triumfetta sp., imperfect. A new Grevillea, and a suffruticose plant of the Aselepiadaceae, having all the habits of Hoya, a stoloniferous reclining plant; leaves as in H. carnosa; the flowers however are white; corolla smooth and sweet-scented.
The north point of Sims Island forms a remarkable rocky elevation, named Sanson’s Head. At 4 p.m. I returned to the island on which I had employed myself this morning, which Mr. King has entitled Goulburn Island, and made some further discoveries in botany, in the vicinity of the depressed moist land where we had dug the well viz:–Hedysarum sp. Asparagus racemosus. Tabernaemontana sp. Tracing a beaten path made by the natives, I observed the roots of Tacca pinnatifida, a plant abundant in low shaded situations had been taken up in quantities, which tempted me to conclude they are eaten by these Australians, as are also those of a plant of the Aroidae [Arum orixense] by the natives about the banks of the Hawkesbury and Nepean Rivers on the Eastern coast.
Observing an arborescent Melaleuca in flower in the hollow somewhat below me, I was advancing towards it, when I was suddenly and agreeably surprised by the discovery of a lagoon of fine clear water, which is so much concealed by the high grass as not to be seen until you are at its margin. Many fine large specimens of this Melaleuca were growing in this water, which is 2½-3 feet deep. It appears to approach near M. leucadendron. I discovered a Nymphaea covering the waters of this lagoon, of the size of N. pygmaea. The flowers are white, of which I was only able to procure two or[p353] three specimens, and no capsules were discovered. I took up some of the roots, which are likewise small, and very deep in the stiff clayey bottom. These I enveloped in soil, and having no other means, could only risk them, being desirous of transporting the plant to Port Jackson, although, from our expected detention on the coast and the subsequent voyage thence, they have but little chance. I gathered specimens of a species of Polygala, of a small Euphorbia; and a species of Hedysarum, with seeds of Tecca. The sandy shores abound with a succulent plant now in flower. It appears to be an Aizoon, with narrow oblong-lanceolate smooth leaves; flowers axillary, solitary. Flagellaria indica is a very common plant in confined brushwood, climbing over the whole through the medium of its cirrhiferous (tendril bearing) foliage, and in similar situations Dioscorea bulbifera has been observed, bearing axillary bulbs and small male flowers. Finally I thought in like places I could trace something of the Bignonia in a twining shrub with glossy ovate conjugate leaves, and its bark, which is spotted, as in some species indigenous in Brazil. I, however, saw no signs of flowers. I planted some peach stones in a deep rich soil near the lagoon. At dusk the boat came for me, and I went off, with a specimen of the fresh water and reported the discovery to Mr. King.
1818 March 29th. Sunday. Soon after noon some of the people on deck observed five natives among the high grass on the island approaching the spot where our party had been cutting up wood, and our tools, axes and cross-cut saws having been rather neglectfully left there by our people, they carried all off, and our station flags stuck up at regular distances on the beach likewise attracting their attention were also seized. At the firing of some muskets they fell down among the grass, but rising again they walked off with their booty and wholly disappeared. It was suggested they might be a part of a body of natives seen on the main yesterday, and might have crossed over in a canoe.
Mr. Bedwell. and five able hands were despatched in the large whale boat round the south part of Goulburn Island to examine the little bights and capture any canoe he might find. About 3 p.m. he returned with a very fine one, about 17 feet long and 2 feet wide, formed of an entire piece of timber, and sufficiently large to convey six natives from one[p354] island to another. It was hauled up on the beach, and near it were seen 7 or 8 natives, armed. They had an encampment of gunyas or huts on the rising ground, and several small fires were smoking around them. It being evident this canoe had been made by persons in possession of sharp iron tools, the circumstance created a doubt of its being of Australian manufacture, and this doubt was not a little strengthened by a piece of Malay rope being found attached to it. How the people became possessed of it we know not. Captain Flinders found the natives on this coast to the eastward great thieves, and these to the westward have this day thus far proved their consanguinity in character with them in carrying off our wooding tools.
At 4 p.m. I accompanied Mr. King to the west point, to examine the soundings of the newly discovered watering place in order to return the vessel nearer to it for convenience and protection to our people while occupied in taking in a fresh supply of water. We landed to examine Bongaree’s discovery, which is under a range of perpendicular cliffs or elevated forest land. The fresh water runs from rocky perforations near the ground into a kind of well or basin, deepened by our people, and rendered more convenient for the purpose of filling our casks. Oozing through the white clay it has a pale tinge, is soft but good water. Whilst Mr. King was taking angles and bearings I examined the plants of the overhanging range of cliffs. I gathered better specimens of a volubilous plant of the Asclepiadaceae, observed yesterday in fruit. Periploca sp.Santalaceae; Exocarpus, or allied to that genus; leaves elliptical and broad; spikes axillary, crowded, shorter than the leaf; a tree not exceeding 20 feet in height. Achyranthes pungens, in sterile, sandy spots. A fine leaved Casuarina, with small fruit, forming a tree 30-40 feet high, on the immediate beach, afforded me some specimens and seeds. I discovered a single specimen of a low spreading tree with a compound fruit, perhaps of the Urticaceae.
At the extremity of our walk, a point of the island opened to us, truly picturesque; it was covered with the Pandanus, with stems 20 feet high, bearing their compound drupaceous fruit. At dusk we returned on board, and suspecting the natives might swim off in the night and endeavour to carry oft their canoe, we hauled it up to the davits out of their[p355] reach, had muskets ready, and directed a good and vigilant watch to be kept. Numerous white and black cockatoos, several pigeons, and some rich plumed parrots were observed on the shores of the island. Among the volubilous plants seen on shore an Ipomoea is very common under the cliffs. It has a long tubular corolla of a white colour, capitated stigma, and smooth woody stem, agreeing with a species figured by Andrews in his Botanical Repository as Ipomoea grandiflora, but differing from the Convolvulus grandiflorus of Linnaeus (supplement), which is described as having an arborescent pubescent stem. At 11 p.m. our whale boat, which had been (at dusk) well secured astern, was discovered drifting towards the shore, and suspecting the natives were carrying her off, muskets were fired, and the jolly boat manned, well armed, was sent off to bring her back. It appears one or more of these mischievous natives had silently swam off to recover their canoe, but being disappointed in not finding her within their reach, had cut through the thick painter or rope of the whale boat, and were either towing her away or allowing her to drift on shore.
1818 March 30th. Monday. Clear morning. About half past 6 a.m. we weighed anchor and stood to the northward and westward, to a more convenient place for watering the vessel. Our people were sent on shore to the cliff abreast of us in the whale boat, well armed, to fill casks with water; a carronade was ready loaded on board, and every precaution was taken on deck to protect the people, from the assaults of the natives, of whom seven were seen early this morning, skulking about under cover of the high grass. In a short time they were seen running to the spot on the edge of the cliff above our watering party’s heads. A musket was fired from the cutter to warn our people of their danger. In an instant they were assailed with a shower of large fragments of ironstone and broken wood, which was returned by our people’s muskets without effect. In this affair two seamen were slightly bruised, and the whole embarked and came off.
Another party, consisting of Mr. King, myself and three others, left the cutter to protect the watering people by standing off so as to command the line of the cliff’s edge, and the fillng of the casks was carried on with despatch, in peace, no natives daring to make their appearance. At noon we brought off 180 gallons. It was fortunate that I have[p356] either collected or ascertained the greater part of the botany of the island previously, for now, in fact, I could not venture to carry on my pursuit of flora, excepting under the protection of a strong guard, which could not on any account be spared. The small fly is extremely troublesome. The skins of none of us are proof against its penetrating proboscis.
1818 March 31st. Tuesday. No appearance of natives. At 10 a.m. I landed with our watering party and went to the summit of the cliffs in sight of our boat. All was quiet, and I examined and collected the few plants around me, as well as those of the craggy descent at its eastern extremity. On the cliff, specimens of an annual plant of the Gentianaceae, Exacum sp. Verbena sp., a beautiful delicate blue-flowering annual plant, with linear leaves. A small creeping Portulaca, with apposite orbicularly cordate carnose leaves and terminal yellow solitary flowers, is generally dispersed over this stony soil, with a Spermacoce, gathered on the 27th. In the descent, among a confined brushwood and small trees, I gathered the following specimens:–Loranthus sp., a parasitical plant. Dioscorea sp., which appears none other than the Linnean D. bulbifera, originally figured by Hermann. Rubiaceae, Psychotria sp. Verbenaceae, an annual plant with pale bluish flowers. Cetharexylum? a tree 12-20 feet high. After a range of about three hours, with but little success I returned to the boat, which was awaiting my arrival, and we all went on board. The flies still continue very troublesome, so much so that some of us while writing are obliged to wear veils. These insects scruple not to enter our eyes and nostrils, to our very great annoyance, nor have we found the means of wholly destroying them. They do not appear to lessen in numbers though very many pay daily for their presumption.
1818 April 1st. Wednesday. This day we completed our supply of water for 8 weeks, but the variable winds had almost determined Mr. King not to wait here for a supply of wood, which can easily be provided at other islands. The cry of a native dog was heard in the course of the last night, and this morning one was seen on the beach, prowling about for food. At 2 p.m. some natives, who had been seen in the morning at an encampment among the high grass, were observed in motion, and were about thirteen in number, walking briskly to the part of the cliffs over our people’s heads, evidently[p357] with mischievous intentions, most of them being armed with long spears. A signal was hoisted at the masthead of the cutter to warn the people beneath, and a 6 lb. shot was fired from the cutter over the summit of the cliff, which dispersed the natives, who finding we were ready for them, walked off altogether, and we were no more molested by them.
I accompanied Mr. King and Mr. Bedwell to some Rocks called The Brothers, to the northward and westward of our anchorage. They are bare, naked, shelving and very irregular: a thin wiry grass in tufts on them afford a nest to seabirds, and the only plant else was a species of Cassia, whose dead twiggy stems were laden with pods, of which I gathered seeds. A bottle was left on these rocks,[*] containing a paper stating the arrival of the vessel and the disposition of the natives who visited the islands around.
[* The smallest of the Goulburn Group.]
1818 April 2nd. Thursday. Fine at 8, when we got under weigh and stood northerly round the island. The wind was light, from the eastward, but afterwards veering to northward, which obliged us to put about and return anchoring nearly on our old ground. A proposal being made to visit Sims Island[*] this afternoon, I most readily and gladly joined the party, to examine the botany of a spot which, from Mr. King’s account, might afford me much novelty, and some interesting subjects. On the beach on which I landed I gathered specimens of a large spreading bushy plant of the Salicariae, a Lythrum. The nearly decayed foliage of an Amaryllis (probably) on the warm sands directed me to the treasure below; the bulbs were deep in the soil and wedged in between large immovable pieces of rock, which rendered it difficult to take them up without bruising them. I procured 8 good roots. Ascending over rocks and large stones to the more elevated parts of the island, I detected the following plants:–Grevillea ilicifolia, a shrub 3 ft. high. Hibbertia sp. Bossiaea sp., I observed this plant in a less perfect state on S. Goulburn Island. Indigofera sp., a shrub with purple flowers. Pimelea involucrata, a small slender plant with scarlet flowers. Haloragis sp., allied to H. racemosa, Labill. Psychotria sp., observed likewise on Goulburn Island. Flagellaria indica,[p358] specimens in flower and fruit. Diosma, a shrub with linear leaves and small flowers: Sterculia sp., Glycine sp. I gathered some fine specimens in fruit of the Tabernaemontana discovered on Goulburn Island.
The Cucurbitacious plant Cucumis,[*] with a scarlet round hisped fruit about the size of a red currant, is common, hanging over and covering large stones. The suffruticose carnrose plant of the Asclepiadaceae, of reclining habit, is frequent among rocks in barren sandy places. It has the habit and inflorescence of Hoya carnosa, but its flowers are white and smooth, and very fragrant. I gathered a specimen that had expanding flowers, doubting of being able to preserve it. A Scaevola, allied to S. lobelia, but differing in the division of the calyx, was observed on the beach within the influence of the surf, forming a large spreading shrub, with obovate glossy entire foliage. The Convolvuli of the shores of Goulburn Island are likewise noticed on those of this island, which is about three quarters of a mile in length, rugged, covered with rocks of sandstone, shelving and perforated by the action of the weather. The elevated parts have much pudding-stone, and the shallow sandy soil is sprinkled with small fragments of quartz.
[* Seaberry of Australia.]
The centre of the island, is a grassy hollow, which in heavy rains forms a swamp. Here, in this periodical humid situation, some fine specimens of Pandani present to the eye a pleasing appearance, being now laden with green fruit. Its western side is sandy, less stony, and productive of high grass. I saw the Tournefortia before mentioned, it forms a small tree 10 feet high, of irregular but robust growth, which, with some Eucalypti of small growth, not in flower, and those above mentioned, appear to be the whole of the arbusculae of the island. Bamboo joints and broken earthen vessels, found by our people, are indications of the Malays having visited the island. The situation of this small but interesting island is 11°38′ S. lat. and 133°25′ E. long.
1818 April 3rd. Friday. Mr. King intending to land upon Sims Island to take equal latitudes this morning gave me an opportunity of examining those parts I could not visit yesterday. At 11 a.m. I landed on the S.E. side, where the rocks are covered with the Vitis and some Convolvuli, of which one small woolly specimen, being in capsule, furnished me with seeds.
[p359]The arurldinaceous stemmed Flagellaria is frequent in fruit, climbing over all other plants. Among some rugged loose stones, sunk in the sand, I discovered a few more bulbs of the same kind kind as those discovered yesterday, and as I had promised to meet the boat on the opposite. side of the island in half an hour, I could only allow myself time to take up a dozen fine roots. Guilandina bonducella (the nuts are called the Bonduc nut) and a species of Boehmeria with ternate leaves, unequally round, obtuse, nerved, were shrubs on the beach; and of the latter I gathered specimens in fruit.
