Part 2 out of 4
Sydney, which would be the means of drawing her husband and others thither,
Abaroo was instructed to take her aside, and try if she could persuade her
to comply with our wish. They wandered away together accordingly,
but it was soon seen, that Barangaroo's arguments to induce Abaroo
to rejoin their society, were more powerful than those of the latter,
to prevail upon her to come among us; for it was not without manifest
reluctance, and often repeated injunctions, that Abaroo would quit
her countrywomen; and when she had done so, she sat in the boat,
in sullen silence, evidently occupied by reflection on the scene she had
left behind, and returning inclination to her former habits of life.
Nor was a circumstance which had happened in the morning interview, perhaps,
wholly unremembered by the girl. We had hinted to Baneelon to provide
a husband for her, who should be at liberty to pass and repass
to and from Sydney, as he might choose. There was at the time, a slender
fine looking youth in company, called Imeerawanyee, about sixteen years old.
The lad, on being invited, came immediately up to her, and offered
many blandishments, which proved that he had assumed the 'toga virilis'.
But Abaroo disclaimed his advances, repeating the name of another person,
who we knew was her favourite. The young lover was not, however,
easily repulsed, but renewed his suit, on our return in the afternoon,
with such warmth of solicitation, as to cause an evident alteration
in the sentiments of the lady.
To heighten the good humour which pervaded both parties, we began to play
and romp with them. Feats of bodily strength were tried, and their
inferiority was glaring. One of our party lifted with ease two of them
from the ground, in spite of their efforts to prevent him, whereas in return,
no one of them could move him. They called him 'murree mulla'
(a large strong man). Compared with our English labourers, their muscular
power would appear very feeble and inadequate.
Before we parted, Baneelon informed us that his countrymen had lately
been plundered of fish-gigs, spears, a sword, and many other articles,
by some of our people, and expressed a wish that they should be restored,
promising, that if they were, the governor's dirk should be produced
and returned to us to-morrow, if we would meet him here.
Accordingly on the following day we rowed to the spot, carrying with us
the stolen property. We found here several natives, but not Baneelon.
We asked for him, and were told that he was gone down the harbour
with Barangaroo to fish. Although disappointed at his breach of promise,
we went on shore, and mingled without distrust among those we found,
acquainting them that we had brought with us the articles of which
they had been plundered. On hearing this account, they expressed great joy,
and Imeerawanyee darting forward, claimed the sword. It was given to him,
and he had no sooner grasped it, than he hastened to convince his mistress,
that his prowess in war, was not inferior to his skill in courtship.
Singling out a yellow gum-tree for the foe, he attacked it with great
fierceness, calling to us to look on, and accompanying his onset with all
the gestures and vociferation which they use in battle. Having conquered
his enemy, he laid aside his fighting face, and joined us with a countenance
which carried in it every mark of youth and good nature.
Whether Abaroo's coyness, and preference of another, had displeased him,
or it was owing to natural fickleness, he paid her no farther attention,
but seemed more delighted with us. He had no beard, but was highly gratified
in being combed and having his hair clipped.
All the stolen property being brought on shore, an old man came up,
and claimed one of the fish-gigs, singling it from the bundle,
and taking only his own; and this honesty, within the circle of their society,
seemed to characterize them all.
During this time, it was observed, that one of the Indians, instead of mixing
with the rest, stood aloof, in a musing posture, contemplating what passed.
When we offered to approach him, he shunned us not, and willingly shook hands
with all who chose to do so. He seemed to be between 30 and 40 years old,
was jolly, and had a thoughtful countenance, much marked by the smallpox.
He wore a string of bits of dried reed round his neck, which I asked him
to exchange for a black stock. He smiled at the proposal, but made no offer
of what I wanted; which our young friend, Imeerawanyee, observing, flew to him,
and taking off the necklace, directly fixed it about my neck. I feared
he would be enraged, but he bore it with serenity, and suffered a gentleman
present to fasten his black stock upon him, with which he appeared
to be pleased. To increase his satisfaction, some other trifle
was given to him.
Having remained here an hour we went in quest of Baneelon, agreeably
to the directions which his companions pointed out. We found him
and Barangaroo shivering over a few lighted sticks, by which they were
dressing small fish, and their canoe hauled up on the beach near them.
On first seeing the boat, they ran into the woods; but on being called by name,
they came back, and consented to our landing. We carried on shore with us
the remaining part of the fish-gigs and spears which had been stolen,
and restored them to Baneelon. Among other things, was a net full of
fishing lines and other tackle, which Barangaroo said was her property
and, immediately on receiving it, she slung it around her neck.
Baneelon inquired, with solicitude, about the state of the governor's wound,
but he made no offer of restoring the dirk; and when he was asked for it,
he pretended to know nothing of it, changing the conversation with great art,
and asking for wine, which was given to him.
At parting, we pressed him to appoint a day on which he should come to Sydney,
assuring him, that he would be well received, and kindly treated. Doubtful,
however, of being permitted to return, he evaded our request, and declared that
the governor must first come and see him, which we promised should be done.
The governor did not hesitate to execute the engagement which we had contracted
for him. But Baneelon still resisted coming among us, and matters continued
in this fluctuating state until the 8th of October, when a fire,
which they had agreed to light as a signal for us to visit them, was observed.
The eager desire by which we were stimulated to carry our point of effecting
an intercourse had appeared. Various parties accordingly set out to meet them,
provided with different articles, which we thought would prove acceptable
to them. We found assembled, Baneelon, Barangaroo, and another young woman,
and six men, all of whom received us with welcome, except the grave looking
gentleman before mentioned, who stood aloof in his former musing posture.
When they saw that we had brought hatchets, and other articles with us,
they produced spears, fish-gigs, and lines, for the purpose of barter,*
which immediately commenced, to the satisfaction of both parties.
I had brought with me an old blunted spear, which wanted repair. An Indian
immediately undertook to perform the task, and carrying it to a fire,
tore with his teeth a piece of bone from a fish-gig, which he fastened
on the spear with yellow gum, rendered flexible by heat.
[*It had long been our wish to establish a commerce of this sort. It is
a painful consideration, that every previous addition to the cabinet of the
virtuosi, from this country, had wrung a tear from the plundered Indian.]
October, 1790. Many of them now consented to be shaved by a barber
whom we had purposely brought over. As I thought he who could perform
an operation of such importance must be deemed by them an eminent personage,
I bade him ask one of them for a fine barbed spear which he held in his hand;
but all the barber's eloquence was wasted on the Indian, who plainly
gave him to understand that he meant not to part with his spear,
without receiving an equivalent. Unfortunately, his price was a hatchet,
and the only one which I had brought with me was already disposed of
to the man who had pointed my spear. In vain did I tempt him with a knife,
a handkerchief, and a hat; nothing but a hatchet seemed to be regarded.
'Bulla mogo parrabugo' (two hatchets to-morrow) I repeatedly cried; but having
probably experienced our insincerity, he rejected the proposal with disdain.
Finding him inflexible, and longing to possess the spear, I told him
at length that I would go to Sydney and fetch what he required. This seemed
to satisfy, and he accompanied me to my boat, in which I went away,
and as quickly as possible procured what was necessary to conclude the bargain.
On my return, I was surprised to see all our boats rowing towards home,
and with them a canoe, in which sat two Indians paddling. I pulled to them,
and found that Baneelon, and another Indian, were in one of the boats,
and that the whole formed a party going over to visit the governor.
I now learned, that during my absence, the governor had passed in a boat,
on his return from Rose Hill, near the place where they were standing;
and that finding he would not come to them, although they had called to him
to do so, they had at once determined to venture themselves unreservedly
among us. One of the men in the canoe was the person to whom I was to give
the hatchet I had been to fetch; and directly as he saw me,
he held up his spear, and the exchange took place, with which, and perhaps
to reward me for the trouble I had taken, he was so delighted
that he presented me with a throwing-stick 'gratis'.
Not seeing Barangaroo of the party, I asked for her, and was informed
that she had violently opposed Baneelon's departure. When she found
persuasion vain, she had recourse to tears, scolding, and threats,
stamping the ground, and tearing her hair. But Baneelon continuing determined,
she snatched up in her rage one of his fish-gigs, and dashed it with such fury
on the rocks, that it broke. To quiet her apprehensions on the score
of her husband's safety, Mr. Johnson, attended by Abaroo, agreed to remain
as a hostage until Baneelon should return.
We landed our four friends opposite the hospital, and set out for the
governor's house. On hearing of their arrival, such numbers flocked
to view them that we were apprehensive the crowd of persons would alarm them,
but they had left their fears behind, and marched on with boldness
and unconcern. When we reached the governor's house, Baneelon expressed
honest joy to see his old friend, and appeared pleased to find that he had
recovered of his wound. The governor asked for Wileemarin, and they said
he was at Broken Bay. Some bread and beef were distributed among them
but unluckily no fish was to be procured, which we were sorry for,
as a promise of it had been one of the leading temptations by which
they had been allured over. A hatchet apiece was, however, given to them,
and a couple of petticoats and some fishing tackle sent for Barangaroo,
and the other woman.
The ceremony of introduction being finished, Baneelon seemed to consider
himself quite at home, running from room to room with his companions,
and introducing them to his old friends, the domestics, in the most
familiar manner. Among these last, he particularly distinguished
the governor's orderly sergeant, whom he kissed with great affection,
and a woman who attended in the kitchen; but the gamekeeper, M'Entire*,
he continued to hold in abhorrence, and would not suffer his approach.
[*Look at the account of the governor being wounded, when his detestation
of this man burst forth.]
Nor was his importance to his countrymen less conspicuous in other respects.
He undertook to explain the use and nature of those things which were new
to them. Some of his explanations were whimsical enough. Seeing,
for instance, a pair of snuffers, he told them that they were
"Nuffer* for candle,"--which the others not comprehending, he opened
the snuffers, and holding up the fore-finger of his left hand, to represent
a candle, made the motion of snuffing it. Finding, that even this sagacious
interpretation failed, he threw down the snuffers in a rage, and reproaching
their stupidity, walked away.
[*The S is a letter which they cannot pronounce, having no sound
in their language similar to it. When bidden to pronounce sun,
they always say tun; salt, talt, and so of all words wherein it occurs.]
It was observed, that a soft gentle tone of voice, which we had taught him
to use, was forgotten, and his native vociferation returned in full force.
But the tenderness which (like Arabanoo) he had always manifested to children,
he still retained; as appeared by his behaviour to those who were presented
The first wish they expressed to return, was complied with, in order to banish
all appearance of constraint, the party who had conducted them to Sydney
returning with them. When we reached the opposite shore, we found Abaroo
and the other woman fishing in a canoe, and Mr. Johnson and Barangaroo sitting
at the fire, the latter employed in manufacturing fish-hooks. At a little
distance, on an adjoining eminence, sat an Indian, with his spear in his hand,
as if sentinel over the hostages, for the security of his countrymen's return.
During our absence, Barangaroo had never ceased whining, and reproaching
her husband. Now that he was returned, she met him with unconcern,
and seemed intent on her work only, but this state of repose did not
long continue. Baneelon, eyeing the broken fish-gig, cast at her a look
of savage fury and began to interrogate her, and it seemed more than probable
that the remaining part would be demolished about her head had we not
interposed to pacify him. Nor would we quit the place until his forgiveness
was complete, and his good humour restored. No sooner, however, did she find
her husband's rage subsided, than her hour of triumph commenced.
The alarm and trepidation she had manifested disappeared. Elated at his
condescension, and emboldened by our presence and the finery in which
we had decked her, she in turn assumed a haughty demeanour, refused to answer
his caresses, and viewed him with a reproaching eye. Although long absence
from female society had somewhat blunted our recollection, the conduct
of Barangaroo did not appear quite novel to us, nor was our surprise
very violent at finding that it succeeded in subduing Baneelon who,
when we parted, seemed anxious only to please her.
Thus ended a day, the events of which served to complete what an unhappy
accident had begun. From this time our intercourse with the natives,
though partially interrupted, was never broken off. We gradually continued,
henceforth, to gain knowledge of their customs and policy, the only knowledge
which can lead to a just estimate of national character.
The arrival of the 'Supply' from Batavia;
the State of the Colony in November, 1790.
