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The History of Australian Exploration from 1788 to 1888 by Ernest Favenc

Part 7 out of 10

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tributaries. In this great block of more than a million and a quarter of
square miles there are then all the defined channels requisite for the
carriage of water throughout the heart of the continent, but with the
important fact wanting that they are destitute of a constant and steady
supply from the doubtful rainfall. The tilt of the northern edge of the
plateau puts their sources above the level of the great springs, and
causes them to be dependent on these intermittent and often scanty rains.
And we know that these rains have failed in producing any comprehendable
system of drainage over one third of our continent, at, least, at present
with our limited knowledge, the water system appears wasteful and
purposeless throughout that region.

If then the underground sea that exists beneath could be, tapped as far
north as possible, the water would rise to the surface at a much higher
level, than would be possible elsewhere, and much greater use could be
made of it, inasmuch as a larger area would lay below it for
fertilization. Now, the question of the existence of this water supply at
a uniform depth beneath the earth's surface can be proved by noting the
existence of the springs that we know of, that have found their way
without artificial aid to the light of day. Only those can be brought in
evidence that are unmistakeably outside of local influence, and are
unaffected by wet weather, or dry.

In the north, on the edge of the tableland, they are most numerous. On
the east coast, at the head of the Burdekin River, there are
unmistakeable signs of an upward effort of the imprisoned waters to free
themselves. One main tributary, a creek called Fletcher's Creek, takes
its rise in a labyrinth of basaltic rocks, that for years defied the
efforts of the whites to penetrate. This stream rising from its cradle in
the dead lava, winds in and out of the encompassing stretches of rocks,
until it emerges on the outer country, where it feeds and maintains two
large lakes, ere it is lost in the sandy bed of one of the anabranches
of the Burdekin. It is one of the strongest and most consistent outbreaks
in the north, and its volume and continuance show the strength of the
source from which it emerges.

The head of the Burdekin itself is amongst lava beds, wherein there are
many similar springs; most of these take the form of permanent lagoons.
To the westward we find ourselves on a more arid surface, the formation
of the ranges not being so favourable to the development of springs; and
where they do occur, they are evidently the product of rainfall. On the
watershed we are on a corner, as it were, of the inland plain, and our
ascent has put us above the spring level. Lower down, if we follow the
well-known Flinders River, we find in the hot springs at Mount Brown
another upshoot from below that has evidently come from the neighbourhood
of the internal fires themselves. From this point right away west,
skirting the edge of the tableland, great rushes of water are
comparatively common. Some find their way between basaltic columns, and
after feeding the flow of some large river for many miles, die suddenly,
leaving the lower part of the watercourse a barren, sandy channel. The
heads of the Leichhardt and Gregory Rivers are particularly prolific in
springs; the latter river, as I have already noticed, being one of the
steadiest flowing rivers in Australia. Westward still, the heads of all
the rivers, no matter what their lower course is like, abound in springs
at the break of the descent from the tableland, and, as nearly as can be
computed, all these occur at nearly about an identical altitude.

To travel west, through to the western shore of Australia, only gives us
the same phenomena: everywhere the belt of springs is to be found about
half-way between the edge of the tableland and the coast level, just
where the abrupt descent terminates and a gentler slope is entered on. It
would be wearisome to enumerate them all, the fact of their existence is
so well-known in these days.

To fairly see what would be the result of bringing a little of the great
sea of hidden waters to the surface, let us take an instance of one of
the tributaries of that great artery of Australia, the Darling. The head
waters of the Warrego rise in latitude 24 deg., and at its very head,
within almost a stone's throw, are large springs, that find their way
down the range into the lowest river. Thence, through coastal lands, to
the eastern sea board. Now had these springs broken out on the higher
level of the Warrego watershed, their waters would have benefited
hundreds of miles of some of the fairest country in Australia, that now
suffers under constant drought.

The preserving and regulating of their waters, after guiding them into
the channels prepared by Nature, would be an after-work greatly assisted
by the varied formation of the country through which their courses would




To exhaustively deal with the early maritime discoveries of this
continent would require from the historian a vast power of research, and
especially of caution, in deciding or allotting to any one country the
priority of position as the "first-finders;" and while we know of few
studies affording more intellectual pleasure and enjoyment, we doubt if
the result would even then set at rest the mystery which still enshrouds
those narratives.

Since the commencement of this work, however, the following original
paper has been considered worthy of attention, as it presents the most
reasonable and logical theory yet put forward for the right to consider
the French as the original discoverers, and readers will have pleasure in
following out the various deductions as made by one of our
fellow-colonists, E. Marin La Meslée, Member of the Société de Géographie
Commerciale de Paris, who has, by great research, compiled, in the
following interesting article, the evidence relating to the voyage of the
old Norman navigator, Paulmier de Gonneville, in 1503.

Without endorsing what is here put forward, there is much in its favour,
and it shows a considerable degree of keen argument and cogent reasoning
that, in any case, is a valuable contribution to this department of
literature. Moreover, it may be the incentive for further exploration of
the locality mentioned at some future time, with the view of solving the
secrets of the strange carving and wonderful cave drawings, to which so
much interest has been attracted.

* * * * *

Most of the modern histories of Australia contain, with regard to the
voyage of De Gonneville, the same stereotyped remarks:--

"A claim has been set forth on behalf of a certain French sailor named De
Gonneville, who is stated to have landed on the coast of Australia in
1503, but this claim can easily be dismissed, as there is little doubt
that the country he describes is no other than the island of Madagascar."

This opinion, so generally entertained by modern writers is probably
based on the authority of Admiral Burney, and the eminent
English geographer, Mr. Major, who, in referring to Burney's remarks with
regard to this voyage in his paper on "Early Voyages to Terra Australis,"
printed in 1861, merely endorses this statement without attempting to
discuss it. The voyage of Jean Binot Paulmier de Gonneville is
authenticated, however, beyond the possibility of a doubt, but the
mystery to be cleared up as to what part of the Austral world the old
Norman navigator landed upon requires careful handling and very close

De Gonneville left Honfleur in the month of June of the year 1503, in the
good ship L'ESPOIR, and after having rounded the Cape of Good Hope he was
assailed by tempestuous weather and driven into calm latitudes. After a
tedious spell of calm weather, want of water forced him to make for the
first land he could sight. The flight of some birds coming from the south
decided him to run a course to the southward, and after a few days' sail
he landed on the coast of a large territory, at the mouth of a fine
river, which he compares to the river Orne, at Caen. There he remained
for six months repairing his vessel, and making exploring excursions in
the neighbourhood, holding meanwhile amicable intercourse with the
inhabitants. He left this great Austral Land, to which he gave the name
of "Southern Indies," as being situated, in his estimation, "not far
from the true course to the East Indies," on the 3rd of July of the year
1504, taking with him two of the natives, one of whom was the son of the
chief of the people among whom he had resided. On the return voyage no
land was seen until the day after the Feast of St. Denis, I.E., the 10th
of October of the same year; but on nearing the coast of France the ship
was attacked off tile islands of Guernsey and jersey by an English
privateer, who robbed the navigators of all they brought from the land
they had visited, the most important loss being the journal of the
expedition. On his arrival at Honfleur, De Gonneville immediately entered
a plaint before the Admiralty Court of Normandy, and wrote a report of
his voyage, which was signed by the principal officers of his vessel.

The following is a translation of the title of this document

"Judicial declaration made before the Admiralty Court of Normandy by
Sieur de Gonneville, at the request of the King's procurator, respecting
the voyage of the good ship L'ESPOIR, of the port of Honfleur, to the
'Southern Indies.'"

Extracts from this judicial declaration were published for the first time
in 1663 by the bookseller Cramoisy, who had received them from a priest
named J. B. Paulmier, then Canon of the Cathedral Church of St. Pierre de
Lizieux. The document was addressed to Pope Alexander VII., and bears the
title of:--

"Memorial for the establishment of a Christian mission in the third part
of the world, or 'Terre Australe.' Dedicated to His Holiness Pope
Alexander VII., by a priest originating from that country."

This priest was the direct descendant of one of the "Australians" (a term
used for the first time by De Gonneville himself in referring to the
inhabitants of "Terre Australe"), whom the Norman captain had brought to
France, and to whom at his death he gave his name and fortune, in his
desire to make some atonement for the wrong which the worthy sailor
considered he had inflicted upon the native by taking him away from his
country under a promise to return, which he was never able to redeem. De
Gonneville married him to one of his relatives, and the priest in
question was the grandson of the "Australian," whose native name was
"Essomeric." Canon Paulmier appears to have been a man of mark in his
time, since he was resident in France as representative of the King of
Denmark. He was also a man of great learning, and Des Brosses informs us
that he had made a particular study of geography and the history of
voyages of discovery, with which he was perfectly acquainted.

The documents published by Des Brosses were translated and appeared for
the first time in English in a work entitled "Terra Australis Cognita,"
by the Scotch geographer, Callender, who, like Des Brosses, was fully
convinced that De Gonneville had landed somewhere on what is now known as
the Australian Continent. This territory was named by Des Brosses
AUSTRALASIA as far back as 1761, and was placed to the southward of the
Little Moluccas, where our maps now show the north-western portion of the
Australian Continent. Some English geographers, however, such as Admiral
Burney and Flinders, differ from the conclusions arrived at by both Des
Brosses and Callender. Burney inclines to the belief that the land
visited by De Gonneville could be no other than Madagascar. After him,
Major, than whom no higher or more respected authority exists in
geographical matters of this kind, seems to have too readily accepted
Burney's opinion. Perhaps they each considered the claim set up on behalf
of De Gonneville as based on insufficient grounds, and were disposed to
doubt, in the face of later knowledge of the natives of Australia, that
De Gonneville could possibly have induced one of his relatives to marry a
representative of these wretched races: and it must be admitted that
herein lies the great stumbling block in the way of fixing the position
of the territory upon which De Gonneville actually landed. It is also
probable that Burney was led to the conclusion that Madagascar was the
point visited by some inaccuracies in Callender's translation with regard
to the kind of head-dress described as worn by the women, which would
certainly appear to refer more to the inhabitants of the great African
island than to the Australians. The mystery is a difficult one to clear
up, but subsequent discoveries, and a closer scrutiny of the Norman
captain's narrative, prove, we think, clearly that De Gonneville's
"Southern Indies" could be no other than the Australian Continent, and
that he landed in reality at the mouth of some of the rivers on the
north-western coast.

In the first place, the judicial declaration cited above, which had been
for more than three centuries and a half mislaid among the records of the
Admiralty of Normandy, was discovered in the year 1873 by the French
geographer, Benoit D'Avezac, who published it in a pamphlet in which he
discusses this question, and concludes that the land visited by De
Gonneville must have been some part of South America. But this official
document, which is similar in almost all points to the memoirs of the
priest, Paulmier, and establishes at once the fidelity of his extracts
and the absolute truth of the voyage of the French captain, does not
contain any additional information which could lead to such conclusion,
based only on his description of the natives of the "Southern Indies."
D'Avezac's contention cannot be sustained, and must give way before the
evidence of other facts; but as the same arguments against his theory
apply also to that of Burney and Major, we need not discuss it here for
the present.

