The Logbooks of the Lady Nelson
by Ida Lee
THE LOGBOOKS OF THE LADY NELSON
WITH THE JOURNAL OF HER FIRST COMMANDER LIEUTENANT JAMES GRANT, R.N.
IDA LEE, F.R.G.S. (MRS. CHARLES BRUCE MARRIOTT.)
AUTHOR OF: THE COMING OF THE BRITISH TO AUSTRALIA, [and] COMMODORE
SIR JOHN HAYES, HIS VOYAGE AND LIFE.
WITH SIXTEEN CHARTS AND ILLUSTRATIONS FROM THE ORIGINALS IN THE
GRAFTON &CO. 69 GREAT RUSSELL STREET LONDON. W.C.
First Published in 1915.
TO THE MEMORY OF MY GRANDFATHER, WILLIAM LEE, ONE OF AUSTRALIA'S
CHAPTER 1. THE
FIRST VOYAGE OF
THE LADY NELSON.
CHAPTER 2. THE
JERVIS BAY AND
COMMANDER OF THE
LADY NELSON: HIS
CHAPTER 6. THE
CHAPTER 7. THE
LADY NELSON AND
CHAPTER 8. THE
FRENCH SHIPS IN
BASS STRAIT. THE
COMMANDER OF THE
LADY NELSON. HIS
VOYAGES TO PORT
CHAPTER 10. THE
LADY NELSON IN
FOUNDING OF PORT
CHAPTER 11. THE
SYDNEY. THE LADY
TIPPAHEE AND HIS
FOUR SONS ARE
CONVEYED TO NEW
ZEALAND IN THE
CHAPTER 13. THE
H.M.S. TAMAR TO
CHAPTER 14. THE
LOSS OF THE LADY
The objects for which the Lady Nelson's voyages were undertaken
render her logbooks of more than ordinary interest. She was essentially
an Australian discovery ship and during her successive commissions she
was employed exclusively in Australian waters. The number of voyages
that she made will perhaps never be accurately known, but her logbooks
in existence testify to the important missions that she accomplished.
The most notable are those which record early discoveries in Victoria:
the exploration of the Queensland coast: the surveys of King Island and
the Kent Group: the visits to New Zealand and the founding of
settlements at Hobart, Port Dalrymple, and Melville Island. Seldom can
the logbooks of a single ship show such a record. Their publication
seemed very necessary, for the handwriting on the pages of some of them
is so faded that it is already difficult to decipher, and apparently
only the story of Grant's voyages and the extracts from Murray's log
published by Labilliere in the Early History of Victoria have ever
before been published. In transcription I have somewhat modernized the
spelling where old or incorrect forms tended to obscure the sense, and
omitted repetitions, as it would have been impossible to include within
the limits of one volume the whole of the contents of the logbooks. The
story of the Lady Nelson as told by Grant has in places been
paraphrased, for he sometimes writes it in diary form under date
headings and at others he inserts the date in the narrative. The
entries from the logbooks of Murray, Curtoys and Symons, in the Public
Record Office, with such omissions as I have specified, are printed
Murray's charts now published are distinctly valuable, as in the
fourth volume of the Historical Records of New South Wales, where they
should be found, it is stated that they are “unfortunately missing.”
On my inquiring at the Admiralty, Mr. Perrin, the Librarian, to whom
my cordial thanks are due, made a special search and was fortunate
enough to discover them. Thus, after a long separation, Murray's charts
and his journal are united again in this volume. Perhaps the most
important chart, and the one which should appeal especially to the
people of Victoria, is that of Port Phillip showing the track of the
Lady Nelson's boat when the brig entered the bay for the first time.
Murray's log telling of this discovery ends on March 24th, 1802. In
writing later to the Duke of Portland, Governor King says: “The Lady
Nelson's return just before I closed my letters enabled me to transmit
Acting-Lieutenant Murray's log copies of the discoveries of King Island
and Port Phillip. These important discoveries, being combined with the
chart of former surveys, I hope will convince your Grace that that
highly useful vessel the Lady Nelson has not been idle under my
direction.” The charts were sent home in charge of Lieutenant
Mackellar, who sailed in the ship Caroline on March 30th, 1802, six
days after the Lady Nelson's return. Duplicates were forwarded by the
Speedy, which left Sydney in June, but a comparison of those at the
Admiralty shows that King added nothing further to this second series.
My thanks are also due to Lieutenant Bell, R.N., whose researches
have enabled me to publish the charts of the Queensland coast. These
old charts cannot fail to interest students of Australian history. It
is possible that they do not include all that were sent home at first,
nor are the Lady Nelson's logbooks complete; those however of Grant and
Murray, Curtoys and Symons, give us the story of the work carried out
by those energetic seamen. They are writings worthy of being more
widely known, for they are records left by men who sailed uncharted
seas along unknown coasts in days which will not come again—men who
have helped to give to later generations a spacious continent with a
THE LADY NELSON BUILT WITH CENTREBOARDS. HER VOYAGE TO SYDNEY UNDER
JAMES GRANT. THE FIRST SHIP TO PASS THROUGH BASS STRAIT.
RETURNS TO EXPLORE THE STRAIT. HER VISITS TO JERVIS BAY AND TO
WESTERN PORT IN 1801.
COLONEL PATERSON AND LIEUTENANT GRANT SURVEY HUNTER RIVER.
MURRAY APPOINTED COMMANDER OF THE LADY NELSON. HIS VOYAGE TO NORFOLK
MURRAY'S EXPLORATION OF BASS STRAIT.
DISCOVERY OF PORT PHILLIP.
THE LADY NELSON IN COMPANY WITH H.M.S. INVESTIGATOR EXAMINES THE
NORTH-EASTERN SHORES OF AUSTRALIA.
THE FRENCH SHIPS IN BASS STRAIT. THE FOUNDING OF HOBART.
SYMONS SUCCEEDS CURTOYS AS COMMANDER OF THE LADY NELSON. HIS VOYAGES
TO PORT PHILLIP, TASMANIA AND NEW ZEALAND.
THE LADY NELSON IN TASMANIA. THE FOUNDING OF PORT DALRYMPLE.
THE ESTRAMINA IS BROUGHT TO SYDNEY. THE LADY NELSON VISITS NORFOLK
ISLAND AND PORT DALRYMPLE.
TIPPAHEE AND HIS FOUR SONS ARE CONVEYED TO NEW ZEALAND IN THE LADY
THE LADY NELSON ACCOMPANIES H.M.S. TAMAR TO MELVILLE ISLAND.
THE LOSS OF THE LADY NELSON.
1. THE LADY NELSON. From a painting in the possession of the
2. LIEUTENANT JAMES GRANT'S CHART OF THE AUSTRALIAN COAST.
[Jas Grant autograph facsimile.]
3. EYE-SKETCH OF THE LADY NELSON'S TRACK ON HER FIRST VOYAGE THROUGH
BASS STRAIT. Drawn by Governor King. Writing of this chart, he says
that the longitude in which Lieutenant Grant placed Cape Otway was
about a degree and a half in error. He also made the land to trend away
on the west side of Cape Otway to a deep bay, which he named Portland
Bay. An examination of modern maps will show that the name Portland Bay
has been retained for a bay to the westward of Grant's Portland Bay,
which is now called Armstrong Bay.
Chart of the track of His Majesty's Armoured Surveying Vessel Lady
Nelson Lieutenant James Grant Commander. From Bass's Straits between
New Holland and Van Diemen's Land on her passage from England to Port
Jackson. By Order of His Grace The Duke of Portland. In December 1800.
4. CHART OF WESTERN PORT SURVEYED BY ENSIGN BARRALLIER IN 1801.
5. CHART OF BASS STRAIT SHOWING THE DISCOVERIES MADE BETWEEN
SEPTEMBER 1800 AND MARCH 1802. Drawn by Ensign Barrallier, New South
Wales Corps, under the direction of Captain P.G. King, Governor of New
South Wales.” This chart is generally referred to as “Barrallier's
Combined Chart.” King doubtless alludes to it when writing to the Duke
of Portland in May 1802. See Historical Records of New South Wales
volume 4 page 761.)
(CHART OF KING'S ISLAND IN BASS'S STRAIT. This earliest chart of
King Island was drawn by Alexander Dalrymple from a sketch made by
Flinders of Murray's original chart. Flinders added to it the west
coast unseen by Murray, though it had been sighted by both Black and
Buyers. The details given by Flinders were supplied by William
Campbell, master of the Harrington, who, in March 1802, found a
quantity of wreckage there. Nothing remained to show the name of the
lost vessel, nor was any clue subsequently discovered by which she
could be identified. The Harrington lay at anchor at New Year's Isles
for over two months, but could not trace the nationality of the vessel
or her crew except in the language of the Harrington's captain, “one
dead English cat.” See Historical Records of New South Wales volume 4
6. THE LADY NELSON AND THE FRANCIS SCHOONER ENTERING HUNTER RIVER.
7. COAL HARBOUR (NEWCASTLE, NEW SOUTH WALES), SURVEYED BY ENSIGN
BARRALLIER IN 1801.
Coal Harbour and Rivers on the Coast of New South Wales. Surveyed by
Ensign Barrallier, in His Majesty's Armed Surveying Vessel Lady Nelson:
Lieutenant James Grant Commander. In June and July 1801, by Order of
High Water Full and Change in the Harbour 9 hours 45 minutes. Rises
Remarks on Hunter's River: The entrance of Hunter's River is in
latitude 32 degrees 57 minutes south, distinguishable by an Island on
the south-east side of its entrance which in coming from the northward
appears like a castle, being perpendicular on the south-east side and
203 feet high: the north side is steep and covered with grass. It is
the northernmost high land from Sydney to the Heads of Port Stephens
from which it lies north-east 6 leagues. The intermediate space being a
sandy beach. The tides both in the harbour and entrance runs very
strong, and in some places not less than four miles an hour and
sometimes from four to five. The ebb in general is much stronger than
the flood: 9 3/4 hours in the harbour makes high water full and change,
and rises six feet perpendicular where the Lady Nelson anchored, and
four feet when she was higher up the river. In the harbour there is
good shelter from all winds and plenty of room for more than 100 sail
of shipping. There is plenty of water to be had on the north shore by
digging a very little way down. There are three wells already dug, and
the water is very good. On the south shore there are plenty of runs of
For further information refer to Colonel Paterson and Lieutenant
8. ROUTE OF H.M.A.S. VESSEL LADY NELSON ALONG THE COAST OF NEW SOUTH
WALES ON A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY IN 1801, undertaken by Command of His
Excellency Governor King. By Jno. Murray Acting Lieutenant and
Note the Coast is according to Captain Cook. Jarvis Bay was visited
by ye Lady Nelson in March 1801. Twofold Bay is from Bass's track in
the Whale Boat.
9. KENT'S GROUP. By John Murray.
10. KING ISLAND FROM JOHN MURRAY'S CHART.
11. CHART OF PORT PHILLIP SHOWING THE TRACK OF THE LADY NELSON'S
BOAT IN 1802.
In this chart by Murray, sent to the Admiralty from Sydney by
Governor King in 1802, few names appear, although Murray named Point
Palmer, Point Paterson, and Point Nepean, and the fact that it bears
the date January 1802 seems further evidence that it is the first chart
of Port Philip drawn by its discoverer. It is one of those referred to
as “unfortunately missing” in the Historical Records of New South Wales
volume 4 page 764.
12. CHART OF BASS STRAIT, INCLUDING THE DISCOVERIES OF
ACTING-LIEUTENANT JOHN MURRAY IN THE LADY NELSON, between November 1801
AND march 1802. By command of His Excellency Governor King. This chart,
which bears Murray's autograph, shows his explorations of Western Port,
Port Philip, and King Island. It should be noted that Flinders' Island
is named Grand Capuchin. This is one of the charts referred to as
“unfortunately missing” in the Historical Records of New South Wales
volume 4 page 764.
13. TRACK OF THE LADY NELSON IN COMPANY WITH H.M.S. INVESTIGATOR ON
A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY along the coast of New South Wales. By John
Murray. This chart also bears Murray's signature, as well as the
outward and return track of his ship.
14. CONTINUATION OF THE TRACK OF THE LADY NELSON IN JULY 1802.
15. SKETCH OF PORT NUMBER 1 (PORT CURTIS), FACEING ISLAND AND KEPPEL
BAY. By John Murray, made on board H.M. armed surveying vessel Lady
16. THE TRACK OF THE LADY NELSON TO PORT NUMBER 2. (PORT BOWEN). By
This chart and the one in Illustration 15 differ in delineation from
the rest of Murray's charts of his voyage northwards, and are
beautifully drawn and coloured. Probably they were the work of Westall,
the artist with Flinders, Murray merely adding to them his homeward
[Facsimile signature Jno Murray]
17. THE LADY NELSON'S ANCHORAGE AT HUNTER RIVER.
18. APPENDIX. H.M.S. BUFFALO, SHIP'S MUSTER.
THE LOGBOOKS OF THE LADY NELSON.
CHAPTER 1. THE FIRST VOYAGE OF THE
The logbooks of the Lady Nelson bear witness to the leading part
played by one small British ship in the discovery of a great continent.
They show how closely, from the date of her first coming to Sydney in
1800 until her capture by pirates off the island of Baba in 1825, this
little brig was identified with the colonisation and development of
In entering upon her eventful colonial career, “the Lady Nelson did
that which alone ought to immortalize her name—she was the first ship
that ever sailed parallel to the entire southern coast line of
Australia.”* (* Early History of Victoria by F.P. Labilliere.) She was
also the first vessel to sail through Bass Strait. But discovery cannot
claim her solely for itself. While she was stationed at Sydney there
was scarcely a dependency of the mother colony that was not more or
less indebted to her, either for proclaiming it a British possession,
or for bringing it settlers and food, or for providing it with means of
defence against the attacks of natives.
In the early history of Victoria the Lady Nelson occupies a niche
somewhat similar to that which the Endeavour fills in the annals of New
South Wales, but while Cook and the Endeavour discovered the east coast
and then left it, the Lady Nelson, after charting the bare coast-line
of Victoria, returned again and again to explore its inlets and to
penetrate its rivers, her boats discovering the spacious harbour at the
head of which Melbourne now stands.
The Lady Nelson also went northward as well as southward, and though
many of her logbooks are missing, some survive, and one describes how,
in company with the Investigator under Captain Flinders, she examined
the Queensland shore as far as the Cumberland Islands. Later she
accompanied the Mermaid, under Captain King, to Port Macquarie when he
followed Flinders' track through Torres Strait, and during her long
period of service she visited different parts of the coast, including
Moreton Bay, Port Essington, and Melville Island. Precisely how many
voyages she made as a pioneer will probably never be known. The ship,
at least, played many parts: now acting as King's messenger and
carrying despatches from the Governor to Norfolk Island; now fetching
grain grown at the Hawkesbury, or coals from Newcastle for the use of
the increasing population at Sydney; and at another time carrying
troops and settlers to the far distant north. She made other memorable
voyages; for example, when she conveyed bricks burnt in Sydney brick
kilns to Tasmania and to New Zealand, in order to build homes for the
first white settlers in those lands. She helped also to establish
Lieutenant Bowen's colony at Risdon. On that occasion we read that the
little ship lent the colony a bell and half a barrel of gunpowder. The
logbooks do not record to what use the bell was put, but whether it
served as a timekeeper or to call the people to worship, it was
doubtless highly valued by the early Tasmanian colonists.
At the time of her sailing to Australia the Lady Nelson was a new
ship of 60 tons. She was built at Deptford in 1799, and differed from
other exploring vessels in having a centre-board keel. This was the
invention of Captain John Schanck, R.N., who believed that ships so
constructed “would sail faster, steer easier, tack and wear quicker and
in less room.” He had submitted his design to the Admiralty in 1783,
and so well was it thought of that two similar boats had been built for
the Navy, one with a centre-board and one without, in order that a
trial might be made. The result was so successful that, besides the
Cynthia sloop and Trial revenue cutter, other vessels were constructed
on the new plan, among them the Lady Nelson. She was chosen for
exploration because her three sliding centre-boards enabled her draught
to be lessened in shallow waters, for when her sliding keels were up
she drew no more than six feet.
In 1799 the news reached London that the French were fitting out an
expedition to survey unknown portions of Australia; the Admiralty were
quickly stirred to renewed activity, and decided to send the Lady
Nelson to Sydney. At first it was believed that Captain Flinders would
be placed in charge of her, but he was eventually given a more
important command, and Lieutenant James Grant was appointed to the Lady
Nelson. She was hauled out of Deadman's Dock into the river on January
13th, 1800, with her full complement of men and stores on board. She
carried provisions for 15 men for a period of nine months, and enough
water for three months. Her armament consisted of only two brass
On January 16th she sailed to Gravesend. So small did she look as
she made her way down the Thames that the sailors on board the ships in
the river ridiculed her appearance and ironically christened her “His
Majesty's Tinderbox.” Grant says that many expressed a doubt that she
would ever make her port of destination.
A heavy gale was blowing when she reached the Downs, but from the
first she proved herself a good sea-boat, and it was found that
lowering the keels greatly steadied her. Grant now had a good
opportunity for testing her capabilities. A large convoy ready to sail
for the West Indies lay at anchor here, and on the evening of the 23rd,
as the fury of the wind increased, many signals of distress were seen
flying in the offing. Finding the Lady Nelson drag very much, her
commander let go another anchor, with the result that she rode out
through the gale with ease, although next morning six vessels were
ashore dismasted, while two others had lost both their masts and
bowsprits. He then decided to take shelter in Ramsgate, where he
remained until the 7th, when he sailed to Spithead and thence to
Portsmouth. Here four more guns were placed on board and some oak
planking, which caused the brig to lie deeper in the water, so that
Grant writes “there were then only 2 feet 9 inches clear abreast the
gangway.” He believed, however, that the consumption of coal and
provisions would soon bring her to a proper degree of buoyancy.
During her stay at Portsmouth the Lady Nelson lost two men, one
through illness, the other by desertion. On March 15th, when she was
quite ready for sea, Captain Schanck and Mr. Bayley* (* W. Bayley,
formerly astronomer on board the Adventure.) paid her a visit. Orders
had been given for her to leave port in company with H.M.S. Anson,
Captain Durham, who (as the Powers were at war) was to convoy a fleet
of East Indiamen, then on point of sailing, and with whom was H.M.S.
Porpoise, bound to New South Wales. The wind being fair, on the night
of March 16th, 1800, the signal for sailing was given by the Commodore.
While all hands were busily engaged getting up the kedge, the carpenter
made his escape in the darkness. Anxious to avoid further delay, and
somewhat consoled by the thought that the vessel was new and that he
had already tested and found out her good qualities, Lieutenant Grant
decided to put up with the loss of the man's services.
At 6 P.M. on the 18th the ship finally bade adieu to England. At
first she was scarcely able to keep pace with the big ships which bore
her company, and very soon the Commodore despatched an officer to her
commander to suggest that he should go into Falmouth and await there
the departure of the West India Fleet. But, as the final decision was
left with Lieutenant Grant, he preferred to go on, believing that he
could keep pace with the convoy. During the afternoon of the 19th a
namesake of his, Captain James Grant of the Brunswick, East Indiaman,
hailed him and informed him that he had orders to take the Lady Nelson
in tow. The commander of the brig did not at all relish this news, but
dreading further detention as he was in the track of the enemy, he took
the proffered hawser on board. The brig towed well as long as the sea
was smooth, and at first no discomfort was felt. Then a continued spell
of bad weather ensued, and a driving rain, which found its way under
the covering boards and along the gunwale of the ship, caused great
unpleasantness. Worse was to follow, for it began to blow very hard,
and the Brunswick set off at high speed, dragging the little brig
mercilessly through the heavy seas which almost enveloped her. The
sight evoked much amusement among the passengers on board the big
Indiaman, who frequently visited the stern galley to watch the waves
wash completely over the Lady Nelson.
On the 23rd of March an unusually heavy sea strained the brig to
such a degree that Grant ordered the hawser to be let go, and bade the
Brunswick farewell. It was imagined by those on board the larger vessel
that the Lady Nelson, deeming it impossible to proceed, had turned back
to Portsmouth. Grant, however, had determined to continue his voyage
He lost sight of the fleet during the night, and next day, in
latitude 43 degrees 55 minutes north and longitude 14 degrees 17
minutes west, the weather being fine and clear, he ordered the
saturated bedding to be brought up from below and placed on deck to
dry. This practice was continued throughout the voyage, and to it, and
to the care taken to prevent the men sleeping in wet clothes, Grant
attributed the healthy state of the crew on reaching Sydney. When the
sea moderated it was also possible to stop the leaks on deck.
On the 25th a strange sail was sighted, and from the masthead a
large fleet was soon afterwards made out bearing north-north-east. One
ship detached itself from the rest and gave chase to the Lady Nelson,
gaining fast upon her. She was perceived to be an English frigate. At 6
P.M. she fired a shot which compelled Lieutenant Grant to shorten sail
and to show his colours. As a second shot was fired it was clear that
the frigate still mistook him for one of the enemy, so he wore and
stood towards her, when she proved to be H.M.S. Hussar, acting as
convoy to the West India Fleet. Her commander informed Grant that he
had mistaken the Lady Nelson for a Spaniard, and expressed his regret
for having given so much trouble, and after the usual compliments they
parted. Grant adds that he did not learn the name of the courteous
commander,* (* It was Viscount Garlies.) but again at daylight the Lady
Nelson came on part of his convoy, which, not knowing who she was,
crowded sail to get out of her way, “with,” says Grant, “one exception,
this being the ——, which, much to his credit, hove to and fired a
shot almost plump on board of us. Another vessel, the Hope of
Liverpool, I could hardly keep clear of, for the more I attempted to
avoid him the more he attempted to get near me, so much so that we were
near running on board each other.” The Hope's captain asked Grant very
peremptorily who he was and where he came from, to which Grant replied
by hoisting his colours and pendant; but even this did not satisfy the
irate merchant skipper, who appeared to have had very decided
intentions of running down the Lady Nelson. Eventually, however, he
rejoined the convoy, which stood to the westward under close-reefed
On the 1st of April the Lady Nelson fell in with another heavy gale
which raged till the 3rd, and finding that his ship was drifting south
of Madeira, Grant shaped a course for Las Palmas.
On the 8th he crossed the Tropic of Cancer.
On Sunday the 13th he came to an anchor in Port Praya, St. Iago,
where the Governor received him with much politeness and gave him
permission to replenish his ship. While in this port Grant discovered
that the second mate had sown seeds of discontent among his crew, so he
promptly handed him over to the Governor to be sent back to England.
Two boys, however, deserted and ran off with a boat. Several parties
were sent out in search of them by the Governor, and the two deserters
were eventually caught and brought home by the natives—both riding on
one ass. The sight of the bluejackets in such a predicament vastly
amused the Portuguese seamen in port, who ridiculed them to such an
extent that Grant did not think it necessary to punish them further.
Grant describes the natives of Port Praya as resembling negroes, and
remarks that the females seemed to spend their time in spinning cotton
from a distaff with a spindle. The ship's keels were examined here and
one found to be broken, but the repairs, owing to the assistance given
by the Governor, were finished in two days.
Having taken in a sufficient supply of water, the Lady Nelson left
St. Iago on April 27th. The Governor, who seems to have been most
polite and obliging to everybody, permitted two Portuguese sailors to
be entered on her muster-roll, which brought her crew up to twelve.
Soon after leaving port, one of the seamen became ill, and as his
temperature rose very high the commander gave orders for him to be
immediately isolated, though he was fortunately cured in four days. The
food served to the men then underwent some alteration. It was thought
that oatmeal was too heating in the humid weather of the tropics, and
tea was substituted for it at breakfast, wine supplemented with spruce
beer being issued instead of spirits. Not one man fell sick afterwards.
As the ship neared the Equator various cross-currents were
frequently met with, and “heavy squalls with rain” and a very
disagreeable sea arose, the result of a sudden change of wind from
north-north-east to south-west and south-south-west. The Lady Nelson
pitched and rolled considerably, and nearly every one on board was
sea-sick. On the 6th it fell calm again.
At 6 A.M. on the 9th a schooner was sighted, and shortly afterward a
brig, which stood towards the ship. Believing that the latter was an
enemy, Grant was glad when a storm hid her from view. On the 10th,
however, a glimpse of the brig was again caught, and on the 13th two
more sail were descried standing to the westward, but they finally
disappeared. The Lady Nelson was now surrounded by flying-fish and
tropical birds in great numbers, the latter being of the species
mentioned by Captain Cook as seen by him when he traversed this route.
On May 16th a long, heavy swell was experienced with light airs, and
the sea took a luminous appearance. A spell of bad weather followed,
ending on the 23rd, when, the day being fine, the boats were lowered
and the keels overhauled and repaired, and it was then found that a new
piece of wood which had been put on the after keel at Port Praya was
missing. Not having sufficient timber on board to repair it as before,
the keel was let farther down in the well and a breadth of planking was
joined to it with iron hooping and nails, with the result that it
extended three feet below the vessel.
On the 28th, when nearing Rio de Janeiro, an inspection was made of
the bread and water, and as the latter was found to be in good
condition Grant decided not to enter the port. Some of the bread was a
little damaged by leakage into the bread room, but a more water-tight
place for storing it was soon found. About the same date birds were
again observed, particularly the hoglet: the men caught many of these
and made caps of their skins. Mother Cary's chickens* (* Procellaria
pelagica Linn.) were also met with in great numbers. Gales and calms
now alternated until June 11th, when there were frequent squalls, the
wind finally blowing with such violence that at 3 P.M. it was thought
advisable to heave to. Later the storm abated, and the vessel was able
to make good progress until the 18th. A curious sea followed the ship
on this day, the waves rising perpendicularly, so that the commander
conjectured that there was ground at no great depth. He put the
deep-sea lead over, but no soundings could be obtained.
On the 23rd at 3 P.M. a vessel was seen bearing down before the wind
towards the Lady Nelson. The stranger proved to be a Spanish brig
carrying prize colours. She had been captured in the River Plate by a
privateer which had been fitted out by a merchant at the Cape of Good
Hope, and was commanded by Mr. John Black. She was then on her way to
the Cape of Good Hope. On coming within hail her master informed the
Lady Nelson's commander that he had neither book nor chart on board,
and wished to know where he was; he also begged some twine and canvas
to repair his sails. The prize was of about 70 tons burthen and was
loaded with beeswax, hides, tallow, and tobacco. She was without a
boat, as it had been washed overboard, so Lieutenant Grant shortened
sail and desired her captain to keep near him and gave him the latitude
and longitude. On the following day the Lady Nelson lowered a boat and
brought the prize master on board, to whom Lieutenant Grant gave a
chart of the Cape and several other necessaries. He asked Mr. Black why
he had so boldly approached the Lady Nelson, since his ship was painted
like a Spaniard, and so might well have been taken for one. Black's
answer was that he knew from her canvas that the Lady Nelson was not an
enemy. When he was shown over her he expressed his astonishment at her
centre-boards, and her construction was therefore explained to him. But
evidently he was not favourably impressed, for when he was being
escorted back to his ship he asked one of her sailors if his commander
was not mad, for he could not believe that such a small ship as the
Lady Nelson could ever accomplish a voyage of discovery.
The vessels continued to sail in company towards the Cape of Good
At 5 A.M. on the 7th land was seen from the Lady Nelson, the
information being signalled to her companion. Soon after daylight the
Lion's Rump was perceived south-east by east 1/2 east, distant five
leagues. A little later the ships parted company. Lieutenant Grant had
intended to anchor in Simon's Bay, but having discovered that the Lady
Nelson had lost both her main and after keels during the voyage, he
sailed to Table Bay. On his arrival there Admiral Sir Roger Curtis, who
was in command of the station, gave orders for two new keels to be
built immediately, and it is recorded that so well did Mr. Boswell, the
builder's assistant (the builder himself being absent) perform his task
that the new keels reflected the greatest credit on him.
On the 16th, her repairs being completed, the Lady Nelson sailed for
Simon's Bay and anchored there at 9 A.M. on the following day. Here was
found H.M.S. Porpoise, also bound to New South Wales, which left the
bay for Sydney in advance of the Lady Nelson. During his stay
Lieutenant Grant met a relative, Dr. J. R. Grant, with whom he made
several excursions into the interior of the colony.
While the Lady Nelson was at the Cape of Good Hope a ship named the
Wellesley arrived from England with despatches from the Admiralty. She
had narrowly escaped capture by a French man-of-war which gave chase to
her after she had parted from her convoy, but fortunately she had been
able to beat off the enemy and to effect her escape. The instructions
brought to Grant from the Duke of Portland directed him to sail to
Sydney through Bass Strait instead of sailing round the South Cape of
Van Diemen's Land (as Tasmania was then called).*
(* The following extract is from the letter from the Duke of
Portland to Grant:—
“WHITEHALL, 8th April, 1800.
“SIR, Having received information from Port Jackson in New South
Wales that a navigable strait has been discovered between that country
and Van Diemen's Land in latitude 38 degrees, it is His Majesty's
pleasure that you should sail through the said strait on your way to
Port Jackson. I am, etc., PORTLAND.”)
No ship had yet sailed through this strait, which had been
discovered only a little more than a year before by Dr. George Bass.
Grant was also instructed to take particular notice of the Australian
coast, and especially of the headlands visible on either side of the
strait. During his stay at the Cape numerous volunteers offered to
accompany him to Sydney, many from on board the ships in the bay. He
says that he declined them all except a carpenter and an eccentric
person named Dr. Brandt, who might, he thought, be useful as a
scientist, and who came on board accompanied by his baboon and his dog.
To oblige Sir Roger Curtis, he also consented to take a Dane sentenced
On the 7th of October the Lady Nelson left the Cape and proceeded on
her voyage to New South Wales. Soon after leaving port bad weather set
in and continued until the 12th, but, on the 14th at noon, when the
ship was in 38 degrees 1 minute latitude, the sea moderated and the
bedding was again brought up on deck while the cabins and berths were
washed with vinegar. On the 24th the weather turned extremely cold with
snow at times. A heavy cross sea was running, which gave the little
brig another opportunity of displaying her good qualities. On the 28th
at noon she was in 38 degrees 54 minutes south, and towards evening on
the following day she encountered a heavy gale which obliged her
commander to heave her to. Violent gusts with showers of sleet blew
continually, and the seas were so heavy that often in striking the bow
they threw the ship so far over as “to expose her beam.” A drag-sail
was then used in order to steady her, and it answered remarkably well.
The fore-top-sail yard was also got on deck and eased the ship
wonderfully; fortunately little water was shipped, as, owing to her
small draught and flat bottom, she rose like a piece of cork on the top
of every wave.
On November 1st, in accordance with expectations, the island of
Amsterdam was sighted. The Lady Nelson steered a lonely course along
its high, inaccessible shores, and beyond seeing that it was covered
with grass, those on board could observe little. A flagstaff with a
flag flying came into view, but not a single human being could be seen
through the telescope, although a party of sealers was known to visit
the place frequently. As the ship left the coast a boat's thwart with a
piece of rope wound round it was observed floating in the water, and
its presence caused some curiosity on board. Within the next few days a
shoal of whales known to sailors as the Right whale was sighted, and
later in the month several other whales of various species with two
threshers at work upon one of them were seen.
On the 23rd Vancouver's track was crossed, and then Grant gave
orders for a strict look-out for land to be kept from the masthead by
night and day.
Still the Australian coast remained invisible.
On the 29th the sea was so calm that there was not a ripple on its
surface, and nothing worth noting occurred until December 1st, when a
large spermaceti whale passed, and at 3 P.M. a seal. At 5 P.M. another
appeared; this seal swam after the ship for some time, gazing after it
in a curious way and shaking its head as it leapt from the water. On
December 2nd the birds which till then had followed the ship
disappeared, and in the evening a horse-fly settled on the main-sail
and showed that land was near. The same night heavy squalls arose and
blew until morning. At 8 A.M., to the great joy of all on board, land
was sighted from the masthead. It appeared to take the form of four
islands, some six or seven leagues distant. At noon the ship was in 38
degrees 10 minutes south and longitude by account 142 degrees 30
minutes east, and the following notes are recorded in the journal of
Lieutenant Grant,* as his first impression of the land of New Holland
(Australia). (* The Journals and logbooks are not printed in extenso. A
few passages of minor importance that in no way affect the general
course of the narrative have, for want of space, been omitted.)
THE LADY NELSON TO PORT JACKSON.
“December 3rd, 1800. At daylight made all possible sail judging
myself to be in latitude of 38 degrees south.* (* (Note in log.)
Longitude worked back 141 degrees 20 minutes east.) At 8 A.M. saw the
land from north to east-north-east appearing like unconnected islands,
being four in number, which on our near approach turned out to be two
capes and two high mountains a considerable way inshore. One of them
was very like the Table Hill at the Cape of Good Hope, the other stands
farther into the country. Both are covered with large trees as is also
the land which is low and flat as far as the eye can reach. I named the
first of these mountains after Captain Schanck and the other Gambier's
Mountain. The first cape I called Northumberland, after His Grace the
Duke of Northumberland. Another smaller, but very conspicuous jut of
the land, which we plainly saw when abreast of Cape Northumberland I
named Cape Banks.* (* Grant named the two points first sighted Cape
Northumberland and Cape Banks and the two mountains behind Mount
Gambier and Mount Schanck, names they all still bear. Grant came in
sight of Australia near to the present boundary of Victoria and South
Australia.) When the former Cape bears north-west by west distant 8 or
9 miles, Schanck's Mountain loses its table form and appears like a
saddle. There does not appear to be a harbour here, but vessels may
find shelter under Cape Northumberland from north and north-north-west
winds. The shore is in general a flat sandy beach, the sea at present
making no breach upon it.
“December 4th. As we stood along the shore steering eastward, the
land as far as we could see bearing south-east. Hauled close up for it.
This forming a conspicuous cape, I named it Bridgewater* after the Duke
of that title. (* This cape has been described since as having “a bald
pate and shoulders besprinkled with white sand.” Cape Bridgewater forms
with Cape Northumberland another bend called Discovery Bay where the
tides meet and create a very turbulent sea. The bay receives the waters
of the River Glenelg.) The shore is a sandy beach from where we made
the land to this cape, with bushes and large woods inland. Finding we
could not weather Cape Bridgewater, got four oars on the lee side,
which were employed all night. At daybreak in the morning we weathered
the cape when another cape appeared bearing east by north about 15 or
16 miles distant forming with Cape Bridgewater a very deep bay and to
appearance had shelter for anchorage. The land appeared beautiful,
rising gradually and covered with wood. Being anxious to examine
whether it was safe to venture in or not, I ordered a boat out and took
two hands with me armed.
“After getting inshore about five miles we found there was not any
shelter from southerly winds; the water was very deep and apparently so
all the way in. We plainly saw several fires. At noon it was a matter
of great doubt whether we should not be forced to anchor—the bay being
very deep we could hardly clear it even with a steady breeze. Our
latitude was 38 degrees 20 minutes south. Cape Bridgewater then bearing
north-west by west 12 or 13 miles. I called the other Cape, Nelson,
after the vessel.
“December 5th. Saw several fires. This is a very deep bay and with
southerly winds ought carefully to be avoided. Cape Nelson bears from
Cape Bridgewater east-north-east 15 or 16 miles. The country is
beautiful, apparently a good soil, plenty of grass, and fine woods.
Towards evening saw many fires a little way inland. Many seals and
porpoises about to-day. At 5 A.M. saw another cape not unlike the
Deadman in the English Channel: it runs a considerable way into the
sea. When to the west it appears like a long barn arched on the top
with a high bluff and next the sea resembling the gable end of a house.
I named the land Sir William Grant's Cape.* (* Lieutenant Grant also
called this cape, Cape Solicitor. This name did not survive—the cape
being known as Cape Sir W. Grant.) Off this Cape are two small islands
(the largest appears like two) having two hummocks joined together by a
neck of low land which is not seen till pretty close. On approaching,
the smaller island is seen—a little nearer the shore. These I called
Lawrence's Islands after Captain Lawrence, one of the Elder Brethren of
Trinity House. As they will be an excellent mark for making this
part...and Cape Northumberland, and being very remarkable, navigators
will know where they are as they draw abreast of them, the largest
being to the Southwards. Its outer end appears like a square-topt
tower, very high, with a white spot in the middle of it. The other end
is also very high. Lawrence's Islands bear from Cape Sir William Grant
south-east or south-east by south 12 miles distant and there appears no
danger between them and the shore. The cape now loses its long form as
the vessel gets to the eastward and its particular shape changes to a
high bluff point, steep and inaccessible. Many fires were seen about
this cape. The land from it runs to the northward as far as the eye can
reach or discern from the masthead.
“December 6th. At three made a considerable large island high and
inaccessible on all sides. It was covered with grass, but no trees.
This island bears east-south-east from Cape Sir William Grant. By a
good observation at noon following I made its latitude to be 38 degrees
29 minutes south longitude...I made 144 degrees 40 minutes east. I
named this island Lady Julia's Island in honour of Lady Julia Percy.
Observed we ran faster along the land than our distance by log gave us,
probably owing to drift from the East.
“December 7th. At daylight we saw the land making a cape ahead;
hauled up to clear it. This cape is due east-south-east with a moderate
offing from Cape Sir William Grant, distant by log 70 miles. It is the
eastern promontory of this deep and extensive bay. I named it Cape
Albany Otway (now Cape Otway) in honour of William Albany Otway,
Esquire, Captain in the Royal Navy and one of the commissioners of the
Transport Board.* (* Governor King says that Lieutenant Grant placed
the longitude of Cape Otway in about “a degree and a half in error”: he
also made the land to trend away on the west side of Cape Otway to a
bay in 38 degrees south latitude which he named Portland Bay.) Another
very high and considerable cape I called Patton's Cape. I also
distinguished the bay by the name of Portland Bay in honour of His
Grace the Duke of Portland. The land is here truly picturesque and
beautiful, resembling very much that about Mount Edgcumbe, near
Plymouth, which faces the Sound. It abounds in wood, very thick groves
and large trees. It is moderately high, but not mountainous. We did not
see any fires on it, probably from the shore being inaccessible and
much surf breaking on it. From Cape Albany Otway east-north-east 10 or
12 miles is another point of land which appears as a vessel rounds the
former cape to the east. It is rather high land with a clump of
trees—as if regularly planted on its brow. Thinking we could find an
anchorage, I bore in pretty close, but as we approached I found several
heavy breakers at least 6 miles from the shore, but not a rock to be
seen. I therefore hauled and named the point of land Point Danger. In
getting to the eastward I could not find any shelter nor any place
where there was a likelihood of anchoring but from the number of little
juts and low points of land further to the north and east I was
determined to try if any such place could be got.
“I never saw a finer country, the valleys appeared to have plenty of
fresh water meandering through them. At 11 A.M. I ordered the boats out
manned and armed, and went in search of a place to land or anchor in.
We got within a cable's length and a half of the beach, but finding the
surf breaking heavy I deemed it not prudent to attempt a landing. The
shore was a sandy beach with small rocks interspersed here and there.
In trying for soundings with a lead line none could be found, so that I
really think the beach is steep also. I was very disappointed in being
so near and obliged to return on board without setting foot on this
beautiful spot. It resembles the Isle of Wight as near as possible from
the water. I called this part of the coast (which falls into the bottom
of a small bay from Cape Danger to the very low land), Wight's Land in
honour of Captain Wight, R.N., son-in-law to Commissioner Schanck.
“December 8th. At one made sail to the eastward. At 8 P.M. Cape
Albany Otway bearing west 18 or 20 miles we made a very high and lofty
cape covered with trees to the water's edge as is all the country round
it. From this cape the land breaks short round to the northward when I
lost it. We had now a fair wind and might have done a great deal during
the night but I had my doubts whether this land which fell off to the
northward should not have been followed and kept on board, as from a
small chart given to me by Sir Joseph Banks I found that, as far as the
coast had been surveyed the land trained off to the northward in the
same form nearly as it did here from Cape Patton—with this difference
that the cape I allude to on the chart had several islands lying off
it. Neither did the latitude exactly correspond and the land which it
laid down running to the northward was low and bushy, whereas that
which I saw was high with large forests of trees and no islands near
it. I therefore chose the middle road. Made sail and ran 60 miles
eastward judging if it was a bay I should see the eastern extremity of
it. At daylight, however, we could see nothing anywhere from the
masthead, but the looming of the land we had left behind. We now bore
up and ran north by west and at six we saw the land again ahead forming
a very deep bay, which I could not see the bottom of from the
masthead.* (* (Note in log.) Had Grant penetrated this bay he would
have made a great discovery for he would have found Port Phillip.
However, from the evidence contained in his chart he named the
indentation in the coast Governor King's Bay. In Grant's narrative
appears the following note by Governor King. “If such a deep bay as
this actually exists it favours the idea of New South Wales being
insulated by a Mediterranean sea. However, this the Lady Nelson must
determine in the voyage she is now gone upon. P.G.K.”) At eight the
land was observed bearing from us east-south-east extending farther to
the southward than I could see. Being now certain of our route I hauled
up east-south-east and named this bay after Governor King. It is one of
the longest we have yet met with. Cape Albany Otway forms the
westernmost and the South Cape the easternmost headlands, the distance
of about 120 miles due east-south-east.
“December 9th. At 4 P.M. saw several islands bearing
east-south-east. The mainland seemed to have an opening in it to the
northward of them, which we stood in for, but I found it was another
bay with low land. I named the northernmost cape after my friend, John
Liptrap, Esquire, of London. The mainland now extended a considerable
way to the southward with several islands off the cape. Judging this
was the point of land we looked for, from the colour of the water, we
sounded and had 50 fathoms with fine sand. South Cape distant 9 or 10
miles. The land abreast of the ship appearing to be at no great
distance, and it being quite calm I got the boats out and sent the
launch ahead to tow.
“Thinking I should have the pleasure of setting my foot in this fine
country, I set off in the gig with two hands ordering the vessel to tow
in after me and should a breeze spring up to get the launch in and
stand after me for the bay. We pulled inshore for some islands lying
off from the main at the western side of the South Cape. Making for the
largest of them, which appeared to be the most fertile, on it I meant
to have sown some seeds which I took with me should I be able to land.
The distance I could not have believed was so great as it proved to
be—at least 12 miles from where we quitted the vessel, which we lost
sight of before getting near the shore. Although we had not a breath of
wind we found it impossible to land on this side, the shore being very
steep and a heavy surf running on it. Therefore as the ship was not in
sight, and as it was 2 P.M., I judged it prudent to get back as soon as
possible, which we effected at 4 P.M.
“In the morning it was calm with hot sultry weather. At noon I had a
good observation in latitude 39 degrees 30 minutes south. The south
part of the main or South Cape bearing north-west by north distant 20
miles and the longitude 147 degrees 18 minutes from a good lunar
observation taken on the 8th instant. All round the western side and
even thus far south of the cape there are soundings of fifty fathoms,
45 and 40 white sand and shells. I called that space between Cape
Liptrap and the South Cape, King George's Sound.”
I have no doubt but that there is good anchorage in the bight to the
northward of South Cape on the western side of which Cape Liptrap makes
the northern head. The land here is high and the mountains covered with
wood. Cape Liptrap is low and flat as is the land in this Bight where I
suppose there is shelter. There is an island bearing from the western
part of the South Cape—south, a little easterly, 12 miles from the
shore. It is round and inaccessible on all sides. The above mentioned
island I called Rodondo from its resemblance to that rock well-known to
all seamen in the West Indies. A set of breakers to the southward and
eastward of that rock, on which, though calm, the sea breaks much,
bears from us north-north-west 1/2 west distant 6 miles.
To the eastward there are five islands, the largest of which from
its resemblance to the Lion's Mount at the Cape of Good Hope I called
Sir Roger Curtis's Island, who then commanded on that Station. It is
high and inaccessible on the north-west side and covered with small
bushes at the top. Two other islands like haycocks, only higher and
more perpendicular, standing a considerable distance from each other,
the largest of which bore us south-east 1/4 south distant 16 or 17
miles and the other south-east by east about 10 miles. The latter is
nearly shut in with the south-east end of Sir Roger Curtis's Island.
The fourth is a rock standing a considerable height out of the water
nearly in a position between the two haycocks or rather sugarloaf-like
islands bearing from south-east 1/4 south. The fifth is a high
perpendicular barren cliff which, as we get almost abreast, looked like
two islands joined together at the bottom, rising to a sharp edge
ragged at the top and resembling a large tower or castle. This island I
named The Devil's Tower. An island inshore was observed, it bore
west-north-west distant 10 miles: I called it Moncur's Island in
compliment to Captain Moncur of the Royal Navy, and another was visible
bearing north by east 16 or 17 miles.
Land, apparently an island to the southward and eastward we can just
see from the masthead. It may be necessary to observe that these
bearings were taken at noon, and as it was then a stark calm the vessel
was nearly stationary. By a good observation the latitude was 39
degrees 30 minutes, longitude 147 degrees 18 minutes east, calculated
from lunar observation 2 days before. But I take it to be correctly 147
degrees east from my making the Ramhead according to the best charts,
therefore the bearings are laid down in my chart from 147 degrees east.
“Wilson's Promontory was so named by Mr. George Bass of H.M.S.
Reliance who was the first navigator that ascertained the real
existence of a strait separating Van Dieman's Land from New Holland in
his voyage in a whale boat from Sydney to Western Port.* (* “Mr. Bass
places Wilson's Promontory in 38 degrees 56 minutes south, Lieutenant
Grant in 39 degrees 17 minutes, and Mr. Black in 39 degrees 8 minutes.
As Mr. Bass's latitude is by computation from the whale boat, I think a
preference may be given to Lieutenant Grant's position, as he had the
advantage of a good sextant.” P.G.K.) Having made it I set off in one
of my boats early in the morning of the 10th* (* Grant now abandons the
plan previously used of heading each entry in the diary with the date
of the day on which it was written, and includes the dates of the
various events in the text of his narrative.) to endeavour to land on
one of the islands lying off it; but after a long pull found the one I
judged from its sloping aspect to be the easiest for that purpose, a
solid rock for a considerable height with surf too powerful for such a
small boat as mine. After several fruitless attempts I was obliged to
abandon the idea, contenting myself with taking a view of it—and those
contiguous. One of them was an immense rock; on one side perfectly
round, with a large hole in the other in the form of an arch with a
breastwork rising high enough above the level of the sea to preclude
the water from getting into it; the hollow appeared as scooped out by
art instead of nature. I gave it the name of the Hole in the Wall and
to the range of islands stretching along the main—the name of
Glennie's Islands after Mr. George Glennie, a particular friend of
Captain Schanck's to whom I was under personal obligations. On the
summit of all these islands there was a thick brush growing, whereas
the land off Cape Liptrap already mentioned exhibited a fine level
country. The day being far spent in this survey I deemed it best to get
on board as the vessel was just visible with her head towards us and
becalmed. On the 12th we had fresh gales and cloudy weather, the shore
we were running along was low and covered with thick brush training in
a north-east direction which Messieurs Flinders and Bass have given
very accurate descriptions of.”
Of his coming to Sydney, Grant writes, “Governor King had taken the
precaution of leaving a letter for me at the Cape, describing the
particular marks for knowing the entrance of the Port, which no doubt
saved us much trouble. They consisted of a flagstaff erected on the
South Head or left hand side of the entrance, and when vessels are seen
the flag is hoisted. This land being high may be seen at a considerable
distance on a clear day. In the afternoon of the 16th saw the flagstaff
as described by Governor King. At six in the evening we entered between
the Heads of Port Jackson. We found much swell in going in but were
soon in smooth water and an excellent harbour, perhaps one of the
finest in the known world. As the wind was from the south and contrary
to getting into Sydney Cove we were obliged to beat up to it, and at
half-past seven in the evening (on Tuesday December 16th) we let go our
anchors in 8 fathoms water after a voyage of 71 days from the Cape of
Good Hope, and with the satisfaction of being the first vessel that
ever pursued the same track across that vast ocean, as we have no
traces of its being done particularly from the Island of Amsterdam,
namely; between the degrees of latitude 38 and 39 1/2 degrees south
until the Lady Nelson made the coast of New Holland in latitude 38
degrees and steering to the eastward along a tract of land nearly four
degrees to the westward of any seen by Messieurs Flinders and Bass.”
Following the example of many a first discoverer, he ends the
account of his voyage with an expression of thankfulness to God for the
protection shown him “during the whole passage.”
The Lady Nelson's arrival at Sydney gave great satisfaction to the
colony, and Colonel Collins remarks that a few such vessels were much
needed there in order to obtain a necessary knowledge of the coast.
Governor King naturally was most interested in Grant's description of
his passage through Bass Strait, and the news that the Lady Nelson had
passed deep indentations with beautifully wooded shores and rocky
islands lying off them pleased everybody. But King did not conceal his
disappointment that her commander had been unable to land anywhere or
to penetrate the deep bay called Governor King's Bay. The Admiralty had
instructed the Governor to have the whole of the south coast properly
charted, and he determined that Grant should return in the Lady Nelson
and thoroughly survey it. King also made an eye-sketch of the land, for
he saw that Grant's chart was imperfect. For that reason he sent Ensign
Barrallier, of the New South Wales Corps, who was a competent surveyor,
in the brig, and it is, chiefly, to Barrallier we are indebted for our
earliest and most authentic charts of the places which the Lady Nelson
visited in the second voyage.
Grant, however, had to contend with many difficulties in both
voyages. First and foremost he had to face the risk and dangers of an
entirely new coast, and this without a companion ship. King was aware
of this for he wrote to Banks: “It is my intention to despatch the Lady
Nelson to complete the orders she first sailed with. I also hope to
spare a vessel to go with her which will make up for a very great
defect which is the utter impossibility of her ever being able to beat
off a lee shore.” It is, therefore, well to remember that although
Grant did not enter Port Phillip he was the first to see the
indentation in the coast within which Port Phillip lay hidden.
Grant had been instructed by the Admiralty to join H.M.S. Supply at
Sydney. On his arrival he found this ship laid up as a hulk and unfit
for sea. He says that he felt completely adrift until Governor King
invited him to continue in his position as commander of the Lady Nelson
but, in the colonial service and on less pay. As there was no one in
the colony then fitted for the post, and as he did not wish the service
to suffer from delay, he accepted the offer. Matters being thus
arranged he was re-appointed to the Lady Nelson, his new commission
dating from January 1st, 1801.
On January 11th Captain Black, from the Cape, arrived in Sydney in
the Harbinger, having followed the Lady Nelson through Bass Strait. On
his way through the strait Black met with an island which he named King
Island in honour of the Governor. Mr. Reid, of the Martha, however, had
first discovered it in 1799.
The Margaret, Captain Buyers, from England, was the third vessel to
sail through Bass Strait, arriving in Sydney on February 7th, 1801.
Buyers fell in with the Australian coast about Cape Bridgewater
eastward of where the Lady Nelson had made it and westward of the point
reached by the Harbinger.
Governor King allowed Grant the use of Garden Island in Sydney
Harbour for the purpose of raising vegetables for his crew, an article
of diet of importance to them; and here in “the shell of a tolerable
house” was installed Dr. Brandt, who, with his dog and baboon, had
joined the Lady Nelson at the Cape of Good Hope.
The chart (Illustration 2.) is a copy of one published in the
narrative of Grant's voyage, and his autograph has been reproduced from
a logbook at the Record Office. [Jas Grant autograph facsimile.]
CHAPTER 2. THE LADY NELSON RETURNS TO
EXPLORE BASS STRAIT: VISITS JERVIS BAY AND WESTERN PORT.
