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Voyage Of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, Vol. 2 (of 2) by John MacGillivray

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apparently of trap formation, as I have already stated. Some conical
hills scattered along the coast may possibly be of volcanic origin,
especially one of that form rising to the height of 645 feet from the
lowland behind Redscar Head. It is in this neighbourhood also that we
find the upraised calcareous rocks of modern date exhibited by the
Pariwara Islands and the neighbouring headland, with which they were
probably once continuous; near this, too, the barrier reef of the coast
ceases at Low Island, which it encloses, although its line is continued
under water, as a ridge of coral, as far as the South-west Cape, where
the coral ends, unless the shoals apparently blocking up the channel
south of Yule Island are of the same formation.


Reference to the outline chart will enable the reader to follow me in
some general remarks which did not properly enter into the narrative. The
Louisiade Archipelago, reduced to what I conceive to be its natural
limits, includes that extensive group of islands comprised between the
parallels of 10 degrees 40 minutes and 11 degrees 40 minutes South
latitude, and the meridians of 151 degrees and 154 degrees 30 minutes
East longitude. About eighty are already known, and probably many others
remain yet to be discovered in the north-west, a large space there being
as yet a blank upon the chart. All the islands of the group, with the
exception of the low ones of coral formation to the westward, appear to
be inhabited, but probably nowhere very densely, judging from the
comparatively small number of natives which we saw, and the circumstance
of the patches of cultivation being small and scattered, while the
greater part of the large islands is either covered with dense forest, or
exhibits extensive grassy tracts with lines and clumps of trees. Such of
the islands as were examined consisted of mica slate, the line of
direction of the beds of which is nearly the same as that of the
Archipelago itself, and the physical appearance of the other islands
leads me to believe that the same rock prevails there also.


One of the most remarkable features connected with the Louisiade
Archipelago is the manner in which its shores are protected by the coral
reefs which have frequently been alluded to above. The principal of these
are good examples of that kind distinguished by the name of barrier
reefs. Rossel Reef has already been described, and the only other large
one of this description which we saw more than a portion of, is that
partially encircling South-east Island at a variable distance from the
land, then passing to the westward as far as longitude 152 degrees 40
minutes, where it ceases to show itself above water; thence, however, the
edge of a bank of soundings (represented on the chart by a dotted line)
which is suddenly met with in coming from the deep blue unfathomed water
to the southward, can be traced in a continued line to the westward as
far as the Jomard Isles, whence it turns round to the northward for ten
miles further, where our examination ended. This last may be considered
as a submarine extension of the barrier, which probably reappears again
above water, and passing to the northward of the Calvados Group, reaches
as far as the northern entrance to Coral Haven, enclosing nearly all the
high islands of the Archipelago. The expanse of water inside when not
occupied by land usually exhibits a depth of from 15 to 30 fathoms, with
numerous sunken patches of coral, and several reefs which partially dry
at low-water. The shores of the islands also are generally protected by
fringing coral reefs, the largest of which is that extending off the west
and south side of Piron Island to a distance of seven or eight miles,
with a well defined border towards Coral Haven.

At the western portion of the Louisiade Archipelago the reefs seen by us
exhibit great irregularity of outline, continuity, and width. Some are
linear reefs, others atolls* more or less distinct in character, and the
remainder are usually round or oval. Viewed as a whole they form an
interrupted chain, with numerous deepwater channels, which terminates in
the West Barrier Reef of the chart but is connected with the coast of New
Guinea by a bank of soundings, with, probably, a well-defined margin.
Many low, wooded islands are scattered along this line. I know of no
distinguishing feature presented by the coral reefs of the Louisiade
compared with those which I have seen elsewhere. One remarkable
occurrence, however, connected with them, may be mentioned. While passing
in the ship the most northern point of Rossel Island, I observed upon the
reef, about a hundred yards inside its outer border, a series of enormous
insulated masses of dead coral rising like rocks from the shallow water.
The largest of these, examined through a good telescope from the distance
of half a mile, was about twenty feet in length and twelve in height,
with a well-defined high-water mark. It formed quite a miniature island,
with tufts of herbage growing in the clefts of its rugged sides, and a
little colony of black-naped terns perched upon the top as if incubating.

(*Footnote. "An atoll differs from an encircling barrier reef only in the
absence of land within its central expanse; and a barrier reef differs
from a fringing reef in being placed at a much greater distance from the
land with reference to the probable inclination of its submarine
foundation, and in the presence of a deep water lagoon-like space or moat
within the reef." The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs by
Charles Darwin page 146.)


I had only once before seen a similar exhibition of such great and
permanently elevated masses of dead coral upon a living reef--a
phenomenon of much interest in connection with Mr. Darwin's theory of the
mode of formation of coral reefs. This was on a portion of the Great
Barrier Reef of Australia, visited in company with Mr. Jukes, who has
published a detailed account of it.* In both cases the only obvious
explanation is that these huge blocks--too massive to have been hove up
from deep water into their present position by any storm--reached their
present level by the elevation of the sea bottom on which they were

(*Footnote. Voyage of H.M.S. Fly by J.B. Jukes volume 1 page 340.)

Before quitting the subject of the coral reefs of the Louisiade I may be
permitted to express my conviction of the perfect manner in which many,
perhaps all of the appearances which they present may be satisfactorily
accounted for by the application of Mr. Darwin's theory. We have only to
presume the whole of the Archipelago to have once formed part of New
Guinea--a supposition highly probable in itself (suggested even by a
careful examination of the large charts) and strengthened by the total
absence of signs of volcanic agency in what the theory in question would
require to be an area of subsidence as opposed to those of elevation,
such as are known to exist in parts of New Guinea.


The ethnology of New Guinea is involved in so much confusion and
obscurity for the want of sufficient data, that even with the aid of some
additional recently acquired information bearing upon the subject, I wish
the following brief remarks to be regarded more as probable assumptions
than as views the correctness of which admits of demonstration. Besides,
to give all the proofs, such as they are, would cause much repetition of
what has been already stated above.

I must premise that most of our previous definite information regarding
the inhabitants of New Guinea applies only to a small portion of the
north-west coast of that great island in the neighbourhood of Port Dorey,
which is known to be peopled by several distinct varieties of mankind, of
which one (with which, as occupying the coast, we are best acquainted) is
designated the Papuan, or Papua, as generally understood by that
appellation when used in its restricted signification. These Papuans,
according to Dumont D'Urville,* compose the principal part of the
population of Port Dorey, and, judging from his description, I have no
hesitation in referring to them also the inhabitants of the Louisiade
Archipelago and the South-East coast of New Guinea, and agree with
Prichard (in opposition to the views of others) that they "constitute a
genuine and peculiar tribe."**

(*Footnote. Voyage de l'Astrolabe tome 4 page 603.)

(**Footnote. Researches into the Physical History of Mankind volume 5
page 227.)


Another variety among the inhabitants of Port Dorey, spoken of by M.
d'Urville as the Harfours, is supposed by him to include, along with
another race of which little is known--named Arfaki--the indigenous
inhabitants of the north-west part of New Guinea. The Harfours,
Haraforas, or Alforas, for they have been thus variously named, have
often been described as inhabiting the interior of many of the large
islands of the Malayan Archipelago, but, as Prichard remarks, "nothing
can be more puzzling than the contradictory accounts which are given of
their physical characters and manners. The only point of agreement
between different writers respecting them is the circumstance that all
represent them as very low in civilisation and of fierce and sanguinary
habits."* Their distinctness as a race has been denied with much apparent
reason by Mr. Earl, and they are considered by Prichard to be merely
various tribes of the Malayo-Polynesian race retaining their uncivilised
and primitive state. Be this as it may, of these Harfours D'Urville
states, that they reminded him of the ordinary type of the Australians,
New Caledonians, and the black race of Oceania, from their sooty colour,
coarse but not woolly hair, thick beards, and habit of scarifying the
body. I mention these Harfours for the purpose of stating that no people
answering to the description of them given above were seen by us in New
Guinea or the Louisiade Archipelago.

(*Footnote. Ibid page 255.)


It appears to me that there are two distinct varieties of the Papuan race
inhabiting the south-east portion of New Guinea. The first occupies the
western shores of the Great Bight, and probably extends over the whole of
the adjacent country, along the banks of Aird River, and the other great
freshwater channels. Judging from the little that was seen of them during
the voyage of the Fly, these people appear to agree with the Torres
Strait Islanders--an offshoot, there is reason to believe, of the same
stock--in being a dark and savage race, the males of which go entirely

The second variety occupies the remainder of the south-east coast of New
Guinea and the Louisiade Archipelago. Their characteristics have already
been given in this work, as seen at intermediate points between Cape
Possession and Coral Haven; they agree in being a lighter-coloured people
than the preceding, and more advanced in civilisation: mop-headed,
practising betel-chewing, and wearing the breech-cloth. Without entering
into the question of their supposed origin, I may state that, in some of
their physical, intellectual, and moral characters, and also partially in
their language, they seem to me to show indications of a
Malayo-Polynesian influence, probably acquired before their arrival in
New Guinea, along the shores of which they seem to have extended,
colonising the Louisiade during their progress, which at Cape Possession
was finally arrested by their meeting with the other section of the race
alluded to in the preceding paragraph.

It would be curious to see the effects produced at the point of junction
of these two sections of the same race, probably somewhere between Aird
River and Cape Possession. It is not unlikely that the Papuans of Redscar
Bay and its vicinity derived the use of the bow and arrow from their
neighbours to the westward--and that the kind of canoe in use in Torres
Strait was an introduction from the eastward, is rendered
probable--setting aside other considerations--by a circumstance suggested
by the vocabularies, i.e. that the name for the most characteristic part
of the canoe in question--the outrigger float--is essentially the same
from the Louisiade to Cape York.*

Louisiade: Sama.
Darnley Island: Charima.
Dufaure Island: Sarima.
Prince of Wales Islands: Sarima.
Redscar Bay: Darima.
Cape York: Charima.)