It is, however, necessary, in order that the reader may form a clear idea
of the subject, to quote at length the original memoirs as published by
the worthy priest. As the translation of Callender is, on the whole, a
fairly good one--although it may be inferred that the Scotch geographer,
who wrote in 1761, was better acquainted with the pure French of the
eighteenth century than with the quaint terms of the old Norman dialect,
in which De Gonneville's narrative is written--we shall transcribe here
that portion which bears on the subject, reserving to ourselves the duty
of pointing out the few inaccuracies which may have led Burney and others
to erroneous conclusions.


It were to be wished that some better hand than mine were employed to
give an account of these southern regions of the world; but I cannot,
without being wanting to my character, to my birth, and to my profession,
omit doing this duty to the natives of the Southern World. Soon after
the Portuguese had discovered the way to the East Indies, some French
merchants, invited by a prospect of sharing the gains of this trade,
fitted out a ship, which, in its route to the Indies, being driven from
the straight course by a tempest, was thrown upon this great southern
land. The natives of this region received the French with the most
cordial hospitality, and, during an abode of six months, did them every
good office in their power. The French, willing to bring some of the
natives home with them, prevailed upon the easy credulity of the chief of
that nation to give them one of his sons, promising that they would
return him to his country fully instructed in the European arts,
particularly that of making war, which these Australians desired above
all things. Thus was the Indian brought into France, where he lived long
enough to converse with many who are yet living, and, being baptised, he
received the name and surname of the captain who brought him over. His
godfather, in order to acquit himself in some degree of what he owed to
the Australians, procured him a small establishment in France, and
married him to one of his own relations. One of the sons of this marriage
was my grandfather. The solemn promise the French had given to the
inhabitants to return him among them, and what I owe to my original
country, induces me to give the following short account of the voyage,
compiled from the memoirs of my own family:--

"The French having formed the design of following the steps of Vasco de
Gama in the East Indies, equipped a vessel at Honfleur for that voyage,
which, being commanded by the Sieur de Gonneville, weighed anchor in
June, 1503, and, having doubled the Cape of Good Hope, was attacked by a
furious storm, which, driving them far from their intended course, left
them uncertain in what part of the world they were. Being in want of
water, and their ship having suffered much by storm, the sight of some
birds from the south induced them to hold their course that way, where
they soon discovered a large country, to which they gave the name of
Southern India, according to the usage of those days, when it was
customary to give the name of India to every new discovered country. They
cast anchor in a river, which they say was of the bigness of the Orne,
near Caen. Here they spent six months refitting their ship, but the crew,
being intimidated, obliged Gonneville to return to France. During his
stay in this country he had time to form a most curious account of the
country and the manners of its inhabitants, which he inserted in his
journal; but, unfortunately, being just off the coast of France, he was
taken near the isle of Guernsey by an English privateer, who robbed him
of his journal and everything he had. On his landing he complained to the
Admiralty, and, having emitted the following judicial declaration, at the
request of the procurator of the King, he inserted it in a short relation
of the discoveries he had made. This public act, authenticated by all the
proper forms, is dated 19th July, 1505, and signed by the principal
officers of the ship. From this the following are extracts:--

"ITEM. They say that during their stay in that country they conversed in
all freedom with the natives, having gained their goodwill by some
trifling presents. That the said Indians were simple people, leading a
careless, easy life, subsisting by hunting and fishing, and on some roots
and herbs which the soil furnishes spontaneously. Some wear mantles
either of skins or of woven mats, and some of them are made of feathers,
like those of the gypsies in our country, only they are shorter, with a
kind of apron girt above the haunches, which the men wear down to the
knee, and the women to the calf of the leg. The women wear collars made
of bones and small shells. The men have no ornament of this sort, but
carry a bow, and arrows pointed with sharp bones. They have also a sword,
made of very hard wood, burned and sharpened at the end; and these are
all their weapons. The women and girls go bare-headed, with their hair
neatly tied up in tresses mixed with flowers of most beautiful colours.
The men let their hair hang down, but they wear crowns of feathers,
richly coloured.

"They say further, that having gone two days' journey into the country
and along the coasts both to right and left, they found it very fertile,
and full of many birds, beasts, and fish utterly unknown in Christendom.
The late Nicole Le Fevre, of Honfleur, a volunteer in this voyage, had
taken exact draughts of all these things. But everything was lost,
together with the journals of the voyage when the ship was taken: and
this makes their account very imperfect.

"ITEM. They say, further, that the country is not very populous, the
natives living dispersed in villages consisting of thirty, forty, or
eighty huts. Those huts are made of stakes drove into the ground, the
intervals being filled up with herbs and leaves, and a hole at top to let
out the smoke. The doors are formed of sticks neatly tied together, and
are shut with wooden keepers like those of the stables in Normandy. The
beds are made of soft mats, skins, or feathers. Their household utensils
are formed of wood, even the pots with which they boil water but, to
preserve them from burning, they are laid over with a kind of clay an
inch thick.

"ITEM. They say that the country is divided into many cantons, each of
which has its king, or chief. These kings are highly honoured and feared
by their subjects, though no better dressed or lodged than they. They
have power of life and death over the subjects, of which some of the crew
saw a memorable example in the person of a young man of twenty years of
age, who, in a fit of passion, had struck his mother. Though no complaint
was made, yet the king sent for him and ordered him to be thrown into the
river with a large stone tied to his neck, having previously called
together the young men of that and the neighbouring villages to witness
his punishment.

"The name of this king, to whose territory the ship came, was Arosca. His
canton extended a day's journey within land, having about a dozen
villages in it, each of which had its particular chief, but under Arosca.
The said Arosca was, to appearance, about sixty, then a widower, but had
six sons--from thirty to fifteen years of age--who came often to the
ship. Arosca was of middle stature, thick set, of grave but pleasant
countenance. He was then at peace with the neighbouring kings, but they
and he were at war with the people in the inland country, against whom he
marched twice, during the ship's stay there. Each time he had a body of
500 or 600 men with him, and when he returned the last time, there were
great rejoicings made on account of a victory he had gained. There was
nothing but excursions for a few days, in which they begged the French to
march with them, in hopes of being assisted by their firearms, but the
commander excused himself.

"ITEM. They say that there came five of their kings to see the ship, but
they wore nothing to distinguish them but their plumes of feathers,
which, contrary to those of their subjects, was of one colour. The
principal inhabitants wore some feathers of the colour of the king's
mixed with the others. Arosca had his of green.

"ITEM. They say that these friendly Indians received them as angels from
Heaven, and were infinitely surprised at the bulk of the ship, the
artillery, mirrors, and other things they saw on board. Above all, they
were astonished at our method of communicating our thoughts to each other
by letters from the ship to those on shore, not being able to divine how
the letter could speak. For these reasons they greatly feared the French.
At the same time they were so much beloved by them, on account of some
axes, mirrors and knives they gave them, that they were always ready to
do anything in their power to serve the strangers, bringing them great
quantities of flesh and fish, fruits, and other provisions. Besides
which, they brought them large quantities of skins, feathers, and roots,
of dying in different colours, in exchange for which they received
different kinds of hardware of small price, and thus the French got
together above one hundred quintals of their goods.

"ITEM. They say that, intending to leave there some memorial that this
country had been visited by Christians, they erected a large wooden
cross, thirty-five feet high, and painted over, placed on an eminence in
view of the sea. This they did with much ceremony on the Day of
Pentecost, 504, the cross being carried by the captain and his officers,
all barefooted, accompanied by the King Arosca and the principal Indians,
after whom followed the crew, under arms, singing the Litany. These were
accompanied by a crowd of Indians, to whom they gave to understand the
meaning of this ceremony as well as they could. Having set up the cross,
they fired volleys of their cannon and small arms, charging the Indians
to keep carefully and honour the monument they had set up, and endeavoured
to gain them to this by presenting them with a number of baubles, which,
though of small value, were highly prized by them. On one side of this
cross were engraved the name of the Pope and that of our Sovereign, the
name of the Admiral of France, and those of the captain and all his crew.
On the other side appeared the Latin verses following, made by the above
Nicole Le Fevre, signifying the date of this transaction--

"HIC sacra paLMarIUs, post UIt gonIVILLabInotUs,
"GreX, foCIUs parIterqUe UtraqUe progenles.

"ITEM. They say that, having refitted their ship in the best way they
could, they prepared to return to France, and being willing, after the
manner of those who discover strange lands, to carry some of the natives
with them, they persuaded the king, Arosca, to let them have one of his
sons, promising to the father that they would bring him back in twenty
moons at farthest, with others who should teach them the use of firearms,
and how to make mirrors, axes, knives, and whatever else they admired
among the Christians. These promises determined Arosca to let his son,
called Essomeric, go along with them, to whom he gave for a companion an
Indian of thirty-five years of age, called Namoa. He and his people
convoyed them to the ship, giving them provisions, besides many beautiful
feathers and other rarities, in order to present to the King of France.
At parting, Arosca obliged them to swear that they would return in twenty
moons, and when the ship got under way the whole people gave a great cry,
and, forming the sign of the Cross with their fingers, gave them to
understand that they would carefully preserve the one set up among them.

"ITEM. They say that they left this southern country July 3rd, 1504, and
saw no land until the day after the Feast of St. Denis, during which time
they were much distressed by a malignant fever, of which their surgeon
and three more died, among whom was the Indian, Namoa. The young son of
Arosca also falling sick, they baptised him by the name of Binot, after
their captain, who stood godfather to him. This was done September 14th,
after which the young Indian grew better and arrived in France."

Callender further remarks:--

"Thus far the judicial declaration emitted by De Gonneville before the
Admiralty. The rest of the author's memoir is filled with exhortations to
the French to profit by this lucky discovery, and send the writer back to
the country of his ancestors; but this appears never to have been done.
The author seems to have begun this extract from De Gonneville's
declaration in that place where he talks of the manners of the
inhabitants, omitting what went before, though it is highly probable that
the navigator must have said something of the voyage outwards and the
portion of the country where he landed, which would have been of great
importance for us to know at this day. The French writer from whom we
have translated the above account informs us that the Count de Maurepas
caused search lately through all the records of the Admiralty in
Normandy, in order to find the original of this declaration, but an
interval of two centuries and a half, and the confusions occasioned by
the civil wars, had dispersed all the old papers, and all the information
that M. de Maurepas could obtain was that a tradition still subsisted
there that such a piece was once among the records, but they could give
no account of what was become of it. Thus the full account of an attempt
which Magellan some years after finished with success is entirely lost,
except the very lame extract we have been able to lay before the reader.
Our French author tells us he has seen another copy of this memorial at
the end of the dedication to Pope Alexander VII. The author signs his
name thus, at full length, 'Paulmier, Prêtre Indien Chanoine de l'Eglise
Cathédrale de Lizieux.' The proprietor of this copy has added a note,
testifying that this copy was given him by the author himself in 1664. He
commends him as a person of universal knowledge, and one who had
travelled all over Europe. He had made the history of navigation his
principal study, and was perfectly acquainted with it. In another note we
are told that Essomeric, the son of Arosca, lived to the year 1583, and
left posterity under the name of Binot. One of his grand-children, J. B.
Binot, was President of the Treasury of Provence, and left an only
daughter, who was m married to the Marquis de la Barbent, May 4th, 1725.
Our readers will not be surprised that we have entered into a detail of
facts in order to elucidate and confirm the truth of this first discovery
of the Terra Australis, especially as this account was never seen in our
language till now, and is therefore little known even to those who are
otherwise well acquainted with voyages made to this part of the world."