Joy sparkled in every countenance to see our old friend the 'Supply'
(I hope no reader will be so captious as to quarrel with the phrase)
enter the harbour from Batavia on the 19th of October. We had witnessed
her departure with tears; we hailed her return with transport.
Captain Ball was rather more than six months in making this voyage,
and is the first person who ever circumnavigated the continent of New Holland.
On his passage to Batavia, he had discovered several islands, which he gave
names to and, after fighting his way against adverse elements and through
unexplored dangers, safely reached his destined port. He had well stored
his little bark with every necessary and conveniency which he judged
we should first want, leaving a cargo of rice and salt provisions
to be brought on by a Dutch snow, which he had hired and freighted for the use
of the settlement. While at Batavia, the 'Supply' had lost many of her people
by sickness, and left several others in the general hospital at that place.
As the arrival of the 'Supply' naturally leads the attention from other subjects
to the state of the colony, I shall here take a review of it by transcribing
a statement drawn from actual observation soon after, exactly as I find it
written in my journal.
Cultivation, on a public scale, has for some time past been given up here,
(Sydney) the crop of last year being so miserable, as to deter from
farther experiment, in consequence of which the government-farm is abandoned,
and the people who were fixed on it have been removed. Necessary public
buildings advance fast; an excellent storehouse of large dimensions,
built of bricks and covered with tiles, is just completed; and another planned
which will shortly be begun. Other buildings, among which I heard the governor
mention an hospital and permanent barracks for the troops, may also be
expected to arise soon. Works of this nature are more expeditiously performed
than heretofore, owing, I apprehend, to the superintendants lately arrived,
who are placed over the convicts and compel them to labour.
The first difficulties of a new country being subdued may also contribute
to this comparative facility.
Vegetables are scarce, although the summer is so far advanced, owing to
want of rain. I do not think that all the showers of the last four months
put together, would make twenty-four hours rain. Our farms, what with this
and a poor soil, are in wretched condition. My winter crop of potatoes,
which I planted in days of despair (March and April last), turned out
very badly when I dug them about two months back. Wheat returned so poorly
last harvest, that very little, besides Indian corn, has been sown this year.
The governor's wound is quite healed, and he feels no inconveniency whatever
from it. With the natives we are hand and glove. They throng the camp
every day, and sometimes by their clamour and importunity for bread and meat
(of which they now all eat greedily) are become very troublesome. God knows,
we have little enough for ourselves! Full allowance (if eight pounds of flour
and either seven pounds of beef, or four pounds of pork, served alternately,
per week, without either pease, oatmeal, spirits, butter, or cheese,
can be called so) is yet kept up; but if the Dutch snow does not arrive soon
it must be shortened, as the casks in the storehouse, I observed yesterday,
are woefully decreased.
The convicts continue to behave pretty well; three only have been hanged
since the arrival of the last fleet, in the latter end of June, all of whom
were newcomers. The number of convicts here diminishes every day;
our principal efforts being wisely made at Rose Hill, where the land
is unquestionably better than about this place. Except building, sawing
and brickmaking, nothing of consequence is now carried on here. The account
which I received a few days ago from the brickmakers of their labours,
was as follows. Wheeler (one of the master brick-makers) with two tile stools
and one brick stool, was tasked to make and burn ready for use 30000 tiles
and bricks per month. He had twenty-one hands to assist him, who performed
every thing; cut wood, dug clay, etc. This continued (during the days
of distress excepted, when they did what they could) until June last.
From June, with one brick and two tile stools he has been tasked to make
40000 bricks and tiles monthly (as many of each sort as may be), having
twenty-two men and two boys to assist him, on the same terms of procuring
materials as before. They fetch the clay of which tiles are made,
two hundred yards; that for bricks is close at hand. He says that the bricks
are such as would be called in England, moderately good, and he judges
they would have fetched about 24 shillings per thousand at Kingston-upon-Thames
(where he resided) in the year 1784. Their greatest fault is being
too brittle. The tiles he thinks not so good as those made about London.
The stuff has a rotten quality, and besides wants the advantage
of being ground, in lieu of which they tread it.
King (another master bricklayer) last year, with the assistance of sixteen men
and two boys, made 11,000 bricks weekly, with two stools. During short
allowance did what he could. Resumed his old task when put again
on full allowance and had his number of assistants augmented to twenty men
and two boys, on account of the increased distance of carrying wood
for the kilns. He worked at Hammersmith, for Mr. Scot, of that place.
He thinks the bricks made here as good as those made near London, and says that
in the year 1784, they would have sold for a guinea per thousand and to have
picked the kiln at thirty shillings.'
Such is my Sydney detail dated the 12th of November, 1790. Four days
after I went to Rose Hill, and wrote there the subjoined remarks.
November 16th. Got to Rose Hill in the evening. Next morning walked round
the whole of the cleared and cultivated land, with the Rev. Mr. Johnson,
who is the best farmer in the country. Edward Dod, one of the governor's
household, who conducts everything here in the agricultural line,
accompanied us part of the way, and afforded all the information he could.
He estimates the quantity of cleared and cultivated land at 200 acres.
Of these fifty-five are in wheat, barley, and a little oats, thirty in maize,
and the remainder is either just cleared of wood, or is occupied by buildings,
gardens, etc. Four enclosures of twenty acres each, are planned for
the reception of cattle, which may arrive in the colony, and two of these
are already fenced in. In the centre of them is to be erected a house,
for a person who will be fixed upon to take care of the cattle. All these
enclosures are supplied with water; and only a part of the trees which grew in
them being cut down, gives to them a very park-like and beautiful appearance.
Our survey commenced on the north side of the river. Dod says he expects
this year's crop of wheat and barley from the fifty-five acres to yield
full 400 bushels. Appearances hitherto hardly indicate so much. He says
he finds the beginning of May the best time to sow barley,* but that it may
continue to be sown until August. That sown in May is reaped in December;
that of August in January. He sowed his wheat, part in June and part in July.
He thinks June the best time, and says that he invariably finds that which is
deepest sown, grows strongest and best, even as deep as three inches
he has put it in, and found it to answer. The wheat sown in June is now
turning yellow; that of July is more backward. He has used only the broad-cast
husbandry, and sowed two bushels per acre. The plough has never yet been
tried here; all the ground is hoed, and (as Dod confesses) very incompetently
turned up. Each convict labourer was obliged to hoe sixteen rods a day,
so that in some places the earth was but just scratched over. The ground
was left open for some months, to receive benefit from the sun and air;
and on that newly cleared the trees were burnt, and the ashes dug in.
I do not find that a succession of crops has yet been attempted;
surely it would help to meliorate and improve the soil. Dod recommends
strongly the culture of potatoes, on a large scale, and says that were they
planted even as late as January they would answer, but this I doubt.
He is more than ever of opinion that without a large supply of cattle nothing
can be done. They have not at this time either horse, cow, or sheep here.
I asked him how the stock they had was coming on. The fowls he said
multiplied exceedingly, but the hogs neither thrived or increased in number,
for want of food. He pointed out to us his best wheat, which looks tolerable,
and may perhaps yield 13 or 14 bushels per acre**. Next came the oats
which are in ear, though not more than six inches high: they will not return
as much seed as was sown. The barley, except one patch in a corner of a field,
little better than the oats. Crossed the river and inspected the south side.
Found the little patch of wheat at the bottom of the crescent very bad.
Proceeded and examined the large field on the ascent to the westward:
here are about twenty-five acres of wheat, which from its appearance
we guessed would produce perhaps seven bushels an acre. The next patch
to this is in maize, which looks not unpromising; some of the stems are stout,
and beginning to throw out large broad leaves, the surest sign of vigour.
The view from the top of the wheat field takes in, except a narrow slip,
the whole of the cleared land at Rose Hill. From not having before seen
an opening of such extent for the last three years, this struck us as grand
and capacious. The beautiful diversity of the ground (gentle hill and dale)
would certainly be reckoned pretty in any country. Continued our walk,
and crossed the old field, which is intended to form part of the main street
of the projected town. The wheat in this field is rather better, but not much,
than in the large field before mentioned. The next field is maize,
inferior to what we have seen, but not despicable. An acre of maize,
at the bottom of the marine garden, is equal in luxuriancy of promise to any
I ever saw in any country.
[*The best crop of barley ever produced in New South Wales, was sown by
a private individual, in February 1790, and reaped in the following October.]
[**As all the trees on our cleared ground were cut down, and not grubbed up,
the roots and stumps remain, on which account a tenth part of surface
in every acre must be deducted. This is slovenly husbandry; but in a country
where immediate subsistence is wanted, it is perhaps necessary. None of these
stumps, when I left Port Jackson, showed any symptoms of decay, though some
of the trees had been cut down four years. To the different qualities
of the wood of Norfolk Island and New South Wales, perhaps the difference
of soil may in some measure be traced. That of Norfolk Island is light
and porous: it rots and turns into mould in two years. Besides its hardness
that of Port Jackson abounds with red corrosive gum, which contributes
its share of mischief.]
The main street of the new town is already begun. It is to be a mile long,
and of such breadth as will make Pall Mall and Portland Place "hide their
diminished heads." It contains at present thirty-two houses completed,
of twenty-four feet by twelve each, on a ground floor only, built of wattles
plastered with clay, and thatched. Each house is divided into two rooms,
in one of which is a fire place and a brick chimney. These houses are designed
for men only; and ten is the number of inhabitants allotted to each;
but some of them now contain twelve or fourteen, for want of better
accommodation. More are building. In a cross street stand nine houses
for unmarried women; and exclusive of all these are several small huts
where convict families of good character are allowed to reside.
Of public buildings, besides the old wooden barrack and store, there is
a house of lath and plaster, forty-four feet long by sixteen wide,
for the governor, on a ground floor only, with excellent out-houses
and appurtenances attached to it. A new brick store house, covered with tiles,
100 feet long by twenty-four wide, is nearly completed, and a house
for the store-keeper. The first stone of a barrack, 100 feet long
by twenty-four wide, to which are intended to be added wings for the officers,
was laid to-day. The situation of the barrack is judicious, being close
to the store-house, and within a hundred and fifty yards of the wharf,
where all boats from Sydney unload. To what I have already enumerated,
must be added an excellent barn, a granary, an inclosed yard to rear stock in,
a commodious blacksmith's shop, and a most wretched hospital, totally destitute
of every conveniency. Luckily for the gentleman who superintends
this hospital, and still more luckily for those who are doomed in case
of sickness to enter it, the air of Rose Hill has hitherto been
generally healthy. A tendency to produce slight inflammatory disorders,
from the rapid changes* of the temperature of the air, is most to be dreaded.
[*In the close of the year 1788, when this settlement was established,
the thermometer has been known to stand at 50 degrees a little before sunrise,
and between one and two o' clock in the afternoon at above 100 degrees.]
'The hours of labour for the convicts are the same here as at Sydney.
On Saturdays after ten o'clock in the morning they are allowed to work
in their own gardens. These gardens are at present, from the long drought
and other causes, in a most deplorable state. Potatoes, I think,
thrive better than any other vegetable in them. For the public conveniency
a baker is established here in a good bakehouse, who exchanges with every
person bread for flour, on stipulated terms; but no compulsion exists
for any one to take his bread; it is left entirely to every body's own option
to consume his flour as he pleases. Divine service is performed here,
morning and afternoon, one Sunday in every month, when all the convicts
are obliged to attend church, under penalty of having a part of their allowance
of provisions stopped, which is done by the chaplain, who is a
justice of the peace.
'For the punishment of offenders, where a criminal court is not judged
necessary, two or more justices, occasionally assemble, and order
the infliction of slight corporal punishment, or short confinement
in a strong room built for this purpose. The military present here consists
of two subalterns, two sergeants, three corporals, a drummer, and twenty-one
privates. These have been occasionally augmented and reduced, as circumstances
have been thought to render it necessary.
Brick-kilns are now erected here, and bricks manufactured by a convict
of the name of Becket, who came out in the last fleet, and has fifty-two people
to work under him. He makes 25,000 bricks weekly. He says that they are
very good, and would sell at Birmingham, where he worked about eighteen months
ago, at more than 30 shillings per thousand.