Governor King, in addition to ordering Grant to return and survey
the deep bay which he had passed in Bass Strait between Cape Sir
William Grant and Wilson's Promontory, instructed him to ascertain the
correct latitude of the promontory and of the islands lying off it. He
was also told to survey King Island, then to sail to King George's
Sound and, in returning to Wilson's Promontory, to make a general
survey of the whole of the south coast, going to the head of every
inlet as far as possible. Dr. Bass, when discovering Bass Strait, had
rounded the promontory and entered a harbour which, as Grant has told
us, he named from its relative situation—Western Port. In his journal
Grant says that it was reserved for the Lady Nelson to ascertain
accurately the extent of Bass Strait, but he did not carry out the
whole of King's instructions on this second voyage although his
examinations of Jervis Bay and of Western Port proved of great value
and added much to the knowledge of both harbours.
Besides Ensign Barrallier, Mr. Caley, botanist, four soldiers of the
New South Wales Corps and two natives (Euranabie and his wife Worogan)
went with the expedition, and Mr. John Murray joined the ship as first
mate* (* Formerly Master's Mate on board H.M.S. Porpoise.). The Bee, of
15 tons, formerly a ship's launch, was also fitted out to accompany
The two ships left Port Jackson on March 8th, Lieutenant Grant
particularly wishing to make the examination of Jervis Bay* (* Jervis
Bay, named in honour of John Jervis, Lord St. Vincent, was discovered
by Lieutenant Richard Bowen in 1791.) on his way southwards in order
“to secure a harbour” if obliged to run out of Bass Strait. The Bee,
however, did not stay long with the Lady Nelson. On the morning of the
9th the Master hove to and informed Grant that he had shipped much
water and that the sea was too heavy for him. Before sending the vessel
back to Port Jackson Grant wrote a letter to the Governor at Sydney
stating the reason of her return. He placed the letter between two flat
pieces of lead, and running close to the Bee threw it on board. The
Lady Nelson then continued her voyage, and at 4 P.M. on the 10th
sighted the north head of Jervis Bay bearing west-south-west 8 or 9
miles distant. At seven o'clock on the following morning the first mate
was sent in the boat to look for an anchorage, and returned at nine
with one of the natives, bringing the information that there was good
holding ground in the southernmost cove between an island and the main.
At half-past ten the Lady Nelson anchored in this cove in four fathoms
water, fine sandy bottom, having run over a shallow some four cables'
length which was easily distinguished by the colour of the water. The
native who came on board was a middle-aged man, stout and muscular, who
showed no symptoms of fear. It was evident that he had seen white men
before and he often repeated the words “blanket” and “woman.”
Grant tells us that he was much surprised at several articles on
board particularly the compasses in the binnacle. “On my conducting him
down into the cabin and placing him before a looking-glass he expressed
wonder by innumerable gestures, attitudes and grimaces. He narrowly
examined it to see if any one was behind it; and he did not seem
satisfied till I unscrewed it from the place it was fastened to. The
sound of a small bugle horn had a very great effect on him, and he
endeavoured, by applying it to his own mouth, to make it sound, but
without effect...This stranger whom I had placed near the natives of
Sydney, sat by them, without saying a word, for about half an hour,
soon after the expiration of which time, great familiarity took place
betwixt them. It appeared evident to me that...the stranger's attention
was directed to the woman, though like the rest of her countrywomen,
she was, according to our notions, far from being possessed of any
beauty: however, not only this man, but many other natives who visited
us at this place, thought her very handsome; nor was I surprised at
this when I saw some of the females here...It appeared as if they did
not readily understand each other...
“Before we got to an anchor several canoes came round us, in one of
which was an old man whose hair had become perfectly white with age,
which, joined to his long white beard, made him a very interesting
figure. The natives appeared to pay the old man great respect and
obedience of which I saw more afterwards...I admitted some of the
natives on board but the old man could not be prevailed on to be of the
party. They all testified much surprise at what they saw.”
The natives of Jervis Bay seemed to be stronger and more athletic
than those at Sydney, and in the management of their canoes—they
differed from any Grant had ever seen, “particularly in paddling,
sometimes making use of an oval piece of bark, and at others, of their
hands, sending the canoe along very swiftly by either means. When
paddling with the hand they were apt to throw more or less water into
the canoe, which, with a small calabash, they dexterously threw out by
a backward motion of the other hand without turning their heads.” At
one end of their canoes he observed two or three wooden pins which he
thought were designed to steady their fish-gigs or to receive the heads
of their spears.
He tells how the sailors clipped their beards: “From observing the
smoothness of our chins, they all expressed a desire to have theirs the
same, which some of my people instantly set about, clipping them close
with scissors. Not seeing any of these people painted, I was desirous
of knowing if they were addicted to it. I accordingly got some red
paint which as soon as one of them saw, he immediately made signs for
me to rub his nose with it. About our settlements they are often seen
with their noses painted with a red gum. They likewise form a circle
nearly round their eyes with a whitish clay. The latter, it is said, is
by way of mourning for the death of a friend...The women also paint
their noses red, and their breasts with a streak of red and white
alternately. Having occasion to leave the deck for a while, one of my
young men (who had contrived to get hold of some of the vessel's paint
pots) very deliberately painted the man (whose nose I had rubbed with
red paint) with different colours from head to foot while he grinned
his approbation at his own motley appearance. His comrades seemed to
enjoy it as much as he did and they quitted the vessel in great glee.”
“The Lady Nelson lay abreast of a fine sandy beach suitable for
hauling the seine, and the commander's party, which included Mr.
Barrallier and the Sydney native, went on shore. A number of blacks
immediately surrounded Euranabie and began to converse with him, using
many words that seemed to resemble the Sydney dialect, such as 'Bail,'
which Grant says signified 'No,' and 'Maun' to take off or carry away.
These natives, when the seine was hauled, showed their delight by
gathering round and giving their assistance unsolicited. A few large
whiting were caught, and except three that were kept back for the white
party, were distributed among them.
“Shortly afterwards, other natives arrived who also wished to have
some fish, so the nets were cast a second time, and the whole of the
catch was handed to them without division.”
Their number was so considerable that it was believed that many more
were concealed in the bushes...They were all perfectly naked except one
young fellow who had a bunch of grass fastened round his waist which
came up behind like the tail of a kangaroo. He was very merry, and from
his gestures, possessed a keen sense of humour. “He would throw himself
into a thousand antic shapes, and afforded no small entertainment.”
“Having sent the boat on board with the seine,” continues Grant, “I
was anxious to get some kangaroos which, from the appearance of the
shore, I made no doubt were to be found in plenty. I made signs to the
natives for that purpose, and one of them offered his services. We
walked towards the end of the beach we were then on, and entered the
woods. We saw several parrots and smaller birds of beautiful plumage.
Mr. Barrallier fired at one of the latter, which so frightened our
guide that he took to his heels and ran back to his companions.”
In this excursion the explorers were impressed by the silent
grandeur of the forest trees: there was no underwood, but there was
excellent grass, from which sprang coveys of quail, or partridges of
The trees in general were the tall she-oak so common in the
neighbourhood of Sydney.* (* Casuarina suberosa, commonly known as
Beefwood.) Grant returned to the beach and went on board to dinner. In
the afternoon he again made a party for the shore, consisting of Mr.
Barrallier, Mr. Caley, botanist, and two soldiers. They entered the
woods at the same place as before, intending to make a circuit back to
the boat. Again, beautiful birds were seen, among them, some cockatoos
which were perfectly black “excepting the breast and a few feathers on
the wing which were yellow.” They were so shy that no one could get
near them. Other birds were killed—whose flesh, when cooked, was very
palatable; that of the parrot resembled our pigeon in taste—“possibly
because they feed on seeds of wild plants.”
According to Grant, “no country in the world abounds with a greater
variety of insects. We saw numbers buzzing about the trees...Having
pursued our walk inland we fell in with a swampy land in a valley with
much brush wood; a rivulet of excellent fresh water ran briskly through
it, emptying itself in the sea near to where I had ordered our boat to
haul the seine. We found the track of the natives and fell in with
several of their gunnies or habitations. These are constructed with a
few boughs stuck up to screen them from the wind; bones of beasts,
birds and fish were lying about them. On the return to the boat, Mr.
Barrallier shot a large hawk. Our fishing-party had caught some fish,
and would have been very successful, but two sharks got into the seine
and tore it in several places: they were both brought on shore, one
measuring seven feet in length. The liver I ordered to be carried on
board, to be boiled for the oil and used in our lamp.
“On the 11th of March, the wind still hanging to the south, I took
some hands on shore to cut a boatload of wood and fill our water
casks...Messieurs Barrallier and Caley, with two soldiers, accompanied
me on another excursion. We took another direction inland...but saw no
kangaroos. We met with two small lagoons and several streams of good
water running through the thickest part of the woods. In this excursion
we saw the Laughing Bird so called from the noise it makes resembling
laughter.* (* The Giant Kingfisher or Kookaburra.)
“On our return to the boat we fell in with a spot of ground which
appeared to have been selected by the natives for the purposes of
festivity. It was a small eminence having no habitation near. We
counted the marks of fifteen different fires that had been employed in
cooking fish and other eatables, the bones of which were strewed about.
Among them we picked up part of a human skull—the os frontis with the
sockets of the eyes and part of the bones of the nose still attached to
it. A little distance from where we found this we discovered a part of
the upper jaw with one of the molars or back teeth in it, also one of
the vertebrae of the back having marks of fire which the others had
“The grass was much trodden down, and many of the bones of the
animals eaten appeared fresh...I brought off the human bones and on
getting on board showed them to Euranabie. Finding two of the natives
from the shore in the vessel, I desired him to ask them whether these
bones belonged to a white man or not, and if they had killed and eaten
him. I was anxious to have this cleared up, as the ship Sydney Cove
from India to Port Jackson had been wrecked about twelve months before
to the southward and it was reported that some of the crew were killed
by the natives near this place.”* (* The Sydney Cove from Bengal to New
South Wales was wrecked on Preservation Island, Tasmania, on 8th
February, 1797. Her long-boat was equipped and despatched on 27th
February to Sydney, but the boat filled and went to pieces at a spot
called Ninety Mile beach. Out of the crew of seventeen, who started to
walk to Port Jackson, only three lived to reach their destination—some
dying of fatigue and hunger, the others were murdered by the natives.)
Euranabie, who spoke English, made inquiries, and a soldier who
understood the Sydney dialect, also endeavoured to extract the truth
regarding the bones, from the two black fellows, who said that they
were those of a white man that had come in a canoe from the southward
where the ship “tumble down,” meaning that it had been wrecked.
Lieutenant Grant also questioned Worogan, and was informed that “the
bush natives (who appeared to be a different tribe of people from those
that lived by the seaside) did eat human flesh.”
He now prepared to leave the port. “On the 12th, we got into a clean
berth for getting under weigh, but in the morning the wind being
variable and light we were prevented sailing. I went on shore with Mr.
Barrallier to make a survey of the cove we were lying in. When
preparing to return to the vessel we were joined by several natives who
appeared anxious to go on board with us. Two of these were strangers
who signified that they had come a long way to see us and that they
were very hungry. They were both young, stout men with longer hair than
the natives generally.
“In the afternoon...it was needless to attempt sailing till the wind
abated. I therefore proposed to survey...the western side of the island
which lies in the mouth of the harbour and shelters the cove from
easterly winds. This island I named Ann's Island, in compliment to Mrs.
King, the wife of the Governor.
“In putting the surveying instruments into the boat the chain was
found missing; we were of opinion it had been left on shore by the
soldiers who carried it in measuring the distances. A boat with one of
them was sent on shore. After a fruitless search they were returning
when a canoe put off from the island with a man in it who held up the
chain in his hand. The boat's crew brought him on board to me. On
looking at the chain it was made up in the usual way...and tied with a
piece of string; but in undoing it I found that the natives had
untwisted every bend of the wires which contained the brass markers and
after taking them off bent the wires back into their original form,
with this difference, that they placed the end which is carried in the
hand in the middle. This was the first instance I had experienced of
their pilfering anything and I did not chuse to proceed to extremities.
I gave the native a blanket and some biscuits and the mate gave him an
“We got into the boat to prosecute the intention of surveying the
island...the native with us, towing his canoe astern. On landing we
were joined by a great number of natives who seemed glad that the man
had been rewarded for carrying back the chain. The blanket attracted
their notice much, the use of which they appeared to know. The old man
whom I formerly mentioned was among them; he made signs for me to sit
down at a distance from the rest and by pointing to his white beard
signified a wish to have it cut off, which I immediately did with a
pair of scissors, and he expressed much satisfaction at being rid of
Observing some of their women in the distance and wishing to see
what they were like, signs were made to the old man to ask them to come
nearer. He called to them, whereupon they seated themselves close to
the visitors. They seemed nervous as the white men approached them, but
when the old chief spoke to them sat down again composedly. One of them
had fastened to the neck of her child a brass marker which had been
taken from the stolen chain. Grant says: “They examined my buttons and
the head of my dirk and seemed much surprised at my watch chain which I
began to think they had an inclination for, but I was soon relieved on
pulling out my watch. They did not seem to like it and talked very
gravely among themselves; they were all anxious to listen to the noise
of the watch, yet they would pull their ear from it and look at the
watch with symptoms of fear...and then return to it again. I attempted
to point out the use of it and pointed to the sun, but I am led to
think that they believed it to be something we worshipped. The old man
particularly pointed to the sun and appeared anxious to know more of
A boy about twelve years of age who was a little deformed, carried a
sharp pointed stick in his hand which was the only weapon of defence
seen but it was soon perceived that they had weapons not far distant.
The Lady Nelson's commander by signs told the chief that he wanted
fresh water. “The old native readily understood and getting up made me
follow him to the side of a hill where some water had settled, but it
not appearing to be from a spring, I expressed my desire to be taken to
a rivulet. A native stept forward, as I supposed, to show me, but on my
following him he turned back and left us. Thinking from the direction
we were in that water was not far distant I took one of my men with me
to whom I gave my fowling-piece to carry...We saw another native a
little way before us to whom I signified what I wanted.” As Grant
approached, this native, by a sudden jerk of the foot, raised and
caught up in his hand a spear; the weapon rose within six inches of the
Lieutenant's face and caused him to turn and grasp his gun from his
attendant. The native, however, merely put the spear on his shoulder
and walking leisurely towards a cliff stood looking at the sea. It was
not supposed anything hostile was meant but the action showed that the
natives had weapons concealed.
“At 5 A.M. of the 13th, we weighed anchor with light variable airs
and got clear out of the cove by ten, when we found a moderate breeze
from north-east, and we made all possible sail to the southward.”
Grant then gives his opinion of Jervis Bay, a place destined to be
much more important in the future of the continent, as it will serve as
port to Canberra, the seat of the Australian Government. “It is worthy
of remark that Jarvis's Bay* (* i.e. Jervis Bay.) or sound is large,
commodious and easy of access, affording shelter from all winds and
having room for upwards of 200 sail of ships with plenty of wood and
water. When this bay comes to be more known, it will be found eligible
for vessels bound to Port Jackson after a long passage from
England...and will be the means of saving many lives.”
From Jervis Bay the Lady Nelson continued her voyage southwards and,
on the 19th of March, off Point Hicks, she met with a strange sail
which proved to be the ship Britannia, Captain Turnbull, from England,
bound for the whale fishery. She was going to Sydney to refit, and thus
gave Grant an opportunity to send a letter to Governor King. He wrote
POINT HICKS, NORTH BY EAST 12 MILES.
“18th March, 1801.
“SIR,—Seeing a vessel to windward, and judging you would wish to
hear of us...I sit down to write you a few lines before she joins us,
as I suppose she is bound to Sydney, and from her situation, I presume
she is one more who has come through the Straits. The Bee, no doubt,
has arrived long ere now. I, on the Tuesday morning after she parted,
got safely into Jarvis's Bay, and sailed early on Friday with the wind
at the north-east which only lasted 30 hours so that we have been
nearly 5 days beating in sight of Cape Howe and could not weather it,
the wind being now south but moderate.
“During our stay in Jarvis's Bay we were by no means idle, which you
will be convinced of, I hope, when we arrive. The weather I have had
these 5 days convinces me that the Bee would have been a very great
retard to us...for the sea here, when it blows hard (owing, I presume,
to the current setting strong against the wind) makes it run confused
and break much...Mr. Barrallier has got nearly well of his seasickness
and we have had the azimuth compass to work, which he now understands
thoroughly. Murray is well, and all my people are comfortable and
happy.—I am etc. JAS. GRANT.”
On their parting, the Britannia steered to Sydney, while the Lady
Nelson stood to the southward, meeting with a southerly wind and being
so retarded that it was 8 A.M. on the 21st before Wilson's Promontory
was sighted. When close to the rock which he had named Rodondo, Grant
observed the latitude to be south 39 degrees 4 minutes.* (* The
latitude of Wilson's Promontory is 39 degrees 7 minutes 55 seconds and
the longitude 146 degrees 25 minutes east. In the log, Lieutenant Grant
gives the former as 38 degrees 59 minutes and longitude 146 degrees 6
minutes east.) From Wilson's Promontory, the land sloped to the
north-north-west as far as eye could reach, becoming low and level
towards Cape Liptrap and from Glennie's Islands. The Lady Nelson now
followed the coast towards Western Port. On the way her commander named
a point Cape Paterson in honour of Colonel Paterson of the New South
He thus describes the manner of his coming to Western Port: “At 4
P.M. of the 21st we had sight of the island which forms the south head
of Western Port having the likeness of a snapper's head or horseman's
helmet. By eight we were up with it. On opening the entrance of the
port I found two small islands situated about three quarters of a mile
from the South Head with apparently a good passage between them and the
island forming the harbour. From its likeness, as above mentioned, to a
snapper's head, I named it Snapper Island.* (* The Phillip Island of
Bass which even at that time was called Phillip Island, a name it is
still known by. Its eastern extremity resembled the head of a snapper
and was known as Snapper Head. Bass himself had, in discovering the
Strait, noticed the resemblance.) It falls in a high clay bluff down to
the water's edge. The small islands lying off it were covered with
seals, numbers of which, on our approach, precipitated themselves into
the sea, covering the passage, while others remained on the rocks
making a very disagreeable noise, something like the grunting of pigs.
They were of a large size, many of them being nearly equal to a
bullock. I judged them to be of that species of seal called by
fishermen sea elephants, accordingly I named these islands, Seal
Islands. I sent a boat ahead to sound...and found between the Seal
Islands and the South Head, 12, 9, 6, 5 and 3 1/2 fathoms of water
which last was shoaled in mid channel. This passage will shorten the
distance when there is a leading wind but standing round to the
westward of Seal Islands there will be found sufficient room for any
number of vessels to beat in. Mr. Bass, when he visited this place in
the whale boat, entered the port by the eastern passage which is much
the smallest, and coasting the western shore, from whence he made his
remarks. It is probable that these islands, lying so close to the
western side of him, did not show themselves to be detached...It had
rained constantly and heavily all night and...we could not see any
great distance from the vessel therefore I kept the lead going as she
worked up the harbour.”
At half-past five she was “brought to” opposite to a sandy point
which he named Lady Nelson's Point “as a memorial of the vessel as she
was the first decked one that ever entered this port...Mr. Barrallier
went on shore with the second mate. They saw black swans and redbills,
an aquatic bird so called whose back is black, breast white, beak red
and feet not fully webbed. On Sunday 22nd or, according to our sea
account the 23rd at noon, I went with two of our crew in the smallest
boat to search for a river or stream described by Mr. Bass.”
In proceeding along the shore Grant passed a muddy flat, and fell in
with an island* (* The log says this island bore north-north-west, 2
miles.) “separated from the main by a very narrow channel at low
water.”...On this he landed. “The situation of it was so pleasant that
this together with the richness of the spot made me conceive the idea
that it was excellently adapted for a garden.” The island was called
Churchill's Island after John Churchill, Esquire, of Dawlish, in the
county of Devon, who, when the Lady Nelson left England, had given her
commander vegetable seeds, the stones of peaches, and the pips of
several sorts of apples, telling him “to plant them for the future
benefit of our fellow-men, be they countrymen, Europeans or savages.”
Captain Schanck had also supplied him with seeds. A very rare apple,
having seldom more than one pip in each fruit, was named by Grant “Lady
Elizabeth Percy's Apple,” because, “it was owing to her Ladyship's care
and attention in preparing the pepins that I was enabled to introduce
On this day several good observations were obtained. Grant placed
Western Port in latitude 38 degrees 32 minutes south and (by
chronometer) in 146 degrees 19 minutes east of Greenwich. He did not,
however, discover the stream for which he was looking. On the following
morning the second mate (Mr. Bowen) tried to find the stream but was
also unsuccessful. During his absence the Commander explored the banks
of a creek “which opened abreast of the vessel” and Barrallier and
Murray surveyed the harbour while Caley searched for new plants
wandering as far as Snapper Island. Barrallier and Grant also made
collections but Governor King afterwards wrote that “Caley received
everything they found—and refused to give up or part with a
Wet weather set in until the 25th. The day following, search was
again made for fresh water, and Grant went up the creek which was found
to terminate in a salt marsh. The trees on the bank were not large but
the underwood was thick. He penetrated inland for some distance and saw
spots “as if cleared by manual labour...covered with good tender
grass,” a delightful sight to him. The open land had the appearance of
being frequently overflowed and he thought it was well adapted for the
purpose of fattening cattle; numbers of black swans and other
water-fowl were seen in the creek, the length of which was about two
miles and a half, its waters, which were salt, ended in a small run
some 12 feet in breadth. It was Bowen, the second mate, who at length
found the fresh-water stream originally discovered by Bass, and on the
same day he captured a couple of cygnets one of which was presented to
the Governor at Sydney.
On 27th March, Murray accompanied by Barrallier and Caley set out to
explore the stream. They went up its windings as far as possible
passing no less than 42 short reaches. Its breadth at the entrance was
about half a cable's length and at the farthest part reached by the
boat not more than 18 or 20 feet, the passage being there impeded by
trees lying across it.
While his party were exploring, the commander with Euranabie made
excursions along the shore to the mouth of the harbour. “The beach was
covered with shells, many of them beautiful and some of them entirely
new to me. I observed another creek not so large as the former which I
have described but having its entrance quite filled up...so that the
sea could not enter it...the land in general was above the level of the
sea and the soil was in some places light and black, in others a red
clay. We fell in with a rocky point about which I observed playing in
the water a number of fishes called salmon in New Holland. I expressed
a desire to the native of having some...and no sooner expressed my wish
than I missed my companion from behind me. I halloed...upon which he
instantly presented himself from the wood with a small stick in his
hand. Asking for my knife he presently sharpened one end to a point and
then, stripping himself, he leaped from one point of the rock to
another until he met with an opportunity of striking a fish which he
did, the stick penetrating right through it. I could not but admire the
keenness of his sight and his ability to preserve the steadiness of his
position, standing as he did on the rough edge of a sharp rock, the sea
washing above his knees, his eyes intent on the fish, very difficult to
strike from the smallness of its size, presented to him in a narrow
back. Though I pressed him to take the fish several times he constantly
refused it but accepted some tobacco.”
Next day Grant went on shore at Churchill's Island with a party to
clear a space for a garden. Some twenty rods were burnt after the
larger trees had been felled. The soil on the island was found to be
rich and loose and easy to dig. On the 29th Murray was sent to
ascertain particulars “respecting the entrance of the port and with
regard to Seal Islands” on which he was instructed to land. Barrallier
accompanied him. Soon after their departure bad weather set in which
prevented their landing. They eventually anchored off a sandy beach
which appeared to have no surf, but were suddenly surprised by a heavy
swelling sea that rolled upon it, followed by another which filled the
boat, upsetting it upon the beach. Fortunately no lives were lost
though all “were immersed in the water from which the native
Euranabie...first escaped to shore.” The provisions, however, and the
ammunition were lost or spoiled. At turn of tide they launched the boat
and returned on board. A black swan and four ducks, which they had shot
on their way out, afforded a savoury meal for those in the ship.
On the 31st the commander went up the freshwater river with Mr.
Barrallier.* (* This river had already been seen by Mr. Bowen.) At
night they encamped on its banks when there came on an exceeding heavy
storm of rain with thunder and lightning and high wind. They traced a
branch of the river on the right as far as their boat could go and then
followed its course on shore along the bank and found it was fed by the
greater river only. This carried them inland and they discovered marks
of fires made by the natives. The log book records that they met none
of the blacks at any place though there were native dog tracks in
abundance. “Towards the end of this branching stream the country
appeared to afford plots of very rich pasture. At some considerable
distance the land rose to a height, and being covered with large trees
which appeared to have been shattered by storms had for this reason
obtained the name of Mount Rugged. We marched pretty far inland and
found the country everywhere free from inundations and exhibiting a
very picturesque appearance. The day was remarkably fine but in the
woods the air was close and disagreeably sultry. My people had killed a
small black snake...the same kind...is common about Sydney. We pursued
our course up the river and Mr. Barrallier completed his survey.”
The water in the river was found to be good and perfectly sweet, and
the casks were filled. Among the birds seen was a bell-bird which has
“no remarkable plumage but a note not unlike the tinkling of a bell, so
that when a number of these birds are collected together the noise they
make is similar to that made by the bells of a team of horses.” The
laughing-bird (whose note can only be compared to the ha! ha! ha! of a
hearty laughing companion) was the first to salute the explorers in the
morning. The whistling duck, so called because of the whistling noise
made with its wings when flying, was shot here, and a grey parrot was
caught alive. Mr. Barrallier shot a rare cockatoo.* (* It was stuffed
and afterwards given to General Davies, R.A., by Governor King.) The
wet weather afterwards gave little chance of meeting with birds, and
the explorers made their way through the woods until they reached an
extensive level country. This plain extended out of their sight on the
one side and on the other was bounded by hills. Paths beaten down by
kangaroos crossed and recrossed it. The face of the country was almost
everywhere level and productive, free from swamp and secured from
Grant thus describes the journey back to the ship: “We returned to
the river-side and ordered the boat to drop lower down a few miles
through a forest of stately timber trees. I had a few of them cut down
and brought on board...I brought Governor King specimens of light woods
and a species of sassafras discovered by my second mate...On our way
down the river we stopped at the place where we had passed the
preceding night and found our fire still burning. To this spot we gave
the name of The Halfway House, being halfway up the river.”
The commander now revisited Churchill's Island: “I found my people
had cleared the spot I had laid out for a garden, and that there was
nothing wanting but to prepare the ground to receive such seeds as I
should choose to plant...It was no easy matter...for we had neither hoe
nor spade with us...however, we were in possession of a coal shovel
which, though it was thin and much worn, served the purpose.
“My men, who slept on the ground they had cleared...in a hut built
for the occasion, informed me that one of their comrades was awakened
out of his sleep by some animal that seemed to be gnawing his hair. He
supposed it to be the bandicoot rat. I sent on board for a dog which we
had brought with us from Sydney. This dog remained with the people on
the island, and, as they reported to me, was one night engaged with
some animal apparently of equal strength, for it brought him to the
ground and made him howl...The ground was now prepared and I sowed my
several sorts of seeds, wheat, Indian corn, and peas, some grains of
rice and some coffee berries; and I did not forget to plant potatoes.
With the trunks of the trees I felled I raised a block house of 24 feet
by 12 which will probably remain some years, the supporters being well
fixed in the earth.”
Full of enthusiasm regarding his visit in general, Grant is more so
about Churchill's Island: “I scarcely know a place I should sooner call
mine than this little island.” And he also tells how he planted the
stones of fruit trees round the hut which his men had built there. Of
the traces of iron seen, he adds: “We turned up a few stones and some
interspersed with veins of iron ore, indeed so rich in metal that they
had a visible effect on the needle of our compass; stones of a like
kind are found about Sydney.” In the pages of his journal and also of
his log he describes very minutely the manner in which European seeds
were first sown in the soil of the British colony of Victoria. That
they were successfully planted we learn from a subsequent page in
Murray's log when he, in command of the Lady Nelson, visited the same
To return to the narrative. “On the 12th* (* In the narrative,
through a printer's error, this date appears as 21st.) of April Mr.
Bowen, while seeking for water in the ship's launch, discovered near
the mouth of the freshwater river part of a canoe which had sunk near
the mouth. He brought it back to the ship together with two paddles and
some fishing line.” The canoe differed greatly from those made by the
natives of Port Jackson, being framed out of timber, and instead of
being tied together at the ends “was left open, the space being
afterwards filled with grass worked up with strong clay.”
At the termination of the voyage, it was handed over, along with the
other specimens collected, to Governor King.
The Lady Nelson now changed her berth and moored close by the
opposite shore, “in order to be near a small island lying in the
opening of the extensive arms described by Mr. Bass of which this port
has two branching out to the northward.” Grant named this island
Margaret Island in honour of Mrs. Schanck who had given him several
articles which proved useful on board the Lady Nelson.
The tide ebbing very fast, the brig was soon in shoal water, but the
bottom being a soft mud and the weather calm there was no danger to be
apprehended, yet, says Grant: “As I am no friend to vessels being on
the ground by carrying out a hawser I soon hauled her off and brought
yet her nearer to Margaret's Island. We found this island to be in
general flat, but well covered with wood. Here we deposited some seeds
but did not find the soil equally rich with that of Churchill's
Island.” Having lost some of their drinking water, the Commander
writes: “Luckily I heard the bullfrog, which is common in New South
Wales, and I made towards the thicket from whence his croaking issued
and there found a present supply. This arm reminded me of the
appearance of Porchester Lake when the tide is out. Indeed the entire
view of Western Port has no small resemblance to Spithead and
Portsmouth Harbour. On the 17th we got under weigh and at night brought
up in 12 fathoms water with rather a foul bottom. In the morning we
discovered a sand shoal whereon the waves were breaking very heavily
close to us...We shifted our berth and brought up in a small nook or
bay which I named Elizabeth Cove in honour of Miss Elizabeth King,
daughter of Governor King, then at Sydney.” The greater part of Grant's
survey of Western Port was completed by April 22nd, but the Lady Nelson
was detained there by bad weather until the 29th, when, at break of
day, she weighed and stood out of the port, passing to the westward of
Grant then proceeded to make a survey of the coast from Western Port
eastward as far as Wilson's Promontory, which he says he carried out
for a distance of seventy miles, but winter being now advanced little
more could be done in the way of surveying, and as the wet weather was
prejudicial to the instruments, he resolved to make the best of his way
to Sydney; bad weather caused the ship to put into Botany Bay, but she
eventually arrived on May 14th, 1801.
On his return to Sydney Grant refers to the good health of those on
board: “I had not from the time of my departure a sick man among my
ship's company, one man only excepted, whose skull had been fractured.”
He also tells us that while in Botany Bay he had the satisfaction of
receiving a letter from Governor King, in which he expressed himself
well pleased with what had been done.
We know that the Governor was keenly disappointed that Grant had
failed for the second time to explore Governor King's Bay and to fulfil
other duties which had been expected of him. The voyage, however, must
have had its compensations, as Barrallier was able not only to survey
Jervis Bay and Western Port (the map of the former is not at the
Admiralty), but also to obtain much of the information contained in the
combined chart of his “discoveries made in Bass Strait up to March
1802,” reproduced above.
CHAPTER 3. COLONEL PATERSON AND
LIEUTENANT GRANT SURVEY HUNTER RIVER.
During the month of May the Lady Nelson became more closely
associated with the town of Sydney, with whose fortunes her own were
ever afterwards identified.* (* The Lady Nelson was borne as a
contingent expense of the colony from the time of her arrival at Sydney
until the 16th October, 1802, then as tender to H.M.S. Buffalo by order
of the Admiralty. See Historical Records of New South Wales volume 4
page 901.) From Sydney she set forth on her many voyages of
exploration, and to Sydney she returned. In many an old print she is
depicted lying at anchor there almost alone—a small ship in a great
harbour—with the Union Jack flying at her stern, and in the small
Sydney newspapers of those early times her comings and goings are
recorded, and her discoveries related with the keenest interest.
By the Governor's command May 28th, 1801, being the King's birthday,
was observed as a holiday. It was a memorable occasion, for on that day
the Royal Proclamation announcing the Union between Great Britain and
Ireland was read in public by the Provost Marshal. At sunrise the old
Union Jack was hoisted as usual, but at a quarter to nine it was hauled
down and the new Union run up at Dawes Battery and on board the Lady
Nelson to the accompaniment of salutes from the battery and from the
Shortly afterwards Grant received orders to take Colonel Paterson,
the Lieutenant-Governor, to Hunter River, then better known as Coal
River.* (* From the abundance of coal found on its banks. Flinders says
its native name was Yohaaba. The Hunter River was discovered and named
by Mr. Shortland in 1797.) The object of the voyage was to make a
survey of the river and to gain some knowledge of its natural
productions, for at this time much of the coast, both to the north and
to the south, was chiefly known from Cook's chart, and the geography of
the more distant parts, marked but not explored by him, was still as he
had left it. Governor King was also anxious that the Lady Nelson should
discover a passage at Port Stephens (called by the natives Yacaaba),
and wrote to Paterson requesting him to complete the exploration of
this port before September, “for,” he said, “it will then be necessary
to despatch Her Ladyship (i.e. the Lady Nelson) to the southward.”* (*
This particular voyage to Port Stephens does not appear to have been
carried out, for in August the brig was “refitting.” (See Historical
Records of New South Wales.) The Francis, schooner, was equipped to
accompany the Lady Nelson, and orders were given that the schooner
should be loaded with coals immediately on her arrival at the Hunter
River and sent back to Sydney without delay. Dr. Harris and Ensign
Barrallier of the New South Wales Corps (who were appointed to execute
the survey) accompanied Colonel Paterson. A number of workmen and
labourers were also received on board together with a native of Rose
Bay named Bungaree.
The Lady Nelson left the harbour on June 10th, and as she passed out
between the Heads, met the ship Cornwallis inward bound from England.
On June 11th she made North Head of Broken Bay distant 10 or 12 miles.
On the next day the weather was variable, but as there was a Sydney
pilot on board Grant thought that the ship would be safe in his hands.
The man, however, mistook his course at a place called Reid's Mistake,
which lies to the northward of Broken Bay. He imagined that he had
arrived at Hunter River, and was not convinced of his error till the
vessel was within half a mile of an island at the entrance.* (* Reid's
Mistake was so called because a seaman of that name had previously made
a similar error, and lost his ship there. The island lies at the
entrance of Lake Macquarie (and still bears the name). The wrecked
vessel was the Martha, 30 tons, and doubtless was the ship which first
saw King Island in 1799.)
Here, as the Lady Nelson was in 17 fathoms water, and the weather
was fair, a boat was lowered and Dr. Harris was sent to explore the
place. On his return the doctor reported that there was not the least
sign of a river here, but that the sea broke heavily over an inlet
behind the island. He brought with him a native, who on first seeing
the boat had run towards it crying out alternately “Whale boat” and
“Budgeree (i.e. good) Dick.” It was supposed that this native had been
given this name by some of the people sent in search of the convicts
who had run away with the Norfolk. Be this as it may, Budgeree Dick had
some fish with him, which he threw into the bottom of the boat, and
then without the least hesitation jumped in himself. As soon as he had
got on board the brig he continued to cry incessantly, “Whale boat,
Whale boat.” In order to find out his meaning he was introduced to the
Sydney native Bungaree, who was directed to question the visitor.
Bungaree, by signs, invited him to sit down, an invitation, observes
Grant, which, according to native ideas, “implied that a stranger was
received with friendship.” But it was useless to ask Bungaree to
proceed with his inquiries, for another item of etiquette demanded that
a profound silence should follow, which lasted for twenty minutes. By
degrees the two black men entered into conversation, drawing nearer to
one another as they began to talk. The information sought was not
obtained, and it was inferred that they did not well understand each
The ship got under way about 3 P.M., and two hours later another
high perpendicular island bearing north 8 or 9 miles came into view. It
was thought to be the real entrance of Hunter's River. At half-past
ten, in company with Dr. Harris, the Commander went in a boat to
discover if it was their port of destination. The entrance was narrow
with a heavy sea running through it. It had a reef on one side, over
which broke a very heavy surf, and on the other side were some
sand-breakers. At one time Grant put the boat's head round to the swell
and “pulled out,” but the risk of bringing in the two ships without
knowing the size of the channel made him determine to ascertain it, and
accordingly he pulled through and found from 5 to 4 and 3 1/2 fathoms
close to the island. It was high water when he landed with a party on
the island and climbed to the top of its steep side. The side near the
entrance was covered with grass, although everywhere else the island
was perpendicular and crumbled away by degrees into the sea. From the
highest point a beautiful view of Hunter's River, and of the
surrounding islands was obtained. Here Lieutenant Grant hoisted the
Union Jack as a signal to the vessels that this was the right entrance
to the river. He thought, as have most people since, that this island
had been separated from the mainland “by some violent convulsion of
nature.” It was named Coal Island by Colonel Paterson, but is now known
as the Nobbys. The commander's journal tells how plentiful wood and
coal were on the mainland, and thus describes his coming:—
“We returned on board and set about towing and sweeping her in with
all possible dispatch. At noon the latitude was by observation 32
degrees 57 minutes 34 seconds south, the island which we named Coal
Island bearing west-north-west distant 3 or 4 miles. By the time we
approached the entrance the ebb had set strong out and ran with much
force; however, by dint of warping we brought up under the island for
the night within pistol shot of the shore. At daylight we proceeded up
to a saw pit (made for the purpose of cutting cedar of a large size and
excellent quality, which is growing in abundance on the banks of the
river) and came to abreast of it in 3 fathoms water, steadying the
vessel by a hawser made fast to a tree on the shore. The harbour is of
several miles extent and capable of containing many sail of shipping,
and well sheltered from every wind that blows.
“We immediately set about making the different arrangements for
completing the objects of our voyage. The Colonel and I went on shore
to examine the different strata of coals, taking with us a miner who
pointed them out to us very distinctly. We found them running from side
to side of the mountain of various qualities and degrees of thickness.
At low water coals proper for fuel were to be gathered up from the reef
before-mentioned, and when the tide was up we could work a pier.
Accordingly, having orders to load the schooner...with coals and wood,
I had the satisfaction to see her sail with a cargo of both on June
26th, eleven days after her arrival.
“It may be imagined that coals were found in great plenty when I
mention that the schooner sailed with forty tons, and that we had only
one man employed to dig the mine. The spot where these coals are found
is clear of trees or bush for the space of many acres, which are
covered with a short tender grass very proper for grazing sheep, the
ground rising with a gradual ascent intersected with valleys on which
wood grows in plenty, sheltered from the winds, forming the most
delightful prospect. This place might serve as a station for the
woodcutters and colliers.* (* The point of land where the colliers were
put to work was named Collier's Point by Colonel Paterson. Newcastle
now stands on this site.) It affords pasture for sheep, its soil in
general being good...Dr. Harris and Mr. Barrallier penetrated to some
distance inland and met a native who followed them for some time and
left them. Our native Dick also thought proper to leave us in an
excursion we made with him into the country. Colonel Paterson
discovered some copper and iron ores, the latter strongly impregnated
and rich in metal. The seine was hauled and plenty of excellent fish
caught, particularly mullet, with a fish much resembling the herring
which I am inclined to think go in shoals. On an island in the harbour
a tree is found, the quality of whose timber much resembles that of the
ash, and from the great numbers growing there has given this name to
“Of this timber I had orders to send a quantity to Sydney, and had
brought out sawyers for that purpose, but as every object could not be
at once accomplished they were employed in the meantime in cutting down
and sawing into planks a tree, the bark of which is much like cork. The
timber...is light, close, and durable, and promises to stand against
the effects of worms on the bottoms of vessels. I had a boat built of
this wood which proved it to be good...this wood has much the
resemblance of wainscot with us.
“Mr. Barrallier's survey was all this time going on. Nearly abreast
of the vessel was a creek which Colonel Paterson and I penetrated for a
considerable way. On its banks we found part of a net made of strong
grass, apparently the work of a European. We likewise found marks of
fires having been lighted there, and in the stream the remains of a
weir, the work of the native inhabitants...We concluded the net had
belonged to the unfortunate men who ran away with the Norfolk...On
examining Ash Island we found many large timber trees intermixed with
ash, one of which I took on board...it has much the likeness of
hickory. I found several other woods, some of them light and pretty,
and in particular a tree, the leaves of which sting like nettles. This
acquired from us the name of Nettle Tree.”
The native, Budgeree Dick, now reappeared after 48 hours' absence,
with two companions. One had been at Sydney and was known to Colonel
Paterson, with whom he was able to converse. Fires and occasionally the
natives themselves were observed opposite to Ash Island. A party from
the ship went up an arm of the river in order to try and meet with
them, but were disappointed, as at the entrance there was barely water
for the boat. The opposite (or north) shore to which they now proceeded
was found to be full of flats and shoals over many of which the boat
had to be dragged. Between these flats were gullies of deep water, but
there was no regular channel. Here the trees were encrusted with
oysters, and the shore covered to a great depth with oyster shells. The
work was vigorously pushed forward. Some woodmen were placed on Ash
Island to fell and saw timber. They took a week's provisions, arms, and
ammunition, and were warned to guard against an attack by the crew of
the Norfolk or by the natives. Meanwhile the commander and Paterson
visited the coal mine and found veins of coal of excellent quality, and
among the rocks what is known as “liver of iron.” They also saw strange
birds, as well as the wild or native cat, which has been such a pest
ever since in most parts of Australia.
On June 22nd Colonel Paterson took some men, one of whom was a
miner, to look for coal on the island, while Grant and Barrallier with
Dr. Harris sounded the entrance of the harbour. The coal found on the
island proved to be of an inferior kind. On his way back to the ship,
Lieutenant Grant met a stranger named John Loft, who had been wrecked
out of a boat belonging to Mr. Underwood of Sydney. She was cast on
shore to the northward of Port Stephens, and he had been thirty-two
days in travelling to this place from there. He had had two companions,
one of whom, he said, was killed by the natives, the other had eaten a
toad fish and died. The emotions that he felt on meeting his countrymen
can be better imagined than described. “The laugh and the tear had
their repeated place in turns, and his first utterance was, 'I am
starving with hunger.'“
On the 23rd Mr. Barrallier and the second mate met a native in the
woods whom they brought on board. “He was a little elderly man, strait
made, and spoke not one syllable that was intelligible.” His legs and
arms bore no proportion in length to the rest of his body, and his
manner of ascending the ship's ladder was remarkable and proved that he
was much accustomed to climbing. His method was “to stretch out his
arms as far as he could reach and then bring his feet to the same place
with a jerk.” Grant says: “He spoke a jargon of simple sounds as I
particularly observed only a few words that came from him were composed
of more than one syllable. He could eat nothing; but upon two crows,
which some of the people had shot, being given him, he stuffed them in
the fire feathers and all. which after burning off and heating them a
little he ate...The Colonel gave him a tomahawk which he seemed pleased
with and showed that he understood the use of it. He was put on shore
near the place where they met him...He was quite naked and had no
ornament through the cartilage of his nose. Colonel Paterson declared
that he had never met a native who differed so widely from the rest of
the New Hollanders.” Before he disappeared he gave the boat's crew an
exhibition of his climbing powers, for they pointed to a tree, making
signs that they wished to see him climb it. This he quickly did, first
cutting a notch with the axe and continuing thus to make footholds
until he nimbly reached the top—the tree being without branches to a
height of 40 feet. About this time there appeared a small party of
woodmen who had been sent to cut cedar for Mr. Palmer. These men had
intended returning to Sydney, having run short of provisions, but
seeing the Lady Nelson they joined her.
On June 28 the Lady Nelson advanced up the river and moored in one
of its branches about 6 miles from the entrance, Mr. Barrallier
surveying while Colonel Paterson with Dr. Harris and Mr. Lewin (the
artist who had joined the Lady Nelson after the sailing of the Francis)
went in the launch to examine the river and inspect the country.
On the 7th the Commander himself in company with Mr. Barrallier set
off to join Paterson. They found the country level and swampy near the
river, but with delightful views in the distance. “The river took a
serpentine course, and for many miles appeared to be as broad as the
Thames at Kingston. From the marks on the trees it would seem that it
is subject to be greatly overflowed at times. The cedar (or rather the
mahogany of New Holland) appeared to have been immersed in water to the
height of 50 or 60 feet. On our way up we landed at a small creek which
we traced for a considerable distance coming to a gradual ascent
covered with the most luxuriant grass. There was an extensive view from
this height of a fine champain country. I named the eminence Mount
Egerton after a seat belonging to the Duke of Bridgewater. In the
evening we found by the sound of the bugle that we had reached the
Colonel's headquarters. We answered the welcome signal and before it
was quite dark we joined them.
“The Colonel had erected a comfortable hut. The cedar grew here in
great plenty, and Mr. Palmer's party sawed many fine planks from these
trees. Colonel Paterson, Dr. Harris, Mr. Barrallier and myself
penetrated 30 miles farther up the river in the course of which we met
with many rapids which obliged us to get out and drag the boats up. We
had hitherto seen none of the natives, but discovered places where they
had been by the marks of their fires. We now descried some of them at a
distance, who fled on our approach. We came to a spot which they had
just quitted and observed the marks of children's feet. The ground was
covered with freshwater shells of the sort found in the rivers of
England and Scotland and called the horse mussel, having sometimes
small pearls in them.
“We ascended two heights which commanded views of the country for
several miles on every side. To one, Colonel Paterson gave the name of
Ann's Mountain after Mrs. King, the other he called Elizabeth's
Mountain, that being the Christian name of Mrs. Paterson. We now found
that we had got behind the range of mountains extending along the coast
to the south and west. We likewise saw the coast of Port Stephens and
the chain of hills inland stretching in a direction towards the
north-east. Between us and the hills was a space perfectly level for
many miles, and to appearance swampy. The land on the south side of the
river was interspersed with lagoons on which we killed some ducks but
found them very shy. The country seemed not to be destitute of
inhabitants, some of whom we descried at a distance. The river here
meandered so greatly that to have pursued its course the boats must
have been pulled a whole day to have gained a direct distance of four
or five miles from our present station.
“The time limited for our departure for Sydney approaching very fast
and the survey still to be made not being less than 70 miles up the
river, it was judged prudent not to proceed any further. Passing the
night upon the banks of the river we descended it the next day to our
former rendezvous, Schanck Forest, Pasture Plains, where preparations
were made for a general embarkation.
“The next morning I left Colonel Paterson in company of Mr.
Barrallier, who then proceeded on the survey of the river. On our
passage down it, we saw several natives with their canoes...In many of
them we saw fires, and in some of them observed that kind of eatable to
which they give the name of cabra.* (* Teredo.) It appears to be
abominably filthy; however, when dressed, it is not disagreeable to the
taste. The cabra is a species of worm which breeds in the wood that
happens to be immersed in water, and are found in such parts of the
river wherein trees have fallen. They grow to a great size and soon
reduce timber to the appearance of a honeycomb. They are of a glutinous
substance, and after being put on the fire harden to the consistence of
the spinal marrow of animals. When fire is not at hand, the natives eat
them raw; some of them being found at a fire near one of the canoes, I
tasted them on the recommendation of one of my men and found them not
“We saw several natives at a small distance; one of them looked
earnestly at us and seemed to be waiting our approach. One of my men
called to him in his own language to stop, but at length he got behind
a tree whence he presented only his head and shoulders, brandishing a
fish-gig in his hand. He waited our landing, and seeing we were unarmed
threw down his muton (so they named the fish-gig) and came readily to
us. For what reason I know not (for we appeared without any marks of
distinction) he addressed himself first to me, and taking from his
forehead a small net which their women weave from the fur of the
opossum he bound it round mine. In my turn I took out my pocket
handkerchief and bound it round his head which pleased him very much,
and we became from the moment the best of friends. I invited him on
board the boat, and he readily accepted my invitation. When on board he
was called to from the woods on the opposite shore by a number of
voices which surprised us a little as we did not expect they were in
such numbers. My new acquaintance called out in his turn to those on
shore, and their cries immediately ceased. I have reason to
think...that he assured them he had nothing to fear, which quieted
“Proceeding further we saw a flock of ducks and I ordered one of the
people to fire which he did and was lucky enough to kill two. Never did
I witness stronger marks of surprise than were depicted on the
stranger's countenance when he heard the report of the gun and saw the
two ducks fall into the water. His astonishment was increased when he
got on board the vessel; everything...seemed to fill him with wonder
and amazement. During the time he stayed on board he never quitted my
side, and at the hour of rest he laid himself down near my bed place. I
presented him with a small tomahawk which pleased him very much and he
pronounced with much earnestness the word...'Mogo.' He readily ate of
whatever was set before him; spirits he would not touch, but sugar he
took freely. He endeavoured to repeat our words after us; and was
infinitely more tractable than the native last described. He was an
elderly man, short in stature but well made; his arms and legs were
long in proportion to his body which was slender and straight. Having
occasion to despatch my first mate in a boat to Colonel Paterson I took
that opportunity of sending off my New Hollander with directions that
he should be landed on the precise spot from whence he was taken...When
the first mate was returning he was surprised to find his passenger of
the day before on the banks, who begged to be permitted to return to
the vessel with him; he had a young lad with him whom he desired might
accompany him and they were both brought on board. This lad made me
understand that he wished to have a mogo and I soon found that I could
not make a more acceptable present to a native...
“On the 19th we were rejoined by Colonel Paterson with the whole of
his party. The Colonel had explored a branch of the river on the banks
of which he found a species of flax growing which he thought was
valuable. He had collected specimens of many rare and uncommon plants
particularly some varieties of fern, but unfortunately was deprived of
the fruits of his industry. His servant had made use of the bundle of
plants as a pillow and having placed it too near the fire it was soon
in a blaze, and he was awaked only in time to save his face from being
“We were now growing short of provisions and no vessel arriving from
Sydney we set about making preparations for our return thither. There
was now a small establishment made for the colliers.* (* At Collier's
Point.) I had built them a convenient hut to shelter them. I left them
a boat and seine with what provisions I was able to spare. We took our
departure for Sydney on the 22nd of July 1801, and arrived there on the
Six weeks after his return to port, Grant sent in his resignation on
the ground that he had so “little knowledge of nautical surveying.” The
resignation was accepted by King, who wrote in reply: “I should have
been glad if your ability as a surveyor or being able to determine the
longitude of the different places you might visit was in anyway equal
to your ability as an officer or a seaman.”
A very slight perusal of Grant's narrative of his voyage enables us
to grasp the state of his feelings when he sent in his resignation. It
is evident that he thought he had not been treated fairly, and was glad
to quit New South Wales. He writes of his departure: “The
mortifications and disappointments I met with...induced me to seize the
first opportunity of leaving the country.” And it seems possible that
when he told King that he had no knowledge of “nautical surveying,” he
said so because he knew King thought he had not, and it looks as if the
admission was made as a pretext to obtain his passage to England,
rather than for the purpose of belittling his own capabilities. That
Grant was a fine seaman goes without saying. That he was personally
courageous, his subsequent naval services proved. He seems to have
handled his ship at all times with extraordinary care, and it may have
been that he had studied marine surveying with less assiduity than
seamanship, for the chart that he made must be admitted to be very
Murray, his successor in the command of the brig, is best remembered
as the discoverer of Victoria, and “yet,” writes Rusden, “he (Murray)
merely obeyed a distinct order in going thither to trace the coast
between Point Schanck and Cape Albany Otway noticing the soundings and
everything remarkable.” Rusden might have added, that Murray probably
received some benefit from Grant's experiences, for at that time he was
equally incompetent as a marine surveyor. It is Flinders who has
credited Grant with the discovery of the coast of Victoria “as far as
Cape Schanck,” and Flinders was most competent to judge as to whom the
honour should belong. On the great seaman's chart published in 1814
(Terra Australis, by M. Flinders, South Coast, Sheet 5) is inscribed,
“Coast as far as Cape Schanck discovered by Captain James Grant, 1800,”
in which track, of course, is included the entrance to Port Phillip,
although Flinders knew that Grant had not penetrated to the bay itself.