Callender, however, has omitted to translate the remainder of Des
Brosses' account, in which, among other facts, the important statement is
made that the priest Paulmier had become personally known to M. Flaconet,
who met him for the first time at the residence of the Lord Bishops of
Heliopolis and Beryte, where he often met him in company with M. de
Flacourt, who had commanded in Madagascar, and AI. Fernamel, father of
the Superior of the Foreign Missions. The good abbe was doing all in his
power to persuade these gentlemen to assist in sending a mission to these
Australians, and it also appears that he had communicated his views on
the subject to St. Vincent de Paul, who would have presented his memorial
to the Pope had he not been prevented by death.

Before attempting to fix the position of the country visited by De
Gonneville, it is necessary to refute here the various opinions expressed
on the subject which refer to countries other than the Australian
Continent. The most ancient is that brought forward by tile geographers,
Duval and Nolin, and the navigator, Bouvet, who place those lands almost
immediately to the south of the Cape of Good Hope. As there are no lands
thereabout, this opinion is hardly worth quoting but, considering the
very limited knowledge of the geography of that part of the world in
those days, the error may be readily understood. Others, basing their
opinion on the length of De Gonneville's voyage, have surmised that he
might have landed on some part of the coast of Tasmania or of New
Zealand, but this conclusion is equally untenable, as these islands are
not situated within calm latitudes, and are not near or even in the
direction of the "true course to the East Indies," which the French
sailor was satisfied he was not far off, as, under this belief, he, on
leaving the "Southern Indies" endeavoured to induce his crew to
continue their voyage. Besides, the description given of the inhabitants
and their manners, applies more to natives of a tropical or semi-tropical
climate than to those of such cold regions as New Zealand and Tasmania.

We are, therefore, confronted with only one more opinion, which is held
by most English geographers on the high authority of Admiral Burney.

"Let the whole account," says Burney, "be reconsidered without
prepossession, and the idea that will immediately and most naturally
occur is that Southern India, discovered by De Gonneville, was
Madagascar. De Gonneville, having doubled (passed round) the Cape, was by
tempests driven into calm latitudes, and so near to this land that he was
directed thither by the flight of birds. The refusal of the crew to
proceed to Eastern India would scarcely have happened if they had been so
far advanced to the east as New Holland."

It is difficult to conceive how Burney could have expressed such an
opinion, unless he was led to that conclusion by some errors in
Callender's translations. There is, in fact, a passage having reference
to the descriptions of the head-dress worn by the native women, in which
the Scotch geographer has given the following version of Des Brosses'

"The women and girls go bareheaded, with their hair neatly tied up in
tresses, mixed with flowers of most beautiful colours."?

The original narrative reads thus:--

"Et vont les femmes et filles tête nue, ayant les cheveux gentiment
teurchés de petits cordons d'herbes teintes de couleurs vives et

Which means:--

"The women and girls go bare headed, having their hair ornamented with
little strings of grass dyed in bright colours."

This, as will be seen, is a very different version. Callender evidently
did not understand the old Norman expression--GENITMENT TEURCHÉS, which
means "nicely ornamented," and translated it by the word that appeared to
him more akin in form, TRESSES, hence, "the hair neatly tied up in
tresses", which is a characteristic custom of the native women of the
island of Madagascar.

But this is a small matter. It is, however, more difficult to dispose of
another fact as telling against the Madagascar theory, which apparently
did not strike Burney. Gonneville states that he was driven into calm
latitudes, and after tedious navigation, was directed southward by the
flight of birds. It is only necessary here to compare dates in order to
show how misapplied would be this description to the latitudes within
which Madagascar is situated.

De Gonneville left Honfleur in June, 1503, and quilted Southern India on
the 3rd of July of the following year. As he stayed six months in that
country, his outward voyage had, therefore, lasted about seven months,
and he must have been in the vicinity of the Cape of Good Hope about
December, 1503, or January, 1504. As it is a well-known fact that
tempestuous weather is generally met with from the SOUTH-WEST and,
moreover, that the prevailing wind during that season of the year is from
the north-west, De Gonneville, whose true course lay to the north-east,
was probably driven much more toward the east than he expected, for he
expressly states that he was convinced he was not far from the true
course to the East Indies. Had the tempests blown from the SOUTH-EAST,
there would never, in all probability, have been any need discussing his
account, for he would have had none to render, as his ship would have
been driven very quickly against the East African coast, or the
south-east coast of Madagascar and wrecked.

It must be assumed that De Gonneville was, for his time, a man of great
ability, well versed in nautical matters, and the use of the primitive
instruments which were then known, and his opinion as, to the position of
his ship, and his desire to proceed to the East Indies, being inwardly
satisfied that he was not far from the object of his voyage, is certainly
entitled to some consideration, although, unfortunately, he has not left
any indication of the latitude or longitude of the country he visited. If
to this be added the facts that it is precisely in the season extending
from December to March, that the Madagascar latitudes are constantly
visited by hurricanes, and that the cyclones which originate in the
Indian Ocean burst over the islands of Mauritius and Reunion, and
generally travel towards these coasts, it will be apparent that the term
"calm latitudes" must necessarily apply to some other part of the Indian
Ocean. It is equally well-known that the belt which extends round the
globe between 10 deg. of latitude, north, and 10 deg. of latitude, south,
is in all parts of the ocean, and at all times, subject to very tedious
calms, though the waters may occasionally be ruffled by very heavy
hurricanes and storms. These facts force us to seek for the land visited
in the neighbourhood of these latitudes. The objection raised by the
sailors to proceed to the East Indies means nothing, as they had no idea
of their position, while as ignorant and superstitious men, tired of a
long and dangerous voyage, they had little reason to share in their
chief's confidence in his estimate of the locality they had reached, and
had no thought but that of returning homewards without facing again the
dangers of unknown seas.

Further arguments are not wanting to refute the Madagascar theory. In the
first place, the Portuguese, who discovered that island in 1506, and
explored its coasts in the following years, could not have Ion. remained
in ignorance of De Gonneville's voyage. The cross erected by his
companion was, perhaps, not destroyed; but, so short a period having
c-lapsed between their discoveries and the Norman captain's voyage, the
natives could scarcely have forgotten so important an event. The only
alternative theory would be that, in their explorations along the coast
of the island, the Portuguese were so unfortunate as to land everywhere
but near the spot where De Gonneville may be supposed to have resided. It
is stated, moreover, that the priest Paulmier wrote his memorial to the
Pope with the object of obtaining a Christian mission to the home of his
ancestors; but the Portuguese missionaries were preaching the Gospel in
Madagascar almost since the first visits of their countrymen to that
island, and it is self-evident that the Abbe, who was often in the
company of the priests who in Paris administered the foreign missions in
non-Christian countries, must have been aware of this fact; while M. de
Villermon positively states that he often met Paulmier in company with M.
de Flacourt who had been Governor of Madagascar where France had
established itself as far back as 1642. What would have been the
necessity, it may be asked, of praying that a Christian mission should be
sent to a country where missions had flourished for over a century, or of
founding a French colony in an island which was already occupied by
France, and had received resident governors ten years before the good
priest wrote?

But there is one last point which is sufficient in itself to remove all
doubts on the subject. Here, again, we must compare dates, and we find

"They left that country on the 3rd of July, 15o4, and did not see land
until the day after the Feast of St. Denis, i.e., 10th October, 1504."

De Gonneville's report to the Admiralty is dated 15th June, 1505, and
admitting that there was some delay between his landing at Honfleur and
the date of his report, which was signed by the principal officers of his
vessel, he could hardly have reached France before March or April of that
year. As he was, moreover, convinced that the country to which he had
given the name of Southern India lay to the south of the East Indies, it
is evident that on his return home his course must have been SOUTH-WEST,
which, had he started from the east coast of Madagascar, or, as D'Avezac
thinks, from that of South America, would have landed him on his starting
point. It is evident that the land he sighted after three months'
navigation could be no other than the Cape of Good Hope.

This is sufficient, we venture to think, to dispose of the Madagascar
theory, as it does also of the South American one, which, it may be
added, can hardly be admitted as possible, when the length of the return
voyage of De Gonneville (about twelve months) is taken into
consideration, together with the fact that the whole of the South
American coast within the region where De Gonneville might have landed
was explored and settled about the same time, and some record of his
voyage would certainly have been found.

Where, then, shall we look for this Southern India, for that fine river,
at the mouth of which De Gonneville remained six months, and for that
fine country which his companions explored in their journeys with the

A river of the size described pre-supposes a country of considerable
extent, and therefore De Gonneville could not have landed on any of the
islands lying between Madagascar and the Sunda Islands. It could not have
been either of the latter named, as they lie to the north, and not the
south of the calm latitudes referred to by De Gonneville. We are perforce
obliged to admit that, as it was not and cannot have been Madagascar, it
must have been Australia, and in all probability the north-west coast of
the continent, about the Prince Regent and Glenelg rivers, where the
explorers King and Grey found fine rivers and a rich country fairly
populated with a race of warlike natives. It is certainly difficult when
reading the description given of the "Australians," by De Gonneville, to
imagine that they could possibly have had any resemblance to the races we
are accustomed to meet with in almost all parts of Australia. Still less
could they have resembled the wretched creatures which Dampier found
inhabiting the west coast, between Cape Le veque and the North-west Cape,
and we must, therefore, look further north for a country and a race of
men answering better to the description of the Norman captain.

De Gonneville found a fine district, watered by a large river, and
inhabited by men who possessed a kind of rudimentary civilization, a
tribal organization, and obeyed some established individual authority. He
further tells us that they lived in villages, or agglomerations of huts
of the shape of the covered markets in the Normandy villages--that is to
say, oval or round, made of stakes driven into the ground, and the
intervals filled up with herbs and the leaves of trees; and that the
speech of these people is soft and melodious. He also speaks of the
birds, beasts, fishes, and other curious animals unknown in Christendom,
of which Master Nicole le Fevre, of Honfleur, who was a volunteer in the
voyage, had taken exact draughts. And, last of all, we are told that De
Gonneville induced the chief or king of the country to allow him to take
home his son and another Indian as a companion, promising to return with
them in twenty "moons" at furthest, and owing to the impossibility of
fulfilling that promise, he procured the young Australian an
establishment in France, and married him to one of his relatives, from
whom he had posterity. This last portion of the narrative would appear
the most incredible of all, if we had not official and documentary
evidence of its absolute truth, as it must certainly be presumed that the
Australian could not possibly have belonged to the wretched races with
whom we are familiar.