Nothing farther of public nature remaining to examine, I next visited
a humble adventurer, who is trying his fortune here. James Ruse, convict,
was cast for seven years at Bodmin assizes, in August 1782. He lay five years
in prison and on board the 'Dunkirk' hulk at Plymouth, and then was sent
to this country. When his term of punishment expired, in August 1789,
he claimed his freedom, and was permitted by the governor, on promising
to settle in the country, to take in December following, an uncleaned piece
of ground, with an assurance that if he would cultivate it, it should not
be taken from him. Some assistance was given him, to fell the timber,
and he accordingly began. His present account to me was as follows.
I was bred a husbandman, near Launcester in Cornwall.
I cleared my land as well as I could, with the help
afforded me. The exact limit of what ground I am to have,
I do not yet know; but a certain direction has been
pointed out to me, in which I may proceed as fast as I
can cultivate. I have now an acre and a half in bearded
wheat, half an acre in maize, and a small kitchen garden.
On my wheat land I sowed three bushels of seed, the
produce of this country, broad cast. I expect to reap
about twelve or thirteen bushels. I know nothing of
the cultivation of maize, and cannot therefore guess
so well at what I am likely to gather. I sowed part
of my wheat in May, and part in June. That sown in May
has thrived best. My maize I planted in the latter end
of August, and the beginning of September. My land I
prepared thus: having burnt the fallen timber off the
ground, I dug in the ashes, and then hoed it up, never
doing more than eight, or perhaps nine, rods in a day,
by which means, it was not like the government farm,
just scratched over, but properly done. Then I
clod-moulded it, and dug in the grass and weeds. This
I think almost equal to ploughing. I then let it lie
as long as I could, exposed to air and sun; and just
before I sowed my seed, turned it all up afresh. When
I shall have reaped my crop, I purpose to hoe it again,
and harrow it fine, and then sow it with turnip-seed,
which will mellow and prepare it for next year. My
straw, I mean to bury in pits, and throw in with it
every thing which I think will rot and turn to manure.
I have no person to help me, at present, but my wife,
whom I married in this country; she is industrious.
The governor, for some time, gave me the help of a
convict man, but he is taken away. Both my wife and
myself receive our provisions regularly at the store,
like all other people. My opinion of the soil of my
farm, is, that it is middling, neither good or bad.
I will be bound to make it do with the aid of manure,
but without cattle it will fail. The greatest check
upon me is, the dishonesty of the convicts who, in
spite of all my vigilance, rob me almost every night.
The annexed return will show the number of persons of all descriptions
at Rose Hill, at this period. On the morning of the 17th, I went down
Here terminates the transcription of my diary. It were vain to suppose,
that it can prove either agreeable or interesting to a majority of readers but
as this work is intended not only for amusement, but information, I considered
it right to present this detail unaltered, either in its style or arrangement.
A return of the number of persons employed at Rose Hill, November 16th, 1790.
How Employed | Troops | Civil dept | Troops | Convicts |
| | |Wives | Children| Men | Women | Children|
Master Bricklayer 1
Master Brickmaker 1
Assistants to the
provision store 4
Assistants to the
Officers' servants 6
Making Clothing 50
Total number of
persons 552| 29 | 6 | 1 | 3 | 450 | 50 | 13 |
[*Of these labourers, 16 are sawyers. The rest are variously employed
in clearing fresh land; in dragging brick and timber carts;
and a great number in making a road of a mile long, through the main street,
to the governor's house.]
Farther Transactions of the Colony in November, 1790.
During the intervals of duty, our greatest source of entertainment now lay in
cultivating the acquaintance of our new friends, the natives. Ever liberal
of communication, no difficulty but of understanding each other subsisted
between us. Inexplicable contradictions arose to bewilder our researches
which no ingenuity could unravel and no credulity reconcile.
Baneelon, from being accustomed to our manners, and understanding a little
English, was the person through whom we wished to prosecute inquiry, but he had
lately become a man of so much dignity and consequence, that it was not always
easy to obtain his company. Clothes had been given to him at various times,
but he did not always condescend to wear them. One day he would appear
in them, and the next day he was to be seen carrying them in a net slung
around his neck. Farther to please him, a brick house of twelve feet square
was built for his use, and for that of such of his countrymen as might choose
to reside in it, on a point of land fixed upon by himself. A shield,
double cased with tin, to ward off the spears of his enemies, was also
presented to him, by the governor.
Elated by these marks of favour, and sensible that his importance with
his countrymen arose in proportion to our patronage of him, he warmly attached
himself to our society. But the gratitude of a savage is ever a precarious
tenure. That of Baneelon was fated to suffer suspension, and had well nigh
been obliterated by the following singular circumstance.
One day the natives were observed to assemble in more than an ordinary number
at their house on the point, and to be full of bustle and agitation,
repeatedly calling on the name of Baneelon, and that of 'deein' (a woman).
Between twelve and one o'clock Baneelon, unattended, came to the governor
at his house, and told him that he was going to put to death a woman
immediately, whom he had brought from Botany Bay. Having communicated
his intention, he was preparing to go away, seeming not to wish that
the governor should be present at the performance of the ceremony.
But His Excellency was so struck with the fierce gestures, and wild demeanour
of the other, who held in his hand one of our hatchets and frequently tried
the sharpness of it, that he determined to accompany him, taking with him
Mr. Collins and his orderly sergeant. On the road, Baneelon continued
to talk wildly and incoherently of what he would do, and manifested
such extravagant marks of fury and revenge, that his hatchet was taken away
from him, and a walking-stick substituted for it.
When they reached the house, they found several natives, of both sexes
lying promiscuously before the fire, and among them a young woman, not more
than sixteen years old, who at sight of Baneelon, started, and raised
herself half up. He no sooner saw her than, snatching a sword of the country,
he ran at her, and gave her two severe wounds on the head and one on
the shoulder, before interference in behalf of the poor wretch could be made.
Our people now rushed in and seized him; but the other Indians continued
quiet spectators of what was passing, either awed by Baneelon's superiority
or deeming it a common case, unworthy of notice and interposition.
In vain did the governor by turns soothe and threaten him. In vain
did the sergeant point his musquet at him. He seemed dead to every passion
but revenge; forgot his affection to his old friends and, instead of complying
with the request they made, furiously brandished his sword at the governor,
and called aloud for his hatchet to dispatch the unhappy victim of his
barbarity. Matters now wore a serious aspect. The other Indians appeared
under the control of Baneelon and had begun to arm and prepare their spears,
as if determined to support him in his violence.
Farther delay might have been attended with danger. The 'Supply' was therefore
immediately hailed, and an armed boat ordered to be sent on shore.
Luckily, those on board the ship had already observed the commotion
and a boat was ready, into which captain Ball, with several of his people
stepped, armed with musquets, and put off. It was reasonable to believe
that so powerful a reinforcement would restore tranquillity, but Baneelon
stood unintimidated at disparity of numbers and boldly demanded his prisoner,
whose life, he told the governor, he was determined to sacrifice,
and afterwards to cut off her head. Everyone was eager to know what could be
the cause of such inveterate inhumanity. Undaunted, he replied that her father
was his enemy, from whom he had received the wound in his forehead
beforementioned; and that when he was down in battle, and under the lance
of his antagonist, this woman had contributed to assail him. "She is now,"
added he, "my property: I have ravished her by force from her tribe:
and I will part with her to no person whatever, until my vengeance
shall be glutted."
Farther remonstrance would have been wasted. His Excellency therefore ordered
the woman to be taken to the hospital in order that her wounds might
be dressed. While this was doing, one of the natives, a young man named
Boladeree, came up and supplicated to be taken into the boat also, saying that
he was her husband, which she confirmed and begged that he might be admitted.
He was a fine well grown lad, of nineteen or twenty years old, and was one of
the persons who had been in the house in the scene just described,
which he had in no wise endeavoured to prevent, or to afford assistance
to the poor creature who had a right to his protection.
All our people now quitted the place, leaving the exasperated Baneelon
and his associates to meditate farther schemes of vengeance. Before
they parted he gave them, however, to understand that he would follow
the object of his resentment to the hospital, and kill her there, a threat
which the governor assured him if he offered to carry into execution
he should be immediately shot. Even this menace he treated with disdain.
To place the refugees in security, a sentinel was ordered to take post
at the door of the house, in which they were lodged. Nevertheless
they attempted to get away in the night, either from fear that we were not
able to protect them, or some apprehension of being restrained from future
liberty. When questioned where they proposed to find shelter, they said
they would go to the Cameragal tribe, with whom they should be safe.
On the following morning, Imeerawanyee* joined them, and expressed strong fears
of Baneelon's resentment. Soon after a party of natives, known to consist of
Baneelon's chosen friends, with a man of the name of Bigon, at their head,
boldly entered the hospital garden, and tried to carry off all three by force.
They were driven back and threatened, to which their leader only replied
by contemptuous insolence.
[*This good-tempered lively lad, was become a great favourite with us,
and almost constantly lived at the governor's house. He had clothes made up
for him, and to amuse his mind, he was taught to wait at table.
One day a lady, Mrs. McArthur, wife of an officer of the garrison, dined there,
as did Nanbaree. This latter, anxious that his countryman should appear
to advantage in his new office, gave him many instructions, strictly charging
him, among other things, to take away the lady's plate, whenever she should
cross her knife and fork, and to give her a clean one. This Imeerawanyee
executed, not only to Mrs. McArthur, but to several of the other guests.
At last Nanbaree crossed his knife and fork with great gravity, casting
a glance at the other, who looked for a moment with cool indifference
at what he had done, and then turned his head another way. Stung at this
supercilious treatment, he called in rage, to know why he was not attended to,
as well as the rest of the company. But Imeerawanyee only laughed; nor could
all the anger and reproaches of the other prevail upon him to do that
for one of his countrymen, which he cheerfully continued to perform
to every other person.]
Baneelon finding he could not succeed, withdrew himself for two days.
At length he made his appearance, attended only by his wife. Unmindful
of what had so recently happened, he marched singly up to the governor's house,
and on being refused admittance, though unarmed, attempted to force
the sentinel. The soldier spared him, but the guard was instantly sent for,
and drawn up in front of the house; not that their co-operation was necessary,
but that their appearance might terrify. His ardour now cooled, and he seemed
willing, by submission, to atone for his misconduct. His intrepid disregard
of personal risk, nay of life, could not however, but gain admiration;
though it led us to predict, that this Baneelon, whom imagination had
fondly pictured, like a second Omai, the gaze of a court and the scrutiny
of the curious, would perish untimely, the victim of his own temerity.
To encourage his present disposition of mind, and to try if feelings
of compassion towards an enemy, could be exerted by an Indian warrior,
the governor ordered him to be taken to the hospital, that he might see
the victim of his ferocity. He complied in sullen silence. When about
to enter the room in which she lay, he appeared to have a momentary struggle
with himself, which ended his resentment. He spoke to her with kindness,
and professed sorrow for what he had done, and promised her future protection.
Barangaroo, who had accompanied him, now took the alarm: and as in shunning
one extreme we are ever likely to rush into another, she thought him perhaps
too courteous and tender. Accordingly she began to revile them both
with great bitterness, threw stones at the girl and attempted to beat her
with a club.
Here terminated this curious history, which I leave to the reader's
speculation. Whether human sacrifices of prisoners be common among them
is a point which all our future inquiry never completely determined.
It is certain that no second instance of this sort was ever witnessed by us.
Transactions of the Colony in Part of December, 1790.
On the 9th of the month, a sergeant of marines, with three convicts,
among whom was McEntire, the governor's gamekeeper (the person of whom
Baneelon had, on former occasions, shown so much dread and hatred) went out
on a shooting party. Having passed the north arm of Botany Bay,
they proceeded to a hut formed of boughs, which had been lately erected
on this peninsula, for the accommodation of sportsmen who wished to continue
by night in the woods; for, as the kangaroos in the day-time, chiefly keep
in the cover, it is customary on these parties to sleep until near sunset,
and watch for the game during the night, and in the early part of the morning.
