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Narrative Of The Voyage Of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, Commanded By The Late Captain Owen Stanley, R.N., F.R.S. Etc. During The Years 1846-1850. Including Discoveries And Surveys In New Guinea, The Louisiade Archipelago, Etc. To Which Is Added The Account Of Mr. E.B. Kennedy's Expedition For The Exploration Of The Cape York Peninsula. By John Macgillivray, F.R.G.S. Naturalist To The Expedition. In Two Volumes. Volume 1. by John MacGillivray

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It was originally intended that an account of the Surveying Voyage of
H.M.S. Rattlesnake should have been undertaken conjointly by the late
Captain Owen Stanley and myself, in which case the narrative would have
been constructed from the materials afforded by the journals of both, and
the necessary remarks upon hydrographical subjects would have been
furnished by that officer, whose lamented death in March, 1850, prevented
this arrangement from being carried out. Not having had access to Captain
Stanley's private journals, I considered myself fortunate, when the Lords
Commissioners of the Admiralty--in addition to sanctioning the
publication of my account of the Voyage in question--directed that every
facility should be afforded me in consulting the manuscript charts and
other hydrographical results at their disposal, and to Rear-Admiral Sir
F. Beaufort, C.B., Commander C.B. Yule, R.N., and Lieutenant J. Dayman,
R.N., I beg to express my thanks for the liberal manner in which they
carried out their Lordships' intentions.

To the other gentlemen who have contributed Appendices to this
work--George Busk, Esquire F.R.S., Dr. R.G. Latham, Professor Edward
Forbes, F.R.S., and Adam White, Esquire, F.L.S.--I have also to offer my
best thanks. It also affords me great pleasure to record my obligations
to T. Huxley, Esquire R.N., F.R.S., late Assistant-Surgeon of the
Rattlesnake, for the handsome manner in which he allowed me to select
from his collection of drawings those which now appear as illustrations;
and I may express the hope, which in common with many others I entertain,
that the whole of his researches in marine zoology may speedily be laid
before the scientific world. My own collections in Natural History have
been submitted to the examination of various eminent naturalists. Many of
the novelties have already been described, and the remainder will appear
from time to time.



Objects of the Voyage.
Admiralty Instructions.
Hydrographer's Instructions.
Sail from Plymouth.
Arrive at Madeira.
Visit to Curral.
Try for Deep Sea Soundings.
Crossing the Line.
Arrive at Rio de Janeiro.
City of Rio and Neighbourhood.
Dredging in Botafogo Bay.
Religious Processions.
Brazilian Character.
Cross the South Atlantic.
Temperature of the Sea.
Oceanic Birds.
Pelagic Animals.
Arrive at Simon's Bay.
Survey the Bay.
Caffre War.
Observations on the Waves.
Arrive at Mauritius.
Port Louis.
Visit to Pamplemousses.
La Pouce Mountain.
Try for Deep Sea Soundings.
Arrive at Hobart Town.


Arrive at Sydney.
Bramble is attached to the Expedition.
Survey Entrance of Port Jackson and Twofold Bay.
Sail upon our First Northern Cruise.
Arrive at Moreton Bay.
Proceedings there.
Natives at Moreton Island.
Arrive at Port Curtis.
Settlement of North Australia.
Excursions made in Neighbourhood.
Natural Productions.
Call at the Percy Isles.
Port Molle and Cape Upstart.
Unable to find Fresh Water.
Return to Sydney.
Recent Occurrences there.
Sail for Bass Strait.
Visit Port Phillip and Port Dalrymple.
Inspect the Lighthouses of the Strait.


Sail on our Second Northern Cruise.
Entrance to the Inner Passage.
Arrive at Rockingham Bay.
Land Mr. Kennedy's Expedition.
Commence the Survey at Dunk Island.
Communication with Natives.
Barnard Isles.
Botanical Sketch.
Examine a New River.
Frankland Isles.
Find the Cocoanut Palm.
Fitzroy Island.
The Will-o-the-Wisp and her Story.
Trinity Bay.
Animals of a Coral Reef.
Stay at Lizard Island.
Howick, Pelican, and Claremont Isles.
Bird Isles.
Meet party of Natives in Distress.
Cairncross Island.
Arrive at Cape York.


Water the Ship.
Vessel with Supplies arrives.
Natives at Cape York.
Description of the Country and its Productions.
Port Albany considered as a Depot for Steamers.
Sail from Cape York and arrive at Port Essington.
Condition of the Place.
History of the Settlement.
Would be useless as a Colony.
Leave Port Essington.
Arrive at Sydney.


Fate of Kennedy's Expedition.
Sail on our Third Northern Cruise.
Excursion on Moreton Island.
History of Discoveries on the South-East Coast of New Guinea and the
Louisiade Archipelago, from 1606 to 1846.
Find the Shores of the Louisiade protected by a Barrier Reef.
Beautiful appearances of Rossel Island.
Pass through an opening in the Reef, and enter Coral Haven.
Interview with Natives on Pig Island.
Find them treacherously disposed.
Their mode of Fishing on the Reefs.
Establish a system of Barter alongside the Ship.
Description of the Louisiade Canoes, and mode of management.
Find a Watering Place on South-East Island.
Its Scenery and Productions.
Suspicious conduct of the Natives.
Their Ornaments, etc. described.


Leave Coral Haven.
Brierly Island.
Communication with the Natives.
Description of their Huts.
Bartering for Yams and Cocoa-nuts.
Suspicious conduct of the Natives.
They attack the Surveying Boats.
Calvados Group.
Further communication with the Inhabitants.
Stay at Duchateau Islands.
Their Productions.
Proceedings there.
Duperre Islands.
Unable to find Anchorage.
Pass out to Sea, and proceed to the Westward.
Western termination of the Louisiade Archipelago.
Reach the Coast of New Guinea.


Brumer Islands.
Catamarans and Canoes.
Friendly relations with the Natives of New Guinea.
Are well received at their Village.
Tatooing and Dress of the Women.
The Huts described.
Large Canoe from the Mainland.
Tassai ladies return our visit.
The Natives described.
Their Weapons, Ornaments, Food, etc.
Cul de Sac de l'Orangerie, and Communication with the Natives.
Redscar Bay and its Inhabitants.
Leave the Coast of New Guinea.
Arrive at Cape York.


Rescue a white Woman from Captivity among the Natives.
Her History.
Bramble and boats complete the Survey of Torres Strait.
Wini and the Mulgrave Islanders.
Intercourse with the Cape York Natives.
Nearly quarrel with them at a night dance.
Witness a Native fight.
Discover some fine country.
Incidents of our stay.
Many new Birds found.
Remarks on the Climate, etc. of Cape York.








T. Huxley, delt. Hullmandel & Walton, Lithographers.
T. & W. Boone, Publishers, London. 1852.


T. Huxley, Esquire del.




T. Huxley, delt. Hullmandel & Walton, Lithographers.
T. & W. Boone, Publishers, London. 1852.


T. Huxley, delt. Hullmandel & Walton, Lithographers.
T. & W. Boone, Publishers, London. 1852.





Hullmandel & Walton, Lithographers.
T. & W. Boone, Publishers, London. 1852.







C. Busk, delt. W. Wing, lith.
T. & W. Boone, Publishers, London. 1852.
Hullmandel & Walton, Lithographers.




Objects of the Voyage.
Admiralty Instructions.
Hydrographer's Instructions.
Sail from Plymouth.
Arrive at Madeira.
Visit to Curral.
Try for Deep Sea Soundings.
Crossing the Line.
Arrive at Rio de Janeiro.
City of Rio and Neighbourhood.
Dredging in Botafogo Bay.
Religious Processions.
Brazilian Character.
Cross the South Atlantic.
Temperature of the Sea.
Oceanic Birds.
Pelagic Animals.
Arrive at Simon's Bay.
Survey the Bay.
Caffre War.
Observations on the Waves.
Arrive at Mauritius.
Port Louis.
Visit to Pamplemousses.
La Pouce Mountain.
Try for Deep Sea Soundings.
Arrive at Hobart Town.

H.M.S. Rattlesnake, one of the old class of 28-gun ships, was
commissioned at Portsmouth on September 24th, 1846, by the late Captain
Owen Stanley, with a complement of 180 officers and men. The nature and
objects of the intended voyage will best be conveyed to the reader
through the medium of the following instructions from the Admiralty, for
the use of which I am indebted to Lieutenant C.B. Yule, who succeeded to
the command of the Rattlesnake, upon the death of our late lamented
Captain, at Sydney, in March 1850, after the successful accomplishment of
the principal objects of the expedition.


Whereas, it being the usual practice of vessels returning from the
Australian Colonies, or from the South Sea, to proceed to India through
Torres Strait; and most of those vessels preferring the chance of finding
a convenient opening in the Barrier Reefs to the labour of frequent
anchorage in the Inshore Passage, it was thought fit to send out an
expedition under Captain Francis Blackwood, to determine which was the
best opening that those reefs would afford, and to make such a survey
thereof as would ensure the safety of all vessels which should continue
to adopt that mode of reaching the Strait:

And whereas, although that specific object was successfully achieved by
the survey of Raine Island Passage, and by the erection of a durable
beacon there to render it the more accessible, yet it appears that much
is still to be done in those seas in order to make the approach to the
Strait more secure and certain, as well as to afford the choice of
another entrance farther to the northward in case of vessels overshooting
the latitude of Raine Island by stress of wind, or current:

We have, therefore, thought proper to appoint you to the command of the
Rattlesnake, for the purpose of carrying out these objects; and you are
here by required and directed, when that ship is in every respect ready
for sea, to proceed in her to Madeira for the verification of your
chronometers--from thence to Simon's Bay at the Cape of Good Hope, for a
supply of water, and to land the 50,000 pounds you have been ordered to
convey to that colony; then to make the best of your way to the
Mauritius, to land the treasure (15,000 pounds) entrusted to your charge
for that island; and having so done, to proceed to King George Sound for
the purpose of carrying its exact meridian distance to Sydney, where you
will lose no time in preparing for the execution of the important service
entrusted to you.