But, however difficult it may seem to reconcile the account of De
Gonneville with our general knowledge of the natives of Australia, the
task is not so hopeless as at first sight may appear; and we shall crave
the attention of the reader to the following description of the country
and the inhabitants of that part of North-west Australia which surrounds
the Glenelg. and Prince Regent and other rivers in their neighbourhood,
discovered and visited for the first time by Captain King and Lieutenant,
now Sir George, Grey, the latter exploring it to some distance inland in
the year 1838.

Referring to that part of the country, Lieut. Grey says in his "Expedition
in North-Western and Western Australia," p. 179:--

"The peak we ascended afforded us a very beautiful view: to the north lay
Prince Regent's River, and the good country we were now upon extended as
far as the inlets which communicated with this great navigable stream; to
the south and south-westward lay the Glenelg, meandering through as
verdant and fertile a district as the eye of man ever rested on. The
luxuriance of tropical vegetation was now seen to great advantage in the
height of the rainy season. The smoke of native fires rose in every
direction from the country which lay like a map at our feet; and when I
recollected that all those natural riches of soil and climate lay between
two navigable rivers, and that its sea coast frontage, not much exceeding
fifty miles in latitude, contained three of the finest harbours in the
world in which the tide rose thirty-seven and a half feet, I could not
but feel we were in a land singularly blessed by nature."

Could any description more closely adapt itself to the fine country,
fairly peopled (PEUPLÉE ENTRE DEUX) of which De Gonneville speaks.
Further, on page 195 g S of the same work, Grey says:--

"We at length reached a watershed connecting the country we had left with
that we were entering upon. . . This watershed consisted principally of a
range of elevated hills, from which streams were thrown off to the
Glenelg and to Prince Regent's River. The scenery here was fine, but I
have so often before described the same character of landscape that it
will be sufficient to say, we again looked down from high land on a very
fertile country, covered with a tropical vegetation, and lying between

Referring to the fauna, the same authority says:--

"North Western Australia seems to be peculiarly prolific in birds,
reptiles, and insects, who dwell here unmolested. . . ."

After mentioning several kinds of kangaroos, opossums, native dogs, etc.,
the former of which animals are constantly hunted down by the natives,
Grey, speaking of the birds, says:--

"To describe the birds common to these parts requires more time than to
detail the names of the few quadrupeds to be found. Indeed, in no other
country that I have ever visited do birds so abound. Even the virgin
forests of America cannot, in my belief, boast of such numerous feathered
denizens. . . . The birds of this country possess, in many instances, an
excessively beautiful plumage, and he alone who has traversed these wild
and romantic regions, who has beheld a flock of many-coloured parrakeets
sweeping like a moving rainbow through the air, can form any adequate
idea of the scenes that then burst on the eye of the wondering
naturalist. As to fish, the rivers abound in many species of excellent

Could there be a more fitting description of that country which De
Gonneville and his companions explored along the coast and in the
interior to a distance of two days' journey, which "they found very
fertile and full of many birds, beasts, and fish hitherto unknown in
Christendom?" To what does this latter qualification apply? Certainly not
to birds, beasts, or fish of either South America or Madagascar, as the
American fauna was, to a certain extent, already known in Christendom,
and that of Madagascar, which resembles that of the east coast of Africa,
apart from a few species not particularly remarkable or numerous, was
also well-known to Europeans. These beasts, of which, to use the old
Norman phrase of "Master Nicole Le Fevre, avait pourtrayé les façons,"
must have struck him as very peculiar indeed when he refers to them as
"utterly unknown in Christendom," and we know well that no other country
can boast of a fauna so essentially different to that of any other part
of the world as the Australian Continent.

And now as to the natives of this part of Australia, i.e., the
neighbourhood of the Glenelg and Prince Regent's River. Grey, in page 251
of the above cited work, says:--

"My knowledge of the natives is chiefly drawn from what I have observed
of their haunts, their painted caves, and drawings. I have, moreover,
become acquainted with several of their weapons, some of their
implements, and took pains to study their disposition and habits as far
as I could.

"In their manner of life, their weapons, and mode of hunting, they
closely resemble the other Australian tribes with which I have since
become pretty intimately acquainted, WHILST IN THEIR FORM AND APPEARANCE
THERE IS A STRIKING DIFFERENCE. They are, in general, very tall and
robust, and exhibit in their legs and arms a fine, full development of
muscle which is unknown to southern races. They wear no clothes, and
their bodies are marked by scars and wales. They seem to have no regular
mode of dressing their hair, this appearing to depend entirely on
individual taste or caprice.

together, including women and children, amounted to nearly two hundred.

"Their arms consist of stone-headed spears, of throwing-sticks, of
boomerangs or kileys, clubs, and stone hatchets.

"These natives manufacture their water buckets and weapons very neatly,
and make from the bark of a tree a light but strong cord.


TO INQUIRE INTO. Their gesticulation is expressive, and their bearing
manly and noble. They never speared a horse or sheep belonging to us,
and, judging by the degree of industry shown in their paintings, the
absence of anything offensive in the subjects delineated, and the careful
finish of some articles of common use, I should infer that, under proper
treatment, they might easily be raised very considerably in the scale of

SMALL INFLUENCE OVER THE REST. I am forced to believe that the distrust
evinced towards strangers arose from these persons, as in both instances
when we were attacked, the hostile party was led by one of these
light-coloured men."

We need only draw the attention of the reader to the close resemblance
between the description of De Gonneville's "Australians" and that of
Grey's in many particulars, especially in their tribal organization, the
form of their houses, [Note, below] their language, and the fact of the
existence among them, as leaders of the tribes, of that race of almost
white men also observed about the same parts by Captain King, who thinks
that they are of Malay origin.

[Note: Callender, in his translation omits a passage referring to the
form of the huts of the Australians, which De Gonneville says were "EN
FORME DE HALLES," i.e., in the form of covered markets such as seen in
the villages of Normandy, which are generally oval structures.]

There are certain discrepancies, however, which cannot be explained away,
unless it is taken into consideration that Grey visited those coasts
three hundred and thirty years after the French sailor, and that during
that interval of time the customs of the inhabitants cannot fall to have
undergone a change. It may be also that the light-coloured people seen
amongst them are but the remnants of once numerous tribes, probably of
Malay origin, as these latter have left undeniable marks of their having
not intermixed with the native races throughout the whole of northern
Australia. One of the points of dissemblance which might be pointed out
is the fact that De Gonneville describes them as using bows and arrows,
which is at variance with our knowledge of the arms of the Australians,
and equally differs from Grey's description of the same; but this
objection exists also as regards the inhabitants of Madagascar, who,
besides, had already attained a much higher degree of civilisation than
that described by De Gonneville--being acquainted with the use of iron,
the manufacture of cotton and silk goods, fine mats, and many other
articles of value among civilised people. The Madagascar natives never
made use of the skins of animals as an article of dress, whilst this
custom is common to the aborigines of all parts of Australia, where the
kangaroo, opossums, native bears, and emus, furnish them with the
material, with which they could manufacture these garments of skins or
beds of feathers described by De Gonneville. But if the theory is
accepted, which we are about to put forward regarding the inhabitants of
this part of Australia--that at the time of De Gonneville's visit a
people of Malay origin inhabited it in fairly large numbers, of which the
light-coloured natives seen by Grey are the descendants, and that with
their disappearance from that district some of their customs disappeared
with them, the natives of the present day retaining only those best
suited to their actual mode of life--then the Norman captain's narrative
will become intelligible. Besides, as regards the use of bow and arrow,
certainly known to the Malays, although the intercourse of the latter
with other tribes on the north Australian coast has been undoubtedly
frequent, nowhere have the Australian natives adopted that kind of arm,
whilst in New Guinea and all over Northern Polynesia the bow and arrow is
the inevitable war accoutrement of the savage, who certainly obtained the
knowledge of it from his Malay forefathers. No wonder, then, that in the
district explored by Grey, these arms should have given way to the
equally effective boomerang, throwing-stick, and spears, and other
weapons of the North Australian savage.

The theory we have just submitted with regard to the country round the
Glenelg River and that of the Prince Regent having been at one time
inhabited by a different and superior race is no idle one, and is proved
by the discoveries of remarkable paintings made by the same Lieutenant
Grey in the caves near the mouth of the abovenamed rivers.

Again we shall have to quote this excellent author, whose clear and
concise descriptions are of such value, and refer the reader to the
following passages in the diary of his explorations in that part of the
Australian Continent:--

"On this sloping roof the principal figure (1) which I have just alluded
to was drawn. In order to produce the greater effect, the rock about it
was painted black, and the figure itself coloured with the most vivid red
and white. It thus appeared to stand out from the rock, and I was
certainly surprised at the moment that I first saw this gigantic head and
upper part of a body bending over and staring grimly down on me.

"It would be impossible to convey in words an adequate idea of this
uncouth and savage figure; I shall, therefore, only give such a succinct
account of this and the other paintings as will serve as a sort of
description to accompany the annexed plates.

"Length of head and face 2 ft. 0 in.
"Width of face 0 ft 17 in. (sic)
"Length from bottom of face to navel 2 ft 6 in.

"Its head was encircled by bright red rays, something like the rays which
one sees proceeding from the sun when depicted on the signboard of a
public house. Inside of this came a broad stripe of very brilliant red,
which was coped by lines of white; both inside and outside of this red
space were narrow stripes of a still deeper red, intended probably to
mark its boundaries. The face was painted vividly white and the eyes
black, being, however, surrounded by red and yellow lines. The body,
head, and arms were outlined red, the body being curiously painted with
red stripes and bars.

"Upon the rock which formed the left hand wall of this cave, and which
partly faced you on entering, was a very singular painting (2), vividly
coloured, representing four heads joined together. From the mild
expression of the countenances, I imagined them to represent females, and
they appeared to be drawn in such a manner and in such a position as to
look up at the principal figure which I have before described. Each had a
very remarkable head-dress, coloured with a deep, bright blue, and one
had a necklace on. Both of the lower figures had a sort of dress, painted
with red, in the same manner as that of the principal figure, and one of
them had a band round the waist. Each of the four faces was marked by a
totally distinct expression of countenance, and although none of them had
mouths, two, I thought, were otherwise rather good-looking. The whole
painting was executed on a white ground, and its dimensions were:--

"Total length of painting 3 ft. 6¾ in.
"Breadth across two upper heads 2 ft. 6 in.
"Breadth across two lower heads 3 ft. 1½ in.

These remarkable paintings attracted Grey's attention, and led him
wondering as to their origin. The solution to that problem he has however
left to others. (Fig 1, see Appendix.)

According to him, the first two frescoes--i.e., those situated on the
roof of the cave, representing the principal figure, and that
representing the four persons (probably women), are one subject. A glance
at their position, and the expression of their faces, leads one to accept
Grey's opinion as not only admissible, but as the only accurate one. The
group of women is placed in an attitude of prayer, or of submission
towards the central figure, also representing a woman, as all except the
head-dress, which is a little different, exactly resemble the others; it
is also evident that the artist wished to represent a religious subject.