Grant sailed from Sydney in the Anna Josepha, Captain Maclean, an
old Spanish brig, belonging to Mr. Simeon Lord. She had been taken off
the coast of Peru by the Betsy whaler, and on her arrival at Sydney was
renamed Anna Josepha in honour of the Governor's wife. Loaded with
coals and spars, the ship left Port Jackson for the Cape of Good Hope
on November 9th, 1801. She steered southward of New Zealand, made Cape
Horn, and then sailed to the Falklands. Grant quitted her when she
reached Tristan D'Acunha and obtained a passage in the Ocean as far as
Table Bay. There he shipped on April 12th, 1802, in H.M.S. Imperieuse
for England, where he arrived safely, and, in due course, reported
himself to the Admiralty.
Three years later he obtained his rank of Commander on January 12th,
1805, with a pension for gallantry in a spirited action off Holland,
when in command of the Hawke cutter he was badly wounded. He
subsequently commanded the Raven and Thracian and died at St. Servan in
1833, aged 61.
CHAPTER 4. MURRAY APPOINTED COMMANDER
OF THE LADY NELSON: HIS VOYAGE TO NORFOLK ISLAND.
On Grant's resigning the command of the Lady Nelson, Governor King
appointed John Murray to succeed him. As has been told Murray had
formerly been Master's mate of the Porpoise and had accompanied Grant
when he went for the second time to try and explore Governor King's
Bay, and the Governor apparently thought him a capable officer. His
appointment is dated September 3rd, 1801, so that he seems to have
taken over the new post about two months before his predecessor finally
When, however, the Lady Nelson sailed to the Hawkesbury in September
to load the settlers' grain and to bring it to Sydney, Grant appears to
have been still on board her, as he was enjoined to ensure her safety
at that place by Governor King. “You are not to leave the vessel
yourself or suffer any other person to leave her while in the river nor
let any strangers or visitors go on board...Your board netting is to be
kept up while in the river.” King evidently was determined to guard
against the capture of the brig by runaway convicts, a fate which had
overtaken the Norfolk. Murray succeeded to the command of the brig on
her return from this Hawkesbury trip. His first voyage was to Norfolk
Island, when he carried orders and instructions from the Governor of
New South Wales to Major Foveaux, the Lieutenant-Governor. Before
leaving Sydney, Captain Abbott, Ensign Piper and Mr. John Roberts
(surgeon's mate) were embarked as passengers on board the Lady Nelson,
and in the afternoon of October 1st she set sail for her destination.
The following account of her voyage is extracted from the log:—
H.M.A. SURVEYING VESSEL LADY NELSON.
From Port Jackson to Norfolk Island.
“October 2nd, 1801. At 3 P.M. got under weigh and stood out of ye
Heads. Observed ye Porpoise to be in the offing. At 5 P.M. passed under
the stern of the Porpoise and Mr. Murray went on board and waited on ye
Commander of that vessel. At 6 Lieutenant Murray returned on board,
hoisted in our gig and gave the Porpoise three cheers, which was
returned—made sail at half-past 6 P.M.—ye North Head of Port Jackson
bore to west by north distant 6 miles, the South Head of Broken Bay
bore north by west distance 6 leagues.
“Saturday, October 3rd. Fresh winds and clear. About half-past 4
P.M. the wind shifted to north-west with light rain and thunder and
lightning. At 8 A.M. the wind rather took off and we had clear weather,
but with a very heavy sea on. At noon we had a strong gale with a high
sea on, our Latitude 33 degrees 55 minutes south.
“Sunday, October 4th. Strong gale with heavy squalls at intervals
with a very high sea running. Very heavy squall attended with thunder
and lightning, large hail stones at ye same time. At 10 A.M. Mustered
ye Ship's Company and read the articles of war being the first Sunday
of ye month.
“Monday, October 5th. Fresh breezes and heavy squalls with flying
showers of rain and heavy sea running. At 4 P.M. saw Lord Howe Island
bearing north-east distant 16 or 17 leagues. At 10 P.M. when it cleared
saw Balls Pyramid bearing north by west distant 6 or 9 miles: at 12 had
another sight of it on our larboard quarter—at daylight again saw the
Pyramid distant 10 or 12 leagues...At noon lost sight of Island.
“Tuesday, October 6th. Fresh breezes and clear—squally. At noon
“Wednesday, October 7th. Light airs and inclinable to calm.
“Thursday, 8th October. Fresh wind and clear high sea. Keeping good
look out for Island of Norfolk. At 4 A.M. made sail—at 6 A.M. saw
Norfolk and Phillip Islands distant 12 leagues—at noon, being 9 or 10
miles off ye town, fired a gun and hoisted signal for pilot.
“Friday, 9th October. Moderate weather—at half-past 2 P.M. fired a
2nd gun for pilot—at half-past 3 seeing no boat and judging of the
appearance of the sea there was no landing at Sydney Bay,* (* Sydney,
Norfolk Island.) bore on for Cascade, and by 5 got in sight of ye
Storehouse—fired another gun—at 7 P.M. John Drumond, pilot, came on
board, took charge as pilot—sent our boatswain's mate on shore in
pilot's boat with letter to Lieutenant Governor—kept standing off all
night—at daylight the Storehouse distant 3 miles—at 6 A.M. landed
Captain E. Abbott, Ensign Piper and Mr. John Roberts—at 9 A.M. boat
returned bringing with them ye pilot's assistant who told us ye landing
was good at Sydney—bore up for Sydney. By 11 got round and a boat
coming off we discharged a number of articles into her belonging to the
different officers. At noon they went on shore.
“Saturday, 10th October. Observed the flag for indifferent
landing—hove up, put ye vessel under snug sail and stood off and on
during night—at 4 P.M. Phillip's Island bore north distant 6 miles. A
boat came along, into which we delivered a part of the officers'
“Sunday, 11th October. Moderate winds and weather—a confused sea.
P.M. A boat came off—sent in her ye officers' baggage—at 6 P.M. the
weather looking rather unfavourable ran the vessel into Hunsons
Bay—stood off and on during night—at daylight went round to Sydney
“Monday, 12th October. Variable winds, fine weather. P.M. a 2nd boat
came with Ensign Baillie's baggage. Stood off and on during night—in
the morning went into Sydney Bay—a boat came off with Mr. Baillie's
baggage, also received for boat 4 rough spars for sweeps.
“Tuesday, 13th October. Standing off and on Cascade Bay—at 4 the
vessel's signal for a boat was made from ye shore—lowered down our gig
and sent the boatswain on shore in her. In a little time he returned
and informed me it was the Lieutenant-Governor's orders that I should
stand to sea and await boat—made all sail and stood to sea till
sundown, when seeing no signs of a boat made sail for ye island. Saw a
large ship in the offing, she proved to be the Earl Cornwallis from
“Wednesday, 14th October. A.M. Seeing no signs of a boat went around
to Sydney Bay and observed Cornwallis lying to off Northern Island.
“Thursday, 15th October. At 5 P.M. Ensign Bayley embarked on boat
and the boat brought remainder of his baggage—all the other passengers
came on board—discharged the pilot. At 6 made sail—at 7 P.M. Mount
Pitt bore north-east by east distant 4 leagues—at sundown ye Earl
Cornwallis out of sight.
“Friday, 16th October. Fresh gales—cloudy and rain—a high sea
running—strong gales. The vessel laboured a great deal.
“Tuesday, 27th October. Fresh winds and hazy—at 2 A.M. saw land
north-west 10 or 11 miles—at 8 A.M. south head of Broken Bay bore to
north-west 6 miles—at noon fine—got within Heads and made all sail.
On his return to Sydney on the completion of the voyage Murray was
ordered by Governor King to proceed in the Lady Nelson and finish the
exploration of the south coast, which Grant had not been able to
complete. The instructions issued by Governor King were very precise.
“You will proceed without loss of time to Basses Straights and
observe the following directions for prosecuting discoveries in those
straights on the south-west coast of this country...When you are
between Ram Head and Western Port you will proceed to Kent's Group and
ascertain the size of those islands (particularly the
easternmost)...From Kent's Group you will run on a straight course to
Wilson's Promontory noticing the course and distance, soundings and
quality of the bottom...From Wilson's Promontory you will trace the
coast between Point Schanck and Cape Albany Otway...From thence you
will run to Harbinger Rock lying off the north-west point of King's
Island...You will make the circuit of that island or islands in
addition to the King's instructions respecting new discoveries...You
will carefully examine...all within 6 miles round the island to
ascertain whether a vessel may anchor. Having completed the
survey...you will ascertain the time of bearing...between the south
westernmost point and Albatross Islands, the northernmost of Hunter's
Islands and the Pyramid. Having completed...your survey thus far you
will ascertain to what distance soundings may be got to the westward of
the Norfolk's and Lady Nelson's passages taking care to traverse across
to the latitude of 42 degrees on the south side and within sight of
land on the north side or coast of New Holland (Van Dieman's Land)
until between 38 and 42 degrees...As you stand in on the New Holland
side you will examine the coast between Cape Albany Otway and Cape
Solicitor which Lieutenant Grant named Portland Bay the bottom of which
he did not see. Should you have time I would wish you to run due south
from Cape Solicitor as far as 40 degrees and work back again to Cape
Bridgewater...you will employ another month...in tracing the coast from
Cape Banks...In returning to this port you will deliver all such
journals and charts as may have been completed...during your intended
“Should you fall in with H.M.S. Investigator you will communicate
these instructions to the Commander...and put yourself under his
command. And in case you fall in and are come up with by the
Naturaliste and Geographe, French vessels on discovery, you will
produce your passport from His Grace the Duke of Portland to the
Commander of that expedition.
“PHILIP GIDLEY KING.
“SYDNEY, October 31st, 1801.”
CHAPTER 5. MURRAY'S EXPLORATION OF
The Lady Nelson set forth from Sydney on her mission on November
12th, 1801. Obeying Governor King's orders, Murray steered first
towards the Kent Group.* (* The Kent Group was discovered by Lieutenant
Matthew Flinders in the Francis, and named by him in honour of Captain
William Kent of H.M.S. Supply. The group was subsequently visited by
Mr. Rushworth and other sailors.) His log shows how he mistook other
islands, probably the Sisters* (* The Sisters Islands were so named by
Captain Furneaux in 1773 from the resemblance they bore to each other.
Peron calls them two small islands escarpes.) at the northern extremity
of the Furneaux Group, for his place of destination and how, when 25
miles to the northward of Cape Barren, on seeing smoke rising from an
island, he sent a boat ashore and found living there two men, a woman
and a child, the men, Chase and Beven, being sealers in the employ of
Messrs. Kable & Underwood, of Sydney. The Lady Nelson was then brought
to and moored in Diana Bay, a well-known anchorage in Furneaux Islands.
Murray, at this time, seems to have been much farther southward than
Governor King intended him to go, for the island which he writes of as
Grand Capshine was undoubtedly the Grand Capuchin, the largest island
of the Furneaux Group, now known as Flinders Island.* (* Named Flinders
Island by Captain Flinders in honour of his brother, Lieutenant Samuel
Diana Bay, the bay in which the Lady Nelson stayed for some days,
was formed by the shores of the Grand Capuchin and Storehouse and Cat
Islands, the last named islands being the Babel Islands of Flinders. In
very early days this bay was much frequented by sealing vessels and in
1801 gained its name from the ship Diana, a small vessel belonging to
Messrs. Kable &Underwood, of Sydney, which afterwards stranded on the
Grand Capuchin and which had a curious history. A French schooner named
L'Entreprise of Bordeaux, under the command of Captain Le Corre, last
from the Isle of France, while sealing in these waters was also wrecked
about a year later off one of the Sisters, 30 miles to the northward of
where the Diana went ashore. Le Corre and two-thirds of his crew
perished. The supercargo whose name, according to Peron, was Coxwell,
but which the Sydney Gazette prints as Coggeshall, was among the saved
and was brought with the other rescued men to Sydney. Coggeshall
returned with Mr. Underwood to endeavour to save the hull of the
vessel, and though they failed to float L'Entreprise, they were more
successful as regards the Diana which was repaired and renamed the
Surprise, the name by which the lost French schooner had been known by
the English from Governor King downwards. In order to pay expenses she
was put up to public auction in Sydney and purchased by one of the
officers of L'Entreprise for 117 guineas, but was afterwards resold to
her original owners, Messrs. Kable &Underwood.* (* See Sydney Gazettes,
March 12th and March 19th, 1803.)
Murray did not name the Grand Capuchin, for it was so called before
the time of his visit. Nor did Flinders or Bass give it that name,
which was probably derived from the cowled peak of a mountain on it,
one of three christened by Flinders the Patriarchs, combined with the
fact that Furneaux had already named some black rocky islands that lay
off the entrance to Storm Bay Passage, The Friars.* (* The Boreels
Eylander of Tasman.) It seems likely that Barrallier in the Lady
Nelson's previous voyage or some French sailor bestowed the name
Capuchin upon Flinders Island, and Murray wrote it on his chart,
although it was afterwards erased from the maps and replaced at first
by the name of Great Island and later by that of Flinders Island.* (*
The Sydney Gazette of March 31st, 1831, in giving the names of the
Furneaux Group transfers the name to Babel Islands, i.e. “Babel Islands
or Capisheens as called by the sealers,” but, as Murray's Chart, page
146, and Sydney Gazettes of an earlier period will show, at first
Flinders Island alone was called Capuchin.)
Leaving Diana Bay on November 25th Murray saw the easternmost
members of the Kent Group and steered through the passage which
separates the principal islands and which was named in his honour,
Murray's Passage. Flinders had passed through the same passage, when he
discovered the group, in the Francis in 1798, and named a rock to the
south of it the Judgment Rock “from its resemblance to an elevated
seat.”* (* The Australian Sailing Directory, Admiralty.)
After surveying the Kent Group, Murray started to carry out his
survey of Western Port and Port Phillip. On December 5th he sighted Sir
Roger Curtis's Island and on the 7th reached Western Port where he was
detained by bad weather until the first week in January. On January
5th* (* The logbooks were kept in nautical fashion, the day beginning
at noon before the civil reckoning, so that Port Phillip was really
discovered on the afternoon of Monday, January 4th, 1802. According to
the Admiralty librarian the change from nautical to civil reckoning in
the logs did not take place until 1805.) as the vessel ran along the
Victorian coast towards Port Phillip dense smoke from native fires hid
the land from view. At 3 P.M. the smoke had cleared away and Bowen, who
was at the masthead, espied an opening in the land ahead which “had the
appearance of a harbour.” Keeping close in for it Murray saw inside a
fine smooth sheet of water. An island lay at the entrance but the waves
were breaking high on the rocks so the brig was hauled off and taken
out to sea. Murray then steered to King Island deciding to return again
later to explore the newly discovered harbour. He surveyed the east
coast of King Island from Cape Farewell to Seal Bay. Some sea elephants
were lying on the beach of the bay that he first entered, and this was
named Sea Elephant Bay.* (* Murray's survey of King Island was an
important one and Governor King refers to it as “giving to the British
priority of discovery over the French ships” when eleven months
afterwards Baudin came to the island.) The following pages describe
Murray's exploration of King Island and of his first sight of Port
H.M.A. SURVEYING VESSEL LADY NELSON ON DISCOVERY.
LIEUTENANT-COMMANDER JOHN MURRAY.
Sydney Cove to Bass Strait.
“Thursday, 12th November 1801. Working out of ye Heads at 1 P.M.—at
2 P.M. ye South Head of Port Jackson bore north-north-west 11 miles. At
4 P.M. ye weather began to look squally and black from ye south-west
with now and then lightning...At 5 it thundered and the lightning
increased...During night fresh winds and a heavy sea up; in the morning
no land in sight.
“Friday, 13th November. Fresh winds and clear with heavy tumbling
sea...At sundown Mount Dromedary 9 or 10 leagues N.W.W. During night
unsettled weather and a confused sea. At noon Cape How bore West
distance 7 or 8 leagues.
“Saturday, 14th November. Light airs inclinable to calm, a very
heavy sea from south-west. At sundown Cape How bore north-west distant
about 7 leagues...We hauled in for the land this morning, the Longitude
by Governor King's timekeeper was 149 degrees 30 minutes 45 seconds
east, Latitude by anticipation 38 degrees 00 minutes 00 seconds south.
At noon calm fine weather. Latitude observed 38 degrees 06 minutes 43
“Sunday, 15th November. Moderate fine weather and smooth water...At
9 A.M. we had a curious squall at every point of the compass, it did
not blow very hard and seemed to settle in the south-east quarter.
“Monday, 16th November. At half-past 5 P.M. saw a thunder squall
rising in western quarter. The squall passed over the land and
thundered a good deal with much lightning, at half-past 7 it took a
north-west turn and at 8 P.M. passed over our heads, though with no
great deal of wind...In the morning made sail...Latitude 38 degrees 32
“Thursday, 19th November. Moderate and hazy. At 6 A.M. saw Kent's
Group bearing south-west distances 8 or 9 leagues—their appearance was
like a great number of small islands being nearly south-east and
north-west; at 8 A.M. the easternmost island of Kent's Group and the
largest bore south-south-west distance 7 or 8 leagues. At 9 A.M. the
whole chain of islands, 13 in number, bore from south by west to west
the large island as above.
“Friday, 20th November. Light variable winds and fine weather. Kept
working up to the land but were surprised to find that instead of being
a small group of islands, ye body of the land was very large and
whatever appeared as islands began to connect itself into one island,
the latitude not agreeing with Lieutenant Flinders, concluded it could
not be Kent's Group. Kept working up to it and by daylight was within 5
miles of ye northernmost island, passed close to it and seeing an
immense number of birds on it sent the boat on shore to procure some;
in a short time after this I saw a smoke arise from the small island
just passed, sent ye boat and ye first mate there where they found two
men, one woman and a child, of Henry Kable's employ; assisted them as
well as we could—by noon worked into a good harbour and moored between
Storehouse and Cat Island—got the Latitude by going on shore 39
degrees 57 minutes 46 seconds south. When moored, the Grand Capshine
bore west-north-west distant 1/2 mile—Cat Island bore north by east
1/4 mile and Storehouse Island south-east quarter of a mile. Cape
Barren the east point south 1/2 east distant 25 miles.
“Saturday, 21st November. Employed taking on stone for ballast.
Carpenter fitting places for sweeps to row in and on the longboat. P.M.
Broke Farmer Barnes for contempt and disobedience of orders. Rated
Robert Warren boatswain's mate in his room. A.M. Sent the first mate
and a party of hands (with one of the people found here) and some dogs
to get kangaroo being informed that great plenty was to be found in the
“Sunday, 22nd November. The first officer and his party returned on
board; they shot 2 wambucks,* (* Presumably wombats.) a kangaroo, a
porcupine, a swan and some birds—in the evening sent the second mate
and some hands on shore to get mutton-birds, and eggs. On account of
the great plenty of fresh provisions served no salt meat this day. I
went and measured a base line from the south end of Storehouse Island
due East and West 2 miles to a point on ye Grand Capshine and from
thence surveyed this harbour more for the sake of practice than any use
it could be, this place being well-known by the name Diana Bay.
“Monday, 23rd November. At 6 P.M. sent party on shore with the first
mate to procure mutton-birds for officers and people. At 9 P.M. the
officer and party returned on board, having got near 100 birds and some
eggs. As I was at supper, I received the following note from R.B. Wood
“'SIR,—Under the unfortunate situation in which I am placed as a
prisoner and a convict it may appear strange my presumption in
observing that something serious I wish to communicate to you. Pardon
me saying that secrecy is requisite—and that after you have supped and
alone will be best. I am, Sir, Your humble servant,
“On receiving this, a little time after, I sent for him and he
informed me that he had seen Mark Clark, soldier, and Robert Warren,
who was only two days ago rated boatswain's mate, pumping off spirits
from a cask in the hold; that he suspected this business had been
carried on for some time and believed more than those might be
concerned. In addition John Johnston, cabin servant, informed me that
he had seen a number of the people at different times half drunk when
on their watch below; in consequence of these circumstances I turned
the hands on deck and read the Articles of War to them, put Mark Clark,
Robert Warren and Farmer Barnes in irons, he being drunk; and in the
morning I hoisted on deck all the casks of spirits, overhauled them and
found one with the bung just out and about 4 1/2 inches dry in it;
nailed lead over the bung and tossed them below again. On questioning
Clark on this affair he confessed that he and Warren had pumped spirits
out of the cask last night, and George Yates informed me that Warren
had made a practice of it for some time back. On investigating the
matter closer it appeared that Barnes had nothing to do with it. I
accordingly released Barnes and again rated him boatswain's
mate—turned the hands up and punished Robert Warren with four dozen
lashes for robbery, drunkenness, etc., and Mark Clark with one dozen
lashes only as it appeared that he had been prompted to this when
“Tuesday, 24th November. First and middle parts fine weather and
mostly calm, latter hazy. Half-past 9 anchor and made sail out between
the Grand Capshine and Cat Island, hoisted up our gig and stowe her. At
10 A.M. Cat Island bore south-east distant 5 miles and the peak of the
Grand Capshine south-south-east distant 6 miles. At noon the Grand
Capshine bore south-east distant 16 or 17 miles and the west end of ye
Sisters west by south distant 8 or 9 miles. The harbour we have just
left is formed by the Grand Capshine Island, Cat Island and Storehouse
Island. Between the Grand Capshine and Cat Island is a narrow channel
with deep water through which we came to-day—it lies about north-west
by north a few hundred yards. Between Cat Island and Storehouse Island
is a two-fathom channel, one-sixth of a mile broad through which
Kable's schooner has passed to the South. The harbour is very open and
a good deal of sea heaves in, but small vessels can up anchor and just
run round to the opposite side of Cat Island—there is a snug cove
entirely secure from all southerly winds where they may anchor, taking
care to be off from this last place, if the wind comes from the
northward. From the Grand Capshine the land trends away in a south-east
and south direction as far as Cape Barren; from where we lay the Bay of
Shoals bore south by west distant 15 miles. A vessel of a large draught
would have to lie a good deal further out in the Bay than we, as we
rode in one quarter less than 3 fathoms.
“Wednesday, 25th November. Fresh breezes and hazy weather. At
half-past 3 saw a single rock bearing south-south-west distance 9 or 10
miles, and an island on our beam south-east...haze very thick and scud
flying thick. At 4 P.M. saw a rock lying to north of Kent's Group about
3 miles...At half-past 4 saw easternmost island of Kent's Group bearing
west by south distance 8 miles, by half-past 5 P.M. having come nearly
up with the land, passed in between the group and a rock that lies to
the north and by 6 opened the Sound that passes through the
Islands...As we approached the first cove saw a large part of the
island on fire from which we conceived there might be people on
shore—kept standing up the Sound and had furious gusts of wind at
every point of the compass. We proceeded up with sails, sweeps and boat
till we opened the second cove but found it impossible to get to
anchorage in it as violent gusts constantly came down it. At 7 P.M.
bore away for the cove on the west side and at half-past 7 P.M. came to
anchor in 7 fathoms.
“Thursday, 26th November. Moderately fine weather in general. At 2
P.M. the officer and his party returned on board having found no
water—every part of the cove was overhauled and only rainwater could
be found here, the rocks being strongly marked with the stream of water
that will naturally fall from such a high land in heavy rain. From the
mate's finding a small quantity of Queyha rope in this cove, and seeing
a dog dead on the beach, I fancy the Harrington must have been here,
the dog being much like one of Mr. Cumming's. In the afternoon I sent
the first mate to the second cove on the east side to overhaul it for
water, but on the strictest search they found nothing, but a brackish
kind of spring...they however shot and caught three kangaroos.
“Friday, 27th November. Sounded the channel that divided this group
right through...At the southernmost end lies a bank of 10 fathoms. As
you approach the East Cove the water gradually shoals from 30 to 40
fathoms...and as you advance on West Cove the water suddenly falls from
30 to 16-14-12-10-8-7-6-5-4 and 3 fathoms, close to the beach the
bottom consists of sand mixed with small shells and stones—the East
Cove the same and small seaweed, the West Cove is strong, coarse sand
and where we anchored quite covered with black kelp so much so that at
first I was not clear but it might be rock...
“Saturday, 28th November. Measured a base line of 324 fathoms in
length from one point of the cove we lay in to the other, it was
measured with small line and every five fathoms of it was a chip of
light wood in length 120 fathoms. We had the boats employed in this
business; alternately anchored them till we got across to the southern
end of the point of the cove; and as the water was smooth I fancy the
length of base line to be correct. I then surveyed the eastern side of
the Sound and Cove. Sent the first mate and some hands to the
north-east cove to cut some of ye wood growing there...I sent the
carpenter with him—overhauled our bread and found...some had got damp
and mouldy, got it out from the rest, but owing to the bad weather
could not air it on deck...
“Sunday, 29th November. Hard gales and gloomy weather throughout
with a swell heaving in through the northern entrance of ye sound. P.M.
The first mate returned on board having cut down two spars...The party
with the dog caught two large and 3 small kangaroos. At 8 P.M. as usual
set a third watch with an officer. A.M. I went over to Harrington (or
East) Cove,* (* Named after Captain Campbell's ship the Harrington to
whose presence in these waters Murray often refers.) measured a base
line and surveyed the western side of this sound. I also overhauled
every part of the Rocks all round the cove and without it examined
every drain that I fell in with and although I saw at different parts
of the under rocks and in holes perhaps enough water to keep a few men
alive yet no quantity that could be much use to a ship's company. In
East Cove there is a good anchorage all over it for ships of any size,
and they may exactly choose what water to be in from 3 fathoms close in
to ye beach to 14 in ye mouth of it. I sounded every part of it and ye
bottom is sand with small stones and shells much covered with black
seaweed that might at first be thought to be rocks...West Cove is
almost the same...East Cove is ye best to lie in as it entirely shuts
in sea gates and moreover has little ground swell to which both other
coves are subject. With respect to the tide in the coves little can be
perceived, the perpendicular rise at full moon may be 10 or 11 feet,
with us it sometimes was 8 or 9 feet, and that in ye course of ye
hour...At all times it is imprudent to carry sail on a boat in this
sound; the puffs come so violent that before anybody could take in her
sail she would to a certainty be overset; even ships, in my opinion,
would do well before they enter this sound to take in all their small
sails and keep all hands at the braces fore and aft as well as hands by
the top-sail halyards, and it is necessary to handle the yards quick
otherwise a large vessel will be sure to rub sides with ye rocks if it
has blown fresh outside all day...The kangaroo seems to be most
plentiful at this time in the north-eastern cove owing, I fancy, to
their being less disturbed there than in the other coves, but with good
dogs and a little trouble they may be had on the hills in the vicinity
of either cove. Wood is plentiful and no trouble in getting it.
“Monday, 30th November. Hard gales, hazy weather with rain
throughout. The soil throughout this sound is nothing but sand a good
way up the hills and after that you chiefly find rocks with here and
there a shott of grass. The hills are covered very thick with
brushwood, a great part of which is decayed and rotten and renders it a
business of labour to ascend any of them. They are also very high—we
have seen nothing new on them. A few parrots are to be seen and now and
then a snake of a large size, these with kangaroos, gulls, redbills,
form the inhabitants of these islands, sometimes a seal comes in shore
but very seldom and with much care.
“Thursday, 3rd December. Warped a little way out and finding could
get no more of the warp sent hands in the gig to stand by...she drove
and we were obliged to let go small bower again. At this time wind
increased to a gale...P.M. Got altitudes for Governor King's
chronometer. A.M. Sent the first mate and a party to get kangaroos to
the opposite or west side of the land from the cove we lay in and for
“Friday, 4th December. At sundown party returned—reported no fresh
water to be found on that side of island, got 3 kangaroos, some
shell-fish, and knocked down 2 seals. A.M. Hove up our B.B.* (* Best
bower, that is the starboard bower.) At 11 weighed and made sail
through sound, at quarter past 11 clear through, strong wind at east.
Got sight of rock laying off this island. At noon bore up to survey
“Saturday, 5th December. Strong winds, hazy. At 1 P.M. hove to...At
3 P.M. body of Kent's Group bore east by south distance 15 or 16 miles.
At half-past 4 the five Seal Islands bore north-north-east distance 8
or 9 miles...Saw Sir R. Curtis's Island west by south 10 miles. At 7
P.M. saw Wilson's Promontory bearing west-north-west 13 or 14
miles...Stood on till 9 P.M. when it being thick and almost calm hauled
close to ye wind off and on...At 4 A.M. the Promontory bore west 7 or 8
miles. Made all sail at 8 A.M. rounded and intending to run between the
mainland and ye islands having a fine breeze was surprised to lose all
ye wind in an instant as we stood in under ye land—although we were
not less than 3 or 4 miles from ye mainland it fell calm...Put the helm
a starboard, put sweeps on her, and pulled her out into ye wind
again...At 10 A.M. passed a remarkable rock with a hole in it. Latitude
39 degrees 10 minutes 0 seconds south.
“Sunday, 6th December. At 3 P.M. saw Cape Liptrap bearing
north-north-west distance 6 or 7 miles...Stood in round Phillip Island
and by 8 A.M. got close up with Grant's Point and Seal Island.
“Monday, 7th December. At 5 P.M. a breeze sprung up at south-west.
Stood in for the entrance with all sail and the sweeps. At 6 P.M.
gained entrance and passed between Grant's Point and Seal Island which
island seemed as full of seals as when we were last there, a
circumstance that almost made me conclude that neither the Harrington
or Mr. Rushford* (* Presumably Mr. Rushworth.) had been here. Kept
standing up the harbour with a south-west wind, at 7 came to anchor in
Elizabeth's Cove in 6 fathoms water with the small bower; lowered down
the gig and I went on shore to observe if any signs of strangers were
to be seen. Saw nothing to make me think the cove had been visited
since we left in May last, in short the only difference was that the
land appeared in a higher state of verdure now than it was at that
time. At 4 A.M. out launch and sent the first officer and five armed
men to the river for fresh water...at 10 A.M. stood further up the
“Tuesday, 8th December. At 4 P.M. came to an anchor off Lady
Nelson's Point and I went on shore and shot a few birds. At 2 P.M. came
on board; up anchor and ran over into 2 fathoms water as near the mouth
of river as possible. A.M. I went in the gig to Churchill's Island and
there found everything as we left it—I mean the remains of our fires
and huts; the wheat and corn that Lieutenant Grant had sown in April
last was in full vigour, 6 ft. high and almost ripe—the onions also
were grown into seed; the potatoes have disappeared—I fancy that the
different animals that inhabit the island must have eaten or otherwise
destroyed them. I regret not having time or men to spare to clear a
large spot and sow the wheat already grown, as the next crop would be
large. I never saw finer wheat or corn in my life, the straw being very
near as large as young sugar-cane.
“Wednesday, 9th December. At 1 P.M. the first officer in the launch
returned on board with a load of water; on his examining the river he
reported that everything seemed the same as when we left it—a strong
presumption that no vessel had been there, as naturally they would have
replaced their water. The river has been flooded since last April, as a
temporary hut we built was found with part of the bank washed away; the
banks of the river were found all in a high state of verdure and in
many places the view is truly romantic and wild. No signs of native
canoes or huts have been discovered, indeed, there is less appearance
of natives now than when we were here last; for then many remains of
huts, part of a canoe and their beaten tracks were to be found on all
parts of the banks of this little river, all of which have vanished.
The party caught and shot 5 pairs of swans, out of which 3 pairs were
young, and brought on board alive, the others were old and we made some
fresh meals from them; they also brought on board a pair of young geese
which however are very scarce, but few parrots—the ducks are as shy as
ever...At 3 P.M. sent the second mate to Churchill's Island to cut down
the wheat on purpose to feed the young swans with it, at sundown they
returned on board with it in the whole perhaps a bushel in quantity
with a good deal mixed with oats and barley all fine of their
kind—some potatoes were also found and 2 onions. At 8 A.M. the launch
returned with a load of water, the officer reported that George Yates
had gone to sleep on watch, left the launch deep loaded in imminent
danger of being swamped as the tide rose, and moreover the whole boat's
crew in danger of being surprised by natives if any should be about,
for which crimes I punished him with two dozen lashes this being an old
offence of his—I pardoned him three different times some time back for
sleeping on his watch at Sydney...
“Friday, 11th December. The very favourable weather we have had
since our arrival here is to be thanked for enabling us to so soon fill
our water as I expected this business would have detained me 9 or 10
days. At noon ran over to Lady Nelson's Point and there anchored in the
mouth of Salt Water Lagoon—7 fathoms.
“Saturday, 12th December. Sent the first mate up Salt Water Lagoon
to get swans; he, however, found none but in afternoon and evening shot
two large ones at Lady Nelson's Point. P.M. Having discovered that
Robert Warren had laid an infamous plan to get the first mate, Mr.
Bowen, broke and otherwise disgraced by acquainting me and all the
company belonging to the vessel that he was a notorious thief and
embezzler of King's stores, I, upon the fullest and clearest
investigation of the matter, finding it to be a most diabolical
falsehood put Warren in double irons intending to deliver him up to the
rigour of the civil law on our arrival at Sydney should a speedier way
of sending him not occur during the cruise. A.M. Sent the first mate to
the north-west Branch in the gig to look for water swans and birds.
“Sunday, 13th December. At 8 A.M. the first mate returned in the gig
having shot 9 large and small swans, the large ones when fit for use
weighed 8 and 9 pounds each. At sunset native fires on ye distant
“Monday, 14th December. Sent the first mate and party in a launch to
overhaul the back of Tortoise Point.
“Tuesday, 15th December. A.M. Hove up and ran over into Elizabeth's
Cove where we anchored. Sent first mate and boat's crew down to Seal
Island to procure some skins...
“Wednesday, 16th December. I walked along the beach 6 or 7 miles,
but saw no signs of any strangers being here since we left this place.
“At 4 P.M. I returned on board, the launch also came on board, they
knocked down a few seals but there was too much surf, in consequence
the officer returned, he reported that no person could have visited
that island since we left this harbour as the seals were as plentiful
as ever and several thousand pups lying on shore. As it continued calm
all night, and seeing we could proceed to sea this day; I again sent
him with a party to Seal Island to get some of the skins both as
specimens for Government and for our own uses as several of the people
were without hats or shoes...Served out fishing line and 4 hooks to
each mess, the crew of the launch having yesterday caught several rock
fish at Grant's Point.
“Thursday, 17th December. Making ready for sea. Observed that for
these several days past the native fires had advanced nearer to us, and
this day saw one fire that could be no more than 4 or 5 miles inland.
“Friday, 18th December. At 2 P.M. the first mate and party returned
from Seal Island with some skins which run very small...This time the
officer found remains of fires and a number of bamboo pegs, also a
club. The Harrington must have been here, but where she could have lain
at anchor we could not discover; if any place along this beach, it is
curious that not the least signs of her are to be found—as I walked
down from one end almost to the other. P.M. I sent Bond and Missing,
two soldiers, to cut some more wood, doing which they were fortunate
enough to discover a spring of water...I went on shore and found on
clearing it with our hands that at once we got 100 gallons of very good
water...In the morning a spring was found that proved equal to the
watering in a few days a line of battleships. Pleased with this
circumstance took a gang of hands on shore and made a good road to it,
we also cleared the spring of all the dirt, roots and boughs of fallen
and decayed trees that had got into it...we bailed out of it at least 2
or 3 tons of water and found the bottom to be a rock of very large
stones collected together...in half an hour after it was entirely empty
it was again quite full of clear good water. We now filled all our
empty casks and everything on board that would hold water intending to
go to sea when the wind would permit. As in this cove wood is in
plenty, and the water is not above 50 yards from the seaside; a vessel
of any size may be wooded and watered in two or three days and ride
secure from all wind either close in or further out. It is the best
place in the harbour for any vessel to lay in whether her stay is short
or long...The soil of this island as far as we have penetrated is very
sandy; no black mould is seen, the trees are very small and very
decayed, nor does the small shrubbery grow with much vigour although
pleasing to the eye; in short this cove and island can supply a ship in
abundance with what is generally considered the greatest of her wants
yet I fancy it would poorly pay a settler. To-day we saw a fire which I
fancy could not have been more than 4 miles from Tortoise Point and
perhaps 7 from the vessel.
“Saturday, 19th December. Finished the pathway to watering-place,
having made it level and fit to roll butts on. At 5 P.M. saw a large
fire lighted on the opposite beach nearer the entrance of the harbour,
it might be 6 or 7 miles from the vessel, and in a little time it was
left, and nearer to us, at a little distance from the beach, another
very large fire was made. Expecting from this that in the morning I
should be able to speak to them I made a large fire abreast of where we
lay, the natives could not miss seeing it. In the morning no fires were
to be seen which was rather odd, as besides this nearest fire, last
night there were several others in sight...A.M. I got a large board
hung up at the entrance of the road to the well or spring on which was
painted, in oil colours, directions for any stranger how to get to the
“Friday, 25th December. At noon suddenly taken with most violent
squall at West...this hurricane of wind increased so rapidly and with
such fury that we were obliged to let go the best bower and till all 3
anchors bore the strain she dragged a little, struck top-gallant-mast.
This squall continued for 4 hours, then settled into a westerly gale
with constant thunder and lightning and at intervals very hard rain and
also more sea than I supposed possible in this cove. At 11 P.M. parted
our warp, my uneasiness at this was not a little however the S.B.* (*
Small bower, that is the port bower.) a little relieved by best bower
held on at night...
“Saturday, 26th December. From noon till 3 P.M. the gale continued
to increase and a sea got up still higher than it had yet been at any
time since the gale began...Made all as snug as possible for riding out
the gale, the hardest by far I ever saw in this country, and as it blew
dead on the shore outside nothing less than the greatest providence
could have saved us had we got to sea either of the times I attempted
it. At half-past 6 P.M. a lull with the appearance of good weather...7
P.M. the weather looking very bad, made a run for Lady Nelson's Point,
the gale following us as hard as ever, at half-past 9 came to an anchor
off Lady Nelson's Point—at noon gale continued, however, we felt
little here as we lay right under the land.
“Sunday, 27th December. Between hours of 12 and 2 A.M. having caught
Henry Willis and John Missing asleep in their watch, put both in
irons.. 8 A.M. vessel drove...she tailed in on a mudbank, which obliged
us to weight the best bower and with the long boat lay it ahead to
heave her off. At noon hove into 1/2 2 fathoms.
“Monday, 28th December. Wind at south-west at 3 P.M...up anchor and
ran to leeward of Lady Nelson's Point.
“Tuesday, 29th December. Winds at south-west. Shifted to north-west
and freshened into a gale with cloudy weather: thus has this kind of
weather bound us here this last 12 days...Sent the first mate and a
party to see and shoot some birds.
“Wednesday, 30th December. First part the wind veered to south-west
and blew so hard that we were obliged to give her the long service of
the cable although we lay under the land and not half a mile from it.
No fires have been seen these last three or four days.
“Thursday, 21st December. First and middle parts fine weather—at 3
P.M. seeing a number of swans near Churchill's Island, sent the First
Mate in the boat to see and get some of them; he was lucky enough to
catch six...Up anchor and run down into Elizabeth's Cove. At half-past
6 P.M. came to an anchor in 7 fathoms. By half-past 7 P.M. got on board
two or 300 gallons of water and some wood. The well was in fine order,
overflowed and water clear. We here discovered another spring the banks
of which were covered with water-cresses and wild blackberries, got
some of both on board. I had intended going inland on the island some
way, this was baffled by a strong wind coming from west-north-west
which threw the sea into the cove—not at all pleasant. I therefore up
anchor and again ran up under Lady Nelson's Point.
“Friday, 1st January 1802. All this 24 hours it has been blowing a
hard gale...The New Year was ushered in with us splicing the main brace
and three cheers; by the weather with a black squall of wind and rain.
Released Robert Warren.
“Saturday, 2nd January. Strong gales with hard squalls, later
cloudy. New slung our two Nun buoys; sent officer and some hands to cut
wood. Observed fire a long way off in north-east Branch.
“Sunday, January 3rd. P.M. Sent the 1st Mate with 4 hands in launch
to the River to try for some birds.
“Monday, 4th January. Variable weather. At 2 P.M. the launch
returned. We have got at last some knowledge of the natives of this
part of the country. The following is the substance of the report of
Mr. Bowen, 1st Mate:—
“At 7 A.M. left the head of Fresh Water River having in vain looked
for some of the crowned birds, and having been able to shoot nothing (a
few ducks excepted), having proceeded down the river, and being nearly
half-way on board he observed a fire lighted on the beach between
Crownhead and the entrance of the River and thinking it could be
nothing but natives he immediately put back to prove this. As the boat
approached the beach these blacks were perceived sitting in the same
form as those of Sydney, and each of them had a bundle of spears in
their hands. Our people hallowed them which they instantly answered and
did not seem at all alarmed on the nearer approach of the boat, three
boys made their appearance. As between the beach and the boat there lay
a bank of mud about 200 yards across, Mr. Bowen could not get quite so
close as he could wish, however, he singly got out and began to walk
towards them, which when they perceived, they jumped upon their feet
and it was now perceived that one of them was a very old man with a
large bushy beard and the rest of his face besmeared with red ochre.
The others were young men. They were all clothed with the skins of
oppossums as far as their middle, and this old man seemed to have
command over the others. As Mr. Bowen advanced they all pulled off
their dress and made signs to the officer that before he came any
nearer he must do the same; this was immediately complied with.
“They then all sat down again and Mr. Bowen, plucking a root of
fern, advanced pretty close to them holding it up; they seemed to
understand it as it was meant. When he got within a few yards of this
party the old man seemed rather uneasy and began to handle his spears.
Mr. Bowen then threw them a tomahawk, and one of the young men picked
it up; on Mr. Bowen beckoning them to sit down, he doing the same, they
again threw him back the tomahawk, and all except the old man sat down.
Mr. Bowen then broke a piece of stick and cut it with the tomahawk and
tyed a handkerchief to it and again reached it to them; on this, one of
the young men ventured to reach his hand and take it out of the
officer's but would by no means be so familiar as to shake hands. Mr.
Bowen then ate some bread and then gave them some which they did not
eat, but carefully laid it by under some fern roots or leaves; on
getting some ducks they took no other notice of them than to examine in
what manner they were killed, what their ideas on that head were we
know not as they did not take the least notice of our firearms even
when, towards the latter end of the parley, it was found necessary to
point one at the breast of the old man who all along was very
suspicious of our designs.
“All this time they expressed a good deal of wonder at the colour of
Mr. Bowen's skin, and one of the young men made very significant signs
to him that he must have washed himself very hard. They now made signs
for Mr. Bowen to go back to the boat and pointed down along the beach
to Crown Head. Mr. Bowen accordingly went into the boat and pulled down
as they walked, after pulling about 1 1/2 miles they stopped and
beckoned for the boat to come in—here 3 women made their appearance
each with a child at her back. Mr. Bowen went on shore here, little
passed on either side further than on Mr. Bowen asking for fire to warm
himself. They pointed to the boat and made signs for him to go there
and get it the women sometimes shook their hands to him, and the boys
laughing and hooping. A few more trifles were here given to them. A
little before this all our people got out of the boat stark naked as
was desired and walked somewhat near the natives, on which the old man
sent the boys away to the women, and he, after having been in a great
passion, made signs for us to go to the boat, began to retire with his
face to us and brandishing his spear as that everyone thought he would
heave it, when our people turned their backs the young men seemed more
quiet. As we saw that all hope of further intercourse for the present
was at an end Mr. Bowen ordered Bond to fire his piece over their heads
in order to make good his retreat to the boat. This had the desired
effect, as they one and all were out of sight in an instant. Before
this they must have taken the musket for nothing but a stick. All the
weapons they possessed were their spears (of a small size) and a stone
tomahawk along with the wumera they throw with. With respect to their
size the young men were much the same as those of Sydney or Jarvis Bay.
They were not deficient in making out our signs, and we were easy able
to understand from their motions what they would be at. From there
being but little food for them on the beaches here, and their being
clothed in the skins of the oppossums, I presume they are Bush natives,
the women, I forgot to mention, appeared to be middling well shaped,
and good-looking children, they were, however, always at some distance.
“Mr. Bowen and the people having joined the boat came on board.
Observed all the remainder of the day they retired back into the woods
and about 6 P.M. dous'd their fire at once although it must have
covered an acre of ground. At 4 A.M. a light wind sprung up at east,
got our kedge hove short, loosed sails and hove up—made sail for
“Tuesday, 5th January. Winds from south-east to east with cloudy
weather. At quarter past 1 P.M. Cape Shank bore north-east by north 9
miles. Kept running down along the land steering west and west by north
in order to traverse the whole of this land, found it impossible to
survey any part of the coast as yet from the numerous native fires
which covered this low shore in one volume of smoke. At 3 P.M.* (* i.e.
3 P.M. on January 4th by the civil reckoning. See above note.) we saw
ahead land bearing west-north-west distant 12 miles, and an opening in
the land that had the appearance of a harbour north-west 10 or 12
miles, bore away for this last it having the appearance of fine steady
weather...Accordingly kept standing down for this entrance which every
minute from its appearance made us sure it was a good harbour.* (* The
entrance to Port Phillip; Murray returned here January 30th.) At 5 P.M.
saw a small island in the entrance and observed that between it and the
main lay a reef...the 1st Mate and the the Boatswain's Mate at the
masthead looking out. At this time I suppose we were within 1 1/2 miles
of the entrance...and I perceived that the sea broke short and was
withal heavy—hove the lead and found only 10 fathoms
water...Astonished at this, I hauled our wind and called out to them at
the masthead to know if they saw any danger, but none was seen. I bore
away and deepened into 11 fathoms when Mr. Bowen called out “Rocks
ahead,” immediately hauled our wind and stood off...going often to the
masthead I saw that the reef did nearly stretch across the whole way,
but inside saw a sheet of smooth water of great extent. From the wind
blowing dead on this shore, I was obliged to haul off to clear the
land, but with a determination to overhaul it as no doubt it has a
channel into it and is apparently a fine harbour of large extent. Kept
pressing sail and by 8 P.M. the extremes of land bore from north-west
to west distance 20 miles...the wind blew about as much as our vessel
likes and I am convinced that no vessel would have done more—I wish I
could say as much for her in light winds...At daylight the haze over
the land at east, and east-north-east with a heavy sea. I did not like
to bear down on a lee shore and so kept our wind stretching for the
westernmost side of the bay...no part of this bay as yet has been
surveyed owing to the sea, wind and the before-mentioned numerous fires
of the natives, but as our courses and distance were all with a free
wind till we hauled off...there will be no great mistake found in that
part of this bay laid down. Till 8 P.M. from our run from Western Port
the soil of all the land from abreast of Elizabeth's Cove to Cape
Shanks is excellent; after you round Cape Shanks and stand to west the
land is invariably low and sandy with little hummocks here and there of
grass and small bushes till you get down as far as this supposed
harbour; on the opposite side the land gently rises a little for about
10 or 12 miles, seemingly good ground, it then sweeps away in a long
bight of low land which we could just perceive at sundown...At noon saw
the distant appearance of land on our larboard beam and from latitude
observed 38 degrees 48 minutes 14 seconds, I take it to be somewhere
near about Cape Shanks; bore away for Cape Albany Otway. Altitudes for
Time-keeper one giving Longitude 144 degrees 35 minutes 00 seconds and
the second Longitude 144 degrees 35 minutes 45 seconds east. All these
24 hours sound ground from 45 to 33 fathoms. Sand mixed with shells and
“Wednesday, 6th January. Kept running for Cape Albany and by 7 P.M.
having nearly run into its latitude stood off and on during night. In
the morning it was very hazy otherwise would have seen the land. At
half-past 9 A.M. saw Cape Albany, bearing west-north-west 10 or 12
miles distance and Cape Danger north-west 16 or 17 miles; both these
capes marked with white sandy front and middling high, all the land
between is sandy hills and long sandy beach, as also what part of the
land we saw stretching into Portland Bay. Ground invariably mixed with
shells and brown specks, sometimes a little gravel, till the last time
when we had 24 fathoms fine sand. At the time Cape Albany bore 26 or 27
miles. At noon hauled our wind for Harmingar Rock* (* Harbinger.) but
owing to heavy sea and wind did not make better than south-east
course—the vessel labouring and pitching a great deal.
“Thursday, 7th January. From noon till 5 P.M. strong winds at
north-north-east and a confused heavy sea...This weather settled into
hard gale at south-west by 7 a tumultuous sea up and we laboured much
and lurched very heavy. At 6 A.M. it cleared—set sails, out all reefs
intending to make Governor King's Island while this clear weather
continued; as it will be seen, unfavourable winds and weather has
prevented me either tracing coast from Cape Shanks to Cape Albany, as
after making Cape Albany from being able to run a straight course to
Harminger Rock; both of these points will be attempted.
“Friday, 8th January. Altitude 145 degrees 07 minutes 15
seconds—this confirmed me that we must have been driven eastward.
“Saturday, 9th January. Saw the loom of the land from the masthead
which I take to be Governor King's Island—its southernmost point bore
S.W.S. distant 16 miles. We could only see it now and then as the
squalls passed over. Kept working to this land which I rather think is
part of the same that on the 6th I saw and supposed it to be the
northernmost cape, Cape Danger, and another Cape Albany. I...will in
making circuit easily know them, both being sandy bluffs.
“Sunday, 10th January. Kept all night working up to land and by 7
A.M. got within 6 miles of the body of the island; kept edging down
along it a 4 or 5 miles distance; the land in general high and covered
with brush and now and then spots of large trees very tall. At 8 A.M.
we saw two rocks we had passed at 7 A.M.—make out exactly like 2 boats
under sail, they are both very near the land...As we kept running down
along the land I saw a low point of rock make out with a good deal of
surf and the land lay so far back that I concluded at least a deep
bight must be there—this proved true, as we rounded it the swell of
the sea which before was high greatly took off and although the wind
blew hard yet as it was off shore...lowered the boat and sent Mr. Bowen
and two good hands in her on shore...At half-past 11 the weather
looking worse instead of better made a signal for our boat which they
noticed and came off—by noon they got on board, and Mr. Bowen reported
that wood and excellent water was in abundance, that safe anchorage and
good ground was close into the beach—the soil is middling good, in
short, it is an excellent place to take shelter in from all worst winds
that blow in this country...Latitude of this bight is 40 degrees 00
minutes 09 seconds south and Longitude 143 degrees 57 minutes 45
“Monday, 11th January. Running along shore at a distance of 4 miles
at 1 P.M. Saw a rock bearing west distant 10 miles and a low point
north-north-west 9 or 10 miles—as we run down, this point still making
out made us begin to think that we should here find a bay or harbour.
By 2 P.M. we completely opened it and saw it was a bay of large extent
and fine shelter...where we came to anchor. Found the tide of flood
running to the Westward nearly done (4 P.M.)—the different parts of
the bay bore as follows: Elephant Rock* (* (Note in log.) So named from
resemblance to that animal.) north by east distant at 5 miles north
part of the bay north 1/2 west distant 6 miles—the bottom of bay
west-north-west 2 1/2 miles distant and the south point of ditto
south-south-east, or 4 miles. I now went on shore, found a good deal of
surf on the beach till we got on the southern side...here we landed and
the first thing we saw was a number of sea elephants* (* The Phoca
proboscidea of Peron.) of an immense size lying asleep on the beach,
each of them, Barnes the boatswain's mate told me, would make 8 or 9
barrels of oil; as we rowed down the shore we took them to be bluish
rocks. We found along this beach two freshwater lagoons full of those
animals which made it taste brackish...We could not get near the upper
part of them on account of the number of elephants playing in them
both. I named the bay Elephant Bay from this circumstance.