The several objects of that service have been drawn up under our
direction by our Hydrographer; but notwithstanding the order in which
they are placed, we leave to your own discretion the several periods of
their performance, and likewise the times of your return to Sydney to
revictual and refit--being satisfied that your zeal in pushing forward
the survey will never outstrip your attention to the health and comfort
of your crew.

You will take the Bramble and her tender, the Castlereagh, under your
orders, and employ them in those places which require vessels of a
lighter draft of water than the Rattlesnake. They are to be attached as
tenders to the Rattlesnake, and to be manned from that ship; and such of
the present crew of the Bramble as may have served five years
continuously, and volunteer to remain on the surveying service in
Australia, are to be entered in the Rattlesnake under the provisions of
the Act of Parliament. The books of the Bramble are to be closed, and she
is to be considered as no longer in commission; and you are here by
authorised, after being joined by her and by the Castlereagh, to enter
ten supernumerary seaman for wages and victuals in the Rattlesnake
(making her total complement 190) to enable you effectively to man the
said two tenders.

In stretching off from the Barrier Reefs to the eastward, in order to
explore the safety of the sea intervening between them and Louisiade and
New Guinea, you will have occasion to approach those shores, in which
case you must be constantly on your guard against the treacherous
disposition of their inhabitants, all barter for refreshments should be
conducted under the eye of an officer, and every pains be taken to avoid
giving any just cause of offence to their prejudices, especially with
respect to their women.

A naturalist having been permitted to accompany you, every reasonable
facility is to be given him in making and preserving his collections.

In the event of this country being involved in hostilities during your
absence, you will take care never to be surprised; but you are to refrain
from any act of aggression towards the vessels or settlements of any
nation with which we may be at war, as expeditions employed in behalf of
discovery and science have always been considered by all civilised
communities as acting under a general safeguard.

You will consider yourself under the command of Rear-Admiral Inglefield,
the Commander-in-Chief of Her Majesty's ships and vessels on the East
India station, while you are within the limits of that station; and we
have signified to him our desire that he should not divert you from the
survey, nor interfere with your proceedings, except under the pressure of
strong necessity; and that upon all fit occasions he should order you to
be supplied with the stores and provisions of which you may stand in
need; and all officers senior to yourself, with whom you may fall in, are
hereby directed to give you any assistance which may be requisite.

Notwithstanding the 16th article of the 4th section of the 6th chapter of
the Admiralty Instructions, you are, besides your reports to your
Commander-in-Chief, to send brief accounts to our Secretary of your
proceedings, state, and condition: and you will make known to him, in due
time, the nature and quantity of any supplies of which you may be
absolutely in want, and which may have to be forwarded to you from

With our Hydrographer you are by every opportunity in your power to keep
up a constant correspondence; you are to report to him in full detail all
your proceedings; and you are to transmit to him, whenever possible,
tracings of all charts and plans that you may have completed, accompanied
by sailing directions, and with notices of any facts or discoveries which
may be of interest to navigation.

Having completed the service herein set forth, you are to return in the
Rattlesnake, along with the Bramble, to Spithead, when you will receive
directions for your further proceedings. If the Bramble should, however,
by that time be in an unfit state to undertake the voyage to Europe, it
may perhaps be prudent to dispose of her, under the sanction of the

In the event of any unfortunate accident befalling yourself, the officer
on whom the command may in consequence devolve, is hereby required and
directed to carry out, as far as in him lies, the foregoing orders and

Given under our hands, this 1st December 1846.





Captain of her Majesty's Surveying Vessel Rattlesnake, at Plymouth,

By command of their Lordships,

Signed: H.G. WARD.



In connection with the preceding general instructions to Captain Stanley,
it will be necessary to give a portion of those more explicit directions
furnished by the Hydrographer, Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort.


On your arrival at Sydney you should take the earliest opportunity of
communicating with Lieutenant Yule, in order to learn how much has been
executed, by the Bramble and her tender, of the orders which he received
from Captain Blackwood, and you will no doubt avail yourself of his long
experience in those seas in digesting your plan of future operations.

A letter from the Colonial Office having recently apprised their
Lordships that it is the intention of her Majesty's Government to form a
new settlement at Hervey Bay, and having requested that it may be duly
examined with that view, your first undertaking, after leaving Sydney,
should be to repair to that place, and to make an efficient survey of the
whole bay, extending it down through the channel into Wide Bay, and
marking the best anchorages, the most convenient landing-places, and the
several parts where water may be found. And as it appears that Colonel
Barney, R.E. is engaged in the same inquiry, it will be prudent to act in
concert with him, and to give him a copy of such parts of it as may suit
his purposes.

In your way to this district, and indeed on every part of the shores of
Australia, you should lose no fair opportunity of verifying the
positions--of multiplying the soundings--and of improving the smaller
details of the coast as laid down by Captain P.P. King in his excellent
Survey, but which he had not time or means to effect with the same
accuracy that will be in your power. By carrying on this system of
correction and improvement in our present charts from Hervey Bay along
the narrow navigation which is generally known by the name of the Inshore
Passage, between the coast and the Barrier Reefs, a very great benefit
will be conferred on those masters of vessels who would be the more
readily inclined to adopt that channel, if certain parts of it were so
clearly delineated, and the soundings so spread on either side of the
tracks, that they could sometimes continue under sail during the night.
However necessary it was, and is, to contribute as much as possible to
the safety of those vessels who choose the outer voyage by the Barrier
Reefs, it is not the less our duty to facilitate the navigation of the
Inshore Passage to all vessels who prefer its tranquillity and security
to the risk of the former; and your labours for the accomplishment of
this object will prove to be of peculiar importance when steam
communication between Singapore and Sydney shall be established.

In the general and searching examination of those parts of the Coral Sea
which are likely to be traversed by ships steering for Torres Strait, you
will be obliged to regulate your movements by the periodic changes of the
weather and monsoons--probably beginning to windward, and dropping gently
to leeward by close and well-arranged traverses, and by spreading out
your three vessels to a convenient distance apart. This great expanse of
sea, which may be said to stretch from Lord Howe's Island to New
Caledonia and to the Louisiade, would no doubt require many years work in
order to accomplish that object; but, by dividing it into definite zones
or squares, and by fully sifting those which you may undertake, a certain
quantity of distinct knowledge will be gained. Navigators in crossing
those zones will then be sure of their safety, and future surveyors will
know exactly on what parts to expend their labours.

In carefully exploring the northernmost, and apparently the safest
entrance from the Pacific, which may be called Bligh's Channel, you will
connect the islands with a survey of the coast of New Guinea, as well as
with the edge of the Warrior Reef, and as there are throughout moderate
soundings, you will probably be able to draw up such clear directions as
will enable the mariner to use it in moderate weather by night, and to
beat through it at all times. Characteristic views of the coast and hills
of New Guinea, as well as of each island, both from the eastward and
westward, will greatly assist him by the immediate certainty of his
landfall, and will also materially add to your means of giving proper
marks and bearings for avoiding the dangers.

In Torres Strait you will find much to do--not only has a new rock been
discovered in the middle of the Endeavour Channel, but the water in its
western opening is only four and a half fathoms, and there seems no
reason for not believing that Prince of Wales Channel is safer, easier,
and more direct. But before we can decide upon that point, an accurate
survey must be made of it, throughout its length and breadth, including
the adjacent islands, and showing their anchorages and watering-places,
as well as the nature of the soil, and the kind of timber they produce,
along with a full investigation of the tides.

The connection of that Strait with Bligh's Farewell should also be
examined, for many circumstances may render it highly necessary that the
Admiralty should be made aware of what means there are to pass from one
ocean to the other, without being observed from Cape York.

On this latter Cape Government have for some time contemplated a station,
and it will therefore be very desirable to fix upon a convenient but
secure anchorage in its neighbourhood. Our latest surveys do not show
much promise of finding such a port; but, perhaps, inside the reefs
beyond Peak Point, or more likely between Albany Island and the main, a
snug place may be discovered for that purpose.

In tracing out the approach to Bligh's Farewell, you will be led to
examine the southern face of New Guinea as far as Cape Valsche; but after
verifying the position of this point, it will be prudent to quit the
shores of that island, and not to meddle with any part of it over which
the Dutch claim jurisdiction.

When you have arrived at this distant point, the south-east monsoon will
probably render it necessary to repair to Port Essington for such
supplies as may by previous arrangement have been sent there for you from
Sydney; or perhaps unforeseen events might render it more expedient to
proceed for refreshments to some of the islands in the Arafura Sea, or it
is possible to one of the Dutch settlements in Java. And in either of
these two latter cases you should make a complete survey of the island to
which you have proceeded, or you should select any one of the eastern
passages from Bally to Floris most convenient to the object you have in
view, and then lay it down with precision. Of the many well-known
passages between the innumerable islands of that great Archipelago, there
is not one which has ever been charted with plausible accuracy; and it
cannot be too strongly impressed on your mind that hydrography is better
served by one accurate chart than by ten approximate sketches.

The several objects of this highly interesting expedition having thus
been briefly enumerated, I have only to remind you that their Lordships
do not prescribe to you the order in which they are to be executed,
leaving it to your own prudence, and to your experience in those
climates, so to arrange them that each part of your survey shall be
complete in itself, and that each step in your progress shall be
conducive to its successor.

Signed: F. BEAUFORT,




The Rattlesnake left Spithead on December 3rd, and on the 11th took her
final departure from Plymouth, which place we had called at to complete
her fittings, swing the ship a second time to ascertain the amount of
local attraction, and receive some specie for the Cape of Good Hope and
the Mauritius. Being favoured by strong northerly winds, we reached
Madeira on December 18th, after a quick, but most uncomfortable passage;
during the greater part of which the main and lower decks were partially
flooded, owing to the inefficiency of the scuppers, and the leaky state
of nearly every port and scuttle in the ship.


December 20th.