It is necessary to remark that the people among which these drawings have
been found belong to an almost savage race, and in admitting that they
may be the work of a superior race that once inhabited these parts
(which, by the way, is the opinion of Sir George Grey), yet this superior
race could hardly be any other but some Malay tribe. Among these latter,
as well as among all savage, or semi-savage people, woman is considered
as a being of an inferior order, more fit to become a slave than to be
worshipped, and as the Malays had either adopted for centuries past,
either one of two creeds, that of Buddhism from the Hindoos, or that of
Mahomet from the Arabs, we look in vain, save in the former, and that in
only one or two well-known instances, which cannot for a moment be
entertained here, for the worship of a woman. The Malay religious
artistic subjects that we know of are of an order far above that of which
we have a sample here, and there is no resemblance at all in their
paintings with anything depicted in these caves.

There are several points of importance with regard to these pictures, to
which we beg to direct the reader's attention. In the first place, the
perfect oval shape of the head; secondly, the colour of the face, which
is painted VIVIDLY WHITE, evidently for some purpose; and thirdly, the
fact that the kind of dress worn over the bodies exactly resembles that
described by De Gonneville as worn by the women of the Southern Indies,
made of some kind of matted material, sometimes also of skins, or of
feathers, girt above the haunches and reaching to the knee. (Fig. 2, see

Compare, also, the date assigned by Grey to these pictures-two or three
centuries, and this coincidence will appear still more remarkable.

But to return to the subject. It is difficult, if not impossible to
credit the natives at the time of Grey's visit as being the authors of
these paintings. The eminent traveller absolutely discredits such a
possibility, and attributes them to a far distant epoch, and a totally
different race. The perfect oval shape of the faces was not drawn so
without a purpose, and neither were they painted so vividly white, if the
artist had not desired to pourtray types of a race certainly not existing
at present on the the Australian continent. It is difficult to admit that
it might be of Malay origin, as tile head-dress, or to describe it more
perfectly, the AUREOLA surrounding the head, is met with in Buddhist
paintings or sculptures only as surrounding the head of gods, who can
always be recognised by their peculiar and constant characteristics, and
nowhere are these AUREOLAS surrounded with the rays in the shape of
"FLAMÈCHES," which confront us in the drawing of the principal figure.
(Fig. 3, see Appendix.) It resembles, indeed, much better Grey's own

"Its head was encircled by bright red rays, something like the rays which
one sees proceeding from the sun, when depicted on the sign board of a
public house."

There is evidently here some strange mixture of European and Malay art,
the former exhibited in the remarkable AUREOLAS which so commonly
surround the heads of saints in the old images, in painted church windows
of the middle ages, and the times of De Gonneville, and the latter in the
kind of dress over the body, which appears to be meant to represent some
sort of matted stuff. This painting is not the work of a native artist;
it is unlikely that it could be the work of Malays, in the third place
there is in its position and its peculiar appearance such a striking
touch of an European conception, mingled with barbaric surroundings, that
one is almost inclined to the belief that we are here in the presence of
a subject of religious, nay, a Christian order.

This deduction may need additional evidence, and if the reader will
kindly follow with us Lieutenant Grey's steps, he will be placed in the
presence of a still more remarkable painting, which we shall presently

"The cave was twenty feet deep, and at the entrance seven feet high and
about forty feet wide. As before stated the floor gradually approached
the roof in the direction of the bottom of the cavern, and its width also
contracted so that at the extremity it was not broader than the slab of
rock which formed a natural seat. The principal painting in it was the
painting of a man ten feet six inches in length, clothed from the chin
downwards in a red garment which reached to the wrists and ankles; beyond
this red dress the feet and hands protruded, and were badly executed.

"The face and head of the figure were enveloped in a succession of
circular bandages, or rollers, or what appeared to be painted to
represent such. These were coloured red, yellow, and white, and the eyes
were the only features represented on the face. Upon the highest bandage,
or roller, a series of lines were painted in red, but although so
irregularly done as to indicate that they have some meaning, it is
impossible to tell whether they were intended to depict written
characters or some ornament for the head. This figure was so drawn on the
roof that its feet were just in front of the natural seat, whilst its
head and face looked directly down on anyone who stood in the entrance of
the cave, but it was totally invisible from the outside. The painting was
more injured by the damp and atmosphere, and had the appearance of being
much more defaced and ancient than any of the others which we have seen.
There were two other paintings, one on each side of the rocks, which
stood on either side of the natural seat: they were carefully executed,
and yet had no apparent design in them, unless they were intended to
represent some fabulous species of turtle; for the natives of Australia
are generally fond of narrating tales of fabulous and extraordinary
animals, such as gigantic snakes, etc." (Fig. 4, see Appendix.)

With this drawing, as well as in the others, it is evident that native
talent had nothing to do. Neither had, in all probability, the Malays, as
the form of the dress and its colour are incompatible with anything we
know of these people. Then again the same AUREOLA surrounds the head of
the figure, and we are inclined to think that this drawing is due to the
same artist who painted those already described. Although Grey believes
that it is a more ancient production, the face of it having suffered more
than the other is in all probability due to it being more exposed to
atmospheric, or other influences, rather than to its greater antiquity.
There are, however, some very interesting points to examine in this
drawing, and in the first place our attention is drawn to the curious
signs inscribed on the AUREOLA surrounding the head.

At first sight, an illiterate person would at once exclaim, "these are
Latin characters."


Five out of six undoubtedly are such, and the sixth appears to be part of
an unfinished or defaced letter, probably F or E. This is evidently very
remarkable, and more so is the fact which a closer examination discloses
that near the right shoulder of the figure two additional characters, C D,
also undoubtedly of Latin form, are there inscribed, proving the
European origin of this drawing, which resembles exactly those paintings
of the middle ages, representing some holy monk or nun in their
habilaments, of a coarse, brown cloth, the hands, and still more so the
feet in that, position which painters of religious subjects have rendered
us so familiar with on the old church windows, and other paintings of
those times. The practice of printing the name of the saint on the
AUREOLA encircling the head is also a common one, and perhaps we may find
there an explanation of that painting, which will also prove the others
to be of like origin. These characters are, undoubtedly, Latin, whichever
way one might like to turn them, and their appearance in such a spot is
not due to chance alone. It would be a difficult task to attempt to
explain their meaning, but, perhaps, a further exploration of these
singular caves may bring to light information leading to their
identification and explanation. Suffice it to say that they certainly
tend to show the European and Christian character of these paintings, the
first one probably representing the holy women praying before the Virgin,
and the other some holy nun, as the line over the chin seems to indicate
the well-known head-dress. It may be objected that the Virgin could
hardly have been pourtrayed in such a costume, to which the answer may be
made, that it was a common custom at the time, among the disciples of
Francis Xavier who evangelised India, to represent the Virgin and the
saints in the costume of the country, in order to bring them in an easier
way to the conception of the native mind, a practice, need it be added,
which brought on the head of the Jesuits the most severe condemnation.

If such is the case, and if these paintings are, as we believe, the work
of Europeans, we might look in their vicinity for some other and still
more convincing proof of their origin.

Such is afforded also, and the evidence is telling.

For the last time we shall quote the same eminent author, and at page 205
of vol. 1. of his work, we read:--

"After proceeding some distance, we found a cave larger than the one seen
this morning; of its actual size, however, I have no idea, for being
pressed for time I did not attempt to explore it, having merely
ascertained that it contained no paintings. I was moving on when we
observed a profile of a human face and head, cut out in a sandstone rock
which fronted the cave; this rock was so hard that to have removed such a
large portion of it with no better tool than a knife and hatchet made of
stone, such as the Australian natives generally possess, would have been
a work of very great labour. The head was two feet in length, and sixteen
inches in breadth in the broadest part; the depth of the profile
increased gradually from the edges where it was nothing, to the centre
where it was an inch and a half. The ear was rather badly placed, but
otherwise the whole of the work was good, and far superior to what a
savage race could be supposed capable of executing. The only proof of
antiquity that it bore about it was that all the edges of the cutting
were rounded and perfectly smooth, much more so than they could have been
from any other cause than long exposure to atmospheric influences.

"After having made a sketch of this head I returned to the party."

Now let us examine, without prepossession or prejudice, this remarkable

This profile is that of an European, the purity of the lines, the perfect
shape of the head, the straight and well-formed nose, the finely-cut lips,
the round chin, represent the most exact type of an European head that it
could be possible to imagine. Indeed, the fact alone that the natives
have no means of cutting out such a sculpture in the rock, is enough to
induce one to seek elsewhere for its author, and the head is certainly
not that of a Malay; the type is European, and that of the purest.

We shall go no further with this discussion, which the appearance of this
sculptured profile of an European head closes on our behalf better than
all volumes would do, and resume it in a few words.

De Gonneville, carried away by storms into unknown seas, lands on a coast
which he estimates is situated to the south of India, and the Islands of
Spices, and not far from the true course to the East Indies; at the
entrance of a fine river, and in a fertile country, whose inhabitants he
describes. They were in all probability of Malay stock, and there is no
difficulty so far to understand his female relative having married a
person of that race, the remnants of which have been met with since by
other travellers.

Three hundred and thirty-five years after De Gonneville's voyage, King
and Grey explore in the north-west part of Australia, a country whose
description well answers to that visited by De Gonneville, and NEVER SET
FOOT UPON BY EUROPEANS IN THE INTERVAL. There Grey finds a river such as
De Gonneville describes--a land inhabited by races that have preserved
many of the customs of the "Australians" described by the Norman
captain with whom, as a volunteer in the voyage, had travelled a certain
Nicole Le Fevre, a man of some learning' and a kind of artist, who had
pourtrayed strange beasts, etc., "utterly unknown in Christendom." In
that country', at a very short distance from the coast, Grey discovers
curious paintings, some strikingly resembling the pictures of saints as
represented on the Church windows of the time, one of them bearing some
very remarkable European letters and characters, and last of all he finds
there the head of an European sculptured in the hard rock, evidently with
instruments such as the natives do not possess.

What are we to conclude from these facts? That there is strong evidence
that De Gonneville, who could have landed nowhere else but on Australian
soil, had precisely landed on that part of the country visited by Grey,
and that the paintings discovered are the work of some of his companions.

But although such evidence is strong indeed, it is not yet absolutely
perfect, even for one desirous of solving the problem of fixing the exact
position of the spot visited by the Norman sailor. Others, perhaps, may
give a different interpretation to the figures and the characters
represented above; they are, however, worthy of attracting notice, and if
the result of this investigation is only to draw the attention of those
who are interested in ascertaining the previous history of the country
they inhabit and love, be they members of scientific societies or of
colonial governments, the task undertaken will not prove a thankless one.

One thing is settled, however, beyond the possibility of doubt, and that
is, that De Gonneville landed on no other soil but that of Australia, and
nowhere else but at the mouth of some of the north-western rivers.