In crossing this island from S, to N., I detected the following new specimens: Daviesia sp., a twiggy shrub. Grevillea ilicifolia. Also seeds of a Solanum, a shrub with oblique tomentose leaves, large blue Cowers’ and pale yellow berries, containing shining black seeds. Beneath the shade of small trees of Metrosideros in fruit the Amaryllis was observed in small patches and with the Grevillea seems to be scattered profusely over the island. Soon after noon I had passed hastily over to the beach, where the boat was awaiting my arrival. Embarked and returned on board. N.B. I could have wished to have spent the whole of this afternoon on the island, but it was necessary the boat should return to the cutter with Mr. King at 1, and much inconvenience would have resulted had the crew of the whaleboat been sent in the evening from the distant anchorage to the island to take me off, when the vessel required the whole of our little company either on board or elsewhere.
1818 April 4th. Saturday.[*] At half past 8 we got under weigh, with a light air from the southward. Attending to my specimens and drying seeds on deck. At 6, shortened sail and dropped an anchor in 10 fms.
[* On this day the “Mermaid” left South-West Bay.]
1818 April 5th. Sunday. Early this morning we weighed anchor and stood off for the island seen some days ago to the northward of the one from whence we had taken in a stock of water, and being with it, called Goulburn Islands, this, by way of distinction, is called North Goulburn Island. At 8 a.m. we tacked, and in half an hour came to with the best bower in 6 fms., muddy bottom. In the afternoon I went on shore with Mr. King and our second officer; we landed at the south point of the island which is rather rocky, being connected with a long chain of reefs running parallel at some distance with the[p360] beach. The, Scaevola allied to S. lobelia is very abundant on the shore, in flower and young fruit. I passed over a narrow strip of low land, chiefly sand, and gathered in patches of undershrub and brushwood the following plants:–Smilax sp.Verbenaceae, Dicrastyles, allied to Premna, a shrub of procumbent trailing habit, flowers spiked, blue. Diadelphia, allied to Psoralea, a strong scented shrub. Diospyros sp., a tree 30 feet high. Solanum sp., a shrubby smooth plant, with occasional tetandrous flowers, and small orange fruit, allied to S. nigrum. The Tournefortia of Sims Island with other plants of the South Goulburn Island were observed this afternoon, particularly Tabernaemontana sp., before noticed, of which I gathered seeds.
At the back of the beach is a low grassy hollow, a marsh in the rainy season but at this time dry. Pandanus spiralis is here abundant, and the grass, which is of gigantic growth, appears to be a Bromus, of which I gathered some specimens. The shores, although rocky in some places, have likewise some fine clear spots for dragging the seine, and they are lined with fish, particularly the mullet, whence the name of the bay in which we are at anchor. Some fine large specimens of Casuarina, of arborescent growth, on the beach, will afford us some good firewood.
1818 April 6th. Monday. Having attended to my plants, I landed with a party who were sent to cut down Casuarina. Crossing a hollow sandy flat parallel with the shore, I rose to some land entirely covered by the high grass, and of a much better soil, over which some Eucalypti of small growth were thinly dispersed. In this situation, among the grass, I gathered a few specimens, viz:–Drosera sp. Stackhousia sp., a delicate plant. Verbena sp., an annual plant. Crotalaria sericea, a small suffruticose plant with scarlet flowers. Glycine sp., this specimen agrees much with G. caribaea of Jacquin, a twining plant. The soil in which these plants were discovered is of a loamy character, with a small proportion of sand, and being rendered fit by the rains of this morning, for the recaption of some European seeds I had with me. I sowed many peach stones and several apricots.
About noon the day was well cleared up, and the sun became very powerful and oppressive to the wooding people, one of whom was so much overcome by the intense heat of the beach, as to be obliged to return on board-sick. Some[p361] water was discovered in a ditch on the north end of the bay in which we are anchored–in a small quantity. And five gunyas or huts were discovered near the beach, of depressed form, made of large sticks, so cut and placed as to rest on one another at the points and form the top of the hut. The interstices were filled up with dry bark and dead grass, and the whole was covered with a thick coat of sand, forming at once a depôt for provisions and a safe and dry retreat from bad weather.
It has been doubted whether they were built by Malays or natives; some bamboos and nets found near them suggest the probability of the former visiting the island and encamping on its shores to dry and prepare their cargoes of trepang for transportation. We, had left the shore for the cutter but a short period, when seven natives and a dog were observed passing very leisurely over the spot on which we had been clearing wood, and continuing their route to the south point on which we had landed yesterday. Although very hot on shore, the thermometer on board showed nothing unusual, and the small pocket one I usually carry with me I found broke by some accident upon taking it out to ascertain the temperature of the beach.
7th. Tuesday. I went on shore with the wooding party, taking with me an assortment of vegetable seeds, which I had procured at Port Jackson for the purposes of sowing in favourable situations on the coasts. Of fruits I sowed the following. Peach stones–a considerable quantity-and apricots and lemon seeds, and of vegetables, marrowfat peas, long-podded beans, scarlet runners, large homed carrots, parsley, celery, parsnips, cabbage, lettuces, endive and spinach. Of ornamental plants, broad-leaved Virginian tobacco, sweet and everlasting peas, Spanish broom and Astragalus falcatus, (plants lately introduced into the colony). A cocoa nut, found on the sands near the watering place at the other island, I planted near the beach. The weather cleared up about noon and a scorching sun succeeded. In the afternoon I took a walk towards the north point of the island. In a considerable confined mass of small trees, densely overrun and matted together with scandent and volubilous plants, of which a species of Vitis is most predominant, I discovered Psychotria sp., a small slender tree with orange berries. Eugenia sp., parasitical on a rough leaved Ficus. I also[p362] discovered a remarkable species of Loranthus. Abrus precatorius is now in flower and fruit, covering the brushwood with its hanging ornamental seeds. No appearance of emu or kangaroo or other quadruped (native dog excepted) has been noticed.
GOULBURN ISLANDS To RAFFLES BAY
8-15 APRIL, 1818
1818 April 8th. Wednesday. Repapered my green specimens and anxiously await settled fine weather to expose them to the air on deck.
9th. Thursday. During the last night we had so drifted from North Goulburn Island that it was scarcely distinguishable at daybreak. I availed myself of the general fine appearance of the day and placed all my damp and green plants on deck to dry, the late damp and unsettled weather had benefited them nothing. About three strange sails were observed on our lee bow between Sims Island and the main, and were soon discovered to be Malay proas, which were beating up towards that Island, and as we advanced towards them others were distinguished having Dutch colours. We hoisted our ensign and pendant at the mast-head, and examined the state of a carronade, ready loaded on the starboard quarter. They anchored in the bay near Sanson’s Head (the N. point of Sims Island), and were a small fleet of 16 sail. Most valuable information might be obtained from these Asiatics as to their seasons of fishing and detention on this coast, the success of their fisheries, the value of their cargoes, their opinion of the natives, could we have conversed with them through the medium of an interpreter. Our small numbers suggested the necessity of keeping at a respectable and safe distance from individuals whose numbers with ours appear to bear a proportion of about 8 to one. Mr. King steered away to the westward. At dusk several native fires were seen on the main.
1818 April 10th. Friday. About 6 a.m. several proas were observed to windward. We trimmed sails and bore up W.N.W. At past 7 o’clock the whole of the Malay fleet were seen bearing down upon us, we however continued running along the coast, not appearing to notice them, and about 9 a.m., as they were passing under the land, we hoisted an Ensign and Pendant, and they shewed Dutch colours. It was the intention of[p363] Mr. King, after allowing these Malays to pass him to the westward, to steer into a bay or bight observed in the land, to examine it, as it appeared of some moment. The proas however ran in themselves anchored and thus debarred us from entering. At 11 a.m. the vessel was put about; we passed the Malays steering westerly and at half past 12 we anchored in 6½ fms. between the main and some islands.[*] The land of the main is low, but in parts rising gradually to grassy thickly wooded ranges, apparently of Eucalyptus. We have had fine breezes favourable for drying my plants.
[* Between Cape Cockburn and the south extreme of Croker Island.]
1818 April 11th. Saturday. The proas that anchored in the bay yesterday were observed standing down towards us, no doubt actuated by curiosity to know what we were and the object of our voyage. We immediately weighed anchor, made sail, and stood to the N.N.E., the wind being scant from S.E. by S. Some of the proas passed within 50 yards of us, and on the deck of each from 20 to 30 persons were observed. Seeing we were prepared for them they contented themselves with calling to us (in Malay language), frequently repeating Macassar, Trepang, etc.
Their departure from the bay gave us an opportunity of examining it. We accordingly steered for it, but found the whole (although spacious) so shoaly as not to be worth any consideration. We anchored at half past I near our last night’s ground–a little to the westward of it.
12th. Sunday. The bay formed by the trending of the mainland, in which we are now at anchor, has been entitled by Mr. King, Mountnorris Bay. Prayers having been read to the cutter’s company, Mr. King left the vessel at 11 a.m., accompanied by Mr. Roe and myself, for an island to the westward of our anchorage, which has received the title. of Copeland.[*] We landed on its south side, and from its similarity to those recently visited I was but little impressed with ideas of discovering new plants on it. Copeland Island is remarkable for its compact rotundity and although of small size is high above the level of the water. The basis is coral, above is sandstone, and the soil of an ironstony character.
[* Copeland Islet, 125 feet high, toward the head of Mountnorris Bay, was used by the Malays for boiling and drying trepang.]
I discovered the following very interesting plants:–Bignonia filiformis, a small tree of the habit of Hakea, exposed[p364] situations. Hibiscus radiatus, an annual plant, on sloping grassy banks. Arthropodium sp., barren exposed spots. Velleia sp., peduncles filiform, a delicate and tender procumbent plant. Velleia sp., flowers yellow; leaves entire, lanceolate. Terminalia or Chuncoa sp., a shrub a foot high; leaves obovate, smooth; spike erect; capsule ellipsoid. Crotalaria sp., habit of Hedysarum. Eucalyptus sp., a shrub 8 ft. high. Metrosideros or Angophora sp. Hakea sp., a shrub, in exposed cliffy situations with the preceding. Polygala sp., a pygmy plant, among grass. The most remarkable and singular Acacia dolabriformis, observed on Goulburn Islands, here enabled me to gather fine flowering specimens. I procured seeds of two species of Convolvulus. The lat. of the small island is 11°27′ S., and about 132°54′ E. long. Copeland Island, like others on this coast, has much fresh water after rains, which is indicated by its deep furrowed rocky gullies, conducting the water into the sea on the south side.
1818 April 13th. Monday. Getting under weigh we made sail; at 8 a.m. we shoaled water very fast, and immediately hauled to N.E., and scraped along the ground in 1¾ fms., hard sandy bottom. Tacking again, we shoaled to 10 feet in stays and took bearings of our perilous situation. Clearing ourselves by getting into deeper water, we shortened sail, to meet a squall which gave us some small showers at intervals. At half past 4 we came to an anchor in 11¾ fms., between the main and an island (named by Mr. King Darch Island),[*] having with difficulty found some safe ground to depend upon during the night. Native fires were seen abreast of us on the mainland, in the night.
[* “After my esteemed friend, Thos. Darch, Esq., of the Admiralty.”–King.]
1818 April 14th. Tuesday. We left our situation off Darch Island at an early hour and steered N.E. by N. We sailed along a coast, generally westerly, over a bottom very uneven, varying from 5 to 11 fms. At noon we passed a low sandy island covered with small brushwood, and hauled south, and at 3 P.m. we anchored in 5 fms. Mr. King proposed to visit a rock on the shore, in order to take some cross bearings, and I accompanied him, with our second officer. The rock on which we landed was covered chiefly with a species of Lythrum, of which I gathered seeds. The Vitis, some Convolvuli, and the Smilax of North Goulburn Island, are all blended together and form[p365] a secure cover to pigeons and other birds that were disturbed on our landing. On the main shores Hibiscus (= Fugosia) punctatus is frequent and rich in flower, and among plants common on Goulburn Islands I discovered the following in sandy ridges above the beach. Glycine sp., a fetid, shrubby plant; Achyranthes sp., allied to A. corymbosa. A small spreading tree, which perhaps may be of the Microsperma, the Eugenia of Goulburn Island I have observed of arborescent growth 25-30 ft. high. The Eucalypti are the prevailing timber, of ordinary size and chiefly of the species already mentioned. In these forest lands, elevated above the beach 30 feet at least, I discovered a Fan Palm, Corypha (= Livistona) australis, about 10 feet high, with remains of the flowering branch. And I gathered the fruit of another palm (probably rising to the height Of 40 feet), the fronds are pinnate and the fruit much smaller than that of Areca catechu, and red. From the ground I gathered some fruit beneath a tree 40 or 50 feet high. Perhaps in these solitary shades nothing exceeds the beauty of a splendid Grevillea, forming a slender tree, varying in height from 8-14 feet. It belongs to Mr. Brown’s section, Cycloptera, of that genus.
The soil of this forest land is rich, of some depth, reddish in colour, having a small proportion of sand, with much decayed vegetable matter, in which I planted about a score of peach stones. The rocky shores abound with the large Scaevola, laden with white drupes. A snug picturesque bay is formed by the trending in of the line of coast at this particular spot, but unfortunately being of no depth could be of no use to shipping as an anchoring ground; from the numbers of the Areca above referred to, scattered on the slopes of the land near the beach, it has received the name of Palm Bay. Our people (on board) saw three natives making towards us. We, however, only noticed the impressions of their feet on the sands. Some doubts have arisen whether the land is an island or part of the main. From its appearance as laid down on the charts it is supposed to be an island of large dimensions. At dusk we returned on board.