The scenery of Madeira has been so often described by voyagers, who, from
Cook downwards, have made it the first stage in their circumnavigation of
the globe, as to render superfluous more than a few passing allusions.
When near enough to distinguish the minor features of the island, the
terraced slopes of the mountainsides converted into vineyards and gardens
studded with the huts of the peasantry, presented a pleasing aspect to
visitors, whom a week's sailing had brought from the snow-clad shores of
England. Here and there a whitewashed chapel or picturesque villa lent a
charm to the scenery by contrasting strongly with the patches of green
upon the slopes, the deep blue of the ocean, and the delicate white of
the ever-changing clouds of mist which rolled incessantly along, while
the rugged summit of the island, and the deep ravines radiating towards
the coast-range of precipitous cliffs, gave an air of wildness to the


The town of Funchal, said to contain about 25,000 inhabitants, is
situated upon the slope of an amphitheatre of hills, behind the only
anchorage of the island. The finest view is obtained from the balcony of
a church dedicated to Nossa Senhora de Monte, situated at a considerable
elevation above the town. Here one looks down upon the numerous quintas
and cottages of the suburbs embosomed in gardens and vineyards, the
orange groves and clumps of chestnut trees, the snow-white houses of
Funchal with its churches and public buildings, the citadel frowning over
the town, the calm waters of the bay with the vessels at anchor gently
heaving to and fro on the long westerly swell, the Ilheo rock and
batteries, the bold headlands, and the dim outline of the distant
Desertas. Some of the streets are pleasantly shaded by rows of
plane-trees (Platanus occidentalis). Several deep ravines passing through
the town are carefully walled in, to prevent damage being done by the
torrents which occasionally sweep down the mountain, carrying everything
before them. From the steepness of the narrow roads and streets, wheeled
vehicles can scarcely be used, and sledges drawn by small bullocks supply
their place, while the wine, the chief article of export, is conveyed
into the town in goat-skins carried on the shoulder.


December 23rd.

Few strangers remain long in Madeira without paying a visit to the
Curral, and a large party of us left the ship for that purpose this
morning. At first the road led through a series of narrow lanes
frequently separated from the fields and vineyards on either side by
hedges of roses, honeysuckle, jasmine and fuchsias; now and then passing
under successions of trellis-work covered by the vines when in full
vigour, and then forming long shady vistas. For several miles we wound
our way along the hillsides, down deep ravines, and up steep rocky
slopes. In spite of the ruggedness of the path, our horses progressed
with wonderful alacrity, although occasionally impeded by the additional
weight of the attendant burroqueros holding on by the tail, and laughing
at our efforts to dislodge them. On reaching the shoulder of one of the
hills, we found the ravines and valleys below us filled with dense mist.
Here, at an elevation of 2500 feet, a species of spruce-like pine
appeared to thrive well. The path, which at times is not more than three
feet wide, now winds along the sides of the mountain with many sharp
turnings; heading numerous ravines, the frightful nature of which was
partially concealed by the obscurity of the mist.

We halted at the Pass of the Curral, to which Captain Stanley's
barometrical observations* assign an elevation of 2700 feet above the
sea. Shortly afterwards the mist gradually dissolved, unveiling the
magnificent scenery below and around. The Curral gives one the idea of a
vast crater** of irregular form, surrounded by a rugged wall (upwards of
a thousand feet in height) of grey weather-beaten rock cut down into wild
precipices, intersected by ravines and slopes of debris mixed up with
masses of crumbling rock, and towering upwards into fantastic peaks. A
winding path leads to the bottom--a small fertile valley watered by a
streamlet which leaves it by a deep gorge on the left, and forms a
picturesque waterfall on its way to the sea. The scattered rustic huts
and snow-white chapel of the Curral complete the picture of this peaceful
and secluded spot, buried in the very heart of the mountains.

(*Footnote. The height of the Pico dos Bodes, determined in the usual way
by the mountain barometer, was found by Lieutenant Dayman to be 3677
feet; his observations on the magnetic dip and intensity (for which see
the Appendix) are interesting, as showing a great amount of local
attraction at the summit.)

(**Footnote. There is reason to suppose the Curral to have been the
principal, although not the only centre of that submarine volcanic
action, during the continuance of which Madeira first emerged from the
sea, an event, which the evidence afforded by the limestone fossils of
St. Vincente (on the north side of the island) associates with the
tertiary epoch. See Paper by Dr. J. Macaulay in Edinburgh New
Philosophical Journal for October 1840.)

Although it is now the middle of winter, today's excursion afforded many
subjects of interest to a naturalist. Some beautiful ferns, of which even
the commonest one (Adiantum capillus-veneris) would have been much prized
by an English botanist as a very rare British species, occurred on the
dripping rocks by the roadside, and many wild plants were in flower on
the lower grounds. Even butterflies of three kinds, two of which (Colias
edusa and Cynthia cardui) are also found in Britain, occurred, although
in small numbers, and at the Pass of the Curral coleoptera of the genera
Pimelea and Scarites, were met with under stones along with minute
landshells, Bulimus lubricus, Clausilia deltostoma, and a Pupa.


After a stay of eight days, we left Madeira for Rio de Janeiro, and on
January 2nd picked up the south-east trade wind, and passed through the
Cape de Verde Islands to the southward between Mayo and St. Jago. Two
days afterwards, in latitude 9 degrees 30 minutes North, and longitude 22
degrees 40 minutes West, a slight momentary shock, supposed to be the
effect of an earthquake, was felt throughout the ship.


On the 11th an attempt was made to strike deep-sea soundings, but failed
from the drawing of a splice used to connect two portions of the
spun-yarn employed. On the following day the attempt was repeated by
Captain Stanley, unsuccessfully, however, no bottom having been obtained
at a depth of 2400 fathoms. Still a record of the experiment may be
considered interesting. At three P.M., when nearly becalmed in latitude 1
degree North, and longitude 22 degrees 30 minutes West (a few hours
previous to meeting the south-east trade) the second cutter was lowered
with 2600 fathoms of line (six yarn spun-yarn) in her, coiled in casks,
and a weight consisting of twelve 32 pounds shot--in all, 384 pounds,
secured in a net bag of spun yarn. The jolly-boat was in attendance to
tow the cutter as fast to whirlwind as she drifted, so as to keep the
line during the time it was running out as nearly up and down as
possible. The following table shows when each 100 fathoms passed over the
stern, the whole 2400 fathoms of line having taken 38 minutes and 40
seconds to run out:


100 : 1 0.
200 : 2 5.
300 : 2 30.
400 : 3 35.
500 : 5 0.
600 : 6 15.
700 : 7 35.
800 : 9 0.
900 : 10 35.
1000 : 12 40.
1100 : 13 30.
1200 : 15 10.
1300 : 17 5.
1400 : 19 0.
1500 : 20 50.
1600 : 22 30.
1700 : 24 25.
1800 : 26 30.
1900 : 29 10.
2000 : 31 0.
2100 : 32 55.
2200 : 35 0.
2300 : 36 55.
2400 : 38 40.


The forenoon of January 13th was employed in the performance of the usual
ceremonies on crossing the line, a custom now happily falling into
desuetude--I allude to it merely for the purpose of mentioning its
unfortunate consequences in the present instance; for, although the whole
proceeding was conducted with the greatest good humour, we had soon
afterwards to lament the occurrence of a fatal case of pleurisy, besides
another scarcely less severe, believed by the medical officers to have
been induced by forcible and continued submersion in what is technically
called the pond, one part of the performance which novices are obliged to
submit to during these marine Saturnalia.

The most interesting occurrence in natural history during the passage, in
addition to the usual accompaniments of flying fish, dolphins, physaliae
and velellae, was our finding, in the neighbourhood of the equator,
considerable numbers of a rare British bird, Thalassidroma leachii, a
species of storm-petrel, not before known to extend its range to the
tropics; it was distributed between the tropic of Cancer and latitude 5
degrees South.

As we approached the South American coast, the rates of several of our
seventeen chronometers (fifteen Government and two private ones) were
found to have strangely altered, thus reducing the value of our meridian
distance between Madeira and Rio; this effect was ascribed to the firing
of shotted guns when exercising at general quarters, a practice which in
consequence was not afterwards repeated.


January 23rd.

I shall not soon forget my first view of the shores of the new world. The
morning was beautifully fine, and with a light breeze scarcely sufficient
to cause a ripple on the water, we were slipping past the high and
remarkable promontory of Cape Frio, which at first appeared like an
island. A long beach of glittering sand stretched away to the westward,
and was lost in the distance; behind this a strip of undulating country,
clad here and there in the richest green, was backed by a range of
distant wooded hills, on which many clumps of palms could be
distinguished. Few harbours in the world present a more imposing entrance
than that of Rio de Janeiro. Several islands lie off the opening, and on
either side the coast range terminates in broken hills and ridges of
granite, one of which, Pao d'Acucar, the Sugarloaf of the English, rises
at once from near the water's edge to the height of 900 feet, as an
apparently inaccessible peak, and forms the well-known landmark for the

Passing the narrows (where the width is a mile and a quarter) strongly
guarded by fortifications, of which Fort Santa Cruz, an extensive work,
with several tiers of guns occupying a rocky point, is the principal, the
harbour widens out with beautiful sandy bays on either side, and rocky
headlands covered with luxuriant vegetation. Here the view of the city of
Rio de Janeiro is magnificent. The glare of the red-tiled buildings,
whitewashed or painted yellow, is relieved by the varied beauty of the
suburbs and gardens, and the numerous wooded eminences crowned by
churches and other conspicuous public edifices. Beyond the city the
harbour again widens out to form an immense basin, studded with green
islands, extending backwards some seventeen or eighteen miles further
towards the foot of the Organ Mountains, remarkable for their pinnacled
summits, the highest of which attains an elevation of 7800 feet above the

The harbour presented a busy scene from our anchorage. The water was
alive with small craft of every description, from the large
felucca-rigged boat down to the fishing canoe simply constructed of a
hollowed-out log, and steamers crowded with passengers plied between the
city and the opposite shore. The seabreeze died away, and was succeeded
by a sultry calm; after a short interval, the grateful land wind, laden
with sweet odours, advanced as a dark line slowly stealing along the
surface of the water, and the deep boom of the evening gun echoing from
hill to hill may be said appropriately to have closed the scene.