“Tuesday, 12th January. Boat returned on board, they caught 4
badgers and saw several kangaroos, but were not able to get any from
the thickness of the brush—they also found feathers of emus and a dead
one. Snakes are here, as the skin of one was found. We got several
gallons of elephant oil out to-day as a specimen to Government and for
our own use...some wood growing here reported different to any seen
“Wednesday, 13th January. Received some specimens of wood and some
water. At half-past 10 up and run out of bay, hoisted in gig, running
down shore; surveyed as well as weather would permit.
“Thursday, 14th January. Fair wind and cloudy. Running along shore 3
or 4 miles off and surveying it. At 4 P.M. having run as far as
North-West Point, and seeing a number of breakers ahead, hove to. We
could have done nothing by standing on in such weather. At 5 P.M.
dropped kedge with the warp to see if that would ride her and found she
would ride by it very well, furled sail and pointed yards. The land
from Elephant Bay to here is rather low of sandy soil and a very long
white sandy beach all this distance. The two sandy capes or rather
bluffs are about 20 miles from Elephant Bay and are so remarkable that
I think no person could be well mistaken in them. The course to
Elephant Bay is nearly south-east by compass; no person need mistake
the bay as Elephant Rock lies in the mouth of it about 3 miles from its
north part. The bottom is sand gravel mixed with broken shells...At 7
A.M. got nearly as far as the second rocks and breakers, found a very
high sea up. At this time saw an island bearing south-west by south.
The island presents a bold rocky front to the sea and foul
ground—breakers and rocks lie off from it a long way. Not less than 10
miles from here, on looking to the southward, a low island is seen and
due south the furthest point of land—it appears altogether rather a
dangerous place unless a vessel has a good breeze that can be depended
on. A calm with such a current as we found here might chance to run her
upon one rock or another...
“Friday, 15th January. Moderate fair weather. At 3 P.M. tacked in
shore and at 4 P.M. shortened sail and stood off and on within 2 or 3
miles of the sand bluffs; lowered gig and sent the First Mate in her on
shore to examine this part of the island, found the variation to be 8
degrees 54 minutes east. At half-past 6 P.M. the boat got on board. Mr.
Bowen told me that there was a very high surf on the beach, that those
bluffs were entirely sand, no shells were on the beach—inland he said
the soil was good—he found no water here, some kangaroo were seen but
could not be got at, the officer shot one but it got away; he said that
on going up one of the trees he perceived inland a large sheet of water
which he thinks must have some entrance into it from the other side of
the island. I rather think it a lagoon or swamp, nevertheless we will
give the other side of the island a strict search when wind and weather
will permit us to go round.
“Saturday, 16th January. At quarter past 4 A.M. breeze from
north-east, hazy weather and rain, stood in for Elephant Rock. At
half-past 5 A.M. made sail down the coast of island to the southward,
surveying it and sounding every half-hour...From 10 to 11 A.M. standing
in for land. The weather at this time cleared a little and from the
masthead a low point seemed to form a kind of entrance...into a deep
bight or bay, a reef of rocks was also seen to the westward of it.
Stood in pretty close along the edge of the reef and sent Mr. Bowen in
the gig to overhaul the place. Observed the rocks of this reef to be
full of seals, sea horses and elephants. The appearance of this place
being favourable...stood further in and perceived it was a deep bay.
“Sunday, 17th January. At 1 P.M. came to anchor—the bottom coarse
sand—from where we lay East point of land bore east-north-east distant
10 miles, the Seal Reef south by east 3 or 4 miles...we sounded every
part of this place where a vessel would most likely anchor and found it
14 to 7 fathoms. At 2 P.M. Mr. Bowen came off, he brought on board 3
seals with hair of prime fur and told me there was a vast quantity on
shore. Elephants are also in abundance and the woods full of kangaroo,
emus, badgers, etc., some few shells were found, no water seen as yet.
After dinner I went on shore: the brush is very thick which rendered it
impossible to get any way in, there is little doubt of plenty of water
being here as we in our search started 15 or 20 kangaroo from 30 to 40
pounds weight. An emu was caught by the dog about 50 pounds weight and
surprising fat. At one place on this beach an acre of ground at least
was covered with elephants of a most amazing size and several were all
along the beach and playing in the water. At 7 P.M. I came on board. A
sea watch with the proper officer had been set as has been usual ever
since we made this island...At midnight the wind increasing made sail
out of the bay as I preferred riding out the gale in Elephant Bay. At
11 A.M. came to anchor in Elephant Bay. We have now overhauled and
surveyed this island from its north-west and west points to its
south-west points being in length about 55 or 60 miles, and although
westerly winds that have blown for such a length of time have retarded
our voyage yet they have enabled me to strictly search every part of
the island between aforementioned points, and should a north-east wind
come and remain steady for a few days we will be able to overhaul the
remaining part of the island with equal accuracy. Of the advantages to
be derived from this fine island I shall say but little, the plain
truth is to be seen in this journal. It contains plenty of wood and
water, the woods are full of animals and excellent of their kind, the
shores are lined with fine oil (if I may be allowed the expression) and
this part of the island has two good bays in it well sheltered from all
the dangerous winds. A vessel may anchor as I did unless the wind blows
from the east, south-east or north-east or north points of the compass.
I named this last discovery the Bay of Seals from the number of these
animals on the shores of it, and the rocks outside the bay Seal Rocks.
“Monday, 18th January. First and middle parts it blew a gale but
with long lulls at times, latter a harder gale with much heavier
squalls than I have yet seen in this country (the Western Port gale
excepted) and it is with great satisfaction that I am able to say that
our little vessel has rode it out as yet with one anchor and half a
cable—a proof of the goodness of the holding ground...At 8 the boat
brought on board a turn of water and 2 kangaroo were caught—the
increase of the gale hindered the boat from returning on shore.
“Tuesday, 19th January. From noon till 4 P.M. the gale continued. By
sundown it was moderate weather; the boat returned on board...a wambuck
was caught, served it, a swan and a kangaroo to ship's company.
“Thursday, 21st January. A.M. Sent Mr. Bowen in the gig to Elephant
Rock with directions to sound all the parts of this bay we did not run
over in the vessel.
“Friday, 22nd January. P.M. The boat returned on board. Mr. Bowen
found the soundings all the distance from the vessel from 9 to 10 and
11 fathoms and good ground. Close to the Elephant Rock there are 10
fathoms. This rock is about 1 1/2 miles in circumference and it is
entirely covered with seals of prime fur some of which the officer
brought, there might be 6 or 7,000 seals of different sizes on shore.
A.M. Sent boat to Elephant Rock for skins and another for wood and
“Saturday, January 23rd. P.M. The launch returned with some
sealskins of prime fur and I was told that the Rock was full of
mutton-birds, in consequence of this I had the boat on shore and
procured 80 or 90 of them, served ditto to the people.
“Sunday, January 24th. Throughout this 24 hours the weather has been
remarkably thick and hazy...stood off and on till 4 P.M...then we made
some sail to get sight of land if possible before dark and by 8 P.M.
saw the north-west point of the Bay of Seals being north by west
distant 5 miles, 2 Seal Rocks distant 6 miles north by east...at 2 A.M.
found the vessel close to the breakers and a strong ripple of a current
with a very confused jump of a sea. Tacked and stood off till daylight.
By 6 A.M. we saw the distant looming of the land, bearing north-west,
and perceived that all round us...lay rocks and dangerous breakers, one
bore south-west (a large rock 3 miles) another south-south-west 3 1/2
another south 4 miles and one west 5 miles, that one which bore
south-south-west, John Johnson told me he thought it Harbinger Rock,
having seen it when with Mr. Black, commander of the Harbinger. At 8
A.M. made sail to the north-east...At noon strong winds at south hauled
her off East.
“Before I close this log it may be proper to observe that from the
very long run of bad weather we have had and being so often baffled in
our attempts to get round the end of the island which is full of danger
and moreover have seen all the land that lies between its north-west
and west points to its south-west points from which these dangerous
rocks and breakers lie about 7 or 8 miles I now determined to stand off
to Albatross Island in a straight line for this reef for we could not
venture too close unto land it having every appearance of a gale from
south or south-east either of which blow in on the shore. This reef I
named Lady Nelson Reef from our so narrowly escaping being on shore on
it, this however is only to distinguish it from others for I have not
the least doubt but it is what Mr. Bass gave me a sketch of, the
latitude and longitude so well correspond with his. I fancy also it is
what was seen in the Martha schooner in 1799 along with the land, all
of which is one island...Thus we took leave of this large and fine
island where the benevolent hand of Providence has fixed the chief
necessaries of life and the means to procure some of its luxuries. We
kept on East expecting it would soon blow a gale and a heavy sea up. I
much lament not having as yet had it in my power from the series of
unfavourable weather we have had so exactly to comply with the
Commander-in-Chief's orders as I could have wished.
“Monday, January 25th. From noon till half-past 1 P.M. we run due
east 8 miles, we then saw from masthead Hunter's Islands bearing (the
middle of them) south-south-east distant 5 or 6 leagues...Under the lee
of Three Hummock Island in smooth water we laid under easy sail off and
on all night—found the tides here to run very strong. In the morning I
sent boat on shore with the First Mate and 2 hands, by noon they
returned having shot 2 ducks and found a spring of water, some small
kangaroo were seen but not worth shooting even could they have been got
at. The footsteps of a man were seen on shore, perhaps one of the
Harrington's Lascars as the foot was measured and found very small. The
shores of this island are bold rock and some dangerous reefs lie off
it, one of which (a sunken one) we did not escape by 10 yards...Lady
Nelson's Reef is east-south-east and west-north-west distance about 30
miles in Latitude 40 degrees 20 minutes 30 seconds south and Longitude
by Time-keeper 145 degrees 40 minutes 53 seconds, it has many sandy
bights in it where I would not scruple to anchor in south-south-west,
south-east and east winds.
“Tuesday, January 26th. At half-past 12 bore away for Elephant Rock.
At 5 P.M. the south extreme of Three Hummock Island bore south by east
distance 19 or 20 miles...At sundown extremes of Governor King's Island
bore south-west to west by north distance 11 or 12 miles. At 8 P.M.
shortened sail and threw her head off shore intending to have lain off
and on all night, this was done. At 4 A.M. made sail for land and we
exactly made Elephant Rock right ahead therefore the distance between
Three Hummock Island and Elephant Rock is north 65 west distance 44
miles true by compass north-west by west. We then stood on for the
sandy capes or bluffs and by half-past 9 A.M. the largest and
perpendicular one bore south by west distant 8 or 9 miles, this I named
Cape Farewell. I took a departure from it intending to run to Cape
Albany (Otway); the wind from 4 A.M. has blown at east-north-east and
from that to north-east with its usual hazy dirty weather, in
consequence of which we kept our wind till noon to be certain of
clearing the shoals and breakers lying off this end of the island. At
noon saw the looming of the western end of the island bearing distant
perhaps 12 miles, the direct distance from Mid Hummock of that island
to Cape Farewell is north 51 degrees west distance 56 miles true but by
compass north-west a little westerly.”
CHAPTER 6. THE DISCOVERY OF PORT
On leaving King Island, Murray, on January 30th (civil time),* (* In
this chapter civil time is given in the author's observations. The time
in the logs throughout is according to nautical reckoning, i.e. the day
beginning at noon before the civil reckoning.) returned again to
Western Port and next day, at 4 A.M. he sent Mr. Bowen with 5 men in
the launch to examine the harbour to the westward which is now known as
Port Phillip and at the head of which stands the city of Melbourne. On
Wednesday the launch returned and the first mate reported that he had
found a good channel into the harbour which was “a most noble sheet of
water.” He also reported that he saw no natives but only their huts.
Shortly afterwards Murray himself entered the newly discovered Port in
the Lady Nelson.
Murray arrived there on February 14th and anchored at 3.30 P.M. in a
sandy cove off a point of the shore which lay distant a quarter of a
mile to the south-west. He named a high mountain Arthur's Seat; a
cluster of islands where black swans were plentiful Swan Isles; a bold
rocky point to the east-south-east Point Paterson and a long sandy
point Point Palmer.
The chart of Port Phillip (Illustration 11) is possibly a
reproduction of the track of the Lady Nelson's boat when the bay was
explored for the first time. Arthur's Seat and Watering Place
apparently are the only names placed on it by Murray* (* It is
preserved at the Admiralty.) as Swan Pond and “Point Repear” are in a
different handwriting. At “Point Repear” the long boat of the Lady
Nelson may have been repaired or the name may have been written in
mistake for Point Nepean, also named by Murray.
The following entries describe his coming to Port Phillip.
“Wednesday, January 27th. From noon till 8 P.M. variable winds, hot
sultry weather, dull fiery sky and so thick that we could not see above
a mile ahead; kept making for Cape Albany (Otway). At 8 short sail and
hove to...at 4 A.M. the wind settled into a westerly gale attended with
heavy squalls and rain. By 9 A.M. it turned into a clear gale and a
very high sea up which makes us labour a good deal. Had altitude
longitude by then 143 degrees 13 minutes 40 seconds, these agree with
the dead reckoning within 3 or 4 miles. Latitude 39 degrees 12 minutes
33 seconds. This weather has again rendered abortive my plan of getting
the direct line of bearing and distance between Cape Farewell and Cape
Albany Otway. I shall only observe that I never experienced such length
of bad weather at any time of year or in any country since I sailed the
“Saturday, January 30th. At half-past 9 A.M. the north point of land
bore north distant 12 miles—made sail for it. At 10 A.M. perceived
with surprise that it was Cape Shanks and Grant's Point instead of Cape
Albany. I now judged it prudent to send our boat down to overhaul for a
channel into the harbour mentioned in the Log of the 5th of this month,
accordingly stood in for it and by noon Cape Shanks bore north-west
distant 6 or 7 miles and Grant's Point north-east by east 10 or 11
miles. We had a very heavy swell and perceived the surf about Seal
Islands breaking in a fearful manner; sounded every hour.
“Sunday, January 31st. At 2 P.M. passed Seal Island. Observed the
long range of breakers on the western side of the Port: several of them
had shifted their berths nearer to mid channel...the whole of them for
several miles broke incessantly and remarkable lofty—we passed within
2 miles of them. The reefs on the eastern side also broke much further
out. In short the mid channel up this port has (by the immense run of
bad weather) been made narrower. By 5 P.M. got to anchor in Elizabeth's
Cove...out boats. Got the launch ready for sailing in the morning to
explore the channel of the western harbour before mentioned. I went on
shore in the gig. Found the well as we left it full of fine clear water
and our board of directions hanging at the entrance of the pathway. At
4 A.M.* (* It will be seen that Bowen left to explore Port Phillip at 4
A.M. of January 31st and not on February 1st.) I sent the launch with
Mr. Bowen and 5 men armed with 14 days' provisions and water down to
the westward giving him particular instructions how to act both with
respect to the harbour and natives should he fall in with any, the
substance of which was that in finding a channel into the Port he would
take marks proper for coming in with the vessel and immediately return
to me and at all times to deal friendly with the natives. It may now be
proper to observe that my intentions are that if a passage into that
harbour is found I will take the vessel down into it and survey it as
speedily as circumstances will allow, from that trace the coast to Cape
Albany, from Cape Albany run strait to Cape Farewell and Harbinger
Rocks, and if time, after that follow up the remainder of my orders.
“Monday, February 1st...A.M. I walked along the beach for 8 miles up
to Lady Nelson's Point and observed that a great variety of birds were
in the brush and their notes very different; flights of white cockatoos
of perhaps 100 were often seen. At Lady Nelson's Point we saw 20 or 30
swans in the salt-water lagoon...one and all of the birds we have seen
were so shy that...we did not shoot one (a single pigeon excepted). The
trees also were all in bloom. I am apt to think that summer does not
begin in this part till January. On penetrating further into this
island the soil was found to be good.
“Tuesday, February 2nd. P.M. I sent a hand on shore to the well in
order to see if any birds were to be got by his sitting there a few
hours steady as numbers towards sundown came in to drink. The plan had
the desired effect, 4 pigeons were shot, a dozen of parrots; these
latter were common, I dined on them, the pigeons were preserved. On
opening them all were found to feed on seeds of various kinds.
“Wednesday, February 3rd. P.M. As I was walking along the pathway to
the well I nearly trod on a snake about 6 feet long, the first we have
seen on the island. It made its way into the brush.
“Thursday, February 4th. Throughout these 24 hours we have had calms
with hot sickly weather and thick fiery haze. At half-past 9 P.M. the
launch returned on board, all well. Mr. Bowen reported that a good
channel was found into this new harbour, water from 10 fathoms to 6 and
about a mile and a half broad, and according to his accounts it is A
MOST NOBLE SHEET OF WATER larger even than Western Port, with many fine
coves and entrances in it and the appearance and probability of rivers,
a number of shells were found on its beaches—swans, pelicans and birds
of various sorts were seen in great numbers. The boat's crew lived on
swans all the time they were away.
“No water was as yet found—the officer having no time to spare, nor
no natives seen but numbers of their huts, in short from such a report
as I have received and of the truth of which I have no doubt (as the
attention and care of this officer has always been conspicuous) it
would be unpardonable in me not to give this new harbour a strict
overhaul, in the meantime as it was calm and no appearance of getting
out, at 8 A.M. hove up and towed the vessel up to Lady Nelson's Point
in order to send the boat up the river for birds such plenty of various
kinds being on this island. At noon dropped our anchor in 6 fathoms,
Lady Nelson's Point bearing west by south half a mile and Crown Head 9
miles north-east by east and Margaret Island north-east 1/2 north 7 or
8 miles—moored with kedge.
“Friday, February 5th. Variable flaws of wind all round the compass
this last 24 hours and hot sultry weather. Employed overhauling our
bread which we found in good order. A.M. Sent the launch with the First
Mate and 4 hands armed up the river to try and shoot some birds, it
ought to be observed that the past two or three days we were here
numbers of native fires were seen on the coast and up both arms, since
then they have disappeared.
“Monday, February 8th. At 3 P.M. the launch returned, all well,
having got a live swan, some dead ones and 4 crowned parrots, a single
duck was shot. No fresh water was to be got even at dead low water and
up as far as the boat could be pushed between the boughs of the fallen
trees. At A.M. took up our kedge, weighed our anchor, made sail for
Elizabeth's Cove and at half-past 6 A.M. came to anchor...sent empty
cask on shore to complete our water—also a party to cut wood, we
filled our casks from this excellent spring. Longitude by chronometer
145 degrees 13 minutes 53 seconds.
“Tuesday, February 9th. Calm weather, constant thick fiery haze,
very close and sultry. By 3 P.M. secured everything for sea intending
to sail in the morning, took a haul of our seine, caught one whiting
only and two remarkable curious fish.
“Wednesday, February 10th. P.M. Sighted our Bower anchor suspecting
it to be foul, found it so. Having found a quantity of oysters, mussels
and shellfish at low water to-day gave the shore a strict search at low
water and plainly perceived that a company of 6 or 8 men would not run
any hazard of being starved here for several months from the vast
quantity of shellfish to be found. We also have these some days past
found feeding on seaweed many hundreds of a very handsome shell very
scarce where we were in April last.
“Thursday, February 11th. This evening a snake 6 feet long was
killed in the road to the well.
“Friday, February 12th. A.M. Hoisted in launch, took up kedge
intending to sail if wind came to anything, it however kept constantly
falling calm and then a light air would spring up for a few minutes;
this kind of weather obliged me to keep fast. At noon heard distant
thunder around us.
“Saturday, February 13th. From 7 P.M. till 10 P.M. constant loud
thunder, vivid lightning and very hard rain later part, till 9 A.M. Was
calm then. A breeze sprung up at east. Hove up our B.* (* Bower, that
is anchor.) and hung by the kedge, by this time it fell calm and our
hopes of getting to sea vanished, needless to observe this kind of
weather is as destructive to the intent of this cruise as gales at sea.
I took a walk along the beach far enough to see all the entrances to
this port and by ascending an eminence was confirmed in my opinion that
several of those dangerous sand rollers had shifted their berths and by
so doing had rendered the channel narrower than hithertofore.
“Sunday, February 14th...At 5 A.M. weighed and made all sail down
the port, by 8 A.M. Grant's Point bore east by north distant 10 miles
and Cape Shanks north-west distant 7 miles; kept running down the land.
A.M. At half-past 10 South Head of the new Harbour or Port north by
east 8 miles distant; by noon the island at entrance of harbour bore
north half a mile distant. At this time we had a view of this part of
the spacious harbour, its entrance is wide enough to work any vessel
in, but, in 10 fathoms. Bar stretches itself a good way across, and,
with a strong tide out and wind in, the ripple is such as to cause a
stranger to suspect rock or shoals ahead. We carried in with us water
from 14 to 16 fathoms. Kept standing up the port with all sail set.
“Monday, February 15th. P.M. Working up, the port with a very strong
ebb against us, we however gained ground. The southern shore of this
noble harbour is bold high land in general and not clothed as all the
land at Western Point is with thick brush but with stout trees of
various kinds and in some places falls nothing short, in beauty and
appearance, of Greenwich Park. Away to the eastward at the distance of
20 miles the land is mountainous, in particular there is one very high
mountain which in the meantime I named Arthur's Seat from its
resemblance to a mountain of that name a few miles from Edinburgh...to
the north-east by north, about 5 miles from the south shore lies a
cluster of small rocky islands and all round them a shoal of sand;
plenty of swans and pelicans were found on them when the boat was down,
from which I named them Swan Isles. To the north-east by east there is
an opening, and from our masthead no land could be seen in it. The
northern shores are low with a sandy beach all along. At half-past 3
P.M. we got to anchor in a sandy cove in 7 fathoms water, bottom fine
sand—Swan Isles bearing north-east by north distance 5 miles, a bold
rocky point which I named Point Paterson east-south-east 1 1/2 miles, a
long sandy point named Point Palmer west, 1 1/2 miles, and the nearest
point of the shore south-west 1/2 of a mile distant.
“I went on shore and walked through the woods a couple of miles. The
ground was hard and pleasant to walk on. The trees are at a good
distance from each other and no brush intercepts you. The soil is good
as far as we may be judges. I saw several native huts and very likely
they have burnt off several hundred acres of ground. Young grass we
found springing up over all the ground we walked; the only birds we saw
were a few parrots. We found some shells on the beach and returned on
board. I have named this harbour Port King* (* Governor King afterwards
renamed the harbour Port Phillip in honour of the first Governor of New
South Wales.) in honour of Governor P.G. King under whose orders I act.
Set a third watch of the people with an officer. In the morning sent
the gig to Swan isles for swans and on board we caught a few rock fish.
At noon the gig returned with 3 live and 4 dead swans.
“Tuesday, February 16th. After dinner I took a walk through the
woods of this part of the country, attended by one soldier and our
carpenter to examine the wood. To describe this part I walked through
is simply to say that it nearly resembles a walk on Blackheath and the
Park if we set out of question the houses and gardens of the latter.
The hills and valleys rise and fall with inexpressible elegance. We
discovered no water nor any new wood of consequence, but it is
impossible that a great want of water can be here from the number of
native huts and fires we fell in with in our march. From the top of a
high hill I ascended and casting my eyes to the north-east a large
sheet of water was seen which I am inclined to think is either a
harbour or large river; we also perceived that this port trained away
under Cape Shanks.
“On our return to the boat Andrew Luck found a perfect nautilus
shell; he made me a present of it, indeed it is but common justice to
observe that the invariable good, attentive and decent behaviour of
this old man ever since he joined this vessel renders him a fit object
of mercy. This day a few snappers were caught and some rock fish. At
sundown a native fire was seen about a mile inland, in the morning
early I sent Mr. Bowen and Bond armed to speak them, neither fell in
with them. At 9 A.M. hove up our Bower with a light air at north-east
and dropped a few miles further up the Port. We now saw the same fire
just lighted by the natives and presently perceived several of them
come out of the Bush, but the moment they saw the vessel they sprang
into the wood out of sight. At 11 A.M. we came to an anchor in 5
fathoms water, handed sails, etc., as there was a native fire burning a
little way inland.
“I sent the launch with Mr. Bowen and 4 hands armed to see if any
natives were here, and before the boat was half-way on shore we had the
satisfaction of seeing 18 or 20 men and boys come out of the wood and
seat themselves down on a green bank waiting the approach of our boat
with which I had sent some shirts and other trifles to give them; the
boat accordingly landed in the midst of them and a friendly intercourse
took place with dancing on both sides—in an hour the boat returned.
Mr. Bowen had dressed them in our white shirts and invited them on
board, this however they declined, but exchanged for all this. Got a
basket of straw neatly enough made. They were all clothed in the skins
of opossums and each had a bundle of spears, a stone mogo and one
basket. They wished much to know what our arms were and their use and
did not seem entirely to believe Mr. Bowen that they were only walking
sticks—no women were amongst them. I sent the boat again with some
bread, looking-glasses, tomahawk and a picture as presents to induce
them to part with their weapons and dresses as also to inform us where
there was water. This day all hands put upon two-thirds allowance of
“Wednesday, February 17th. Fresh light airs inclinable to calm
throughout this 24 hours. The boat (as mentioned in latter part of
yesterday's log) proceeded to the shore and was as before received in a
friendly manner by the natives, all of whom were seated in a circle on
a beautiful spot of grass near a high point of land. Mr. Bowen and all
the crew consisting of 5 men and the boy, Mr. Brabyn, went up with
their dinners in their hands and sat down in the midst of them (18 in
number) and began to eat showing the natives how to eat bread, etc.,
and gave them anything they chose to ask for. Mr. Bowen gave them all
the things I had sent as well as several of his own things—stripping
himself almost naked to comply with their wishes, and his example was
followed by the whole of the boat's crew. As there was two fine-looking
boys amongst them I sent Mr. Brabyn on shore purposely to see and gain
their confidence by his attention to their youngsters, both of whom he
dressed in his shirts, handkerchiefs, trowsers, etc.
“All matters continued in this state while our people had anything
to give and all we got was 2 spears, a basket and a mogo and even these
they again took from the seamen that had them in keeping, this however
the officer took no offence at being determined if at all possible to
keep on friendly terms with them. It was in vain that the officer and
crew tryed by signs too significant not to be understood to gain
intelligence where water was to be found or on what beaches shells were
most plentiful, to all such enquiries they turned a deaf ear and only
seemed intent on getting what our people had even to the last shirt; by
this time our people had nearly finished their dinners and Isaac Moss
having the boat in charge got up and was walking slowly down to her. At
this time the Boy Brabyn happened to turn his head towards the wood and
saw a man in the very act of throwing a spear at Moss as well as a
large body (not before seen) behind a large fallen tree with their
spears all in readiness for throwing. The boy immediately cried out to
Mr. Bowen who was at that very time in the act of serving out bread to
all the party he was sitting among that he would be speared, but before
the words were out of his mouth, a spear of a most dangerous kind, was
thrown at and did not escape Moss by a yard and in an instant the whole
of the treacherous body that Mr. Bowen and 4 of our people were sitting
in the midst of opened out to the right and left and at once left them
all open to the party in ambush who immediately were on their feet and
began to throw spears; still such was the forbearance of the officer
that only one piece was fired over their heads but this was found only
to create a small panic, and our party were obliged to teach them by
fatal experience the effect of our walking sticks.
“The first fire made them run and one received two balls between his
shoulders, still some of them made a stop to heave; the second fire
they all set off with astonishing speed and most likely one received a
mortal wound. Before another piece was fired Mr. Bowen laid hold of one
of their number and held on till three of our people came up and also
grappled him, strange to tell he made such violent struggles as to get
away from them all nor did the contents of the officer's piece bring
him up although one ball passed through his arm and the other in the
side—he was traced a good distance by his blood—the remaining pieces
were by this time fired and our party gave chase to them all.
“On board I kept a strict look-out with the glass and we lay only a
little more than a quarter of a mile off the point where they were
seated on. I plainly saw the natives running through the wood which was
by no means thick—one fellow in particular had been dressed in one of
my white shirts and the officer had tyed the wrists of it with string,
which hindered his getting it off—him we plainly saw from the vessel
pass the roots of black trees with such speed as more to resemble a
large white bird flying than a man. To increase their panic as they
passed along I gave them a discharge of our guns loaded with round and
grape but am almost certain that they did them no damage; by this time
our people returned from the chase, having found on the way back a
number of spears, dresses and baskets, etc. Made the boat signal and
they came off.
“Thus did this treachery and unprovoked attack meet with its just
punishment and at the same time taught us a useful lesson to be more
cautious in future. With respect to the size of these natives they are
much the same as at Sydney, their understanding better though, for they
easily made out our signs when it answered their purposes or
inclination. When it did not they could be dull enough. They were all
clothed in opossum skins and in each basket a certain quantity of gum
was found. Not the least sign of a canoe has been seen. I conclude they
live entirely inland, and if we may judge from the number of their
fires and other marks this part of the country is not thin of
inhabitants. Their spears are of various kinds and all of them more
dangerous than any I have yet seen. The workmanship of their dresses,
their lines and baskets are far from despicable, their mogo or stone
axes are such as common at Sydney.
“In the afternoon the boat went to Swan Isles and caught three live
swans of a large size, and in the morning the launch went with Mr.
Power and a party well armed to sound for a channel round which the
vessel might sail in order to survey the port. Usefully employed on
board. Latitude 38 degrees 20 minutes south.
“Thursday, February 18th. Pleasant weather throughout. The launch
returned having been fortunate enough to discover...fresh water and a
channel all round this part of the Port from 10 to 14 fathoms. I took a
long range through the woods attended with an armed party. We
discovered nothing new but found several of the things we gave the
natives which in their fright they had dropped. The ground we walked
over was open and the same as before described, with good soil. The
tide where we lie flows full and changes at 3 hours in the afternoon,
and its perpendicular rise is about 6 feet up and down.
“Friday, February 19th. Another overhaul of the woods took place but
nothing (not before mentioned) was found. Numbers of native tracks,
fires and huts were seen. One native fire in sight on Arthur's Seat
distant about 10 miles.
“Saturday, February 20th. Sent an armed party and our carpenter a
long range through the woods to try the different kinds of wood, none
however was found of use, the trees being almost invariably oak and
other wood quite common at Sydney. A red waistcoat of Mr. Brabyn's was
found with some bread in each pocket, in this he had dressed one of the
native boys, who in his fear left it I fancy, as soon as he had found
how to get it off, for it was buttoned on him.
“Sunday, February 21st. Finding we could not move higher up the port
with the vessel I sent the launch over the western side to examine the
passage into a harbour or river I saw from the hill on 16th inst.
“Monday, February 22nd. At noon the launch returned, having found an
entrance into the sheet of water they were sent to overhaul, but only
at high water, 7 or 8 feet of it, consequently no harbour for shipping.
The boat proceeded a mile and a half, and, in running that, caught 20
swans of a large size without wasting one charge of shot, which
by-the-bye is now become a scarce article, not above 3 or 4 pounds
being in the vessel; however from the report made of this place it may
lead to something of more consequence. I shall after the survey of the
Port is completed give it a good overhaul. I must mention here that
both our boats are now in such a state of decay from age and constant
mending and patching that they both keep a hand constantly bailing when
pulling or sailing, this circumstance it is needless to mention in a
certain degree retards our proceedings.
“Tuesday, February 23rd. I went in the launch and sounded a few
miles of the Port up towards the watering place. The soundings were 9
feet to 6 fathoms, bottom fine sand, further out perhaps a deeper
channel may exist (this will be ascertained in the survey). Afterwards
we walked through the country some distance, found the soil invariably
good, the ground almost clear and the ranges of trees as regular as
they are in general in the Park, with fine strong short grass
“Wednesday, February 24th. First part of these 24 hours had a great
deal of thunder and lightning and rain, middle and latter parts it blew
a hard gale at south-west with squalls at intervals. We held on
although all ataunto with the small bower and one-third of a cable out,
a proof of the goodness of the holding ground.
“Thursday, February 25th. First part the gale continued, latter fair
winds. Observed several very large native fires at the foot of Arthur's
Seat and on the western side of the port, hauled our seine several
times along the shore nearest us but caught no fish owing probably to
there being flats of sand lying off them to the distance of 200 yards.
“Friday, February 26th. Examined the beach and land for about 8
miles. A.M. Sent our long boat on shore, turned her up and set our
carpenter to work on her, she leaking so much as to keep a hand
constantly bailing, and our small boat is so bad as to render it
hazardous to go any distance from the vessel in her.
“Saturday, February 27th. Fine weather and moderate winds. Both
boats sounding and on survey of harbour. A number of very large native
fires on the hills round the eastern and western shores of the Port
have been seen these two days past. Sent Mr. Bowen and Mr. Brabyn in
the gig to get the Latitude of the north end of Swan Isles and at noon
I got the Latitude of a point about 7 miles North and South of them
from which a base line was got for the survey of the harbour.
“Sunday, February 28th. Gave some of the people liberty on shore.
“Monday, March 1st. At 5 A.M. took up our kedge, hove short, loosed
sails and sheeted home the top-sails, weighed and made sail up the
port, intending to run as high as the watering place. The wind in a
little time flied away and the tide ran so rapid as to sweep the vessel
on a shoal of sand with only 5 feet of water on it, as it was perfectly
smooth we immediately hove her off without her sustaining the least
damage and dropped back into our old berth between Point Paterson and
Bowen's Point so named from Mr. Bowen's skirmish with the natives in
it. The flies are now so troublesome as to almost hinder a person from
sitting a moment in one place.
“Tuesday, March 2nd. Employed getting on board stones for ballast
and stowing them away. At 4 A.M. sent the longboat for a turn of water
and to sound that part of the harbour between the vessel and it; by
noon she returned on board with a turn of water, it was found that a
bank of sand lay from shore to the distance of a mile or a mile and a
quarter with only, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 feet on it at low water and it
extends nearly 4 miles along shore. When you have passed this there is
from 5 to 9 fathoms water abreast of the watering place, there is
however little doubt of a deep channel being outside of this shoal, and
this point will be ascertained in the course of to-morrow.
“Thursday, March 4th. P.M. The launch returned on board with a turn
of water but had not been able to find a channel for vessel of any
draught of water though she stood well out from the shore to at best 3
miles. This bank has only from 4 to 8 feet water on it and in many
places is not above a hundred yards broad.
“Friday, March 5th. I went in the launch in search of a channel by
which vessels of a larger draught than ours might be got up abreast of
the watering place and was fortunate enough to find one a mile at least
in breadth lying off the southern shores of this Port about 3 miles and
having from 16 to 6 fathoms water in at low water and neap tides; and
in this water a vessel of any draught may be secure from all winds at
about a mile and a half from the spring at which to-day I loaded the
boat with water and examined it. As far as we are judges it is most
excellent water as clear as crystal—lies from the beach about 10 or a
dozen yards and plenty of it to water the Grand Fleet of England; it is
nearer the entrance than the foot of Arthur's Seat by about 2 miles,
and can easily be found out by the land which for a few miles before
you come to it is low whereas all the other land on both sides is high
with bold points; if a boat then East or east by south from Point
Paterson 9 miles puts into the shore they will not be far off it, there
is plenty of duck about it, but so shy that only two have been shot, a
circumstance we did not a little regret as they exceed in flavour any I
ever eat. We are now complete in water and will soon be wooded.
“Saturday, March 5th. Employed on board fitting new waist-cloths,
the others being decayed and her sides and bends being very bare I gave
them a coat of red (the only colour we had on board) and blacked the
bends and upper works. A.M. I went in the launch over to the sheet of
water* (* Mentioned on 22nd.) (as I intended) with an armed boat's crew
and by noon got to its entrance. This day has been so clear that we are
able to see the land all round the Port and in many places very high
headlands. In those low places, where we could not be certain of the
land by the eye there were numerous native fires and some of them very
“Sunday, March 7th. By one P.M. I got into the sheet of water and by
pulling all round it found it to be very extensive but, in no place
more than 6 feet water and the greatest part of it so shoal as to
ground the boat. In the entrance at one place there is a small channel
of about 50 or 60 feet in breadth with 9 feet to 2 1/2 fathoms water
in, but of no use as it shoals to a couple of feet before you get in.
The soil of the land all round the extensive place is good and its
appearance exceeds in beauty even the southern shores. The number of
large swans seen almost exceeds belief, but by this time most of them
could fly, we caught 11—10 of which were large. All of us slept this
night on a pleasant little island with a few handsome trees on it, soil
good and so clear as to be fit for the hoe at once, I named it Maria
Isle after a sister I lost some years past.
“Monday, March 8th. As we now intended sailing in a few days I
judged it consistent with His Majesty's instructions (a copy of which I
was furnished with from the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of New
South Wales) to take possession of this port in the form and manner
laid down by the said instructions, and accordingly at 8 o'clock in the
morning the United Colours of the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland
were hoisted on board and on Point Paterson, and at one o'clock under a
discharge of 3 volleys of small arms and artillery the Port was taken
possession of in the name of his Sacred Majesty George the Third of
Great Britain and Ireland, King, etc., etc. Served double allowance of
grog. In the afternoon I went on shore attended with an armed party and
passed the remainder of the day about and under the colours flying on
shore, at sundown hauled down the colours on board and ashore.
“Tuesday, March 9th. Employed getting ready for sea. Overhauled our
keels fore and aft, cleaned them. We have now expended 19 weeks and one
day's provisions out of 24 weeks. We were victualled for commencing on
27th October 1801 and owing to the quantity of bread decayed, along
with what the swans and other birds have eaten, we are rather short,
even what we have left is very bad, therefore it will not be in my
power at this time to prosecute the object of our cruise much further.
It is in vain I regret so little being done in such a length of time,
the weather and other circumstances have been rather against us the
whole cruise, however the little that is performed of the original
instructions is pretty accurate and I trust will give the
Commander-in-Chief some satisfaction.
“Wednesday, March 10th. For these last two or three days great
numbers of native fires have been seen all round the Port except
between Arthur's Seat and Point Palmer.
“Thursday, March 11th. At 7 weighed and made sail down the port by 8
A.M. with a strong tide of ebb running out we got into the entrance
carrying all the way from 9 to 16 fathoms water, we then fell into such
a ripple that we expected every minute it would break on board—got
clear and by half-past the point of entrance bore north-east by east 4
miles and a remarkably high nob of land (if not an island)
west-north-west 4 or 5 miles, by noon the entrance north-east by west 9
or 10 miles.
Wednesday, March 24th. Fine weather though inclined to calm. At
half-past 3 P.M. South Head bore south-south-west the North distant 4
or 5 miles. At 4 P.M. passed Bradley's Head, at 6 passed Garden Island
and by half-past 6 P.M. came to an anchor in Sydney Cove with the best
bower, moored with the kedge. The Commander waited on His Excellency
the Governor and Commander-in-Chief.”
Murray's voyage ended on March 24th, and on the same day he waited
on Governor King at Sydney, with the news that his orders had been
carried out. The Governor must have been greatly pleased, and the more
so because only a month later the French ship Naturaliste put into Port
Jackson.* (* The French ships Geographe and Naturaliste had left France
in October 1800 on a voyage of discovery.) Hamelin, who commanded her,
was, however, in sore straits. He had parted from Commodore Baudin in a
gale off Van Dieman's Land and had traversed the whole of Bass Strait
without meeting the Geographe, his boats having visited Western Port*
only a month after Murray had left there. (* French Island preserves
the memory of their visit, but Murray's Chart shows that the English
(contrary to Peron's assertions) knew that this island was separated
from the mainland before the coming of the French.) Finding his
provisions exhausted, in his extremity the French Commander, although
he knew that France and England were at war, steered to Sydney. The
English, we are told, received him with noble and large-minded (grande
et Loyale) liberality, and the sick French sailors were received at the
Government Hospital. Hamelin was busily engaged in replenishing his
ship when Captain Matthew Flinders arrived in H.M.S. Investigator on
May 9th and was able to give him news of his consort which he had met
in Encounter Bay. Flinders also informed Captain Hamelin that Baudin
had said that it was his intention to proceed to the Isle of France.
The Naturaliste therefore, hastened her preparations and sailed from
Sydney on May 18th.
In the meantime the Lady Nelson had been to the Hawkesbury and back
again, arriving on April 21st and bringing a cargo of wheat and some
cedar logs. The remarks in the log may prove of value to those who
study the early history of the Colony, for Murray gives the names of
the different reaches in the river, and it would be interesting to know
whether these old place-names are still used. Murray does not tell us
of the arrival of the Naturaliste, though he must have been in Sydney
then, but various entries show that the brig conveyed the Governor and
his party to the Naturaliste's anchorage in Neutral Bay to visit
Captain Hamelin and brought them to Sydney again.
Another voyage to the Hawkesbury River was carried out, and then the
ship was put into preparation for a voyage of exploration, in company
with the Investigator, to the North coast.
Sydney Cove to the Hawkesbury.
“Thursday, April 1st. Fine weather. Getting ready for sea. At
half-past 5 A.M. up kedge and weighed and turned out of ye cove. The
Cumberland got under way and proceeded down the harbour. At 8 A.M. (We
having the Cumberland in company) cleared the heads of Port Jackson,
and at half-past 8 parted with Cumberland, leaving her with a fine
moderate breeze at south-south-east, and by half-past 9 she bore Sydney
4 or 5 miles. By 11 A.M. got abreast of Barren Jowie* (* Barrenjoey.)
and by noon passed Pittwater, here we found at anchor Mr. Commissary
Palmer's vessel the George.
“Friday, April 2nd. Proceeding up Harbour and by 2 P.M. came to
anchor under Mullet Island, in the evening Raby's boat passed us, and
in a little time after we hailed and brought alongside a fishing boat
with three soldiers in her, at 8 P.M. she left us. A.M. Got under way
and at the end of tide came to in the westernmost end of Spectacle
“Saturday, April 3rd. At 3 P.M. got under weigh and proceeded up the
river—came to in Mangrove Reach, set as usual an armed watch with an
officer and proceeded up the river and at noon came to in Milkmaid
“Sunday, April 4th. At 6 A.M. got under weigh and proceeded up the
river as far as the first branch and there from the darkness of the
night came to. At 5 A.M. up anchor and by 11 got as far as Shot Snake
“Monday, April 5th. Fine weather. At 8 A.M. got under weigh
and...proceeded up the River, by 11 A.M. passed the upper branch and by
noon gained two following Reaches. Latitude observed 33 degrees 28
minutes 26 seconds south.
“Tuesday, April 6th. Fine weather throughout. At 4 P.M. came to in
Belloe's Reach and at half-past 9 P.M. got under weigh and gained
Portland Reach. At 10 A.M. got under weigh and by noon got one reach
above Portland Reach—as yet we have not seen one log of cedar.
“Wednesday, April 7th. Proceeding up the river—by 4 P.M. came to in
the Reach above the first settlers—fired a gun.
“Sunday, April 11th. At half-past 12 hauled the vessel in close to
Government House and began to take in wheat and by sundown got in 311
bushels. At daylight again began to receive grain and by noon received
on board to the amount of wheat 774 bushels.
The Hawkesbury to Sydney Cove.
“Monday, April 12th. Preparing to drop down the river. At 6 A.M.
made the signal for sailing with a gun.
Hawkesbury River to Sydney Cove.
“Tuesday, April 13th. At 9 A.M. hauled up to get down the river but
the wind blew so strong in our teeth that we were obliged to come to a
few hundred yards below Government House.
“Wednesday, April 14th. At half-past 12 P.M. the tide having made
down hove up and began to tow down the river and by 5 P.M. got down to
the lowest settlers. At 8 P.M. fired a gun and set an armed watch; at 9
P.M. having a fair breeze of wind, got under weigh and by noon cleared
Lover's Leap Reach.
“Thursday, April 15th. At 5 P.M. from the strength of the wind were
obliged to come to in the upper end of Sackville Reach.
“Friday, April 16th. At one P.M. a short lull taking place, hove up
and tried to tow down but immediately obliged to bring up from wind
blowing so strong as to render our getting down the river an entire
“Saturday, April 17th. At one P.M. it lulled and we got under weigh,
by 6 P.M. we came to, at midnight on the turn of tide again hove up and
towed down, at 3 A.M. passed the Francis schooner at anchor, at 4 A.M.
“Sunday, April 18th. Fine weather throughout. Proceeding down the
river. At 4 P.M. came to in Barbin Reach—towed down till half-past 4
A.M., at half-past 9 A.M. again got under weigh and by noon got within
the reaches of Mangrove Point; one of the Hawkesbury boats passed us.
“Monday, April 19th. Working down the river. By 2 P.M. we gained one
reach below Sentry Box and there came to. Sent on shore and cut down a
few cabbage trees for the people. At half-past 7 two boats passed us
going to the Hawkesbury. Half-past one A.M. got down as low as the Barr
Reach where we brought up, at 9 A.M. again got under weigh and by noon
we gained Spectacle Reach.
“Tuesday, April 20th. Proceeding down the river as far as Mullet
Island and at half-past 1 P.M. came to. Hove up and made sail down as
far as Flint and Steel Cove and then came to; at 9 A.M., in boats, and
hove up, made sail out of Broken Bay wind at north-west, at 11 A.M.
passed Barren Jowie, by noon the north head of Port Jackson bore south
by west 1/2 west.
“Wednesday, April 21st. Hauled our wind close tacked occasionally
till 6 P.M. when we entered the Heads, kept working up the Port and by
7 P.M. got as high as Garden Island, and at 8 P.M. came to an anchor in
“Thursday, April 29th. First and middle parts calm, latter part
small breezes, proceeded down the river as far as the French ship on
board of which the Commander-in-Chief went and other gentlemen. At 2
P.M. they returned on board and we tacked and stood up for Sydney
again, at half-past 2 P.M. the breeze dying away His Excellency and the
other gentlemen left us and went up in their boats. At 4 P.M., a small
breeze springing up, we were enabled to proceed up, and by 5 P.M. came
to an anchor in Sydney Cove.
Sydney Cove to the Hawkesbury.
“Friday, April 30th. At 11 A.M. again received orders to get under
weigh, loosed sails, hove up and made sail down the Port. At noon the
Commander-in-Chief with a company of ladies and gentlemen came on board
and we proceeded down the Harbour all sails set.
“Saturday, May 1st. Kept standing down the Harbour and at one P.M.
came to an anchor in Lookout Bay where the Commander-in-Chief and party
went on shore. At 4 P.M. weighed and stood up the Harbour and at 6 came
to off the Pinch Gut Island in 12 fathoms of water.
Sydney Cove to Hawkesbury River.
“Saturday, June 12th. First part strong gales at South, middle and
latter more moderate. At 6 A.M. began to work out of the bay, at 7
weighed and made sail and by 8 cleared the heads, at 9 the head of Port
Jackson bore south-west by west distant 3 1/2 miles, half-past 9 passed
the Long Reef and by about 11 was abreast of the South Head of Broken
Bay. At noon nearly reached Barren Jowie.
“Sunday, June 13th. Kept standing off the Bay and by 3 P.M. entered
Mullet Island Reach, at 5 P.M. came to in Lay Island Reach, perceived a
fresh to be in the river. At 2 A.M. weighed and got a small distance in
but the wind freshening ahead obliged us to come to.
“Monday, June 14th. At 3 P.M. weighed and began to tow up the River
and by 7 P.M. came to in Bow Reach. At 5 A.M. weighed and proceeded up
the river, by 9 A.M. came to in Sentry Box Reach.
“Tuesday, June 15th. At 3 P.M. weighed and made sail proceeding up
the river—at half-past 7 A.M. passed the first branch, and at 11 came
“Wednesday, June 16th. At 4 P.M., hove up and at 8 P.M. passed the
second branch, at 10 came to, at 1 A.M. hove up, and by noon passed
“Thursday, June 17th. At 2 P.M. came to one reach above Portland
Head. At 7 P.M. hove up and by one A.M. came to among the lower
settlers. At 9 A.M. hove up and got a couple of reaches higher when we
anchored, owing to the strength of the wind against us, one hour.
People in the launch pulling.
“Friday, June 18th. At 2 A.M. dropped the settlement and at daylight
began to deliver the provisions.
“Saturday, June 19th. Finished the delivery of the provisions and
began to take in corn from His Majesty's store.
“Tuesday, June 22nd. Employed taking corn. Made the signal for
sailing with a gun, by noon we finished loading having got on board 520
bushels corn; hauled off to the stream.
Hawkesbury River to Sydney Cove.
“Wednesday, June 23rd. Employed getting ready to drop down and at 9
A.M. hove up and began to tow down the river; by noon got as low as
“Thursday, June 24th. By 2 P.M. got down as low as the lowest
settlers and then came to, the tides being done. At 3 P.M. hove up and
got down a couple of reaches when we grounded on a mudbank, hove her
off and at 8 A.M. hove up and at 10 got past Lover's Leap, at noon got
down another reach.
“Friday, June 25th. At one P.M. came to in Portland Reach. At 8 A.M.
hove up and by noon got two reaches below Sackville Reach.
“Saturday, June 26th. Proceeding down the river, at 3 P.M. came to
and at 9 A.M. hove up and by noon got below the first branch.
“Sunday, June 27th. At 9 A.M. hove up and proceeding down the river
and by noon passed the lower reach.
“Monday, June 28th. At 10 A.M. hove up and attempted to work down;
by noon gained two reaches.
“Tuesday, June 29th. Gained one reach more in working, when from the
sudden gusts of wind and lulls we were obliged to bring up. At 10 A.M.
the Cumberland passed us bound up. At 10 A.M. hove up and gained by
noon only one more reach and there was forced to let go our anchor.
“Wednesday, June 30th. At 11 P.M. hove up and towed down a couple of
reaches when we were obliged to bring to. At 11 A.M. hove up and by
noon nearly reached Mangrove Point; wind favouring us, set main-sail
and stay sails.
“Thursday, July 1st. At 3 P.M. came to below Mangrove Reach, 6 A.M.
hove our small bower to the bows and found its stock gone.
“Friday, July 2nd. Tacking down the river—by 3 P.M. came to at Long
Island; at 10 A.M. weighed and made sail down the river. At noon passed
the Francis schooner lying at Mullet Island.
“Saturday, July 3rd. At 9 A.M. the Francis weighed and stood up the
river; at noon weighed and towed down towards Broken Bay.
“Sunday, July 4th. At 6 P.M. after having attempted to get out were
obliged to come to in 4 fathoms water. At 6 A.M. hove up and made sail
down the bay, at 7 A.M. passed Pittwater, at 8 got abreast of the South
Head, at 10 the North Head of Port Jackson bore west-south-west 4
“Monday, July 5th. Fresh winds and a high sea. By 4 P.M. entered the
heads and at half-past 7 P.M. came to at Garden Island. Commander
waited on the Governor and Commander-in-Chief.
CHAPTER 7. THE LADY NELSON AND THE
INVESTIGATOR EXAMINE THE NORTH-EASTERN SHORES OF AUSTRALIA.
In the previous chapter it has been told how Captain Flinders
arrived at Port Jackson on May 9th, 1802, ten days before the departure
of the Naturaliste and how he had brought news to Hamelin of his
meeting with the Geographe in Encounter Bay. On his way to Sydney,
Flinders had charted nearly the whole of the South Coast of Australia
from Cape Lewin to Wilson's Promontory—a small portion only escaping
his notice—and had entered and surveyed Port Phillip.