15th. Wednesday. In the afternoon I joined Mr. King in an excursion to a point of the shore bearing S.W. from our anchorage, from whence Mr. King expected he would be enabled to draw some conclusion what this island or main might prove to be. As we sailed to the point several fine[p366] small bights opened to us where vessels might ride in safety almost land-locked, and a deep bay or mouth of a strait[*] presented itself, through which a strong tide ran, tending to convince us that this land is an extensive island. Mr. King set some high hills distant in Mountnorris Bay, but the closing of the day would not allow further remarks to be made. On the rising ground above the beach on which I landed the plants were nearly the same as observed yesterday. I gathered some fine specimens of the new Grevillea, whose brilliant orange flowers are very conspicuous in the darker shades of these elevated Eucalyptian woods. Also the following:–Verbesina sp., leaves lanceolate; flowers yellow, axillary, solitary. A small brushy plant of the habit of Xerotes, with a terminal capitulated inflorescence; and a blue flowered Spermacoce, before noticed. No palms were observed this afternoon, but Pandanus is in great abundance. A deep bay formed from the point at which we landed and running in deep to the northward and eastward is called Raffles Bay, in honour of Sir S. Raffles, late Governor at Java.
[* An opening which trends round the south head of Palm Bay proved to be a strait communicating with Mountnorris Bay and was named Bowen Strait. Bowen Strait separates Croker Island from the mainland and leads northwestward from Mountnorris Bay to sea.]
16-18 APRIL, 1818
1818 April 16th. Thursday. This morning, early, some Malay proas were seen to the southward, standing under easy sail to the N.W. We therefore continued at anchor till late, watching their motions. They were standing off the strait seen yesterday, and from the occasional tacking disposition of some canoes it was inferred that they were waiting for others. At 8 we weighed anchor and made sail, with the wind from the east. The doubt as to what were the real intentions of these Malays induced Mr. King to lay to about 11 and hoist our Pendant and Ensign, in order if they were disposed to communicate in friendly manner with us they might come off in a canoe. They, however, took no notice of us.
It was deemed prudent rather than stand on towards the Malays, to put back to our last anchorage and allow them time to pass before us westerly. We therefore returned and [p367] anchored near the spot we occupied last night. It is rather an unfortunate circumstance having fallen in with this squadron, as our necessary caution and diffidence, arising from the smallness of our numbers, prevent our continuing the survey where they are, and nothing can be gained from running before them westerly, because in that case they would be continually in our rear, to our annoyance. About 7 p.m., suspecting the Malays might be tempted to visit us in the night, we left anchorage and stood off to the northward and westward 2 or 3 miles, and again anchored. This cautious step of Mr. King may be deemed the more necessary as it is a known fact that no dependence can be placed in the friendly assurances ssurances of this treacherous people, where numbers would soon overpower our most strenuous and active efforts.
1818 April 17th. Friday. The proas were observed in motion, standing westerly out of the strait. Mr. King determined if possible to obtain an interview with them this day and present the Malay letter he had received from Sir T. Raffles to the captain of any proa with whom we might communicate. About half past 9, sixteen proas, under a press of sail, were distinctly seen, exclusive of small canoes, running close under the opposite shore of the strait. Approaching them within a mile, having a white flag at the masthead, we lay to, in hopes they would see our desire of an amicable interview. Fifteen proas passed us at 10, and the last being considerably behind the rest of the squadron we bore up towards him, and in half an hour came close under his counter, and hailing the people on board, made signs that we wished to communicate with them, showing them the letter. They referred us to the Commodore of the squadron before them, and would not heave to, to allow us to go on board their proa. Being thus disappointed, we tacked the vessel, and the proa continued her course N. westerly, after the rest of the squadron. At noon we anchored off Raffles Bay[*] and took a meridian altitude for our latitude. In the afternoon I went with Mr. King and the second officer to examine the bay, whose depth is about 4 miles, and width from point to point about 6. The extremity is bounded for the most part by mangroves through which some whitish low cliffs are seen bounding the slightly elevated forest-land in the background.
[* Raffles Bay, west of Croker Island, penetrates five miles into the mainland here known as Coburg Peninsula.]
[p368] At one of these cliffs where we landed I examined the plants in its environs with some little success. The small Fan-palm is very frequent; its caudex here is from 5 to 8 feet; the fronds are not large, generally extending about 18 inches and inserted on an aculeated rachis. I gathered specimens of it in flower and fruit, which are small black ovate drupes. Hibiscus punctatus, closely allied to H. Patersonius and Monoecia Hexandria, a shrub with apposite elliptical leaves. Leguminosae, a tree with spreading branches and compressed legumen. Diospyros sp., of Goulburn Island is here very strong. On the edge of the cliff I discovered a small tree with lactescent woody branches, leaves lanceolate, verticillate, glossy, and white beneath. I suspect it may be an Euphorbia or one of the Asclepiadaceae; it was not in flower or fruit. At sunset we returned on board, having ascertained the shape of the bay, its inlets, etc., and made other observations relative to its survey. Our people discovered some running water of a good quality, of which they filled a bareca.
1818 April 18th. Salurday. At 11 a.m. a boat with casks was sent to the watering place discovered yesterday, and I embraced the opportunity and landed through this medium. I took a walk to a water-course discovered by our people yesterday, which I found to be about 12 feet wide, very shallow, of fine clear fresh water, the drainings of the higher lands. It cannot, however, be turned to any account in point of watering a vessel, the approach to it by boats being entirely obstructed by large bodies of dense arborescent mangroves, so very prevalent on the north coast. I gathered seeds and some specimens of a plant of the habit of Leea sambucina, strong on these damp lands. In the forest-land I detected another Grevillea, a small tree 12-16 feet high. It appears to be G. heliosperma of Mr. Brown. A shrub of very small foliage, habit of Thuya, but whose imperfect flowers proved it to be a second species of our Port Jackson Calythrix, is frequent on the exposed edges of the cliff. I detected a species of Celastrus in fruit, a slender tree 30 feet high. In the dry barren ironstony soil of the cliff a delicate little Stylidium was very plentifully in flower. I found some good soil in the forest land distant from the beach, but it appears subject to inundation from the rains descending upon it during the wet season, signs of which were, on the herbage and leaves of [p369] the trees. Fires of the natives were seen on the main at night.
PORT ESSINGTON AND POPHAM BAY
19-26 APRIL, 1818.
1818 April 19th. Sunday. About 9 we got under weigh and pursued a course N. by W. The line of the coast continues very irregular, point after point opening to the view. Passing several small bays[*] guarded by rocks and dangerous chains of breakers, we were, towards evening, off a fine handsome bay, trending in very considerably, whose shores are frequently, or in parts, cliffy and picturesque, and whose natural beauty is not a little shown off by the thick green woods of Eucalyptus stretching to the verge of these eminences; sandy beaches alternate with those of mud and dense stretches of mangroves. Wore ship and run into the port and about 6 p.m., we anchored in 4 fms., about a quarter of a mile from a perpendicular red cliff. Evening cloudy, with appearance of rain. A few drops fell about 8 p.m. Native dogs were howling on the shores near us in the night.
[* The “Mermaid” passed round Smith Point, the east side of the entrance to Port Essington.]
1818 April 20th. Monday. Fine and clear. At 7 o’clock I landed under the cliff with Mr. King,[*] having previously got the boat aground and with some difficulty hauled her to the beach. Within the reach of the tide I observed a tree of the mangrove character. It was showing flower buds, and appears to be the Linnaean Rhizophora caseolaris, or Sonneratia acida of Willd: On the cliff little or no variation takes place, either in the soil or productions of Croker’s Island or Raffles Bay.
[* “At the mouth of a small salt-water inlet.”–King.]
I, however, gathered specimens of a species of Pleurandra [= Hibbertia], a low spreading shrub. Numerous recent impressions of the natives (and native dogs) were traced on the sands, and their fresh fires, at which they had been very lately roasting quantities of cockles, tended to suggest to us our presence in this bay had precipitately driven them from their repasts. Shifting our berth southerly, we anchored at 11 a.m. off the entrance of some harbours in this port.[*] In[p370] the afternoon I accompanied Mr. King and Mr. Roe to a cliff abreast of the vessel, and while they were occupied in taking bearings I ranged round in the wooded land, but found chiefly duplicates of the plants I had seen before. However, I added the following specimens to my collection. Indigofera sp. On the immediate shores I discovered a spreading tree with vermilion coloured flowers. This tree perhaps is Cordia sebestena [= C. speciosa] originally figured by Dillenius. A fine-leaved Bidens furnished me with seeds. In some close thickets on the beach I distinguished Guilandina bonduc [= G. bonducella], and a species of Rhamnus, with elongated branches, twining among other plants, rendering these brushes the more intricate; also a species of Sterculia, observed on Goulburn Island, with large 5-lobed leaves and old capsules, which assumes on the grassy point land here the same robust habit. The mark of natives were observed on the trees.
[* Having got under weigh, King steered for a narrow opening at the bottom of the port; after anchoring at its entrance, he entered the inner harbour of Port Essington, where he spent some days off Middle Head.]
1818 April 21st. Tuesday. It being the intention of Mr. King to remain at anchor the whole of this day, an excursion was planned to examine the west harbour of this port, with a view of ascertaining its general indentations, although from the prevalence of mangroves on its shores it cannot be of any consideration. Mr. Roe, second officer, was sent on this survey, and I accompanied him, to collect any new plants the shores on which we should land might afford me. We left the cutter at half past 6 and rowed down the east side to a spit of sand which runs nearly over to the western shore, leaving only a small channel to pass to the bottom of the harbour. Landing on this spit I amused myself on the beach while our officer was otherwise engaged. I entered a close confined thicket, where I gathered several fine specimens:–Growler sp., a slender tree with horizontal branches, allied to G. mallococca. Didimeria (Correa rufa), a volubilous plant with cordate leaves. Diospyros sp., a slender shrub.
The sandy shores afforded me seeds of a Boehmeria, before discovered on Sims Island, and some fine flowering specimens of Cordia sebestena, very abundant on the beach at the bottom of this harbour. Abrus precatorius [the black-tipped red seeds of which are known as crab’s eyes] is frequent in the brushy thickets at the back of the beach; and the Strychnos of South Goulburn Island, and the Psychotria bearing orange fruit, more sparingly. An Erythrina-looking plant with ternate, rhomboid leaves and aculeated petioles, a small tree,[p371] is rare in open grassy sub-humid situations, with Pandanus spiralis. Beneath the shade of a large specimen of the Cordia, I found the bones of a human being, most probably a native.[*] The skull and jawbones were partly perfect, they wanted some teeth–those that remained in the jaw were entire and in good condition. Leg bones and one of the ribs were discovered, all of which were carefully taken on board and delivered to Mr. King.
[* “At the bottom of the western basin.”–King.]
Departing from this shore, and having examined some salt water inlets bounded by mangroves 40 feet high, we returned towards the vessel up the western shore, landing at the base of a steep white cliff, the elevated forest-land of which furnished me with several new plants. Hovea lanceolata, a twiggy plant, seldom exceeding 18 inches in height. Zieria sp., a slender shrub. Tremandra sp., a shrubby plant, habit of Bossiaea. Crotalaria stenophylla. Calythrix miciophylla, first observed in Raffles Bay, a delicate conspicuous shrub; and Haemodorum sp., with long narrow leaves.[*] Acacia dolabriformis, and another species with plain leaves are extremely fine in flower, and tempted me to gather some duplicate specimens. Besides the palms before mentioned, found in this prolific spot of Australian botany, I discovered Cycas circinalis, a sago palm, of which I saw both male and female, about 10 feet high, and the latter laden with fruit. The soil has nothing to recommend it, and the Eucalyptian timber is small, but not in flower. Traces of natives were observed on the trees and some baskets were found rather neatly made, supposed to be of the foliage sheaths embracing the stems of the Pandanus spiralis. Sonneratia acida was seen growing in deep salt water.
[* A Yam eaten by the natives.]
22nd. Wednesday. To complete the survey of another harbour in this port Mr. King and Mr. Roe left the cutter at 8 a.m., and I accompanied them. We landed at a small white cliff, composed chiefly of a crumbling gritty soft sandstone, with a dry indurated red pigment. In a range I took in the forest-land above the cliff, I did not detect an individual new plant. A delicate leaved Bauhinia was found in luxuriant growth, but not in flower, on the sides of the cliff beneath were some large specimens of Cordia sebestena. Leaving these slimy shores, we landed at the eastern point of the harbour,[p372 where I added one specimen to my collection viz. a species of Achyranthes, very frequent on the low sterile sands of the point. It was very remarkable and it furnished much matter for conjecture that, upon landing, a tree of a species of Casuarina was discovered, with the branches and head cut away with a sharp iron instrument, as if intended for a mark, as the branches so lopped off were not taken away for any use, but remained under the tree; and at a short distance from the beach several trees were cut down. Whether the Malays or the French have visited this sandy point is a matter of doubt among us. A good meridian altitude being very essential to the survey of this port, we crossed its entrance to a rocky point to take it, being about noon. At the back of the sandy ridge bounding the beach, the land is ordinary and thick wooded. A Eugenia is now frequent, a tree 20 ft. high, in fruit. It afforded me some ripe seeds. I gathered specimens from a tree 16-20 ft. high, with leaves like Melastoma, and a one-seeded drupaceous fruit. Celastrus sp., a tree 30 ft. high, of slender growth. Convolvulus sp., a prostrate plant with small blue flowers. Didimeria [= Correa] sp. Phlomis sp. Ceanothus sp., a tree of strong growth, 25-30 ft. high, frequently observed on the islands of this coast, but never seen in flower or before in the present state of capsule. As a proof that these shores are visited by natives we found a spear about 7½ ft. long, ingeniously pointed with a long triangular fragment of red granite, very hard and of a close fine texture. A canoe of singular formation was discovered by one of our people on the beach–almost buried in the sand–made of bark and sewn together at the ends, and about 13½ feet long. Our lat. is 11°17’31” S.