Landing at the Largo do Paco, or palace square, my first favourable
impressions of the city of Rio de Janeiro were somewhat lessened by the
stench arising from offal on the beach, and the vicinity of the market,
under the conjoined influence of a perfect calm and a temperature of 90
degrees in the shade. The palace, now used by the emperor only on court
days, has two sides of the large irregular square in which it is
situated, occupied by shops and other private buildings. Close by is the
market, which the stranger, especially if a naturalist, will do well to
visit. The variety of fruits and vegetables is great, that of fish
scarcely less so. On the muddy shore in the background, the fishing
canoes are drawn up on their arrival to discharge their cargoes, chiefly
at this time consisting of a kind of sprat and an anchovy with a broad
lateral silvery band. Baskets of land crabs covered with black slimy mud,
of handsome Lupeae, and the large well-flavoured prawns, called
Cameroons, are scattered about, and even small sharks (Zygaenae, etc.)
and cuttlefish are exposed for sale.

The streets, which, with few exceptions, are very narrow, are paved with
large rough stones--they have usually a gutter in the centre, and
occasionally a narrow pavement on each side. For building purposes,
unhewn granite is chiefly used, the walls being afterwards smoothed over
with a layer of plaster, whitewashed, and margined with yellow or blue.
The two principal streets are the Rua Direita, the widest in the city,
and the principal scene of commercial transactions, and the narrow Rua do
Ouvidor, filled with shops, many of which equal in the richness and
variety of their goods the most splendid establishments of European
capitals. Of these the most tempting, and the most dangerous to enter
with a well-filled purse, is the famous feather-flower manufactory of
Mme. Finot, where the gorgeous plumage of humming birds and others of the
feathered tribe is fabricated into wreaths and bouquets of all kinds.
Although the absence of sewerage is everywhere apparent, the town is well
supplied with water from numerous large fountains, filled by pipes from
an aqueduct five or six miles in length, communicating with the Corcovado
mountain. One is struck with the comparative absence of wheeled vehicles
in the streets of Rio. Now and then a clumsy caleche is driven past by a
negro postillion, in blue livery and jackboots, riding a second horse
yoked outside the shafts, and omnibuses drawn by four or six mules, are
not infrequently met with, and seem to be much patronised.

Many of the walks in the neighbourhood of the city are exceedingly
beautiful; one of the pleasantest leads along the line of the aqueduct.
Here the botanist fresh from Europe, will find subjects of interest at
every step, and the entomologist may revel to his heart's content among
gaudily coloured Heliconiae, Hesperiae, and Erycinae, or watch the larger
butterflies of the restricted genus Papilio, slowly winging their lazy
flight among the trees just beyond the reach of his insect net. A common
butterfly here (Peridromia amphinome) has the singular habit of
frequenting the trunks and limbs of the trees where it rests with
expanded wings, and generally manages adroitly to shift its position, and
escape when swept at with the net. Some large dark Cicadae are common
among the branches, and the air often resounds with their harsh grating
cries, especially towards evening. On the trunks of various trees along
the path, especially a thorny-stemmed Bombax, the pretty Bulimus
papyraceus is common, with an occasional B. auris-leporis, but I never
during my walks was so fortunate as to find any of the more magnificent
of the Brazilian landshells--for example, B. ovalis, a noble species,
four or five inches in length, of which I have bought live specimens in
the market.

Some of the lanes, in which, on one occasion I lost my way, about dusk,
would have reminded me of those of the south of England on a fine
autumnal eve, were it not for the scattered palms and papaw trees in the
hedgerows, and the hedges themselves occasionally consisting of the
coffee plant, concealing clumps of banana and sugar-cane. The Cicadae
were singing their evening hymn from the branches overhead, and in due
time the fireflies came out in all their glory.


I had looked forward with eager anticipation to the result of the first
dredging of the Voyage. None of the ship's boats could be spared, so I
hired one pulled by four negro slaves, who, although strong active
fellows, had great objections to straining their backs at the oar, when
the dredge was down. No sieve having been supplied, we were obliged to
sift the contents of the dredge through our hands--a tedious and
superficial mode of examination. Still some fine specimens of a curious
flat sea-urchin (Encope marginata) and a few shells, encouraged us to
persevere. Two days after, Mr. Huxley and myself set to work in Botafogo
Bay, provided with a wire-gauze meat cover, and a curious machine for
cleaning rice; these answered capitally as substitutes for sieves, and
enabled us by a thorough examination of the contents of the dredge, to
detect about forty-five species of mollusca and radiata, some of which
were new to science. Among these acquisitions I may mention a new species
of Amphioxus, a genus of small fishes exhibiting more anomalies than any
other known to ichthyologists, and the lowest organisation found in the
class; it somewhat resembles the sand-eels of Britain in habits, like
them moving with extraordinary rapidity through the sand. By dint of
bribery and ridicule, we had at length managed to get our boatmen to work
tolerably well; and when we were alike well roasted by the sun and
repeatedly drenched, besides being tired out and hungry, they had become
quite submissive, and exchanged their grumbling for merriment. A more
lovely spot can scarcely be found, than the secluded bay of Botafogo with
its pretty village, and the noble Corcovado mountain immediately behind,
and we paid it other visits.


One of the principal characteristics of Rio is slavery. Slaves here
perform the work of beasts of burden; and in the business parts of the
city the attention of a stranger is sure to be arrested by gangs of them
heavily laden, proceeding at a jog-trot, timing their steps to a
monotonous song and the noise of a tin rattle filled with stones, carried
by their leader. What their domestic condition and treatment may be, I
know not, but, among the slaves one sees out of doors, the frequency of
iron collars round the neck, and even masks of tin, concealing the lower
part of the face, and secured behind with a padlock, would seem to
indicate extreme brutality in those capable of resorting to such means of
punishment. Yet these, I was told, were rare exceptions, the Brazilians
not being worse task-masters than the people of other slave-holding
countries--and such may be the case.


Whatever he may think of the true state of religious feeling, it soon
becomes obvious to a stranger that great care is taken to celebrate the
numerous festivals of the Church with all possible pomp and splendour.
One day I happened to encounter a procession in honour of St. Januarius,
the patron saint of Rio. The number of ecclesiastics taking a part
amounted to several hundreds, and a body of military brought up the rear.
The streets and windows were crowded with people in their holiday
costume, bands of music were playing, bells were ringing, flowers were
scattered about and showered down from the houses. The profusion of
tinsel and embroidery was very great, and the balconies and windows in
the line of procession were hung with rich brocade in all the colours of
the rainbow.


A short stay, such as ours, afforded very limited opportunities of
judging of the national character; and my impressions on this point were,
probably, often erroneous. The Brazilians and English did not then
reciprocate very cordially, on account of the existing state of
international relations. Of late years great advances appear to have been
made upon the mother-country, judging from the increasing liberality of
their institutions, the establishment of commercial relations abroad, the
freedom of discussion and influence of the press, the attention paid to
public education (especially of the middle classes) the support granted
to literature and science, and the declining influence of the priesthood
in secular matters. The national character, however, can scarcely be
considered as fully formed; the Brazilians have been too recently
emancipated from the thraldom of a modified despotism to have made, as
yet, any very great progress in developing the elements of national
prosperity and greatness which the vast empire of Brazil so abundantly
possesses, and the foul blot of slavery, with its debasing influence,
still remains untouched.


On February 2nd we sailed from Rio for the Cape of Good Hope. The morning
being calm, we were towed out by the boats of the squadron until a light
air, the precursor of the seabreeze, set in. While hove-to outside the
entrance, a haul of the dredge brought up the rare Terebratula rosea, and
a small shell of a new genus, allied to Rissoa. The remainder of the day
and part of the succeeding one were spent in a fruitless search for a
shoal said to exist in the neighbourhood, to which Captain Stanley's
attention had been drawn by Captain Broughton, of H.M.S. Curacao.

At one P.M. of each day, when the weather was favourable, the ship was
hove-to for the purpose of obtaining observations on the temperature of
the water at considerable depths, under the superintendence of Lieutenant
Dayman. As these were continued during our outward voyage as far as Van
Diemen's Land, and the number of observations amounted to 69, the results
will more clearly be understood if exhibited in a tabular form, for which
the reader is referred to the Appendix. "Two of the Sixe's thermometers
were attached, one at the bottom of the line of 370 fathoms, the other
150 fathoms higher up. The depth recorded is that given by Massey's
patent sounding machine. As the same quantity of line was always used,
the difference of depth of each day should be trifling, varying only in
proportion to the ship's drift; yet on several occasions the depth
recorded by the machine gives as much as 100 fathoms short of the
quantity of line let out."*

(*Footnote. Lieutenant Dayman, R.N.)


While engaged in sounding, a process which usually occupied
three-quarters of an hour, a boat was always at my service when birds
were about the ship, and the state of the sea admitted of going after
them--by this means many species of petrels were obtained for the
collection. On one of these occasions, owing to a mistake in lowering the
stern boat before the ship had quite lost her way through the water, one
of the falls could not be unhooked in time; consequently the boat was
dragged over on her broadside, and finally capsized with eight people in
her. Some reached one of the life-buoys, which was instantly let go, the
others managed to roll the boat over and right her, full of water. All
were eventually picked up by the leeward quarter-boat; the weather one,
from the shortness of the davits, would not clear the ship's side, but
turned over on her bilge, dipping in the water, and was rendered
ineffective when most wanted. This defect in the davits was afterwards
remedied by the substitution of other and longer ones, which had formerly
belonged to H.M. steam vessel Thunderbolt, wrecked at Algoa Bay a short
time previously.


Among many interesting birds* procured in the above-mentioned manner, I
may allude to Puffinus cinereus, a European species of shearwater, which
was found to be generally distributed across the South Atlantic between
the meridians of 28 degrees West and 1 1/2 degrees East; on two
successive days, while in the neighbourhood of Tristan da Cunha, myriads
of these birds passed the ship to the westward, apparently coming from
that island. A few days afterwards, while 480 miles from the nearest
land, we caught a beautiful tern (Sterna melanorhyncha) hitherto
considered to be peculiar to Australia.