Immediately on his arrival he consulted with Governor King as to the
future explorations of the Investigator. They came to the conclusion
that it would be injurious both for the ship and for her crew to
attempt another survey of the South Coast at that season of the year,
and decided that the Investigator, in company with the Lady Nelson,
should proceed to the northward along the Australian coast and then to
the westward, if it were possible, to examine the Gulf of Carpentaria
before the November following when the north-west monsoon might be
There was at this time a very great need of a proper survey of these
shores, particularly of the portion which now forms the Queensland
coast and of the reefs that skirt it. Since the days when Cook in the
Endeavour had discovered these reefs, except when Flinders sailed to
Hervey Bay in 1799, little had been done to make this part of Australia
better known, although in the vicinity of the Great Barrier Reef both
land and sea were alike dangerous to seamen and disasters were of
frequent occurrence. Cook himself had met with a mishap in these
waters, and Flinders afterwards was totally wrecked on the inner edge
of the Great Barrier Reef. Consequently, in agreeing to Flinders'
proposal, King was conferring a real benefit upon the whole of the
shipping community. It was also decided that in the event of Flinders'
progress being retarded, or if he were unable to examine the Gulf of
Carpentaria, he should either explore Torres Strait or return and
survey Fiji. Eventually, however, it was found possible for him to
carry out the exploration of the Gulf.
Mr. Westall, landscape painter, with Mr. Robert Brown, botanist, and
other scientists, sailed in the Investigator. Bungaree, the Rose Bay
native who had accompanied Flinders on his voyage in the Norfolk to
Hervey Bay also went with him as well as a Sydney black fellow named
Nanbury. Murray was given a code of signals for the Lady Nelson and was
directed by Flinders, in case of the ships being separated, to repair
to Hervey Bay, which he was to enter by a passage between Sandy Cape
and Breaksea Spit said to have been found by South Sea whalers.
The two ships left Sydney together on July 22nd, 1802, but the Lady
Nelson was soon in difficulties, and was left astern at Port Stephens.
Shortly afterwards the Investigator lay to, to await her coming. On
Saturday 24th—writes Flinders, “our little consort being out of sight
we stood an hour to the southward, and not seeing her in that direction
bore away along the coast.” Meanwhile on the afternoon of July 26th,
Moreton Island at the entrance of Moreton Bay was passed, and on
Wednesday the 28th, Flinders reached Sandy Cape where he immediately
began to seek for a passage into Hervey Bay. One was found but proved
too shallow for the Investigator to pass through, so the ship was
brought to two miles from the Spit.
On the 30th the Lady Nelson came up with the Investigator anchoring
near her at sunset. After leaving Sandy Cape, Captain Flinders found
that the trend of the land differed noticeably from that laid down by
Cook in his chart. On August 7th Port Curtis was discovered and on the
21st Port Bowen, but by October 17th, when off the Cumberland Isles (a
group off the east coast of Queensland in 20 degrees south), the Lady
Nelson had become so unfit for service that she had to be sent back to
The vessels at the time were within the Great Barrier Reef, and
Flinders states that he kept the brig with him until a passage out to
sea clear of the reefs could be found. “It is a matter of much concern
to me,” he writes to Banks,* (* See letters of Flinders to Banks. Add.
manuscripts, British Museum.) “that this navigation could not be
surmounted without such a loss of anchors to both vessels and of
damage...to the Lady Nelson in the loss of her main keel and the damage
done to the trunk.” It was also found that her capacity of beating to
windward, never great, was much reduced. And again in his journal he
says, “the Lady Nelson sailed so ill and had become so leewardly since
the loss of the main and part of the after keel that she not only
caused us delay but ran great risk of being lost.” Therefore, much as
he desired the aid of the small vessel, Flinders decided to proceed on
his voyage alone.
Soon after he had separated from Flinders, Murray, in order to spare
the Lady Nelson's sole remaining anchor, gave orders for two swivel
guns crossed, to be lashed together, and when winds were light and
waters smooth, he anchored with the swivels until the carpenter was
able to make an ironbark anchor to take their place. In the following
pages Murray relates the full story of the Lady Nelson's voyage both
when she was with the Investigator and also after the two ships had
WITH THE INVESTIGATOR.
THE LADY NELSON ON DISCOVERY IN COMPANY WITH H.M.S. INVESTIGATOR.
“Thursday, July 22nd, 1802. Preparing for sea. At 2 P.M. the
Investigator made the signal for all persons to return on board. At 3
P.M. weighed and made sail down the harbour: by 1/2 past 7, cleared the
Heads; 1/2 past 9 North Head of Port Jackson, south-south-west distant
“Friday, July 23rd. At 4 P.M. the Coal Island bore north by east 15
or 16 miles and the South Head of Port Stephens north-north-east 20 or
22 miles...Received orders to keep ahead during the night and show a
light now and then, steering north-east by east. At 8 spoke the
Commander who told us to keep in his wake.
“Saturday, July 24th. At half-past 5 P.M. the Commander made the
signal to come within hail, spoke him and was ordered to keep near him
“Sunday, July 25th. From noon until 11 P.M. gale continued with a
high sea which continually broke on board. At daylight we perceived
from the land that a southern current ran so strong that we were nearly
in the same place as at noon...
“Monday, July 26th. Standing down along shore. By 4 P.M. saw what we
supposed was a ship and supposed it to be the Investigator, accordingly
stood in for her, but a squall of rain coming on hindered our seeing
her; fired a gun but no answer was received, at 8 fired a second gun
with a light at the masthead but got no answer...Bore north-north-east
and to our surprise by midnight found ourselves close to a very high
head of land which owing to being covered with clouds we did not before
see.* (* Point Danger.) Turned up the hands and made all sail and by 1
A.M. with much difficulty we cleared it...
“Monday, July 27th. At 2 P.M. Solitary Islands bore west by north
distant 7 miles.
“Wednesday, July 28th. At 1 P.M. Mount Warning bore west by north
distant 15 or 16 miles...At daylight saw the land from west-south-west
to N.W.S., noon the northern end of Moreton Island bore west by north
distant 5 or 6 leagues.* (* Flinders examined Moreton Bay and
Pumicestone River in 1799 but Oxley made the discovery that Point
Lookout was situated on Stradbroke Island and that Moreton Bay extended
as far south as 28 degrees where it communicated with the sea.)
“Thursday, July 29th. At 8 A.M. Double Island Point bore north-west
by west about 5 or 6 miles. Stood into Wide Bay in hopes of finding the
Investigator there, as we stood round the northern end of Double Island
saw a number of natives who waved their hands to us; all round the bay
were numbers of fires. In the mouth and on the south side of Wide Bay*
(* Coast of Queensland.) lie two rocks with bold water round them, not
laid down in the chart, and those rocks bare from the north end of
Double Island north-east by north distance 1 1/2 miles.
“Friday, July 30th. At 5 P.M. the north extremes of the land bore
north 1/2 east distant 15 or 16 miles. Observed numerous natives all
along the coast. At sunrise Indian Head bore north-north-west distant 3
miles, as we neared it, counted 25 natives on it. Made all sail for
Sandy Cape and by 11 A.M. entered a passage between two reefs, at the
same time from the masthead saw the Investigator bearing north-west
distant about 10 or 11 miles.* (* The Investigator had anchored under
Breaksea Spit about 9 miles north-north-east from Sandy Cape.)
“Saturday, July 31st. Fine weather. At 2 P.M. on the turn of tide
sent the boat ahead to tow, hove up, and made all sail; cleared the
shoals that surrounded this reef. The Investigator standing down to us
sent a boat with the Master on board to give assistance if wanted, at
half-past 4 P.M. ye Commander came to; at 5 P.M. we also came to in 4
fathoms of water—bottom fine sand and waited on ye Commander. At
half-past 6 A.M. hove up and made sail in shore and at half-past 8 A.M.
came to near enough to cover the landing of the boats of both vessels.
Captain Flinders and a number of the officers and gentlemen landed and
I went on shore with an armed party in order to get wood. In a little
time Captain Flinders and his party were joined by about 30 of the
natives all of whom laid down their arms and we continued on friendly
terms with them all the time the parties were on shore. Captain
Flinders made them presents of red caps, tomahawks, etc. with which
they were much pleased and gave back some baskets and nets. With
respect to the persons of these natives, I perceived little or no
difference from the Sydney blacks; their language is much different, as
Bungaree could not understand a word they said.* (* “These people were
entirely naked but were more 'fleshy' than those at Port Jackson
perhaps from being able to obtain a better supply of fish with “scoop
nets” which are not known on the southern coast. A species of pandanus
grew here in abundance and the valleys contained trees of the Casuarina
and Eucalyptus.” Flinders.)
“Sunday, August 1st. Fine weather. At 2 P.M. the gentlemen with
their parties returned to the beach. We all embarked in the
Investigator's boat, got on board the Lady Nelson; at 3 P.M. came to in
5 fathoms, Captain Flinders then left us. At 7 P.M. the Commodore
weighed; hove up and followed him with all sail. At noon saw the
looming of Sandy Cape east by south 7 or 8 leagues.
“Monday, August 2nd. Fine weather. At 1 P.M. Commodore on our lee
beam 2 miles; quarter past 5 P.M. the Commodore came to, at half-past
we came to under the stern of the Commodore. At 6 A.M. got under weigh.
At 10 A.M. answered signal to come within hail, the Commodore desired
we would keep in shore of him.
“Tuesday, August 3rd. Fine weather. At 4 P.M. Bustard Bay bore
west-north-west distant 3 or 4 miles. On this point a very large fire
was burning and numbers of natives were there. Hauled in for the Bay
and shoaled our water; came to in 5 fathoms water. At sundown lowered
down small boats and waited on the Commander. At 6 A.M. made sail with
the Investigator, passed the first rock lying off the western point of
Wednesday, August 4th. At half-past 3 perceived one of the
Investigator's boats to be adrift, bore away to pick her up. At sundown
the western extremes of the land bore west-south-west distant 15 miles.
At 8 P.M. passed the stern of the Commodore who hailed us and told us
he would tack every two hours during the night. At daylight saw the
land bearing south-south-east. At noon the northern point of Bustard
Bay bore south-south-east distant 4 or 5 leagues.
“Thursday, August 5th. Kept slipping along the land. At half-past 6
P.M. having run under the stern of the Commodore came to.* (* “This
anchorage was 5 or 6 miles from Gatcombe Head and the chain of hills
which rises near Bustard Bay was seen to stretch westward behind the
shore at the back of Mount Larcom. These hills had a barren appearance,
the coast being more rocky than sandy.” Flinders.) At quarter past 10
A.M. the Commodore made signal I see an opening, answered ditto.
Immediately after answered signal “steer in shore and look out for
anchorage.” Observing numbers of natives and canoes on the beach, kept
running in. At quarter past 10 A.M. beheld from our masthead a large
sheet of water with a rocky island in the entrance and seemingly got
shelter.* (* Port Number 1 in the chart is Port Curtis so named by
Captain Flinders after Sir Roger Curtis.) At 11 A.M. came to in 3
fathoms water and made the signal to the Commodore “come no nearer in,”
and he came to—lowered down our boat, I went and sounded in shore and
found the water to deepen to 8 fathoms. Waited on the Commodore,
received orders to follow his boat into the harbour—sent our people to
heave up. At noon one of the Investigator's boats went on shore to the
beach where the natives and their canoes were.* (* “There were seven
bark canoes lying on the shore and upon a tree near hung parts of a
turtle and scoop nets similar to those at Hervey Bay.” Flinders.)
“Friday, August 6th. At 1 P.M. hove up and run further into the
opening. I then went on shore to a small rocky island on which Captain
Flinders was taking angles and we got some firewood. I went in Captain
Flinders' boat across to a middling high hill* (* Called in the chart
Hill View.) on the opposite side of this stream, got to the top and saw
that the sheet of water ran into several serpentine branches and that
apparently the deepest water was to the south-east of us; and that this
south-east entrance and the one in which we lay formed a pretty large
island lying in a north-west and south-east line. We joined the boat
and sounded in a traverse to ascertain whether it was possible for the
Lady Nelson to move higher up. We found however only from 3 to 5 feet
of water and foul ground throughout a narrow space through which the
vessel must pass. In consequence of which Captain Flinders desired me
to get under weigh and work round the island to the south-east entrance
and to find a channel into the harbour. Accordingly weighed, by 7 P.M.
passed the Investigator. At daylight made all sail to gain the entrance
and by 9 A.M. nearly fetched it, from the masthead at the time I saw a
long range of breakers from the entrance stretching away south-east to
east-south-east which made me to be in some doubts as to an entrance
existing, however I sent Mr. Hacking in the boat to sound and almost
immediately we struck on a sandbank. Immediately hove up our keels and
she luckily veered round in 6 feet of water and went off although we
still had no more water for some time, it then gradually deepened into
6 fathoms. Fired a gun for the boat who got on board by noon and
informed me that a good channel did exist, and from where we were it
lay about south-south-east and may be 3/4 of a mile broad—out sweep
and sent the boat ahead to tow.
“Saturday, August 7th. Fine weather. Standing into the entrance
south-south-west. On putting our helm to starboard we immediately had
from 1 1/2 3, steering west-north-west, the Investigator on our beam
bearing about north-north-east distant 8 miles, and finding our water
suddenly to shoal came to in 2 fathoms and observed that a little way
ahead lay a long sand sheet almost dry. Tripped our anchor and run into
5 fathoms water and there came to.* (* Off South-trees Point.) Fired a
gun as a signal to the Commodore; observed a boat under sail a
considerable distance from us in a westerly direction which I fancied
was Captain Flinders in his whaleboat examining the harbour. At sunrise
had out our launch and sent the First Mate in her with an armed party
in search of water.
“Sunday, August 8th. After dinner I went in the small boat to
examine an opening on the South shore of the harbour and to look for
water of which I found some, on proceeding about a mile and a half up
the opening perceived it branched into several different directions. I
imagine it runs some considerable distance up into the country. On
returning to the vessel I found Captain Flinders with a midshipman and
boat's crew on board.* (* “The country round Port Curtis is over-spread
with grass and produces the Eucalyptus. Much of the shores and low
islands are overspread with Mangroves—the most common being the
Rhizophora Mangle of Linn.” Flinders.) At daylight Captain Flinders
left us desiring me to get under weigh as soon as possible and get
round to the Investigator. In working down we sounded constantly and
found from 10 to 4 fathoms on each side, a safe channel for any ship
and sufficiently broad to work in.
“Monday, August 9th. At 3 P.M. got under weigh and made sail out of
the harbour tacking occasionally. At 4 P.M. our boat came on board from
Faceing Island having found water in small quantities. By 6 P.M. we
weathered the south-east point of Faceing Island and stood down towards
the Investigator. At 15 past 7 P.M. struck on some sunken reef of rocks
about 2 miles from the shore but immediately heaving up all our keels
she went over them into deeper water without any damage.* (* See August
22nd. Half of the main keel was afterwards found gone.) At half-past 8
P.M. fired a gun and hoisted a light at the masthead which was answered
by the Investigator. By midnight came to with the small bower about 2
cables lengths from the Commodore. At daylight hoisted in our boat, on
the Commodore getting under weigh, we did the same. At half-past 9 A.M.
passed in between the Rocky Island and Cape Capricorn. At half-past 10
Captain Flinders hailed us and told us to try for a passage in between
some rocks and the main of Keppel's Bay. At 50 minutes past 11 A.M.
perceived all foul ground ahead in this passage, hauled out and
informed the Commodore. At noon bore up for the western part of the
Bay, Cape Capricorn bearing east by south distance 10 or 11 miles.
“Tuesday, August 10th. At half-past 3 P.M. came to one cable length
from the Investigator, lowered our boat and I waited on Captain
Flinders. At half-past 4 P.M. Captain Flinders, some of his officers
and I went on shore. On ascending one of the highest hills,* (* Named
by Flinders Sea Hill.) we perceived the bay to be very extensive with
several openings. Here we found a fresh water swamp and saw some ducks
and redbills. At sundown Captain Flinders and party returned on board,
and Captain Flinders came on board. Weighed and made all sail up the
bay. Come to in 3 fathoms a large island in the mouth of the bay North
distance 7 or 8 miles.
“Wednesday, August 11th. Saw Captain Flinders come out of the
entrance he yesterday went into and stand along the south shore of the
“Thursday, August 12th. At 3 P.M. Commodore made the signal “I want
to speak to you.” Immediately got the vessel under weigh and by
half-past 4 P.M. passed his stern when he hailed us to come to an
anchor a little distance from him. I waited on Captain Flinders who
told me that at daylight I was to get under weigh and proceed to a
large island* (* Hummocky Island.) (one of Keppels) and overhaul it for
turtle for the use of both vessels and to get the bearings of all the
islands in sight from the top of the said island as also to find
whether there were wood and water upon the island. When we anchored
Outermost Rock east-south-east 2 miles.
“Friday, August 13th. At 1 P.M. I went on shore to the island, on
examining the beaches and rocks no water was found. I ascended all the
hills and walked from one to the other nearly the whole length of the
island but found no water or wood. The hills are covered with thick
shrubbery and grass and full of stones, from the top of the highest
part of it and looking towards the sea no more islands are to be seen
than those we saw coming in. On going down to the rocks that lead to
the beach we fell in with some slight drains of fresh water and further
discovered two chasms in the rock, in each there might be 150 or 200
gallons of water but the difficulty of getting it to a boat hinders it
being of use to vessels. On the west side is a small bight with a sandy
beach in its centre but the bottom is loose and always a swell tumbling
into it, indeed anchorage all round it is indifferent.
“Saturday, August 14th. By 4 P.M. having run nearly into our
anchorage by the Investigator came to in 5 fathoms water. Lieutenant
Fowler came on board and informed me that Captain Flinders was not yet
returned from examining the harbour.
“Sunday, August 15th. Fine weather throughout. Received orders to be
ready to get under weigh at daylight to-morrow morning.
“Monday, August 16th. At sundown observed all the seamen on liberty
from the Investigator and Lady Nelson coming along the beach
accompanied by a number of natives. Immediately Lieutenant Fowler and
some of the gentlemen of the Investigator along with myself went on
shore but on seeing us they began to run; however on all the seamen
being sent away they suffered Mr. Brown to go near enough to reach them
a few red night-caps and a tomahawk.* (* “I offered a boat to the
botanists to visit South Hill. A part of the Ship's Company was allowed
on shore for no Indians had been seen, but towards evening about 20
were seen with the sailors. They had been met near Cape Keppel and at
first menaced our people, but finding them friendly laid aside their
arms.” Flinders.) They then made signs to us to be gone. They began
running and were soon out of sight. These natives are a much stouter
class of people than any I have yet seen (those of Jarvis Bay
excepted). On returning to the beach Mr. Evans, mate, and one of the
seamen belonging to the Investigator were missing. Lieutenant Fowler
and the rest of the gentlemen waited until dark in hopes of their
appearing and then went on board and a boat with a midshipman was
immediately sent to wait at the beach but as neither appeared the boat
returned. In the morning two guns were fired from the Investigator as
signals and we saw two boats go to shore we supposed to search for
“Tuesday, August 17th. Seventeen of the natives came down to the
beach. On seeing them a number of the officers of the Investigator went
on shore. I also went.* (* Captain Flinders took a boat to Cape Keppel
in order to obtain bearings.) We continued on friendly terms with them
all day, and it is worth remarking that they having met Mr. Evans and
the one seamen led them down to the beach and even gave them a duck
each to eat on their making signs of their hunger. We had a drum, fife
and fiddle on shore with us but on playing and beating they signified
their displeasure and some of them ran off but on our ceasing returned.
We made them presents of caps, tomahawks, etc., but they would give
nothing in return. Their spears and waddas are much the same as at
Sydney, they don't use the throwing stick. At daylight weighed. Came to
again.* (* It took the whole day to get into the offing. A sketch of
the island and of Cape Keppel was made by Mr. Westall while beating out
of the bay. “After the mangrove the most common trees round Keppel Bay
are the eucalyptus and a species of Cycas bearing poisonous nuts. There
are Kangaroos in the woods and several bustards were seen near Cape
Keppel. About the native fireplaces were the shells of crabs, the bones
of turtle and remains of fern root.” Flinders.)
“Wednesday, August 18th. At 1 P.M. hove up in the company with the
Investigator tacked occasionally. By 4 P.M. cleared the bay and at 5
P.M. fell calm. Came to with kedge Cape Capricorn bearing south-east by
east 13 or 14 miles, Cape Keppel south-south-east distant 5 or 6 miles
and a large inhabited island, one of Keppel's, north-north-west distant
6 or 7 miles. At daylight again in company with Commodore made all
sail. By noon passed abreast the northernmost Keppel's Island. Observed
two natives on the highest part of it bellowing to us, no canoes in
sight. Latitude 23 degrees 4 minutes 37 seconds south.
“Thursday, August 19th. Fine weather. Answered signal “Steer in
shore and look out for anchorage” a bluff head making with the low land
of the main like an entrance. As we stood in shoaled our water to 7
fathoms, made the signal to that purport. Saw a sand shoal ahead; the
Investigator immediately hauled off and we did the same, saw plainly no
anchorage was there, stood in and by 5 P.M. we dropped our kedge, at
half-past 5 P.M. the Commodore also came to near us. At sundown the
easternmost of Keppel's Islands bore south-east by east distant 10 or
12 miles the shore point south distant 2 miles. At 7 A.M. weighed in
company with the Investigator.
“Friday, August 20th. At sundown the Commodore bore north distant
about 3 miles, the Sugar Loaf Island north-north-east 1/2 east distant
4 miles, and two rocky islands north-east by east distant about 3
miles. At quarter-past 9 P.M. saw a light in the north-west quarter and
heard a gun fired. Immediately hoisted a light in the main top gallant
masthead and fired a gun; heard no second gun. At 12 passed a low
island bearing east distant 3/4 of a mile. At daylight perceived we
were much farther from the land than the Log gave. Commodore not in
sight. Latitude observed 22 degrees 41 minutes 28 seconds south.
“Saturday, August 21st. At half-past 4 P.M. saw the Investigator
bearing north-north-west, at sundown the Investigator bore north-west
by north distant 10 miles, the Sugar Loaf Island bore west by north
distant 4 or 5 miles, the Low Island south-west by west distant 3 or 4
miles. At quarter past 8 P.M. heard a gun fired from the Commodore
which we answered. At 9 P.M. heard a second gun fired which we
answered. At daylight made all sail to come up with Commodore. At 20
past 11 came to with small bower in 7 fathoms.
“Sunday, August 22nd. A.M. Sent the First Mate and a party to water
and wood the vessel; hoisted our main keel* (* That is the middle
centre board.) out of the trunk and found half of it gone, this must
have been occasioned by the shock it received at Faceing Island on
Monday 9th instant, when running down to the Investigator. It also
accounts for her not sailing so fast as formerly. A.M. Received one
boat-load of water. I went on shore to the watering-place, it lies
between two hills of a considerable height and springs out of a
rock—the water is both good and clear, it is convenient to be got at.*
(* The ships anchored in Port Bowen or Number 2 Port, named by Flinders
in honour of Captain Jas. Bowen of the Navy, and the hilly projection
on the side of its entrance, Cape Clinton after Colonel Clinton of the
85th Regiment. “The water was very good. It drained down the gully to a
little beach between two projecting heads. The gully will be easily
known, but Mr. Westall's sketch will obviate any difficulty. There were
pine trees in the gully, but the best were on Entrance Island, some
being fit for topmasts. I was surprised to see trees (upon Hervey
Isles) resembling the pines of Norfolk Island.” Flinders.) Latitude
(good) observed 22 degrees 28 minutes 58 seconds south.
“Monday, August 23rd. Reported our main keel to Captain Flinders
“Tuesday, August 24th. P.M. Hoisted in our launch and secured
everything for sea. At daylight weighed and made sail in company with
the Investigator. By half-past 7 A.M. got out of the bay and at 11 A.M.
came to Pine Island bearing south by east 1/2 east. Distant 1 1/2
miles. Hope Point south by west 6 or 7 miles and the northern entrance
south-south-west 2 miles.
“Wednesday, August 25th. At 2 P.M. weighed in company with the
Investigator and made all sail. At 7 came to...At daylight weighed in
company with the Investigator, worked to windward until 10 A.M. when
the Investigator came to in the offing and we came to...between Rocky
Island and the main, Rocky Island bearing north-east by north distant 2
1/2 miles...the nearest of the Pine Islands, south-east by east distant
“Thursday, August 26th. At 3 P.M. the Investigator lifted her anchor
and worked to windward. At half-past 4 P.M. saw a native fire ahead. At
daylight weighed with a light air at north-west. By 6 A.M. the
Investigator got close into an opening (seeming a large bay* (* Shoal
Water Bay or Number 3 discovered port. See Flinders.)) and hoisted out
2 boats, at 8 A.M. she bore up for the entrance and we followed without
sweeps rowing. At half-past 8 A.M. observed the Investigator to anchor
and shortly after we were obliged to drop our kedge close to the rocks
of the south-eastern entrance. I went on shore with a small party.* (*
On this day Mr. Westall made a drawing of Shoal Water Bay and the
islands here. Flinders named a high hill Mount Westall in compliment to
his landscape painter.) I saw on the beach the footmarks of natives and
the tracks of turtle, but nothing else worth mentioning. Apparently
this is a place of very huge extent and safe for shipping. Latitude
observed 22 degrees 19 minutes 33 seconds south.
“Friday, August 27th. At 2 P.M. the tide having somewhat slackened
and a breeze of wind coming from the north-east weighed and made all
sail up the bay; by half-past 2 P.M. having passed the Investigator by
about a quarter of a mile came to in 6 fathoms water. At 40 minutes
past 2 P.M. the vessel swung to the flood and in half an hour its rate
was found to be 3 1/2 knots per hour, it increased from that very
nearly 5 knots and its rise 11 feet.* (* This place was named by
Flinders Strong Tide Passage.) At 6 P.M. one of the Investigator's
boats got upset under our stern and one man thrown into the water by
the accident. He drifted down with the tide and our boat picked him up
with some of the boat's gear. At 6 A.M. got the vessel under weigh and
let her drift up the bay with the tide having from 6 to 10 fathoms and
from that to 5 and 8 where we anchored. The Investigator anchored a
little before us. From where we lay the east point of bay bore north 47
“Saturday, August 28th. At 2 P.M. I received orders to get the
vessel under weigh and proceed up the bay—half-past 2 P.M. weighed and
made sail, the Investigator following us. At half-past 3 P.M. perceived
the Investigator to be aground in consequence of which we let go our
kedge and I went in the boat ahead. At 5 P.M. on the Investigator
floating; again got under weigh, kept standing up the bay sounding and
making signals. At 6 P.M. anchored with the small bower in 5 fathoms of
“Sunday, August 29th. At daylight weighed in company with the
Investigator and moved up a little further, sounding from 3 fathoms to
7, where we anchored. Latitude observed 22 degrees 20 minutes 56
“Monday, August 30th. At 4 P.M. in company with the Commodore made
sail a little further up the bay; we perceived a shoal nearly dry on
the south-east end, it seemed to lie nearly in that direction for
perhaps two miles. Waited on Captain Flinders who desired me to send
our main keel on board in order to be repaired and at the same time he
informed me that he would be on board in the morning and move the Lady
Nelson for the examination of the bay. At daylight sent our keel on
board and at half-past 6 Captain Flinders came on board, immediately
weighed and made all sail to the south-east part of the bay. At
half-past 10 entered a large branch or arm of the bay or river
following Captain Flinders in his boat steering east and
east-south-east we anchored per order of Captain Flinders and he
continued on in his boat.* (* Flinders went two miles up the river,
landed, and took a set of angles here. He describes an islet with
“signs of visits of the natives” and on the main, in low grounds, were
holes where they dug for fern root. An iguana 2 or 3 feet long was the
sole animal killed, but the mud banks here were frequented at low water
by various sea birds.) Double Peak* bore 1/2 west by south. (* The
Double Mountain of Flinders in Shoal Water Bay is not the Double
Mountain shown on his earlier chart inland from Hervey Bay.)
“Tuesday, August 31st. At half-past 2 P.M. Captain Flinders on
board, and he began to work out of the branch. At 6 P.M. the tide being
down came to...at daylight weighed and made sail to south-east, passed
here a flat of mud with only from 8 to 9 feet water on it; by 7 A.M.
having got nearer to the south shore found a channel that had from 2 to
“Wednesday, September 1st. At 7 P.M. Captain Flinders, a midshipman
and boat's crew on board. A.M. Dropped our small bower it blowing
fresh. At 5 A.M. hove it up again, and the wind blowing strong from
north-west and tide done, hindered our working down to the
“Thursday, September 2nd. At half-past 12 P.M. weighed and began to
work to windward with the ebb tide in our favour; at half-past 4 P.M.
Captain Flinders and his people left us; continued until 7 P.M. working
to north-west and there came to in 7 fathoms. At daylight weighed and
stood over to the Investigator and at 7 A.M. came to lowered down boat
and I waited on Captain Flinders, he informed me that the Investigator
would get under weigh at 9 A.M. and would run over as near to the
bottom of Sugar Loaf Hill* (* Pine Mountain (of Flinders) described by
him as “a single round hill with a high-peaked top standing inland 2
miles from the West Bight and composed of the greenstone of the German
mineralogists.”) as the water would permit and requested I would run
ahead of him in the Lady Nelson and show soundings quick. Passed the
Investigator astern, Captain Flinders hailed and desired me to stand up
towards Sugar Loaf Hill until we had left less than 6 fathoms, did so
and as it almost immediately shoaled to 4 fathoms wore round and made
all sail to work back.
“Friday, September 3rd. At half-past 1 P.M. came to with small bower
and I waited on Captain Flinders.* (* Flinders was then one mile from
the shore and 2 from Aken's Island, the east end of which bore north 27
degrees west.) A.M. Hauled the seine, caught no fish and the ground
being foul damaged the net.
“Saturday, September 4th. Waited on Captain Flinders who told me he
shortly intended to weigh in order to proceed to Thirsty Sound and at
10 A.M. weighed in company with the Investigator. Since our arrival
here on Thursday the 26th August few native fires have been seen and
only once some of the Investigator's gentlemen had intercourse with a
party of natives on the shore. From their report those natives are
inferior to the natives of Keppel Bay...and if we may guess from their
lean appearance much worse off with respect to food; the soil of all
this part of the country appears to be very indifferent and for a
considerable distance from shore, low swampy mangrove clay. All round
the bay are high hills, on one of the westernmost tall pines seem in
abundance, the bottom is invariably blue clay...From the number of
shoals lying in this place it is necessary to keep the lead constantly
going, and from the great rise and fall of the tide to be careful not
to anchor in less than 5 fathoms...we have experienced some sea riding
at anchor the fetch being pretty extensive.
“Sunday, September 5th. Standing through Northumberland Islands
towards Thirsty Sound.* (* Thirsty Sound, Hervey and Bustard Bays among
other places on the coast were named by Captain Cook.) At dusk the
entrance of Thirsty Sound west by south distance 3 miles, Sugar Loaf
Hill, or hill of Pines,* (* The Pine Mount of Flinders.) south-east by
east and the Investigator east-north-east distant three-quarters of a
mile. At daylight weighed in company with the Investigator made sail in
for the entrance. Received our new keel from the Investigator, and on
trying to fit it to the case found it obstructed from going down by
some of the copper being rubbed off and having got into the trunk, this
was found to be the case by one of the people who dived under her
bottom.* (* The carpenters had for some time been employed in making a
sliding keel for the Lady Nelson from the pine logs cut at Port Bowen,
and being now finished it was sent on board. Flinders.)
“Monday, September 6th. A.M. On ascending the hill, named by Captain
Cook the Pier Head—had a fine view of this and Broad Sound, the former
appearing like a serpentine river to a great way inland and its banks
showing apparently a fine country. A number of the adjacent hills are
covered with long sunburnt grass that appears at a little distance like
a heath or common at home, with here and there a small cluster of palm
trees. Traces of the kangaroo have been seen. We have neither seen
natives, their fires, nor marks here. No water has yet been found, wood
is in plenty.
“Tuesday, September 7th. At 3 P.M. I received orders to get under
weigh and move out ahead of the Investigator...At 5 P.M. weighed and at
half-past 6 P.M. came to...At 5 A.M. finding she drove, let go our
small bower. At 6 A.M. perceived the Investigator attempting to weigh,
on which we (after some difficulty) weighed and began to work to
windward. Observed the Investigator to drop her anchor again and clew
down her sail. Came to in 6 fathoms with the small bower. Answered
signal “I want to see you.” Immediately went on board the Investigator
and Lieutenant Fowler informed me they had parted a Bower Cable, that,
their Stream not bringing her up, a second Bower was gone and that they
were in 1/2 2 fathoms water, as the tide was rapidly falling it was
obvious that she immediately must be got off. For this purpose I
immediately, according to Lieutenant Fowler's plan, returned on board,
veered away on our small bower to the end and let go our best bower; we
then received a warp from the Investigator, made it fast on board and
she was enabled to heave off into deeper water by the Lady Nelson. At
noon she dropped her bower a little from our stern, cast off her warp
and lifted our best bower...
“Wednesday, September 8th. Cloudy weather. At half-past 9 A.M. the
Investigator shifted her berth into the stream...At half-past 6 A.M.
weighed in company with the Commodore made all sail out of the Sound.
At noon a large island in the entrance of Broad Sound south distance 5
miles, and the Investigator east distance 1 mile.* (* At this time the
ships were within 2 miles of the north-east point of Broad Sound.)
“Thursday, September 9th. Stretching across Broad Sound, at
half-past 1 P.M. suddenly shoaled our water at the same time saw the
appearance of broken water ahead. At 2 P.M. spoke the Commodore who
told me to steer west. A round mount north-west by west distance 3
miles. At 11 P.M. came to in company with the Commodore with best bower
in 7 fathoms water. In the course of the forenoon saw several native
fires on this part of the coast. Latitude observed 21 degrees 51
minutes 00 seconds south.
“Friday, September 10th. At 2 P.M. weighed and made sail to the
south-east sounding from 1/2 3 at low water to 1/4 less 2 on the edge
of a sand shoal on which the Investigator touched but immediately swung
off, we continuing. At half-past 5 A.M. perceived the Investigator to
be getting under weigh, made all sail down to the Commodore. Spoke him;
he told me to work between the main and one of Northumberland Islands,
and said he would follow us. Stood on to windward and tacked
occasionally anchored in company with the Commodore at half-past 11
A.M. under a pleasant little island.* (* “The 4th flat Island is about
one mile long and there is a smaller lying off it's south-east end.
They are a little elevated and bear grass and small trees, but the
shores are covered with mangroves and surrounded with flats of mud and
sand.” Flinders.) Observed Captain Flinders to go on shore, shortly
afterwards I went on shore, some turtle shells were seen and the marks
of natives of an ancient date. It appears that the whole of the
distance between the Pier Head at Thirsty Sound and to the round mount
before mentioned between the Northumberland Islands and the main has a
number of sand shoals that can only be avoided by keeping the lead
constantly going and a good lookout at the head otherwise a vessel
would get aground, and the water falling so much and so rapidly would
leave her high and dry...
“Saturday, September 11th. At 6 A.M. weighed ill company with the
Investigator but she (on account of the shoals that lye off from the
mainland to the island we anchored under) was obliged at 7 A.M. to drop
her anchor. In the Lady Nelson we crossed the shoal in only 9 feet
immediately on being over it we fell into 3, 4, and 5 fathoms. Again
crossed it and ran up to the Investigator at 9 A.M., the flood having
made strong over the shoal again.
“Sunday, September 12th. At quarter-past 5 P.M. tacked and stood on
ahead of the Investigator until we were close to a very extensive sheet
of mud lying all the way from the mainland. At this place an inlet of
shoal water appeared to run a good distance into the country. At
sundown tacked in company with the Investigator and stood off. At 8
A.M. tacked and stood into an inlet with several dry lands appearing in
it, found a good strong flood against us. At half-past 9 A.M. came to.*
(* “At 9 A.M. passed a fifth opening: anchored abreast of a hilly
projection which I have named Upper Head.” Flinders.) Lowered our boat
and I went on shore with a couple of hands. Saw or found nothing worth
notice—the soil is sandy, the shores lined with mangrove trees and
inland a little distance we found gum trees and the palm; a few curlews
and redbills were shot.
“Monday, September 13th. At half-past 8 weighed as per signal in
company with the Commodore; found when near the Investigator the water
suddenly to shoal from 6 to 3 to 1, where we touched the ground,
however on heaving up our keel she went off into 2 fathoms, when we
came to, observed the Investigator to ground, she was caught on a bank
of quicksand in 11 feet at half-past 10 A.M. she floated, a little
after Captain Flinders went away inshore, sounding. Several native
fires in sight in different directions.
“Tuesday, September 14th. At half-past 1 P.M. made sail in company
with the Investigator and worked to north-west where we anchored. On
passing her Captain Flinders hailed us and told me to be ready at 8
o'clock in the morning to proceed to the south-east up the arm on Broad
Sound. At 8 A.M. Captain Flinders and Mr. Brown on board. At half-past
8 A.M. weighed and made sail, at 40 minutes past 10 A.M. grounded in 8
feet of water, at 40 minutes past 11 A.M. weighed and made sail across
the entrance of the river. From noon until 40 minutes past 1 P.M.
stretching across the flats of this arm, sounding from 9 feet to 3 1/4
fathoms, where we anchored. Immediately moored with the kedge which in
a little time she brought home, moored with the bowers per cable one
way and 25 fathoms the other, found the tide of ebb to run at 4 P.M. 5
knots and 6 fathoms. At 5 P.M. we began to touch the ground and
perceived that our main keel was gone, part of it coming up alongside.
Sent some of the people out to look in what situation our anchor lay
and it was found that the best bower had come home and the small parted
12 fathoms from the ring. I conclude the ragged part of the main keel
must have done it when she swung in ground, we tried in vain with 10 or
11 hands to lift it out of its bed. As the whole of this part of the
flats are quicksands with a strong suction, bent a good warp to its
crown to weigh it by when the tide rose. At half-past 1 A.M. the flood
came to us with much noise and about a foot high, in 15 minutes we
floated and hove up to our best bower. By 5 A.M. began again to ground,
by 6 A.M. fast: at half-past 7 A.M. Captain Flinders went in his boat
in search of deeper water and found one place nearer inshore where he
thought it advisable to shift the Lady Nelson to, when the tide would
permit. Upon the south shore we saw several native fires.
“Thursday, September 16th. At 2 P.M. loosed sails, sheeted home and
hoisted them, weighed and stood in shore. Found the strength of the
tide here to be 3 1/2 knots.
“Friday, September 17th. At half-past 5 P.M. Captain Flinders
returned having found the arm to terminate in shoals of sand. At 3 A.M.
weighed and made sail in order to join the Investigator but by
half-past 4 A.M. we grounded and there were obliged to lye from the ebb
falling so fast. Captain Flinders, Mr. Brown and the boat's crew left
us. Here we had an opportunity of looking at the vessel's bottom, the
sand being firm. Found one sheet and a half of copper torn off her
garboard streak, one off the starboard bow, and on the bows the anchor
had torn the copper in some degree; from the want of copper nails could
not repair those hurts until we joined the Investigator.
“Saturday, September 18th. At 2 P.M. weighed and began to work to
windward...anchored near the Investigator. A.M. I waited on Captain
Flinders and was advised to lay the Lady Nelson on shore in order to
repair her copper; in consequence of which Lieutenant Fowler and I went
to examine a sand inshore of the vessels and finding that sand fit for
the purpose, reported the same to Captain Flinders; got our main keel
out of the trunk, found 4 feet of it gone and also 4 feet of the after
keel carried away.* (* “The Lady Nelson...required some reparation, I
therefore desired Lieutenant Murray to lay his vessel on shore and get
these matters arranged to cut wood and be ready to sail in a week for
the Torres Strait.” Flinders.)
“Sunday, September 19th. At half-past 6 A.M. weighed and ran into 5
feet water. At half-past 8 A.M. the Investigator weighed and stood to
the eastward. At 9 A.M. we grounded; by noon we were able to replace
part of the copper torn off her bottom.
“Monday, September 20th. Fine weather throughout. By 3 P.M. she
floated, weighed, ran into 5 fathoms water and anchored. At 6 A.M.
weighed and grounded.
“Tuesday, September 21st. At 3 P.M. she began to float, by 4 hove
her off, weighed and ran into 5 fathoms water where we anchored. A.M.
Sent a party on shore to cut wood. Investigator still in sight.
“Wednesday, September 22nd. A party on shore cutting wood and stuff
for brooms. A.M. Received on board two boat-loads of wood; sent a party
after kangaroo, some were seen at a distance but none were shot.
Shifted the fore keel aft and the after one (when we had repaired it as
well as we could) forward. The main keel we could not make fit after
our carpenter had worked on it several days, I rather suppose the trunk
is injured in its inside.
“Thursday, September 23rd. Set up our rigging and stays fore and
aft; sent the carpenter on shore to cut spars to fit our several guns
“Friday, September 24th. Fine weather, moderate winds throughout.
A.M. Perceived the Investigator under weigh standing over to us.
“Saturday, September 25th. The Investigator in sight working towards
us; at half-past 8 A.M. she came to an anchor within half a mile of us.
I waited on Captain Flinders and informed him we were ready for sea.
“Sunday, September 26th. The Investigator struck her tents on shore.
Received from her gunner half a barrel of gunpowder and one quire of
musket cartridge paper, and 17 fathoms of old rope for lashing beams.
“Monday, September 27th. At half-past 6 A.M. Weighed in company with
the Investigator made all sail to the north-west. We were both obliged
to come to; the wind freshening, we weighed, but it again dying away we
anchored. At half-past 9.A.M. made sail.
“Tuesday, September 28th. At half-past 3 A.M. weighed in company
with H.M.S. Investigator and made sail to northward. At 6 A.M. spoke
the Commodore and received orders to keep ahead. A high island we
passed this morning south by west distant 12 or 14 miles,* (* North
Point Island.) a high short island under our lee north-west by west
distant 10 or 11 miles. Long high land on our weather bow north-east by
north distant 11 or 12 miles.* (* Percy Islands.) Latitude observed 21
degrees 52 minutes 41 seconds south.
“Wednesday, September 29th. Stood after the Commodore. At this time
I perceived that several of the islands in sight were covered with
pines of the same kind as Port Number 2. At half-past 7 P.M. anchored
with the kedge; answered a signal light from the Investigator with one
at the main. At daylight weighed and stood towards the Investigator. At
half-past 5 A.M. she also weighed and we proceeded a little nearer to
the large island mentioned in yesterday's log and on turn of tide we
came to. Observed Captain Flinders* (* “Not a single native was seen
either on the shores of Thirsty or Broad Sound during...our stay.”
Flinders.) in his whale-boat go ashore with several of the officers and
gentlemen, not to the large island but to a small island within about 2
miles of it and from which it bore west-south-west.* (* “We landed
first at the islet where the same kind of pine is seen as at Port
Bowen.” Flinders.) At half-past 9 A.M. hove up and made towards the
Commodore who was under weigh, standing on to the body of a large pine
island. Kept standing up for a sandy beach on the southern end of the
large Pine Island and at half-past 11 A.M. the Commodore dropped
anchor; stood on past him and at noon came to with the kedge* (* At
Number 2 Island, the largest of the Percy Islands.) the small Pine
Island bearing south-west by west distant 1 1/4 miles Peak of Pines
like a sugar loaf north distant 5 or 6 miles.*... (* “To the northern
Percy Isles, each of which is a hill somewhat peaked but that on Number
3 is much the most so and the highest...is called Pine Peak.”
“Thursday, September 30th. I went on shore and by a narrow passage
entered a sheet of water entirely surrounded by the mountainous part of
the island, with here and there pines which on the whole has a
beautiful and romantic appearance. I searched for fresh water but found
none, however Captain Flinders found plenty. A.M. I went on shore with
a party in order to clear a rolling way for our casks as also did
captain Flinders and Lieutenant Fowler with 20 men, by noon this was
completed and the well began to be dug and cleared out; by an unlucky
accident the dry grass with which most of the ground is covered caught
fire and burnt with great fury driving the people away from the
“Friday, October 1st. On shore digging wells and clearing them out.
By half-past 3 P.M. the fire had increased so as to make us retreat to
the sandy beach and even here it nearly reached us by 7 P.M. It
continued to burn all night...covering the whole of the hills
(particularly the tops) with a fringe of white fire while all the way
down to the bases resembled a large town on a dark night well lighted
up. By the morning it had considerably abated.
“Saturday, October 2nd. Employed completing our water which was done
by sunset and the hold stowed. Secured everything for sea. The
Investigator continued watering. Found a part of our best bower cable
so much decayed from wear that I cut off, from the anchor end, 15
fathoms and fresh bent it again. Before we leave this island I think it
proper to observe it lies (from where we lay at anchor) about north by
east and south by west its latitude is 21 degrees 40 minutes 02 seconds
south and its longitude by Timekeeper 150 degrees 23 minutes 27 seconds
east, it will easily be known from a high peak of stones that at a
distance will look like its northern end. On this peak several pines
are growing. On its northern end is a sandy beach from which the
entrance of the circular sheet of water is immediately seen. On this
beach we caught the first day plenty of fish and it is remarkable that
since few have been caught. Bearing south-west from this place at about
2 miles distance is a small island of pines with two or three rocks
lying about it, to the westward at a distance of 8 or 9 miles is a
rugged island with two peaks covered with pines, one of them much
higher than the other, and to the north-west about 10 or 11 miles is an
island of table-land with a bluff head on its southern end all round
are islands of different sizes but this watering island cannot be
mistaken or missed.
“Monday, October 4th. At 6 A.M. weighed in company with the
Investigator and made sail to the Northward.
“Tuesday, October 5th. Worked to windward...at 5 P.M. tacked. At
sundown the Stony Peak on watering island bore south by west high peak
of Pines west distant 2 1/2 or 3 miles. At noon the high Peak of Pines
bore south-west by south distant about 17 or 18 miles, the peak on
Watering Island south-south-west distant 19 or 20 miles.* (* Mr. Murray
seems to have given Number 2 offing the name of Watering Island.)
“Wednesday, October 6th. At half-past 1 answered signal “Follow me,”
answered signal “Make sail ahead.” At this time we saw a long range of
sand reefs in the east and west direction and three small rocks bore
north-east by north distant 2 1/2 or 3 miles.* (* “They were not those
seen by Mr. Campbell though they form part of the same barrier...The
reefs were not dry with the exception of some black lumps which
resembled the round heads of negroes, these being dead coral.”
Flinders.) Answered signal of 'Danger,' following the Investigator and
keeping a good lookout from the mast-head. At half-past 1 P.M. the high
peak of pines bore south-south-west distant about 22 miles which proves
those extensive reefs to be placed very erroneously on the chart owing
to the incorrectness of Messrs. Swaine and Campbell, they having laid
them down nearly 2 degrees off the land instead of which they are only
distant 20 miles from the nearest island. Quarter past 6 P.M. came to
in 28 fathoms with the kedge; the Investigator north-east by north
quarter of a mile distant.* (* “At six anchored in 27 fathoms coarse
sand.” Flinders.) At daylight the Investigator began to heave up and we
did the same, by 6 A.M. made sail. Received orders to keep ahead with a
good lookout for shoals. Saw a shoal of sand with two small rocks on it
from north-east; at half-past 10 A.M. being within 2 miles of the shoal
tacked. At noon the rocks on the shoal bore north-west a little
westerly distant 2 miles. Received additional instructions signals and
cd. from Captain Flinders.* (* “I sent a boat with instructions to
Lieutenant Murray...in case of our separation.” Flinders.)
“Thursday, October 7th. Stood on after the Investigator and
weathered the last-mentioned reef of coral. At half-past 4 A.M. weighed
and made sail to the south-east. At half-past 10 A.M. saw a reef of
coral ahead, several parts of which were above water considerably much
like the appearance of boats under sail.* (* “Upon these reefs were
more of the dry black lumps called negro heads.” Flinders.)
“Friday October 8th. At half-past 5 P.M. tacked to the northward,
reefs still in sight. At 9 A.M. tacked after the Commodore, a reef of
coral rock bearing east to east-north-east distant 4 or 4 1/2 miles. At
noon the Investigator bore north by east distant 1 1/2 miles, a shoal
of sand apparently bearing north distant 5 or 6 miles, another bearing
north-east by north distant 4 miles and a small rock on an extensive
shoal of sand east by south distant 1 1/2 miles, this shoal seems to
stretch a long way from east-south-east to north-east. Latitude
observed 20 degrees 54 minutes 42 seconds south.
“Saturday, October 9th. From 2 P.M. until 3 (after having weathered
the East point of this shoal) we ran along its other side. At half-past
5 P.M. came to. From the mast-head shoals in every direction. At
half-past 5 A.M. weighed in company with the Commodore and stood to the
north-east. 9 A.M. Perceiving a strong ripple close to us and supposing
it to be shoal water let go our kedge and made the signal of danger to
the Commodore who also came to and sent his boats to sound as did we
but found no less than 15 fathoms. At 11 A.M. the Investigator's
whale-boat made the signal for shoal water and the Commodore made the
signal to anchor which we immediately did in 22 fathoms, bottom small
coral and shells. The Investigator also anchored. We found ourselves
within a cable's length of a shoal and all round shoals of sand and
extensive coral reefs. Latitude observed 20 degrees 51 minutes 38
“Sunday, October 10th. P.M. Sent the boat to examine the reefs of
coral near us. At 4 P.M. the boat returned on board; found the coral to
be of many different colours—blue, yellow, green, and in short in
every colour we know of—found some very large cockles and a few small
shells—found the tide to ebb to run due north-east not less than 2 1/2
knots but when it sallys over the flats and reefs it may be 5 knots. At
half-past 4 P.M. weighed and sent the boat ahead to tow and got our
sweeps on. At 45 minutes past 5 A.M. made sail in company with the
Commodore stood on ahead with the Investigator's boat ahead of us
sounding. This morning we passed a great deal of suspicious water but
saw no rocks or shoals dry.
“Monday, October 11th. Stood on ahead of the Investigator broken
water and reefs on both sides of us. At half-past 4 P.M. saw some very
extensive reefs ahead, they seemed to train as far aft as our beam one
each side of us. An appearance of an opening shows itself to the
west-north-west as also one to the North, all else is broken water,
reefs of coral and patches of coarse whitish sand or more probably
coral. At half-past 5 A.M. weighed and made sail to the northward
keeping ahead of the Investigator half a mile, and her boat ahead of us
sounding.* (* “Next morning the brig and whale-boat went ahead and we
steered after them. The east opening was choaked up and we had scarcely
entered that to the West when Mr. Murray made a signal for 'danger' the
Lady Nelson was carried rapidly to the south-east seemingly without
being sensible of it...I made the signal of recall.” Flinders.) After
running on this course about a mile and a half and being then close up
to the tail of the coral reef north-east of us we suddenly found
ourselves in 4 fathoms of water and plainly saw the bottom consisting
of large rocks of coral. Immediately made the signal of 'Danger' to the
Commodore. We shoaled into 2 fathoms tacked and running south we found
a very rapid tide with us and on passing between two reefs the current
of tide I imagine could not be less than 6 knots. During this time the
Investigator followed after us, but at 7 A.M. she made the signal to
anchor. When she was a little brought up we had no bottom with 50
fathoms of line and on her breaking her sheer she at once broke the
warp 65 fathoms from ye kedge, both of which we lost. I fancy it got
round the top of a rock of coral as we have reason to suspect it foul
ground. Immediately made all sail and stood towards the Investigator
and the wind fortunately freshening we passed her and acquainted
Captain Flinders with our loss. He told me to anchor near him.* (* “We
rode a great strain on the strain cable, it parted and we lost an
anchor. Mr. Murray had lost a kedge and was then riding by a bower.”