1818 April 23rd. Thursday. This morning we got under weigh and beat to the entrance of the port, and anchored in 4 fms., in a bay at 10 a.m., on its western side. I landed with Mr. King about 11 o’clock at a cliffy point. The sterile stony soil of this eminence is covered with Stylidium absinthmoides, some of which were forming capsules. A tree of ordinary size, common on all the islands and mainland of this coast, and which I could never detect in flower, furnished me with a specimen in fruit, which is oval, crowned with a persistent 8-cleft tubular calyx, as in Gardenia.
In the afternoon I accompanied Mr. King and Mr. Roe to examine the bay off which we are at anchor and which[p373] has received the name of Knockers.[*] We had 4 or 5 fms., and a good bottom to the extremity of the bay, where a saltwater inlet, having the appearance of a rivulet opening to us, we entered to examine it. ft was near high water, and we had 2 and 2½ fms. at its mouth, which is about 50 yards wide. We soon found that it divided and formed channels insulating large patches of arborescnt mangroves. Following the leading branch through its windings, we advanced until it became impossible to work the oars, and finally were obliged to stop, the channel being completely closed by the encroachments of mangroves 40 feet high . With some difficulty we put the boat about, to return, and we passed an opening or two in this in this Rhizophorean forest, which allowed us to be satisfied that a great extent of flat is inundated after this manner, affording a fine soil and nursery for the growth and luxuriant densityof these maritime woods.
[* In an inlet between Curlew and Oyster Points.]
In a moment we were most suddenly surprised by the yells and shouts of natives, who were in the mangroves, and immediately we made every preparation to meet them in this contained channel, discharging some muskets merely to intimidate them. They seemed determined to annoy and intercept us, and and while we were winding round to its mouth or outlet into the bay, they took a straight course through the mangroves and awaited our passing out of this disagreeable opening, when we were assailed with stones and spears with granite heads. None, fortunately, touched us, although one struck the boat and others flew over us and one passed between the midship oarsmen. This unjustifiable outrageous attack was quickly returned with a volley of shot from our muskets, and perhaps with some effect. We immediately got clear out into the bay, some of the natives still following us on the main shore.
On our way to the cutter, observing a canoe among some mangroves on the beach, we, by way of retaliation, pulled in there and towed her off. In it we found some waddies and hand clubs of weight, with a quantity of live cockles, very lately procured and probably for the evening’s meal. The canoe was of one piece of bark, its extreme length was 18 feet, and 22 to 24 inches in width. Its ends were sewed up with pieces of cane, and a pole on each side of its gunwales was lashed to the bark to support and strengthen its sides.[p374] Some cross pieces of inner bark, laid across inside, rendered it more firm and substantial.[*]
[* A similar canoe was found by King at Blue Mud Bay, Gulf of Carpentaria. At Blomfield Rivulet, at Endeavour River, Cape Tribulation, the canoes seen were all hollowed out of trees.]
Among these mangroves I gathered specimens of a species of Bruguiera, appearing to differ from B. gymnorhiza in having a red calyx. It has the habit of some Magnoliae. This large and spacious port in which we have been since the evening of the 19th, is called Port Essington, whose harbours afford shelter and protection to shipping, but the land being so deeply overrun with mangroves, and the want of fresh water, render it useless for agricultural purposes. The situation of this point is about 11°16′ S. lat., 132°22′ E. long.
24th. Friday. At half past 9 we got under weigh and stood towards the port entrance, re-anchoring off a low rocky point in 5¾ fms.[*] Mr. King went on shore for a few moments, to take some observations, and a singular rock there, in the shape of a table of large dimensions, suggested a name for the point. Scaevola sp., allied to S. lobelia, covers Table Point,[**] but no other plant was observed here of any moment. In the afternoon a canoe was seen near Table Point, but no natives were observed. In the squall of the evening she drifted towards the cutter, and a boat was sent to bring her alongside, when she was hoisted on board. She is the length and model of the canoe captured yesterday, but of more recent construction.
[* “A little within Point Smith.”–King.]
[* Table Head is 7½ miles S.S.E. of Point Smith.]
1818 April 25th. Saturday. To prove to the natives who (for ought we know to the contrary might be watching us) that we were peaceably disposed, the canoe was lowered and towed on shore again. In her we put some old iron, such as spike nails, chisels of kinds, a tomahawk, etc., for the use of her owners and she was hauled up on the bank out of the reach of the tide. At 8 a.m. we weighed, made sail, and stood out of Port Essington. Clearing the point of entrance, we sailed westerly along the coast, which is irregular and full of small trendings and projecting points, of which bearings were taken. Some Malay proas were observed at anchor in shore, and some tents or bamboo huts were observed on the beach.
About 2 o’clock p.m. a mangrovy bay of moderate depth opened to us, and in a sandy bight we saw four other proas, whose people were encamped on shore. We accordingly ran[p375] in and anchored in 7½ fms. at half past 3, being about 25 miles to the westward of Port Essington. At 5 p.m. a canoe was seen, with five paddles, pulling from the proas towards us; we therefore got firearms ready, in case of any appearance of hostile intentions. Coming alongside, they were six in number (of whom four were boys), prompted by curiosity to see us and obtain what they could from us. Little or no invitation was requisite on our part to induce them to leave their canoe and enter the vessel. The two men came on board and soon became very loquacious, but none of us understanding the Malay language, very little information could be procured from them.
We gave them wine and some ships’ biscuits, which they enjoyed exceedingly, and we showed them the letter written in the Malaya character by Sir T. Raffles but they were too illiterate to read their own language. They made many observations upon the ropes, sails, etc., of the vessel, and, observing our carronades, they intimated that the large proas carried smaller ones (probably swivels). Their canoe, which they had sent away, returned at dusk (8 p.m.) and brought some fish, which they presented to us for our hospitality. Their request for gunpowder was granted them, and the remainder of the wine in the bottle and some tobacco were given them for the commandants of the proas. Their teeth were very black and discoloured, and the whole chewed the betel nut in the usual way. Mr. King wrote a few lines stating the object of his voyage, and the extent of his survey, information that must be interesting to any persons reading English to whom these Malays might show the letter. It was 9 o’clock before they left us, to return to their proas. This trending of the coast has received the name o. Popham Bay.
1818 April 26th. Sunday. As the report of the favourable and hospitable reception the Malays met with from us might induce them to pay us another visit upon the same terms, and not wishing to receive their further salutations en masse, we got under weigh and left Popham Bay, steering S.S.W. Several canoes were observed fishing to windward. We had a strong eddy tide against us, which made the cutter labour considerably. Our leadsman gave us a bottom at 22 fms., and at one p.m. we had deepened to 50 fms. The day’s sail brought us to the entrance of a deep bay of great width. We bore up and entered, but the wind becoming foul we made[p376] but little progress, and the deep bad rocky bottom obliged us to continue under weigh. We suspect this opening may prove to be the Van Diemen’s Bay of the Dutch charts. It appears to be very extensive, and may in the result of examination turn out to be of some consideration. We kept sight of the land’s loom during the night under easy sail. Hitherto we have not been fortunate in the discovery of any freshwater river, and should any be found emptying themselves into this deep bay or gulf, it may enable us to see something of the interior, and gain some interesting knowledge unattainable on the coast.
VAN DIEMEN’S GULF AND THE ALLIGATOR RIVERS
27 APRIL-13 MAY, 1818.
1818 April 27th. Monday. Although very cloudy in the earlier stages of the morning we had a very fine day. The wind was E.S.E. At 11 a.m., having made several tacks, we came to an anchor in a small bay on the east shore of the gulf we have entered, which appears will require some time to survey the whole of its deep trending shores. This bay, although small, has good anchorage, but, like the coast, in general, its shores are densely clothed with mangroves, the sameness of which is much relieved by the picturesque aspect of two high hills near its south point of entrance, and from our present position one appears to be a depressed cone, and the other assumes the character of elevated table-land, thickly wooded and very rocky. They have been entitled by Mr. King, Mounts Bedwell and Roe, after the two young gentlemen, his officers, and he has named our anchorage Aiton Bay, in honour of W. T. Aiton, Esqre. of Kew. The lat. is 11°16′ S., and 131°56′ E. long.
1818 April 28th. Tuesday. About 7 a.m. we left the bay and steered southerly along the shore. The morning is rather sultry, and the wind light, from the eastward. Having made about 4½ miles, we anchored in 7 fms., muddy bottom, about noon.[*]
[* “Near the land about six miles east of Mt. Roe.–King.]
1818 April 29th. Wednesday. At 11 a.m. we passed to leeward of one of several islands[*] seen this morning, and suddenly shoaling to 3 fms., we hauled up and gradually deepened to 5 fms. At [p377] one we anchored on a bank in 3¾ fms., muddy bottom. Our lat. at noon was 11°32′ S., and long. 132°30′ East.[**] The appearance of the shores, the shallow water, parts of mangrove bushes floating on its surface, and the depressed character of the islands remind us of the N.W. Coast. Mr. Roe was sent to sound around for a channel. He reported on his return the extent of the shoal varying from 2½ to 4½ fms. water.
[* Named by King, Sir George Hope Islands.]
[** King writes: “The land eastward of this anchorage is an isthmus 4 or 5 miles in breadth, separating the body of water from the bottom of Mountnorris Bay.” This land was given the name of Coburg Peninsula.]
1818 April 30th. Thursday. About 9 we had a slight air from the E.S.E., and got under weigh, steering S.W. southerly. The rise and fall of the tide is 6½ and 7 ft., and at the ebb, extensive mud flats appear along the shore, rendering a landing impracticable. At 4 p.m. we anchored in 5¼ fms.[*]
[* Under one of Sir George Hope Islands named next day, May-day Island.]
1818 May 1st. Friday. Soon after 7 Mr. King landed upon the low shore of an island near us to take sights for the chronometer, and I accompanied him. Here we have a specimen of a growing island (called May Day Island), whose basis appears to be a reddish sand with shells, ironstone, pebbles, etc. cemented together, which by the action of the air are so indurated as to become rugged stone, and of such large masses that small cliffs, observed through the mangroves, are formed. The encroachments over the annual accumulation of drifted land gradually increases the size of the island, whose sandy soil is covered with plants. Eugenia acuminata is most surprisingly strong, being 40 feet high, with a stem 30 inches diameter. The Grewia with tomentose fruit afforded me some fine specimens and duplicate seeds. The tree I have hitherto called Cordia sebestena is frequent, and its flowers have an indefinite number of stamina. I saw some perfectly octandrous.
The tree of the Santalaceae (Exocarpus?) with the foliage like that of some Brazilian Piper, is very large; with a shrub of the Meliaceae, discovered first in Port Essington, perhaps Turraea; the leaves are elliptical and glossy, and the calyx pubescent. A species of Ficus, 30-35 feet high, was observed, but not in fruit; its leaves are ovate, smooth throughout, veined, their margins are minutely glandulously denticulated. I gathered seeds of a small white-flowered Convolvulus, and Achyranthes sp., an annual plant. This island abounds[p378] with an Acacia, a tree from 12-20 feet high, distinct from any species I have before seen, leaves falcated, superior margin glandiferous; flowers globular, in axillary racemes. Very recent traces of natives were noticed on the sands, but none were seen on the island. On our return to the cutter we got under weigh, steering S.S.W., but shoaling our water we re-anchored and sent the jolly boat to sound ahead of us. It, however, proved that we were upon a large flat,[*] with barely enough water to carry us over. Mr. King weighed, being determined if possible to push over it into the deeper water to the southward and westward. We stuck fast in 9 ft. of water, and were obliged to get an anchor out to haul ourselves over the bar of sand, and this we continued, touching and swinging off in 10 and 11 ft., with a strong tide against us. Steering north at one p.m. we ran back to our anchorage of the 27th ultimo,[**] where we brought to in 7½ fms., at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
[* Between May-day and Greenhill Islands.]
[** Eastward of Mount Roe.]
1818 May 2nd. Saturday. We left our anchorage about 8, with a very light breeze. At I we tacked to eastward. The western horizon was much gloomed by extensive bodies of thick smoke of natives, who appear to be burning off the bush and grass of the country in that direction. At 5 anchored at 10½ fathoms. We are about 30 miles to the southward of Popham Bay.
1818 May 3rd. Sunday. It was past noon before we got under weigh. Vast bodies of smoke ascend to the westward. We hope and trust another day will furnish us with materials for observations, to determine the extremes of this gulf. Its muddy shores are low, and water shoaly.
1818 May 4th. Monday. We weighed very early this morning and steered E.N.E., but the tide obliged us to anchor in 15¾ fms. at 8 a.m. Calm with intense heat. The thermometer exposed to the sun rose at noon to 131½ degrees, being a dead calm. At 2 p.m. we weighed anchor, which was wholly buried in the mud, and made as much sail as would draw, the light airs fanning us from the S.W. The land trends easterly in the most extraordinary manner. The meridians of the ports and bays we have already surveyed lead us to suspect they were formerly islands which have been, by the encroachments of the mangroves, joined to the mainland.
1818 May 5th. Tuesday. We stood towards the land at the bottom of the[p379] gulf, which is very low, no beach appearing–but mangroves to the water’s edge. To windward, openings or deep bights appear, and to the southward a lofty range of hills are distinguished, very distant inland. At 8 p.m. we anchored in 5 fms. An eclipse of the sun, stated in the Nautical Ephemeris to take place to-day, was not seen at the given time. It may have no occullation in this part of the Globe.