(*Footnote. For the occurrence of Procellariadae during our outward
voyage, with a view to determine the geographical distribution of the
species met with by me, see Contributions to Ornithology by Sir W.
Jardine, Bart. page 94.)


On several occasions the towing net* produced a rich harvest, especially
one day when almost becalmed in latitude 34 degrees 40 minutes South and
longitude 4 degrees West. The surface of the water was absolutely teeming
with marine animals. Of these a small Physalia and a Velella (V.
emarginata ?) were the most plentiful. The latter curious animal,
consists of a flat oval expansion, an inch and a half in length,
furnished below with numerous cirrhi and a proboscidiform mouth, and
above with an obliquely vertical crest, the whole of a rich blue colour
with white lines and dots, the soft parts conceal a transparent
cartilaginous framework. The crest acts as a tiny sail (hence the name)
and communicates to the animal a slow rotatory movement while drifting
before the wind. Two kinds of Janthinae (J. globosa and J. exigua)
molluscs with a fragile, snail-like shell, and a vesicular float, were
drifting about, and, together with a very active, silvery-blue Idotea,
half an inch long, prayed upon the Velellae. At another time, among many
other pelagic crustacea, we obtained three kinds of Erichthus, a genus
remarkable for the glassy transparency of its species, also Hyalaea
inflexa and H. tridentata, curious pteropodous molluscs which swim near
the surface.

(*Footnote. Not having seen a description of this useful instrument, I
may mention that the kind used by Mr. Huxley and myself, consisted of a
bag of bunting (used for flags) two feet deep, the mouth of which is sewn
round a wooden hoop fourteen inches in diameter; three pieces of cord, a
foot and a half long, are secured to the hoop at equal intervals and have
their ends tied together. When in use the net is towed astern, clear of
the ship's wake, by a stout cord secured to one of the quarter-boats or
held in the hand. The scope of line required is regulated by the speed of
the vessel at the time, and the amount of strain caused by the partially
submerged net.)


On March 8th, we anchored in Simon's Bay; our passage from Rio de
Janeiro, contrary to expectation, had thus occupied upwards of five
weeks, owing to the prevalence of light easterly winds (from north-east
to south-east) instead of the westerly breezes to be looked for to the
southward of latitude 35 degrees South. We were fortunate, however, in
having fine weather during the greater part of that time.

The period of our stay at the Cape of Good Hope was devoted to the
construction of a chart of Simon's Bay and its neighbourhood, which has
since been incorporated with the previous survey of Captain Sir Edward
Belcher in H.M.S. Samarang, and published without acknowledgment. The
requisite shore observations were made by Captain Stanley and Mr. Obree,
while Lieutenants Dayman and Simpson conducted the sounding. Our
detention was lengthened by a succession of south-east gales, and the
state of the weather throughout was such that during the period of
twenty-one days the sounding boats were able to work on six only--the
other fine days were devoted to swinging the ships for magnetical
purposes. It was also intended to survey the Whittle shoal in False Bay,
but when we sailed, the weather was so thick and unsettled, that Captain
Stanley was reluctantly obliged to give it up.


Simon's Town is a small straggling place of scarcely any importance,
except in connection with the naval establishment kept up here--dockyard,
hospital, etc.--this being the headquarters of the Cape station. It is
distant from Cape Town twenty-three miles. The neighbourhood is
singularly dreary and barren, with comparatively little level ground, and
scarcely any susceptible of cultivation. I have often been struck with
the great general similarity between the barren and sandy tracts of this
district, and many parts of New South Wales, where sandstone is the
prevailing rock. In both countries there are the same low scrubby bushes,
at the Cape consisting of Heaths and Proteae, and in Australia of
Epacridae and Banksiae--the last the honeysuckles of the Colonists. Even
the beautiful sunbirds of the Cape, frequenting especially the flowers of
the Proteae, are represented by such of the Australian honeysuckers as
resort to the Banksiae.


We found the Cape Colony suffering from the long continuance of the
Caffre war. As a natural consequence, the price of everything had risen,
and there was little specie left in Cape Town. All the troops had been
sent to the frontier; a party of bluejackets from the flagship at one
time performed garrison duty at Cape Town; the emergency was so great
that even some detachments of troops on their way back to England after
long service in India, having put in at the Cape for refreshments, were
detained and sent to Algoa Bay. We were all heartily tired of Simon's Bay
long before leaving it; not the less so from having this all engrossing
Caffre war dinned into our ears from morning to night as an excuse for
high prices, and sometimes for extortions, which I had before supposed to
be peculiar to new colonies.

On April 10th we left Simon's Bay for Mauritius. Our passage of
twenty-four days presented little remarkable. We experienced every
gradation between a calm and a heavy north-east gale; during the
continuance of one of the latter, we passed near the Slot Van Capel bank
of the old charts, the existence of which it was of importance to verify;
* but the heavy confused sea, such as one would expect to find on a bank
during a gale, rendered it dangerous to heave-to to try for soundings.

(*Footnote. I have since learned that H.M.S. Meander, Captain the
Honourable H. Keppel, struck soundings on this bank, but have not been
able to procure the particulars.)


During this passage some important observations were made by Captain
Stanley and Lieutenant Dayman to determine the height, length, and
velocity of the waves. The results will be apparent from the following
tabular view.*

COLUMN 1: DATE 1847.

April 21 : - : 5 : 7.2 : 22 : 55 : 27.0 : Ship before the wind with a
heavy following sea.

April 23 : 8 : 5 : 6 : 20 : 43 : 24.5 : Ship before the wind with a heavy
following sea.

April 24 : 6 : 4 : 6 : 20 : 50 : 24 : Ship before the wind with a heavy
following sea.

April 25 : 9 : 4 : 5 : - : 37 : 22.1 : Ship before the wind with a heavy
following sea.

April 26 : - : 4 : 6 : - : 33 : 22.1 : Ship before the wind with a heavy
following sea.

May 2 : 6 : 4 and 5 : 7 : 22 : 57 : 26.2 : Sea irregular, observations
not very good.

May 3 : 7 : 5 : 7 and 8 : 17 : 35 : 22.0 : Wind and sea on port quarter.

(*Footnote. The height was determined by watching when the crest of the
wave was on a level with the observer's eye (the height above the trough
of the sea being known) either while standing on the poop or in the
mizzen rigging; this must be reduced to one half to obtain the absolute
height of the wave above the mean level of the sea. The length and
velocity were found by noting the time taken by the wave to traverse the
measured distance (100 yards) between the ship and the spar towing
astern. In column 3, the number 4 denotes a moderate breeze, and 5 a
fresh breeze.)

Oceanic birds were plentiful in our wake, and gradually dropped off as we
approached the tropic. On May 2 the vicinity of land was denoted by the
appearance of four tropic birds (Phaeton aethereus) and a tern; and next
evening, shortly before sunset, we sighted the Island of Mauritius, the
Bamboo Mountain at Grand Port being the first part seen. We rapidly
closed in with the land, and during the night were near enough to see the
surf on the coral reefs fringing the shore, it assuming the appearance,
in the bright moonshine, of a sandy beach of glittering whiteness.

Captain Stanley remarks, that "The reef on the east side of the island
projects further than is laid down on the Admiralty chart, and as from
the prevalence of the south-east trade a current is constantly setting to
the westward, vessels approaching this part of the island should be very
cautious, even with a leading wind, not to get too close in with the land
until the passage between Gunner's and Round Island is well under the
lee. At night, also, the distance from the land, when off the north-east
end of the island, is very deceiving, as the plains of Pamplemousses are
very low. The Rattlesnake, in passing at night between the Gunner's Quoin
and Flat Island, experienced a strong set of nearly three miles an hour
to the westward, which at times is said to be much stronger, and partakes
in some measure of the nature of the tide."


May 4th.

When I came upon deck I found that we had rounded the north end of the
island, and were beating up for Port Louis. It was a delightful morning,
with bright sunshine, smooth water, a gentle trade wind, and an unclouded
sky. The view was very beautiful, and quite equalled my expectations,
based, though they were, upon the glowing descriptions of La Pierre. The
extremes of the island are low, but the centre is occupied by the
partially wooded crest-like ridge, rugged and pinnacled, connecting La
Pouce with the famous Peter Botte. Viewed in a mass, the country looked
burnt up, of a dull yellowish red hue--the higher hills were dark green,
and the lower grounds partially so. To the left was the fertile plain of
Pamplemousses, even now, in the beginning of winter, one mass of green of
various degrees of intensity. As we approached we began to make out more
distinctly the sugar plantations, the groves of coconut trees and
casuarinas, the features of the town, and the dense mass of shipping in
the harbour. We hove to off the Bell Buoy (denoting the outer anchorage)
for the steamer which towed us to our berth abreast of Cooper's Island.


The harbour of Port Louis is of singular formation. It is entered by a
narrow passage or break in the coral reef surrounding the island, leading
into a large basin, the central portion only of which has sufficient
water for shipping. The bottom is mud, which, they say, is fast
accumulating, especially in a small bight called the Trou Fanfaron, where
a few years ago a line-of-battle ship could float, but which has now
scarcely water enough for a large corvette. The reefs about the entrance
are nearly dry at low-water, at which time one may wade to their outer
margin, as is daily practised by hundreds of fishermen.

Passing through the closely packed lines of shipping, and landing as a
stranger at Port Louis, perhaps the first thing to engage attention is
the strange mixture of nations--representatives, he might at first be
inclined to imagine, of half the countries of the earth. He stares at a
Coolie from Madras with a breech-cloth and soldier's jacket, or a
stately, bearded Moor, striking a bargain with a Parsee merchant; a
Chinaman, with two bundles slung on a bamboo, hurries past, jostling a
group of young Creole exquisites smoking their cheroots at a corner, and
talking of last night's Norma, or the programme of the evening's
performance at the Hippodrome in the Champ de Mars; his eye next catches
a couple of sailors reeling out of a grog-shop, to the amusement of a
group of laughing negresses in white muslin dresses of the latest
Parisian fashion, contrasting strongly with a modestly attired Cingalese
woman, and an Indian ayah with her young charge. Amidst all this the
French language prevails; everything more or less pertains of the French
character, and an Englishman can scarcely believe that he is in one of
the colonies of his own country.