The maps of the sixteenth century, known to have existed long before the
voyages of the Dutch and the English, bear witness to the fact that the
north-western part of the coast of Australia was sighted by the
Portuguese on their voyages to and from the East Indies and the Spice

A critical examination of these charts, some of which have been
reproduced for the Public Libraries of the chief Australian cities from
the originals in the British Museums, tends to show--although most of the
names of features on the north-west coast are in French--that some of
them appear to have been translated from the Portuguese. The older of
these charts bears the date of the year 1542, but there are two more maps
in the "Bibliotheque Nationale de France" which are still more ancient.
One, which is the work of Guillaume Le Testu, a pilot of Dieppe, shows a
portion of the coast in a fairly correct position, indicating features
which can easily be recognised, although their longitude and latitude are
not exact; the names, which are all in French, do not exhibit any sign of
having been translated from any other language; and there is little doubt
that Le Testu, who published this chart in 1536, must have heard of the
expedition of De Gonneville, which could hardly have failed to attract
attention at the time among the sailors of note in the ports of the
Normandy coast. Considering the state of geographical science at that
epoch, the delineation of the north-west coast of the Australian
continent is certainly as accurate as that of the island of Java and
minor islands in those regions, which were much better known, and there
is in this fact evidence enough that the data upon which Le Testu, Jean
Rotz, and other cartographers worked, must have been fairly accurate. The
Norman pilot shows on his map the entrance of several rivers and features
which closely resemble the outline of this coast as at present known, but
except in the vicinity of the rivers mentioned, the coast on the south
and the north-east is prolonged without data, and merely indicates a
probable extension of land in these directions. The other maps agree
fairly well in this respect, the outlines of very small portions only of
the coast being--susceptible of identification at present. From these
facts we may infer that Guillaume Le Testu probably obtained much of his
information from the report of De Gonneville, whilst Rotz and the authors
of the maps in the British Museum had theirs from Portuguese sources, and
as the latters' delineation of the north-west coast is less accurate, it
may be that the Portuguese sailors, from whose reports this information
was obtained, merely sighted these coasts without attempting to land.

To close this discussion, it may be added, that in most instances the
early voyages of the Dutch or possibly the Portuguese to Western
Australia were the result of such accidents as befell De Gonneville, as
they were carried by storms out of their course to India or the Sunda
Islands, and thrown on the west coast of the Australian Continent.

The first claim to the discovery of the Australian Continent may be,
therefore, settled in favor of De Gonneville; although, there is little
doubt that the existence of a great southern land was suspected by the
Chinese, and also by the ancients. This great land, situated on the
opposite side of the world, was named by them ANTI-CHTON, and its
supposed inhabitants "Antichtones," and the fact of the possibility of it
being inhabited at all gave rise to a good deal of discussion among
ancient writers. They, however, agreed in the belief that "the fury of
the sun, which burns the intermediate zone," rendered it inaccessible to
the inhabitants of the world. Plinus, Pomponius Mela, Scipio, Virgilius,
Cicero, and Macrobius considered this land as habitable, and the two
last mentioned authors held the opinion that it was inhabited by a
different race of beings.

This question was also debated by the early Christian fathers, and
perhaps the most remarkable argument against the existence of the
ANTICHTONES will be found in the works of the celebrated theologian and
venerated father, St. Augustine, who devotes the whole of Chapter IX.,
Book XVI. of his admirable work, "De Civitate Dei," to the discussion of
this knotty question.

"Quod verò," writes St. Augustine, "Antipodes esse fabulantur, id est,
homines a contaria parte terrae, ubi sol oritur, quando occidit nobis,
adversa pedibus nostris calcare vestigia, nulla ratione credendum est.
Neque hoc ulla historica cognitione didicisse se affirmant, sed quali
ratiocinando conjectant, es quod intra con vexa coeli terra suspenda sit,
eum demque locum mundas habeat, et infirmum, et medium: et ex hoc
opinantur alteram terra pattern, quae infra est, habitatione hominum
carere non posse. Nec adtendunt, etiamsi figura conglobata et rotunda
mundus esse credatur, sive aliqua ratione monstretur; non tamen esse
consequens, ut etiam ex illa parte ab aquarum congerie nuda sit terra
devide etiamus nuda sit, neque hoc statum necesse esse, ut homines
habeat, Quoniam nulla modo Scriptura ista mentitur, quae narratis
praeteritis facis sidem, eo quod ejus praedicta complentur: nimisque
absurdurn est, ut dicatur aliquos hornines ex hae in illam partem, oceani
immensitate trajecta, navigare ac pervenive potuisse, ut etiarn illic ex
uno illo primo hornine genus institueretur hurnanurn?"

The substance of which is: "That there can be nothing more absurd than
the belief of some ancient writers who imagined that the land on the
opposite side of the world could be inhabited by human beings. Those who
made this assertion admit they have no historical fact to base it upon,
and that it is merely a logical deduction of philosophy. But if we accept
as true the principles upon which they base their arguments, is it to be
necessarily admitted that because these countries are habitable, that
they are in reality inhabited. As the Holy Scripture, which is our guide
in all matters of belief, makes no mention of this, and as it is an
accepted fact that the descendants of our first parents could not have
sailed to and reached these countries, how is it possible that they could
be inhabited."

Although the existence of a great Austral land was a subject of
philosophical and theological discussion among the ancients, they,
however, never attempted to sail across that ocean which was the limit of
the world they knew. It is possible that the Chinese may have been more
bold, but it is very doubtful whether they ever sailed so far south as to
land on the coast of the Australian continent. They have left no trace of
their passage, either on the land itself, or among its inhabitants.
Besides, the Chinese were never very enterprising sailors, the form of
their junks, their peculiar sails, and the scantiness of their nautical
knowledge prevented them from extending very far the radius of their
maritime explorations. Marco Polo is the authority generally quoted in
this matter, as he states that the people of Cathay knew of the existence
of a great land far to the southward, with the inhabitants of which they
were accustomed to trade. This is rather an indefinite description, and
might apply to New Guinea as well as to the Australian Continent. More so
to the former and the islands surrounding it on the north and east, where
evidence exists of the voyage of the Chinese traders and fishermen in
search of the precious trepang. But as these holothuriae are generally
found in the vicinity of the coral banks of Polynesia, to the eastward of
New Guinea, and not in the direction of the Australian coast, there is
much reason to think that the Chinese claim to the discovery of this
continent is purely mythical, although, like the ancients, they may have
believed in its existence as a logical deduction of philosophy.


Captain Cook compared to former Visitors--Point Hicks--Botany Bay-First
natives seen--Indifference to Overtures--Abundant flora--Entrance to Port
Jackson missed--ENDEAVOUR on a reef--Careened--Strange animals--Hostile
natives--A sailor's devil--Possession Island-Territory of New South
Wales--Torres Straits a passage--La Perouse--Probable fate discovered by
Captain Dillon--M'Cluer touches Arnheim's Land--Bligh and Portlock--Wreck
of the PANDORA--Vancouver in the south--The D'Entrecasteaux
quest--Recherche Archipelago--Bass and Flinders--Navigation and
exploration extraordinary--The TOM THUMB--Bass explores south--Flinders
in the Great Bight--Bass's Straits--Flinders in the INVESTIGATOR--Special
instructions--King George's Sound--Lossof boat's crew--Memory
Cove--Baudin's courtesy--Port Phillip--INVESTIGATOR and LADY NELSON on
East Coast--The Gulf of Carpentaria and early Dutch navigators--Duyfhen
Point--Cape Keer-Weer--Mythical rivers charted--Difficulty in recognising
their landmarks--Flinders' great disappointment--A rotten ship--Return by
way of West Coast--Cape Vanderlin--Dutch Charts--Malay proas,
Pobassoo--Return to Port Jackson--Wreck of the PORPOISE--Prisoner by the
French--General de Caen--Private papers and journals
appropriated--Prepares his charts and logs for press--Death--Sympathy by
strangers--Forgotten by Australia--The fate of Bass--Mysterious
disappearance--Supposed Death.

The maritime exploration of our coast may be said to have fairly
commenced on the morning of the 19th of April, 1770, when Captain Cook
first sighted land. True we had many visitors before, [See Introduction.]
but none had given the same attention to the work, with an eye to future
colonisation, nor sailed along such an extent of shore.

The present coast of Gippsland was the place that first caught the
attention of Lieutenant Hicks on that eventful morning, and Point Hicks
received its name in commemoration of the incident.

From this point they sailed eastward, and at the promontory, where the
coast turned to the north, the name of Cape Howe was bestowed. Cook,
fresh from the shores of New Zealand and its more rugged scenery, was
pleasingly impressed with his distant view of Australia, but it must have
been the force of contrast only, as the portion of Australia first
sighted by him is devoid of interest. No available landing place was
seen; the shore was too tame, and for many days they coasted along,
looking for a break, or entrance, but none could he found where a safe
landing could be effected.

Botany Bay was the spot where the men from the ENDEAVOUR sprang on shore
for the first time, and although the flora of the surrounding country
brought joy to the heart of Mr. Banks, the botanist, it could not have
held out very high hopes of the future to the others.

Here they first saw the natives, "Indians," as Cook calls them, and hoped
to effect a peaceable landing. He says:--

"The place where the ship had anchored was abreast of a small village,
consisting of about six or eight houses; and while we were preparing to
hoist out the boat, we saw an old woman followed by three children come
out of the wood; she was loaded with firewood, and each of the children
had also its little burden. She often looked at the ship, but expressed
neither fear nor surprise. In a short time she kindled a fire, and four
canoes came in from fishing. The men landed, and having hauled up their
boats, began to dress their dinner, to all appearances, wholly
unconcerned about us, though we were within half-a-mile of them. We
thought it remarkable that of all the people we had yet seen, not one had
the least appearance of clothing, the old woman herself being destitute
even of a fig leaf.

"After dinner the boats were manned, and we set out from the ship. We
intended to land where we saw the people, and began to hope that as they
so little regarded the ship's coming into the bay, they would as little
regard our coming on shore. In this, however, we were disappointed, for
as soon as we approached the rocks, two men came down upon them to
dispute our landing, and the rest ran away."

For some time they parleyed with the blacks, and threw them nails, beads,
and other trifles, trying to make them understand that only water was
wanted, and no harm would be done them; but the natives refused all
offers of friendship, and three charges of small shot had to be fired at
their legs before they would even allow a peaceable landing.

Many expeditions were made inland for plants, birds, and flowers, also to
try if some intercourse could be established with the natives, but after
the first contest they would not come near enough to speak to. Nor did
they touch any of the presents--beads, ribbons, and cloth, that had been
left about and in their huts.

The great quantity of plants collected here by Mr. Banks induced Cook to
give it the name of Botany Bay. The King's colours were hoisted each day
of the stay, and the ship's name with the date of the year was inscribed
upon one of the trees near the watering place.

Having now provided a supply of fresh water, the anchor was weighed on
the 6th of May, and they sailed northward. Unaware of what he had missed,
Cook passed the entrance of Port Jackson, and followed up the coast for
over a thousand miles to the north, without incident or adventure, beyond
the routine work of the ship. But, on June 10th, this quiet was rudely
broken by the ENDEAVOUR running on a coral reef when off the site of the
present town of Cooktown. Fortunately a jagged point of coral stuck in
the hole made, and acted as a plug, otherwise this voyage of Cook's would
have proved his last, and the history of this continent been much delayed
and altered.