I have alluded in a preceding part of this work (Volume 1) to the
circumstance that the small vocabulary obtained at the Louisiade may,
along with others, throw some light upon the question: whence has
Australia been peopled?


It may safely be assumed that the aborigines of the whole of Australia
(exclusive of Van Diemen's Land) have had one common origin; in physical
character the natives of Cape York seem to me to differ in no material
respect from those of New South Wales, South or Western Australia, or
Port Essington,* and, I believe I am borne out by facts in stating that
an examination of vocabularies and grammars (more or less complete) from
widely remote localities, still further tends to prove the unity of the
Australian tribes as a race.

(*Footnote. M. Hombron (attached to D'Urville's last expedition as
surgeon and naturalist) considers--as the result of personal
observation--that the aborigines of New South Wales exhibit certain
points of physical difference from those of the North Coast of Australia,
meaning, I suppose, by the latter, those natives seen by him at Raffles
Bay and Port Essington. I may also mention that M. Hombron considers the
Northern Australians to be a distinct subdivision of the Australian race,
in which he also classes the inhabitants of the smaller islands of Torres
Strait (as Warrior Island for instance) attributing the physical
amelioration of the latter people to the fact of their possessing
abundant means of subsistence afforded by the reefs among which they
live, and the necessity of possessing well constructed canoes as their
only means of procuring fish and dugong, stated by him to constitute the
chief food of the Torres Strait islanders. Voyage au Pole Sud, etc.
Zoologie tome 1 par M. Hombron pages 313, 314 et 317.)

The two places from one of which the Australian population may be
supposed to have been more IMMEDIATELY derived, are Timor on the one hand
and New Guinea on the other: in the former case the first settlers would
probably have landed somewhere on the north-west coast, in the latter, at
Cape York.

Mr. Eyre believes that there are "grounds sufficient to hazard the
opinion that Australia was first peopled on its north-western coast,
between the parallels of 12 and 16 degrees South latitude. From whence we
might surmise that three grand divisions had branched off from the parent
tribe, and that from the offsets of these the whole continent has been
overspread."* Proceeding still further Mr. Eyre has very ingeniously
attempted to explain the gradual peopling of Australia, and even indicate
the probable routes taken by the first settlers during the long periods
of years which must have elapsed before the whole continent was overrun
by the tribes now collectively forming the Australian race. Dr. Prichard,
when alluding to the probable mode of dispersion of the black tribes of
the Indian Archipelago, conjectures that one of the branches during the
migratory march probably passed from Java to Timor, and from thence to
Australia.** Dr. Latham also inclines to the belief that Australia was
peopled from Timor and not from New Guinea, judging, in the absence of
positive proof, from the probability that "occupancy had begun in
Australia before migration across Torres Strait had commenced in New
Guinea," inferred "from the physical differences between the Australian
and the Papuan, taken with the fact that it is scarcely likely that the
Papuans of Torres Strait would have failed in extending themselves in
Australia had that island been unoccupied." Timor also is much nearer
than New Guinea to the REMOTE source--assumed to be the continent of
Asia--whence the Australians have been derived.***

(*Footnote. Journals of Expeditions of Discovery into Central Australia
etc. by E.J. Eyre Volume 2 page 405.)

(**Footnote. Researches into the Physical History of Mankind Volume 5
page 214.)

(***Footnote. Natural History of the Varieties of Man by R.G. Latham,
M.D. pages 257 and 253.)

The unity of the Australian race being admitted implies one common
origin, and that such was not derived from New Guinea, can scarcely, I
think, be doubted. Upon examining the neighbourhood of the point of
contact between the New Guinea-men and the Australians, we find Cape York
and the neighbouring shores of the mainland occupied by genuine and
unmixed Australians, and the islands of Torres Strait with the adjacent
coast of New Guinea by equally genuine Papuans; intermediate in position
between the two races, and occupying the point of junction at the Prince
of Wales Islands we find the Kowrarega tribe of blacks. At first I was
inclined to regard the last more as degraded Papuans than as improved
Australians: I am now, however, fully convinced that they afford an
example of an Australian tribe so altered by contact with the Papuan
tribes of the adjacent islands as at length to resemble the latter in
most of their physical, intellectual and moral characteristics. Thus the
Kowraregas have acquired from their island neighbours the art of
cultivating the ground, and their superior dexterity in constructing and
navigating large canoes, together with some customs--such as that of
preserving the skulls of their enemies as trophies: while they retain the
use of the spear and throwing-stick, practise certain mysterious
ceremonies connected with the initiation of boys to the rights of
manhood--supposed to be peculiar to the Australian race--and hold the
females in the same low and degraded position which they occupy
throughout Australia.

That the Kowraregas settled the Prince of Wales Islands either prior to
or nearly simultaneously, with the spreading downwards from New Guinea of
the Papuans of the islands, scarcely admits of absolute proof: but that
the former have existed as a tribe for a long period of years is shown by
the changes which I presume to have taken place in their language. While
this last unquestionably belongs to the Australian class, as clearly
indicated by Dr. Latham's analysis of the pronouns,* one of the
characteristic parts of the language, and, therefore, least liable to
change, yet the occurrence in the Kowrarega of a considerable number of
words resembling and often identical with those of the known Papuan
languages of Torres Strait,** and which I believe to have been derived
from the latter, seems to indicate a degree of long-continued intercourse
between the two races: for changes in language to so great an extent are
not effected in a short space of time any more than the nearly complete
fusion of two different races which has evidently taken place at the
Prince of Wales Islands. Scarcely opposible to this supposition is the
extreme improbability that the Papuans, who had nothing to gain from so
comparatively inferior a race as the Australian, should be indebted to
the latter for the words common to both found to exist in the Kowrarega
and Miriam languages.

(*Footnote. See the Appendix.)

(**Footnote. As means of comparison I used the Darnley and Murray Island
vocabulary given in Jukes' Voyage of the Fly, also a manuscript one of my
own, which furnishes some additional particulars; some words from Massid
given by Jukes; and a few from Mount Ernest procured by myself.)

Another mode of procedure suggests itself to one endeavouring to trace
the proximate origin of the Australians--and that is, to search the
records of voyagers and others for any traces of such customs, the use of
certain implements, etc., as are supposed to be most characteristic of
these people. Yet, taking, for example, the boomerang* and
throwing-stick,** we find nothing approaching to either of these
instruments in any part of New Guinea yet visited by Europeans: in the
absence of any evidence to the contrary from Timor, they may be
considered as true Australian inventions; and assuming the Australians to
be the descendants of a colony from Timor, the circumstance of the
natives of Melville Island--a part of Australia distant only 200 miles
from their presumed place of origin--being ignorant of the use of the
throwing-stick, is in favour of part of this supposition. But a thorough
investigation of the question of the origin of the Australian race, and
their dispersion over the continent, although NOW I believe rendered
quite practicable by the great mass of additional information contributed
by voyagers and travellers since Mr. Eyre wrote upon the subject, is not
consistent with the objects of this work.

(*Footnote. Some of the fowling-sticks of the ancient Egyptians closely
resemble the boomerang in form and appear to have been used in a similar
manner, but I am not aware that anything approaching it has been seen
elsewhere. A specimen which suggested this remark is exhibited in the
British Museum Egyptian Room Case 36, 37 Number 5646.)

(**Footnote. The throwing-stick is completely represented in the Aleutian
Islands (See in Ethnographical Room of British Museum, a specimen in case
16): in shape it differs from the Australian ones (which themselves vary
in different localities) but the principle of construction and mode of
use are precisely the same. In the islands of Tanna and New Caledonia a
contrivance is in use to produce the same effect as the throwing-stick in
propelling the spear; but, apart from other considerations, the nature of
the instrument (a piece of stiff plaited cord six inches long, with an
eye in one end and a knot at the other) is such as quite to preclude the
probability of the Australians having derived their throwing-stick from
this source.)


Death of Captain Stanley.
Sail for England.
Arrive at the Bay of Islands.
Falls of the Keri-Keri.
Passage across the South Pacific.
Oceanic birds.
Stay at the Falkland Islands.
Settlement of Stanley.
Call at Berkeley Sound.
Lassoing cattle.
Resume our homeward voyage.
Call at Horta in the Azores.
The caldeira of Fayal.
Arrive in England.

Soon after our arrival in Sydney we had to lament the loss of our much
respected commander, who died suddenly on March 13th, while apparently
convalescent from a severe illness contracted during our last
cruise--induced, I understand, by long continued mental anxiety, and the
cares necessarily devolving upon the leader of an expedition such as
ours, of which probably no one who has not been similarly situated can
ever fully comprehend the responsibility. Thus died at the early age of
thirty-nine, but after the successful accomplishment of the chief objects
of his mission, Captain Owen Stanley, who had long before won for himself
an honourable name in that branch of the naval service to which he had
devoted himself, and whose reputation as a surveyor and a man of science
stood deservedly high. Although it would ill become me as a civilian
attached to the expedition to enter upon the services* and professional
character of my late captain, yet in common with many others, I cannot
refrain from adding my humble testimony to his worth, by recording my
deep sense of many personal favours, and the assistance which was always
liberally rendered me during my natural history investigations throughout
the voyage, whenever the more important objects of the survey permitted.

(*Footnote. See O'Byrne's Naval Biographical Dictionary page 1109.)