Accordingly, having lighted a fire, they lay down, without distrust
About one o'clock, the sergeant was awakened by a rustling noise in the bushes
near him, and supposing it to proceed from a kangaroo, called to his comrades,
who instantly jumped up. On looking about more narrowly, they saw two natives
with spears in their hands, creeping towards them, and three others a little
farther behind. As this naturally created alarm, McEntire said,
"don't be afraid, I know them," and immediately laying down his gun,
stepped forward, and spoke to them in their own language. The Indians,
finding they were discovered, kept slowly retreating, and McEntire
accompanied them about a hundred yards, talking familiarly all the while.
One of them now jumped on a fallen tree and, without giving the least warning
of his intention, launched his spear at McEntire and lodged it in his
left side. The person who committed this wanton act was described as
a young man with a speck or blemish on his left eye That he had been lately
among us was evident from his being newly shaved.
The wounded man immediately drew back and, joining his party, cried,
"I am a dead man". While one broke off the end of the spear, the other two
set out with their guns in pursuit of the natives; but their swiftness of foot
soon convinced our people of the impossibility of reaching them. It was now
determined to attempt to carry McEntire home, as his death was apprehended
to be near, and he expressed a longing desire not to be left to expire
in the woods. Being an uncommonly robust muscular man, notwithstanding
a great effusion of blood, he was able, with the assistance of his comrades,
to creep slowly along, and reached Sydney about two o'clock the next morning.
On the wound being examined by the surgeons, it was pronounced mortal.
The poor wretch now began to utter the most dreadful exclamations,
and to accuse himself of the commission of crimes of the deepest dye,
accompanied with such expressions of his despair of God's mercy,
as are too terrible to repeat.
In the course of the day, Colbee, and several more natives came in,
and were taken to the bed where the wounded man lay. Their behaviour
indicated that they had already heard of the accident, as they repeated twice
or thrice the name of the murderer Pimelwi, saying that he lived at Botany Bay.
To gain knowledge of their treatment of similar wounds, one of the surgeons
made signs of extracting the spear, but this they violently opposed,
and said, if it were done, death would instantly follow.
On the 12th, the extraction of the spear was, however, judged practicable,
and was accordingly performed. That part of it which had penetrated the body
measured seven inches and a half long, having on it a wooden barb,
and several smaller ones of stone, fastened on with yellow gum, most of which,
owing to the force necessary in extraction, were torn off and lodged
in the patient. The spear had passed between two ribs, and had wounded
the left lobe of the lungs. He lingered* until the 20th of January, and then
expired. On opening the corpse, it was found that the left lung had perished
from suppuration, its remains adhering to the ribs. Some pieces of stone,
which had dropped from the spear were seen, but no barb of wood.
[*From the aversion uniformly shown by all the natives to this unhappy man,
he had long been suspected by us of having in his excursions, shot and injured
them. To gain information on this head from him, the moment of contrition
was seized. On being questioned with great seriousness, he, however,
declared that he had never fired but once on a native, and then had not killed,
but severely wounded him and this in his own defence. Notwithstanding
this death-bed confession, most people doubted the truth of the relation,
from his general character and other circumstances.]
The governor was at Rose-hill when this accident happened. On the day after
he returned to Sydney, the following order was issued:
Several tribes of the natives still continuing to throw
spears at any man they meet unarmed, by which several
have been killed, or dangerously wounded, the governor,
in order to deter the natives from such practices in
future, has ordered out a party to search for the man
who wounded the convict McEntire, in so dangerous a
manner on Friday last, though no offence was offered
on his part, in order to make a signal example of that
tribe. At the same time, the governor strictly forbids,
under penalty of the severest punishment, any soldier
or other person, not expressly ordered out for that
purpose, ever to fire on any native except in his own
defence; or to molest him in any shape, or to bring away
any spears, or other articles which they may find
belonging to those people. The natives will be made
severe examples of whenever any man is wounded by them;
but this will be done in a manner which may satisfy them
that it is a punishment inflicted on them for their own
bad conduct, and of which they cannot be made sensible
if they are not treated with kindness while they continue
peaceable and quiet.
A party, consisting of two captains, two subalterns,
and forty privates, with a proper number of non-commissioned
officers from the garrison, with three days provisions,
etc. are to be ready to march to-morrow morning at day-light,
in order to bring in six of those natives who reside near
the head of Botany Bay; or, if that should be found
impracticable, to put that number to death.
Just previous to this order being issued, the author of this publication
received a direction to attend the governor at head quarters immediately.
I went, and his excellency informed me that he had pitched upon me to execute
the foregoing command. He added that the two subalterns who were to be drawn
from the marine corps, should be chosen by myself; that the sergeant
and the two convicts who were with McEntire, should attend as guides;
that we were to proceed to the peninsula at the head of Botany Bay; and thence,
or from any part of the north arm of the bay, we were, if practicable,
to bring away two natives as prisoners; and to put to death ten; that we were
to destroy all weapons of war but nothing else; that no hut was to be burned;
that all women and children were to remain uninjured, not being comprehended
within the scope of the order; that our operations were to be directed
either by surprise or open force; that after we had made any prisoners,
all communication, even with those natives with whom we were in habits
of intercourse, was to be avoided, and none of them suffered to approach us.
That we were to cut off and bring in the heads of the slain; for which purpose
hatchets and bags would be furnished. And finally, that no signal of amity
or invitation should be used in order to allure them to us; or if made
on their part, to be answered by us: for that such conduct would be not only
present treachery, but give them reason to distrust every future mark of peace
and friendship on our part.
His excellency was now pleased to enter into the reasons which had induced him
to adopt measures of such severity. He said that since our arrival
in the country, no less than seventeen of our people had either been killed
or wounded by the natives; that he looked upon the tribe known by the name of
Bideegal, living on the beforementioned peninsula, and chiefly on the north arm
of Botany Bay, to be the principal aggressors; that against this tribe
he was determined to strike a decisive blow, in order, at once to convince them
of our superiority and to infuse an universal terror, which might operate
to prevent farther mischief. That his observations on the natives had led him
to conclude that although they did not fear death individually, yet that
the relative weight and importance of the different tribes appeared to be
the highest object of their estimation, as each tribe deemed its strength
and security to consist wholly in its powers, aggregately considered.
That his motive for having so long delayed to use violent measures
had arisen from believing, that in every former instance of hostility,
they had acted either from having received injury, or from misapprehension.
"To the latter of these causes," added he, "I attribute my own wound,
but in this business of McEntire, I am fully persuaded that they were
unprovoked, and the barbarity of their conduct admits of no extenuation;
for I have separately examined the sergeant, of whose veracity I have
the highest opinion, and the two convicts; and their story is short,
simple, and alike. I have in vain tried to stimulate Baneelon, Colbee,
and the other natives who live among us, to bring in the aggressor.
Yesterday, indeed, they promised me to do it, and actually went away
as if bent on such a design; but Baneelon, instead of directing his steps
to Botany Bay, crossed the harbour in his canoe, in order to draw the foreteeth
of some of the young men; and Colbee, in the room of fulfilling his engagement,
is loitering about the lookout house. Nay, so far from wishing even
to describe faithfully the person of the man who has thrown the spear,
they pretended that he has a distorted foot, which is a palpable falsehood.
So that we have our efforts only to depend upon; and I am resolved to execute
the prisoners who may be brought in, in the most public and exemplary manner,
in the presence of as many of their countrymen as can be collected,
after having explained the cause of such a punishment; and my fixed
determination to repeat it, whenever any future breach of good conduct
on their side shall render it necessary."
Here the governor stopped, and addressing himself to me, said if I could
propose any alteration of the orders under which I was to act, he would
patiently listen to me. Encouraged by this condescension, I begged leave
to offer for consideration whether, instead of destroying ten persons,
the capture of six would not better answer all the purposes for which
the expedition was to be undertaken; as out of this number, a part might
be set aside for retaliation; and the rest, at a proper time, liberated,
after having seen the fate of their comrades and being made sensible
of the cause of their own detention.
This scheme, his Excellency was pleased instantly to adopt, adding,
"if six cannot be taken, let this number be shot. Should you, however,
find it practicable to take so many, I will hang two and send the rest
to Norfolk Island for a certain period, which will cause their countrymen
to believe that we have dispatched them secretly." The order was accordingly
altered to its present form; and I took my leave to prepare, after being again
cautioned not to deceive by holding signals of amity.
At four o'clock on the morning of the 14th we marched The detachment
consisted, besides myself, of Captain Hill of the New South Wales Corps,
Lieutenants Poulder and Dawes, of the marines, Mr. Worgan and Mr. Lowes,
surgeons, three sergeants, three corporals, and forty private soldiers,
provided with three days provisions, ropes to bind our prisoners with,
and hatchets and bags to cut off and contain the heads of the slain.
By nine o'clock this terrific procession reached the peninsula at the head
of Botany Bay, but after having walked in various directions until four o'clock
in the afternoon, without seeing a native, we halted for the night.
At daylight on the following morning our search recommenced. We marched
in an easterly direction, intending to fall in with the south-west arm
of the bay, about three miles above its mouth, which we determined to scour,
and thence passing along the head of the peninsula, to proceed to
the north arm, and complete our Search. However, by a mistake of our guides,
at half past seven o'clock instead of finding ourselves on the south-west arm,
we came suddenly upon the sea shore, at the head of the peninsula,
about midway between the two arms. Here we saw five Indians on the beach,
whom we attempted to surround; but they penetrated our design, and before
we could get near enough to effect our purpose, ran off. We pursued;
but a contest between heavy-armed Europeans, fettered by ligatures,
and naked unencumbered Indians, was too unequal to last long. They darted
into the wood and disappeared.
The alarm being given, we were sensible that no hope of success remained,
but by a rapid movement to a little village (if five huts deserve the name)
which we knew stood on the nearest point of the north arm, where possibly
someone unapprised of our approach, might yet be found. Thither we hastened;
but before we could reach it three canoes, filled with Indians,
were seen paddling over in the utmost hurry and trepidation, to the opposite
shore, where universal alarm prevailed. All we could now do was to search
the huts for weapons of war: but we found nothing except fish gigs,
which we left untouched.
On our return to our baggage (which we had left behind under a small guard
near the place where the pursuit had begun) we observed a native fishing
in shallow water not higher than his waist, at the distance of 300 yards
from the land. In such a situation it would not have been easily practicable
either to shoot, or seize him. I therefore determined to pass without
noticing him, as he seemed either from consciousness of his own security,
or from some other cause, quite unintimidated at our appearance. At length
he called to several of us by name, and in spite of our formidable array,
drew nearer with unbounded confidence. Surprised at his behaviour I ordered
a halt, that he might overtake us, fully resolved, whoever he might be,
that he should be suffered to come to us and leave us uninjured. Presently
we found it to be our friend Colbee; and he joined us at once with his
wonted familiarity and unconcern. We asked him where Pimelwi was, and found
that he perfectly comprehended the nature of our errand, for he described him
to have fled to the southward; and to be at such a distance, as had we known
the account to be true, would have prevented our going in search of him,
without a fresh supply of provisions.
When we arrived at our baggage, Colbee sat down, ate, drank, and slept with us,
from ten o'clock until past noon. We asked him several questions about Sydney,
which he had left on the preceding day*; and he told us he had been present
at an operation performed at the hospital, where Mr. White had cut off
a woman's leg. The agony and cries of the poor sufferer he depicted
in a most lively manner.
[*He had it seems visited the governor about noon, after having gained
information from Nanbaree of our march, and for what purpose it was undertaken.
This he did not scruple to tell to the governor; proclaiming at the same time,
a resolution of going to Botany Bay, which his excellency endeavoured
to dissuade him from by every argument he could devise: a blanket, a hatchet,
a jacket, or aught else he would ask for, was offered to him in vain,
if he would not go. At last it was determined to try to eat him down,
by setting before him his favourite food, of which it was hoped he would feed
so voraciously, as to render him incapable of executing his intention.
A large dish of fish was accordingly set before him. But after devouring
a light horseman, and at least five pounds of beef and bread, even until
the sight of food became disgusting to him, he set out on his journey
with such lightness and gaiety, as plainly shewed him to be a stranger
to the horrors of indigestion.]
At one o'clock we renewed our march, and at three halted near a freshwater
swamp, where we resolved to remain until morning: that is, after a day
of severe fatigue, to pass a night of restless inquietude, when weariness
is denied repose by swarms of mosquitoes and sandflies, which in the summer
months bite and sting the traveller, without measure or intermission.