1818 May 6th. Wednesday. Soon after 5 a.m. a party consisting of Mr. King, Mr. Bedwell, myself and the crew of the large whaleboat left the vessel to examine an opening to the S.E. Mangroves bound it on both sides with their usual density and arborescent growth. Passing the bar of this river-like opening, its width becomes contracted and its depth increased to 5 and 6 fms., and the mangroves being much thinner as we advanced allowed us a glimpse of the flat land behind them. The windings which are by no means abrupt, present us with fine bold reaches 400 yards wide with a depth frequently 8 fms. Mr. King had determined to penetrate up this channel as far as the tide would carry us. He therefore pulled in about its turn and landed on an open grassy bank perfectly free from mangroves, but low and muddy. From some hills distant about 2 miles we might have made some observations, but the difficulty of reaching their bases through a low swampy flat covered with a matted thick grass and more especially our care not to lose the benefit of the returning tide, which was now ebbing rapidly, prevented us from visiting these elevations.
On this muddy bank I gathered the following few specimens and seeds:–Clerodendrum inerme (H.K.), which likewise furnished me with seeds. Hibiscus. Stenocarpus sp., an annual or biennial plant. Convolvulus flavus, very abundant among the grasses. Sida sp., small narrow leaves; and Cassia sp., plant dead. The width of the stream at this halting spot is about 250 yards, its depth is 31 fms., and its inclination from the S.W. The banks are bounded by extensive flats of low country, subject to inundations, and this depression was unfortunate for us, as no bearings of any consequence could be taken. White cockatoos abound in large flocks on its banks, with a large bird of the Anas family, with a very long neck, some perfectly white; others very dark, and even of a black colour, were likewise numerous. Their nests were built very thick together on the Avicennia [p380] mangroves of the banks, and in some we saw the young unfledged birds, over which some beautiful hawks were hovering, watching an opportunity in the absence of the parent birds to seize their offspring. The turbid discoloured waters of this winding river[*] abound with alligators 6 and 7 feet long, whose terrific ghastly heads appeared occasionally on the surface of the water. We returned on board at 3 p.m. The fires of the natives continue; large columns of smoke were rising from the grassy flats behind the mangroves, the soil of which is sour stiff tenacious clay.
[* “This river has received the temporary title of Alligator River.”–King. It is known as East Alligator River.]
1818 May 7th. Thursday. Fresh breeze E. by S. At half past 6 we weighed anchor and stood along the shore, and at half past 10 bore up for an opening in the low land that appeared of magnitude, and whose trending we suspect may approach towards a distant range of hills visible to the S.E. from the deck. Soon after 11 we came to an anchor near the entrance of a supposed river. The country from the mast-head view presents us with an immense flat of depressed low country thinly wooded, and only bounded by the very distant clear horizon. I accompanied Mr. King on shore, who was anxious to get a good meridian altitude, landing on the muddy bank opposite the vessel, which is a perfectly dead level for many miles, over which the sea at springtide flows. It is very thinly wooded, covered with a wiry grass, with patches of Sonneratia acida and Avicennia tomentosa. Clerodendron inerme and indeed all the plants discovered yesterday appear on this flat.
At 4 p.m. we weighed and stood to the bottom of a bay, where we came to in 5¾ fms. about 6 p.m., off the mouth of a second river.[*] About a mile inland from the shore the dry wiry grass of the extensive flat was on fire, but no natives could be distinguished.
[* Now called South Alligator River.]
1818 May 8th. Friday. Having made preparation for an excursion up this second channel, we left the cutter at half past 5 a.m., having a flood tide in our favour, although the breeze was against us. Passing the bar of 3 fms. we gradually deepened to 7½ and 8 fms., with banks (as the other river) covered with mangroves of Rhizophora, Avicennia and Sonneratia, whose dull uniformity was much relieved and enlivened by the yellow[p381] flowers of Hibiscus populneus. The width of this stream varies from a quarter of a mile to 200 yards, expanding frequently in the bends of the reaches, which (when their inclinations were from the southward and westward) presented us with views of the summits of distant high land.
About 25 miles up this river some slightly rising ground approached the mangrovy banks, the principal wood of which appeared to be the stunted Eucalypti, whose dreary aspect is not a little enlivened by the picturesque appearance of the Areca of Croker’s Island, whose waving heads, towering over the tops of these small woods, give an effect scarcely to be conceived in such low uninhabitable tracts. Advancing with a strong flood tide, we had 9½ fms. in some parts in mid channel, and banks frequently clear of mangroves exhibiting an extensive flat, covered with lofty grasses. At such places a similarity of appearance might be traced with the Thames below Woolwich, and the slender leaves of the Avicennia bearing some analogy to the willow of that river, adds considerably to the simile.
Soon after 11 the tide was at its highest, and we landed at a clear low spot on the banks, and, in the interval of time between that period and our departure, while Mr. King was taking a meridian altitude, I rambled among the gigantic grass with scarcely a hope of making any discovery in botany. I gathered a few plants:–Sphaeranthus sp. Jussiaea sp., the first species of this swampy genus (so frequent in South America) I have observed in Australia; and Senecio sp., a small annual plant. I discovered a few bulbs and from their long thick foliage suspect it is a new species of Amaryllis. Their depth in the stiff clayey soil occupied some time in digging them up safely, and I was only able to procure four bulbs. There can be little doubt that this liliaceous plant is thinly scattered over the whole extent of this flat grassy country, as those I saw were at a distance from one another.
It was unsafe to venture far from the boat, where alligators abound, whose numerous inroads and intersecting paths among the grass were observable to the whole of us. I had exceeded my limited time and was hailed to return to the boat. Our meridian altitude gave us for lat. 12°38’47” S., which is about 20 miles to the southward of our vessel’s anchorage, and with the windings of the river we estimate our distance to return as little short of 40 miles. The water at[p382] the turn of the tide was brackish, and at its lowest ebb we doubt not of its being perfectly fresh; indeed, the flights of freshwater birds seen this day indicated its connection with bodies of fresh water at a distance inland. Its width at this place is about 160 yards its depth upwards Of 3 fms. and its general tendency was from the southward.
About a quarter past 12 we embarked, the ebb tide having begun some time and the water had fallen some inches. At 7 in the evening the tide had changed and was flowing very strong against us, we therefore were obliged to pull inshore, to come to at a grapnel for a few hours, until the flood tide had in some measure slackened. At half past 10 we weighed grapnel and pulled for the lights hoisted at the masthead of the cutter, as a guide to us and we got safe on board at about midnight. We saw several alligators in the water and on the muddy banks of the river basking in the sun, none exceeding 8 feet in length. The fires of the natives continue to be numerous in various directions; these conflagrations extend over immense tracts of flat country, at intervals bursting into large flames as the wind rises, and continuing until a heavy shower extinguishes them.
1818 May 9th. Saturday. Mr. King went on shore to take a meridian altitude, which gave us 12°19′ S. At 1 o’clock we left our anchorage and stood N.E. out of the bay. The rise and fall of the tide is about 12 feet.
1818 May 10th. Sunday. Prayers having been read to the people we got under weigh and stood over a flat towards two islands; the one having been called Field’s, and the other Barron’s, in honour of Barron Field, Esqre., judge of the Supreme Court in New South Wales. Our soundings gave us 3½ and 4 fms., and at half past 10 we suddenly got 13 fms. between the islands, but we were no sooner in deep water than crossing the winding narrow channel we shoaled to 3 and 2½ fathoms, which obliged us to bring to. About 4 p.m. Mr. King accompanied by Mr. Roe left the cutter, to sound towards Field’s Island and endeavour to find a channel or line of deep water for the vessel to pass. At dusk they returned, having ascertained a sufficient depth of water situated to the N.E. of our present anchorage, between Field’s Island and the main.[*] Our lat. is 12°05′ S., long. 132°25′ E.
[* Cunningham Channel separates Field Isle (the larger island) from the main. South Alligator River has an approach through this channel.]
1818 May 11th. Monday. We weighed anchor about 9, steering along the shores of the gulf, still trending southerly; a 3rd and 4th opening appeared in the beach, which possibly may be connected inland with the two rivers already examined, but our short stay on the coast now, and Mr. King’s desire to survey the whole of this gulf, would not allow us to enter and trace them.[*] The coast sailed along this afternoon is a long line of sand, for several miles without a single point or rising of which we might take bearings; and, in consequence, meeting with nothing to detain us, and a fair wind, we made good 40 miles to the westward. At 6 came to anchor.
[* The Alligator Rivers are three in number: East, South, and West. King says: “As this opening to the westward bore a similar appearance to the river last examined, the name of Alligator Rivers was extended to it.”]
1818 May 12th. Tuesday. Weighing anchor about half past 7 we steered westerly. The coast now trends northward and N.N.W. proving to us that we are approaching the entrance of the gulf up its west shore.
1818 May 13th. Wednesday. About midnight we found we were being carried in upon the shore by the tide, we therefore hauled off and by daybreak[*] we had drifted considerably out of the Gulf. The line of coast is for some distance low, and clothed with mangroves, excepting where a small sandy beach intervenes. At 10 a.m. a deep trending was observed to the northward and westward from one of the points of which a dangerous reef extends. At noon we passed a long sandy beach with a few scattered Casuarinae upon its margin, but thickly wooded in the background. Very distant smokes were distinguished inland, proving the existence of natives remote from the shores, on which, however, two could barely be seen with the aid of our glasses. At 2 p.m., an opening or bight of the land appearing, we hauled to the wind to fetch it and anchor. At dusk we were still under weigh, labouring against a strong tide that was setting us to leeward. We therefore shortened sail and continued under weigh all the night.
[* Having passed close to the easternmost point of Melville Island.]
MELVILLE ISLAND TO APSLEY STRAIT
14-21 MAY, 1818
1818 May 14th. Thursday. During the last night we had drifted much to the westward, and this morning we bore up for the bight of the land which we could not make the last evening. The[p384] wind was from the southward and eastward, and we were close hauled upon it. At 8 a.m. we entered a fine handsome bay (named Brenton Bay, in honour of Sir Jahleel Brenton), bounded by cliffy shores, which appear freer from mangroves than those we have of late examined. Its shoaly foul bottom, however, prevented us from anchoring, the vessel was therefore put about and we steered N.W. Steering into a fine spacious bay a few miles to the westward of the other we got good soundings in 3 fms., and came to anchor on a muddy bottom. This bay, which has received the title of Lethbridge, has some red cliffy shores thickly wooded with Eucalyptus. The lat. is 11°10’10” S., and long. 131°04’23” E. Four natives were seen on the western sandy beach of this bay; some canoes were observed in motion at its extremity, and their fires were blazing in the background at dusk.
1818 May 15th. Friday. About half past 6 we got under weigh and steered N.W. The coast westerly forms a beautiful range of cliffs of a reddish tinge, with intervening banks from which the rising grounds are thickly wooded, apparently with Eucalyptus. By observations and Captain Flinders’ chart Mr. King calculates we are within 4 miles (to the S.E.) of Cape Van Diemen, and a projecting point of land seen (4 p.m.) before us, led us to suspect that it will prove to be the cape. Approaching within a mile and a half we were obliged to haul to the wind, steering north in consequence of a very large dangerous shoal extending off this headland.[*]
[* Mermaid Shoal.]
N.B. An island passed to-day of small extent and covered with brushwood is named Karslake’s.
1818 May 16th. Saturday. At 6 a.m. we bore up to ascertain the extent of the breakers off the cape, and also to work round them. At 8 we had soundings 10 fms. on the edge of a bank, and immediately got none in 12 fms. These breakers extend from the cape N.W. 14 miles at least, and in our run outside the large shoal we approached within 50 yards of the outer bank, having from 6 to 2½ fms. Wishing to anchor in the evening, Mr. King steered for a deep bight in the coast with appearance of a river, but our water shoaling again to 4 and 3½ fms. we were obliged to tack and stand-off into 8½ fms., and afterwards 22 fms., proving to us we were passing over a bank of sand, which our lead showed us was of a red colour. Tacking again into the opening at dusk, we entered and[p385] anchored in 7¼ fms. off a fine elevated projecting point, which has been named Luxmore Head;[*] and the bay in which we are at anchor has been entitled St. Asaph’s Bay. The northern point of entrance into this bay is very picturesque, being a high and striated cliff, perpendicular to the sea and wooded on its summit. It is named Piper’s Head, as a compliment to Jno. Piper, Esqre., Naval Officer at Sydney.
[* In honour of Dr. Luxmore, Bishop of St. Asaph.]
1818 May 17th. Sunday. The very flattering appearances held out to us in this bay induced Mr. King to remain the whole of this day at anchor, to take some observations on shore, for which necessary purposes Luxmore Head, on account of its elevation, will be particularly serviceable. About 10 o’clock Mr. King, Mr. Roe and myself landed upon the rocks beneath this point and climbed up its steep loose ironstony slope, reaching its summit without any suspicion or alarm. Mr. King had scarcely taken a bearing, and myself prepared for a walk around, when one of our people armed, and who was keeping sentry near, reported the approach of several armed natives. A slight confusion instantly took place by this sudden and unexpected alarm, when it was deemed most advisable to make good our retreat to the boat (having but one musket up with us), which we accordingly did rather precipitately down the rugged side of the hill we had ascended. Our retreat gave these Australians boldness, and we had scarcely time to secure our instruments in the boat and push off from the shore when 7 natives appeared, hailing us from the height, and in the end descended to the rocks on the shore. They made signs to us to land but the appearance of spears among them (which they endeavoured to hide from sight) prevented us from committing ourselves by venturing among human beings as perfectly wild and savage as ever Nature herself had formed them. At these moments we found we had left behind us on the summit of the Head the theodolite stand, which we afterwards saw on the shoulders of one of the natives.
We spent much time and patience in endeavouring by friendly signs to recover this useful stand, but in vain. We pulled round the projecting rocks in St. Asaph’s Bay, wishing to land, but these Australians followed us, shouting and vociferating in such a manner that brought others to the number of 18 from the woodlands behind the beach. Their total numbers were 25, of whom 5 were women, with 2 or 3 boys.