By this unfortunate event all previous arrangements regarding our future
proceedings were anulled. It had been intended by Captain Stanley to
return to England by way of Singapore and the Cape of Good Hope, adding
to the charts of the Inner Passage as we went along the east coast of
Australia, and making a careful survey of the Strait of Alass, between
the islands of Lombock and Sumbawa. Captain the Honourable Henry Keppel
of H.M.S. Meander, as senior naval officer present, having appointed
Lieutenant Yule to the vacancy in the command of the Rattlesnake, with
orders to proceed direct to England, we left Sydney for that purpose on
May 2nd. The Bramble was left behind in the colony, and in addition to
her former crew, the limited accommodations of our ship were still
further crowded with the greater number of the Port Essington marines,
some invalids, and other passengers, making up the number on board to
upwards of 230 persons.

A course was steered to pass to the northward of New Zealand without
calling there, but shortly after leaving Sydney some defects in the ship
were found out, which rendered it necessary to put into the nearest port,
as the principal one, causing a leak in the after gunroom, could not be
repaired at sea. It was also considered expedient to get rid of the Asp
in order to lessen the straining of the ship during the prospective
passage round Cape Horn, which so much top weight was considered
materially to increase. On May 14th the land about Cape Maria Van Diemen
and the North Cape of New Zealand was in sight at daylight, appearing
high and mountainous, with steep maritime cliffs. On our passage across
from Australia we had seen few seabirds, but now albatrosses of three or
four species were very numerous, together with a few petrels, chiefly
Procellaria cookii. Next morning we found ourselves to leeward of Cape
Brett, having experienced a southerly current during the night of two
knots an hour; it took us the whole day to work up into the Bay of
Islands, and after dark we anchored in 28 fathoms, about six miles from
the entrance of the Kawa-Kawa.

May 16th.

The view from our anchorage, although under the favourable conditions of
fine weather, struck me as being dull and cheerless. The surface of the
country is hilly and undulating, showing patches of wood more or less
extensive, and large tracts of fern of a dull greenish hue. The shores of
the mainland and the numerous islands exhibit every here and there
argillaceous cliffs, and banks of a brown, reddish, or yellow colour,
from their steepness almost devoid of vegetation. In the morning it was a
dead calm, but at length a light air sprang up and carried us into the
bay of Kororareka, when we anchored in 4 1/2 fathoms, mud and sand, off
the village of the same name, also known as the township of Russell.

May 17th.

On landing at Kororareka, one finds that what from a distance appear neat
and comfortable cottages lose much by close inspection. The township
consists of about thirty small wooden houses, mixed up with many native
hovels. It extends along the shore of a small bay, with a shingly beach
in front and a swamp behind. The number of houses was formerly much
greater, most of those now existing having been built since May 1845,
when the greater part of the town was burnt down by the natives. Even now
it supports two public houses, and several general stores, where
necessaries may be procured at double the Sydney prices. At one time much
trade was done here, before the duties imposed on the occasion of New
Zealand becoming a British colony drove away the whalers which used to
resort in great numbers to the Bay of Islands to refit; at present,
besides the Rattlesnake, the only vessel here is a brig from Hobart,
bound to California, which put in to this place to get a new rudder.
Livestock is plentiful and the prices are moderate.

There are many natives living in the settlement. They afford a striking
contrast to the wretched specimens of Australian aborigines one
occasionally sees in the streets of Sydney. Many of the men are athletic
and well made, and in their gait and expression exhibit much manliness of
character. The faces of some of the principal people present good
specimens of elaborate tattooing. The women appear strange figures from
their ungainly modern dress, consisting merely of a loose smock of
calico, fastened at the neck and wrists. Some were tolerably handsome
(according to our notions of female beauty) and among them were several
halfcastes. Their fashion of dressing the hair is curious--in front it is
cut short in a line across the forehead, but is allowed to grow long
behind. We met Waka Nene, a Maori chief, possessing considerable
influence, especially in the neighbouring district of Hokianga, who, by
siding with the English during the war, rendered such important services
that the Government rewarded him with a pension of 100 pounds per annum,
and a house in Kororareka. Besides this he owns a small vessel or two
employed in the coasting trade. I peeped into the hut of one of his
people. A small entrance served the combined purposes of door, window,
and chimney, the roof was so low as to preclude one from standing upright
inside, a small fire was burning in the centre of the earthen floor, and
a heap of mats and blankets in one corner pointed out a sleeping-place.

Behind Kororareka one of a series of hills overlooking the town is
memorable as the site of the flagstaff, the cutting down of which by Heke
was one of the first incidents of the Maori war. On March 11th, 1845, an
attack was made upon the place before daylight, by three of the
disaffected chiefs. Kawiti with one division entered the town from the
southward by a pass between two hills, and after a short conflict forced
a party of marines and seaman from H.M.S. Hazard to retire with the loss
of seven killed and many wounded. While this work was going on, a small
detachment of soldiers occupying a blockhouse on the flagstaff hill was
surprised by Heke and his party, who killed four men, and drove away the
remainder, and levelled the flagstaff to the ground. The English
residents took refuge on board the shipping, and two days afterwards the
Maoris sacked and burned the town with the exception of the two churches,
and a few houses contiguous to the property of the Roman Catholic

The greater part of the country about the town is covered with fern and
the manuka bush (Leptospermum scoparium) the latter a low shrub with
handsome white or pinkish flowers. In some of the ravines two species of
tree-ferns of the genus Cyathea grow luxuriantly in the moist clayey
soil. Everywhere one sees common English weeds scattered about,
especially the sow-thistle and common dock, and a British landshell
(Helix cellaria) has even found its way to New Zealand and is to be met
with in some of the gardens.

Much rain had lately fallen, and many of the paths were partially
converted into watercourses. I walked across to a neighbouring bay, and
employed myself in searching for shells in the mud at low-water. Some
bivalves, common there--various Cythereae and Mesodesma
chemnitzii--constitute an important article of food to the natives, who
knew them by the name of pipi. A marshy place, at the mouth of a small
stream, was tenanted by a curious wrinkled univalve, with a notch on the
outer lip, Amphibola avellana of conchologists.

May 18th.

I joined a party made up to visit the falls of the Keri-Keri river, and
we started, after an early breakfast, in one of the ship's boats. The
morning was dull and rainy, and we had occasional showers during the
forenoon. In an hour after leaving the ship we entered the estuary of the
river, a large arm of the sea, which we followed for several miles. The
scenery reminded me of that of some of the sea lochs on the west coast of
Scotland, and although fern was here substituted for heath, the Scotch
mist was perfectly represented at the antipodes. The country is scantily
wooded, and the muddy shores are occasionally fringed with a small
mangrove (Avicennia tomentosa). Here and there were a few settlers'
houses, with the accompanying signs of cultivation. One of the small
islands, and also a hilltop on the northern shore, had an artificial
appearance, their summits being leveled and the sides scarped--they were
the remains of former fortified villages or pahs. At length the estuary
narrowed, and assumed the appearance of a winding river, with low hilly
banks covered with fern and bushes. One and a half miles from this
brought us to a rocky ledge across the stream, preventing further
progress in the boat, and marking the junction of the fresh and salt

Here Mr. Kemp, a schoolmaster of the Church Mission Society, has been
located for upwards of thirty years. A well built store, a neat cottage
and garden, and residences for a few Maoris, complete the establishment.
From this place a dray-road leads to the extensive Missionary
establishment at Waimate, distant about ten miles. Crossing the river, we
started for the falls, in charge of a sharp little urchin who acted as
guide. After leaving the narrow valley which the river has cut for itself
through a superstratum of yellowish clay, the country becomes nearly
level--a dreary plain, covered with fern and the manuka bush. The
extensive tract of country now in sight is said to have once been a great
kauri forest--a few of these noble trees (Dammara australis) were pointed
out to me from a distance. When about halfway we left the road, and
within the distance of a mile our guide contrived to lead us into five or
six bogs, where we were up to our knees in water, besides entangling us
in several thickets nearly as bad to penetrate as an Australian scrub. At
length we arrived in sight of the waterfall, then in full force from the
quantity of rain which had lately fallen.

The Keri-Keri, after a long course through a country composed chiefly of
upland moors and gently undulating hills, here suddenly precipitates
itself over a rocky wall into a large circular pool eighty feet below,
then continues its course for a while between steep and densely wooded
banks. Behind the fall the rock is hollowed out into a wide and deeply
arched cave, formed by the falling out of masses of columnar rock. A
winding path leads to the foot of the fall, whence the view is very
grand. Some of the party crept over the slippery rocks, and reached the
cave behind the fall, where they were much gratified with the novelty of
the scene. The luxuriant and varied vegetation in the ravine affords a
fine field for the botanist. The variety of cryptogamic plants is very
great--every rock, and the trunk of each tree, being covered with ferns,
lichens, and mosses. Among the trees I noticed the pale scarlet flowers
of the puriri or New Zealand Teak (Vitex littoralis) the hardest* and
most durable of all the woods of the country. A short search among the
damp stones and moss brought to light some small but interesting
landshells, consisting of a pupiform Cyclostoma, a Carocolla, and five
species of Helix. This leads me to mention, that although the number of
New Zealand landshells hitherto described scarcely exceeds a dozen, this
does not imply any scarcity of such objects in the country, as an
industrious collector from Sydney, who spent nine months on the northern
and middle islands, obtained nearly a hundred species of terrestrial and
fluviatile mollusca. The scarcity of birds during our walk surprised me,
for the only one which I saw on shore was a solitary kingfisher (Halcyon
vagans): during our ascent of the Keri-Keri, however, many ducks (Anas
superciliosa) flew past the boat, and gulls, terns, and two kinds of
cormorants were numerous.

(*Footnote. This wood was much used in the construction of the pahs
which, in 1845, under the Maori chiefs Heke and Kawiti, long resisted the
attacks of disciplined forces, aided by artillery. In reference to the
puriri wood used in the palisading of one of these, it was officially
stated, that "many of our six-pound shot were picked out of the posts,
not having actually entered far enough to hide themselves.")