Next morning we bent our steps homeward; and, after wading breast-high
through two arms of the sea, as broad as the Thames at Westminster, were glad
to find ourselves at Sydney, between one and two o'clock in the afternoon.
The few remarks which I was able to make on the country through which we
had passed, were such as will not tempt adventurers to visit it on the score
of pleasure or advantage. The soil of every part of the peninsula,
which we had traversed, is shallow and sandy, and its productions meagre
and wretched. When forced to quit the sand, we were condemned to drag through
morasses, or to clamber over rocks, unrefreshed by streams, and unmarked
by diversity. Of the soil I brought away several specimens.
Our first expedition having so totally failed, the governor resolved to try
the fate of a second; and the 'painful pre-eminence' again devolved on me.
The orders under which I was commanded to act differing in no respect
from the last, I resolved to try once more to surprise the village
beforementioned. And in order to deceive the natives, and prevent them
from again frustrating our design by promulgating it, we feigned that
our preparations were directed against Broken Bay; and that the man who had
wounded the governor was the object of punishment. It was now also determined,
being full moon, that our operations should be carried on in the night,
both for the sake of secrecy, and for avoiding the extreme heat of the day.
A little before sun-set on the evening of the 22nd, we marched.
Lieutenant Abbot, and ensign Prentice, of the New South Wales corps,
were the two officers under my command, and with three sergeants,
three corporals, and thirty privates, completed the detachment.
We proceeded directly to the fords of the north arm of Botany Bay,
which we had crossed in our last expedition, on the banks of which we were
compelled to wait until a quarter past two in the morning, for the ebb
of the tide. As these passing-places consist only of narrow slips of ground,
on each side of which are dangerous holes; and as fording rivers in the night
is at all times an unpleasant task, I determined before we entered the water,
to disburthen the men as much as possible; that in case of stepping wrong
every one might be as ready, as circumstances would admit, to recover himself.
The firelock and cartouche-box were all that we carried, the latter tied fast
on the top of the head, to prevent it from being wetted. The knapsacks,
etc. I left in charge of a sergeant and six men, who from their low stature
and other causes, were most likely to impede our march, the success of which
I knew hinged on our ability, by a rapid movement, to surprise the village
The two rivers were crossed without any material accident: and in pursuit
of my resolution, I ordered the guides to conduct us by the nearest route,
without heeding difficulty, or impediment of road. Having continued to
push along the river-bank very briskly for three quarters of an hour,
we were suddenly stopped by a creek, about sixty yards wide, which extended
to our right, and appeared dry from the tide being out: I asked if it could
be passed, or whether it would be better to wheel round the head of it.
Our guides answered that it was bad to cross, but might be got over,
which would save us more than a quarter of a mile. Knowing the value of time,
I directly bade them to push through, and every one began to follow as well
as he could. They who were foremost had not, however, got above half over
when the difficulty of progress was sensibly experienced. We were immersed,
nearly to the waist in mud, so thick and tenacious, that it was not without
the most vigorous exertion of every muscle of the body, that the legs
could be disengaged. When we had reached the middle, our distress became
not only more pressing, but serious, and each succeeding step,
buried us deeper. At length a sergeant of grenadiers stuck fast, and declared
himself incapable of moving either forward or backward; and just after,
Ensign Prentice and I felt ourselves in a similar predicament, close together.
'I find it impossible to move; I am sinking;' resounded on every side.
What to do I knew not: every moment brought increase of perplexity,
and augmented danger, as those who could not proceed kept gradually subsiding.
From our misfortunes, however, those in the rear profited. Warned by what
they saw and heard, they inclined to the right towards the head of the creek,
and thereby contrived to pass over.
Our distress would have terminated fatally, had not a soldier cried out
to those on shore to cut boughs of trees*, and throw them to us--a lucky
thought, which certainly saved many of us from perishing miserably; and even
with this assistance, had we been burdened by our knapsacks, we could not have
emerged; for it employed us near half an hour to disentangle some of
our number. The sergeant of grenadiers in particular, was sunk to his
breast-bone, and so firmly fixed in that the efforts of many men were required
to extricate him, which was effected in the moment after I had ordered one of
the ropes, destined to bind the captive Indians, to be fastened under his arms.
[*I had often read of this contrivance to facilitate the passage of a morass.
But I confess, that in my confusion I had entirely forgotten it, and probably
should have continued to do so until too late to be of use.]
Having congratulated each other on our escape from this 'Serbonian Bog,'
and wiped our arms (half of which were rendered unserviceable by the mud)
we once more pushed forward to our object, within a few hundred yards of which
we found ourselves about half an hour before sunrise. Here I formed
the detachment into three divisions, and having enjoined the most perfect
silence, in order, if possible, to deceive Indian vigilance, each division
was directed to take a different route, so as to meet at the village
at the same moment.
We rushed rapidly on, and nothing could succeed more exactly than the arrival
of the several detachments. To our astonishment, however, we found
not a single native at the huts; nor was a canoe to be seen on any part
of the bay. I was at first inclined to attribute this to our arriving
half an hour too late, from the numberless impediments we had encountered.
But on closer examination, there appeared room to believe, that many days
had elapsed since an Indian had been on the spot, as no mark of fresh fires,
or fish bones, was to be found.
Disappointed and fatigued, we would willingly have profited by the advantage
of being near water, and have halted to refresh. But on consultation,
it was found, that unless we reached in an hour the rivers we had so lately
passed, it would be impossible, on account of the tide, to cross to our
baggage, in which case we should be without food until evening. We therefore
pushed back, and by dint of alternately running and walking, arrived at
the fords, time enough to pass with ease and safety. So excessive, however,
had been our efforts, and so laborious our progress, that several of the
soldiers, in the course of the last two miles, gave up, and confessed
themselves unable to proceed farther. All that I could do for these
poor fellows, was to order their comrades to carry their muskets, and to leave
with them a small party of those men who were least exhausted, to assist them
and hurry them on. In three quarters of an hour after we had crossed
the water, they arrived at it, just time enough to effect a passage.
The necessity of repose, joined to the succeeding heat of the day,
induced us to prolong our halt until four o'clock in the afternoon,
when we recommenced our operations on the opposite side of the north arm
to that we had acted upon in the morning. Our march ended at sunset,
without our seeing a single native. We had passed through the country
which the discoverers of Botany Bay extol as 'some of the finest meadows
in the world*.' These meadows, instead of grass, are covered with high coarse
rushes, growing in a rotten spongy bog, into which we were plunged knee-deep
at every step.
[*The words which are quoted may be found in Mr. Cook's first voyage,
and form part of his description of Botany Bay. It has often fallen to my lot
to traverse these fabled plains; and many a bitter execration have I heard
poured on those travellers, who could so faithlessly relate what they saw.]
Our final effort was made at half past one o'clock next morning; and after
four hours toil, ended as those preceding it had done, in disappointment
and vexation. At nine o'clock we returned to Sydney, to report
our fruitless peregrination.
But if we could not retaliate on the murderer of M'Entire, we found
no difficulty in punishing offences committed within our own observation.
Two natives, about this time, were detected in robbing a potato garden.
When seen, they ran away, and a sergeant and a party of soldiers were
dispatched in pursuit of them. Unluckily it was dark when they overtook them,
with some women at a fire; and the ardour of the soldiers transported them
so far that, instead of capturing the offenders, they fired in among them.
The women were taken, but the two men escaped.
On the following day, blood was traced from the fireplace to the sea-side,
where it seemed probable that those who had lost it, had embarked.
The natives were observed to become immediately shy; but an exact knowledge
of the mischief which had been committed, was not gained until the end
of two days, when they said that a man of the name of Bangai (who was known
to be one of the pilferers) was wounded and dead. Imeerawanyee, however,
whispered that though he was wounded, he was not dead. A hope now existed
that his life might be saved; and Mr. White, taking Imeerawanyee, Nanbaree,
and a woman with him, set out for the spot where he was reported to be.
But on their reaching it, they were told by some people who were there
that the man was dead, and that the corpse was deposited in a bay about
a mile off. Thither they accordingly repaired, and found it as described,
covered--except one leg, which seemed to be designedly left bare--with
green boughs and a fire burning near it. Those who had performed the funeral
obsequies seemed to have been particularly solicitous for the protection
of the face, which was covered with a thick branch, interwoven with grass
and fern so as to form a complete screen. Around the neck was a strip
of the bark of which they make fishing lines, and a young strait stick
growing near was stripped of its bark and bent down so as to form an arch
over the body, in which position it was confined by a forked branch
stuck into the earth.
On examining the corpse, it was found to be warm. Through the shoulder
had passed a musquet ball, which had divided the subclavian artery
and caused death by loss of blood. No mark of any remedy having been applied
could be discovered. Possibly the nature of the wound, which even among us
would baffle cure without amputation of the arm at the shoulder, was deemed
so fatal, that they despaired of success, and therefore left it to itself.
Had Mr. White found the man alive, there is little room to think that he could
have been of any use to him; for that an Indian would submit to so formidable
and alarming an operation seems hardly probable.
None of the natives who had come in the boat would touch the body, or even
go near it, saying, the mawn would come; that is literally, 'the spirit of
the deceased would seize them'. Of the people who died among us,
they had expressed no such apprehension. But how far the difference
of a natural death, and one effected by violence, may operate on their fears
to induce superstition; and why those who had performed the rites of sepulture
should not experience similar fears and reluctance, I leave to be determined.
Certain it is (as I shall insist upon more hereafter), that they believe
the spirit of the dead not to be extinct with the body.
Baneelon took an odd method of revenging the death of his countryman.
At the head of several of his tribe, he robbed one of the private boats
of fish, threatening the people, who were unarmed, that in case they resisted
he would spear them. On being taxed by the governor with this outrage,
he at first stoutly denied it; but on being confronted with the people
who were in the boat, he changed his language, and, without deigning even
to palliate his offence, burst into fury and demanded who had killed Bangai.
The Transactions of the Colony continued to the End of May, 1791.
December, 1790. The Dutch snow from Batavia arrived on the 17th of the month,
after a passage of twelve weeks, in which she had lost sixteen of her people.
But death, to a man who has resided at Batavia, is too familiar an object
to excite either terror or regret. All the people of the 'Supply' who were left
there sick, except one midshipman, had also perished in that fatal climate.
The cargo of the snow consisted chiefly of rice, with a small quantity of beef,
pork, and flour.
A letter was received by this vessel, written by the Shebander at Batavia,
to governor Phillip, acquainting him that war had commenced between England
and Spain. As this letter was written in the Dutch language we did not
find it easy of translation. It filled us, however, with anxious perturbation,
and with wishes as impotent, as they were eager, in the cause of our country.
Though far beyond the din of arms, we longed to contribute to her glory,
and to share in her triumphs.
Placed out of the reach of attack, both by remoteness and insignificancy,
our only dread lay lest those supplies intended for our consumption
should be captured. Not, however, to be found totally unprovided in case
an enemy should appear, a battery was planned near the entrance of Sydney Cove,
and other formidable preparations set on foot.
The commencement of the year 1791, though marked by no circumstances
particularly favourable, beamed far less inauspicious than that of 1790
January, 1791. No circumstance, however apparently trivial, which can tend
to throw light on a new country, either in respect of its present situation,
or its future promise, should pass unregarded. On the 24th of January,
two bunches of grapes were cut in the governor's garden, from cuttings
of vines brought three years before from the Cape of Good Hope. The bunches
were handsome, the fruit of a moderate size, but well filled out
and the flavour high and delicious.
The first step after unloading the Dutch snow was to dispatch the 'Supply'
to Norfolk Island for captain Hunter, and the crew of the 'Sirius' who had
remained there ever since the loss of that ship. It had always been
the governor's wish to hire the Dutchman, for the purpose of transporting them
to England. But the frantic extravagant behaviour of the master of her,
for a long time frustrated the conclusion of a contract. He was so totally
lost to a sense of reason and propriety, as to ask eleven pounds per ton,
monthly, for her use, until she should arrive from England, at Batavia.