[p386] They made signs to us that they wanted hatchets or instruments to hew or cut wood, and seeing that we might by bartering iron (of which they undoubtedly knew the value) get possession of the instrument stand, we pulled off to the vessel, intending to return to them in the afternoon. The small Fan Palm (Livistona?), and Acacia dolabriformis, are common plants of Luxmore Head beneath the prevailing timber of Eucalyptus. A species of Dianella, with small panicles of blue flowers, is frequent on the sides of the hills and, being in fruit, I gathered some ripe seeds on the lower grounds near the beach. Exclusive of Eucalyptusand Casuarina (of Goulburn Island) I noticed the arborescent simple-leaved Acacia (Sims Island), the Gardenia of this coast, and Cycas circinalis, or Sago Palm, laden with fruit. A small lizard, the ground cover of whose skin was dark brown and yellow spotted, was caught at Luxmore Head and brought on board.
In the afternoon at 2 p.m., two boats armed and provided with tomahawks, and old iron, left the cutter for the shore, having previously arranged that while the jolly boat should stand in among the natives to barter iron for the stand, the other would act as a guard boat. The natives, who had returned to the shade beneath the trees upon our departure in the morning, now came out and waded in the water towards us. Mr. King held up a tomahawk to them, the sight of which gave great satisfaction to the natives, which they manifested by their noisy exulting acclamations. But it was a considerable time before they understood by our signs we wished to make an exchange for the stand, which we could see stuck up on the sands of the beach. Two canoes of bark, with three natives in them, joined the main body, who were all fearful of approaching near us, but received (through the medium of one of these barks which was pushed towards us) a tomahawk and some old iron, to encourage and open a correspondence with them, which compliment was returned with two baskets, the one containing the fruit of the Cycas beaten to a pulp, and the other with bad rain water. The whole of this afternoon was consumed in vain solicitations to redeem the stand. We saw it taken and carried away.
Some of the men had their faces and bodies painted with an ochre or pigment of a yellowish colour, and it is an inference, drawn from its not washing off by their frequent immersions,[p387] that it was rubbed on their skins with strong fish oil, with which perhaps it had been previously incorporated. The whole of these people had spears, either exposed, stuck on the bank, hidden behind trees, or in the water near them; they could not be said to be directly hostile; fear, as well on our part as on theirs, prevented a close communication. In truth we have had reason to act cautiously towards all natives previously visited by the Malays. This is advancing as much as possible for the Australians, but very little in favour of those Asiatics–their enemies. We returned at 5 o’clock to the cutter. Three native dogs of a red colour[*] were observed on shore with these people; they appeared very quiet, and by no means alarmed by the appearance of strangers.
[* The natives also had black ones.]
1818 May 18th. Monday. We got under weigh about 9 and worked up the opening at the S.E., which we have suspected may be a strait.[*] The character of the shore we passed is moderately high and cliffy, thickly wooded with Eucalyptus, beneath which the two palms seen yesterday and Pandanus spiralis are abundant. We passed a small island[**] in the mouth or entrance of this opening, well wooded with small trees, but difficult of access, in consequence of the thick mangroves by which it is surrounded. Our water was frequently very deep, and, in passing a narrow gut where the shores contract, we found a bottom only in 22 fms.
[* It was Apsley Strait, a cove in it was afterwards named King’s Cove by Captain Gordon Bremer in honour of Captain King.]
[** Harris Island, which divides the south part of Apsley Strait into two channels.]
1818 May 19th. Tuesday. About 9 o’clock we made sail and proceeded on our voyage up the opening. The banks continue uniform with those passed yesterday and offering no inducement to land, which in many places would be impracticable. The windings are easy, and its width varies from half a mile to 2½ miles, In the background, thick wooded rising hills are not infrequent, and were by their bearings of great assistance in carrying on the survey. The bottom is very irregular, and its surface of various qualities. From 15 fms. we would shoal to 6 fms., 3½ and even 2 fms., but hauling off we would deepen our water considerably, a proof that there are banks and shoals that would be dangerous for vessels passing and drawing more water than the cutter.
Previously to making our tacks we were naturally obliged[p388] to approach very near the one shore to take a good diagonal stretch over to the opposite banks; this enabled me to observe the plants of the cliffs, which happened not to vary from those so frequently mentioned. The Sago Palm becomes more frequent. I have no idea that any opportunity will offer itself affording me a few moments on shore in this channel, and it appears very probable the few plants that may be discovered by diligent search would not compensate the valuable time such an excursion would expend. Several broad inlets of salt water were observed running from this channel inland. After a succession of projecting angles or points of land had opened and passed, about 2 o’clock, to our surprise, the sea presented itself, proving to us we had been passing a strait, bounded by mainland on the east side, and an island (named in honour of Earl Bathurst) to the westward, and its length through it from north to south may be 40 miles. At 3 p.m. we were beating well up to the south entrance, when the tide turned, and running at the rate of 2½ knots per hour obliged us to put the vessel about, and run back into the strait, where we anchored for the night in 8 fms. We saw an island off the mouth of the south entrance, very low and sterile.[*]
[* One of the Buchanan Isles.]
1818 May 20th. Wednesday. The tide rises and falls in this strait about 15 feet; and a bank near our anchorage, extending along the shore at high water, having 2 fms. of water over it, is this morning dry 3 or 4 feet. Upon the return of the boat, which had been sent away to sound round some rocks and shoaly patches appearing at low water, we got under weigh about 11 a.m. and steered back north easterly, Mr. King not deeming it prudent, from the nature and result of the soundings this morning, to attempt a passage through the southern entrance. Anchored in 10 fathoms.
1818 May 21st. Thursday. Leaving our last night’s anchorage at 6 a.m. we passed the Central Island, and at half past 9 anchored off Luxmore Head. Our situation is about 11°28′ S. lat. and long. 130°20′ E. dead reckoning, the weather being dull and obscure at noon not allowing us an observation. The strait is called by Mr. King, Apsley Strait.
22-31 MAY, 1818
1818 May 22nd. Friday. At 9 we weighed and stood out of St. Asaph’s Bay, steering a course southerly down the west coast of Bathurst Island. Upon an examination of our provisions and water in the hold, made yesterday, it appears we have beef and pork for three months, but our little rice is become musty; and that an unfortunate leak has taken place from the pork-casks, and had rendered many gallons of water unfit for use. It appears necessary therefore that we should soon quit this coast and endeavour to obtain some little supplies at Timor or elsewhere. This side of Bathurst Island is low, with red cliffs and mangrovy patches alternating each other. Anchored in 8 fms.
1818 May 23rd. Saturday. Weighed anchor soon after 7 a.m., tracing the shores of the island southerly. About 1 o’clock a shallow trending of the line of coast with an opening in its centre induced us to tack and stand in towards it, and at half past 5 we anchored off its entrance in 3½ fms., mud and sand. The fires of natives numerous. Some were blazing along the shores to the water’s edge towards the close of the evening. Our lat. by meridian observation is 11°32’04” S.
1818 May 24th. Sunday. Mr. Bedwell was sent to sound off the north of this opening to find the channel, and upon his report we got under weigh at half flood tide in the afternoon and beat up for it, and off the north point of entrance, within 60 yards of the beach, we had 12 fms. What this opening may be, another day will prove, but from the light of the evening it appears to be bounded by mangroves, having on its eastern side elevated ranges of hills well wooded.[*]
[* King called it Gordon Bay.]
1818 May 25th. Monday. We continued at anchor the whole of the forenoon. Mr. King went on shore at a sandy point to take a meridian altitude, and I landed with him to examine the low woody parts near the beach. Some very fine Casuarinae skirt the shore, behind which is a considerable, low, sandy jungle-like waste, on which some coarse reedy grass, Avicennia tomentosa and Hibiscus populneus are most prevalent. In this sterile situation, almost level with the sea, I gathered specimens of a Clerodendron with long cylindrical tabular corolla of a light red colour, in flower and young fruit. Others[p390] were the same as seen in similar low situations. Returning on board at half past 12 we weighed, stood further into this snug harbour, coming to in 6½ fms. Very recent impressions of naked feet of all sizes (men, women and children) seen on the sands, convinced us that natives had passed very lately.
Soon after 3 p.m. I went with Mr. King and our second officer to examine the southern continuance of this port, of which several conjectures have been formed. We followed the windings and turnings 7 or 8 miles, when it divides into small channels, the one running northerly and the other to the southward of east, which last we traced, but it dwindled to a confined passage, 40 feet wide, and scarcely 7 feet water, and throughout the whole these shores are thickly covered with mangroves. From this day’s observations we are led to infer that Bathurst Island is greatly inundated by salt water in high and spring tides, and in that case the higher Eucalyptian wooded lands are mere islands; and that the salt water inlet on the other side and those on the west possibly may meet and intersect one another, and hence form so many little islands, clustered together by mangroves. The harbour is small, but safe for shipping, but the entrance is shoaly and ought to be approached with caution. It has been named Port Hurd, in honor of T. Hurd, Esq., of the Hydrographic Office, Admiralty.[*]
[* Port Hurd is the inner harbour.]
1818 May 26th. Tuesday. Intending to lead out to the Port Entrance and take in some wood for the use of the cutter, Mr. King left the vessel to sound in that direction, and about half past 8, we shifted our berth to the north side of the entrance in 10½ fms. close in shore. Having well secured the vessel, a boat’s crew was sent on shore to cut down some of the Casuarina lining the immediate beach, and I landed with them. The botanical subjects of the shore are Cordia sebestena, of which I gathered some ripe fruit. Scaevola sp., Hibiscus populneus, and the small tree with white tubular octandrous flowers and drupaceous tomentose fruit, fibrous within, frequent on all the shores of the main and islands of this coast. Exocarpus[*] sp., a tree with leaves like those of some Piper, furnished me with ripe seeds; the receptacle is red and fleshy. The little Bauhinia of Port Essington was noticed, but not in flower or fruit; and a species of Psychotria, with [p391] black berries, first observed on Sim’s Island, is on these shores advancing to a flowering state, together with a climbing shrubby plant having all the external habits of Passiflora. I was not successful in my search for flowers or fruit. This scandent shrub is very abundant, ascending to the tops of the small trees of the beach.
[* It may be allied to Podocarpus of Labillardière. (Author’s note.)]
I passed a very thick barrier of mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) that bounds the ridge of sand next the beach, and was surprised to enter a sandy desert thinly clothed with timber of Eucalyptus and the following:– Acacia sp. (of Sims Island), 30 feet high, with cylindrical spikes of flowers, Melaleuca sp., allied to Leucadendron (South Goulburn Island), 40 feet high, not in flower. Guttiferae, a small tree 20 feet high; leaves ovate-oblong, obtuse, smooth throughout, shining above, parallel-veined, branches angular, subsulcated; habit of Garcinia; it was not in flower or fruit.
Some venerable specimens of Cycas circinalis in fruit appear in this desert, some of which measured 13 inches diameter and at least 40 feet high. This valuable Palm is here very abundant in all its stages from stemless infancy to caulescent maturity of various ages and heights, and as far as the eye could see it is, with Pandanus spiralis, very prevalent. Calythrix microphylla (a new species of Port Essington) is no mean ornament of these sterile wastes. It was so rich in flower and in such expanded perfection that I gathered a few duplicate specimens. With the fine Grevillae of Palm Bay, Croker’s Island was no less remarkably conspicuous. A species of Banksia, never seen before by me; it appears to be Banksia dentata of Linn. (supplement), discovered at Endeavour River, on the East Coast, and being in flower and young fruit I gathered specimens. The herbage is a Spermacoce and Achyranthes of Croker’s Island, with which I collected specimens of a Xyris with angular scape and yellow flowers.
I observed several marks made by natives on the stems of the trees, particularly on a large Melaleucae, the bark of which had been stripped off at no distant period to form gunyas or huts.
During the whole of this day’s excursion I was accompanied by our worthy native chief, Bongaree, of whose little attentions to me and others when on these excursions I have been perhaps too remiss in making mention, to the enhancement of the character of this enterprising Australian.
[p392] At 5 p.m. our people having stripped a sufficiency of wood for use on board, we all went off, leaving some old iron chisels on the stumps of the trees we had cut down, for the natives who were seen on the opposite shores this day, and who were watching our operations. Our lat. by observation on shore is 11°38′ S. and 130°23′ E. long.
1818 May 27th. Wednesday. At half past 8 weighed and stood out of the port. We had scarcely made sail and cleared Port Hurd when 9 natives ran out from their covert among the trees at our working place, hailing us to return, and making signs that they wanted hatchets. At the northern extremity of the sandy beach of the bay and in other parts, small groups of natives were observed walking leisurely along, having seen us out of the Port. Mr. King wishing to make observations anchored at 10 o’clock in the bay in 5 fms.
1818 May 28th. Thursday. About 6 o’clock we departed from the bay along the coast of Bathurst Island. The shores are frequently low, and bounded by ridges of sand thickly covered with a brushwood, and occasionally rising in irregular points, when the white sand is most conspicuous. In the afternoon we observed the land trend in easterly, but from the masthead it was traced very low to the S.W. We are approaching the termination of the French surveys northerly, and suspect we have seen their capes Fourcroy and Helvetius, although Mr. King does not agree with their latitudes.
1818 May 29th. Friday. Nearly calm during the whole of last night. By the bearings of the land we are nearly in the same situation as we were yesterday afternoon.
1818 May 30th. Saturday. From the masthead, the land is seen much depressed and abounding with mangroves; and several low islands are distinguishable and have been called Warriors.[*] We had hauled off considerably during the night and were this morning not within sight of land till about 8 a.m. At 2 p.m. we approached an island, which Mr. King wished to pass to windward, however, shoaly water obliged us to haul off W.S.W., and in half an hour we bore up again southward and deepened our water. The south end of Apsley Strait was seen from the masthead, but extended reefs from the Islands prevent us from approaching it this evening. At 7 p.m., being obliged to continue under weigh, we hove to[p393] and allowed ourselves to be drifted to the northward with the tide, and by its return we should be carried back nearly to the same situation, and be ready at daybreak to beat up to the land about the southern entrance of the strait, to make all necessary observations previous to our final early departure from the coast for Timor. Our lat. is 12°04’47” S., and long. 130°57′ E.