Returning to the road by a path which avoided the swamps our guide had
taken us through, in little more than half an hour we reached Mr. Kemp's
house, and after partaking of that gentleman's hospitality returned to
the ship. On our way we landed at sunset for an hour upon a small island,
which will probably long be remembered by some of the party as having
furnished us with a supper of very excellent rock-oysters.

Having effected the necessary repairs, and disposed of the decked boat,
we left New Zealand on May 22nd on our homeward passage. On July 5th
having passed to the eastward of Cape Horn we bore up for the Falkland
Islands, having taken forty-three days to traverse a direct distance of a
little more than 5000 miles. During this period the wind was usually
strong from the south-west, but on various occasions we experienced calms
and easterly winds, the latter varying between North-East and
South-South-East and at times blowing very hard with snow squalls. The
lowest temperature experienced by us off Cape Horn was on the day when we
doubled the Cape in latitude 57 degrees South when the minimum
temperature of the day was 21 and the maximum 26 degrees. This reminded
some of us that we had now passed through not less than 75 degrees of
temperature in the ship, the thermometer in the shade having indicated 96
degrees during a hot wind in Sydney harbour.

A passage such as ours, during which at one time we were further from
land than if placed in any other portion on the globe, must almost of
necessity be a monotonous one. We saw no land, not even an iceberg, and
very few vessels. For five or six successive evenings when in the
parallels of 40 and 41 degrees South between the meridians of 133 and 113
degrees West we enjoyed the fine sight of thousands of large Pyrosomae in
the water, each producing a greater body of light than I ever saw given
out by any other of the pelagic-luciferous mollusca or medusae. The
towing net was put over on several occasions but produced little or
nothing to repay Mr. Huxley for his trouble: so that even a naturalist
would here find his occupation gone were it not for the numbers of
oceanic birds daily met with, the observation of whose habits and
succession of occurrence served to fill up many a leisure hour. It being
the winter of the southern hemisphere, the members of the petrel family,
at other times so abundant in the South Pacific, were by no means so
numerous as I had expected to find them, and in the higher southern
latitudes which we attained before rounding Cape Horn, albatrosses had
altogether disappeared, although they had been abundant as far to the
southward as 41 degrees South. The most widely dispersed were Daption
capensis--the pintado or Cape-pigeon of voyagers--Procellaria hasitata,
P. coerulea, P. lessonii, and P. gigantea, of which the first and second
were the most numerous and readily took a bait towing astern. It is
probable that all these species make the circuit of the globe, as they
are equally distributed over the South Indian Ocean. Some interesting
additions were made to the collection of Procellariadae (commenced near
the equator with Thalassidroma leachii) and before leaving the Falklands
I had captured and prepared specimens of twenty-two species of this
highly interesting family, many members of which until the publication of
Mr. Gould's memoir* were either unknown or involved in obscurity and
confusion. Among these is one which merits special notice here, a small
blue petrel, closely resembling P. coerulea, from which it may readily be
distinguished by wanting the white tips to the central tailfeathers. It
turns out to be the P. desolata, known only by a drawing in the British
Museum made more than half a century ago, from which this species was
characterised. When in latitude 50 degrees 46 minutes South and longitude
97 degrees 47 minutes West I saw P. antarctica for the first time; one or
two individuals were in daily attendance while rounding Cape Horn and
followed the ship until we sighted the Falkland Islands. I had long been
looking out for P. glacialoides, which in due time made its appearance--a
beautiful light grey petrel, larger than a pigeon; it continued with us
between the latitudes of 40 and 58 degrees South and occasionally pecked
at a baited hook towing astern.

(*Footnote. Magazine and Annals of Natural History for 1844 page 360.)

One may naturally wonder what these petrels can procure for food in the
ocean to the southward of 35 degrees south latitude, where they are
perhaps more numerous than elsewhere, and where the voyager never sees
any surface-swimming fishes which they might pick up? It is, of course,
well known that they eagerly pounce upon any scraps of animal matter in
the wake of a vessel, hence it is reasonable to suppose that they follow
ships for the purpose of picking up the offal, but they may also be seen
similarly following in the wake of whales and droves of the larger
porpoises. Almost invariably I have found in the stomach of the many
kinds of albatrosses, petrels, and shearwaters, which I have examined,
the undigested horny mandibles of cuttlefish, which would thus appear to
constitute their principal food; and, as all the petrel family are to a
certain extent nocturnal, it seems probable that the small cuttlefish on
which they feed approach the surface only at night.

July 8th.

Yesterday at noon we passed close to Beauchene Island, a dreary, bushless
place, half covered with snow. Vast numbers of pintados were about, also
some albatrosses, the first that had made their appearance for several
weeks back. In hopes of reaching an anchorage before dark we stood in for
Bull Road, East Falkland Island, but after running fourteen miles, and
sighting Sealion Islands, this was found impracticable. The ship was kept
away to the eastward, and, after wearing several times during the night
to avoid closing the land, a course was shaped to take us to the
settlement. Passing inside of the Seal Rocks we rounded Cape Pembroke, on
which is a tall beacon, and anchored at dark inside the entrance to Port

July 9th.

The thermometer fell to 18 degrees during the night, and the water froze
on the decks during the holystoning. A cold dreary aspect was presented
when the sun rose upon the snow-clad country around, but the sight of a
herd of cattle on shore conjured up visions of fresh beef and made ample
amends. We beat up Port William, and, passing by a narrow channel from
the outer to the inner harbour, or Port Stanley, anchored off the
settlement. We found a solitary vessel lying here--an English brig bound
to California.

The settlement of Stanley was formed in July, 1844, by the removal
thither of the former establishment at Port Louis--Port William being
considered preferable as a harbour, besides being easier of access and
more conveniently situated for vessels calling there for supplies. The
inner harbour, which communicates with the outer one by a passage not
more than 300 yards wide, is four and a half miles in length by half a
mile in width, with anchorage everywhere. The township extends along the
centre of the south shore, as a small straggling village of wooden
houses, the uncompleted residence of the Lieutenant-Governor being the
only one built of stone. The population, I was told, is about 300: of
these thirty are pensioned soldiers, many of whom with their families are
temporarily lodged in a large barrack, which curiosity one day led me to
visit. Its inmates are all Irish, and appeared to be in anything but
comfortable circumstances, although such as work as labourers receive
three shillings per diem, and mechanics are paid in proportion. One of
them, who had served in Van Diemen's Land, said he often envies the lot
of a convict there, for "sure we are fretting to death to think that we
have come to this in our old age after serving our king and country so
long." They all bitterly complained of having been deluded at home by
highly-coloured reports of the productiveness of a country where grain
will not ripen, and which has not yet been found capable of producing a
tolerable potato. Of the remainder of the place little can be said. There
are two good stores where we procured nearly everything we wanted at very
moderate prices: beef of very fair quality is sold at 2 pence per pound,
wild geese at 1 shilling 3 pence each, and rabbits at four shillings a
dozen. The only vegetables, however, were some small Swedish turnips,
which we got by favour. Lastly, a ship may obtain water here with great
facility from a small reservoir from which a pipe leads it down to the

We had to remain at Port Stanley for thirteen days before the necessary
observations for determining the rates of the chronometers could be
obtained. During this period a thaw occurred, followed by hard frost and
another fall of snow, making the country as bleak and desolate as before.
By all accounts the winter has been unusually severe. The ground had been
covered with snow for four weeks previous to our arrival, and many cattle
the horses had perished; I also observed at the head of the harbour some
beds of mussels, most of which were dead, having doubtless been frozen
when uncovered at low water. The average mean temperature on board ship
during our stay was 33 degrees, the maximum and minimum being
respectively 37 and 25 degrees.

I was obliged to content myself with short excursions, for the inclemency
of the weather would not permit of camping out at night. The appearance
of the surrounding country may briefly be described: ridges and peaks of
grey quartz rock of moderate elevation form boundaries to shallow
valleys, or become the summits of slopes extending with gentle declivity
towards the shore. The ground almost everywhere, even on the hills, is
boggy, with numerous swamps, rivulets and pools. The peat in some places
is as much as six feet in thickness; it forms the only fuel on the
island, for not a single tree occurs to diversify the landscape, and few
of the bushes exceed a foot in height. The general tint of the grass and
other herbage at this season is a dull brownish-green. Bays and long
winding arms of the sea intersect the country in a singular manner, and
the shores are everywhere margined by a wide belt of long wavy seaweed or
kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) which on the exposed coasts often forms
immense beds of various species, some of which attain to gigantic

On my first walk I was surprised at the extraordinary tameness of the
smaller landbirds: a thrush (Turdus magellanicus) almost allowed me to
knock it down with my cap, and some other birds were quite as familiar as
our robin in winter--a pair of loggerhead ducks (Brachypterus
micropterus) were quietly pluming themselves on the jetty at government
house, and others were swimming along shore within pistol shot of a
public road; at first I thought they were domesticated, and refrained
from firing. The loggerhead is a large and heavy bird for a duck: one
which I shot weighed eighteen pounds, and it has been recorded as
sometimes weighing as much as twenty-nine pounds. From the
disproportionate smallness of its wings it is incapable of flight, but
employs these members as paddles in hurrying along the surface of the
water when alarmed, using its feet at the same time with much splashing
and apparent awkwardness, leaving a broad wake behind it on the
water--hence the not inappropriate name of steamer which is sometimes
applied to it. Not being fit to eat, and moreover from its strength and
the closeness of its plumage difficult to kill, it is not much molested
by sportsmen. Another bird very likely to attract attention is the kelp
goose (Bernicla antarctica) generally seen in pairs along the rocky
coasts: the plumage of the male is of a beautiful white, that of the
female is dark and glossy, variously speckled and barred.

July 24th.