May 16th.

Few passing visitors, like ourselves, leave the Isle of France without
performing a pilgrimage to Pamplemousses, a pretty village seven miles
distant, near which are the (so-called) tombs of Paul and Virginia, and
the Botanic Gardens. For this purpose--as we sail the day after tomorrow,
I started at daylight. The road, even at this early hour, was crowded
with people--Coolies, Chinamen, Negroes, and others, bringing in their
produce to market, while every now and then a carriage passed by filled
with well-dressed Creoles enjoying the coolness of the morning air, or
bent upon making a holiday of it, for the day was Sunday. I breakfasted
in one of the numerous cabarets by the roadside, dignified with the name
of Hotel de ----, etc. Numerous small streams crossed the road, and the
country, so far as seen, exhibited a refreshing greenness and richness of

Les Tombeaux are situated in a garden surrounded by trees, and a grove of
coffee plants, behind the residence of a gentleman who must be heartily
sick of being so constantly disturbed by strangers. They exhibit nothing
more remarkable than two dilapidated monumental urns on opposite sides of
the garden, shaded by a clump of bamboos and casuarinas, the latter
usually mistaken for cypresses. In the coffee plantation close by, I was
delighted to find great numbers of a large and handsome land shell,
Achatina mauritiana--it burrows in the earth during dry weather, but some
rain which had fallen during the night brought it out in abundance.


The Botanical Gardens are close to the church. Among the plants are some
magnificent sago palms, almost rivalling those I had seen in New Guinea,
during the voyage of the Fly,* and many clove and nutmeg trees, the
cultivation of which in the island it had been the intention of
Government to introduce. Here are some very fine shady walks with ponds
of water and rivulets, but although these cool retreats are admirably
adapted for solitary rambles and the holding of merry picnic parties, I
found with regret that the title of botanical had misled me.

On my return I was not surprised to see in an island colonised by the
French--so little outward respect paid to the Sabbath. Many people were
at work in the fields, and washerwomen in the streams--a party of
Chinamen were employed roofing a house, and blacksmiths hammered away
within gun-shot of the church, while many of the shops and all the
taverns were open in the villages.

(*Footnote. Narrative of the Surveying Voyage of H.M.S. Fly in Torres
Strait, New Guinea, and other Islands of the Asiatic Archipelago by J.
Beete Jukes.)


On a former occasion I had made an excursion to the summit of La Pouce, a
remarkable knob-like peak on the sharp crateriform ridge behind Port
Louis. Following a path, leading from the town directly to Wilhelm's
Plains, one crosses a small stream and skirts the steep face of the hill
over rough ground covered with burnt up grass, and straggling bushes. To
this succeeds a region of evergreens (among which the wild mango is the
prevailing tree) where a species of monkey introduced many years ago into
the island has taken up its abode. I saw none, however, but occasionally
heard their chattering as they hurried along among the bushes. Where the
path crosses the ridge, it widens out into a succession of rounded
eminences, with the summit of La Pouce rising suddenly from its centre in
a thumb-like form. Its base is watered by a small gushing rill, and the
vegetation now is very luxuriant from the continual supply of moisture.
The most striking plants are the tree-ferns (Cyathea excelsa and C.
bourbonica) some of which attain a height of from fifteen to twenty feet.
From the eastern margin of the ridge the view is very fine; a sloping
precipice, several hundred feet in height, covered with stunted bushes,
overlooks Wilhelm's Plains, nearly all under cultivation and studded with
sugar plantations. The soil, when newly turned up, appeared of a dull red
colour. Numbers of tropic birds were flying along the face of the cliff
where they probably breed. Eight species of land shells were picked up
here, either creeping up the grass or under stones and logs; they were of
the genera Caracolla, Helix, and Pupa.

A narrow path, difficult to find among the long grass, leads to the
summit of the mountain, 2600 feet above the level of the sea. The view
from the top embraces the greater part of this fine island. The coral
reef fringing the shores is well seen--the pale green of the shoal water
is separated from the deep blue of the ocean by a line of snow-white


For entomological purposes I frequently visited the Cemetery, numbers of
insects being attracted by its flowers and trees. The road leading to it,
one of the principal evening drives, is shaded by rows of magnificent
casuarinas, from Madagascar. Some five or six widely-separated religious
creeds may each here be seen practising their peculiar modes of
interment--Chinese, Mahomedan, Hindoo, and Christian; and among the last
it was a novelty to me to observe, for the first time, the pleasing
custom of decking the graves with fresh flowers, often renewed weekly for
years, disposed in jars of various kinds, from the richly ornamented vase
down to the humblest piece of crockery. All the low land hereabouts has
been borrowed from the sea; it is a mixture of sand and fragments of
coral; and the land-crabs have established a colony in one part of the
cemetery, and run riot among the graves.

Although well aware of the productiveness of this fine island in marine
objects, I was yet unprepared for the sight of upwards of one hundred
species of fish, which I frequently witnessed of a morning in the market
at Port Louis; but this to me was diminished by the regret that the most
skilful taxidermist would signally fail, either to retain upon the
prepared skin, or to reproduce, the bright colours for which so many of
them are remarkable. Dredging in the harbour was perfectly unsuccessful;
outside the margin of the coral reefs which fringe the entrance to Port
Louis one finds a zone of loose blocks of living Maeandrinae, Astraeae,
and other massive corals, where dredging is impracticable; to this
succeeds a belt of dead shells and small fragments of coral; and the
remainder of the channel is tenacious mud, in which I found nothing of


After a pleasant stay of twelve days, we left Mauritius, on May 17th, as
soon as the last set of sights for rating the chronometers had been
obtained, and in due time rounded the north end of the island to a light
wind off the land. In the first watch a distant light was conjectured,
with some degree of probability, to proceed from the well-known active
volcano of the Island of Bourbon.

During our stay at Port Louis, Captain Stanley had complied with a
requisition from the Commissariat to take some specie to Hobart Town,
consequently his previous intention of proceeding to Sydney, by way of
King George Sound, was abandoned.

On May 24th (our noon position being in latitude 28 degrees 1 minute
South, and longitude 67 degrees 30 minutes East) we tacked to the
South-West, having found the impracticability of making a straight course
for Cape Leeuwin without first getting well to the southward, and in due
time we reached the latitudes where westerly winds prevail, and were
enabled to proceed onward on our course.


On June 14th, when in latitude 40 degrees 45 minutes South, and longitude
123 degrees 23 minutes East, the occurrence of a calm during the
forenoon, although accompanied by a considerable swell, induced Captain
Stanley to make a third attempt to obtain deep-sea soundings. He had been
much interested in the success of experiments of this kind, in which the
grand desideratum has always been to produce POSITIVE PROOF OF HAVING
REACHED BOTTOM by bringing up a portion of its substance, hitherto
unattempted on account of the great length of time required for the
experiment, and the disproportionate strength of the line to the enormous
weight employed, should any sudden jerk ensue from the heave of the sea.
Captain Stanley had at length succeeded in contriving a very ingenious
apparatus by which, upon striking soundings, the eight 32 pounds shot
employed would be immediately detached, leaving no greater weight to be
hauled up than the iron framework to which the shot was slung, and a
small bell-lead with the usual arming of tallow, to which portions of the
bottom would adhere. The line was similar to that employed on January
12th, as then carefully coiled away in casks, each of which held from 800
to 1000 fathoms, and ran out remarkably well, without any tendency to
kink or get foul; but, unfortunately, after 3500 fathoms (or forty yards
less than four statute miles) had gone out, the line parted, from some
flaw, it is supposed, as a piece of the same bore a far heavier weight
when tested subsequently on board. The whole weight employed was equal to
280 pounds; and the time taken by the line to run out was 1 hour, 59
minutes, and 56 seconds.


100 : 0 0 42.
200 : 0 1 49.
300 : 0 3 3.
400 : 0 4 23.
500 : 0 5 57.
600 : 0 7 39.
700 : 0 9 30.
800 : 0 11 22.
900 : 0 13 20.
1000 : 0 15 19.
1100 : 0 17 35.
1200 : 0 19 44.
1300 : 0 21 38.
1400 : 0 24 15.
1500 : 0 26 47.
1600 : 0 29 32.
1700 : 0 32 17.
1800 : 0 35 2.
1900 : 0 38 11.
2000 : 0 41 5.
2100 : 0 44 3.
2200 : 0 47 38.
2300 : 0 50 47.
2400 : 0 53 57.
2500 : 0 57 6.
2600 : 1 0 51.
2700 : 1 6 15.
2800 : 1 12 25.
2900 : 1 20 27.
3000 : 1 26 34.
3100 : 1 32 45.
3200 : 1 39 49.
3300 : 1 45 37.
3400 : 1 52 47.
3500 : 1 59 56.


On June 24th we entered Storm Bay, and next day arrived at Hobart Town.
None of our Australian colonies--I had previously seen them all--reminded
me of the mother country so much as Tasmania. The clearings on the shores
of the Derwent looked very pretty, and almost English, particularly the
spire of a small church peeping out from among the trees.


Arrive at Sydney.
Bramble is attached to the Expedition.
Survey Entrance of Port Jackson and Twofold Bay.
Sail upon our First Northern Cruise.
Arrive at Moreton Bay.
Proceedings there.
Natives at Moreton Island.
Arrive at Port Curtis.
Settlement of North Australia.
Excursions made in Neighbourhood.
Natural Productions.
Call at the Percy Isles.
Port Molle and Cape Upstart.
Unable to find Fresh Water.
Return to Sydney.
Recent Occurrences there.
Sail for Bass Strait.
Visit Port Phillip and Port Dalrymple.
Inspect the Lighthouses of the Strait.