Flinders.) Accordingly at 9 A.M. we anchored but she quickly drove into
the stream of tide, and there, to my surprise, the anchor held on.
Answered signal 'Weigh,' tried to do so but found it impossible—held
fast—in a little time the tide slackened somewhat and Captain Flinders
sent a boat and men to assist in getting up our anchor, began to heave
up and were fortunate enough to get it with the loss of one arm, the
cable not much damaged—made sail after the Commodore. Received from
H.M.S. Investigator 2 grapplings.* (* “Our anchor had swivelled in the
stock. Sent Mr. Murray 2 grapnels, which were all that our losses could
allow of being spared.” Flinders.)
“Tuesday, October 12th. At daylight weighed in company with the
Investigator and made sail to the northward. At half-past 7 A.M. We
both came to...
“Wednesday, October 13th. At 1 P.M. weighed in company with the
Commodore and made all sail; by half-past 2 P.M. reefs in sight from
north to east-north-east..At daylight lay to for the Investigator who
joined us by 7 A.M. On sounding we found the bottom altered from coarse
sand, coral and broken shells to very fine sand and small shells...the
wind favouring us the Commodore stood on. The appearance of the water
this morning has been suspicious, however, I imagine it is caused by
the sun's reflection, and being calm, the Investigator's boat has been
ahead all morning. At half-past 10 A.M. the Commodore came to and we
did the same with the two grapplings backing one another, and they held
“Thursday, October 14th. At half-past 5 P.M. reefs of coral in
sight; body of them distant 2 1/2 or 3 miles. At daylight weighed in
company with the Investigator and stood to southward; at half-past 7
A.M. reefs of coral in sight, three middling large rocks seen bearing
south by east; we also at this time saw the land bearing
west-south-west distant 14 or 15 leagues, made the signal of seeing it
to the Investigator: by 8 A.M. perceived it was islands, three in
number. At noon one island bore west by north distant 6 or 7 miles.
This island appears very barren and rocky, and an island that, from its
appearance took to be the Isle of Pines, next Watering Island
south-south-east distant 16 or 17 miles.
“Friday, October 15th. 6 P.M. What I suppose to be the Peak of Pines
near Watering Island bore south by east distant 22 or 24 miles: Barren
Island west by south distant 6 or 7 miles: high hummocks of land west
distant about 9 miles.
“Sunday, October 16th. At 4 P.M. a large island with a fire on it
bore south-west by south distant 6 or 7 miles: a lowish island of
rugged land south by east distant 7 or 8 miles: an island with two
hills on it south-west by west distant 5 or 6 miles: a low island with
several hillocks west-south-west distant 8 or 9 miles. At sundown
passed within a quarter of a mile of a high perpendicular peak of one
of Cumberland Isles, and at half-past 6 P.M. anchored in 20 fathoms
with the small bower, bottom fine blue sand. Commodore anchored distant
1/4 of a mile. At 6 A.M. I went on shore in order to look for water as
well as to see what the island produced, we cut down a couple of pines,
fit one for a top-mast the other for a top-sail yard. On this island a
number of pines are growing, some palm trees one of which Mr. Brown,
the naturalist of the Investigator, thinks is not common. This island
is not inhabited but seems occasionally to be visited. Two of the other
islands are inhabited as on both of them were fires last night. On the
north-west side is a beach of coarse coral and sand, on which a few
dried shells were picked up, from this beach a considerable way out the
bottom large coral rocks. A number of porpoises and sharks were seen
about us this forenoon but none caught.
“Sunday, October 17th. At 6 A.M. weighed in company with the
Investigator, made sail to northward; by noon the Cumberlands from
south by south-west to west by north; and the Investigator east by
south distant 4 miles. From the colour of the water and a long steady
swell I judge we are nearly clear of the northern extremity of the
reefs. I have now had several opportunities of seeing that from the
want of our main and after keels we are so leewardly that the
Investigator in 6 hours will get with ease 4 miles to windward of the
“Monday, October 18th. Stood on after the Investigator. At 6 P.M.
she anchored within half a mile of us, on which I immediately came to
in 34 fathoms with the small bower. Saw a boat lowered and in half an
hour Lieutenant Fowler came on board and informed me that Captain
Flinders meant to part company in the morning with the brig and
therefore to get all ready for that purpose.* (* The Lady Nelson sailed
so ill “that she not only caused us delay but ran great risk of being
lost. The zeal he (Lieutenant Murray) had shown...increased my
regret...at parting from our little consort.” Flinders.) At daylight
hoisted out our long boat and sent her on board the Investigator. I
received from Captain Flinders orders to proceed to Port Jackson with
the Lady Nelson as fast as circumstances would allow. I also received a
letter on service to His Excellency Governor King, as well as some
private letters. Half-past 8 A.M. I took leave of Captain Flinders and
returned on board, hove up. At this time the Investigator hoisted her
colours and we did the same, she standing away to the westward and we
to the southward. By 40 minutes past 10 A.M. we took our last view of
H.M.S. Investigator, her top-gallant-sails just being in the vane of
the horizon.* (* At “9 o'clock got under weigh and showed our colours
to bid farewell to the Lady Nelson.” Flinders.) At noon Cumberland
Island in sight, a large one distant 10 or 11 miles. Discharged to
H.M.S. Investigator, Mr. Lacy, Henry Willis and Thomas Shirly and
received in lieu Jeremiah Wolsey and Nanbury (a native).* (* “Nanbarre,
one of the two natives, having expressed a wish to go back to Port
Jackson was sent to the Lady Nelson in the morning.” Flinders.)
Latitude observed 20 degrees 178 minutes 16 seconds south.
“Tuesday, October 19th. By half-past 5 P.M. having run in between
two very high islands covered with pines, came to in 10 fathoms water
with the small bower, as the highest of the islands was in several
places on fire. I lowered our boat and sent the First Mate in her to
speak to the natives who I supposed must be on the island but when he
returned, he told me few of their traces were seen. A part of one of
their canoes was found and brought on board, from its appearance I
deemed it not much superior in structure from those of the natives of
Sydney. From where we lay (which is safe and secure anchorage with a
blue clay bottom) the high peak of the nearest or eastern of those
islands bore east-south-east, the rest of the Cumberlands lying in all
directions of us. At daylight weighed and stood to the
north-north-east, kept tacking occasionally to windward as it was my
wish to get sight of the island we last watered at chiefly to ascertain
whether the Timekeeper had kept its rate. At noon wore as she
repeatedly missed stays from the want of her keels and a short confused
“Wednesday, October 20th. From noon till 2 P.M. kept trying to work
to windward but she refusing stays I bore away for our former anchorage
which having gained at 3 P.M. came to. Lowered down the boat and I went
on shore unarmed supposing that should the island have any natives on
it, they might be induced to show themselves. I was disappointed for I
neither saw them or anything of consequence, one tree or plant
excepted, which I had never seen before: as Nanbury, a native of Sydney
on board, said he knew nothing of such a tree, as well as some people
who had been a long time in New South Wales...I took a large specimen
of it on board and hope it will keep.
“Thursday, October 21st. P.M. Sent a party on shore to examine the
highest peak of the island to look for water and to get the bearings of
the island. When they returned I was informed that the southernmost
point of the main (which I presume is Cape Hillsborough) bore
south-east 1/2 east. It was the mate's opinion natives had been there a
few days ago, as round their fires were plenty of turtle bones
scattered about. Our anchorage last left bore south by west distant 2
“Friday, October 22nd. At 8 P.M. came to in our old anchorage. At 8
weighed, cleared the narrow passage between the islands we anchored
under...we had chosen the worst place they afford: as on this side from
the number of islands that lie all around as well as Cape Hillsborough
and the island off it, we found the water quiet and smooth. 9 A.M. Made
all sail for a large island to the south-east and by noon were abreast
of its eastern extremity. This island has the most romantic and
beautiful appearance of any I have ever beheld and from its north-west
point to its north-east point is nothing but a continuation of safe and
well-sheltered bays, the shores of which consist of white sand beaches
intercepted here and there with patches of coral rocks: the edges of
these in several places are lined with low mangroves, behind which tall
pines rise, forming a beautiful contrast, these however rise not so
high as to intercept our view of bold front-land which much resembles
the hills of Norfolk when the grain on them is ripe, and over all these
towering to a great height rise the inland hills covered with very high
pines, on the whole I scarcely ever saw so fine a view. At noon the
body of it bore north 1/2 east distant 3 miles, island of anchorage
north-north-west distant 14 miles, an island at which I mean to anchor
for the night (if we reach it) east by E. distant 6 or 7 miles.
Latitude observed 20 degrees 48 minutes 44 seconds south.
“Saturday, October 23rd. By half-past 4 P.M. came to with our broken
bower and it held her safe all night although the remaining arm did not
take, a thing by the way rather odd as I had a short boom slung to it.
4 A.M. weighed and made all sail for Watering Island. By noon a
remarkable peak on the mainland south-west, several other islands in
sight in different directions. Since leaving Broad Sound until now the
sea had been constantly covered in different places with an oily brown
slime insomuch that it has often occasioned me to suspect shoal water.
“Sunday, October 24th. At sundown the body of Watering Island bore
distant 10 or 11 miles, some other of the Northumberland islands
bearing from north to south-west. We found the soundings to be from 18
to 10 fathoms, being inside some of the Offing Islands and within the
westernmost edge of the extensive barrier reefs 20 miles. At 6 P.M.
came to with our broken anchor. At midnight weighed and made for
Watering Island with all sail. By 6 A.M. got within three miles of our
late anchorage where we came to, body of Stony Peak of the Island
bearing east-south-east. At 40 minutes past 9 A.M. again weighed...At
noon got within one mile and a half of the anchorage.
“Monday, October 25th. By half past 1 P.M. having with the help of
our sweeps gained nearly our old berth came to, I went on shore, found
our well overflowing with good clear water. By noon our water was
completed. A duck, pigeon and pheasant were shot on the hills to-day.
“Tuesday, October 26th. At daylight weighed and made sail. By 8 A.M.
the rocky peak on the north end of Watering Island distant 10 or 11
miles. Stood on through the Offing Isles of Northumberland Islands.
“Wednesday, October 27th. At 6 P.M. it being nearly calm came to in
17 fathoms with our broken anchor, Cape Townsend* (* Cape Townshend.)
bearing south-east distant 3 or 5 miles, hill of Pines (its base)
south-west distant 9 or 10 miles. A confused sea made me determined at
slack water to weigh and run into better anchorage, at half-past 10
A.M. weighed and made sail up under Cape Townsend.
“Thursday, October 28th. At 1/4 past 1 P.M. came to with our broken
anchor, veered away, but on her bringing up the cable parted although
the strain was very trifling. The other bower was let go and it did not
for some time bring her up. Perceiving all hopes of regaining our
anchor or cable to be in vain, from our having so considerably shifted
our berth as well as our having only one small boat, she almost in
pieces, and it being absolutely necessary to get from here into a place
of safety, I got two of the swivel guns cross-lashed, in short made as
good an anchor of them as their nature would admit of, hoping that in
light winds and smooth waters they would somewhat save our only
remaining anchor. At 3 P.M. made sail further up into Shoal Water Bay,
where we anchored with the swivels; they held her, there being no tide
and but little wind. At 40 minutes past 7 P.M. let go the bower anchor
and in the morning weighed it as well as the swivels and made sail up
the Bay, where we anchored; lowered down the boat and sent the seine to
haul, also the carpenter to look for a tree that might make a wooden
anchor which with being loaded would answer in case of necessity.
“Friday, October 29th. Carpenter employed on the iron-bark anchor.
“Saturday, October 30th. At half-past 10 A.M. weighed and made sail
towards the southern outlet of the bay. By the time we got within a
mile and a half of it we had light baffling flaws all round; this
outlet is narrow and several sunken rocks lie scattered about. We
anchored as much out of the tide as possible.
“Sunday, October 30th.* (* Evidently meant to be the 31st.) 1 P.M.
hove up and made sail into snug anchorage, came to in 1/4 5
fathoms...By 5 P.M. the wooden anchor being finished bent our small
bower cable to it, hove up the bower and let go the wood anchor which
however did not ride her, we therefore dropped the bower again and let
the other remain in hopes that by getting the water lodged (as its
weight would consequently increase) it might ride us in soft ground.
“Monday, November 1st. P.M. The party that were on shore returned,
they informed me that one very large kangaroo was shot but escaped
owing to the thickness of the bush, some small ones were also seen; a
couple of pheasants and a pigeon were shot. A.M. sent two men on shore
in order to try for a kangaroo.
“Tuesday, November 2nd. I would have gone to sea had the tide not
been running strong into the Bay. Weighed our wooden anchor and loaded
it with two swivels, this I would imagine would ride her in moderate
“Wednesday, November 3rd. At 8 A.M. weighed and made all sail to
windward. By 10 A.M. flood having made in we were obliged to come to
with our wooden anchor which I had the satisfaction to see held on.
“Thursday, November 4th. Half-past 3 P.M. weighed and worked to
windward the outlet of the bay. By 5 P.M. gained the narrows of the
entrance. Found a very strong tide running out. By 6 P.M. cleared the
“Friday, November 5th. From 1 P.M. to 5 running through Keppel's
Islands south. At daylight land in sight from West to south by west;
“Saturday, November 6th. From noon to 3 P.M. fresh winds and gloomy
weather with dripping rain and some distant thunder. Saw Sandy Cape
bearing east-south-east distant 10 or 11 miles could not see the
land...came to with our wood anchor in 12 fathoms, Sandy Cape bearing
south-east by east distant 10 miles...
“Sunday, November 7th. Until half-past 3 P.M. we stood along the
northern edge of Breaksea Spit when, it being calm, came to in 14
fathoms water with our wood anchor, Sandy Cape bearing south-east by
south distant 10 or 11 miles...
“Monday, November 8th. At half-past 9 A.M. Sandy Cape bore south
distant 18 miles. At 10 A.M. saw Breaksea Spit breaking from south-west
by south to West distant about 6 miles. At noon tacked to the
northward, Sandy Cape bearing south by west distant 10 miles.
“Tuesday, November 9th. A high sea throughout. At noon no land in
sight. Latitude observed 24 degrees 19 minutes 58 seconds south.
“Wednesday, November 10th. At Sundown Sandy Cape bore west 1/2 south
distant 10 miles Sandy Point west distant 10 or 11 miles, spit breaking
very high out to west by north, the southern extremes of land bearing
south distant 14 miles, favourable.
“Thursday, November 11th. At noon fine weather and moderate winds
with a confused sea. All sail set, the extremes of the land bearing
from south-west to north-west distant each 7 or 8 leagues. Latitude
observed 25 degrees 38 minutes 50 seconds south.
“Friday, November 12th. At sundown Double Island Point west 1/2
south distant 6 or 7 leagues; at 10 P.M. tacked to the southward...At
noon the Glass Houses on Glass House Bay south-west by south distant 6
or 7 leagues.
“Saturday, November 13th. At daylight no land in sight, at 8 A.M.
saw land bearing south-west distant 6 or 7 leagues.
“Sunday, November 14th. At 10 A.M. after a deal of rain a light air
sprung up at north. Observed Latitude Dead Reckoning 26 degrees 38
minutes 00 seconds south.
“Monday, November 15th. At 8 A.M. saw some high land bearing
west-south-west distant 8 leagues. Until noon we had light squalls and
very hard rain. No observation of Latitude 27 degrees 35 minutes 00
seconds: I conclude myself to be one degree more to South than the
D.R.* (* Dead Reckoning.) gives and not so far East by about 14 or 15
“Tuesday, November 16th. At 4 A.M. tacked to southward, set
top-gallant-sails and stay-sails; no land in sight. Latitude observed
29 degrees 07 minutes 28 seconds south.
“Wednesday, November 17th. At 4 P.M. tacked to south-west.
“Thursday, November 18th. At noon fresh clear wind at
north-north-west and a high confused sea on, set all sail we could.
“Friday, November 19th. Saw land bearing west by south distant 4 or
5 leagues this I take to be Smoaky Cape, if it is, a strong westerly
current must have run, for by account when I made the land our latitude
was 30 degrees 46 minutes 39 seconds south 3 miles to the westward of
Smoaky Cape but our longitude deducted from yesterday's time-keeper 153
degrees 50 minutes 00 seconds east 40 miles to the eastward of it which
makes the current to have set us west 28 miles. At noon Smoaky Cape
bore west 1/2 south distant 6 leagues.
“Saturday, November 20th. At noon what I supposed to be the Brothers
bore west-south-west distant 6 or 7 leagues.
“Sunday, November 21st. Fresh breezes and cloudy, latter part
variable wind and thick weather. No land in sight.
“Monday, November 22nd. At 5 A.M. the north head of Port
Jackson...bore south-west distant 4 leagues. At 8 A.M. the north head
bore West distant 1 league. At 40 minutes past 10 A.M. came to with the
bower in Sydney Cove abreast of the Governor's wharf, found lying here
H.M.S. Buffalo which was returned.
“Tuesday, November 23rd. Winds all round the compass with much
thunder and lightning. Employed preparing for sea.”
[Facsimile signature Jno Murray]
CHAPTER 8. THE FRENCH SHIPS IN BASS
STRAIT. THE FOUNDING OF HOBART.
On Murray's return to Sydney on November 22nd, 1802, after his
parting with Flinders, he learned that Commodore Baudin's ships had
left the harbour four days previously. The French vessels had made a
lengthy stay in port. The Geographe entered the Heads on June 20th,
1802, during the absence of the Lady Nelson at the Hawkesbury, and for
that reason we find no record of her arrival in Murray's log; eight
days afterwards the Naturaliste came to Port Jackson for the second
time, and joined her consort at the anchorage in Neutral Bay.
In consequence of foul weather, Hamelin could not double the South
Cape of Van Diemen's Land, and the meeting of the ships at Sydney,
after their long separation, gave great satisfaction to those on board.
The French officers and sailors were most hospitably received by the
Governor, although England and France were still supposed to be at war,
and many of the French officers were soon on friendly terms with the
chief residents and officials. The news that peace had been concluded
between the two countries, which arrived shortly afterwards, Peron says
“could add nothing to the friendly sentiments of the English at Port
Jackson but was a subject of rejoicing on the part of our companions.”
At Sydney Baudin became aware of the full extent of the English
discoveries on the southern coast. Not until then could he have known
all the results of the explorations of Grant and Murray in the Lady
Nelson, for up to the time of the arrival of the French at Sydney, only
two ships had ever visited Port Phillip. One of these was, of course,
the Lady Nelson, the other the Investigator under Captain Flinders.
Flinders had, as we have seen, met Baudin in Encounter Bay, when the
commander of the Investigator was himself ignorant of the fact that
Port Phillip had been discovered and entered by Murray. At this
interview Baudin informed Flinders that the Geographe had “explored the
south coast from Western Port to our place of meeting without finding
any river, inlet or other shelter which afforded anchorage.—This
statement of Baudin's is contradicted by Peron in his history of the
voyage, who says, that on March 30th Port Phillip was seen from the
masthead of the Geographe and was given the name Port du Debut, “but,”
he adds, “hearing afterwards that it had been more minutely surveyed by
the English brig Lady Nelson and had been named Port Phillip we, with
greater pleasure, continued this last name from its recalling that of
the founder of a colony in which we met with succour so effective and
so liberally granted.” Louis de Freycinet also states that the entrance
to the Port was seen by those on board the Geographe. A drawing of Port
Phillip afterwards appeared under the name Port du Debut on his own
charts.* (* Through the kindness of M. le Comte de Fleurieu some
extracts from Baudin's journal have been placed in the writer's hands.
From these it would appear that the Geographe passed Western Port
without recognising it, and in continuing to voyage westward saw a port
which those on board imagined to be Western Port, but which possibly
was Port Phillip.) Freycinet denied that the map had been plagiarised,
as was generally believed in England, by the unlawful use of Flinders'
charts,* (* See Atlas, 1st Edition Voyage de Decouvertes aux Terres
Australes, 1807. F. Peron and L. de Freycinet. Freycinet was not in the
Geographe when she met the Investigator, he was then in the
Naturaliste. He acknowledged that the drawing of Port Phillip in the
Terre Napoleon was taken from a manuscript chart made on board the
English ship Arniston and found among the papers of the Fame captured
by the French in 1806 (Voyage de Decouvertes 3 430). The Arniston was
one of a fleet of ships under convoy of H.M.S. Athenian which was sent
to China via Van Diemen's Land and Norfolk Island.) and there is no
reason to disbelieve him; but it is quite possible that Flinders did
show Freycinet either his own chart of Port Phillip, or one made by
Murray, during the stay of the French at Port Jackson.
When Baudin sailed westward along the south coast from Wilson's
Promontory towards Encounter Bay—before his meeting with Flinders—he
bestowed French names upon places that had been already discovered and
named by the English, giving to Cape Patton (of Grant) the title of
Cape Suffrein, Cape Albany Otway (of Grant) that of Cape Marengo, and
Cape Schanck (of Grant) that of Cape Richelieu. Portland Bay, also
named by Grant, became Tourville Bay; Montaigne Cape took the
place-name of Cape Solicitor; Lady Julia Island became Fourcroy Island;
Lawrence's Island, Dragon Island; and Cape Bridgewater, Cape
Montesquieu. In this manner nearly the whole of Grant's discoveries
were rechristened.* (* Some writers give the French name of Cape
Desaix, bestowed in honour of one of Napoleon's famous generals, to
Cape Albany Otway. Pinkerton's translator of the History to Southern
Lands, however, states that the French named Cape Otway, Cape Marengo.)
The presence of Baudin's expedition in Australian waters may be said
to have considerably hurried on the British colonisation of Tasmania.
Although Bass and Flinders had in 1798 circumnavigated the island,
adding extensive discoveries to those already made by Furneaux, Hayes,
Bligh, and other British seamen, it was realised in Sydney that the
French might lay claim to some portion of the island.
During Baudin's visit his officers surveyed the eastern coast more
thoroughly than any previous navigators, although they must have known
that Tasmania was then regarded by the British as their territory.* (*
The commission of Governor Phillip, read publicly when he landed at
Sydney in 1788, had proclaimed him ruler of all the land from Cape York
to South Cape in Tasmania.) Baudin's enquiries elicited as much from
Governor King at Sydney. It was natural therefore that after the
departure of the French ships, when King heard a rumour that they
intended to take possession of a port in Tasmania,* (* Baie du Nord.)
he should send Acting-Lieutenant Robbins in the Cumberland after the
vessels, who, finding them at anchor at King Island, immediately
hoisted the Union Jack there and daily saluted it during their stay. It
was upon seeing the British flag flying on this island that Baudin is
said to have observed “that the English were worse than the Pope, for
whereas he grasped half the world the English took the whole of it.”
Commodore Baudin afterwards wrote to Governor King assuring him that
the rumour as to his intentions was without foundation, but, he added,
“Perhaps he (Robbins) has come too late as for several days before he
hoisted the flag over our tents we had left in prominent parts of the
island (which I still name after you) proofs of the period at which we
visited it.” This insinuation evidently raised King's ire, as he made a
note on the margin of the letter, “If Mr. Baudin insinuates any claim
of this visit the island was first discovered in 1798* (* King writes
1799 in the chart.) by Mr. Reid in the Martha and afterwards seen by
Mr. Black in the Harbinger and surveyed by Mr. Murray in February
1802.” Baudin seems to have totally ignored what could not have been a
secret at Port Jackson, namely, the fact that the Lady Nelson had
surveyed King Island from Cape Farewell to Seal Bay.
To return to the story of the logbooks. After another voyage to
Norfolk Island, whither the Lady Nelson conveyed troops to relieve the
men there, Murray was forced to resign his command, the Governor being
informed, in despatches from the Admiralty, that he had sent them an
erroneous statement of his services. In writing to Secretary Nepean,
King remarks, on April 12th, 1803, “I had the honour of receiving yours
respecting the discovery...about Mr. Murray's statement of servitude
which appeared in his passing certificate at the Cape of Good Hope, in
consequence of which he has been superseded in the command of the Lady
Nelson and goes home a passenger in the Glatton. He promises himself
being able to clear the point up to their Lordships' satisfaction.
Should he be able to accomplish this, I consider it but doing common
justice to his perseverance and good conduct while in command of the
Lady Nelson to say that his future services in that vessel would be
very acceptable to me and beneficial to the service that the vessel is
employed on. In consequence of Mr. Murray's being superseded from the
Lady Nelson, I applied to Captain Colnett for a person to command her
not having anyone who can be spared, either from the Buffalo or
Porpoise. He has appointed the master's mate of the Glatton, Mr. George
Courtoys,* (* The name is spelt Curtoys in the Commander's own log.)
who is passed and appears equal to the charge of Acting-Lieutenant and
Commander of that vessel.”
Murray's charts and the journal of his discoveries were sent home to
the Duke of Portland by Governor King. They were committed to the care
of Lieutenant Mackellar, who embarked in an American vessel named the
Caroline,* (* Historical Records of New South Wales volume 4 pages 734
and 764.) which left Sydney on March 29th, 1802, and we know that they
reached Whitehall safely. After his arrival in England, Murray seems to
have been able to clear up satisfactorily his misunderstanding with the
authorities, for shortly after his return he was appointed an Admiralty
Surveyor, and his name is found upon several charts of the Home Coasts
executed by him in 1804, 1805, and 1807.
In 1803 the Governor gave orders to the Commanders of H.M.S.
Porpoise and of the Lady Nelson to embark the first colonists and
proceed with them to Tasmania. The Lady Nelson, under the command of
Lieutenant Curtoys, and having on board Lieutenant John Bowen,* (*
Lieutenant John Bowen, R.N., came to Sydney in H.M.S. Glatton and was a
son of Captain John Bowen and nephew of Lieutenant Richard Bowen, R.N.,
Admiralty Agent on board the Atlantic, which visited New South Wales in
1792.) the Commandant of the new establishment, as well as several
other persons chosen by Governor King to accompany him, left Sydney
early in June, while the Porpoise followed a few days later. Both ships
returned without being able to make their port of destination. The
Porpoise was seventeen days out and foul weather compelled her to
return to Sydney, which she reached on July 3rd, while the Lady Nelson
came back the next day, having been unable to proceed farther than
Twofold Bay, where she waited for a change of wind. Upon putting to sea
again, her main keel was carried away and she was then forced to
abandon her project.
Governor King chartered the Albion whaler 326 tons, Captain Ebor
Bunker, to take the place of the Porpoise in the next attempt to send
colonists to Tasmania, and both ships reached Risdon safely, the Lady
Nelson arriving on the 7th of September and the Albion, with Lieutenant
Bowen on board, five days later.* (* Risdon (afterwards called Hobart
by Lieutenant Bowen) was so named by Captain John Hayes of the Bombay
Marine, who, in command of two ships the Duke of Clarence and the
Duchess, visited Tasmania in 1793. The name was given in honour of Mr.
William Bellamy Risdon, second officer of the Duke of Clarence. Captain
Hayes also named the River Derwent.) The people were safely landed, but
unfortunately much of the stock in the vessels was injured during the
gale that raged after leaving Sydney. Many eligible places for a
settlement presented themselves, and the Commandant eventually chose
Risdon, because there the best stream of water ran into the cove and
also because there were extensive valleys behind it. A few natives were
seen when the Lady Nelson came into the harbour, but they quickly
retired into the woods. The delay in the Albion's passage was caused by
Captain Bunker putting in to Oyster Bay to avoid the bad weather. He
stayed three days in the bay, where his crew killed three large
LOG OF THE LADY NELSON IN SYDNEY COVE.
GEORGE CURTOYS, Commander.
“Friday, 10th June (1803). P.M. Moderate and cloudy. Came on board
Lieutenant Bowen, 10 convicts and 3 soldiers for Van Dieman's Land: at
6 A.M. hove short; 1/2 past fired a gun and made signal for a pilot, at
1/2 past weighed and made sail out of the harbour.
“Wednesday, 15th June. Fresh breezes and cloudy: at 8 squally, bore
up for Twofold Bay the wind seeming to be set in from the Southward and
likely to blow hard.
“Friday, June 24th. Moderate and clear at 5 and found the Bay at 5:
came to with best bower and moored ship 1/2 cable's length from the
shore. Employed making a raft of our spars and main keel: sent the
carpenters on shore to build a punt.
“Saturday, 25th June. Down long top-gallant mast and up short ones.
“Sunday, 26th June. Sent empty casks on shore.
“Monday, 27th June. Employed setting up the lower and top-mast
rigging: received wood and water.
“Tuesday, 28th June. Saw a sloop in the offing standing in to the
Bay made signal for all persons to return on board.
“Wednesday, 29th June. Got all ready for sea: unmoored and shoved
further out. A.M. Strong breezes; made signal for the sloop to come
down—proved to be the John of Sydney.
“Friday, 1st July. Light breezes; at 3 weighed and stood out of the
Bay; at 3.30 reefed top sails: at 11.30 saw part of the main keel go
astern: bore for Port Jackson.
“Monday, 4th July. Moderate and clear: running along-shore; at 11
standing into Port Jackson.
“Tuesday, 5th July. Moderate and clear weather: at 2 came to above
the Sow and Pigs: at 3.50 weighed and made sail up the harbour. Came on
board the Pilot: at 5 got on shore on Bennilong's Point; carried away
the fore foot and fore keel: at 6 came to in Sydney Cove. Moored in
“Monday, 29th August. Fresh breezes and cloudy: at 5 got under
weigh, tacked occasionally—at 7 South Head west by north 5 miles.
“Tuesday, 30th August. Fresh breezes and cloudy weather. 3.20 wore
round on starboard tack.
“Wednesday, 31st August. Moderate and cloudy; at 4 carried away the
fore top-mast: at 5.30 carried away the gaff.
“Thursday, 1st September. Fresh gales and cloudy; at 11 saw the land
about the Eddystone Point: Noon, fresh breezes and cloudy.
“Friday, 2nd September. Fresh breezes and clear; all sail set.
“Saturday, 3rd September. Fresh breezes and cloudy, at 2 handed the
top sail and hove to, at 11 set the fore-sail: at 10 Oyster Island
north by west 7 or 8 miles.
“Sunday, 4th September. Light breezes and cloudy: at 2 down boat: at
4 got the sweeps out: carried one of them away. At 7 came to with the
kedge in 29 fathoms, the tide setting us on an island: at 9, a breeze
springing up, weighed and made all sail.
“Monday, 5th September. Light breezes and cloudy: at 4 calm, out
sweeps to pull ahead: at 8 a breeze, made all sail up Frederick Henry
Bay, at 6.30 out long boat, up main keel.
“Tuesday, 6th September. Ditto weather, at 1 hauled into the Bay: at
2.30 came to in Ralphes Bay in 8 fathoms.* (* Relph's Bay was named by
Captain John Hayes in honour of Captain Relph, Bombay Marine, commander
of the Duchess.)
“Wednesday, 7th September. Moderate breezes and cloudy: sail-maker
making a main top-mast stay-sail. At 10 unmoored and made sail across
“Thursday, 8th September. Ditto weather, came to in the bay in 8
fathoms 1/2 past 3 breeze from the eastward, weighed and made sail up
the Derwent: 6.30 came to in 8 fathoms above Stainforth's Cove.
“Friday, 9th September. Light breezes and cloudy weather: at 4 made
sail for Risdon Cove: at 3 came to in the cove in 4 fathoms.
“Sunday, 11th September. At 8 came on board Captain Bowen from the
Albion sent the longboat to assist in getting her into the Cove.
“Monday, 12th September. Sent some of the stores belonging to the
colony on shore: the longboat assisting the Albion discharging.
“Tuesday, 13th September. Moderate and cloudy weather. Employed
“Monday, 19th September. Struck lower yards and top-gallant mast.
A.M. Fresh breezes and squally, landed bricks for the colony.
“Tuesday, 20th September. Moderate breezes and cloudy. Supplied the
colony with 1/2 a barrel of Powder and a bell.
“Thursday, 29th September. Getting ready for sea: 10.30 in long
boat. A.M. fresh breezes and cloudy with rain: 1/2 past 5 weighed and
made sail down the Harbour: out longboat to tow, at 7 made sail in
“Friday, 30th September. P.M. Strong gales with heavy squalls of
rain: 1/2 past 1 a heavy gale from south-east bore up for Ralphes Bay.
“Saturday, 1st October. A.M. Pleasant weather: up lower yards, set
the rigging up, moored: at 7 weighed and made all sail down the river.
“Sunday, 2nd October. Let go the kedge the vessel drifting on
Risdons Island, shortened sail: 1/4 before 12 a breeze from the
north-west up kedge. Made sail down River Derwent.
“Tuesday, 11th October. P.M. Strong gales and clear weather: at 6
Pigeon House west 10 or 12 miles.
“Wednesday, 12th October. Strong gales and cloudy. At 10 saw a
schooner to windward.
“Thursday, 13th October. Calm and cloudy: 1/4 before 8 strong gales
with heavy squalls of rain. A.M. North Head 12 miles.
“Friday, 14th October. Moderate and cloudy with heavy swell from
south-east: at 1 the Pilot came on board: 1/4 past 4 came to in the
cove with best bower.
“Saturday, 15th October. Light breezes and cloudy. Moored in Port
“Thursday, 27th October. At 5 slipped the mooring and made sail out
of the cove: at 10 the South Head, Broken Bay north-north-west 12
“Friday, 29th October. Saw a schooner to northward, at 5 hove to,
spoke her, found her to be the Resource from Wreck Reef: at 10 came to
in Broken Bay in 5 fathoms. Working up the river to Hawkesbury.
“Tuesday, 1st November. Moderate and clear weather. At 2 came
abreast the Wash in 4 fathoms: moored. Down top-gallant yards, found
the top-gallant yard sprung.
“Wednesday, 2nd November. Fresh and squally with thunder, lightning
and rain: came on board carpenter to build a bulkhead forward for the
“Friday, 4th November. Moderate and fair, at 4 furled sail. Hauled
alongside wharf to take in the corn, received 710 bushels.
“Monday, 7th November. Light breezes and clear. Received 210 bushels
“Tuesday, 8th November. Light breezes and dark cloudy weather with
heavy rain, thunder, and lightning. A.M. At 8 made ye signal for
sailing with a gun. At noon strong breezes.
“Monday, 10th November. P.M. At 5 weighed and made sail: at 4 came
to with the best bower in 3 fathoms.
“Friday, 11th November. P.M. Light breezes and clear: at 11 weighed
and towed down the river. A.M. Calm and foggy: 1/2 past 3 came to in
Sackville Reach in 2 1/2 fathoms.
“Saturday, 12th November. Calm and hot sultry weather, 1/2 past 12
weighed and towed down the river.
“Sunday, 13th November. At 1 weighed and towed down the river, at 4
came to. A.M. Calm and cloudy weighed and made sail down the river.
“Saturday, 19th November 1803. At 2 weighed and made sail down the
river. Up top-gallant yards, at 7 came to in Pitt's Water. A.M. Light
breezes and cloudy. At daylight weighed and made sail: at 4 calm and
cloudy: came to.
“Sunday, 20th November. P.M. Calm. At 1 a breeze from the
north-east. Weighed and made sail, at 2 all sail set, standing out of
the Bay at 4 ditto weather: at 9 came to in Sydney Cove: furled sails
and took in the moorings. A.M. Strong breezes and cloudy, down top
“Friday, 25th November. Employed receiving the wood and water.
Delivering the iron and wine received for Norfolk Island and got ready
to go to Port Phillip.
“(Signed) GEORGE CURTOYS.”
The log of George Curtoys ends on November 25th when he was taken
ill and went on shore to the Naval hospital at Sydney. We hear little
of his subsequent career, beyond that he retired from the Royal Navy
and settled down at the island of Timor,* (* The Sydney Gazette (1814)
says that the ship Morning Star, Captain Smart, brought the above news
concerning Captain Curtoys to Sydney. Captain Curtoys' brig had left
Surabaja for Timor three months before Captain Smart's arrival at that
port.) becoming commander of a brig, which occasionally traded with
CHAPTER 9. SYMONS SUCCEEDS CURTOYS
AS COMMANDER OF THE LADY NELSON. HIS VOYAGES TO PORT PHILLIP, TASMANIA,
AND NEW ZEALAND.
George Curtoys was succeeded in the command of the Lady Nelson by
Acting Lieutenant James Symons, who, like himself, had come to New
South Wales as a midshipman in H.M.S. Glatton under Captain Colnett.
Symons afterwards served on board the Buffalo, and doubtless gained
much knowledge of the Australian coast while he was in that ship. She
is well known on account of her many pioneering voyages, and it is also
recorded that her figure-head was the effigy of a kangaroo, and for
this reason, on her first arrival in Sydney, she became an object of no
little interest to the natives. Symons' appointment was somewhat
hurriedly made, when, after Curtoys had been sent to sick quarters on
shore, the ship Ocean arrived from Port Phillip. Her commander, Captain
Mertho, brought important despatches to the Governor from Colonel
Collins, who had been instructed by the British Government to form a
settlement at that spot.
The establishment had been conveyed from England in two ships,
H.M.S. Calcutta, Captain Woodriff, and the Ocean, Captain Mertho.* (*
The ships left England in April, 1803, and arrived at Port Phillip on
the 7th and 8th of October.) Colonel Collins now reported that the site
at Port Phillip, which he had originally chosen, was unsuitable, and
asked King's permission to move the whole settlement to Tasmania.* (*
Collins settled at what is now Sorrento. It is curious that no proper
examination of the northern shores of Port Phillip was carried out by
Colonel Collins. Had he done so, he must have found the Yarra.) His
cousin, Mr. William Collins, who had accompanied him to Port Phillip,
“in a private capacity,” first volunteered to bring this despatch round
to Sydney, and set forth in a six-oared boat. He was delayed by bad
weather, and he and his party of six convict sailors were overtaken and
picked up by the Ocean at Point Upright.
Governor King complied with Colonel Collins's request, and in
replying to his letter acquainted him with the circumstances that had
induced him to send Bowen with settlers to Hobart. At the same time he
left Colonel Collins to decide whether he would move his people to that
place or to Port Dalrymple on the northern shores of Tasmania. The
Governor also gave orders for the Lady Nelson, then on the point of
sailing to Norfolk Island, to be cleared of her cargo and to be made
ready to sail with the Ocean back to Port Phillip. Two other ships—the
colonial schooner Francis* (* This ship had been brought from England
in frame in 1792, the Edwin was locally built, the property of Mr.
Palmer, and commanded by Captain Stuart.) and the whaler Edwin—were
also sent to render Colonel Collins all the assistance in their power.
The Lady Nelson left Sydney on Monday, November 28th, 1803. Among
those who sailed with Lieutenant Symons was the well-known botanist,
Mr. Robert Brown, late of H.M.S. Investigator, who wished to examine
the neighbourhood of Port Phillip and also to visit Port Dalrymple in
search of new plants.* (* Robert Brown, formerly an ensign in the
Fifeshire Fencibles, was granted leave of absence to go with Captain
Flinders in the Investigator.) The brig was singularly unfortunate in
her passage to Port Phillip. So rough was the weather on arriving in
Bass Strait, that “after beating a fortnight against a south-westerly
wind,” she was eventually obliged to bear up for the Kent Group.* (*
Robert Brown's Manuscript letters to Banks, describing the voyage, are
preserved at the British Museum.) Twice she left her anchorage there in
order to try to reach her destination, and twice she had to return to
port again. Meanwhile the Ocean, with Mr. William Collins and his
sailors on board, arrived at Port Phillip on December 12th, and the
Francis, bringing Governor King's despatches, on the following day.
On his way to Port Phillip, Mr. Rushworth, the Master of the
Francis, in passing Kent Group, had observed smoke rising from one of
the islands, and being apprehensive for the safety of the Lady Nelson,
he informed Colonel Collins of this fact. Accordingly, when Mr. William
Collins sailed in the Francis for Port Dalrymple on the 24th, and with
a view to reporting upon its suitability for a settlement, the Master
was directed to call at the Group and ascertain who was on shore there.
This he did, and he found the Lady Nelson still in the cove where she
had sought refuge. Mr. Brown, during his enforced stay there, had
explored all the islands of the group in search of botanical specimens,
but he tells Banks that his collections were enriched by only “twelve
new plants and nothing else.” On her arrival the Francis was in a very
leaky condition, so that at the suggestion of Mr. Collins she was sent
back to Sydney, and the party appointed to survey Port Dalrymple was
embarked in the Lady Nelson.
Two days later Lieutenant Symons sailed to Port Dalrymple, which he
entered on January 1st, 1804, and where he remained until the 18th. A
succession of gales made it quite impossible to put to sea after the
survey of the shores had been completed. While the brig lay at anchor,
Mr. Collins explored the River Tamar as far as One Tree Reach, and Mr.
Brown resumed his botanical researches; his letters show that he made
several excursions into the inland country in order to examine its
flora, which, however, he found disappointing. He writes to Banks: “The
whole number of plants observed in this port did not much exceed 300,
of which about 40 were new to me and, I believe, nondescript. From Port
Dalrymple we had a short passage to Port Phillip.”
On January 21st, Colonel Collins was highly pleased at ascertaining
the safety of the Lady Nelson, “of whose appearance,” he writes to
King, “I had for some time despaired.” The account of Port Dalrymple,
given by the surveying party, was favourable, but Colonel Collins had
already decided that he could not do better than repair, with his
establishment, to the Derwent. He came to this decision on account of
some of the military at Port Phillip “manifesting an improper spirit,”
and he believed that on their joining the detachment of the New South
Wales Corps at Hobart, then under Bowen, “a spirit of emulation would
be excited and discontent checked.”* (* See Historical Records of New
South Wales volume 4, Collins to King.)
On January 25th all the settlers ordered to embark in the Lady
Nelson went on board, and on Monday, 30th, in company with the Ocean,
conveying Colonel Collins, she made sail out of Port Phillip Bay.* (*
See Knopwood's Diary, edited by J. Shillinglaw, Melbourne. The Reverend
R. Knopwood was the Chaplain of Collins' establishment.) After a
passage of ten days, the brig anchored in Risdon Cove, the site of
Bowen's settlement, the Ocean arriving a few days later. Colonel
Collins did not think Risdon the most eligible spot for the purpose of
a settlement, and he encamped “on the banks of a small but apparently
constant stream, which empties itself into the second cove below
Stainforth's Cove.” Collins named this place Sullivan's Cove,* (* After
Mr. John Sullivan, Permanent Under Secretary for the Colonies.) “the
settlement at Risdon remaining in every respect as he found it until
Governor King's pleasure is known.”* (* Brown's manuscript letter to
On Tuesday, March 6th, 1804, the Lady Nelson left the Derwent on her
return voyage to Sydney. By that time all the Port Phillip settlers and
half the establishment had arrived in Tasmania, and the Ocean was about
to put to sea again in order to convey the stores and stock remaining
at Port Phillip to Sullivan's Cove. Collins's settlement at this place,
and the original colony at Risdon, were then fast becoming united. A
little later, Bowen's settlement was moved, by Governor King's orders,
down the river to Sullivan's Cove and the two establishments really
became one, Colonel Collins retaining for it the name of Hobart, and
Bowen with his officials returned to Sydney.*
(* Sydney Gazette, August 26th, 1804. On Friday arrived the Ocean
Captain Mertho, from the Derwent with Lieutenant Bowen, Commandant of
the settlement at Risdon Cove, which has become part of Lieutenant
Governor Collins' settlement, being only six miles from Sullivan's
Cove. In the same ship came Lieutenant Moore with a detachment of the
New South Wales Corps on duty at Risdon, Mr. Jacob Mountgarrett,
surgeon, Mr. Brown, naturalist, and several persons who composed the
settlement. The Ocean arrived at Sullivan's Cove from her second voyage
to Port Phillip on June 25th after a tempestuous voyage of 32 days in
which most of the stock for the colony was lost.
Lieutenant Bowen was on his way from Sydney to the Derwent at the
time of Collins' arrival in Tasmania. He seems only to have voyaged as
far as Port Dalrymple in the Integrity for he returned to the Derwent
in the Pilgrim (Sydney Gazette, April 22nd, 1804). Eventually he came,
as stated above, to Sydney in the Ocean. See Historical Records of New
South Wales volume 5 pages 451 and 676.)
The Lady Nelson reached Sydney on the 14th of March after a passage
of eight days, and no sooner had she anchored in the harbour than
Governor King instructed her commander to refit and prepare to embark
yet another colony of settlers. These he proposed to send to
Newcastle.* (* Or Kingstown, as it was then called, in honour of
Governor King; shortly afterwards he renamed it Newcastle.) Hitherto
only some colliers and a guard had been stationed there, in order to
ensure a supply of coals for Sydney and for the Government ships, but
now the Governor directed that the spot should be raised to the dignity
of a settlement. The colonial cutter Resource, and the James sloop,
belonging to Mr. Raby, were ordered to sail with the Lady Nelson. The
three vessels got under weigh to sail to Newcastle on Tuesday, March
27th, having on board all the persons appointed by the Governor, to
proceed there. Embarked in the Lady Nelson were:—
Lieutenant Menzies, Commandant. Mr. Mileham, Surgeon. Mr. F. Bauer,
natural history painter. Mr. John Tucker, storekeeper.
One overseer, two carpenters, three sawyers, a gardener, a salt
bailer and sixteen prisoners.
In the Resource were one sergeant and four privates of the New South
Mr. Knight, superintendent. Twelve convicts.
In the James:—
Mr. George Caley and three miners with implements, and stores and
provisions for six months.
In consequence of a north-east wind, the ships were not able to
leave Sydney harbour on that evening, but were obliged to anchor in
Lookout Bay until the following morning, when they again weighed and in
a short time cleared the Heads. They arrived at Newcastle safely on the
day after their departure, and disembarked the little colony. All three
vessels were then loaded with coals and cedar for Sydney, the Lady
Nelson receiving on board “twenty-six fine logs of rich cedar.” The
homeward voyage was unfortunate, as the James was lost off Broken Bay.
Leaving Newcastle in a very leaky condition, and encountering a gale,
the water gradually gained fast upon her and stopped her progress. Two
days afterwards the pumps became choked, and the five men who composed
her crew had to bale with buckets. Eventually they stood on to a sandy
beach where their vessel, being nearly full of water, was dashed to
pieces by the tremendous surf. The crew were picked up on the north
head of Broken Bay by the Resource and brought to Sydney.* (* For this
portion of the Lady Nelson's story no log has been available. The
material has been derived principally from the columns of Sydney
The voyage of the Lady Nelson to Norfolk Island in April and May,
1804, was one of the most tempestuous the brig ever experienced. She
sailed with the Francis on April 30th, but the two ships soon parted
company. Their cargo consisted of stores and a quantity of salt staves
and hoops for the purpose of curing pork, a supply of which was greatly
needed for the colony. For eighteen days continuous gales buffeted the
ship and drove her so far northward that she could not make her port of
destination. Besides bad weather, she had to contend with further
misfortunes, for three casks of water in the hold—part of the supply
for the voyage—were found to have leaked entirely away, and the
allowance of fuel ran so short that her Commander was forced to cut up
one of the top masts for firewood.
Situated thus, Lieutenant Symons decided to bear away for New
Zealand and to return later to Norfolk Island, when it was hoped the
weather would have moderated sufficiently to enable him to land his
passengers. On the 3rd of June he made Three Kings Island, and two days
afterwards North Cape. He then steered alongside as far as Cape Brett
in the Bay of Islands. On coming to an anchorage in a small bay on the
north-west side of the River Thames, nearly two hundred natives
surrounded the brig and were welcomed on board. They brought with them
potatoes, and other vegetables, as well as mats and native curios to
barter for nails, buttons, etc. At sunset they left the vessel. On the
following morning the Commander went on shore and the natives following
him quickly found him a watering place. On being offered a pig by one
of the Maoris in exchange for a new razor, he accepted it, but a chief
afterwards requested him to return the animal (as it had been a present
from Captain Rhodes)* (* Captain Rhodes of the Alexander South Sea
Whaler, traded with New Zealand.) and it was immediately given back to
its former owner. Next morning the New Zealanders flocked on board in
such numbers that Lieutenant Symons decided to quit the bay.
On the 9th a strong breeze necessitated anchoring in Cavalli Bay* (*
So named by Cook.) where the natives were no less friendly and came to
trade with the crew. On the 12th a strong gale and heavy sea drove the
Lady Nelson four lengths towards the shore. Her commander was forced to
cut the cable after beating for two hours, weathered the land and bore
up to run between Cavalli Island and the mainland. Eventually the Lady
Nelson arrived at Norfolk Island on June 22nd, when it was found
possible to land the officers of the New South Wales Corps and to
embark others from the same regiment for Sydney, among them being
Ensigns Piper and Anderson. The brig sailed on the 29th, and in passing
the entrance of Hunter's River, on the evening of July 8th, she sent a
boat off to the settlement at Newcastle, where it was reported that all
was well. She arrived in Port Jackson on July 9th. She was then
overhauled, and on September 8th sailed for the Hawkesbury in order to
fetch a cargo of wheat for Sydney.
LOG OF THE LADY NELSON.
J. SYMONS, Acting Lieutenant and Commander,
Port Jackson, New South Wales.
Sydney to Norfolk Island.
“Monday, 30th April 1804. P.M. Left the Heads. Winds variable. At 4
North Head of Port Jackson 4 leagues. At 8 the Francis in sight. At 1
A.M. light breezes and clear. At noon the Francis in company.
“Tuesday, 1st May. In company with the Francis at 5 lost sight of
“Friday, 4th May. Fine clear weather: at 5 A.M. saw How's Islands
upon the weather bow bearing north-north-east distant 5 leagues, Ball's
Pyramid bearing north-east 1/2 F. distant 6 leagues. At noon abreast of
How's Island east: distant 3 leagues.
“Saturday, 5th May. Tacked ship and stood in for How's Island.
“Sunday, 6th May. P.M. Hard squalls of rain. How's Island west by
north 7 leagues.
“Monday, 7th May. P.M. Still blowing hard: at 6 took in the
fore-top-sail: at 4 split the main-sail and fore-top-mast stay-sail. At
9 fine pleasant weather: employed about a new main-sail and bending a
“Tuesday, 8th May. P.M. Fresh breezes and fine clear weather: at 4
bent new main-sail: at 10 bore away for New Zealand. Have but 2 casks
on board and no wood.
“Tuesday, 29th May P.M. Cloudy weather with squalls.
“Wednesday, 30th May. Small breezes and fine weather. At 8 A.M.
tacked ship: at 9 split the fore-top-gallant-sail and carried away the
“Thursday, 31st May. Moderate winds and cloudy weather. At 7 set up
the main-top-gallant yard and set the sail: at 4 A.M. set the lower and
fore-top-mast studding sail. At 8 carried away the fore keel pendant
and lost the keel, at 10 took in the studding sail.
“Friday, 1st June. Small breezes. At 3 calm, light breezes and fine
“Saturday, 2nd June. Cloudy with squalls of wind and rain. At 5 took
in the main-top-gallant-sail.
“Sunday, 3rd June. P.M. Fresh gales with squalls and bad sea from
east-south-east. At 2 saw the Three Kings being south-west by west 3
“Monday, 4th June. P.M. Bore away to leeward of the Three Kings and
in search of wood and water, sent boat ashore, lost 4 oars overboard.
At 7 P.M. the boat came on board with wood.
“Tuesday, 5th June. At 1 made sail close under shore of New Zealand.