[* They are situated in mid-channel of the strait separating Melville Island from the main which was named Clarence Strait.]
1818 May 31st Sunday. Having stood north-easterly we (at half past 7) clearly ascertained the south entrance into the strait by the remarkable island, now seen from the deck, which was noticed when in the strait on the 19th inst. At noon Mr. King obtained a good meridian altitude, which made our lat. 11°57’18” S. He then took his departure from the Australian coast, steering for Timor.
VISIT To TIMOR AND RETURN TO SYDNEY
1 JUNE-30 JULY, 1818
June 1st. 1818. Monday. We had a very fair run during the last night on a W.N.W. course, and this morning crowded all sail. Our situation at noon was 11°14’28” S. and 128°20′ E.
1818 June 4th. Thursday. Having gone rather too far to the westward, we hauled up N.N.W. at 6 a.m. The land of Rottee being 8 or 9 miles distant at 10, we entered the strait under light sail. The mountainous character of the islands around is a very pleasing change to us, ranges towering over ranges, crowned on the ridges with clumps of cocoa-nut trees, and having gentle easy wooded slopes to the water, now form the romantic relieving scenes about us. A Malay proa was ahead of us in the strait, but the fear of us obliged its commander to run to leeward under the western land of Samao or Samow.
At ½ past 11 the bold cloud-capt land of the western shore of Coepang Bay, Timor, opened to us, and about half past 2 we anchored off the Dutch Fort Concordia. Mr. King, accompanied by his second officer, went on shore to wait upon the Resident, Mr. Hazaart, who received them in the most friendly manner, and having stated our object for visiting the island, namely to obtain fresh water, and any other necessaries, the Resident observed that Coepang was a very poor place, that at this season fruit and vegetables were bad, but if he could be furnished with a list of our wants he would[p394] make arrangements for the supply, as much depended upon the mountaineers who were to be sent to, and from whom sheep could only be procured. The Resident spoke English tolerably well, which rendered the communication the more pleasant, and at the request of Mr. King he gave me permission to range about the environs of the town in my pursuit of flora, and very obligingly observed he would appoint a Malay to attend me in my several excursions. Several Malay proas were at anchor in the bay, having lately returned from the Australian coast with cargoes of trepang.
1818 June 5th. Friday. Clouded heavy damp atmosphere occasioned by the influence of hills, whose lofty tops gather and retain the clouds pregnant with humidity. About 9 it cleared off. I accompanied Mr. King on shore, and through his medium was introduced to the Resident, who received me in a most polite and friendly manner. He received our list of wants, which undergoing some alterations, such as sheep for buffaloes, that were too large for our small daily consumption. He promised to give immediate directions for our supplies, and would employ Malays to water the vessel. The day having been considerably broken into by this morning’s visit, I proposed to accept his kind offers of assisting me with a Malay to-morrow morning, to make an excursion a few miles inland to collect any interesting plants such a route would afford me.
Leaving the Resident’s house we took a walk round the town. The inhabitants are Chinese and Malays, of whom the latter claim the majority. Since the town was destroyed (in 1815) by the Phoenix, little has existed but misery, and on the site, perhaps, of goodly habitations, low dreary bamboo huts are erected. The streets, if they may be so termed, are very narrow and short, intersecting at right angles others of like dimensions, wherein, if a tolerable clean decent house presents itself, it is certain the tenant is a Chinese, of whose persons the same character for neatness and pure cleanliness is equally applicable. They are polite to excess, and are exceedingly profuse in their bows to us strangers.
There are remains of some goodly buildings and of a small Company’s garden, now altogether neglected and overrun with unprofitable wild plants. Tamarindus indica and a large arborescent Ficus (F. benghalensis) with a radicant stem and branches, form agreeable shades to some of the[p395] streets. To the summits of these trees Piper betle was ascending. Carica Papaya is a common tree, at this period in young fruit, and within an enclosure I saw Plumeria acuminata. Heliotropium indicum, an annual plant, and Calotropis gigantea are ornaments on the rock on which the Fort of Concordia is built. A species of Capparis, of low humble growth, is frequent on old walls and on the wayside in byepaths in rocky exposed situations. It was suggested to Mr. King, on shore, that our anchorage was bad holding ground. He therefore unmoored and hauled nearer the Fort.
1818 June 6th. Saturday. This morning I went on shore at 8 a.m. and joined the Malay, who was to accompany me, at the Resident’s house. Ascending the rocky hills above Coepang by a beaten path the following old genera presented themselves.
Barleria prionitis (?), a thorny ornamental shrub. Helicteres isora, in fruit. Jasminum hirsutum, a round bushy plant in a flowering state. Zizyphus jujuba, a small tree with spreading elongated branches, used by the Malays for hedges, as Crataegus oxyacantha or white thorn is in England. This plant is the food of a species of Curculio covered with a yellow powder, which abounds on it, adhering to the underpart of the leaves.
Caesalpinia sp., closely allied to C. sappan, Roxburgh, but different in having a densely villous calyx and a few scattered hairs on its foliage. Cathartocarpus (Cassia with cylindrical legumens), a slender tree, pods 12-16 inches long, frequent on the hills.
In close thickets several leguminous twining plants were conspicuous, more particularly Clitoria ternatea, whose large azure flowers could be traced over the tops of the brushwood to some distance. I gathered pods of Stizolobium pruriens (Dolichos H.K.) from the dead plant, and of a Clitoria with ternate ovate leaves. A tree of moderate size, discovered at Port Hurd on the north coast of Australia, I detected to-day in flower, which is polyadelphous and appeared allied to Garcinia or Xanthochmus of Roxburgh; the foliage is very glossy and large, parallel-veined as in Calophyllum. I gathered likewise specimens of a species of Sida with whitish flowers. These sterile rocky hills abound in a shrub of the habit of Phyllanthus, with leaves elliptical and alternate, at the axils of which the flowers are produced in racemes.
Descending to a valley between the first range of hills next[p396] the sea and this island, my guide took me to the house of a friendly Rajah, which was surrounded by a high stone wall (not cemented). I found the petty king seated beneath the shade of a large specimen of Areca catechu, surrounded by slaves and other attendants. My guide having been previously instructed by the Resident, satisfied the curiosity of the Rajah as to the object of my pursuits, who was desirous of putting questions to me relative to my native country, could I have conversed with him in the Malay Language. He appeared to live perfectly at ease in this retired valley, surrounded by Gorypha umbraculifera, a large Fan Palm (of the fronds of which the Malays make baskets to carry water) and Artocarpus incisa, or bread fruit, which was then growing on the margins of a stream of water meandering through his grounds, furnished from the springs in the hills.
Leaving the Rajah’s house, we ascended a second range, following occasionally the public road into the interior, on which I passed several troops of mountaineers, who were carrying Gulah or Sago syrup and fruits, the produce of the interior, to Coepang. In these wooded elevations some large species of Anona and a species of Carolinea, or Bombax, are frequent. The latter of which was in flower at the extremity of the branches, rendering it very difficult to be procured, and my Malay was struck with horror at the idea of ascending and risking his neck for such trifles. I gathered specimens of Kleinhovia hospita, a branching tree of like bulk, it afforded me some seeds; and of a specimen of Cynanchum I gathered young fruit. Triumfetta Bartramia and Plumbago zeylanica are frequent in flower and fruit. At 4 p.m. I took a circuitous route back to the town, and on my way I passed several moderate sized trees, with ternate leaves and large round hard green fruit, which appears to be a species of Crataeva. At dusk I returned to the beach and was taken off by one of our boats to the cutter.
1818 June 7th. Sunday. Shifting my specimens and exposing them on deck to air. Mr. King, Mr. Bedwell and myself, by invitation, dined with the Resident in the afternoon, at whose table we were introduced to several English captains or masters in the trading service among the islands, whose vessels are now at anchor up the river and in the bay.
1818 June 8th. Monday. At 7 a.m. I left the cutter, with an intention to spend the whole of the day on the banks of the River and the[p397] lands near it. The Malay was unwell and could not leave his bamboo hut; in truth he was a thin, meagre man, and the corporeal exercise of last Saturday seems to have agreed but indifferently with him. I continued along the river bank beneath the cool shade of the trees on its immediate verge, until I had passed the town, when my progress was stayed by Poinciana pulcherrima covering the slopes of the hills to the water’s edge. I ascended the hills, when a species of Strychnos of stubbly stunted growth indicated the shallow rocky soil.
In patches of close brushwood I gathered the following. Nepeta sp., a shrub of slender growth, with blue flowers. Acacia sp., bipinnate; branches aculeated; the aculea are in pairs; capitulum axillary; pod round as in seeds. Some Inga, a divaricate, irregular shrub. Smilax sp., a scandent aculeated shrub. Cytisus Cajan (plant dead). Upon a Ficus I discovered a species of Loranthus, with flowers like those of Louicera. Arriving at the chateau of a Malay I was much struck with the large bread fruit trees within the enclosure. I gathered some fruit of a slender tree of the genus Bignonia. This may be Bignonia indica or Spathodea indica.
Wishing to pass through the valleys which are formed into paddy grounds and inundated at pleasure by the channels of water from the hills, I followed a path leading through the enclosed ground and descended to a much cooler moist atmosphere, where I expected to discover ferns in the bottom. I, however, only saw an Aspidium, frequent likewise on the banks of the river. Flemingia strobilifera delights in such dark shades in the close woods on the slopes of the hills, of which I gathered specimens in flower. The timber is the large Ficus and the Carolinea seen on Saturday last in flower.
Crossing several artificial water-courses I descended to the paddy grounds, which I passed over upon the little muddy raised paths. The rice looked extremely well, it was young, but the blade strong and luxuriant, and flooded about 10 inches. Near a run of water I gathered specimens of an Echites, with spindle-shaped horizontal folicles, allied to E. costata, a strong irregular shrub in low humid situations; and a small tree of the same natural order furnished me with specimens in fruit (Nerium or Wrightia), follicles long, united at their base, seeds compressed, comose at their extremity. A twining pendent plant with ovate alternate leaves, entire[p398] and undulated, flowers axillary, crowded, decandrous, I discovered on the wayside in coppices, in which I also gathered specimens of a Banisteria, which appears distinct from any species I have before observed. A Gardenia, scarcely distinct from G. florida, being in fruit, I collected seeds.
At 2 p.m. I halted beneath the shade of a large Fig, having found the heat very considerable during the forenoon. The specimens I had collected I packed chiefly in the paper I had taken with me, to protect them from the influence of the sun, and then commenced a new route back to Coepang, from which I may be about 5 miles northerly. A strong twining plant of the Bignoniaceae was ascending the highest trees, and laden with a great profusion of flowers. On the hills near Coepang I collected specimens of a tree of the Sapindaceae, leaves pinnate; leaflets obovate, obtuse emarginati, venose; fruit racemose. About half past 6 I returned to Coepang and went on board.
1818 June 9th. Tuesday. It having been reported on board during my absence that a fair opportunity would offer itself of forwarding letters to Europe by way of India, occasioned by the early departure of some Chinese vessels sailing from this port to Batavia, I determined to avail myself of it and write to the Right Hon. Sir Joseph Banks and W. T. Aiton, Esqre. reporting the progress of this voyage of discovery and my success in obtaining specimens of the Flora of the north and north-west coasts of Australia. Two of the vessels sailed this day before any of us could prepare our letters, but a third brig still continues in the bay.
I visited the Resident to thank him in the name of Mr. King (who was unwell) for his kind present of a buffalo and pumpkins, which had been sent on board for the vessel’s company. The Resident had detained the Chinese vessel for us, which afforded us time to finish our letters for England. Mr. Hazaart showed me a specimen of the coffee of the island, which he procured when on an expedition to Daily, a small Portuguese settlement on this coast. It is found on the sea coast in great quantities, considerably to the northward of Coepang.
1818 June 6th. Wednesday. Having shifted the whole of my specimens, I finished my letters, waited on Mr. Hazaart with them and others in the afternoon, who very obligingly promised to forward them by the Chinese brig under an envelope to the[p399] Consul at Batavia. In a walk I took with our first officer towards the close of the day, I gathered seeds of an Erythrina, now deciduous; Celosia argentea, and fruit of the Carolinea before mentioned. The fruit of the tree, when fresh, is red and contains 8 seeds at least, each covered with an arillus, kernel esculent, oily.
1818 June 11th. Thursday. Repapering my green specimens. This morning I went on shore, intending to employ myself on the hills north-west from Coepang, and the following are the results of the day’s observations in specimens and seeds. Sida sp., flowers panicled, yellow. Specimens, collected before, of Zizyphus jujuba, a quantity of the fruit. Cassia sp. Buettneriaceae, a shrub 8-10 ft. high, allied to Commersonia Varronia sp., an ornamental small tree with fragrant white flowers. Myrtaceae, a tree of large dimensions; flowers axillary; leaves alternate. And a species of Pteris, with pinnate lanceolate fronds, on rocks in the fresh-water river. On the sides of the hills I discovered several specimens of the large fruited Bignonia indica, of which I gathered several siliquae as specimens, with seeds. Also Convolvulus sp., leaves small, lanceolate, cordate at the base and C. bracteatus (plant dead). Cucurbita sp. Solanum sp., leaves aculeated; berries orange. Cucumis sp., fruit large, ovate. Cissus sp.