Passing a sail under the hull, and throwing guns and other stores
overboard, Cook got his ship once more afloat, and took her into the
mouth of a river (now the Endeavour River) where, on a convenient beach,
she was careened, and the carpenters set to work to repair her, whilst a
forge was set up, and the smiths occupied making bolts and nails. Many
animals strange to them were seen, and among them the first kangaroo. One
of the firemen who had been rambling in the woods, told them, on his
return, that he verily believed he had seen the devil.

"We naturally enquired in what form he had appeared, and his answer was
in so singular a style, that I shall set it down in his own words. 'He
was,' says John, 'as large as a one gallon keg, and very like it; he had
horns and wings, yet he crept so slowly through the grass that if I had
not been afeared, I might have touched him.' This formidable apparition we
afterwards discovered to have been a bat. They have indeed no horns, but
the fancy of a man who thought he saw the devil might easily supply that

Many excursions Mr. Banks and the men made inland, finding one very
useful plant, at the time when scurvy had appeared among them, a plant
that in the West Indies is called Indian Kale, and served them for

Some communication was established with the natives, but it ended as
usual by their commencing to steal, and having to be chastised for it. In
revenge they set fire to the grass, and the navigator very nearly lost
his whole stock of gunpowder. He was astonished by the extreme
inflammability of the grass and the consequent difficulty in putting it
out, and vowed if ever he had to camp in such a situation again, he would
first clear the grass around. Leaving the Endeavour River, Cook, after
passing through the Barrier Reef and again repassing it, as he says,
"After congratulating ourselves upon passing the reef we again
congratulate ourselves upon repassing it," landed no more until he had
left Cape York, and there on an island called "Possession Island," he
formally took possession of the east coast of New Holland, under the name
of New South Wales, for his Majesty King George III.


This ceremony concluded, and rejoicing in the re-discovery of Torres
Straits--the waters of which had borne no keel since the gallant Spaniard
had passed through--he sailed to New Guinea, Cook having thus completed
the survey of that portion of the South Land so long left a blank upon
the map, never returned--unless his visit to Van Dieman's Land, in 1777,
can be called a visit-to our shores, but the names he bestowed on the
many bays, headlands, and islands of the east coast have clung to them
ever since. So accurate were his surveys, even under extreme
difficulties, that he left little for his successors to do but
investigate those portions of the coast he had been forced to overlook.

But Cook's fame and career are such household words amongst all
English-speaking races, and the results of his visit to Australia so
extensive, that no space that this history could afford would be
sufficiently large to appreciate the merits of his work.

When Phillip landed in Botany Bay he was followed, as is well known, by
the distinguished French navigator, La Perouse, and although the name of
this unfortunate man does not enter largely into the history of our
colonisation, it is essential that it should come under notice. After a
short stay, La Perouse sailed from Australian shores, and of him and his
stately ships no tidings ever reached Europe. Years passed, and Captain
Dillon, the master of an English vessel trading amongst the South Sea
Islands, found a sword-belt in the possession of the natives; this led to
further investigations, and the hapless story was finally elucidated.

Wrecked on the coast of one of the islands, and all attempts to save the
ships having proved futile, the crews took to the boats, only to suffer
death from drowning or at the hands of the savages. The guns and other
heavy equipment were afterwards recovered, proving beyond doubt that that
was the end of the French vessels and their unhappy commander-the
Leichhardt of the sea.

In 1791, Lieutenant McCluer, of the Bombay Marine, touched upon the
northern coast of Arnheim's Land, but as he did not land, no result
accrued to the continent from his coming.

Before his advent, however, Captain Bligh, making his way home from the
spot where the mutineers of the BOUNTY had set him afloat, passed through
Torres Straits, and sighted the mainland of Australia. Situated as he
was, he could do little more than take hasty observations.

Two years afterwards, the PANDORA, under Captain Edwards, struck on a
reef in Torres Straits, and sank in deep water. Thirty-nine of the crew
were drowned, and the remainder, destitute of almost everything, made for
the coast of Australia in four boats. Edwards landed on Prince of Wales
Island, but not on the mainland. He finally reached Timor, with his
shipwrecked men, amongst whom were some of the mutineers of the BOUNTY.
Many of these men had been obliged to remain on board perforce, and in no
way participated in that famous mutiny. Their treatment by the captain of
the PANDORA, and afterwards by the English authorities, was both harsh
and unjust.

In 1792, the PROVIDENCE and ASSISTANT, Captains Bligh and Portlock,
sailed through the Straits, conveying the bread-fruit plant from Tahiti
to the West Indies. Serving in this expedition was Lieutenant Flinders.

In 1791, Captain George Vancouver, on his way to America, came to the
southern shore, and found and named King George's Sound. He landed and
examined the country, but saw nothing of any consequence, and, after a
short stay, sailed away to the eastward, intending to follow the coast
line, but was prevented by baffling winds.

In 1793, previously to the INVESTIGATOR, and in the year following Bligh
and Portlock, Messrs. William Bampton and Matthew B. Alt, commanders of
the ships HORMUZEER and CHESTERFELD, sailed from Norfolk Island, with the
intention of passing through Torres Straits by a route which the
commanders did not know had been before attempted.

The terrible dangers of the Straits encountered appear to have deterred
others from following them up to the time of the INVESTIGATOR.

Vancouver was quickly followed in the year 1792 by M. D'Entrecasteaux,
who, having with him the ships LA RECHERCHE and L'ESPÉRANCE, was in quest
of the fate of La Perouse. Off Termination Island-the last land seen by
Vancouver--a gale sprang up, and the French ships had to seek shelter.
They remained at anchor a week, and the officers made many excursions to
the islands now known as the Recherche Archipelago.

He sailed along some portions of the Great Bight, which he described as
of "an aspect so uniform that the most fruitful imagination could find
nothing to say of it." Water failing him, he steered for Van Dieman's

We now come across one of the grandest names in the history of our
colony. Bass, the surgeon of the RELIANCE, whose work has survived him in
the name of the well-known strait.

In a tiny cockle shell, the TOM THUMB, a boat of eight feet long, he and
Flinders, at first but an adventurous middy, cruised around the coast and
examined every inlet and opening visible, at the very peril of their
lives. It is almost equal to an imaginative story of adventures to read
the tale of their various trips, suffice it they did good work, and came
back safely to carry that work on with better and fuller means.

A voyage to Norfolk Island interrupted their further proceedings until
the next year, 1796. Bass and Flinders then again, in the TOM THUMB, left
to explore a large river, said to fall in the sea some miles to the south
of Botany Bay, and of which there was no indication in Cook's chart.

In 1797, Bass obtained leave to make an expedition to the southward and
was furnished with a whale boat and a crew of six men. Although he sailed
with only six weeks' provisions, by birds and fish caught, and
abstinence, he was enabled to prolong his voyage to eleven weeks, and his
labours were crowned with a success not to be expected from such frail
means. In the three hundred miles of coast examined from Port Jackson to
Ram Head, a number of discoveries were made that had escaped Captain

From Ram Head--the southernmost part of the coast that had been examined
by Cook-Bass began to reap a rich harvest of important discoveries, and
another three hundred miles followed, the appearance of which confirmed
his belief in the existence of a strait between the continent and Van
Dieman's Land.

It was with great reluctance he returned before verifying this belief
beyond doubt of others.

In September, 1798, we find him on board the NORFOLK, associated with
Flinders, seeking to prove his theory. After many and strong head winds,
and much delay, the two had the supreme pleasure of greeting the westward
ocean, and returning to Port Jackson with the tidings.

Flinders says:--


In 1799, Flinders, in the NORFOLK, followed up Cook's discoveries in the
neighbourhood of Glass House Bay, and in 1801 we must accompany him on
his great voyage round Terra Australis.

The north coast of Australia, both from its more interesting formation
and the lack of settlement, has received a good deal of attention from
our navigators of the present century, and by far the most fascinating
part of Captain Flinders' log refers to the north coast.

In 1802, we find him following the track of M. D'Entrecasteaux round the
Great Bight. Flinders seems to have been as much puzzled as he was
regarding the great extent of level cliffs passed. He conjectures that
within this bank, as he terms it, there could be nothing but sandy plains
or water, and that, in all probability, it formed a barrier between an
exterior and interior sea. He little thought how, some years afterwards,
a lonely white man would tramp round those barren cliffs, eagerly
scanning Flinders' chart for any sign of a break in their iron

On February 16th, 1801, Matthew Flinders was promoted to the rank of
commandant, and left England with the INVESTIGATOR, to prosecute his
voyage to Terra Australis. His instructions were:--

"To make the best of your way to New Holland, running down the coast from
130 degrees east longitude to BASS'S Straits, putting, if you should
find it necessary, into KING GEORGE THE THIRD'S HARBOUR for refreshments
and water, previous to your commencing the survey, and on your arrival on
the coast, use your best endeavour to discover such harbours as may be in
those parts, and in case you shall discover any creek or opening likely
to lead to an INLAND SEA OR STRAIT, you are at liberty either to examine
it or not, as you 'shall judge it most expedient, until a more favourable
opportunity shall enable you so to do.

"When it shall appear to you necessary, you shall repair to SYDNEY COVE,
for the purpose of refreshing your people, refitting the sloop under your
command, and consulting the Governor of New South Wales upon the best
means of carrying on the survey of the coast; and having received from
him such information as he may be able to communicate, and taken under
your command the LADY NELSON tender, which you may expect to find in
Sydney Cove, you are to recommence your survey by first diligently
examining the coast from BASS'S Straits to KING GEORGE THE THIRD'S

Flinders was then instructed to repair from time to time to Sydney Cove,
to be very diligent in the examination, and to take particular care to
insert in his journal every circumstance that might be useful to a full
and complete knowledge of the coast--the wind, weather, the productions,
comparative fertility of the soil, the manners and customs of the
inhabitants, and to examine the country as far inland as it was prudent
to venture with so small a party as could be spared from the vessel
whenever a chance of discovering anything useful to the commerce or
manufacturies of the United Kingdom.

From thence they were to explore the north-west coast of New Holland,
where, from the extreme height of tides observed by Dampier, it was
thought probable valuable harbours might be found; also the Gulf of
Carpentaria and the parts to the westward. When that was completed, a
careful investigation and accurate survey of Torres Straits; then an
examination of the whole of the remainder of the north, the west, and the
north-west coasts of New Holland.

"So soon as you shall have completed the whole of these surveys and
examinations as above directed, you are to proceed to, and examine very
carefully the east coast of New Holland, seen by Captain Cook, from Cape
Flattery to the Bay of Inlets; and in order to refresh your people, and
give the advantages of variety to the painters, you are at liberty to
touch at the Fijis, or some other islands in the South Seas."

As soon as the whole of the examinations and surveys were completed, he
was to lose no time in returning with the sloop under his command to

The vessel was fitted with a plant cabin for the purpose of making
botanical collections for the Royal Gardens at Kew, and on each return to
Sydney Cove, all plants, trees, shrubs, etc., were to be transferred to
the Governor's garden until the INVESTIGATOR sailed for Europe.