We sailed from Port Stanley yesterday at daylight, and after entering
Berkeley Sound beat up as far as Hog Island, off which we anchored at
sunset, at a distance from the old settlement of Port Louis of about two
miles and a half. As the sole object in coming here was to obtain
magnetic observations at the spot used for that purpose in 1842 by the
Antarctic Expedition under Sir James Ross, for which one day would
suffice, we had little time to make excursions in the neighbourhood. Two
parties were made up to shoot rabbits in some large warrens which have
long been established on the shores of Johnson Harbour and at the head of
Port Darlington, but they met with very little success. I preferred
accompanying Captain B.J. Sulivan for the purpose of seeing his gauchos
use the lasso and bolas in catching some cattle required for the ship.
This officer, who formerly commanded H.M.S. Philomel, employed for
several years upon the survey of the Falklands, has been one of the first
to avail himself of the proposals made by Government to develop the
resources of these islands by throwing them open to private enterprise;
in association with several gentleman in England he has set on foot an
establishment for the purpose of curing beef, hides, and tallow, which,
it is expected, will be in full operation in the course of next year. The
terms upon which settlers of the better class are invited to East
Falkland are, I believe, the following: the purchaser of a block of land
of a quarter of a square mile at the minimum price of eight shillings an
acre (64 pounds) is entitled to a lease of 10,000 acres of contiguous
land for the period of twenty years, at the rent of 10 pounds per annum,
with right of pre-emption. Also, according to part of an agreement
between Government and Mr. Lafone (an Englishman residing at Montevideo)
by which the latter has acquired a right to all the wild cattle on the
island (estimated at 30,000 head) until the year 1860, he is bound to
reclaim annually a certain number, and supply them to purchasers at the
fixed rate of thirty shillings a head.

We landed on Hog Island where Captain Sulivan's herd of eleven hundred
cattle (besides a number of horses) had been kept during the winter,
supported chiefly by the tussock grass fringing the shore, which they had
cropped so closely that, being a perennial plant of slow growth, two
years' rest would be required to enable it to regain its former vigour.
Large patches of this magnificent grass*--Dactylis caespitosa of
botanists--along the shores of the mainland have been destroyed by the
cattle in their fondness for the nutritious base of the stem, a small
portion of which, as thick as the little finger, has a pleasant taste and
may be eaten by man, to whom it has occasionally furnished the principal
means of subsistence when wandering in the wilds of these inhospitable
islands. Great numbers of upland geese (Chloephaga magellanica) chiefly
in small flocks, were feeding on various berries and the tender grass.
Although seldom molested on this island, they became rather wary after a
few shots had been fired--still a sufficient number to answer our purpose
were procured without much difficulty. Unlike the kelp goose, which has a
very rank taste, derived from its feeding chiefly upon the filmy seaweeds
covering the tidal rocks, the upland goose is excellent eating, and
formed a welcome addition to our fare on board. Loggerheads and other
ducks, cormorants, and grebes, were swimming about among the beds of
kelp, and oyster-catchers of two kinds, gulls, kelp-geese, and many other
birds frequented the shores.

(*Footnote. For a full account of this useful plant, the growth of which
in Britain in certain favourable maritime situations has been attempted
on a large scale, I would refer to Botany of the Antarctic Voyage by Dr.
J.D. Hooker page 384 and plates 136 and 137.)

Meanwhile one of the gauchos rode over from Captain Sulivan's
establishment on the main by a ford passable at low-water, and was sent
back for a companion to assist him in catching the cattle. He was an old
weather-beaten half-bred Pampas Indian of the name of Escalante, whose
capability of enduring fatigue and privations of every kind were
described as being remarkable even in a gaucho. At length the cattle were
collected and driven up, and although eight hundred out of those
composing the herd had been reclaimed only three months, yet the whole
were easily managed by the two men on horseback, who rounded them in
without difficulty upon the summit of a low hill close to the
slaughtering-place. A fine dun heifer four years old was the first
selected; it was detached from the herd after some trouble, and pursued
by both gauchos who, throwing off their ponchos, untwisted the bolas from
round the waist, and, after swinging them round the head several times,
threw them in succession at the beast's hind legs but without taking
effect, as each time the animal stumbled for an instant and the bolas
slipped off the legs without becoming entangled. Stooping as he passed to
pick up the bolas from the ground, Escalante uncoiled his lasso, and
getting upon the cow's left flank, drove her at full speed towards the
foot of the hill; when distant about twelve yards from the chase, he
threw the lasso which he had kept swinging horizontally and slowly round
his head for a few minutes back--the noose fell over the animal's head
and neck, catching one of the forelegs, which was instantly doubled up
under the throat by the drawing of the noose, when the beast staggered
and fell, but rose again immediately on three legs, and attempted to
charge the horse and rider. Catching one of the forelegs and neck in this
manner is considered the master-stroke in lassoing, being the most
difficult of execution: Captain Sulivan told me that a one-armed man at
Montevideo, famous for his skill in lassoing, on one occasion for a wager
caught nine out of ten bullocks in succession after this fashion. It was
admirable to observe the manner in which the horse eased off the shock of
bringing up an animal much heavier than itself, and by keeping a strain
upon the lasso urged the furious beast onwards to a triangle which had
been put up. The other gaucho, Andrez Pelaluya by name, meanwhile was
riding up behind, and at length threw his lasso over the heifer's flanks,
the slack of the noose falling down upon the ground--in throwing up her
heels the hind legs were dexterously caught, when in a moment the beast
was dragged over on one side and firmly moored. Leaving the horses to
keep up the strain--for the lasso is made fast to an iron ring in the
saddle--the riders dismounted, and Escalante drawing out a long knife
from his belt and renewing the edge upon a steel which he carried in one
boot, quickly despatched the beast. A second heifer was afterwards picked
out from the herd and caught by the horns; as the animal, maddened with
terror, was galloped past with the lasso at full strain, I must confess
that being a novice I did not feel quite comfortable, and instinctively
clutched my gun, not being altogether sure that the lasso might not
break--but, although no thicker than the little finger, it is of immense
strength, being made of plaited hide. This beast was secured and
butchered pretty much as in the former instance; the bolas had been
thrown at the hind legs, but caught only one, round which the three
thongs and balls were so tightly interlaced as to require some patience
in extricating them.

While slaughtering the cattle it was amusing to notice the familiarity of
the carrion hawks, hundreds of which were collected about, perched upon
the little hillocks all round, watching every movement of ours, or
hovering overhead within the distance of a few yards. They are the
Milvago australis, a bird of which the sexes differ so much in
appearance, that they were pointed out to me as distinct species. The
settlers and others call them rooks, and another very common carrion bird
of the vulture family (Cathartes aura) is known here as the john-crow. On
board the ship the sight of some quarters of beef secured to the mizen
cross-trees had attracted numbers of these hawks, and upwards of a dozen
might have been seen at one time perched upon the rigging, including one
on each truck; on shore they made several attacks upon a pile of geese
lying near the boat, and although repeatedly driven off with stones, they
returned as often to make a fresh attempt.

July 25th.

Yesterday afternoon some of our people employed in cutting grass upon a
small island close to the ship, stumbled upon a huge sealion asleep in
one of the pit-like recesses among the tussocks. At first it was supposed
to be a dead bullock, but the beast on being disturbed rose upon his fore
flippers, and, displaying a formidable array of teeth, roared loudly* at
the disturbers of his rest, who, being unarmed, rushed helter-skelter to
the boat and went off to the ship. They returned immediately with an
assortment of pikes, muskets, and pistols sufficient to ensure the
destruction of a host of sealions; but after cautiously investing the
place, it was discovered that the beast had very prudently got out of the
way, nor this morning could he be found by a person who went to make a
second search.

(*Footnote. "Sometimes when we came suddenly upon them, or waked them out
of their sleep (for they are a sluggish sleepy animal) they would raise
up their heads, snort and snarl, and look as fierce as if they meant to
devour us; but as we advanced upon them, they always ran away; so that
they are downright bullies." Cook's Voyages Volume 4 page 187.)

On this--Peat Islet of the chart--the tussock grass grows in great
luxuriance, and to a stranger presents a most singular appearance. Its
clusters of stems--frequently upwards of a hundred or more in a
bunch--are raised from the ground upon a densely matted mass of old and
decayed roots, two or three feet high, from the summit of which the
leaves, frequently six feet in length, arch gracefully outwards. The
tussock grass has been likened to a palm on a small scale, but altogether
it reminded me more of the Xanthorrhoea, or grass-tree of Australia. We
saw many seals swimming about among the kelp, and on the shore found the
carcases of several which had lately been killed with clubs, each of the
skulls having been fractured by a blow at the root of the nose. They were
of the kind known here as the hair-seal, the skin of which is of little
value. It is still very abundant; but the fur-seal, from the
indiscriminate slaughter of old and young for many years back has become
scarce, and is now confined to a few favourite localities--rookeries as
they are called, a name also applied at the Falklands to any great
breeding place of penguins or other seafowl. A few days ago a party of
five sealers returned to the settlement after a short absence, with the
skins of no less than 120 fur-seals, worth, I was told, twenty-five
shillings each.

Here I found two pairs of the sheathbill (Chionis alba) a bird whose
place in the system has puzzled ornithologists. It has been variously
considered as being one of the galinaceous birds, the pigeons, the
waders, and even as belonging to the web-footed order. Its habits are
those of the oyster-catchers,* however different the form of the beak,
which in the sheathbill is short, stout, and pointed, and enveloped at
the base by a waxy-looking sheath. Its feet are like those of a
gallinaceous bird, yet one which I wounded took voluntarily to the water
and swam off to a neighbouring point to rejoin its mate. Cuvier, besides
erroneously mentioning that it is a native of New Holland, states that it
feeds on carrion; the stomachs of two which I examined contained seaweed,
limpets, and small quartz pebbles. The people here call it the rock-dove,
and from its snow-white plumage it forms a conspicuous object along the

(*Footnote. When the above was written I had not seen the remarks on
Chionis by M. Blainville, whose anatomical investigation assigns to it
precisely the same position in the system--or next the
oyster-catchers--which appeared to me to have been indicated by its
habits. Voyage de la Bonite Zoologie tome 1 page 107 plate (oiss.) 9.)