We left Hobart Town for Sydney on July 8th. On the night of the 15th, saw
the fine revolving light on the South Head of Port Jackson, and next
morning anchored at Farm Cove. Our stay in Sydney was protracted to a
period of nearly three months. During this time, in consequence of
previous arrangements, the schooners Bramble, Lieutenant C.B. Yule, and
Castlereagh, Lieutenant D. Aird, were paid off. Both these vessels had
been left in December, 1845, by Captain F.P. Blackwood, of H.M.S. Fly, to
continue the survey of New Guinea (as will afterwards be more
particularly alluded to) and had long been awaiting our arrival. The
Castlereagh, originally purchased in Sydney, being reported to be quite
unfit for surveying purposes, was sold to her former owner; and the
Bramble was recommissioned as tender to the Rattlesnake, and continued
under the command of Lieutenant Yule. Ten additional men were entered on
board, increasing our complement to 190 officers and men, of whom 36 were
placed on board the schooner. After a thorough refit, both vessels were
at length quite ready for sea.


Meanwhile a minute survey was made by Lieutenants Dayman and Simpson of
the inner entrance to Port Jackson, where a reef, called the Sow and Pigs
(distinguished by a beacon and a light vessel) in the middle of the
passage, leaves only a narrow available channel on either side. The exact
boundaries of them, with the depth of water, were to be determined,
especially to ascertain whether a line-of-battle ship, with her full
armament, could pass into the harbour. The shoalest part of the west
channel was found to have 21 feet, and of the east 24 feet at low-water
(the rise and fall of tide being from 5 to 8 feet); consequently, at
high-water there would be room for a three-decker to enter.* This work
was in connection with a proposed dry dock** on Cockatoo Island, above
Sydney, towards the expenses of which the Imperial Government were
willing to contribute, provided it were made of such a size as to be
available for large steamers and line-of-battle ships.

(*Footnote. It was found by comparison with Lieutenant Roe's survey, made
25 years before, that the inner edge of the shoal had extended
considerably to the southward.)

(**Footnote. This has for several years been under construction; its
importance will appear more evident, when it is considered that a large
vessel in the Australian colonies requiring repairs, which cannot be
effected by the process of heaving down, will find no suitable place
nearer than Bombay.)

In compliance with a requisition from Sir Charles Fitzroy, the Governor
of New South Wales, Captain Stanley, in the Bramble, paid a visit to
Twofold Bay, 200 miles to the southward of Sydney, a place of rising
importance as a harbour, also in connection with whaling establishments,
and the extensive adjoining pastoral district of Maneroo. The bay was
resurveyed, with a view to test the comparative merits of the two
townships there--one founded by government, the other by private
enterprise. After all, I believe, the advantages afforded by each of the
rival establishments are so equally divided, that the question still
remains an open one.


October 11th.

After a protracted stay in Sydney of very nearly three months, we were at
length enabled to start upon our first cruise to the northward, the
object of which was to make a survey of Port Curtis and part of the
Inshore Passage leading up to Torres Strait. The Rattlesnake and tender
got under weigh soon after daybreak and ran out of Port Jackson to the
northward with a fine South-east wind. In the evening the Bramble parted
company, her present destination being Port Stephens, for the purpose of
running a meridian distance, and ours Moreton Bay.

One day, while off Cape Byron, an interesting addition to zoology was
made in a small floating shellfish, which has since proved to constitute
a new genus,* throwing light, I am informed, upon many fossil univalves
in the older formations; and a rare bird of the noddy kind (Anous
leucocapillus) perched on the rigging towards evening, and was added to
the collection; for even the beauty and innocence of a tired wanderer
like it was insufficient to save it from the scalpel.

(*Footnote. This mollusc, allied to Litiopa, Professor E. Forbes has done
me the honour to publish in the Appendix as Macgillivrayia pelagica.)


On October 18th we anchored in Yule's Roads, Moreton Bay in 12 fathoms,
sand, about a mile off shore, and remained there for sixteen days. During
our stay, some additions were made to render more complete the former
survey of this important sheet of water. Buoys were laid down to mark the
intricate channels of the north entrance, now preferred for its greater
safety to the south entrance, although lengthening by about 50 miles the
passage to or from Sydney. The wreck of a steamer, and loss of most of
those on board, had not long before caused a great sensation, and
forcibly attracted attention to the dangers of the southern entrance.

Moreton Bay is an expanse of water 45 miles in length, and 20 in greatest
width, enclosed between the mainland and Stradbroke and Moreton Islands.
It is open to the northward, but sheltered on the eastward by the two
islands forming that side, which run nearly north and south. The Brisbane
river enters the bay about the middle of its western side, and, having
been the means of opening up an immense extent of the finest pastoral
country, it has conferred a considerable degree of importance upon the
place as a harbour, although beset with numerous shoals and narrow
winding passages, through which the tides run with great force. The
entrance to the river has a depth of only 10 or 11 feet at high-water,
consequently, is available for small vessels only; the best anchorage for
larger ones is five miles distant. The banks are constantly shifting, and
the channel is intricate. When to this is added that the
settlement--consisting of the townships of North and South Brisbane, and
Kangaroo Point, is situated 14 miles from the river mouth--it was not
surprising that a proposal had been made to establish a trading port
elsewhere in the bay, so that the wool and other produce of the district,
might be shipped direct for England.


For this purpose, Cleveland Point (at the south-east side of the bay) had
been suggested, and the Colonial Government requested Captain Stanley's
opinion on the subject: which is as follows. "This," says he, "is the
worst possible place I ever saw for such a purpose; from the proposed
site of the town, a low rocky point only a few feet above the level of
high-water, projects for more than a mile in the sea; and from both sides
of this, mudflats, that become dry at low-water, extend for a very
considerable distance. The anchorage off this point must be of necessity
in the stream of tide, which, when it sets against even a moderate
breeze, causes a heavy sea. And as the point affords no shelter whatever
for boats, it will be absolutely necessary to build a breakwater, at
least as far out as three fathoms at low-water."


Moreton Island, under the lee of which the Rattlesnake was at anchor, is
19 miles in length, and 4 1/2 in greatest breadth. It consists for the
most part of series of sandhills, one of which, Mount Tempest, is said to
be 910 feet in height; on the north-west portion a large tract of low
ground, mostly swampy, with several lagoons and small streams. The soil
is poor, and the grass usually coarse and sedge-like. All the timber is
small, and consists of the usual Eucalypti, Banksiae, etc. with abundance
of the cypress-pine (Callitris arenaria) a wood much prized for
ornamental work. The appearance along the shores of the Pandanus or
screw-pine, which now attains its southern limits, introduces a kind of
intertropical appearance to the vegetation. Among the other plants are
three, which merit notice from their efficacy in binding down the drift
sand with their long trailing stems, an office performed in Britain by
the bent grass (Arundo arenaria) here represented by another grass,
Ischaemum rottboellioide: the others are a handsome pink-flowered
convolvulus (Ipomoea maritima) one stem of which measured 15 yards in
length, and Hibbertia volubilis, a plant with large yellow blossoms.


Among the marine animals of Moreton Bay are two cetacea of great
interest. The first of these is the Australian dugong (Halicore
australis), which is the object of a regular fishery (on a small scale
however) on account of its valuable oil. It frequents the Brisbane river
and the mudflats of the harbour, and is harpooned by the natives, who
know it under the name of Yung-un. The other is an undescribed porpoise,
a specimen of which, however, I did not procure, as the natives believed
the most direful consequences would ensue from the destruction of one;
and I considered the advantages resulting to science from the addition of
a new species of Phocoena, would not have justified me in outraging their
strongly expressed superstitious feelings on the subject. We observed
that whenever a drove of these porpoises came close inshore, a party of
natives followed them along the beach, and when a shoal of fish,
endeavouring to avoid their natural enemies, approached within reach, the
blacks rushed out into the water with loud cries, and, keeping their bag
nets close together, so as to form a semicircle, scooped out as many fish
as came within reach.

Our seining parties from the ship were usually very successful, but only
at one particular time of tide, or during the young flood. Sharks are
numerous close to the beach, but are generally small and harmless; one of
the natives however had lost his foot at the ankle joint, from the bite
of one.


There were then no white residents upon Moreton Island, but we found a
party of about twenty natives encamped near the watering place. Some of
the men were rather good specimens of the race, but the reverse was the
case with the females; although the latter on the first day of our
meeting them evinced a desire to cover their persons, they afterwards
went about as naked as the men--but the female children wore a small
fringe in front. The married women had lost the last joint of the little
finger of the right hand--one had three half-caste children. The huts of
these natives are of simple construction, yet comfortable enough, and
perfectly waterproof--a framework of sticks in a dome-like form is
covered with bark of the tea-tree (Melaleuca) and branches of trees.

While procuring materials for a vocabulary, I found that even this small
party contained individuals of two tribes, speaking different dialects.
It was curious to observe that although these natives had had much
intercourse with Europeans, a party of them who came on board, could not
be persuaded to go below; and one strong fellow (One-eye, as he called
himself) actually trembled with fear when I laid hold of him by the arm,
to lead him down to the main-deck.

November 4th.

Sailed from Moreton Bay for Port Curtis in company with the Bramble. The
wind being at north, we had to beat out through the narrow channel
leading between the banks of the north entrance, probably never before
attempted by a square-rigged vessel.