This was treated with proper contempt; and he was at last induced to accept
twenty shillings a ton, per month (rating her at three hundred tons)
until she should arrive in England--being about the twenty-fifth part
of his original demand. And even at this price she was, perhaps, the dearest
vessel ever hired on a similar service, being totally destitute of every
accommodation and every good quality which could promise to render
so long a voyage either comfortable or expeditious.
February, 1791. On the 26th, Captain Hunter, his officers and ship's company
joined us; and on the 28th of March the snow sailed with them for England,
intending to make a northern passage by Timor and Batavia, the season being
too far advanced to render the southern route by Cape Horn
[*They did not arrive in England until April, 1792.]
Six days previous to the departure of captain Hunter, the indefatigable 'Supply'
again sailed for Norfolk Island, carrying thither captain Hill and a detachment
of the New South Wales corps. A little native boy named Bondel, who had long
particularly attached himself to captain Hill, accompanied him, at his own
earnest request. His father had been killed in battle and his mother bitten
in two by a shark: so that he was an orphan, dependant on the humanity
of his tribe for protection*. His disappearance seemed to make no impression
on the rest of his countrymen, who were apprized of his resolution to go.
On the return of the 'Supply' they inquired eagerly for him, and on being told
that the place he was gone to afforded plenty of birds and other good fare,
innumerable volunteers presented themselves to follow him, so great
was their confidence in us and so little hold of them had the amor patriae.
[*I am of opinion that such protection is always extended to children
who may be left destitute.]
March, 1791. The snow had but just sailed, when a very daring manoeuvre
was carried into execution, with complete success, by a set of convicts,
eleven in number, including a woman, wife of one of the party, and two
little children. They seized the governor's cutter and putting into her
a seine, fishing-lines, and hooks, firearms, a quadrant, compass,
and some provisions, boldly pushed out to sea, determined to brave
every danger and combat every hardship, rather than remain longer in a captive
state. Most of these people had been brought out in the first fleet,
and the terms of transportation of some of them were expired. Among them were
a fisherman, a carpenter, and some competent navigators, so that little doubt
was entertained that a scheme so admirably planned would be adequately
executed*. When their elopement was discovered, a pursuit was ordered
by the governor. But the fugitives had made too good an use of the
intermediate time to be even seen by their pursuers. After the escape
of Captain Bligh, which was well known to us, no length of passage or hazard
of navigation seemed above human accomplishment. However to prevent future
attempts of a like nature, the governor directed that boats only of stated
dimensions should be built. Indeed an order of this sort had been issued
on the escape of the first party, and it was now repeated with
[*It was my fate to fall in again with part of this little band of adventurers.
In March 1792, when I arrived in the Gorgon, at the Cape of Good Hope,
six of these people, including the woman and one child, were put on board
of us to be carried to England. four had died, and one had jumped overboard
at Batavia. The particulars of their voyage were briefly as follows.
They coasted the shore of New Holland, putting occasionally into different
harbours which they found in going along. One of these harbours, in the
latitude of 30 degrees south, they described to be of superior excellence
and capacity. Here they hauled their bark ashore, paid her seams with tallow,
and repaired her. But it was with difficulty they could keep off the attacks
of the Indians. These people continued to harras them so much that they
quitted the mainland and retreated to a small island in the harbour,
where they completed their design. Between the latitude of 26 degrees and
27 degrees, they were driven by a current 30 leagues from the shore,
among some islands, where they found plenty of large turtles. Soon after
they closed again with the continent, when the boat got entangled in the surf
and was driven on shore, and they had all well nigh perished. They passed
rough the straits of Endeavour and, beyond the gulf of Carpentaria, found a
large freshwater river, which they entered, and filled from it their
Until they reached the gulf of Carpentaria, they saw no natives or canoes
differing from those about Port Jackson. But now they were chased by
large canoes, jitted with sails and fighting stages, and capable of holding
thirty men each. They escaped by dint of rowing to windward. On the
5th of June 1791 they reached Timor, and pretended that they had belonged
to a ship which, on her passage from Port Jackson to India, had foundered;
and that they only had escaped. The Dutch received them with kindness
and treated them with hospitality. But their behaviour giving rise
to suspicion, they were watched; and one of them at last, in a moment
of intoxication, betrayed the secret. They were immediately secured
and committed to prison. Soon after Captain Edwards of the Pandora,
who had been wrecked near Endeavour straits, arrived at Timor, and they were
delivered up to him, by which means they became passengers in the Gorgon.
I confess that I never looked at these people without pity and astonishment.
They had miscarried in a heroic struggle for liberty after having combated
every hardship and conquered every difficulty.
The woman, and one of the men, had gone out to Port Jackson in the ship
which had transported me thither. They had both of them been always
distinguished for good behaviour. And I could not but reflect with admiration
at the strange combination of circumstances which had again brought us
together, to baffle human foresight and confound human speculation.]
April, 1791. Notwithstanding the supplies which had recently arrived
from Batavia, short allowance was again proclaimed on the 2nd of April,
on which day we were reduced to the following ration:
Three pounds of rice, three pounds of flour and three pounds of pork per week.
It was singularly unfortunate that these retrenchments should always happen
when the gardens were most destitute of vegetables. A long drought had nearly
exhausted them. The hardships which we in consequence suffered were great,
but not comparable to what had been formerly experienced. Besides,
now we made sure of ships arriving soon to dispel our distress. Whereas,
heretofore, from having never heard from England, the hearts of men sunk
and many had begun to doubt whether it had not been resolved to try how long
misery might be endured with resignation.
Notwithstanding the incompetency of so diminished a pittance, the daily task
of the soldier and convict continued unaltered. I never contemplated
the labours of these men without finding abundant cause of reflection
on the miseries which our nature can overcome. Let me for a moment quit
the cold track of narrative. Let me not fritter away by servile adaptation
those reflections and the feelings they gave birth to. Let me transcribe them
fresh as they arose, ardent and generous, though hopeless and romantic.
I every day see wretches pale with disease and wasted with famine,
struggle against the horror's of their situation. How striking is the effect
of subordination; how dreadful is the fear of punishment! The allotted task
is still performed, even on the present reduced subsistence. The blacksmith
sweats at the sultry forge, the sawyer labours pent-up in his pit and
the husbandman turns up the sterile glebe. Shall I again hear arguments
multiplied to violate truth, and insult humanity! Shall I again be told
that the sufferings of the wretched Africans are indispensable for the culture
of our sugar colonies; that white men are incapable of sustaining the heat
of the climate! I have been in the West Indies. I have lived there.
I know that it is a rare instance for the mercury in the thermometer
to mount there above 90 degrees; and here I scarcely pass a week in summer
without seeing it rise to 100 degrees; sometimes to 105; nay, beyond even that
But toil cannot be long supported without adequate refreshment. The first step
in every community which wishes to preserve honesty should be to set the people
above want. The throes of hunger will ever prove too powerful for integrity
to withstand. Hence arose a repetition of petty delinquencies, which no
vigilance could detect, and no justice reach. Gardens were plundered,
provisions pilfered, and the Indian corn stolen from the fields where it grew
for public use. Various were the measures adopted to check this depredatory
spirit. Criminal courts, either from the tediousness of their process,
or from the frequent escape of culprits from their decision, were seldomer
convened than formerly. The governor ordered convict offenders either
to be chained together or to wear singly a large iron collar with two spikes
projecting from it, which effectually hindered the party from concealing it
under his shirt; and thus shackled, they were compelled to perform
their quota of work.
May, 1791. Had their marauding career terminated here, humanity would have
been anxious to plead in their defence; but the natives continued to complain
of being robbed of spears and fishing tackle. A convict was at length taken
in the fact of stealing fishing-tackle from Daringa, the wife of Colbee.
The governor ordered that he should be severely flogged in the presence of
as many natives as could be assembled, to whom the cause of punishment
should be explained. Many of them, of both sexes, accordingly attended.
Arabanoo's aversion to a similar sight has been noticed; and if the behaviour
of those now collected be found to correspond with it, it is, I think,
fair to conclude that these people are not of a sanguinary and implacable
temper. Quick indeed of resentment, but not unforgiving of injury.
There was not one of them that did not testify strong abhorrence
of the punishment and equal sympathy with the sufferer. The women
were particularly affected; Daringa shed tears, and Barangaroo, kindling
into anger, snatched a stick and menaced the executioner. The conduct
of these women, on this occasion, was exactly descriptive of their characters.
The former was ever meek and feminine, the latter fierce and unsubmissive.
On the first of May, many allotments of ground were parcelled out
by the governor to convicts whose periods of transportation were expired,
and who voluntarily offered to become settlers in the country. The terms
on which they settled, and their progress in agriculture, will be
hereafter set forth.
Travelling Diaries in New South Wales.
From among my numerous travelling journals into the interior parts
of the country, I select the following to present to the reader, as equally
important in their object, and more amusing in their detail, than any other.
In April 1791 an expedition was undertaken, in order to ascertain
whether or not the Hawkesbury and the Nepean, were the same river.
With this view, we proposed to fall in a little above Richmond Hill*,
and trace down to it; and if the weather should prove fine to cross
at the ford, and go a short distance westward, then to repass the river
and trace it upward until we should either arrive at some spot which we knew
to be the Nepean, or should determine by its course that the Hawkesbury
was a different stream.
[*Look at the map for the situation of this place (Unfortunately, there is
no map accompanying this etext. Ed.)]
Our party was strong and numerous. It consisted of twenty-one persons,
viz. the governor, Mr. Collins and his servant, Mr. White, Mr. Dawes,
the author, three gamekeepers, two sergeants, eight privates, and our friends
Colbee and Boladeree. These two last were volunteers on the occasion,
on being assured that we should not stay out many days and that we should
carry plenty of provisions. Baneelon wished to go, but his wife would not
permit it. Colbee on the other hand, would listen to no objections.
He only stipulated (with great care and consideration) that, during his absence,
his wife and child should remain at Sydney under our protection,
and be supplied with provisions.
But before we set out, let me describe our equipment, and try to convey
to those who have rolled along on turnpike roads only, an account of those
preparations which are required in traversing the wilderness. Every man
(the governor excepted) carried his own knapsack, which contained provisions
for ten days. If to this be added a gun, a blanket, and a canteen,
the weight will fall nothing short of forty pounds. Slung to the knapsack
are the cooking kettle and the hatchet, with which the wood to kindle
the nightly fire and build the nightly hut is to be cut down. Garbed to drag
through morasses, tear through thickets, ford rivers and scale rocks,
our autumnal heroes, who annually seek the hills in pursuit of grouse
and black game, afford but an imperfect representation of the picture.
Thus encumbered, the march begins at sunrise, and with occasional halts
continues until about an hour and a half before sunset. It is necessary
to stop thus early to prepare for passing the night, for toil here ends not
with the march. Instead of the cheering blaze, the welcoming landlord,
and the long bill of fare, the traveller has now to collect his fuel,
to erect his wigwam, to fetch water, and to broil his morsel of salt pork.
Let him then lie down, and if it be summer, try whether the effect of fatigue
is sufficiently powerful to overcome the bites and stings of the myriads
of sandflies and mosquitoes which buzz around him.
Monday, April 11, 1791. At twenty minutes before seven o'clock, we started
from the governor's house at Rose Hill and steered* for a short time
nearly in a north-east direction, after which we turned to north 34 degrees
west, and steadily pursued that course until a quarter before four o'clock,
when we halted for the night. The country for the first two miles,
while we walked to the northeast, was good, full of grass and without rock
Afterwards it grew very bad, being full of steep, barren rocks, over which
we were compelled to clamber for seven miles, when it changed to
a plain country apparently very sterile, and with very little grass in it,
which rendered walking easy. Our fatigue in the morning had, however,
been so oppressive that one of the party knocked up. And had not a soldier,
as strong as a pack-horse, undertaken to carry his knapsack in addition
to his own, we must either have sent him back, or have stopped at a place
for the night which did not afford water. Our two natives carried each
his pack, but its weight was inconsiderable, most of their provisions
being in the knapsacks of the soldiers and gamekeepers. We expected
to have derived from them much information relating to the country, as no one
doubted that they were acquainted with every part of it between the sea coast
and the river Hawkesbury. We hoped also to have witnessed their manner
of living in the woods, and the resources they rely upon in their journeys.