We resumed our homeward voyage on July 25th, and thirty-six days
afterwards crossed the equator in 24 degrees west longitude. The last
pintado left us 240 miles within the tropics to follow an outward-bound
vessel. Another petrel much resembling it--a new species with longer
wings and different markings, the head, neck, and upper surface being
dark chocolate, and the lower parts white--was abundant between the
latitude of 46 and 40 degrees South, and between the parallels of 36 and
35 degrees South, Procellaria conspicillata was numerous, but
unfortunately I had no opportunity of procuring specimens of either.

Five days after leaving the Falkland Islands, we encountered a very heavy
gale, commencing at south-east, and blowing hardest at east, when the
barometer was down to 29.264--next day the wind went round to the
south-west and moderated. From the latitude of the entrance of the River
Plate up to latitude 15 degrees South, we experienced northerly winds
between East-North-East and West-North-West, after which we got winds
commencing at South-West and merging into the South-East trade, which we
may be said to have fairly got in 13 1/2 degrees South latitude and 23
1/2 degrees West longitude, and lost in 6 degrees North latitude, and 22
degrees West longitude. We picked up the North-East trade in latitude 13
degrees North and longitude 24 degrees West and carried it up to latitude
29 degrees North and longitude 37 1/2 degrees West. I mention these
particulars as the limits of the trade-winds as experienced by us were
considered to differ considerably from what was to be expected at this
season of the year. Gulf weed made its first appearance in latitude 24
degrees North and longitude 35 1/2 degrees West but in small quantity,
and was last seen in latitude 38 degrees North and longitude 33 1/2
degrees West in detached pieces, mostly dead. About 31 1/2 degrees North
and 37 3/4 degrees West it was very plentiful, occurring in long lines
from one to fifty yards in width, extending in the direction of the wind.
Some pieces which were hooked up furnished on being shaken numbers of a
minute univalve shell (Litiopa) many small fish--especially pipe-fish
(Syngnathus) and numerous crustacea (of which Planes minuta was the most
plentiful) while several delicate zoophytes were encrusted or attached to
the weed. In short each little patch of gulf weed seemed a world in
itself, affording the shelter of a home to hundreds of minute and
wonderful animals.*

(*Footnote. The gulf weed is still regarded as of questionable origin.
Has it--unlike all other seaweeds--always existed as a floating plant, or
has it been detached by storms from the bottom of the sea and carried by
the currents of the ocean into the well defined region it now occupies
and out of which it is never met with in any great quantity? Without
entering into proofs, the principal of which are its not yet having been
found attached to the shore, and the invariable absence of
fructification--it seems probable that those botanists are in the right
who consider the gulf weed (Sargassum bacciferum) to be merely an
abnormal condition, propagating itself by shoots, of S. vulgare, which in
its normal state grows upon the shores of the Atlantic and its islands.
See note by Dr. J.D. Hooker in Memoirs of Geological Survey of Great
Britain volume 1 page 349.)

September 29th.

With only another day's supply of fresh water on board, we were glad this
morning to have the islands of Pico and Fayal in sight. The view, as we
closed the land, standing in from the south-westward for the roadstead of
Horta, was very fine--on our left we had the beautiful island of Fayal
rising to the height of 3000 feet, its sides gradually sloping towards a
range of maritime cliffs, while the lower grounds, in full cultivation,
indicated--along with numbers of neat white-washed cottages and
occasional villages--a well peopled and fertile country, contrasting
strongly with those from which we had lately returned. To the right was
Pico--with the summit of its peak (stated to be 7,613 feet in height)
peeping out from a mass of snowy clouds descending almost to the
shore--and the centre was occupied by the more distant island of St.
Jorge with a portion of Graciosa dimly seen projecting beyond its western

After having been for two months cooped up on board ship, I was glad to
have a quiet walk on shore. In a ravine at one end of the town it was
pleasing to see numbers of old acquaintances among the birds, bringing
vividly to my recollection that home which we had now approached so
closely. Martins were hawking about, the whitethroat warbled his short
snatches of song among the bushes, and blackbirds and starlings flew
past. And although engaged in the matter-of-fact occupation of searching
for landshells, by turning over the stones, I could not help being struck
with the beauty of the terraced walks and overhanging gardens; the
beautiful belladonna lily--here run wild in great abundance--made a fine
show. At Point Greta the rock pigeons--the original stock of the
domesticated race--were flying about in large flocks or sunning
themselves on the sea cliffs. A heavy shower of rain, by bringing out the
landshells, enabled me to pick up half-a-dozen species of Helix, Bulimus,
and Pupa, at the foot of the hedgerows; I was anxious to procure some to
ascertain whether any were non-European forms; one was even quite a new
species. On a white-flowered convolvulus with succulent leaves, I found
numbers of the caterpillars of a large hawk-moth (Sphinx convolvuli)
which some ragged urchins who followed me showed great dread of, running
away when I picked one up and shouting to me to throw it away, else I
should die. One was afterwards brought on board by an English
resident--as a very venomous reptile, which had caused three or four
deaths during his stay on the island. The recurved horn on the tail has
been regarded as a sting, and the poor harmless creature, having once got
a bad name, is now by the Fayalese, in the absence of snakes or
scorpions, made to supply their place.

The town of Horta contains, I was told, upwards of 10,000 inhabitants. It
is prettily situated on the shores of a small bay, extending between two
rocky headlands. The landing-place is at the remains of a mole under the
walls of Fort Santa Cruz, the only one of numerous ruinous fortifications
where a few guns are mounted; even these are in so wretched a condition
that the commandant admitted that it would require several hours'
preparation before they would be fit to return our expected salute, and
seemed glad when told that as a surveying ship we were exempted from
saluting the flags of other nations. A sea wall runs along the face of
the town; parallel with this is the principal street, with others at
rightangles extending up the hill, the narrow streets are clean and well
paved--the houses, generally of one storey, are built of tough grey

Almost every inch of available ground upon the island of Fayal has been
turned to good account: Indian corn is the chief agricultural product.
With our usual bad fortune in this respect we were too late for the
grapes and the oranges had not yet come in. The lower grounds are divided
into small enclosures by stone walls, and subdivided by rows of a tall
stout reed (Arundo donax) resembling sugarcane. Although taxes and other
burdens are heavy, and wages very low, yet to a mere visitor like myself
there appeared none of those occasional signs of destitution which strike
one in walking through a town at home, nor did I see a single beggar.

In Fayal and Pico the most careless observer from the anchorage of Horta
can scarcely fail to associate the number of smooth conical hills with
former volcanic activity; and in looking over Captain Vidal's beautiful
charts of the Azores, nearly all the principal hills throughout the group
are seen to have their craters or caldeiras. Fayal exhibits a fine
specimen of one of these caldeiras in the central and highest part of the
island. At an elevation of a little more than 3000 feet, we reached the
ridge forming the margin of a circular crater, rather more than a mile in
diameter, and 700 feet deep. The outer slope is gradual, but the inner
walls are steep, deeply furrowed by small ravines and watercourses, and
covered with grass, fern and heath-like bushes. The bottom contains a
considerable extent of swampy meadowland, a shallow lagoon, and a small
hill with a crater also partially filled with water. The view here is
magnificent, enhanced, too, at times by the rolling volumes of mist
overhead, at one moment admitting of a peep at the blue sky above, in the
next concealing the rim of the crater and increasing in idea the height
of its wall-like sides. The caldeira, I may add in conclusion, is said to
have been formed during the last eruption of Fayal in 1672, but this
statement appears to be very doubtful.

We resumed our homeward voyage on October 5th, and on November 9th, the
Rattlesnake was paid off at Chatham, after having been in commission
upwards of four years.



In addition to the brief account which already forms part of the
Narrative of the Voyage of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, I have thought it would
add to the interest of this work and the gratification of its readers,
were I to give under a distinct head a detailed history of the exploring
expedition conducted by the late Mr. Edmund B. Kennedy, derived from a
pamphlet printed in Sydney, and scarcely procurable in this country. It
includes the interesting narrative of Mr. W. Carron, the botanist
attached to the expedition in question; also the statements of the
aboriginal black who witnessed the death of his gallant master--of Dr.
Vallack who took an active part in rescuing the survivors--and of Mr.
T.B. Simpson who proceeded in search of the remainder of the party, whose
fate was still in a measure uncertain, and succeeded in recovering some
of Mr. Kennedy's papers.


We left Sydney on the 29th of April, 1848, in the barque Tam O'Shanter
(Captain Merionberg) in company with H.M.S. Rattlesnake.

Our party consisted of the following persons: Mr. E.B. Kennedy (leader),
Mr. W. Carron (botanist), Mr. T. Wall (naturalist), Mr. C. Niblet
(storekeeper), James Luff, Edward Taylor, and William Costigan (carters),
Edward Carpenter (shepherd), William Goddard, Thomas
Mitchell, John Douglas, Dennis Dunn (labourers), and Jackey-Jackey, an
aboriginal native of the Patrick's Plains tribe, of the Hunter River

Our supplies and equipment for the journey had been most fully
considered, and were estimated by Mr. Kennedy as amply sufficient for a
journey so short as what we then anticipated. Our livestock consisted of
twenty-eight horses, one hundred sheep, three kangaroo dogs, and one
sheep dog. Our dry provisions comprised one ton of flour, ninety pounds
of tea, and six hundred pounds of sugar. Besides these necessary supplies
for subsistence on the road, we took with us twenty-four pack-saddles,
one heavy square cart, two spring carts, with harness for nine horses,
four tents, a canvas sheepfold, twenty-two pounds gunpowder, one hundred
and thirty pounds shot, a quarter cask of ammunition, twenty-eight tether
ropes (each twenty-one yards long) forty hobble chains and straps,
together with boxes, paper, etc., for preserving specimens, firearms,
cloaks, blankets, tomahawks, and other minor requisites for such an
expedition, not forgetting a supply of fish-hooks and other small
articles, as presents for the natives.