On November 7th, we rounded Breaksea Spit, and passed Lady Elliot's
Island--low, of coral formation, and one of the great breeding places of
the seabirds of this portion of the coast. Next day we anchored five
miles off the south entrance of Port Curtis, and sent in two boats to
sound. On their return with a favourable report, the ship was got
underweigh, and ran in under the headsails to round Gatcombe Head, by the
channel laid down in Flinders' chart; but, while following a boat ahead
in charge of the master, the signal to anchor immediately was made, and
we brought up as required, being then about the middle of the north

We remained here until the boats had sounded the remainder of the
approach to the port sufficiently to enable Captain Stanley to move the
vessel without risk to a safe anchorage inside, at a spot convenient for
landing at all times to obtain the requisite observations for determining
an astronomical position, and sufficiently central as a starting point
for boat operations. This was effected on the 10th of November, when we
anchored in 5 fathoms, mud, at three cables lengths distance from the


In January, 1847, the recently proposed colony of North Australia was
established by a party from Sydney, under Lieutenant-Colonel Barney,
R.E., with a suitable staff of public functionaries. The colonists
encountered more than usual difficulties and hardships even at the
commencement. The transport conveying the first portion of the party,
consisting of eighty-eight persons, struck on the shoal off Gatcombe
Head, and required to be hove down, a fit spot for which purpose was
fortunately found in a narrow but deep mangrove creek further up the
harbour, at a place indicated upon the Rattlesnake's chart. The party
were at first encamped upon the south end of Facing Island, but
afterwards removed to the mainland, upon a site for the new township of
Gladstone having been chosen there. The settlement, however, was
abandoned, after a short-lived existence of five months, in obedience to
orders received from home, consequent upon a change in the plans of
Government regarding the disposal of convicts, for North Australia had
been originally intended to be a penal settlement, or one for the
reception of exiles. The expenses incurred by this experiment amounted to
upwards of 15,000 pounds.


The survey of the harbour and its approaches occupied a period of three
weeks. Although this work had ceased to be one of immediate importance,
yet it will eventually be of considerable benefit to the colony of New
South Wales, as the gradual extension of the squatting stations to the
northward from the Wide Bay district must, ere long, call Port Curtis
into requisition as a harbour, and thus enable the settlers to obviate
the necessity of a long and expensive land carriage to Wide Bay, the
nearest place resorted to by the small coasting vessels, communicating
with Brisbane and Sydney.

In illustration of this important subject, I cannot do better than quote
portions of a despatch from Colonel Barney to Sir Charles Fitzroy, dated
Sydney, 20th July, 1847, published in a return ordered by the House of

The extent of land fit for agriculture, within a few miles of the coast,
far exceeds the expectations I had formed on my first visit. Timber for
dwelling-houses and for shipbuilding is abundant, and of the best
description, and within five miles of South Shore Head (the best site for
a settlement) there is to be found pipeclay, brick-earth, ironstone,
freestone, granite, trap, slate, indications of coal; and independent of
a great supply of shells for lime on the immediate site, there is at the
head of one of the navigable salt creeks a fine freshwater stream running
over a bed of limestone; a second creek, in which the Lord Auckland of
600 tons, is hove down, also navigable for ten or twelve miles,
terminates in extensive waterholes; indeed within the port there are four
inlets or creeks, navigable from ten to fifteen miles for vessels drawing
eight or nine feet of water, each terminating in fresh water.

The position and extent of Port Curtis, which I take to be the third
harbour in importance in these seas, inferior only to Port Jackson and
Hobart Town, must shortly lead to an establishment on its shore, offering
security to numerous whaling vessels, which are now compelled to proceed
to Sydney for repairs and supplies; it must also become an important
depot for supplying steamers on passage to India with coal, which I have
reason to believe will be found in abundance within a few miles of the
coast. I have no doubt also that this port will become celebrated for
shipbuilding, possessing, as it does, timber of the highest quality for
such purposes, and favourable positions for building, as well as for the
construction of docks.

The country is capable of affording all the tropical, as well as a
considerable portion of European produce, and will be found highly
favourable for the breeding of stock; indeed, I believe I am correct in
stating that numerous parties, with stock to a very large amount, are now
within a short distance of Port Curtis, taking up stations, not only with
a view to the supply of the projected settlement, but also to the
shipment of wool, tallow, etc. direct to England.



A few days after our arrival at Port Curtis, the Asp, as our decked boat
had been named, joined us, having made an important addition to the
surveys of this portion of the coast. On his passage up from Brisbane,
Lieutenant Dayman, under the unexpected circumstances of finding that the
Rattlesnake had sailed, instead of coasting along the eastern side of
Great Sandy Island, thus involving the necessity of rounding Breaksea
Spit, determined upon trying the passage between that island and the
mainland leading into Hervey Bay; this he fortunately succeeded in
accomplishing, although under difficulties which his sketch (since
published by the Admiralty) will lessen to those who may require to use
the same previously little known channel.

Port Curtis, comprising a space of about ten miles in length, is enclosed
between Facing Island on the east, or to seaward, Curtis Island on the
north, and the shores of the mainland on the western side, leaving to the
southward a wide entrance partially blocked up by shoals. Besides the
narrow channel described by Flinders as leading between the south end of
Facing Island and the large bank of shoal water extending about six miles
to the south-east, a second, and much safer one, the least width of which
is upwards of a mile, was discovered between the large bank and others of
less extent towards the mainland.


We landed almost daily upon Facing Island, which was traversed in every
direction, but nowhere could we find a practicable watering place for the
ship; in fact, during our excursions, it was found necessary to carry a
supply of water with us, not being able to depend upon obtaining any on
shore. The island is 8 1/2 miles long and 2 3/4 in greatest width; it is
generally low, the most elevated part, Signal Hill, situated at its south
end, measuring only 275 feet in height. Its aspect is various; the
shores, as well as those of the adjacent mainland, are often muddy, and
covered with mangroves, fringing creeks, and occupying swamps more or
less extensive, while the remainder of the country is either covered with
the usual monotonous gum-trees, or, as over a large portion of the sea
face, covered with coarse sedgy grass and small bushes, on sandy ground,
which rises into a series of low sandhills extending along the coast.
During winter there must be much water, judging from several nearly dried
up lagoons and swamps, and some empty watercourses.


In company with Mr. Huxley, I made an excursion of two days' duration,
with the double view of seeing the country and adding to my collection.
We started heavily laden with provisions, water, arms and ammunition,
besides boxes, botanical paper and boards, and other collecting gear; and
although taking it very easily, the fatigue of walking in a sultry day,
with the thermometer at 90 degrees in the shade, afforded a sample of
what we had afterwards so often to experience during our rambles in
tropical Australia. Towards the northern end of the island we found
several creeks and lagoons of salt and brackish water, occasionally
communicating with the sea, probably under the conjoined influences of
spring tides and a strong easterly wind. Towards evening, finding among
the contents of our game-bags several ducks, of two species--Anas
superciliosa, the black duck of the colonists, the richest and best
flavoured of all the Australian waterfowl, and A. punctata, or teal, we
had them cooked bush fashion, for supper. The night being fine, we
enjoyed our bivouac upon the top of a sandhill, near the sea, by the side
of a dead Pandanus, which served as firewood--although it was judged
expedient to keep watch by turns, and go the rounds occasionally,
especially after the setting of the moon and before daybreak. We saw no
recent signs of natives, however, during our absence from the ship; but
former experience upon this coast had taught me how necessary it is to be
ever on one's guard, even in apparently uninhabited places; and such
watchfulness soon becomes habitual, and at length ceases to be irksome.
Next day we returned to the ship, more than ever convinced of the
comparative uselessness of the country which we had gone over for
agricultural or even pastoral purposes, except on a very small scale. On
our way back we met with two horses, both in good condition, which had
been left by Colonel Barney's party.


On another occasion Mr. Huxley and myself landed at the site of the
settlement of Gladstone, and were picked up in the evening by Captain
Stanley in one of the surveying boats, on his return to the ship. It is
difficult to conceive a more dreary spot, and yet I saw no more eligible
place for a settlement on the shores of the harbour. A few piles of
bricks, the sites of the tents, some posts, indicating the remains of a
provisional Government-house, wheel-ruts in the hardened clay, the stumps
of felled trees, together with a goodly store of empty bottles strewed
about everywhere, remained as characteristics of the first stage of
Australian colonisation. Within 200 yards of the township we came upon a
great expanse of several hundred acres of bare mud, glistening with
crystals of salt, bordered on one side by a deep muddy creek, and
separated from the shore by thickets of mangroves. The country for
several miles around is barren in the extreme, consisting for the most
part of undulating, stony, forest land. I have heard, however, that there
is much good pastoral country at the back. We found no fresh water during
our walk; of two wells which had been dug by the settlers, through stiff
clay, one was dry, and the other contained a puddle of brackish water,
not fit to drink. We met with few birds, but saw many tracks of emus and


During our stay at Port Curtis, we had no intercourse whatever with the
natives, although anxious to establish friendly communication. With the
aid of the spyglass, we could occasionally make out a few, chiefly women,
collecting shellfish on the mudflats of the mainland, and their fires
were daily seen in every direction. The employment of firearms against
them on several occasions by the crew of the Lord Auckland (under,
apparently, justifiable circumstances however) which left the harbour,
after repairing her damages, only a few months before our arrival, had
probably taught the natives to look with distrust upon white men; and
they cautiously avoided our parties.

On Facing Island, our sportsmen found little inland to recompense them
for their trouble, except blue mountain parrots and quail; but along the
shore, curlews, oystercatchers, and godwits, were plentiful. One day I
killed a bustard (Otis australasiana) weighing 22 1/2 pounds; the
goodness of its flesh was duly appreciated by my messmates. Several small
flocks of this noblest of the Australian gamebirds were seen; but, from
their frequenting the open country, and being very wary, it is only by
stratagem or accident that they can be approached within gunshot. No land
snakes were seen, but sea snakes seem to be frequent in the harbour.


Sharks of enormous size appeared to be common; one day we caught two, and
while the first taken was hanging under the ship's stern, others made
repeated attacks upon it, raising their heads partially out of the water,
and tearing off long strips of the flesh before the creature was dead.
Another swam off apparently as active as ever, although a musket ball had
been fired through its head. On several occasions a party was sent to
haul the seine upon a neighbouring mudflat covered at high-water, and
generally made good captures, especially of mullet and bream
(Chrysophrys); in addition, many other more curious fishes were caught,
and several rare and new crustacea--Squilla, Lupea thalamita, and a new
genus allied to Gonoplax, which will be found described in the Appendix.

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