I traced a water-course, now dry, whose rocky uneven bed indicated the rapidity with which water had passed from the hills through it to the sea in the rainy season, and near it I discovered three bulbs of perhaps an Amaryllis, but could find no others. Making the beach I passed through the plantations of the Resident’s secretary, Mr. Tinmann, a Javanese. They contain cocoa-nuts and bananas chiefly, and a number of thatched huts are occupied by his slaves.
1818 June 12th. Friday. This day we received most part of our sea stock on board, and made preparations for taking our departure from Coepang to-morrow morning. Delay follows delay, our sheep for the vessel’s use, which had been penned up on shore until the day previous to sailing, escaped during last night, on the hills, and three are not to be found. We now find it much better to make the little purchases for our cabin mess ourselves, rather than trust to others on shore. Received the visits of some English commanders of vessels at anchor in this bay, in the evening.
1818 June 13th. Saturday. It was the determination of Mr. King to have taken his departure from the island this morning, but many things remained unsettled and unprovided for on shore, for a voyage of 8 or 9 weeks to Port Jackson. We were all occupied on shore, either procuring limes or yams, for our mess. I accompanied Mr. King and Mr. Roe to take our leave of Mr. Hazaart. Mr. King thanked him for his liberality and attention paid us during our short stay here, and stated his intention to get under weigh in the morning. Settled all affairs and returned on board.
1818 June 14th. Sunday. About 7 o’clock this morning, weighed and took our departure from Coepang Bay. Steered S.W. to the westward of Pulo Samao.
1818 20th June to 30th July. On the 20th June we made the Montebello Islands (of the French, under Baudin), where some observations were made, tending to correct the surveys of their original discoveries. On the 13th July we doubled Cape Leewin in very squally bad weather; on the 24th we entered the Bass Strait, and anchored in Sydney Cove on the 29th.
PARRAMATTA AND NEIGHBOURHOOD
30 JULY-18 OCTOBER, 1818
1818 July 30th. Thursday. His Excellency the Governor and suite had departed from Sydney three days since, upon a short visit to Newcastle, Hunter’s River, to be present at the consecration of a church recently finished there. I hired a horse and rode to Parramatta, and made many inquiries respecting a small house, as a temporary residence for 2 or 3 months, where I could retire and prepare my collection and journal from material collected during the last 8 months. Remained at Parramatta all the morning, not having succeeded in hiring a small habitation.
1818 July 31st. Friday. Sharp hoar frost during the night. Morning fine. After many further inquiries I have fortunately been accommodated with the old house I occupied previous to my departure on the voyage of discovery, at the same rent. Returned to Sydney and hired a passage boat for the whole of to-morrow, to carry my collection and luggage from the cutter to Parramatta. The country is very dry, and it appears there has not been any rain of consequence these 3 months past.
1818 August 1st. Saturday. This day I got the whole of my collection and luggage up the river to Parramatta, and lodged them in the house I had taken.
1818 August 3rd. Monday. This day I took possession of my house, received rations of beef and flour, which are supplied from His Majesty’s Store.
1818 August 4th. Tuesday. I received my Government Chest etc., from His Majesty’s Storehouse, where I had placed them under the charge of the store keeper during my absence. Employed within doors.
1818 August 5th. Wednesday. I opened and unpacked my collection and aired my seeds and otherwise employed.
1818 August 13th. Thursday. His Excellency having returned from his visit to Newcastle, I rode down to Sydney and waited upon him at Government House, Sydney, to pay my humble respects upon my return to this colony from the coasts lately under survey. I drew cash from the merchants, and intend to give my bills on the Right Hon. Sir J. Banks. I made inquiries respecting shipping in the harbour, and what opportunities are likely to offer of transmitting my collection direct to England, but found none.
1818 August 14th. Friday. This morning I returned to Parramatta, and employed all the afternoon among my specimens.
1818 August 15th. Saturday. Fair but cloudy. Showery during the forenoon, heavy rain towards the close of the day. Ticketing and examining my specimens.
1818 August 17th. Monday. Having received the information this morning that the “Indian,” whaler, Captain Swaine, would depart from this port in 2 or 3 days, and perhaps might revisit the coast for a very short period previous to her steering a direct course to England, and being advised as to the eligibility of the opportunity, I intend to transmit originals of my collection to England by her. I wrote on service this morning to His Excellency, requesting he would be pleased to grant me orders upon the Deputy-Commissary-General for stationery, and upon the Superintendent of His Majesty’s lumber yard, for the making of packing cases of dimensions therein stated, for the purposes of transmitting my plants to England.
1818 August 31st. Monday. This day I finally packed and closed a case containing original specimens and seeds, together with some bulbs, and sent it to Sydney by the passage boat to be shipped on board the “Indian” whaler; writing to Captain Swaine thereon.
1818 September 1st. Tuesday. The weather appears more settled, fine, with some light flying clouds.
1818 September 3rd. Thursday. I closed my letters and went down to Sydney, with a view of seeing the Captain of the “Indian,” and suggest to him the nature of the contents of the box, and the necessity of its being placed in an airy dry situation in the ship. Captain Swaine expressed his regret that his ship was so much encumbered with oil casks that he had no room for the box in any safe situation, that having only 2/3rds of a cargo, he was now determined, before he steered to England, to return to the coast of New Caledonia to effect a completion of his cargo. I have therefore been under the necessity of receiving back the case, considering myself much more justified in retaining it until a more direct opportunity offers, than risk its contents to detention on a tropical fishing coast. My letters, being written, will require some alteration, and I shall transmit them via India by the “Magnet ” (late a schooner), Captain Vine, who sails in a few days. Returned to Parramatta at night.
1818 September 15th. Tuesday. Bright morning. The “Glory” and the “Isabella” have arrived from England, but have brought me no letters. Afternoon cloudy.
1818 September 25th. Friday. Having heard that the “Magnet,” Captain Vine, was reported to sail for China on Sunday next I availed myself of the offer of a gentleman returning to England by that route, and now forwarded letters to Sir J. Banks and Mr. Aiton, recapitulating the subject matter of my letters to them from Timor and reporting my return to the Colony. Went to Sydney and waited upon Mr. Jones with my packet.
1818 October 1st. Thursday. I brought up my journal and copy to the present day.
1818 October 2nd. Friday. This day I had an interview with Lieut. King, in order to ascertain whether he had settled the period of departure on another voyage. He could say nothing with any degree of certainty, as his charts and journal would still occupy much of his time. December was mentioned. I have 6 or 7 weeks to employ myself, in which period I hope to make up another case of specimens. I have purposed therefore to occupy a few weeks in an excursion to the Five Islands (The Red Point of the charts), to the southward, on this coast, and have written this day (on service) to the Governor, requesting His Excellency would he pleased to allow me an order for a light Government cart, a horse, a spare pack saddle, etc., during this service.
1818 October 5th. Monday. This morning at an early hour I left Parramatta for the farm to which I had sent out paper, where I arrived at 8 p.m. At ½ past 8 we departed for Curdunnee, where I expect to find several plants indigenous in that remarkable valley, in a different state from that observed in February 1817. In the forest lands we passed, as well as in the sands of and bushy spots, several of the common Orchidaceae are now very conspicuously in flower, viz:–Thelymitra ixioides, with another blue flowering species. Diuris maculata and D. aurea, with several others; particularly one plant with a reddish-purple cucullated flower, whose labellum is fimbriated. On the margins of a creek I gathered specimens of an Acacia of very slender growth, allied to A. longifolia, the leaves are much longer and more filiform. Also Zieria macrophylla, and Hibbertia sp., allied to H. volubilis (H. dentala Br.).
About 10 o’clock we arrived at the rocky wooded verge of the valley called Curdunnee, to which we descended through large bodies of Fern, chiefly of the Pterides. Smilax australis, observed here when I visited this spot before, is in the same condition, without any signs of flower or fruit. Trochocarpa laurina (Cyathodes) is in fruit, nearly ripe. I gathered some specimens of Passiflora sp., allied to P. aurantia of Norfolk Island and New Caledonia; flowers solitary, orange, red and green.
I likewise collected the following: Solanum sp. (S. pungetium Bn.), a rather suffruticose small plant, aculeated; leaves angular; flowers solitary and blue. Clematis sp., leaves ternate, cordate, 5-nerved; flowers corymbose;[p404] frequent in various parts of the colony. Santalaceae, a slender shrub, with the habit of Olax, leaves alternate, elliptical; specimens in fruit. Pittosporum sp., this plant is now in flower, and when seen formerly I had named it P. revolutum (H.K.), it however appears to be P. fulvum of Rudge, and has more acute leaves than the Kew plant, to which, however, it is closely allied. Meleaceae, flowers scarcely perfected, in elongated spikes; leaves petioled, oblong, shining above, but, with the young branches, are very hoary beneath. A specimen of Smilax assisted much to render the thickets of this vale the more intricate, and, being in flower, I gathered specimens. No other plants peculiar to these shaded situations were observed in flower, of which the large Fan Palm (Corypha australis), the large Fern Tree (Alsophila australis), and a shrub with depressed dentated leaves, slender stem, branches spiny, covered with a substellated tomentum, perhaps of the Buettneriaceae, but without flower or fruit, are the most remarkable.
At dusk we returned to the farm, my headquarters.
1818 October 6th. Tuesday. I visited some ravines about three miles to the southward and eastward of the farm, through whose rocky beds a permanent stream of water runs, which, after numerous windings, crosses the Windsor Road and ultimately empties itself into the Parramatta River. Among the many plants inhabiting these shaded humid situations I noticed Lomatia longifolia, sent home per “Kangaroo” as a Grevillea.
A species of Stylidium, (S. tenuifolium), with linear leaves, rather crowded on the stalk, is very abundant, but not in flower at this period. Podocarpus sp. (native Plum), a low, humifuse, spreading plant, of the habit of Taxus, with a large purple fleshy receptacle, not yet arrived at a flowering state.
Diosma (same genus as last year’s list) a slender tree 10-12 feet high. Grevillea stricta (Br), a slender shrub. Zieria pilosa (Rudge), remarkable for its solitary, axillary flowers. Ceanothus sp. (allied to C. globulosus), flowers terminal and crowded; and another species, with smaller panicled flowers, Dianella sp., flowers simply panicled (not expanded). Smilax glyciphylla. The rocks are ornamented with Dendrobium speciosum in flower; and are covered with the small plant Poranthera ericifolia of Rudge. In the brushy country surrounding the ravine I gathered specimens of a Baeckia, (Imbricaria of Dr. Smith). Thesium drupaceum[p405] (native currant), is now laden with fruit, of which I gathered some seeds. Lomatia silaifolia. Crowea saligna; with several species of Pultenaea, Dillwynia and other papilionaceous plants. A small shrubby plant, perhaps of the Diosmeae, with pentandrous flowers, furnished me with flowering specimens. In the forest-lands we passed in our return I gathered specimens of a Helichrisum, allied to H. papillosum Lobelia sp. (L. dentata), with small laciniated leaves; and a species of Stylidium, which appears to differ from S. graminifolium H.K. in having longer and narrower (denticulated) leaves.
1818 October 7th. Wednesday. Returned to Parramatta at noon.
1818 October 8th. Thursday. Last evening His Excellency arrived at Parramatta from Windsor, but leaving Government House at this place at an early hour this morning I was unable to see him as I intended, and, as His Excellency has not answered my letter of the 2nd inst., I am still kept in suspense.
1818 October 9th. Friday. Examining and ticketing the specimens recently gathered.
1818 October 10th. Saturday. This morning His Excellency arrived at Parramatta from Sydney, and having received no answer to my letter of the 2nd. inst., begging the Governor would be pleased to allow me the use of a Government horse and cart, and a spare pack-saddle, I waited at Government House but was not able to see His Excellency, who was stated to be from home. I left my name. There appearing no favourable direct opportunities likely to offer for transporting my collections, formed lately on the coast, to England, I was under the necessity, for the safety of the bulbs there collected, to unpack the case and plant them in the garden of a friend, trusting a future eligible conveyance would present itself, enabling me to transmit them home when they would bear removal.
1818 October 12th. Monday. This day being advertised in the “Gazette” for the muster of persons on and off the store belonging to the district of Parramatta before the Governor at the Court House, I attended and reported myself and servant. From the circumstances of having received no answer to my letter, I had suspected it had miscarried. His Excellency, however, had not thought proper to write me and enclose an order,[p406] but stated to me to-day that he had given directions to Major Druitt, Acting Engineer at Sydney, to furnish me with a Government horse and cart.
1818 October 13th. Tuesday. This morning I went down to Sydney and saw the engineer, Major Druitt, at the lumber yard, where I found my demand far from being in a forward state of readiness. The pack-saddle was not beginning to be made or even thought of; and the Governor having only given directions to the Major to provide me with a Government horse (cart-harness I presume I did not specify in my demand), a cart and spare pack-saddle. I find I am under the necessity of writing His Excellency again for an order for a tarpaulin, a pair of spancels and a rope of moderate size! ! The Major assured me all should be ready for delivery on Saturday next. Although the “Isabella ” arrived here four weeks since, it was by mere chance that I heard of a case directed to me, which came by her from England. The box had been lodged in H.M. store, from whence I forwarded it to Parramatta per Passage Boat. The “Isabella” (Capt. Berry) being about to depart for Bengal, and thence to England, I have determined to avail myself of the Captain’s kind offer to take charge of a case for His Majesty’s Gardens. Returned to Parramatta.
1818 October 17th. Saturday. This morning I sent my servant to Sydney with a letter to Major Druitt, Acting Engineer, for the horse and cart and other necessaries that were to be ready this day at noon. At a late hour at night my servant returned with the horse and cart, spare pack-saddle and all the other articles, for which I had made my demand, which has now determined me to start early on Monday morning, without further loss of time.
1818 October 18th. Sunday. The long wished for “Tottenham” ship has at last arrived, and bringing me a most satisfactory letter from W. T. Aiton, Esq., of date 17th. February last, the original of which I have not received.