Nothing, however, of this sort had yet occurred, except their examining
some trees to see if they could discover on the bark any marks of the claws
of squirrels and opossums, which they said would show whether any of those
animals were hidden among the leaves and branches. They walked stoutly,
appeared but little fatigued, and maintained their spirits admirably,
laughing to excess when any of us either tripped or stumbled, misfortunes
which much seldomer fell to their lot than to ours.
[*Our method, on these expeditions, was to steer by compass, noting
the different courses as we proceeded; and counting the number of paces,
of which two thousand two hundred, on good ground, were allowed to be a mile.
At night when we halted, all these courses were separately cast up,
and worked by a traverse table, in the manner a ship's reckoning is kept,
so that by observing this precaution, we always knew exactly where we were,
and how far from home; an unspeakable advantage in a new country,
where one hill, and one tree, is so like another that fatal wanderings
would ensue without it. This arduous task was always allotted to Mr. Dawes
who, from habit and superior skill, performed it almost without a stop,
or an interruption of conversation: to any other man, on such terms,
it would have been impracticable.]
At a very short distance from Rose Hill, we found that they were in a country
unknown to them, so that the farther they went the more dependent on us
they became, being absolute strangers inland. To convey to their
understandings the intention of our journey was impossible. For, perhaps,
no words could unfold to an Indian the motives of curiosity which induce men
to encounter labour, fatigue and pain, when they might remain in repose
at home, with a sufficiency of food. We asked Colbee the name of the people
who live inland, and he called them Boorooberongal; and said they were bad,
whence we conjectured that they sometimes war with those on the sea coast,
by whom they were undoubtedly driven up the country from the fishing ground,
that it might not be overstocked; the weaker here, as in every other country,
giving way to the stronger.
We asked how they lived. He said, on birds and animals, having no fish.
Their laziness appeared strongly when we halted, for they refused to draw
water or to cleave wood to make a fire; but as soon as it was kindled
(having first well stuffed themselves), they lay down before it and
fell asleep. About an hour after sunset, as we were chatting by the fire side
and preparing to go to rest, we heard voices at a little distance in the wood.
Our natives caught the sound instantaneously and, bidding us be silent,
listened attentively to the quarter whence it had proceeded. In a few minutes
we heard the voices plainly; and, wishing exceedingly to open a communication
with this tribe, we begged our natives to call to them, and bid them to come
to us, to assure them of good treatment, and that they should have something
given them to eat. Colbee no longer hesitated, but gave them the signal
of invitation, in a loud hollow cry. After some whooping and shouting
on both sides, a man with a lighted stick in his hand advanced near enough
to converse with us. The first words which we could distinctly understand
were, 'I am Colbee, of the tribe of Cadigal.' The stranger replied,
'I am Bereewan, of the tribe of Boorooberongal.' Boladeree informed him also
of his name and that we were white men and friends, who would give him
something to eat. Still he seemed irresolute. Colbee therefore advanced
to him, took him by the hand and led him to us. By the light of the moon,
we were introduced to this gentleman, all our names being repeated in form
by our two masters of the ceremonies, who said that we were Englishmen
and 'budyeeree' (good), that we came from the sea coast, and that we were
Bereewan seemed to be a man about thirty years old, differing in no respect
from his countrymen with whom we were acquainted. He came to us unarmed,
having left his spears at a little distance. After a long conversation
with his countrymen, and having received some provisions, he departed
Tuesday, April 12th, 1791. Started this morning at half past six o'clock,
and in two hours reached the river. The whole of the country we passed
was poor, and the soil within a mile of the river changed to a coarse
deep sand, which I have invariably found to compose its banks in every part
without exception that I ever saw. The stream at this place is about
350 feet wide; the water pure and excellent to the taste. The banks
are about twenty feet high and covered with trees, many of which had been
evidently bent by the force of the current in the direction which it runs,
and some of them contained rubbish and drift wood in their branches
at least forty-five feet above the level of the stream. We saw many ducks,
and killed one, which Colbee swam for. No new production among the shrubs
growing here was found. We were acquainted with them all. Our natives
had evidently never seen this river before. They stared at it with surprise,
and talked to each other. Their total ignorance of the country, and of
the direction in which they had walked, appeared when they were asked
which way Rose Hill lay; for they pointed almost oppositely to it.
Of our compass they had taken early notice, and had talked much to each other
about it. They comprehended its use, and called it 'naamoro,' literally,
"to see the way"; a more significant or expressive term cannot be found.
Supposing ourselves to be higher on the stream than Richmond Hill, we agreed
to trace downward, or to the right hand. In tracing, we kept as close
to the bank of the river as the innumerable impediments to walking which grow
upon it would allow. We found the country low and swampy; came to a native
fireplace, at which were some small fish-bones; soon after we saw a native,
but he ran away immediately. Having walked nearly three miles we were stopped
by a creek which we could neither ford, or fall a tree across. We were
therefore obliged to coast it, in hope to find a passing place or to reach
its head. At four o'clock we halted for the night on the bank of the creek.
Our natives continued to hold out stoutly. The hindrances to walking
by the river side which plagued and entangled us so much, seemed not to be
heeded by them, and they wound through them with case; but to us they were
intolerably tiresome. Our perplexities afforded them an inexhaustible fund
of merriment and derision: Did the sufferer, stung at once with nettles
and ridicule, and shaken nigh to death by his fall, use any angry expression
to them, they retorted in a moment, by calling him by every opprobrious name*
which their language affords.
Boladeree destroyed a native hut today very wantonly before we could
prevent him. On being asked why he did so, he answered that the inhabitants
inland were bad; though no longer since than last night, when Bereewan
had departed, they were loud in their praise. But now they had reverted to
their first opinion; so fickle and transient are their motives of love
[*Their general favourite term of reproach is 'goninpatta', which signifies
'an eater of human excrement'. Our language would admit a very concise
and familiar translation. They have, besides this, innumerable others
which they often salute their enemies with.]
Wednesday, April 13th, 1791. We did not set out this morning until past
seven o'clock, when we continued to trace the creek. The country which we
passed through yesterday was good and desirable to what was now presented
to us. It was in general high and universally rocky. 'Toiling our uncouth
way', we mounted a hill, and surveyed the contiguous country.
To the northward and eastward, the ground was still higher than that
we were upon; but in a south-west direction we saw about four miles.
The view consisted of nothing but trees growing on precipices; not an acre
of it could be cultivated. Saw a tree on fire here, and several other
vestiges of the natives. To comprehend the reasons which induce an Indian
to perform many of the offices of life is difficult; to pronounce that which
could lead him to wander amidst these dreary wilds baffles penetration.
About two o'clock we reached the head of the creek, passed it and scrambled
with infinite toil and difficulty to the top of a neighbouring mountain,
whence we saw the adjacent country in almost every direction, for many miles.
I record with regret that this extended view presented not a single gleam
of change which could encourage hope or stimulate industry, to attempt
its culture. We had, however, the satisfaction to discover plainly the object
of our pursuit, Richmond Hill, distant about eight miles, in a contrary
direction from what we had been proceeding upon. It was readily known
to those who had been up the Hawkesbury in the boats, by a remarkable cleft
or notch which distinguishes it. It was now determined that we should go back
to the head of the creek and pass the night there; and in the morning
cut across the country to that part of the river which we had first hit upon
yesterday, and thence to trace upward, or to the left. But before I descend,
I must not forget to relate that to this pile of desolation on which,
like the fallen angel on the top of Niphates, we stood contemplating
our nether Eden, His Excellency was pleased to give the name
of Tench's Prospect Mount.
Our fatigue to-day had been excessive; but our two sable companions seemed
rather enlivened than exhausted by it. We had no sooner halted and given them
something to eat than they began to play ten thousand tricks and gambols.
They imitated the leaping of the kangaroo; sang, danced, poised the spear
and met in mock encounter. But their principal source of merriment was again
derived from our misfortunes, in tumbling amidst nettles, and sliding down
precipices, which they mimicked with inimitable drollery. They had become,
however, very urgent in their inquiries about the time of our return,
and we pacified them as well as we could by saying it would be soon,
but avoided naming how many days.
Their method of testifying dislike to any place is singular: they point to
the spot they are upon, and all around it, crying 'weeree, weeree' (bad)
and immediately after mention the name of any other place to which
they are attached (Rose Hill or Sydney for instance), adding to it
'budyeree, budyeree' (good). Nor was their preference in the present case
the result of caprice, for they assigned very substantial reasons
for such predilection: "At Rose Hill," said they, "are potatoes, cabbages,
pumpkins, turnips, fish and wine; here are nothing but rocks and water."
These comparisons constantly ended with the question of "Where's Rose Hill?
Where?" on which they would throw up their hands and utter a sound to denote
distance, which it is impossible to convey an idea of upon paper.
Thursday, April 14th, 1791. We started early and reached the river in about
two hours and a half. The intermediate country, except for the last half mile,
was a continued bed of stones, which were in some places so thick and
close together that they looked like a pavement formed by art. When we got off
the stones, we came upon the coarse river sand beforementioned.
Here we began to trace upward. We had not proceeded far when we saw
several canoes on the river. Our natives made us immediately lie down
among the reeds, while they gave their countrymen the signal of approach.
After much calling, finding that they did not come, we continued our progress
until it was again interrupted by a creek, over which we threw a tree
and passed upon it. While this was doing, a native, from his canoe,
entered into conversation with us, and immediately after paddled to us
with a frankness and confidence which surprised every one. He was a man
of middle age, with an open cheerful countenance, marked with the small pox,
and distinguished by a nose of uncommon magnitude and dignity. He seemed
to be neither astonished or terrified at our appearance and number.
Two stone hatchets, and two spears he took from his canoe, and presented
to the governor, who in return for his courteous generosity, gave him two
of our hatchets and some bread, which was new to him, for he knew not its use,
but kept looking at it, until Colbee shewed him what to do, when he eat it
without hesitation. We pursued our course, and to accommodate us,
our new acquaintance pointed out a path and walked at the head of us. A canoe,
also with a man and a boy in it, kept gently paddling up abreast of us.
We halted for the night at our usual hour, on the bank of the river.
Immediately that we had stopped, our friend (who had already told us his name)
Gombeeree, introduced the man and the boy from the canoe to us. The former
was named Yellomundee, the latter Deeimba. The ease with which these people
behaved among strangers was as conspicuous, as unexpected. They seated
themselves at our fire, partook of our biscuit and pork, drank from
our canteens, and heard our guns going off around them without betraying
any symptom of fear, distrust or surprise. On the opposite bank of the river
they had left their wives and several children, with whom they frequently
discoursed; and we observed that these last manifested neither suspicion
or uneasiness of our designs towards their friends.
Having refreshed ourselves, we found leisure to enter into conversation
with them. It could not be expected that they should differ materially
from the tribes with whom we were acquainted. The same manners and pursuits,
the same amusements, the same levity and fickleness, undoubtedly characterised
them. What we were able to learn from them was that they depend but little
on fish, as the river yields only mullets, and that their principal support
is derived from small animals which they kill, and some roots (a species
of wild yam chiefly) which they dig out of the earth. If we rightly
understood them, each man possesses two wives. Whence can arise
this superabundance of females? Neither of the men had suffered the extraction
of a front tooth. We were eager to know whether or not this custom obtained
among them. But neither Colbee nor Boladeree would put the question for us;
and on the contrary, showed every desire to wave the subject.
The uneasiness which they testified, whenever we renewed it, rather served
to confirm a suspicion which we had long entertained, that this is a mark
of subjection imposed by the tribe of Cameragal, (who are certainly
the most powerful community in the country) on the weaker tribes around them.
Whether the women cut off a joint of one of the little fingers, like those
on the sea coast, we had no opportunity of observing. These are petty remarks.
But one variety struck us more forcibly. Although our natives and
the strangers conversed on a par and understood each other perfectly,
yet they spoke different dialects of the same language; many of the most common
and necessary words used in life bearing no similitude, and others
being slightly different.