After a tedious passage of twenty-two days, we arrived at Rockingham Bay
on the 21st May; and even here, at the very starting point of our
journey, those unforeseen difficulties began to arise, which led us
subsequently to hardships so great and calamities so fatal.

On casting anchor, Mr. Kennedy, in company with Captain Merionberg,
proceeded in a boat to examine the shores of the Bay, and to determine on
a suitable landing-place for the horses, but returned in the evening
without having been able to discover one.

The attempt was renewed the next morning, and continued during the entire
day; and on the morning of the 23rd of May Mr. Kennedy and Captain
Merionberg returned to the ship with the intelligence that they had
discovered a spot where the horses might be landed with tolerable safety,
and where, too, there was plenty of grass and water. This was an
important desideratum, as we had lost one horse and eleven sheep on the

The water round the shores of the bay was very shallow, in consequence of
which the vessel could not approach close inshore, but was compelled to
cast anchor about a quarter of a mile off, and this distance the horses
had to swim.

In the afternoon the vessel was anchored off the landing-place, and early
on the following morning (May 24th) the tents, tether ropes, and
sheepfold were taken ashore, with a party to take care of the horses when
landed. At ten o'clock A.M., slings having been prepared, we commenced
hoisting the horses out of the hold, and lowering them into the water
alongside a boat, to the stern of which the head of each horse was
secured, as it was pulled ashore. One horse was drowned in landing, but
all the others were safely taken ashore during the day. The weather this
day was very cold, with occasional showers of rain.

During the time occupied by landing the horses, a number of aboriginal
natives assembled on the beach; they evinced no symptom of hostility, but
appeared much surprised at our horses and sheep. White men they had
frequently seen before, as parties have landed on the beach from
surveying vessels.

We found no difficulty in making them comprehend that we desired to be
friendly with them, and they advanced towards us with green boughs in
their hands, which they displayed as emblems of peace. We met them with
our arms extended and our hands open, indicating that we had no
implements of war with us. We made them a present of two circular tin
plates, with Mr. Kennedy's initials stamped upon them, and chains to hang
them round the neck; we also gave them a few fish-hooks, and they
accepted our presents with great demonstrations of pleasure. We made
signs for them to sit down about 200 yards from the spot where the horses
and sheep were being landed, and marking a line upon the sand we made
them understand that they were not to cross it to approach us. One of our
party was placed amongst them to enforce this regulation, which he did
with little difficulty, although they expressed great curiosity as to
various articles brought on shore from the ship.

These natives appeared to be very fine strong men, varying much in
intelligence and disposition. I entered into such conversation with them
as we were enabled to hold, and I soon found that while some were eagerly
anxious to learn the names of different articles and their uses, others
were perfectly indifferent about them.

We pitched our tents about two hundred yards from the beach, forming a
square, with the sheepfold in the centre. Mr. Kennedy came on shore in
the morning to superintend the arrangements, and after giving the
necessary directions and instructions, returned to the ship. The party
left ashore in charge consisted of myself, Wall, Dunn, Carpenter, and
Douglas. Our provisions were supplied from the ship, in order that no
time might be lost in getting all our stores and implements in proper
order for starting.

A few yards from our camp was a freshwater creek, from which, although
the tide ran into it about one hundred yards--where it was stopped by a
small bank--we could obtain excellent water. The grass around was very
long, and mostly of very coarse descriptions, consisting chiefly of a
species of Uniola growing in tufts, and an Agrostis with creeping roots
and broad blades; the horses seemed to like the Uniola best. A little to
the northward of our camp were very high and almost perpendicular rocks,
composed mostly of micaceous schist, covered with various epiphytal
orchides and ferns.

The labour of the day being ended, and most of our stores landed, the
greater number of our party came ashore to pass the night; and after
having tethered the horses in fresh places, we assembled at supper, the
materiel of which (beef and biscuit) was sent from the ship. We then took
possession of our tents, one square tent being allotted to Mr. Kennedy;
Niblet, Wall, and myself occupied a small round one; Taylor, Douglas,
Carpenter, Mitchell, and Jackey, a large round tent; and Luff, Dunn,
Goddard, and Costigan, the other.

Mr. Kennedy's tent was 8 feet long, by 6 feet, and 8 feet high, and in it
were placed a compact table, constructed with joints so as to fold up, a
light camp stool, his books and instruments. The two larger round tents
were pyramidal in shape, seven feet in diameter at the least, and nine
feet high. The small tent was six feet in diameter, and eight feet high.

Every man was then supplied with one pair of blankets, one cloak, a
double-barrelled gun or carbine, a brace of pistols, cartridge box, small
percussion-cap pouch, and six rounds of ammunition. The arrangement for
preserving the safety of the camp from attack was, that every man, with
the exception of Mr. Kennedy, should take his turn to watch through the
night--two hours being the duration of each man's watch--the watch
extending from 8 P.M. till 6 A.M. During the night the kangaroo-dogs were
kept chained up, but the sheepdog was at large.

The position of this our first encampment was near the northern extremity
of Rockingham Bay, being in latitude 17 degrees 58 minutes 10 seconds
south, longitude 146 degrees 8 minutes east. The soil, where our cattle
and sheep were feeding, was sandy and very wet. The land, from the beach
to the scrub in the swamp beyond, was slightly undulating, and very
thickly strewed with shells, principally bivalves.

On the morning of the 25th May, a party commenced landing the remainder
of our stores; and it being a fine morning, I went out to collect
specimens and seeds of any new and interesting plants I might find. On
leaving the camp I proceeded through a small belt of scrub to the rocks
on the north; the scrub was composed of the genera Flagellaria, Kennedya,
Bambusa (bamboo), Smilax, Cissus, Mucuna, and various climbing plants
unknown to me: the trees consisted principally of Eugenia, Anacardium,
Castanospermum (Moreton Bay chestnut), a fine species of Sarcocephalus,
and a large spreading tree belonging to the natural order Rutaceae, with
ternate leaves, axillary panicles of white flowers, about the size of
those of Boronia pinnata. At the edge of the rocks were some fine
treeferns (Dicksonia) with the genera Xiphopteris, and Polypodium; also
some beautiful epiphytal Orchideae; among others a beautiful Dendrobium
(rock lily,) with the habit of D. speciosum, but of stronger growth,
bearing long spikes of bright yellow flowers, the sepals spotted with
rich purple. I found also another species with smaller leaves, and more
slender habit, with spikes of dull green flowers, the column and tips of
the sepals purple: and a very fine Cymbidium, much larger than C. suave,
with brown blossoms, having a yellow column.

I proceeded along the edge of a mangrove swamp for a short distance, and
entered a freshwater swamp about a mile from the beach, covered with very
thick scrub, composed of large trees of the genus Melaleuca, running for
the most part from forty to fifty feet high. Here also I first found a
strong-growing climbing palm (Calamus australis) throwing up a number of
shoots from its roots, many of them 100 feet long, and about the
thickness of a man's finger, with long pinnatifid leaves, covered with
sharp spines--and long tendrils growing out of the stem alternately with
the leaves, many of them twenty feet long, covered with strong spines
slightly curved downward, by which the shoots are supported in their
rambling growth. They lay hold of the surrounding bushes and branches of
trees, often covering the tops of the tallest, and turning in all
directions. The seed is a small hard nut, with a thin scaly covering, and
is produced in great abundance.

The shoots, which are remarkably tough, I afterwards found were used by
the natives in making their canoes. These canoes are small, and
constructed of bark, with a small sapling on each side to strengthen
them, the ends of which are tied together with these shoots.

The growth of this plant forms one of the greatest obstacles to
travelling in the bush in this district. It forms a dense thicket, into
which it is impossible to penetrate without first cutting it away, and a
person once entangled in its long tendrils has much difficulty in
extricating himself, as they lay hold of everything they touch. On
entering the swamp to examine plants, I was caught by them, and became so
much entangled before I was aware of it, that it took me nearly an hour
to get clear, although I had entered but a few yards. No sooner did I cut
one tendril, than two or three others clung around me at the first
attempt to move, and where they once clasp they are very difficult to
unloose. Abundance of the shoots, from fifteen to twenty feet long, free
from leaves or tendrils, could be obtained, and would be useful for all
the purposes to which the common cane is now applied.

At this spot also I met with Dracontium polyphyllum, a beautiful plant,
belonging to the natural order Aroideae, climbing by its rooting stems to
the tops of the trees, like the common ivy. This plant has narrow pointed
leaves, four inches long, and produces at the ends of the shoots a red
spatha, enclosing a cylindrical spadix of yellow flowers.

In many parts the swamp was completely covered with a very strong-growing
species of Restio (rope-grass). On the open ground, between the beach and
the swamp, were a few large flooded-gums, and a few Moreton Bay ash
trees, and near the beach I found the Exocarpus latifolia.