“Wednesday, 6th June. Land distant 2 leagues: came to anchor in bay
on the east side of New Zealand: went ashore, got some wood and water:
at 6 A.M. went on shore again and got some water: at 9 A.M. got under
weigh and bore away for the River Thames.
“Thursday, 7th June. P.M. At 6 came to anchor in a small bay to the
northward of River Thames. At 7 went on shore, found it a bad landing:
could not get water: got some wood. At 9 got under weigh and stood
round for the mouth of the River Thames.
“Friday, 8th June. P.M. At 3 came to anchor on the north-west side
of River Thames with the bower anchor in 11 fathoms water and sent boat
ashore for wood and water. At 11 weighed anchor and made sail out of
the river on account of the natives being so numerous on board.
“Saturday, 9th June. Cloudy weather: all sail set standing along the
coast. At 12 A.M. Cavill's Island bearing north-west distant 10 miles.
At daylight made all sail into the bay bearing west: tacked
occasionally: at 11 shortened sail and came to in 10 fathoms of water
with best bower anchor.
“Sunday, 10th June. Moderate breezes: at 2 sent boat ashore: at 6
returned with wood and water.
“Monday, 11th June. Got some wood and water: at 10 wind
north-north-west—hard squalls of wind and rain.
“Tuesday, 12th June. At 6 the boat came on board with wood and an
account that James Cavanagh a prisoner who was sent to cut wood had run
into the Brush and that a party of men had been in pursuit of him and
could not find him and he was left behind: at 1/4 past 9 a heavy
squall: gave the vessel more cable: found her driving in shore very
fast: the gale continuing and a heavy sea. Set the top-sail, main-sail
and fore-top-stay sail and cut the cable, not being able to get anchor
on account of vessel driving so fast: the anchor was lost, 120 fathoms
of cable. 1/4 before 10 tacked ship, 10 past 10 began to run between
Cavill's Island and mainland, not being able to work out of the bay, up
keel and fore-sail down jib and main-sail. At 11 being quite clear of
land shortened sail and hove to.
“Wednesday, 13th June. P.M. At 9 more moderate. Latitude by
observation 33 degrees 8 minutes.
“Thursday, 14th June. P.M. Fine clear weather: at 8 took one reef in
the main-top-sail and set the stay-sail.
“Friday, 15th June. P.M. Light airs, clear weather: set the fore and
main courses: at 9 fresh breezes: took in top-gallant sails: at 10
strong breezes and squally: at 12 A.M. tacked ship and close reefed
top-sail, furled the jib and main-sail and sent down top-gallant yards.
“Saturday, 16th June. P.M. Fresh breezes and clear: at 1 got
main-top-gallant yard up and set the sail.
“Sunday, 17th June. Light airs from northward. Set the square
main-sail: at 12 tacked ship.
“Monday, 18th June. P.M. Light wind and clear weather: at 8 wore
“Tuesday, 19th June. P.M. At 12 saw Norfolk Island bearing south 1/2
east distant 7 leagues.
“Wednesday, 20th June. P.M. At 5 Norfolk island distant 6 leagues.
At 8 Norfolk island distant 4 leagues.
“Thursday, 21st June. P.M. At 4 Norfolk Island distant 5 leagues: at
sunset Norfolk Island distant 5 leagues: at 8 Norfolk Island S.E.E. 3
leagues: at 9 fired 3 guns as signal for a boat.
“Friday, 22nd June. P.M. A boat from Cascade boarded us and took on
board the officers of New South Wales Corps and baggage and left a
pilot on board: at 10 A.M. a boat came and took on shore more baggage
belonging to officers of New South Wales Corps.
“Saturday, 23rd June. P.M. Stretched off land to get round to Sydney
(Norfolk Island) but the wind and weather not permitting stretched off
and on all night: at 6 close in with the land: at 8 A.M. tacked ship
and stood off from the land: at 10 A.M. lowered the boat and sent her
with second mate and four men on shore.
“Sunday, 24th June. P.M. Stretching off and on the land to the
windward. At 8 A.M. a boat arrived from the shore with a cask of pork
and biscuits, the 2nd mate and 2 men brought the account that the boat
was lost and that 1 man George Cockswain was drowned. At 10 loaded the
boat with sundries for the shore but not being able to make good her
landing returned to the ship. We stood off for Governor King's island
with the boat towing astern.
“Monday, 25th June. P.M. Fresh breezes. At 4 P.M. stretched under
Nepean island and left the boat waiting to land at Sydney if the swell
abated: stretched off with ship to windward between 2 islands to keep
her ground: at 10 A.M. got under Nepean Island and boat came on board
with water which was loaded with iron and sent ashore.
“Tuesday, 26th June. P.M. At 2 loaded the boat with flour and sent
her on shore: at 8 A.M. towed in for Nepean Island and the boat came on
“Wednesday, 27th June. P.M. Employed landing goods and getting
water: at 8 A.M. got under the land and fired a gun: at 9 A.M. the boat
came on board with baggage for officers of New South Wales Corps for
“Thursday, 28th June. P.M. Received orders and passengers on board:
made sail for Port Jackson.
“Wednesday, 4th July. P.M. Light breezes and clear weather. Punished
J. Druce with 24 lashes for theft.* (* Druce subsequently deserted.)
Sold clothes and bedding of George Cockswain.
“Thursday, 5th July. P.M. Light airs and clear weather. Exercised
guns and small arms.
“Friday, 6th July. P.M. north-north-east. Light winds and cloudy:
small breezes with some rain and from then until noon calm with some
“Saturday, 7th July. P.M. Strong breezes: at 6 A.M. saw the land,
Port Stephens bearing north by east 5 leagues: at 11 A.M. off the Coal
River, fired 2 guns, hoisted out boat and sent her on shore. Light
winds and cloudy weather.
“Sunday, 8th July. P.M. Small breezes: at 2 tacked ship: at 6 the
boat came on board: hoisted her in and made sail for Port Jackson. At
12 A.M. light winds: at 7 made the North Head of Port Jackson: at 12
came to with the kedge between the Heads.
“Monday, 9th July. P.M. At 3 got under weigh and at 6 arrived in
Sydney Cove, hauled alongside the Supply and made fast. The officers of
New South Wales Corps went on shore. At 8 A.M. cast off from the Supply
and anchored off the dockyard with the Bower, sent passengers on shore.
“Tuesday, 10th July. P.M. Small breezes and showery. Employed
clearing decks and putting things to rights and sending things on shore
belonging to the officers of the New South Wales Corps.
“Wednesday, July 11th. Overhauling ship at the dockyard and
refitting, etc. until September 7th.
Sydney Cove to the Hawkesbury River.
“Friday, September 7th. P.M. Employed getting on board water and
getting ready for sea.
“Saturday, September 8th. At 12 A.M. got clear of the Heads.
“Sunday, 9th September. At 4 stood in between the Heads and came to
off Camp Cove: at 8 A.M. got under weigh for the Hawkesbury.
“Monday, 10th September. P.M. Came to between South Head of Broken
Bay and Ballinjoy*: (* Barrenjoey.) at 12 came to off Mount Elliott. At
noon under weigh.
“Tuesday, 11th September. P.M. Came to off Britannia's beach at 2:
at 5 came to with the kedge in Barr's Reach—at 10 under weigh.
“Wednesday, 12th September. P.M. Came to at 3 in Freshwater Bay: at
9 winds more moderate: Got under weigh and towed ship up river to Seven
Reaches: at 10 A.M. got under weigh.
“Sunday, 16th September. P.M. Came to anchor off the Greenhills.
“Monday, 17th September. P.M. Fine pleasant weather. Got out flour
and bricks: 3 carpenters came on board to work.
“Tuesday, 18th September. P.M. At 8 hard gusts wind with rain: at
A.M. more moderate.
“Wednesday, 19th September. P.M. At 9 got under weigh for Cornwallis
Farm. At 1 came to anchor: at 8 A.M. hauled in shore and got out
remainder of flour and cleaned hold to receive wheat.
“Thursday, 20th September. P.M. Received wheat and dropped down
river: at 9 came to anchor: at 6 weighed: at 7 ran aground.
“Friday, 21st September. P.M. At 2 got off and towed down river: at
5 moored off Greenhills: at 7 A.M. received wheat on board.
Greenhills to Sydney Cove.
“Saturday, 22nd September. P.M. Moderate breezes. Fired a Royal
Salute in commemoration of the King's Coronation: received remainder of
wheat: at 5 A.M. unmoored and went down the River.
“Monday, 24th September. P.M. Small breezes and moderate: half-past
3 got under weigh: at 10 came to with the kedge in Pugh's Reach: at 5
A.M. got under way: at 11 A.M. came to in Sackville's Reach.
“Tuesday, 25th September. P.M. Small breezes: at 4 endeavoured to
weigh anchor: parted hawser: lost kedge and 116 fathoms of it:
proceeded down the River. At 11 came to anchor: at 5 under weigh: at 12
we came to anchor in reach above Sentry Box and went up a creek in a
boat 5 miles. Discovered at the head of the creek a fine spring of
water; brought on board a Gigantic Lily of a species unknown.
“Wednesday, 26th September. P.M. Fresh breezes: at 4 got under
weigh; at 11 came to anchor above the Bar: at 5 A.M. weighed; at 8
passed Mullett's Island: at 10 spoke a sloop of Ballinjoy bound for
Hawkesbury: at 11 cleared the Head of Broken Bay and stood off for Port
“Thursday 27th September. P.M. Fresh breezes: at 2 made Heads of
Port Jackson and proceeded up the Harbour: at 3 P.M. came to anchor in
Sydney Cove: at 6 A.M. hauled into the wharf: at 9 discharged cargo.”
[Facsimile signature James Symons]
CHAPTER 10. THE LADY NELSON IN
TASMANIA. THE FOUNDING OF PORT DALRYMPLE.
The beginnings of Hobart and Launceston are singularly alike. The
first attempt of the newly appointed Commandant of Port Dalrymple to
reach the site of his intended settlement in the colonial cutter
Integrity, having “ended in failure owing to adverse winds,”
Lieutenant-Governor Paterson left Sydney on October 15th, 1804, in
H.M.S. Buffalo. The Lady Nelson went with her as tender, as the Navy
Board had notified Governor King that their Lordships wished the brig
to accompany the Buffalo while on survey, and for this reason 15
supernumerary seamen were allowed to the flagship in order to provide a
crew for the Lady Nelson.* (* In consequence of this order the Lady
Nelson, after October 16th, was discharged from the list of colonial
vessels.) The colonial schooners Integrity and Francis also received
orders to sail with Captain Kent to Port Dalrymple.
On Sunday morning, the 14th, Lieutenant-Governor Paterson went on
board the Buffalo with Ensign Piper and Mr. Mountgarrett under a salute
of 11 guns from the Fort, which was returned. Forty-six officers and
men of the New South Wales Corps had previously been embarked and
twenty prisoners, while the Lady Nelson also carried troops and
settlers to the settlement. That evening the fleet came to at the
entrance of the harbour, being unable to clear the Heads until the
following morning. Outside a high sea was running, and as the ships
voyaged southwards the bad weather increased. It is recorded that on
the night of the 20th a heavy gale almost “blew the ships back to Port
Jackson.” A few hours before this gale commenced the Francis had parted
company with the Buffalo, but the Lady Nelson and the Integrity
remained with the king's ship until the end of the storm, when both
vessels lost sight of her. The Lady Nelson, having split her
fore-and-aft mainsail, bore up for Twofold Bay to refit. On the 21st
she again put to sea only to meet with another storm of still greater
violence, which stove in her bulwarks, washed overboard her boats,
compasses, and many articles belonging to the Government. The ship
consequently returned once more to Twofold Bay to effect repairs. In
lieu of a boat, a raft was rigged up to carry the men on shore to
obtain water, and at the same time the carpenter was sent to cut spars
from “Ruff trees.” On November 3rd, after having made a fruitless
attempt to face the gale, she weighed and sailed out of the bay. At the
entrance she met the George, schooner, from Sydney bound to the
Derwent, and was supplied by the master with a boat's compass and other
much-needed articles. Bad weather continuing until Flinders' Island was
sighted, Symons decided to beat up through the narrows into Kent's Bay,
where he found the Francis also seeking shelter. On the 13th the two
vessels left Kent's Bay in company to try and reach their port of
destination, but as the storm had not yet abated they bore away for
Waterhouse Island and took refuge there. Finally, on November 21st, the
two little ships with torn sails and splintered masts arrived at Port
Dalrymple, both in a thoroughly disabled condition, but those on board,
in coming into the harbour, saw with satisfaction the British colours
flying on shore, and the Buffalo and the Integrity lying safely at
Lieutenant Symons learned that the Buffalo had arrived alone on the
evening of November 3rd and had moored four miles within the port. Next
day she dragged her anchors, and in spite of every exertion, touched,
fortunately, upon a flat rock. By a spirited effort on the part of the
crew she was floated undamaged, her anchor was slipped, and she was
taken three miles higher up the harbour. On the 4th the Integrity
arrived, and on the 10th possession was taken of the country on behalf
of Great Britain with the usual formalities.* (* Captain Flinders had
already taken possession of this port and Governor Hunter had named it
after Alexander Dalrymple.) The Lieutenant-Governor was saluted with 11
guns by the flagship as he landed, and a Royal Salute was fired when
the Union Jack was hoisted. On the 13th the general disembarkation took
place from the Buffalo and Integrity at a spot called Outer Cove, where
Lieutenant-Governor Paterson had fixed his camp. Its surroundings were
delightful, the harbour extending inland for many miles without
interruption. A party of Tasmanian natives on the 14th were encountered
by some of the colonists in the bush. At the sight of the white men
they gave a furious shout and 200 of their number followed the British
back to their camp. Here overtures were made, and they grew somewhat
more conciliatory. But Paterson's friendly endeavours were now and then
interrupted “by an indignant clamour which, beginning with a single
individual, ran rapidly through their lines accompanied by excited
gesticulations,” the natives “biting their arms as a token either of
vengeance or defiance.* (* Letter describing the founding of the Port
Dalrymple settlement. Sydney Gazette December 23rd, 1804.) The blacks
withdrew peaceably, but were positive in forbidding us to follow them.”
On November 22nd the officers, soldiers, and prisoners were sent on
shore from the Lady Nelson, and on the following day the baggage as
well as the bricks brought from Sydney to build the houses of the
settlers. On November 29th the Buffalo and the Integrity left Port
Dalrymple. The Lieutenant-Governor, Ensign Piper and Mr. Jacob
Mountgarrett then went on board the Lady Nelson and proceeded to
examine the harbour and the upper reaches of the river. On this
expedition Colonel Paterson occasionally went on shore, sometimes
taking Lieutenant Symons with him, and penetrated some distance into
the surrounding country. Several places were named, and land suitable
for cultivation was seen. The pasturage was very luxuriant. Fresh water
too was found in sufficient abundance and, added to these natural
advantages, good stone and timber were plentiful, the latter growing on
the high ground. In surveying the country the Lieutenant-Governor found
a more suitable site for a settlement “at the head of the Western Arm"
between two “runs ” of fresh water which were named by him Kent's Burn*
(* Discovered by Captain Kent.) and M'Millan's Burn.* (* Called after
Mr. M'Millan, Surgeon of the Buffalo.) He decided to move the people to
this spot without delay,—giving the place the name of Yorktown.* (*
Yorktown settlement soon gave place to Georgetown, and in 1806 the
settlers were moved to the spot where Launceston now stands.) The main
river he called the Tamar, two other streams the North Esk and the
South Esk, a neighbouring mountain, Mount Albany, and the hills to the
westward, the Rothesay Hills.* (* Sydney Gazette, January 6th and 25th,
On the return of the expedition to Outer Cove the bricks and other
articles which had been left at the camp there, were removed to the
Western Arm. The mud flats proved rather an obstacle in the way of the
vessels' progress, and we read that more than once the Lady Nelson ran
ashore during the undertaking; however, eventually the passengers,
bricks and baggage were safely landed.
On December 29th the Francis sailed for Port Jackson, but the Lady
Nelson was detained by the Lieutenant-Governor until January 11th in
order that Lieutenant Symons might assist in carrying out further
surveys, and also to erect beacons in the harbour to facilitate the
safe entry of ships into port.
The important work carried out by the Lady Nelson at Port Dalrymple
will be found recorded in the log of her Commander, which is as
THE LOG OF THE LADY NELSON.
AT ANCHOR IN SYDNEY COVE.
JAS. SYMONS Lieutenant and Commander.
“Tuesday, 2nd October 1804. P.M. Got on board 2 cables, 1 hawser, 1
anchor, 1 grapnel and provisions for 6 months. Received order from
Governor King to act as Lieutenant and Commander.* (* The Governor had
then received an Admiralty order to make the appointment.)
Sydney to Port Dalrymple.
“Sunday, 14th October. At 5 A.M. got under way: at 8 fresh breezes:
came to with the small bower in company with the Buffalo, Francis and
“Monday, 15th October. At 6 A.M. got under way: made sail
occasionally to work out of Harbour.
“Tuesday, 16th October. At 6 A.M. squally with heavy rain. Cape
Dromedary bearing south-south-west: ships all in sight.
“Wednesday, 17th October. P.M. Fresh breezes and cloudy: land in
sight. Lay by for the Francis.
“Thursday, 18th October. Squadron in company: set main top-gallant
sail: saw the land off Ramhead distant 12 leagues.
“Friday, 19th October. P.M. Split fore-and-aft main-sail at 7...hove
to. At 11 lost sight of the Buffalo—at 8 made sail and bore away for
Twofold Bay. At noon strong breezes: Cape Howe distant 4 miles.
“Saturday, 20th October. P.M. Past Green Cape—at 5 came to with the
small bower on the east side of Twofold Bay: got under way and stood
out of Bay. At noon off the Isles.
“Sunday, 21st October. P.M. At 6 Cape Howe 5 leagues. At 3/4 past 10
A.M. perceived a heavy gale coming on westward, up courses: shortened
sail. At 11 strong gales with thunder and lightning and rain: hove to
under balance: reefed main-sail.
“Monday, 22nd October. Strong gales with a heavy sea from
south-west—at half-past 8 shipped a very heavy sea on the starboard
quarter, stove in the bulwark on the quarter gangway. At 3 A.M. shipped
another heavy sea which washed overboard the boat, a chest of
carpenter's tools, one fore-top-sail, one top-mast studding-sail, 1
tackle, 3 oars, 1 boat-hook, 2 brass guns, one cask of rice, 3 chests
belonging to passengers and several things belonging to Mr. Piper and 4
sows, the property of Government, and washed overboard the binnacle, 2
compasses and lamps. At half-past 3 carried away main sheet and broke
the tiller, down main-sail: bore up and set the fore-sail not being
able to keep the sea found the larboard side of the waist covering
board split and leaking a good deal. At 8 heavy gales with squalls and
a heavy sea: found the breakers in the hold had raised the water casks
and everything in the ship was moved. One cask of rice in the spirit
room above, and rice totally lost.
“Tuesday, 23rd October. P.M. Strong gales with a heavy sea. At 2
P.M. close reefed top-sail...carpenter and people employed stopping
leak...at noon hoisted up fore keel and found it broken off.
“Wednesday, 24th October. At 8 A.M. bore up for Twofold Bay.
“Thursday, 25th October. Opened the Bay, hauled our wind and set
main-sail to work up into the Bay. At half-past 6 came to in 5 fathoms
on the South shore with small bower anchor. A.M. At 6 rigged a raft to
go on shore: at 9 sent casks on shore for water: sent carpenter to cut
spars from Ruff trees: at 10 raft returned with water and at half-past
set off again and in going ashore Charles Abercrombie fell overboard
and was drowned.
“Friday, 26th October. Fresh breezes: carpenter employed fixing Ruff
“Thursday, 1st November. Broke up the raft and got under weigh to
work out of Harbour.
“Friday, 2nd November. P.M. all sail set standing to South. At 2
squally with rain: bore up for Twofold Bay...at 6 came to with small
bower in 12 fathoms in Twofold Bay.
“Saturday, 3rd November. P.M. Perceived at 2 a sail to south-east:
found her to be the George, Schooner, of Sydney bound to the Derwent:
got from her a boat's compass and sundry articles: made all sail out of
the Bay, the George in company, at 12 Haycock Rock West 3 miles: the
George in sight.
“Sunday, 4th November. Fresh breezes and hazy. At noon Cape How
distant 4 leagues.
“Monday, 5th November. P.M. Slight breezes, all sail set: at 8
squally: the main top-sail blown out of the bolt rope and was lost.
“Tuesday, 6th November. P.M. At 4 took in all sail.
“Wednesday, 7th November. P.M. Strong gales and bad sea. At 8 blew
the fore stay-sail totally away and split the main stay-sail.
“Thursday, 8th November. P.M. At 9 saw Flinders' Isle bearing
south-west by south 15 leagues. At noon distant 9 leagues.
“Thursday, 9th November. P.M. At 6 A.M. saw the land: at 8 clear
weather, made Cape Barren and beat in through the narrows: at 12 under
sail beating up to Kent's Bay.
“Saturday, 10th November. Came to in Kent's Bay with small bower
anchor alongside the Francis, schooner.
“Sunday, 11th November. At 3 sent women and soldiers on shore. Mary
Poor died suddenly: carpenter made coffin: at 12 went on shore and
interred body with funeral solemnities.
“Monday, 12th November. P.M. Sent carpenter to put bilge pieces on
“Tuesday, 13th November. P.M. Strong gales: at 3 light breezes: hove
up best bower and got all clear for getting under weigh in company with
Francis: at 8 made Hunter's Island.
“Wednesday, 14th November. P.M. Fresh breezes and fine: at 2 bore
away for Waterhouse Island: at 4 came to anchor in 4 fathoms.
The Lady Nelson to Port Dalrymple.
“Tuesday, 20th November, 1804. A.M. Close in with northernmost of
Waterhouse's Islands: 12 Waterhouse's Island 3 miles. Francis in
“Wednesday, 21st November. P.M. Small breezes, at 3 past the island
of rocks: at 6 saw the colours flying at Port Dalrymple: fired a gun
for the Francis to bear down: at 8 came to anchor in the River in 27
fathoms of water: at 9 A.M. weighed anchor and ran up into the Bay and
came to anchor in company with the Buffalo, Francis, and Integrity.
“Thursday, 22nd November. Sent officers, soldiers, prisoners and
baggage on shore.
“Friday, 23rd November. P.M. Employed landing bricks and baggage,
etc. clearing ship.
“Wednesday, 28th November. People on board the Buffalo endeavouring
to work out of Harbour.
“Thursday, 29th November. Boats returned from Buffalo, brought to
line and kedge P.M., and got small bower anchor and cable: the
Lieutenant-Governor came on board from Buffalo: Ensign Piper, Mr.
Mountgarrett; five soldiers and 5 boat's crew. At 5 weighed and
proceeded up the River: at 10 came to.* (* Off Middle Island.) At 6
A.M. got under way, at 11 let go in 20 fathoms: Lieutenant-Governor
went on shore.
“Friday, 30th November. P.M. At 2 boat returned with
Lieutenant-Governor and Company: at 3 beat up the River: at 9 came to
with a bower and sent boat on shore with Lieutenant-Governor and
“Saturday, 1st December. P.M. At 2 Lieutenant-Governor returned, at
3 got under way, at 11 ran aground and sent out kedge to get off ship.
Lieutenant-Governor went on shore. At 12 A.M. we got the vessel afloat,
came to with kedge in 2 fathoms.
“Sunday, 2nd December. P.M. Lieutenant Governor came on board. At 10
P.M. got under way: at 7 came to anchor about quarter of a mile below
the Cataract River and moored head and stern in 2 fathoms. At 8 A.M.
sent off boats with Lieutenant-Governor and Company to survey the
River, Land,* etc. (* Paterson began his survey at one Tree Reach where
Collins's survey had ended.)
“Monday, 3rd December. P.M. Light airs, making ready to set up
“Tuesday, 4th December. Employed as before.
“Wednesday, 5th December. At 2 P.M. boats arrived with
Lieutenant-Governor from surveying the River to the southwards* (* The
South Esk.) and country, at 6 A.M. got under way and proceeded down the
River—at 11 came to in the third Reach below the Cataract Falls.
“Thursday, 6th December. Boats went on shore with
Lieutenant-Governor at 3, returned, at 4 got under way, at 6 ran on
shore on a mud flat, at 11 got afloat at 6 A.M. Boats went on shore
with Lieutenant-Governor, at 11 returned, at noon got under way.
“Friday, 7th December. At 5 ran on a mud flat: at 12 P.M. got
afloat; at 1 came to anchor in Channel—at 5 A.M. got under way and
proceeded down the River.
“Saturday, 8th December. P.M. at 5 got under way: at 8 came to: at 6
A.M. got under way: at 9 came to, and sent Lieutenant-Governor on
“Sunday, 9th December. Two boats returned with Lieutenant-Governor,
at 5 got under way: at 8 ran on shore on a reef of rocks, carried out
kedge and got off: at 10 came to anchor in Snug Cove: at 5 A.M. boats
went on shore with Lieutenant-Governor: at 7 returned and took in
seine. Current hove ship on shore. At 10 carried out kedge and warped
out of Cove.
“Monday, 10th December. P.M. At 1 boat returned with
Lieutenant-Governor: at 7 ran on shore on a mud flat in the mouth of
the west arm, at 2 A.M. hove off and rode by kedge: at 5 under way and
proceeded up the west arm: at 10 sent Lieutenant-Governor on shore.
“Tuesday, 11th December. P.M. At 2 boats returned with
Lieutenant-Governor: at 3 left ship and went to camp in Governor's
“Wednesday, 12th December. At 5 light airs and fine, got up anchor
and made sail. At 10 came to abreast Storehouse Island. At 6 A.M.
weighed and towed ship for Harbour: at 7 warped into Harbour.
“Thursday, 13th December. At 5 Lieutenant-Governor came alongside
and the Captain accompanied him surveying River.
“Tuesday, 18th December. People taking in bricks, etc., for Western
“Wednesday, 19th December. At 2 ran on shore on a mud flat in the
Western Arm, landed passengers, bricks and baggage: at 11 got ship
afloat and came to: at 4 A.M. towed down the River.
“Thursday, 20th December. Proceeding up the River for ballast: at 11
came to in a bay in 4 fathoms water.
“Friday, 21st December. P.M. At 2 all hands getting ballast on
board, took ground on mud flat: at 5 proceeded down River: at 8 came to
abreast Storehouse Island in 18 fathoms.
“Saturday, 22nd December. At 5 under way and came to at 9 in 12
“Sunday, 23rd December. P.M. Weighed and got into a cove abreast the
Settlements in company with the Francis, schooner, at 8.
“Saturday, 29th December. At 10 A.M. the Francis sailed for Port
“Sunday, 30th December. A.M. Got ballast on board to put into the
“Monday, 31st December. P.M. Carpenter employed making Beacon to put
on Shag Rock.
“Tuesday, 1st January 1805. P.M. Light breezes...carpenter as
“Wednesday, 2nd January. P.M. Fresh breezes: setting up the rigging.
“Thursday, 3rd January. A.M. at 7 laid down Beacon on Shag Rock.
“Friday, 4th January. P.M. Carpenter making chocks for boat.
“Saturday, 5th January. P.M. Light breezes and cloudy. A.M. Getting
water and wood on board.
“Sunday, 6th January. At 9 cloudy with thunder.
“Monday, 7th January. Light breezes. All hands away in boats on
“Tuesday, 8th January. P.M. Fresh breezes. At A.M. hauled the seine,
carpenter making oars.
“Wednesday, 9th January. P.M. People making booms and getting water.
A.M. Got on board a spar for sprit-sail yard: carpenter making new one.
“Thursday, 10th January. P.M. Thunder and lightning and rain:
received on board dispatches. A.M. Light breezes getting ready for sea,
tried to warp out of cove, Government boat and crew assisting.
Port Dalrymple to Sydney.
“Friday, 11th January. P.M. Strong gales. A.M. Moderate: at 5
unmoored ship and worked out of the Cove: at 6 came to abreast the
Green Island: at 9 worked out of Harbour, Government boat assisting: at
10 made all sail: at noon the Seal Rocks bore south distant 5 miles:
all sail set for Cape Barren not being able to weather the Sisters.
“Saturday, 12th January. P.M. A fresh gale at 1: at 5 Waterhouse
Island bore south 3 leagues, wind dying away came to in Kent's Bay,
Cape Barren. A.M. At 6 under way: at 9 got out of the Harbour. At noon
Cape Barren bearing west, distant 2 leagues.
“Sunday, 13th January. Furneaux Island south-south-west 7 leagues,
at 8 Cape Barren bore south-south-west 6 leagues.
“Monday, 14th January. P.M. Lost sight of land at 6. At 6 A.M. saw
the land again. At 9 Port Hicks distant 3 leagues.
“Tuesday, 15th January. P.M. At 4 wore ship and stood off the land:
at noon we found we had lost nothing during the night.
“Wednesday, 16th January. P.M. At 3 lost sight of the land. At 3
A.M. fresh gale.
“Thursday, 17th January. P.M. At 12 fresh gales.
“Friday, 18th January. P.M. Cape Howe bore north-north-west 3
leagues. A.M. At noon spoke the sloop Nancy to Port Dalrymple.
“Saturday, 19th January. P.M. Saw the land of Cape Dromedary. At 11
A.M. close in with land.
“Sunday, 20th January. P.M. At 4 close in with land—at 8 Cape
Dromedary 4 leagues distant.
“Monday, 21st January. P.M. At 7 close in with the land, hauled off
at 11, saw Port Aikin.* (* Port Hacking?) At noon saw the heads of Port
“Tuesday, 22nd January. Close in with the Heads. At 2 came to anchor
abreast of Camp Cove. At 8 A.M. endeavoured to work up to Sydney Cove.
“Wednesday, 23rd January. At 4 came to anchor in Sydney Cove.”
CHAPTER 11. THE ESTRAMINA IS BROUGHT
TO SYDNEY. THE LADY NELSON VISITS NORFOLK ISLAND AND TASMANIA.
When the Lady Nelson came to in Sydney Cove, after completing her
voyage to Tasmania,, the Governor gave orders that she should be at
once placed in dock and overhauled. For the time being, her crew was
distributed among the king's ships in port, the Buffalo and
Investigator, and the colonial schooner Integrity.
By March 30th the little brig was again afloat. She was made ready
for sea in consequence of the news brought to Sydney that an armed
schooner, called the Estramina, belonging to the King of Spain, was
lying in Jervis Bay. It was also reported to the Governor that the
vessel had been seized off the American coast by order of Captain
Campbell of the Harrington, who claimed to have taken her as a prize,
and that she was in charge of one of Captain Campbell's officers.
Uncertain whether hostilities had actually broken out between England
and Spain, His Excellency sent Mr. Symons to Jervis Bay to ascertain
whether the schooner was there, and if so to take possession of her and
bring her to Port Jackson.
The Lady Nelson sailed to execute this mission on April 3rd. On the
evening of the following day she sighted Jervis Bay and, shortly after
entering it, a strange vessel was perceived at anchor at the north-west
end of the bay. No sooner did the stranger see the Lady Nelson
approaching than she hurriedly weighed, and attempted to leave the bay.
The attempt was frustrated, however, by Lieutenant Symons, who made
sail after her and fired a gun to bring her to. Seeing that flight was
useless, the schooner hoisted a St. George's Jack, and eventually came
to under the lee of the Lady Nelson. The commander, finding that she
was the Harrington's prize, went on board her, hauled down the English
colours, and in their place hoisted the Spanish flag. She was in charge
of Mr. William Tozer, one of the Harrington's men, from whom Lieutenant
Symons received the log-book and charts. The second mate of the Lady
Nelson and three of her crew were placed in the Estramina, and she left
Jervis Bay for Sydney in company with the Lady Nelson.
On the arrival of the vessels in the Cove on the afternoon of April
10th, Governor King and the Judge Advocate went on board the Spanish
ship to take Mr. Tozer's depositions. As a result of this visit, orders
were given that the schooner was to be detained at Sydney “for and on
behalf of the Spanish sovereign.” At the same time Governor King
declared that if it were proved hostilities had already broken out when
the seizure of the Estramina took place, the ship would become the
property of the Admiralty, because the Harrington possessed no letters
of marque. The Governor also made known his intention of detaining the
Harrington at the first opportunity so that she might “answer for the
event.” The prize, which is described as a beautiful schooner, was
never released and eventually became the property of the Government.
The Lady Nelson remained in Sydney Cove from April 10th until May
7th, and during her stay she was freshly painted. On the latter date,
on the arrival of the Buffalo, she weighed anchor and sailed down the
harbour, coming to below Garden Island. She returned again to the Cove
on the 10th and then prepared to take salt and brine on board for
Norfolk Island. These were needed by the settlers for curing their
bacon. The brig sailed on June 2nd and, as usual, discharging the cargo
at the island proved a difficult task. Before he could land all his
stores, Symons was forced to stand on and off shore for several days.
He finally left on July 7th in company with the Governor King for
A cargo of wheat from the Greenhills, and a cargo of coals, cedar
logs and spars from Newcastle, both of which were brought to Sydney for
consumption there, kept the Lady Nelson busily employed until September
27th, when she again cleared the harbour with settlers and stores for
The following logs are interesting, because they tell of these
visits, and in them we also find recorded some of the first names
bestowed upon this part of Tasmania by Flinders and Paterson.
Sydney Cove to Jervis Bay.
“Tuesday, 2nd April 1805. A.M. 11 weighed and proceeded down the
“Wednesday, 3rd April. P.M. Came to anchor off Camp Cove. A.M. at 8
cleared the Heads: at noon heavy sea from southward.
“Thursday, 4th April. At daylight extremes of land distant 8 miles.
“Friday, 5th April. P.M. Running along-shore: at 4 altered course
south by west at 8 North Head of Jervis Bay south-west 2 leagues. At 10
hauled into the bay and stood over to the West shore. At 11 saw a
vessel at anchor at north-west end of bay.
“Saturday, 6th April. Perceived vessel getting under way and making
sail towards us, hove to, hoisted out boat, perceived vessel to be a
schooner, all sails set, hove to and hoisted out colours, the schooner
lowered her top-gallant-sail and hauled her wind to stand out of the
bay: filled and made sail after her, fired a gun, shotted, to bring her
to—she hoisted a St. George's Jack. At 1 P.M. hove to—the vessel bore
down and hove to under lee quarter, hailed her and was answered that it
was the Estramina, a schooner a prize to the Harrington, went on board
her and gave the prize mate, Mr. William Tozer, the memorandum and
received from him the vessel's Logbook, the Spanish log papers and
charts. Mr. William Tozer said he had no orders from Captain Campbell,
that Mr. Cummings had them. At 2 bore up and made sail and came off the
island. At 6 sent the 2nd mate and 3 men on board and took out 3 men.
At 8 supplied the Estramina with 1 week's provisions.
“Sunday, 7th April. A.M. Carpenter repairing boat.
“Monday, 8th April. At 3 weighed and set sail to work into the bay
to see if any more vessels were there: schooner in company. At 6
shortened sail and came to: saw no vessels in the bay. At 3 A.M. fired
2 guns and hoisted a light as a signal for the schooner to get under
weigh. Weighed anchor and made sail, at 4 hove to for the schooner to
come up. At noon the North Head of Jervis Bay bearing north-west 5
miles, the schooner in company.
“Tuesday, 9th April. Altered course. At 11 North Head of Port
Jackson distant 9 miles.
“Wednesday, 10th April. P.M. At 1 made the Heads of Port Jackson:
tacked ship occasionally to work up into the Harbour: the schooner in
company: at 2 abreast Bradley's Head: at 3 came to anchor in the
entrance of the Cove: at 6 weighed and got further up into the Cove: at
7 came to the Moorings.
“Thursday, 11th April. P.M. Light breezes and clear, people
overhauling the schooner for a survey.
Sydney Cove to Norfolk Island.
“Thursday, 23rd May. Sailed the Investigator for England.
“Sunday, 27th May. Unmoored and hauled out of Cove.
“Thursday, 31st May. Received passengers for Norfolk Island, fired a
gun, made signal for sailing.
“Saturday, 1st June. P.M. Weighed and towed to Shark Island.
“Sunday, 2nd June. P.M. Half-past 12 made sail down the harbour, at
North Head, Port Jackson 7 leagues.
“Tuesday, 4th June. At 7 A.M. saw strange sail, hauled up for her
and spoke the Ferret, Whaler, last from Norfolk Island bound to
“Sunday, 9th June. P.M. Strong gales: at 4 heavy squalls with rain,
split the main stay-sail all to pieces, at 5 broke the tiller, heavy
“Monday, 24th June. P.M. Cloudy with rain: at 6 A.M. saw Phillip's
Island bearing east-north-east 4 leagues, Mount Pitt 7 leagues: at 11
between the Islands, bore up to Cascade: saw the Governor King standing
off and on the Island. At noon Pilot came on board.
“Tuesday, 25th June. P.M. Standing off Cascade. At 6 Point How N. by
S. 2 miles: standing under the lee of the Island: Governor King in
company these 12 hours. At noon standing off and on Cascade: fired 2
guns for boat.
“Wednesday, 26th June. P.M. Fresh breezes and cloudy. Point How bore
south-south-west 8 leagues: sent boat on shore to repair.
“Thursday, 27th June. P.M. At 8 light breezes. Abreast of Mount Pitt
standing for Sydney: bent the warps to kedge. At midnight between the
Islands: at 8 A.M. got one boat alongside to discharge stores.
“Friday, 28th June. P.M. At 4 people on board discharging stores for
the island at 8 standing to westward, Phillip Island distant 5
miles—at 8 brought up abreast Sydney, Governor King in company.
“Saturday, 29th June. P.M. At 8 slipt the small cable. A.M. Beat up
under lee of Nepean Island.
“Sunday, 30th June. P.M. At 4 parted the best bower close to the
clinch and stood away to Phillip Island; Norfolk Island west by north 6
miles. At midnight wore ship and stood to South.
“Monday, 1st July. P.M. Strong gales, stood to south; Norfolk Island
south-west distant 20 miles, at midnight wore ship to Harbour.
“Tuesday, 2nd July. P.M. Stood to southward; Norfolk Island 24
miles, these 18 hours wore ship and made sail occasionally.
“Wednesday, 3rd July. Repairing rigging. Norfolk Island south-west
by south 14 miles.
“Thursday, 4th July. At noon employed getting the settler's goods,
the Governor King in company.
“Friday, 5th July. Received settlers and goods with 4 soldiers. At
midnight standing to north-east. At 11 A.M. got a boat on board with
“Saturday, 6th July. At 4 A.M. standing in and off Island and fell
in with Harbour Buoys.
“Sunday, 7th July. P.M. Clearing the boats. Receiving passengers and
prisoners on board for Port Jackson. Governor King in company: at 4 and
8 A.M. made sail, at noon Phillip Island 7 leagues.
Norfolk Island to Sydney Cove.
“Wednesday, 17th July. These 2 hours light breezes and squally. At
noon found the current set to northward about 11 miles.
“Thursday, 18th July. Calm and cloudy, at 6 Mount Gore about 7
leagues, at 4 A.M. How's island north-north-east 21 leagues.
“Thursday, 25th July. Port Jackson 74 miles. Noon, calm and cloudy.
“Friday, 26th July. At 11 A.M. saw the land of Port Stephens 15
“Saturday, 27th July. P.M. Bent best bower. Extremes of land west by
“Sunday, 28th July. P.M. Standing in for land. At 4 Rabbit Island 7
miles. At 12 Boxhead about 8 miles west-south-west, Long Reach
south-west by south 15 miles.
“Monday, 29th July. P.M. At 4 hove up and made sail for Pittwater,
at 6 came to, saw two vessels coming in, fired 3 guns to bring them to:
at 6 weighed and made sail for Port Jackson: North Head
“Tuesday, 30th July. At 2 set steering sails for Port Jackson Heads,
fired 2 guns for a light. At 11 came to between the Heads, two
schooners in company. At 4 working up the Harbour. At 10 came to in
“Monday, 5th August. P.M. Weighed and made sail out of Cove. At 2
came to in stream with small bower in 9 fathoms. At 8 made sail down
the Harbour—at 10 North Head of Port Jackson south by west 5 miles. At
1 came to in Broken Bay not being able to work up the river.
“Tuesday, 6th August. P.M. At 4 weighed and made sail with the flood
tide. At 7 came to in Mullet Island Reach. A.M. Endeavoured to work up,
the wind blowing strong came to again, passed by a schooner.
“Friday, 9th August. P.M. At 6 made sail up River: at 1 came to
abreast of Green Hills. Employed clearing the hold to take in wheat.
“Monday, 12th August. P.M. Calm and cloudy, unmoored ship and towed
up river. A.M. Came to abreast of Cornwallis Farm.
“Tuesday, 13th August. At 8 hauled alongside the wharf and took in
157 bushels of wheat for Government.
“Wednesday, 14th August. P.M. At 2 up anchored and towed down to the
Greenhills: received Government order to deliver over main-sail and
main-top-sail. At noon received wheat, stowing it away, and hemp for
“Thursday, 15th August. P.M. Fresh breezes. Received 800 bushels
wheat. At 8 made sail down the river.
“Friday, 16th August. P.M. At 5 towed down the River. A.M. at 1 came
to in Portland Reach to get on board cedar for Government: at 11
hoisted in 3 logs.
“Monday, 19th August. At 7 weighed and made sail down River: at 1
A.M. came to in Branch Reach: at 11 going through the narrows grounded,
ran the kedge out and hove off.
“Tuesday, 20th August. At 3 cleared into Port Jackson: half-past
came to in Sydney Cove. Employed delivering wheat.
“Monday, 26th August. Working down Harbour: at 4 came to off South
Head: at 5 made sail out of the Heads.
“Tuesday, 27th August. North Head, Broken Bay west-north-west 7
miles, at 3 the Coal Island west-north-west at 5 miles—at 10 A.M.
hauled in between Heads, a boat came off from shore from Kingstown.* (*
“Wednesday, 28th August. Found the vessel driving in shore. Found 2
vessels laying there.
“Thursday, 29th August. At noon, sailed Contest schooner.
“Friday, 30th August. People employed getting on board coals and
cedar for Government.
“Thursday, 5th September. Received on board 8 tons of coals,
employed stowing cedar.
“Friday, 6th September. P.M. Sailed the Governor Hunter, schooner,
for Sydney. Employed stowing cedar.
“Saturday, 7th September. P.M. At 4 heavy squalls, hove up the best
bower and hauled out in the stream, at 6 made sail, shaped our course
for Sydney. At 1 A.M. the wind hauled round north-east. At 8 Broken Bay
west 8 miles North Head Point south-south-west 6 miles, at noon hauled
in for Heads.
“Sunday 8th September. P.M. Working into the Harbour: at 2 rounded
the South reef: at 3 came to in Sydney Cove. Employed getting the cedar
out and spars for the Resource.
Sydney Cove to Port Dalrymple.
“Saturday, 14th September. Received on board for Port Dalrymple 16
“Monday, 16th September. A.M. Went on board the Harrington to unmoor
her by Government order and lashed her alongside the Supply.
“Tuesday, 17th September. At noon strong breezes.
“Wednesday, 18th September. Provisioning ship, puddening the anchor.
“Thursday, 19th September. Received on board for Port Dalrymple 12
Bales Slop Clothing, bar iron and other stores, A.M. 150 new hats, one
cask nails and hoes, carpenter making gun carriages.
“Friday, 20th September. Received 10 casks, one of salt for Port
Dalrymple, sailed the Honduras, packet for England.
“Thursday, 26th September. P.M. Hove short. A.M. Towed out of the
Cove, at 9 came to in the stream. Received on board 2 settlers and 1
prisoner for Port Dalrymple.
“Friday, 27th September. P.M. Weighed and made sail, at 7 North Head
north-north-west 2 miles. At noon Pigeon House west-south-west 7
“Tuesday, 1st October. P.M. Heavy gale and sea, at noon bore up for
“Wednesday, 2nd October. P.M. Made all sail for Snug Cove. Found the
Governor Hunter lying there.
“Saturday, 5th October. At 2 made sail out of Bay, schooner in
company. At 12 schooner out of sight astern.
“Sunday, 6th October. P.M. At 6 saw the land, Kent's Group
south-south-west 10 miles, bore up for Group—at 9 came to in East
“Friday, 11th October. P.M. At 7 weighed and made sail out of Kent's
“Saturday, 12th October. P.M. At 6 saw the flag-staff on the west
head, at 8 fired a gun to make the people on shore make a fire,
half-past 8 fired another, at 9 entered the Heads, came on board a
Pilot, at 1 got on shore, out kedge to warp off, at 2 came to in
Western Arm, at 8 weighed and kedged up the Arm to the Settlement, at
11 came to in 3 fathoms water. At noon calm and cloudy weather.
“Sunday, 13th October. P.M. Moderate and cloudy.
“Monday, 14th October. P.M. Fresh breezes and variable. A.M. Calm
and clear, got cables on deck to discharge cargo.
“Monday, 21st October. A.M. Weighed and towed down the arm, at 11
fired a gun, made sail up river.
“Tuesday, 22nd October. P.M. At 7 calm and cloudy, came to abreast
of Swan Point. At 7 weighed and made sail, found the small bower anchor
stock broke off and totally gone. Came on board Colonel Paterson, 3
soldiers, settler and boat's crew, Mr. Williams, the Surveyor and 3
“Wednesday, 23rd October. Weighed and made sail up the River, at 11
came to above Upper Island in 3 fathoms water.
“Saturday, 26th October. P.M. Weighed and towed down the River, at
10 grounded on a mud flat.
“Sunday, 27th October. P.M. At 1 hove off into the stream, at 5
weighed and made sail down the River—at 6 came to, found we could not
beat down. A.M. At 4 towed down the River—at 10 came to in the
“Monday, 28th October. P.M. At 5 weighed and made sail down the
River. At 10 came to off Point Rapid, at 5 towed down River, at 11 came
to in Western Arm.
“Thursday, 31st October. P.M. Cutting spars for beacons. Employed
down the harbour putting up the beacon.
“Friday, 1st November. A.M. Down the Harbour at the beacons. Erected
two beacons, with flags on, below the Islands, one white flag the other
“Thursday, 7th November. Put up altogether four beacons with flags
with 20 yards of bunting.
“Monday, 11th November. At 8 A.M. unmoored ship.
“Tuesday, 12th November. P.M. Strong gales, at 2 weighed and made
sail down the River, came to in Barran's Pool.
“Wednesday, 13th November. People on shore filling water.
“Thursday, 14th November. Came on board 11 prisoners and other
passengers for Port Jackson.
Port Dalrymple to Sydney Cove.
“Friday, 15th November. P.M. Came on board Colonel Paterson and
delivered the dispatches, at 6 weighed and made sail down the Harbour,
at 9 came to abreast of Lagoon Reach. A.M. At 6 made sail.
“Saturday, 16th November. Heavy sea, at 10 saw the Pyramid bearing
north by east 6 miles, half-past saw Kent's Group.
“Sunday, 17th November. P.M. At 2 saw a sunken reef north-north-west
of the Stuck Rocks and from Kent's Group, about 15 miles, two miles
from the Big Stuck, the sea breaking over them; at 5 Kent's Group
bearing west-south-west. At 9 saw two vessels on the larboard bow:
fired a gun to bring them to, spoke them, the one the Nancy and the
other the Fly, sloop, from Port Jackson.
“Monday, 18th November. At 6 Cape How north at 7 miles, at 7 altered
course, at Cape Green west-south-west. At noon Twofold Bay south-west
about 4 leagues.
“Tuesday, 19th November. At noon moderate and cloudy weather, Mount
Dromedary distant 6 or 7 leagues.
“Wednesday, 20th November. P.M. At 6 Pigeon House north-west at 4
leagues. Jervis Bay west-south-west about 10 miles. At noon Five
islands west about 7 miles.
“Thursday, 21st November. P.M. At 7 South Head, Port Jackson, north
about 13 miles, at half-past 9 bore up for the Harbour, half-past 11
came to Sydney Cove with the best bower.
“Monday, 25th November. Received on board 4 sheep for the ship's
company. At 8 came alongside the punt with flour for Port Dalrymple.
“Wednesday, 27th November. Arrived H.M.S. Buffalo from the River
Derwent, at 4 weighed and towed out into the stream.
Sydney Cove to Port Dalrymple.
“Thursday, 28th November. P.M. At 3 weighed and made sail, at 7 came
to between Heads. A.M. At 4 made sail.
“Friday, 29th November. P.M. Heavy sea. Standing to Southward, at 7
Botany Bay 4 miles, Point Hicks south-west 11 miles. At noon Justice's
Bay west 15 miles.
“Wednesday, 4th December. At 6 saw the land Kent's Group, South
Hogan's Group west-south-west 4 leagues; at half-past 7 a heavy squall
with thunder and lightning and rain from the north-west. At noon saw
“Thursday, 5th December. Heavy sea running, the Sisters
west-south-west about 4 miles, at 6 hauled up for a sandy beach bearing
S.S. Found this place a good shelter from the wind and good riding,
found the tide setting about cast and west, at 4 made sail, Rocky
Island south-east 1/2 east 4 miles standing alongshore, Gull Island
south-south-east 5 miles.* (* Islands of the Furneaux Group.)
“Friday, 6th December. At half-past one passed between Gull Island
and the main—found a good channel with 4 fathoms at low water, at 4
tacked to work up the narrows; at 9 came to in the Village not being
able to work up, the tide having made.* (* Probably the Lady Nelson
anchored in Kent's Bay, where there was a sealing village.) Saw a small
vessel laying in the Head of the bay.
“Saturday, 7th December. P.M. At 5 the tide having made, made sail
up the bay: found the vessel to be the Raven of Port Jackson. A.M.
Tacked to work out of bay. At noon moderate breezes and cloudy.
Preservation Island north-north-east 3 miles.
“Sunday, 8th December. P.M. At 4 Waterhouse Island about 10 miles.
A.M. At 6 saw Head of Port Dalrymple south-west about 4 miles. At noon
came to in Western Arm in 2 fathoms with best bower.
Port Dalrymple to Sydney Cove.
“Friday, 13th December. At 5 weighed and towed down Harbour, at 9
came to in Barren's Pool, at 9 cleared the Harbour, Marcia, schooner,
in company. Stoney Head south-east 4 miles.
“Saturday, 14th December. Twentyday Island south-east by east about
10 miles, at 6 set leeward steering sails—Waterhouse Island
south-south-east 4 miles, at 10 hove too off Preservation Island,* at 4
made sail for Cape Barren. Clark's Island* south-south-west about 10
“Sunday, 15th December. At noon weighed, and dropped farther down
“Wednesday, 18th December. Light airs and thick, at 7 weighed and
made sail, at 12 Sea Lyon Island* south-south-west about 10 miles. (*
Islands of the Furneaux Group.)
Saturday, 21st December. At 4 heavy sea, at 5 saw strange sail,
found the same to be the Estramina, at 8 lost sight of her.
“Sunday, 22nd December. At sunset saw the land extremes from
south-west to north-west by north distant off shore 7 leagues. A.M. At
8 made all sail for Port Jackson: at 9 hauled in for the Heads: at
half-past 11 came to in Sydney Cove.”
CHAPTER 12. TIPPAHEE AND HIS FOUR
SONS ARE CONVEYED TO NEW ZEALAND IN THE LADY NELSON.
The following months were months well spent by England's little
ship; months which, like many others, left their mark on the early
history of Australia and New Zealand, when seed was sown in England's
name that was afterwards to bear fruit and extend her power and
Empire builders to-day may well envy those whose lot it was to be
the first in that vast southern field.