English Name on the sea coast Name at the Hawkesbury
The Moon Yeneeda Condoen
The Ear Gooree Benna
The Forehead Nullo Narran
The Belly Barang Bindee
The Navel Muneero Boombong
The Buttocks Boong Baylee
The Neck Calang Ganga
The Thigh Tara Dara
The Hair Deewara Keewara
That these diversities arise from want of intercourse with the people
on the coast can hardly be imagined, as the distance inland is but
thirty-eight miles; and from Rose Hill not more than twenty, where the dialect
of the sea coast is spoken. It deserves notice that all the different terms
seemed to be familiar to both parties, though each in speaking preferred
[*How easily people, unused to speak the same language, mistake each other,
everyone knows. We had lived almost three years at Port Jackson
(for more than half of which period natives had resided with us) before we knew
that the word 'beeal', signified 'no', and not 'good', in which latter sense
we had always used it without suspecting that we were wrong; and even without
being corrected by those with whom we talked daily. The cause of our error
was this. The epithet 'weeree', signifying 'bad', we knew; and as the use
of this word and its opposite afford the most simple form of denoting consent
or disapprobation to uninstructed Indians, in order to find out their word
for 'good', when Arabanoo was first brought among us, we used jokingly to say
that any thing, which he liked was 'weeree', in order to provoke him to tell us
that it was good. When we said 'weeree', he answered 'beeal',
which we translated and adopted for 'good'; whereas he meant no more than
simply to deny our inference, and say 'no'--it is not bad. After this,
it cannot be thought extraordinary that the little vocabulary inserted in
Mr. Cook's account of this part of the world should appear defective--
even were we not to take in the great probability of the dialects at
Endeavour River and Van Diemen's land differing from that spoken
at Port Jackson. And it remains to be proved that the animal called here
'patagaram' is not there called 'kangaroo'.]
Stretched out at ease before our fire, all sides continued to chat
and entertain each other. Gombeeree shewed us the mark of a wound
which he had received in his side from a spear. It was large, appeared
to have passed to a considerable depth, and must certainly have been attended
with imminent danger. By whom it had been inflicted, and on what occasion,
he explained to Colbee; and afterwards (as we understood) he entered into
a detail of the wars, and, as effects lead to causes, probably of the
gallantries of the district, for the word which signifies a woman
was often repeated. Colbee, in return for his communication, informed him
who we were; of our numbers at Sydney and Rose Hill, of the stores
we possessed and, above all, of the good things which were to be found
among us, enumerating potatoes, cabbages, turnips, pumpkins, and many other
names which were perfectly unintelligible to the person who heard them,
but which he nevertheless listened to with profound attention.
Perhaps the relation given by Gombeeree, of the cure of his wound,
now gave rise to the following superstitious ceremony. While they were
talking, Colbee turned suddenly round and asked for some water. I gave him
a cupful, which he presented with great seriousness to Yellomundee,
as I supposed to drink. This last indeed took the cup and filled his mouth
with water, but instead of swallowing it, threw his head into Colbee's bosom,
spit the water upon him and, immediately after, began to suck strongly
at his breast, just below the nipple. I concluded that the man was sick;
and called to the governor to observe the strange place which he had chosen
to exonerate his stomach. The silent attention observed by the other natives,
however, soon convinced us that something more than merely the accommodation
of Yellomundee, was intended. The ceremony was again performed; and,
after having sucked the part for a considerable time, the operator pretended
to receive something in his mouth, which was drawn from the breast.
With this he retired a few paces, put his hand to his lips and threw
into the river a stone, which I had observed him to pick up slily, and secrete.
When he returned to the fireside, Colbee assured us that he had received
signal benefit from the operation; and that this second Machaon had extracted
from his breast two splinters of a spear by which he had been formerly wounded.
We examined the part, but it was smooth and whole, so that to the force
of imagination alone must be imputed both the wound and its cure.
Colbee himself seemed nevertheless firmly persuaded that he had received
relief, and assured us that Yellomundee was a 'caradyee', or
'Doctor of renown'. And Boladeree added that not only he but all the rest
of his tribe were 'caradyee' of especial note and skill.
The Doctors remained with us all night, sleeping before the fire in the
fullness of good faith and security. The little boy slept in his father's
arms, and we observed that whenever the man was inclined to shift his position,
he first put over the child, with great care, and then turned round to him.
Friday, April 15th, 1791. The return of light aroused us to the repetition
of toil. Our friends breakfasted with us, and previous to starting Gombeeree
gave a specimen of their manner of climbing trees in quest of animals.
He asked for a hatchet and one of ours was offered to him, but he preferred
one of their own making. With this tool he cut a small notch in the tree
he intended to climb, about two feet and a half above the ground, in which
he fixed the great toe of his left foot, and sprung upwards, at the same time
embracing the tree with his left arm. In an instant he had cut a second notch
for his right toe on the other side of the tree into which he sprung,
and thus, alternately cutting on each side, he mounted to the height
of twenty feet in nearly as short a space as if he had ascended by a ladder,
although the bark of the tree was quite smooth and slippery and the trunk
four feet in diameter and perfectly strait. To us it was a matter
of astonishment, but to him it was sport; for while employed thus he kept
talking to those below and laughing immoderately. He descended with as much
ease and agility as he had raised himself. Even our natives allowed that
he was a capital performer, against whom they dared not to enter the lists;
for as they subsist chiefly by fishing they are less expert at climbing
on the coast than those who daily practice it.
Soon after they bade us adieu, in unabated friendship and good humour.
Colbee and Boladeree parted from them with a slight nod of the head,
the usual salutation of the country; and we shook them by the hand,
which they returned lustily.
At the time we started the tide was flowing up the river, a decisive proof
that we were below Richmond Hill. We had continued our march but a short time
when we were again stopped by a creek, which baffled all our endeavours
to cross it, and seemed to predict that the object of our attainment,
though but a very few miles distant, would take us yet a considerable
time to reach, which threw a damp on our hopes. We traced the creek
until four o'clock, when we halted for the night. The country, on both sides,
we thought in general unpromising; but it is certainly very superior
to that which we had seen on the former creek. In many places it might be
cultivated, provided the inundations of the stream can be repelled.
In passing along we shot some ducks, which Boladeree refused to swim for
when requested, and told us in a surly tone that they swam for what was killed,
and had the trouble of fetching it ashore, only for the white men to eat it.
This reproof was, I fear, too justly founded; for of the few ducks we had been
so fortunate as to procure, little had fallen to their share except the offals,
and now and then a half-picked bone. True, indeed, all the crows and hawks
which had been shot were given to them; but they plainly told us that
the taste of ducks was more agreeable to their palates, and begged they might
hereafter partake of them. We observed that they were thoroughly sick
of the journey, and wished heartily for its conclusion: the exclamation of
"Where's Rose Hill, where?" was incessantly repeated, with many inquiries
about when we should return to it.
Saturday April 16th, 1791. It was this morning resolved to abandon
our pursuit and to return home; at hearing of which our natives expressed
great joy. We started early; and reached Rose Hill about three o'clock,
just as a boat was about to be sent down to Sydney. Colbee and Boladeree
would not wait for us until the following morning, but insisted on going down
immediately to communicate to Baneelon and the rest of their countrymen
the novelties they had seen.
The country we passed through was, for the most part, very indifferent,
according to our universal opinion. It is in general badly watered.
For eight miles and a half on one line we did not find a drop of water.
Having eluded our last search, Mr. Dawes and myself, accompanied by a sergeant
of marines and a private soldier, determined on another attempt,
to ascertain whether it lay on the Hawkesbury or Nepean. We set out
on this expedition on the 24th of May, 1791; and having reached the opposite
side of the mouth of the creek which had in our last journey prevented
our progress, we proceeded from there up to Richmond Hill by the river side;
mounted it; slept at its foot; and on the following day penetrated some miles
westward or inland of it until we were stopped by a mountainous country,
which our scarcity of provisions, joined to the terror of a river at our back,
whose sudden rising is almost beyond computation, hindered us from exploring.
To the elevation which bounded our research we gave the name of Knight Hill,
in honour of the trusty sergeant who had been the faithful indefatigable
companion of all our travels.
This excursion completely settled the long contested point about
the Hawkesbury and Nepean. We found them to be one river. Without knowing it,
Mr. Dawes and myself had passed Richmond Hill almost a year before
(in August 1790), and from there walked on the bank of the river to the spot
where my discovery of the Nepean happened, in June 1789. Our ignorance
arose from having never before seen the hill, and from the erroneous position
assigned to it by those who had been in the boats up the river.
Except the behaviour of some natives whom we met on the river, which
it would be ingratitude to pass in silence, nothing particularly worthy
of notice occurred on this expedition.
When we had reached within two miles of Richmond Hill, we heard a native call.
We directly answered him and conversed across the river for some time.
At length he launched his canoe and crossed to us without distrust
or hesitation. We had never seen him before; but he appeared to know
our friend Gombeeree, of whom he often spoke. He said his name was Deedora.
He presented us with two spears and a throwing-stick, and in return
we gave him some bread and beef. Finding that our route lay up the river,
he offered to accompany us and, getting into his canoe, paddled up
abreast of us. When we arrived at Richmond Hill it became necessary
to cross the river; but the question was, how this should be effected?
Deedora immediately offered his canoe. We accepted of it and, Mr. Dawes
and the soldier putting their clothes into it, pushed it before them,
and by alternately wading and swimming, soon passed. On the opposite shore
sat several natives, to whom Deedora called, by which precaution the arrival
of the strangers produced no alarm. On the contrary, they received them
with every mark of benevolence. Deedora, in the meanwhile, sat talking
with the sergeant and me. Soon after, another native, named Morunga,
brought back the canoe, and now came our turn to cross. The sergeant
(from a foolish trick which had been played upon him when he was a boy)
was excessively timorous of water, and could not swim. Morunga offered
to conduct him, and they got into the canoe together; but, his fears returning,
he jumped out and refused to proceed. I endeavoured to animate him,
and Morunga ridiculed his apprehensions, making signs of the ease and dispatch
with which he would land him; but he resolved to paddle over by himself,
which, by dint of good management and keeping his position very steadily,
he performed. It was now become necessary to bring over the canoe
a third time for my accommodation, which was instantly done, and I entered it
with Deedora. But, like the sergeant, I was so disordered at seeing the water
within a hair's breadth of the level of our skiff (which brought
to my remembrance a former disaster I had experienced on this river)
that I jumped out, about knee-deep, and determined to swim over,
which I effected. My clothes, half our knapsacks, and three of our guns
yet remained to be transported across. These I recommended to the care
of our grim ferrymen, who instantaneously loaded their boat with them
and delivered them on the opposite bank, without damage or diminution.
During this long trial of their patience and courtesy--in the latter part
of which I was entirely in their power, from their having possession
of our arms--they had manifested no ungenerous sign of taking advantage
of the helplessness and dependance of our situation; no rude curiosity
to pry into the packages with which they were entrusted; or no sordid desire
to possess the contents of them; although among them were articles
exposed to view, of which it afterwards appeared they knew the use,
and longed for the benefit. Let the banks of those rivers, "known to song",
let him whose travels have lain among polished nations produce me
a brighter example of disinterested urbanity than was shown by these denizens
of a barbarous clime to a set of destitute wanderers on the side
of the Hawkesbury.
On the top of Richmond Hill we shot a hawk, which fell in a tree.
Deedora offered to climb for it and we lent him a hatchet, the effect of which
delighted him so much that he begged for it. As it was required to chop wood
for our evening fire, it could not be conveniently spared; but we promised him
that if he would visit us on the following morning, it should be given to him.
Not a murmur was heard; no suspicion of our insincerity; no mention
of benefits conferred; no reproach of ingratitude. His good humour
and cheerfulness were not clouded for a moment. Punctual to our appointment,
he came to us at daylight next morning and the hatchet was given to him,
the only token of gratitude and respect in our power to bestow. Neither
of these men had lost his front tooth.
THE LAST EXPEDITION
Which I ever undertook in the country I am describing was in July 1791,
when Mr. Dawes and myself went in search of a large river which was said
to exist a few miles to the southward of Rose Hill. We went to the place
described, and found this second Nile or Ganges to be nothing but
a saltwater creek communicating with Botany Bay, on whose banks we passed
a miserable night from want of a drop of water to quench our thirst,
for as we believed that we were going to a river we thought it needless
to march with full canteens.