King George's Sound being chosen as the place to prepare themselves for
the examination of the south coast of Terra Australis, they anchored off
Point Possession, on the south side of the entrance to Princess Royal
Harbour, previous to wind and water being favourable for entering the
harbour to refit and procure wood and fresh water.

Many excursions were made by the naturalist, botanist, and artist, and a
new survey of King George's Sound made.

"On the east side of the entrance to Princess Royal Harbour we landed,
and found a spot of ground six or eight feet square dug up and trimmed
like a garden, and upon it was lying a piece of sheet copper bearing this


This answered the finding of the felled trees on Point Possession, also
of the disappearance of the bottle left by Captain Vancouver in 1791,
containing parchment that Flinders had looked for on landing.

In Flinders' description of the country in the neighbourhood of King
George's Sound he says:--

"The basis stone is granite, which frequently shows itself at the surface
in the form of smooth, bare rock; but upon the sea-coast hills and the
shores on the south side of the sound and Princess Royal Harbour the
granite is generally covered with a crust of calcareous stone, as it is
also upon Michaelmas Island. Captain Vancouver mentions having found upon
the top of Bald Head branches of coral protruding through the sand,
exactly like those seen in the coral beds beneath the surface of the
sea--a circumstance which would seem to bespeak this country to have
emerged from the ocean at no very distant period of time.

"This curious fact I was desirous to verify, and his description proved
to be correct. I found, also, two broken columns of stone, three or four
feet high, formed like stumps of trees, and of a thickness superior to
the body of a man, but whether this was coral or wood now petrified, or
whether they might not have been calcareous rocks worn into that
particular form by the weather I cannot determine. Their elevation above
the present level of the sea could not have been less than four hundred

On January 4th, 1802, a bottle containing parchment, to inform future
visitors of their arrival and departure, was left on the top of Seal
Island, and on the morrow they sailed out of King George's Sound to
continue the survey eastwards. They anchored on the 28th in Fowler's
Bay--the extremity of the then known south coast of Terra Australis.

Off Cape Catastrophe, a cutter, with eight men, was sent on shore in
search of an anchorage where water could be procured. Nothing of the boat
and crew was again seen but the wreck of the boat showing that it had
been stove in by the rocks. After a careful but hopeless search for the
men, their pressing need for water caused them to abandon further delay,
and they left to examine the opening to the northward.

"I caused an inscription to be engraven upon a sheet of copper, and set
it up on a stout post at the head of the cove, which I named Memory Cove,
and further to commemorate our loss, I gave each of the six islands
nearest to Cape Catastrophe the name of one of the seamen."

Flinders sailed up the gulf, which he called Spencer's Gulf, and had a
long look towards the interior from the summit of Mount Brown.

The Gulf of St. Vincent then fell to his share to discover, and shortly
afterwards he met with the French ship LE GÉOGRAPHE Captain Baudin; says

"We veered round as LE GÉOGRAPHE was passing, so as to keep our broadside
to her, lest the flag of truce should be a deception, and having come to
the wind on the other tack, a boat was hoisted out, and I went on board
the French ship, which had also hove to."

The two Captains exchanged passports and information, but Flinders was
afterwards much annoyed to find on the publication of M. Péron's book,
that all his late discoveries had been rechristened with French names,
and, in fact, his work ignored completely. Parting from the French ship
in Encounter Bay, as he named it, the English navigator sailed for Port

Suddenly coming to the Harbour of Port Phillip, Flinders thinks he has
entered Port Western, but finds his mistake next morning; then
congratulates himself upon having made a new and most useful discovery,
he says:--

"There I was again in error, this place, as I afterwards learned in Port
Jackson had been discovered ten weeks before by Lieutenant John Murray,
in command of the LADY NELSON. He had given to it the name of Port
Phillip, and to the rocky point on the east side of the entrance Point

On the 9th May, the INVESTIGATOR anchors in Sydney Cove, and again left
in company with the LADY NELSON, on the morning Of July 22nd, for the
examination of the east coast, making many discoveries before reaching
Torres Straits that had escaped Captain Cook, among others Port Curtis
and Port Bowen.

The LADY NELSON in consequence of being disabled left the INVESTIGATOR on
the east coast, and returned to Port Jackson.

We will again take up Flinders' narrative during his examination of the
Gulf of Carpentaria, which had not been visited since the days of the
Dutch ships. The first point Flinders mentions finding corroborative of
the fidelity of their charts is the entrance to the Batavia River and
there is no doubt that this spot is indicated by the words "fresh
water," in the map accredited to Tasman, as there is a capital boat
entrance of two fathoms to this stream, and at a comparatively short
distance from the mouth of the water at low tide is quite fresh. This
river heads from a plateau of springs, a tableland covered with scrubby
heath, and intersected by scores of running gullies, boggy and
impassable; in fact, the same country as caused such trouble to the
Jardine brothers when they explored this shore of the Gulf.

From this place, however, Flinders seems very doubtful as to the identity
of some of the rivers laid down. One point, the most remarkable on the
coast, and which Yet was not in the Dutch chart, Flinders named "Duyfhen
Point," and another, he called "Pera Head," after the second yacht that
entered the Gulf.

At Cape Keer-Weer he fairly gives in that he could see nothing
approaching a cape, but a slight projection being visible from the
mast-head, out of respect to antiquity, he puts it down on his map. The
"Vereenidge River" he concludes, has no existence, and the "Nassau
River" turned out to be a lagoon at the back of a beach. Still the
existence of anything approaching the reality of what was indicated on
the charts, proves that at any rate the ships had been there, even if
they had not kept close enough to the land to be quite certain of what
they saw. So shallow is the approach to this shore, that when so far from
land even at the mast-head the tops of the trees could only be partially
distinguished, Flinders only found from four to six fathoms of water.

Of the Staaten River he says that--"Where that river can be found I know
not," and at last he begins to fancy that the formation of the mouths of
the rivers must have altered since Tasman's time.

Reaching the head of the Gulf, Flinders sighted a hill, which gave him
hope of a change in the flat monotony of the coast he had now followed
for one hundred and seventy-five leagues. This Will, which turned out to
'be an island, Flinders judged to be a headland marked on the western
side of "Maatsuyker's River." The river he failed to discover, to the
island he gave the name of Sweer's Island. Here Flinders remained some
time, having found fresh water, and an anchorage adapted to cleaning and
caulking his ship. But a great disappointment awaited him. The report of
the master and carpenter who overhauled the INVESTIGATOR, was to the
effect that the ship was perfectly rotten. It ends in these words:--

"From the state to which the ship seems now advanced, it is our joint
opinion that in twelve months there will scarcely be a sound timber in
her; but that if she remains in fine weather and happen no accident, she
may run six months longer without much risk."

This was a death blow to Flinders' hope of so completing the survey of
the coast, that no after work should be necessary. Under the
circumstances, he determined to finish the exploration of the Gulf, and
then to proceed to Port Jackson by way of the west coast, should the ship
prove capable, if not to make for the nearest port in the West Indies.

Leaving Sweer's Island, Flinders next investigated Cape Van Dieman, and
found it to be an island, which he called Mornington Island. Cape
Vanderlin of the Dutch was the next point sighted, and it too was an
island, one of the Sir Edward Pellew Group. On taking leave of this
group, Flinders remarks on these discrepancies as follows:--


As no marked change has taken place since Flinders' survey, we may
conclude that his last conclusion is the right one, and that a great deal
in conjecture was brought to bear on the construction of the chart.

Still following the bend of the gulf, Flinders next ascertained that Cape
Maria was only an island (Maria Island) and so with many points up to the
northern termination of the Gulf. Along part of the southern and most
western shore of Carpentaria many indications of the Malay visits were
found--scraps of bamboo, rude stone fireplaces, and stumps of mangrove
trees, cut down with iron axes. When amongst the English Company's
Islands, a fleet of proas was met with, fishing for trepang. A friendly
interview was obtained with them, and from the chief, Pobassoo, Flinders
learnt that this was the sixth or seventh voyage that he had made to the
Australian coast. He had a great horror of the pigs on board the
INVESTIGATOR, but a decided liking for the port wine with which he was

The state of his vessel now decided Flinders to relinquish the survey,
thinking himself fortunate in having escaped any heavy weather.

"We had continued the survey of the coast for more than one-half of the
six months the master and carpenter had judged the ship might run without
much risk, provided she remained in fine weather, and no accidents
happened; and the remainder of the time being not much more than
necessary for us to reach Port Jackson, I judged it imprudent to continue
the investigation longer. In addition, the state of my own health, and
that of the ship's company, were urgent to terminate the examination here
. . . . It was, however, not without much regret that I quitted the coast
. . . . The accomplishment of the survey was, in fact, an object so near
my heart, that could I have foreseen the train of ills that were to
follow the decay of the INVESTIGATOR, and prevent the survey being
resumed-and had my existence depended upon the expression of a wish--I do
not know that it would have received utterance."

Thinking himself fortunate in escaping any heavy weather, he sailed for
Coepang, and from there to Port Jackson.

In July, 1803, in the PORPOISE, Captain Flinders, with the officers and
men of the INVESTIGATOR, left Port Jackson for England, to procure
another vessel to continue the survey left incomplete on the north coast,
but were wrecked on Wreck Reef, and afterwards taken prisoners by the

His subsequent career and early death were both unhappy, and no effort
has been made by either England or Australia to do tardy justice to his
name. After his shameful detention in the Isle of France, and his
reluctant release, he returned to England to find his rightful promotion
in the navy had been passed over during his long years of captivity, and
that the licensed bravo of Napoleon, General de Caen, had retained
(stolen would be the right word) his private journals; and it was only
after much trouble and correspondence between the two Governments that
they were restored. Flinders completed the work of his life by preparing
for the press his charts and logs, and died on the 14th June, 1814,
of-there is every reason to believe--a broken heart.

Captain King, when he visited the Isle of France after his Australian
surveys, speaks with pride of the kindly memory entertained by the
residents for the unfortunate Flinders, and the contempt bestowed upon
his cowardly gaoler.

Australia at the time of the explorer's detention was not certainly in a
position to demand his liberation. But what has been done since? Sir John
Franklin, an official visitor to our shores, erected a memorial to him in
the little township of Port Lincoln--a tribute to a brother sailor. Ask
the average native-born Australian of the southern colonies about
Flinders. He will tell you that it is the name of a street in Melbourne.
In Queensland, the boy will say that it is the name of a river somewhere
in the colony. That is the amount of honour Australia has bestowed on her
greatest navigator.

What was the fate of his companion, Bass?

After the return from the investigation of Bass's Straits, the young
surgeon shipped on board an armed merchant vessel on a voyage to South
America. At Valparaiso the governor of the town refused to allow the
vessel to trade. Bass, who was then in command, threatened to bombard the
town if the refusal was not withdrawn. It was rescinded, but, watching
their opportunity, the authorities seized Bass when he was off his guard,
and it is supposed that he was sent to the mines in the interior, where
he died. He was never heard of again, nor was any attempt made to

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