They were a gallant little band who, in early days, carried the
mother-flag from New South Wales to lands and islands yet more distant,
discovering the shores, planting the first settlements and moulding
them into shape—men who worked with such untiring energy that
succeeding generations found a city, where lately had stood a few
miserable huts, and a flourishing seaport surrounding a once silent
Looking back across one hundred and twenty years of time, we can
picture the empty spaces on the sea-shore, which are now towns, and the
monotonous wildernesses of bushland, which have been replaced by
smiling landscapes; and we can realise the enormous difficulties that
had to be overcome before houses could be built, or the bushland
cleared and cultivated.
One of the first letters (perhaps the very first from a woman's pen
to be handed down to us) written from Sydney, in November 1788, thus
describes the Mother-settlement at the beginning.
“We have now two streets, if four rows of the most miserable huts
you can possibly conceive deserve that name. Windows they have none as
from the Governor's house (now nearly finished) no glass could be
spared, so that lattices of twigs are made by our people to supply
their places. At the extremity of the lines where since our arrival the
dead are buried there is a place called the churchyard...” and then,
telling of the only food obtainable there, in addition to the hard fare
provided by the Government, the writer continues, “Our kangaroo cats
are like mutton but much leaner and there is a kind of chickweed so
much in taste like spinach that no difference can be discerned.
Something like ground ivy is used for tea but a scarcity of salt and
sugar makes our best meals insipid...Everyone is so taken up with their
own misfortunes that they have no pity to bestow on others.”* (* To-day
Sydney is the seventh city of the Empire.) What was written of Sydney
may be said to have been true of all the settlements. Everywhere
hardships were encountered, and everywhere they were surmounted.
The Lady Nelson's log will show how in 1806 she paid a second and
perhaps a more important visit to New Zealand. Her commander was
instructed by Governor King to convey Tippahee, a New Zealand Chief of
the Bay of Islands on the north-east coast, back from Sydney to his own
dominions. At some time previously a son of this Chief had been brought
to Port Jackson in a whaling vessel. The Governor had shown him
kindness and had ordered some pigs to be sent from Norfolk Island to
New Zealand for his father, and Tippahee, on receiving the present, had
himself resolved to pay a visit to Governor King. He embarked with his
four sons in a small colonial whaling vessel bound for Norfolk Island.
The voyage was hardly a success, for on his arrival there he complained
to the authorities that the master of the ship had treated them badly
and had detained his youngest son. Captain Piper, the Commandant, gave
them a very kind reception, and it is said rescued the youngest son
from the master of the whaler. Shortly afterwards, H.M.S. Buffalo
called at Norfolk Island, when Tippahee, with his sons, was received on
board by Captain Houston, and after the Buffalo had visited Tasmania,
the New Zealanders were brought to Sydney, where, dressed in the
costume of a Chief of his country, Tippahee did homage to Governor
King. We are told that this meant laying a mat at Governor King's feet
and performing the ceremony of “joining noses.” The Governor seems to
have developed a great admiration for Tippahee. He allowed the Maori
Chief to remain, along with his eldest son, as a guest at Government
House, and provided his other sons with suitable lodgings. The Chief is
described as being 5 feet 11 1/2 inches high, stout and athletic
looking, and about forty-six years of age. His face was completely
tattooed. Among other things, King writes of him that he was “a
constant attendant at Divine Service,” and he adds, “he had a contempt
of the Australian aborigine.”
The Reverend Samuel Marsden, then chaplain in Sydney, became
intimately acquainted with Tippahee, and he, too, states that he found
him “a man of very superior understanding and capable of receiving any
instruction. His companions also manifested strong mental faculties.”
When the Maoris had remained in the colony as long as they wished—by
that time becoming familiar figures to all the citizens of Sydney—the
Governor gave instructions for the Lady Nelson to be fitted up to
convey them back to their own country. Before their departure they were
loaded with presents by the Governor and other friends, the gifts being
carefully packed in chests and put on board the brig. On this voyage
Governor King also ordered some bricks and the framework of a house for
New Zealand to be received as part of the cargo.
On February 25th, Tippahee and his sons bade farewell to New South
Wales and their numerous friends there, and on their going on board,
the Lady Nelson immediately set sail for the Bay of Islands.
During the voyage the Chief was taken ill and Mr. Symons ordered a
young man named George Bruce to nurse him. So well did Bruce carry out
his duties, that Tippahee afterwards requested that he might be allowed
to remain in New Zealand.* (* The request was granted, and Bruce was
afterwards given Tippahee's daughter in marriage. How badly the pair
were treated by the captain of a British vessel, which called at New
Zealand to refit, is told in the Sydney Gazette, which states that
Bruce and his wife were carried away from New Zealand in the Wellesley,
first to Fiji and afterwards to Malacca, where Bruce was left behind.
His wife was taken on to Penang, but on his making a complaint to the
commanding officer at Malacca, that gentleman warmly espoused Bruce's
cause and sent him to Bengal, where the authorities extended him aid,
and eventually his wife was restored to him.)
The Chief's illness may have been an attack of sea-sickness, due to
the roughness of the passage, as the log records that the weather was
On March 2nd the Lady Nelson made a great deal of water and had to
be pumped out. The vessel still remained in a leaky state, and this
drawback, in conjunction with the cross currents and heavy gales that
she encountered, greatly retarded her progress.
A succession of gales followed, consequently the land of New Zealand
was not sighted until March 30th, when at noon it was observed for the
first time, trending from east-south-east to north-east.
At eight o'clock in the evening a prominent cape was seen eight
miles distant, which Symons records was North-West Cape (or Cape Maria
Van Diemen). At eleven the ship hauled round to the eastward and hove
to. Native fires were seen burning on land. Next morning at six o'clock
the Lady Nelson made sail and stood in shore, and as she made her
appearance she was met by two native canoes, but perceiving that the
coast was very rocky and a gale arising the commander stood to the
westward, Tunitico then being east-south-east half a mile. At five
o'clock in the afternoon he again endeavoured to anchor, and the Lady
Nelson was brought to in a bay “in 15 fathoms of water, sand and
shells.” Five canoes came alongside, and as the Maoris appeared very
friendly a boat-load of wood and of water was obtained.
Working his way round the coast, which he says he could not “fetch,”
on April 3rd Lieutenant Symons made all sail for a bay to the
south-east, and in the evening the ship came to anchorage, being then
eleven leagues from North Cape. Of this place her Commander writes,
“There are three islands laying to the south-east by north; one to the
north which will break off all sail from this point of the compass. One
of these islands is very thinly inhabited.” The boat was lowered to
sound between the island and the main, as a reef was perceived running
out astern, and the soundings gave ten to five fathoms. At ten o'clock
on April 4th the Lady Nelson again weighed and made sail to work to
windward, and at eleven came to in eight fathoms of water—the bottom
being “fine sand and shells.”
At four o'clock two canoes containing only three men came alongside
the ship, and early on the following morning three New Zealand Chiefs
from the Island of Titteranee, friends of Tippahee, came to welcome
their countryman on his return.
On the Island of Titteranee the natives were very friendly. One of
their number, who had spent some time at Norfolk Island, came on
board,* (* He was named Tookee.) and the Chiefs supplied the ship with
a quantity of fish, for which Lieutenant Symons gave them bread in
exchange. During the vessel's stay, the Chiefs of Titteranee were not
only constant visitors, but some appear to have remained altogether in
the ship. Possibly the Commander saw a little too much of Tippahee and
his friends, as while the boats were on shore cutting brooms and
obtaining water, the former was exceedingly troublesome on board—two
or three times causing a disturbance by lifting up weapons and
threatening the seamen at their work. At noon on the 12th of April, Mr.
Symons records that he became very mutinous. An Otaheitan in the ship
informed the Commander that he had asked one of the Chiefs to go on
shore and bring his men to attack the vessel. Tippahee's residence was
at the Bay of Islands, and it seems fortunate that Lieutenant Symons
was able to land him safely among his own people, for according to the
Sydney Gazette he wielded great power and was acknowledged to be a
great Chief by the New Zealanders “from the North Cape to his own
On April 20th, before reaching the Bay of Islands, the Commander of
the Lady Nelson went to examine a deep bay to the south-west, which he
explored. He found at the bottom of this bay a river which “ran
south-south-east and north-north-west about three miles and one from
the west-south-west to west-north-west...after the first Reach the
River runs flat and 3 or 4 leagues. On the larboard shore of the river
it is not safe for any vessel, drawing more than 12 feet, to attempt
entering.” He also mentions a lagoon which ran at the back of the beach
to the eastward of the River and a deep bay; these were about one mile
In returning from this little expedition of exploration—which was a
very early one—the boat was upset and two muskets, three powder horns,
and two pistols were lost. Symons had already lost the stock of the
small bower anchor, the deep-sea lead, and the seine among the rocks.
On April 22nd the ship took her departure from this harbour, leaving
behind her here a seaman named Joseph Druce who deserted and could not
On the evening of the same day Cavill's or Cavalli Island was
sighted, and a native fire could be seen burning there. At noon the
latitude observed was 34 degrees 43 minutes 57 seconds south. Next
morning, while working off and on the shore, Cape Brett, some fourteen
miles distant to the eastward, and at noon Point Pocock (of Captain
Cook) which lay to the south-east came into view.* (* The Point Pocock
of Cook is now Cape Wiwiki.)
On Friday the 25th April the Lady Nelson, escorted by three canoes
bore up between two islands in the Bay of Islands and came to under the
Island of Matuapo in two fathoms. Tippahee's home was situated on the
north side of the Bay of Islands, just within Point Pocock, and is
described as “a considerable Hippah strongly fortified.” The district
extending to the northward was called Whypopoo, but Tippahee claimed
the whole country across the island from Muri Whenua.* (* The name for
the land's end or most northern part of New Zealand.) At the same time
he admitted that his two great rivals were Mowpah, who was Chief of the
territory in the neighbourhood of the River Thames, and Moodee, Chief
of the territory to the northward.
Lieutenant Symons lost no time in sending the presents given to the
Maoris at Sydney on shore, and at daylight on the day after his arrival
he also landed the bricks and the framework of the wooden house. The
house, by Governor King's orders, was to be erected in the most
suitable spot possible, and was intended for the use of any officials
who might be sent from Sydney, or for any missionaries whom the
Governor might permit to dwell there. The carpenter was sent on shore
to carry out the Governor's instructions, and he built the house on an
island in the Bay of Islands on a site selected by Mr. Symons, who
afterwards stated that the island was a very small one, but he believed
that the house would be impregnable, and able to withstand the attacks
of any force that the country at that time could bring against it.* (*
This house was one of the first, if not the very first house, to be
built in New Zealand. We do not hear even of a single sealer's hut then
at the Bay of Islands, but shortly afterwards settlers and missionaries
from Sydney arrived there, and in 1815 (see Calcutta Gazette, April
27th), after the missionaries arrived, houses began to grow up, and the
Bombay Courier, November 20th, 1819, says of it, “The settlement at New
Zealand appears to have assumed a regular form and to be regarded as a
British Colony regulated under the control of New South Wales
Government Authority. On September 29th the Missionaries, sent out by
the Church Missionary Society, took their departure from Sydney for the
Bay of Islands on board the American brig General Gates, one of them,
the Reverend J. Butler, having previously been appointed by Governor
Macquarie to act as justice of the peace and magistrate of the Island
of New Zealand.”)
The Lady Nelson waited for five days in the Bay of Islands, until
the carpenter had completed his work, and during that time Tippahee,
who seems to have overcome his fit of temper, brought on board many
presents for his friends in Sydney, sending one to each person
individually; these were for the most part weapons of war, which,
observes the Sydney Gazette, “must have somewhat diminished his native
armoury.” A sample of New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax) was also
brought back from Tippahee's dominions. The flax was used by the Maoris
not only in weaving mats and kirtles, but also for making fishing
lines. The lines, although they were twisted entirely by hand,
resembled the finest cord of European manufacture, The most useful
presents, however, sent on board by Tippahee were some fine ships'
spars, which New Zealand produced in great abundance, and also a
quantity of seed potatoes, then very scarce in Sydney, and consequently
Leaving New Zealand, and after passing Three Kings' Islands,
Lieutenant Symons steered to Norfolk Island, where he embarked some men
of the New South Wales Corps under Ensign Lawson for Sydney. During the
long voyage of four months, the brig sustained no material damage,
though she met with continuous bad weather, “thus preserving her
character,” says the Sydney Gazette, “as being a vessel of the greatest
capability, considering her small dimensions.”
This log throws fresh light on the character of Tippahee, who had
been overwhelmed with kindness at Sydney and on board the Lady Nelson.
Notwithstanding this, Symons seems to have very narrowly escaped being
attacked by the Maoris. In 1809, when almost every person on the Boyd
was murdered at Wangaroa, Captain Thompson was almost universally
blamed for being too hasty with Tippahee. He had previously resented
some slight theft, and on the old chief's coming to pay his respects,
had told him “not to bother him as he was too busy.” Possibly Captain
Thompson's critics judged him too harshly, for had he been as watchful
of Tippahee as Mr. Symons apparently was, the massacre of the Boyd
might not have occurred.
From Sydney to New Zealand.
Laying at Port Jackson.
JAMES SYMONS, Commander.
“Sunday, 19th January. 1806. P.M. At 1 fired a salute in honour of
the Queen's birthday.
“Tuesday, 21st January. Received a boatload of bricks for New
Zealand and stowed them away.
“Wednesday, 22nd January. Received boatload of bricks for New
Zealand, sent for a boatload of firewood.
“Thursday, 23rd January. Strong breezes and cloudy with a great
smoke in the woods.
“Friday, 24th January. Received on board part of a house for New
“Saturday, 25th January. P.M. Received the remainder of the house.
“Monday, 27th January. A.M. Received 2 chests on board for Tippahee
going to New Zealand.
“Monday, 10th February. Sailed the Estramina, Spanish schooner, for
“Wednesday, 12th February. Arrived ship Sophia and a boat from
Tellicherry, a ship on the coast which was short of water.
“Thursday, 13th February. Made the signal for sailing, arrived the
Tellicherry from England.
“Friday, 14th February. Came into the Cove the Sophia and
“Saturday, 15th February. Fired a gun and made signal for sailing.
“Sunday, 16th February. Received from Tellicherry on account of
Government, 3600 pounds bread.
“Sunday, 23rd February. Arrived the Star Whaler from England in 18
“Tuesday, 25th February. Weighed and made sail down the
Harbour—came on board Tippahee and his 4 sons for their passage to New
“Wednesday, 26th February. P.M. Port Jackson at 4 north-west 6
miles: at 7 North Head bearing south-west by south about 12 miles.
“Saturday, 1st March. P.M. Fresh breezes. At 12 strong gales: found
the current had set the vessel to southwards: the rate of 10 miles per
“Sunday, 2nd March. P.M. Strong gales heavy sea: found the vessel
had made a great deal of water, pumped her out: found the vessel's deck
leak very much.
“Monday, 17th March. Heavy sea still running: found the current had
set to windward about 40 miles. 35 degrees 35 seconds south.
“Friday, 21st March. Noon, moderate breezes, the current set to the
northward, 3/4 mile per hour. 33 degrees 11 minutes 30 seconds south.
“Saturday, 22nd March. At 9 A.M. capsized boat, got the main keel
up, carpenter repairing it. 33 degrees 40 minutes 48 seconds south.
“Sunday, 30th March. North Cape distant 47 miles.
“Monday, 31st March. P.M. Strong breezes and squally, bore up and
ran alongshore, slit the main top-gallant sail, employed getting the
stirrup down and another up, at 8 North-West Cape or Cape Maria van
Dieman north-west by north 8 miles at 10 wore and stood to the Westward
Tunitico on east-south-east about 1/2 mile. Two canoes alongside.
“Tuesday, 1st April. P.M. Made and shortened sail—at 5 found the
wind hang to south-east. At 10 found the vessel driving, wore away 2
thirds of the cable. At noon tide flows northward and alongshore about
5 feet, 5 canoes came alongside, the natives appear very friendly.
“Wednesday, 2nd April. P.M. Strong gales. At 4 came to in 20 fathoms
of water, fine brown sand, the bottom appears in general very good and
clear of rocks. Any ship or vessel may lay here with the wind from
south-west to south-east in safety.
“Thursday, 3rd April. P.M. Tacked to work round the North Cape, at 8
North Cape south 2 miles. At noon about 15 miles.
“Friday, 4th April. P.M. At 4 fresh breezes and squally. At 6
shortened sail and came to at all leagues from the North Cape. There
are three islands laying to the south-east by north one to the north
which will break off all sail from this point of the compass. One of
the islands is very thinly inhabited. At 10 weighed and made sail, to
work to windward, at 11 came to in 8 fathoms of water—fine sand and
“Saturday, 5th April. P.M. At 4 came alongside 2 canoes with only 3
men. Lost the stock of the small bower anchor, unstocked the kedge and
stocked the small bower, at 8 A.M. came alongside 3 chiefs from the
Island of Titteranee, friends of Tippahee. Latitude of anchorage 34
degrees 47 minutes 20 seconds south.
“Sunday, 6th April. On the Island of Titteranee found the natives
very friendly, the native Tookee that went to Norfolk Island came on
board, the chiefs supplied the ship with fish, gave them bread in lieu.
“Monday, 7th April. P.M. Employed watering vessel, people on shore
“Tuesday, 8th April. P.M. Several canoes alongside. Three chiefs on
board. Boat returned having lost the seine among the rocks.
“Wednesday, 9th April. A.M. Sent people on shore to cut firewood.
“Thursday, 10th April. Moderate and cloudy. Painting ship.
“Friday, 11th April. Strong gales with rain. The 3 chiefs still on
“Saturday, 12th April. A.M. Tippahee 2 or 3 times attempted to raise
a disturbance in the vessel, lifted up weapons against some of the men
whilst putting their orders into force. At noon Tippahee became very
mutinous. I have understood from an Otaheitan on board he told one of
the chiefs to go on shore and bring his men to attack the vessel.
“Sunday, 13th April. P.M. Ditto weather with a heavy sea in the
offing, the wind has not changed more than 2 points these six days,
sent the boat for greens for the Brig's company.
“Monday, 14th April. P.M. Strong gales with heavy rain. Painted
ship, sent boat for greens.
“Tuesday, 15th April. At 8 A.M. sent for water.
“Wednesday, 16th April. Received boatload of water, people cutting
wood on shore.
“Thursday, 17th April. At 4 sent boat for greens.
“Friday, 18th April. Sent boat for cask of water. A.M. Sent boat for
greens, 2 chiefs on board.
“Saturday, 19th April. P.M. Sent boat for water. Strong breezes and
“Sunday, 20th April. P.M. Went with the boat to examine a deep bay
to the south-west. Found at the bottom of the bay a river to run
south-south-east and north-north-west about 3 miles, and one from the
west-south-west to west-north-west there is about 4 fathoms water, it
is not safe for any vessel drawing more than 12 feet to attempt
entering, the tide runs out at 2 knots and flows about 8 or 10 feet.
There is a shoal running off towards the starboard shore about west
from the leeward shore, half-way up the bottom is a fine sand. There is
a lagoon runs all along the deep bay aback of the beach; to the
eastward of the River there is a deep bay runs in, about one mile
apart. In returning on board the boat upset and lost overboard 2
musquets, 3 powder horns and 2 pistols.
“Monday, 21st April. Lost overboard 2 woodaxes.
“Tuesday, 22nd April. A.M. Weighed and made sail out of bay. Run
from the ship Joseph Druce.
“Wednesday, 23rd April. P.M. Strong breezes with heavy swell—at 6
Cavill's Island about 6 leagues—at 12 tacked ship, saw a fire on
shore, at 8 Cavill's Island about 10 miles. Noon. Latitude observed 34
degrees 43 minutes 57 seconds.
“Thursday, 24th April. Standing off and on working in shore, Point
Pocock* (* Point Pocock of Cook now called Cape Wiwiki.)
east-south-east Cape Brett east 14 miles. At 6 Cavill's Island
south-south-east about 8 miles, at 12 fresh breezes and squally, at 4
ditto weather, tacked Cavill's Island south-west about 6 miles, at 8
tacked moderate, squally. At noon Point Pocock south-east Cape Brett
about 14 miles. Latitude observed 35 degrees 3 minutes south.
“Friday, 25th April. P.M. Moderate breezes and cloudy. Point Pocock
about 6 miles, Cape Brett east by south 18 miles. At 8, 3 canoes
alongside. At noon bore up between 2 islands and came to under the
island Matuapo in 2 fathoms water.
“Saturday, 26th April. P.M. Light winds and variable. A.M. At
daylight got the house on deck and sent on shore the carpenter to
build. Sent on shore all the tools and articles belonging to Tippahee.
“Monday, 28th April. A.M. Got on board 7 spars from the chief.
“Tuesday, 29th April. P.M. Strong breezes and squally weather.
Stowed and lashed the spars. Carpenter about the house.
“Wednesday, 30th April. P.M. People stowing away wood. At noon
hauled the boat on shore to repair—carpenter about the house.
“Thursday, 1st May. P.M. Small rain. Stowing away fire-wood,
launched the boat. A.M. At 6 towed out in the stream, at 8 came to,
Cape Brett east-north-east 8 miles. At noon sent back on shore for
“Friday, 2nd May. At 6 made sail to work out of Cove, finding we
could not weather the Cape Brett, bore up to come to an anchor, bore up
for a bay to leeward.
“Saturday, 3rd May. P.M. Sounded in 24 fathoms sandy bottom, the
soundings run from 24 to 13 fathoms, very regular until you shut the
Southern Island and Point Pocock in, then shells from 10 to 5 fathoms
“Sunday, 4th May. Several canoes alongside. Sailmaker making canvas
“Tuesday, 6th May. At 8 A.M. 30 canoes alongside: at 11 strong
breezes from westward, in boat.
“Wednesday, 7th May. P.M. At 2 A.M. made sail out of the bay: at 5
Point Pocock south-south-west 1 1/2 miles: at 8 Cavill's Island
west-north-west 8 miles. At noon 7 canoes alongside.
“Thursday, 8th May. At 10 light breezes from the southward: weighed
and made sail between Cavill's Island and the main, current not less
than 5 fathoms mid-channel: at 6 ten canoes alongside. Wongoroa Island
bearing south-south-west about 12 miles, Cavill Island south-east 4
“Friday, 9th May. P.M. Several canoes alongside. At 4 Wongaroa
Island south-east about 3 miles: at 5 light breezes, made all sail
along the coast, at 6 Cavill Island east by south. Wongaroa south-east
by south. Knuckle Point west 5 leagues, A.M. Knuckle Point south 3
miles: set up. At noon North-West Cape about 6 miles: 5 canoes
“Saturday, 10th May. At 2 bore up and made sail for Norfolk Island.
“Friday, 16th May. Light breezes and variable, thunder and
lightning. Found the current setting to north-east about 10 miles. By
double altitude latitude 29 degrees 30 minutes 32 seconds. Latitude by
observation 29 degrees 23 minutes 57 seconds.
“Monday, 19th May. Fresh breezes, wind and rain—at 4 Norfolk Island
west-north-west and Phillip Island west 4 miles—at 5 bore up for
Sydney. At 6 fired a gun and made signal for a pilot, at 7 a boat came
off from the shore and received a pilot.
“Wednesday, 21st May. Calm and dark cloudy weather with heavy
showers of rain at times. At daylight saw a strange sail to south-east.
At 7 joined company and proved to be the Ocean Whaler, from New
“Thursday, 22nd May. Strong breezes and cloudy. Working between the
islands. Noon, received no boat these 24 hours, landing being so bad.
“Friday, 23rd May. At daylight bore up for Sydney finding they would
not send off a boat from Cascade, at 6 working in for Sydney.
“Saturday, 24th May. P.M. Working in for Sydney. Received from Ocean
Whaler 4 gallons of oil for use of vessel, at midnight stood in for
bay, the flagstaff north-east by north. At noon received 2 boatloads of
Norfolk Island to Sydney.
“Monday, 26th May. Received on board Ensign Lawson New South Wales
Corps with 6 privates and their baggage for a passage to Port Jackson,
discharged the pilot, at 7 weighed and made all sail for Port Jackson.
“Thursday, 5th June. Heavy sea from north-east. At 1 wind shifted to
the south-east. Wore ship, Ball's Pyramid, at 6 distant off shore 10
miles, at 11 found main keel gone.
“Monday, 9th June. P.M. Fresh breezes, quarter past 3, Point
Stephens bearing west-north-west about 12 miles. At noon fresh breezes
and squally weather, Collier's Point north-west 1/2 west about 7
leagues, found the current setting to the northward about 18 hours this
“Tuesday, 10th June. At sunset Cape Three points south-west 1/2
west, Bird Island S. by S. about 5 miles.
“Friday, 13th June. Light breezes and cloudy. At 8 saw the light on
the south head of Port Jackson, came on board pilot and took charge of
the vessel, at 9 came to finding the tide done. At noon Bradley's Head
“Saturday, 14th June. Half-past 1 weighed and made sail up the
harbour, at half-past 3 came to in Sydney Cove.
“Sunday, 20th July. A.M. Received orders to take the crew of H.M.
brig Lady Nelson on board the Estramina, colonial schooner, to fit her
out. Sent the schooner anchor and a cable per order. At noon sent the
officers and men on board to assist—they are to be considered as lent
for H.M. Service.
[Facsimile signature James Symons.]
Lieutenant Symons' logbook closes with the entry dated July 20th,
1806, and is the last log of the Lady Nelson preserved at the Public
Record Office. It is quite possible that others are in existence,
either in England, or in Sydney, although the present writer has not
been able to discover them.
It must not be supposed that the useful work performed by the little
vessel ended at this date, as for years she continued to sail into and
out of Port Jackson. For a short time Lieutenant Symons and her crew
were turned over to the Estramina, the Spanish prize appropriated by
Governor King, and used in the colonial service until 1817, when she
was lost while coming out of the Hunter River with a cargo of coal.
But in November 1806 we again find the Lady Nelson carrying stores
to Newcastle, and on her return voyage she brought Lieutenant Putland,
R.N. (Governor Bligh's son-in-law), with other passengers, back from
the Settlement.* (* Sydney Gazette, December, 1806.)
Shortly afterwards Mr. Symons joined H.M.S. Porpoise as Lieutenant,
being appointed Commander of that ship in 1807, and the Lady Nelson was
then placed in charge of Lieutenant William George Carlile Kent, who
subsequently superseded Symons as Commander of the Porpoise by the
orders of Governor Bligh.
In 1807 and 1808 the little ship's Commanders appear to have often
changed, and her fortunes, like those of her officers, experienced a
wave of uncertainty during the stormy period which marked the rule of
Governor Bligh. Eventually by his orders the Lady Nelson was
dismantled. It is well-known that Governor Bligh was deposed and kept a
prisoner in his own house for twelve months by the officers of the New
South Wales Corps. During this time the colony was governed by three
officers, Johnston, Foveaux, and Paterson.
On the arrival of Major-General Macquarie from England to take over
the reins of Government, he caused inquiries to be made concerning the
use of the brig, to which Colonel Foveaux replied on January 10th,
1810, “I have the honour to inform your Excellency that the Lady Nelson
brig was sent from England seven or eight years since by the Admiralty
as an armed tender to the ship of war on this station. On the departure
of H.M.S. Porpoise in March last, Commodore Bligh ordered her to be
dismantled and laid up in ordinary in the King's Yard. The Commodore
gave her in charge of Mr. Thomas Moore, the master builder, with
directions to hand her over to Colonel Paterson should he require her
for the service of the colony. Colonel Paterson applied for her
immediately after the Porpoise sailed hence, manned her with hired
seamen, and she has since continued in the employment of the Government
for the use of these settlements.”
From this time forward we hear of Governor Macquarie frequently
taking excursions in the Lady Nelson, and in October 1811, he, with
Mrs. Macquarie, proceeded in her to Van Diemen's Land, where he made an
extensive tour of inspection of the settlements, and every Governor in
turn seems to have used the brig for work of this character.
It is not easy to trace, subsequently, the doings of the Lady
Nelson, and presumably for a year or two she lay dismantled in Sydney
Harbour, and during that period is described as “nothing more or less
than a Coal Hulk.”
By the Governor's orders, however, in 1819, when Captain Phillip
King left Sydney in the Mermaid to explore Torres Strait and the north
coast of Australia, the Lady Nelson was again made smart and trim and
accompanied the Mermaid as far as Port Macquarie. Lieutenant Oxley,
R.N., sailed in the Lady Nelson, and after making a survey of the
shores of the port he returned in her to Port Jackson.
Until she set forth on her last voyage, the Lady Nelson continued to
ply between the settlements, carrying stores to them from the capital,
and bringing the settlers' grain and other produce to Sydney for sale,
and as the expansion of the colony proceeded, her sphere of usefulness
naturally became greatly enlarged.
CHAPTER 13. THE LADY NELSON
ACCOMPANIES H.M.S. TAMAR TO MELVILLE ISLAND.
In the year 1824, the British Government determined to form a
settlement on the north coast of Australia in the vicinity of Melville
Island, with the object of opening up intercourse between that district
and the Malay coast. On account of the nearness of the place to Timor,
it was believed that some of the trade of the East Indies would be
attracted to its shores. For some time previously small vessels from
New South Wales had traded regularly with certain islands of the Indian
Archipelago chiefly in pearls, tortoise-shell and beche-de-mer.
In order to carry out the intentions of the Government, Captain
James Gordon Bremer left England in H.M.S. Tamar on February 27th,
1824, for Sydney, where the establishment was to be raised. The Tamar
brought a number of marines who were to form part of the garrison for
the proposed settlement. Meanwhile, the authorities at Sydney had
chartered the ship Countess of Harcourt, Captain Bunn, in which to
convey the settlers as well as a detachment of officers and men, then
quartered in the colony, with their wives to Melville Island. After
taking supplies on board, the following were embarked in the Countess
of Harcourt, Captain Barlow, Lieutenant Everard, and twenty-four
non-commissioned officers and men, all of the Buffs. Dr. Turner, Royal
Artillery; Mr. George Miller, Commissariat Department; Mr. Wilson and
Mr. George Tollemache, Storekeepers. In all the Countess of Harcourt
carried 110 men, 40 women, and 25 children.
The colonial brig Lady Nelson, in command of Captain Johns, also
received orders to accompany the expedition. She had returned from a
voyage to Moreton Bay on August 12th, and, heavily laden with
passengers, soldiers, and stores, sailed with the Tamar and the
Countess of Harcourt on August 24th, 1824.
The Lady Nelson then left Sydney for the last time.
In reading Captain J. Gordon Bremer's logbook, we are reminded of a
similar voyage, taken by the Lady Nelson along this coast twenty-two
years before, in company with H.M.S. Investigator. Captain Bremer had
the same trouble with the brig as Captain Flinders then experienced, as
he was continually forced to wait for the Lady Nelson. In the Captain's
log often appear the entries “took the Lady Nelson in tow,” and “cast
off the Lady Nelson,” showing that the little brig was unable to keep
up with the larger vessels. The fleet sailed between the Great Barrier
Reef and the mainland, at times only a narrow strip of coral separating
it from the breakers, which rolled against the outer side of the reef.
At other times it was impossible to see across the great breadth of the
On the 28th of August, Mount Warning was passed and the ships
skirted Moreton Island in remarkably fine weather, which by the 1st of
September turned very hot. The vessels continued to sail near the
coast, and steered between two rocks called Peak* (* Now Perforated
Island.) and Flat Island and the main. During the forenoon more rocky
islands were observed, with a few trees growing on the very top—their
outline having the appearance of a cock's comb. It was noticed that the
water here was streaked for many miles with a brown scum supposed to be
fish-spawn. At evening one of the Cumberland Islands, named Pure
Island, provided an anchorage for the three ships; possibly the Lady
Nelson alone had been in these waters previously, and it will be
remembered, that it was hereabouts she had parted with the Investigator
in the expedition of 1802. On September 6th, Cape Grafton was made, and
as the ships coasted the land, the smoke of the native fires were seen
on shore. At 9 o'clock on the 7th the ships passed Snapper Island and
then Cape Tribulation, and at 6 P.M. anchored near Turtle Reef opposite
to the mouth of Endeavour River.* (* Cooktown.) At 10 o'clock next
morning Cape Flattery came into sight. Some of the ships' company
landed on one of the Turtle Islands, further northwards, to examine it,
and it was found to be formed of coral and shells. This night, “a fine
moonlight night,” the sailors spent in fishing, and several fish,
marked with beautiful colours, were caught. Noble Rock or Island was
seen next day, when the vessels came to an anchorage close to an island
of the Howick Group. At evening, a very large native fire, a mile in
extent, was seen on the mainland. On Saturday, September 11th, Cape
Melville and the cluster of islands known as Flinders Group was passed.
At this time sand banks surrounded the ships on all sides. They
anchored in 14 degrees south latitude and next day ran through the
islands known as Saxe Coburgs Range, and came to about 6 o'clock off
Cape Direction. A fine run made by the vessels on the 13th, left Forbes
and Sunday Islands behind, and they were brought to at night under one
of the Bird Islands. At 4 o'clock on the 14th the Commander first saw
Cape York, and at 5 o'clock anchored under Mount Adolphus. Some of the
company went on shore in the evening, but met none of the natives,
though traces of their visits were observed. Next day at 9 o'clock,
Wednesday and Thursday Islands as well as numerous other islands lying
to the north-east of the Gulf of Carpentaria were passed.
At 2 o'clock on September 17th, the west head of the Gulf of
Carpentaria was seen; on the 19th the vessels reached Croker's Island,
and anchored on the 20th at Port Essington. The Captain's log contains
this entry on that day: “Took possession of the north coast of New
Holland; and Lieutenant Roe buried a bottle containing a copy of the
form of taking possession—and several coins of His Majesty—on a low
sandy point bearing east from the ship which was named Point Record.”*
(* Captain's log, H.M.S. Tamar, Public Record Office.)
The following account of the proceedings was published in the Sydney
“The north coast of New Holland, or Australia, contained between the
meridian of 129 and 135 degrees East of Greenwich with all the bays,
rivers, harbours, creeks, therein and all the islands laying off were
taken possession of in the name and right of His most Excellent
Majesty, George the IV, King of Great Britain and Ireland, and His
Majesty's colours hoisted at Port Essington, on 20th September, 1824,
and at Melville and Bathurst Islands on 26th September, 1824, by James
John Gordon Bremer, Commander of the most Honourable Military order of
the Bath, Captain of H.M.S. Tamar and Commanding Officer of His
Majesty's Forces employed on the said coast.
“His Majesty's colonial brig, Lady Nelson, and the British ship
Countess of Harcourt in company.
“September 26th, 1824.”
During the stay of the ships at Port Essington, Captain Bremer sent
boats in every direction to search for fresh water, knowing that,
unless it were found, it would be impossible for the people to remain
there permanently. On the 21st of September at daylight four boats went
to examine the eastern shores. The soil on this side proved to be sandy
and interspersed with red sandstone rock, which, it was thought,
contained particles of iron. The trees were not very tall, and
resembled those of New South Wales. But no water was found. Next day
the boats went westward, and the search was still unsuccessful. On this
side the country was superior to that to the eastward; it was more
open, and the trees were of magnificent height.
To discover water now became the chief object of everybody. On Point
Record, a water-hole fenced round with bamboos was at last found. In it
was some thick water, which had a brackish taste, and it was thought
that this water-hole was the work of Malays, and not of the Australian
aborigines, of whom traces were observed in various places, though, as
yet, none had been seen. Captain Bremer described Port Essington as
being “one of the most noble and beautiful pieces of water that can be
imagined, having a moderate depth and a capability of containing a
whole navy in perfect security.” The lack of fresh water was its
drawback.* (* It turned out afterwards that there was plenty of water
and of good quality, but unfortunately it was not then discovered.) As
the season was far advanced, the Commander decided to leave this
beautiful bay and sail to Apsley Strait, which divides Melville and
On the 23rd the ships left Port Essington, and after making Cape Van
Diemen of the old charts entered the strait and on the 26th anchored
off Luxmore Head. On this day Captain Bremer went on shore and took
formal possession of Melville and Bathurst Islands on behalf of Great
Britain. On the 30th, Captain Bremer discovered a running stream on
Melville Island in a cove to the southward of the ships. The water
fortunately was fresh. The south-east point of the cove was pleasantly
situated on a slight rise, and was tolerably clear of timber and
suitable for a settlement. Captain Bremer therefore took the ships into
it, and he gave the cove the name of King's Cove, in honour of its
discoverer, Captain Phillip Parker King.
The point chosen as the settlement was called Point Barlow, after
Captain Barlow; and the part of the strait between Harris Island and
Luxmore Head where the ships anchored was named Point Cockburn, after
Sir George Cockburn, one of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty.
The harbour was not equal to Port Essington, as the entrance was
intricate, and a dangerous shoal, rendered perilous by the rapid tides,
extended some miles distant from the land. It was formed by the shores
of Bathurst Island, as well as of Melville Island. To the northernmost
point of Bathurst Island Captain Bremer gave the name of Cape Brace.
On October 1st, parties were landed on Point Barlow to clear the
ground and to lay the foundation of a fort, for it was believed that
the Malays, who fished annually in these waters, would soon come in
great numbers, and hostility was also expected from the aborigines. A
fort, therefore, was constructed so as to command the whole anchorage,
and when finished it was possible to fire a shot from it on to Bathurst
Island. In its building, timber of great solidity was used. On it were
mounted two 9-pounder guns and four 18-pounder carronades, with a
12-pounder boatgun, which could be shifted as the occasion required.
These were supplied by H.M.S. Tamar.
The boat-gun was fitted so that it could be placed on board the Lady
Nelson, whenever it should be necessary to detach her to the
neighbouring islands. Round the fort there were soon built comfortable
cottages for the settlers, and, when completed, they gave the place the
air of a village. The fort was rectangular, and within the square were
erected barracks for the soldiers, and houses, the frames of which had
been brought from New South Wales. The climate was found to be “one of
the best between the tropics,” particularly at dawn, “when,” says
Captain Bremer, “nothing can be more delightful than this part of the
twenty-four hours.” In spite of many mangrove swamps that existed
there, much of the soil on Melville Island was excellent, and in it the
plants brought in the ships flourished luxuriantly; they included the
orange, lemon, lime, and banana. Melons and pumpkins sprang up
immediately, and maize was “upon ground” on the fourth day after it was
sown. The native forests were almost inexhaustible, producing most, if
not all, the tropical fruits and shrubs of the Eastern Islands, chief
among them a sort of cotton tree, a species of “lignum vitae,” and the
While Captain Bremer explored the country, the work at the
settlement was carried out without loss of time. On the 8th of October
a pier, for the purpose of landing provisions and guns, was begun, next
a Commissariat store; and by the 20th the pier, bastion, and sea face
of the fort were completed. Captain Bremer writes, “I had the
satisfaction of hoisting His Majesty's colours under a royal salute
from the guns mounted on Fort Dundas, which I named in honour of the
noble Lord and the Head of the Admiralty.”
CHAPTER 14. THE LOSS OF THE LADY
On November 10th Captain Bremer, having carried out his duties in
accordance with the instructions that he had received from the
Admiralty, took leave of the settlement. He handed over its charge to
Captain Maurice Barlow. The Tamar then dropped into the stream, being
saluted by 15 guns, which she returned. Two days afterwards she left
Port Cockburn for India in company with the Countess of Harcourt, bound
for Mauritius and England.
The Lady Nelson remained behind at Port Cockburn, partly to act as a
guardship and partly to bring to the settlement the needed stores and
supplies from the islands to the northwards. These islands, as well as
Coepang, afforded fresh meat in the form of buffalo beef, and it proved
an inestimable boon to many ships which traded in these waters. Fresh
provisions being scarce at the settlement* (* See Major Campbell's
report.) Captain Barlow sent the Lady Nelson for a cargo of buffaloes.
In February 1825, the little ship set forth on her mission, from which
she was doomed never to return. As she left Port Cockburn her Commander
was warned to avoid an island called Baba, one of the Serwatti Islands,
which was infested with pirates who were very daring and very cruel. It
is supposed that the warning was unheeded, for there the little vessel
met her end.
The schooner Stedcombe, Captain Burns (or Barnes), from England,
arrived at Melville Island when anxiety was being felt there regarding
the Lady Nelson's fate. After her stores were landed, as scurvy was
increasing among the colonists, Captain Barlow chartered the vessel on
behalf of the Government and despatched her to Timor for buffaloes: she
was also instructed to search for the missing Lady Nelson. Her captain
remained at the settlement, and the chief mate took charge of the
schooner. The Stedcombe never returned, and later it was learned that
she too had been captured by pirates, off Timor Laut, about sixty miles
eastward of Baba, where the Lady Nelson had been taken.
The Serwatti Islands form a chain which stretches from the east end
of Timor as far as Baba. When Lieutenant Kolff of the Dutch Navy
visited Baba in July 1825 the inhabitants were shy and deserted the
village of Tepa on his landing. He was convinced that a crime had been
committed, and learned that “some months previously an English brig
manned by about a dozen Europeans had anchored off Alata on the
south-east coast and had engaged in barter with the natives who were on
board in great numbers, and who taking the opportunity of 5 men being
on shore...attacked and killed the people on the brig as well as those
in the boat when they returned.” Earl, who translated Kolff's journal,
says that “the natives received not the slightest reproof from
Lieutenant Kolff for this outrage.”
Fourteen years afterwards, when Captain Gordon Bremer was acting as
commandant at Port Essington,* (* Melville Island was abandoned in 1829
for Port Essington.) Captain Thomas Watson arrived there in the
schooner Essington, bearing the news that Mr. Volshawn, master of a
small trading vessel flying the Dutch flag, had seen an English sailor
on the island of Timor Laut when he visited it in February of the
previous year.* (* Captain Watson's journal is preserved at the
Admiralty.) The Englishman was kept captive at a native village on the
south-eastern side of the island, and stated that he had belonged to
the Stedcombe. Mr. Volshawn also declared that he had seen there
articles which had been taken from the Stedcombe.
Captain Watson decided to try and rescue his countryman, and on
March 31st, 1839, when off Timor Laut he stood in for the island. The
plan he proposed to adopt in order to carry out the rescue was to
entice a chief or Orang Kaire on board and hold him as a hostage until
the English sailor was produced. As his ship came in shore three canoes
under Dutch colours put out to meet him with twelve to thirteen men in
each. In answer to Captain Watson's inquiries whether there was a white
man on the island some of the natives replied, “Certo; Engrise;
Louron,” which was translated as meaning that there was an Englishman
at Louron.* (* Lourang.) Other canoes came alongside the Essington,
whose crew had been put under arms, and an Orang Kaire was allowed to
come on board. Captain Watson writes: “Now was the time for carrying my
plans into effect...and I told the Orang Kaire if he would bring him
(the captive) to me I would give him a quantity of trade which was
shown him.” To this the chief agreed. But as no great faith was placed
in his assertion, Watson then told him that he must send his canoes and
fetch the Englishman, when he would receive his reward, but if they did
not bring his prisoner he would be hung from the yard-arm, and that “we
should fire our great guns on the village.” The ship was now surrounded
by canoes and no one was allowed to come on board excepting a very
friendly chief. This man immediately pulled from his bosom a small
basket of papers which were found to consist of loose scraps written by
the crew of the Charles Eaton.* (* The Charles Eaton was wrecked in
Torres Strait in 1834.) Beside these the basket contained a letter
written by Lieutenant Owen Stanley, of H.M.S. Britomart, stating that
he had called here and had examined and copied the scraps of paper. As
night was coming on the canoes were dismissed and all the natives sent
away excepting the Orang Kaire who had first arrived. The other chief
was anxious to remain on board with him, but Mr. Watson would not allow
him to do so.
After pacing the deck, the chief made a resolute attempt to follow
his companions, tearing off the few garments which he was wearing and
endeavouring to jump into the water. Early on April 1st the Essington
was brought abreast of Louron. Not a canoe hove in sight until nine
o'clock, when two belonging to the prisoner came alongside and the
crews asked that he might be allowed to go on shore. This request
Captain Watson refused, and shortly afterwards the friendly Orang, who
again visited the ship, promised to deliver up the Englishman. At 2.30
P.M. two canoes were observed approaching the Essington, in one of
which was the captive. He was dressed as a native, and when they drew
close to the ship it was seen that he was in a most miserable
condition. He was of fair complexion and his hair, which had been
allowed to grow long, was “triced up in native custom with a comb made
of bamboo,” and being of a light yellow colour “it resembled the finest
silk.” His only garments were a sort of waistcoat without sleeves and a
blue and white dungaree girdle round his loins. He looked delicate, and
his face wore a woebegone expression, which apparently was habitual,
while his body was covered with numberless scars and sores. The sinews
of his knee-joints were very contracted, because, he told Captain
Watson, he had to sit fishing so long in one position in the hot sun so
that he was almost unable to walk. His ears had been perforated after
the custom of the natives, and in the lobe of each he wore a piece of
bamboo at least an inch in diameter.
As was to be expected, from having been fourteen years on the
island, he had almost forgotten his native language and with difficulty
could make himself intelligible. He was, however, able to give the
following account of his life there. The Stedcombe, on leaving Melville
Island, had gone to Timor Laut for live stock and had moored off
Louron. Mr. Bastell, the mate in charge, then proceeded on shore with
the crew, leaving on board the steward, a boy named John Edwards, and
himself. As Mr. Bastell and the crew did not return he (Forbes) looked
through the glass and then beheld their bodies stretched out on the
beach—the heads severed from each. As a canoe was perceived
approaching the ship, he proposed to the steward and to John Edwards
that they should arm: but the former paid no attention to him. He then
proposed that he and John Edwards should punch one of the bolts out of
the cable and liberate the ship. They were in the act of doing this
when the natives, among whom was the Orang Kaire whom Watson had
detained, boarded the Stedcombe. The unfortunate steward was killed on
the spot, and the two boys, expecting to share his fate, betook
themselves to the rigging and were only induced to descend upon
repeated promises that they would not be injured. Strange to say, the
natives kept their promises, and after plundering the ship they burnt
her. The boys were kept in the capacity of ordinary slaves until about
four years before the coming of the Essington, when Edwards died, and
since that time Forbes had been unable to move in consequence of the
stiffness in his legs. The scars were caused by the natives when he
incurred their displeasure. One of their common modes of punishment was
to take hot embers from the fire and place them on some part of his
body until it was severely burned. When asked how he was treated
generally, he replied “Trada Bergouse,” meaning very badly. Some few
natives, he said, were kind to him, among them the chief who had
produced the papers. Speaking of the chief of Louron, he remarked,
“Louron cuts me down to the ground” which was thought to imply that he
flogged him and knocked him down. Whenever a vessel hove in sight the
chief would have him bound hand and foot and keep him so, as long as
the vessel remained at the island. This explains why Lieutenant Stanley
did not see him when he called in H.M.S. Britomart. Some of the crew of
the Charles Eaton had come there and wished him to leave with them, but
permission was refused. Lastly a Chinese trader had wished to purchase
him and had offered several “gown pieces” as the price, but this offer
too was declined. When Kolff called with two Dutch men-of-war, he and
his men would have nothing to do with him, nor would they assist him to
Forbes gave accounts of many ships having been cut off by these
pirates but only two clear accounts—the one of a China junk which they
boarded, murdered and plundered the crew, and eventually burnt, and the
other a schooner manned with black men, which they plundered afterwards
liberating the men. He also said that a whaler had been cast away seven
moons ago, and that two whale-boats and one jolly-boat with only five
people in all arrived at Timor Laut. This story, however, was confused
When Captain Bremer arrived at Sydney in H.M.S. Alligator about the
same time as the Essington, he had Forbes placed in the hospital there
and wrote to the Admiralty asking for inquiries to be made about his
relatives and to inform them of his existence. In his despatch Captain
Bremer remarked that even Forbes's features seemed to have “assimilated
themselves” to those of the islanders.
The kindly chief was afterwards rewarded, as was Captain Watson, by
the Admiralty. The Orang Kaire of Louron seems to have escaped scot
free, having left the Essington as Forbes was being brought on board.
Forbes afterwards retired to Williamstown, Victoria, where he spent the
rest of his life as a fisherman, and it is said that he never quite
recovered from the effects of his harsh bondage.
The last news of the Lady Nelson was brought to Sydney some time
after her capture by a ship called the Faith, which reported that the
hull of the Lady Nelson was still to be seen with her name painted on
the stern at the island of Baba.
It was an unworthy end to a very gallant ship, but the record of the
useful work that she accomplished survives and will have its place in
every history of Australia.
H.M.S. BUFFALO: SHIP'S MUSTER, 1801 TO 1805.
No separate muster of the ship's company of the Lady Nelson can be
found among the Public Records, but during the period that she was
attached to H.M.S. Buffalo in New South Wales the names of her crew and
of the supernumeraries sailing in her were inscribed in the books of
that ship, four pages from which are here reproduced. The first three
of these give the names of the officers and seamen who composed the
complement of the Lady Nelson in 1801, 1803 and 1804. The fourth page
is an extract from the Buffalo's own muster-roll when she conveyed the
first Norfolk Island settlers to Port Dalrymple in 1805, the Government
having decided to break up their settlement. Among the passengers on
board the Buffalo were Mrs. Elizabeth Paterson the wife of the
Lieutenant-Governor, Mr. Williams, Acting Surveyor-General, and Ann
Williams, possibly a relative of his. With the Norfolk Island settlers
was William Lee, to whom this volume is dedicated, then a lad ten years
of age, who afterwards became one of the first pioneers in the Bathurst
The story of the Buffalo's arrival at Port Dalrymple is told in a
letter written to Earl Camden by Colonel Paterson from Yorktown as
“On the 4th April H.M.S. Buffalo arrived from Port Jackson by which
conveyance I received a proportion of such stores and provisions as
could be spared, 120 ewes, 2 rams, 6 cows, 2 bulls, 1 mare, and 1
horse: 50 prisoners were also sent.
“Five settlers arrived at the same time from Norfolk Island with the
Acting Surveyor-General to measure out the allotments necessary for
them. Soon after their arrival I accompanied them to different
situations as far as Supply River, which is about 10 miles from
Headquarters. After examining the ground they chose their allotments on
the banks of a run, 2 miles to the south-east of this place. Mr. Riley,
Acting Deputy-Commissary, recommended also to have the advantages of
free settlers, chose his ground also in this situation. They proceeded
to clear the ground and to cultivate. Everyone exerted themselves as
much as possible, but those who cultivated on the sides of the hills
were deceived in their choice and too much disappointed in the first
appearance of their crops, the low ground being also found subject to
temporary floods. AS THEY WERE THE FIRST SETTLERS, I have recommended
them to his Excellency, as a remuneration of their losses, to have
grants of land on the north side of the main river Tamar extending up
the river South Esk. My motive for recommending this situation is that
they cannot fail in success as it is a part of the country the colony
must look to for grain. The first twelve months being now past I have
every reason to believe the greatest of our difficulties have been
surmounted...It is not for me to presume to be acquainted with the
particular causes which rendered it necessary this colony should be
established, but if its desirable situation in the important passage of
Bass Streights was one of the objects, it appears to me necessary that
a large establishment should ever remain here while the interests of
Great Britain are to be effected in this part of the world, and I can
assure your Lordship I have seen no country yet that offers such
inducements to be retained.*
I have, etc.,
(* The remaining Norfolk Island Settlers were later on removed to
Tasmania in different ships, the Lady Nelson conveying many of them to
their new home. Historical Records of New South Wales volume 5 page