On the beach, too, just above high-water mark, was a beautiful spreading,
lactescent tree, about twenty feet high, belonging to the natural order
Apocyneae, with alternate, exstipulate, broad, lanceolate leaves, six to
eight inches long, and producing terminal spikes of large, white,
sweet-scented flowers, resembling those of the white Nerium oleander, but
much larger. I also met with a tree about twenty feet high belonging to
the natural order Dilleniaceae, with large spreading branches, producing
at the axilla of the leaves from three to five large yellow flowers, with
a row of red appendages surrounding the carpels, and a fine species of
Calophyllum, with large dark green leaves, six to eight inches long, two
and a half to three inches broad, beautifully veined, and with axillary
racemes of white, sweet-scented flowers; the seed being a large round nut
with a thin rind, of a yellowish-green colour when ripe. There were many
other interesting plants growing about, but the afternoon turning out
wet, I left their examination to stand over till finer weather.

Growing on the beach was a species of Portulaca, a quantity of the young
shoots of which I collected, and we partook of them at our supper, boiled
as a vegetable.

In the evening after watering our horses, we took them to the camp and
gave each of them a feed of corn which we had brought with us for the
purpose of strengthening them previous to our starting from Rockingham
Bay, on our expedition; but although the grass on which they had been
depasturing was coarse, they were with difficulty induced to eat the
corn, many of them leaving it almost all behind them. We then tethered
them and folded our sheep, one of which we killed for food. The ration
per week on which the party was now put, was one hundred pounds of flour,
twenty-six pounds of sugar, three and a half pounds of tea, with one
sheep every alternate day.

This night too we commenced our nightly watch, the whole of the stores
being landed and packed in the camp. During nearly the whole of the day a
tribe of natives was watching our movements, but they seemed to be quite
peaceably inclined; the weather was very cold, and at night the rain set
in and continued to fall, almost without intermission, till morning.

The next morning (May 26th) was very wet and cold; but after securing our
horses, I again went out to search for, and examine plants, although it
was too rainy to collect seeds or specimens. On a Casuarina near the
swamp, I saw a beautiful Loranthus with rather small oval leaves,
panicles of flowers, with the tube of the corolla green; segments of the
limbs dark red; of a dwarf bushy habit. This beautiful parasite covered
the tree, and was very showy. The afternoon turning out fine and warm, I
collected several specimens and sorts of seeds. In the open ground grew a
beautiful tree producing large terminal spikes of yellow flowers, with
broad, and slightly cordate leaves; it belongs to the natural order

The open ground between the beach and the swamp varied in width from half
a mile to three or four miles; it was principally covered with long
grass, with a belt of bushy land along the edge of the beach; the bush
consisting principally of Exocarpus, with dark green oval leaves, near an
inch long; two dwarf species of Fabricia, one with white, the other with
pink flowers; a species of Jasminum, with rather large, white,
sweet-scented flowers; and a few acacia trees, with long, linear,
lanceolate, phyllodia, racemose spikes of bright yellow flowers. There
also grew the genera Xanthorrhoea, Xerotes, and Restio (rope-grass.)

There were a great many wallabies near the beach, but they were very
wild. While returning to the camp in the evening, I met several natives
who had been fishing. Most of the fish they had taken had been speared,
only a few having been caught with hooks. I remained with them some time,
and learned some of their expressions. Fresh water they call hammoo,*
salt water, mocull; their dogs--the same species as the native dogs found
near Sydney--they call taa-taa. We had not as yet seen any of their
women, as they were encamped at some distance from us.

(*Footnote. Kamo, at Goold Island, only a few miles distant.)

Near the beach, by the side of the saltwater creek, I saw a beautiful
species of Ruellia with terminal spikes of blue flowers, and
spiny-toothed leaves, and a bushy shrub eight or ten feet high, with
alternate exstipulate, simple, oval leaves, bearing a solitary, axillary,
round fruit, resembling a greengage plum; the fleshy pulp covering the
hard round stone has rather a bitter taste, but it is not disagreeable
when ripe. It acts as a laxative if eaten in any quantity, and is
probably Maba laurina.

On the following morning, May 27th, when the horses were watered and fed,
I commenced digging a piece of ground, in which I sowed seeds of cabbage,
turnip, leek, pumpkin, rock and water melons, pomegranate, peach stones,
and apple pips. On the two following days, May 28th and 29th, I remained
in the camp all day.

The next morning, May 30th, Mr. Kennedy and three others of the party
rode out to examine the surrounding country, and to determine in what
direction the expedition should start, the remainder staying at the camp,
busily occupied with preparations for our departure into the wilderness.
The flour was put into canvas bags, holding 100 pounds each, made in the
shape of saddlebags, to hold 50 pounds weight on each side. The sugar we
put into two large tin canisters, made to fit into one of the carts, and
the tea was packed in quarter-chests. The surplus stores, comprising
horse shoes, clothes, specimen boxes, etc., which would not be required
before our arrival at Cape York, were sent on board H.M.S. Rattlesnake,
which it was arranged should meet us at Port Albany. During the day one
of the party shot a wallaby on the beach, which made very good soup.

During the morning of the next day (May 31st) I was employed in procuring
specimens and seeds of various plants, and in the afternoon we all
resumed our preparations for starting, as we expected Mr. Kennedy back
next day. He however did not arrive in the camp, and on the following
afternoon I obtained specimens of a very pretty plant of the natural
order Onagrariae, with opposite, oblong, simple leaves, and large purple

The following day (June 3rd) Mr. Kennedy and his party returned to the
camp, with the intelligence that it was impossible to proceed in a north
or north-westerly direction, in consequence of the swamps. Mr. Kennedy
had penetrated them in some places, where the scrub was not too thick;
but could not get through them in any place, on account of the water, and
the dense scrub. He informed us that he found we should be obliged to
cross a river on the beach to the south-west of the camp before we could
hope to make any progress.

The two following days were occupied with completing our arrangements for
starting; as it was determined on the following morning to strike our
tents and proceed at once on our expedition.

As I may now consider our expedition as fairly begun, it may, for the
sake of clearness and arrangement, be advisable to continue my narrative
in the form of a journal; detailing from day to day the various
occurrences which took place. It must be remembered, however, that in
narrating the particulars of our journey, I am obliged to trust largely
to memory, and to very imperfect memoranda; and to these difficulties
must I refer, in excuse for the defects, with which I am well aware this
narrative abounds.

Up to the present time, the whole of the party, and especially its
unfortunate leader, had remained in good spirits, and, buoyed up with
sanguine hopes of success, were eager to set out on their pilgrimage of

June 5.

We breakfasted at an early hour this morning, and proceeded at once to
harness our horses to the carts, three to each cart. The carts contained
about seven hundredweight each. This business having been completed, and
the packhorses saddled and loaded, we started at nine o'clock A.M., and
proceeded along the beach. Mr. Kennedy and Jackey rode in front, followed
by the three carts. After Wall, riding one horse and leading two
packhorses, came Goddard, Douglas, Mitchell, and Dunn, leading three
packhorses, then Niblet in the rear, riding one and leading two horses,
followed by Carpenter driving the sheep, and myself on foot, carrying Mr.
Kennedy's mountain barometer, which he had given into my charge during
the journey; and I was also to take the time for that gentleman, in his

After travelling in this order about two miles, we came to a large
river,* emptying itself into Rockingham Bay. This river was about one
hundred and fifty yards wide, and although the tide ran up it about a
mile, fresh water was procurable from it considerably nearer the sea.

(*Footnote. Mackay River of the Admiralty chart of Rockingham Bay.)

At nearly high-water I tasted fresh water on one side of the river, and
salt on the other, and about two hours after high-water, there was no
difficulty in obtaining plenty of excellent water on either side of the
river, in different places. There is a great deal of fresh water running
into the sea here, and at the same distance from the sea as the mouth of
the river, it is in some places mixed with salt water, whilst in others
it is quite fresh. The banks of this river are low and sandy, and a short
distance above where we joined it, it is skirted on either side by a
thick mangrove swamp, for the distance of about a mile, where it joins
the freshwater swamps, covered with thick scrub. On my proceeding up the
river, it became narrower in its channel as it approached the swamps,
from which it appeared to be principally supplied. It had a tortuous
course, and when I left it, was turning to the westward.

A boat was sent to us by Captain Stanley of H.M.S. Rattlesnake to assist
us in carrying our stores across, which we effected with some difficulty
by ten o'clock P.M., the horses and some of the sheep swimming across,
while the remainder of the latter were taken in the boat. We pitched Mr.
Kennedy's tent on sand, at the side of the river, and it being dark, and
not knowing where to obtain water on that side of the river, I and five
others recrossed it, and went back about three-quarters of a mile to a
small creek running parallel to the beach. We filled our kegs, and
returned to the camp in time to have supper by twelve o'clock, after
which we rolled ourselves in our blankets, and, wearied by the fatigues
we had undergone, slept soundly till daylight.

This was a very harassing day to us, as we were all constantly in the
water, loading and unloading the boat. It is but just to state, that
Captain Stanley of the Rattlesnake, both in landing our horses and
stores, and in crossing this river, rendered us every assistance in his
power, and seemed throughout to take a strong interest in the expedition,
and its object.

While landing our things at the other side of the river, the natives
assembled in great numbers about our luggage. As they appeared to be
friendly, we permitted them to come within about 150 yards of our
landing-place; with some few we had a little difficulty, but for the most
part they would sit down quietly as soon as a sign was made for them to
do so.

June 6.

Early this morning Lieutenant Simpson of the Rattlesnake left us, he
having stayed all night at the camp, and we were now left entirely to our
own resources. We loaded our carts and packhorses, and proceeded about
three miles inland, but again finding it impossible to cross the swamps,
we returned to the beach, and about dusk came to another river, also
emptying itself into Rockingham Bay, about two miles south-west of the
first we had to cross. This river was much wider than the first, being
about two hundred yards wide where we crossed it near the mouth. At the
mouth of this river is a sandbank, over which the water is about four
feet deep. Inside the bank the water is ten feet deep. The tide flows up
for about a mile; there appears to be a great quantity of fresh water
discharged into the sea from the river, which, I think, is principally
supplied from the swamps. These swamps lie at the foot of a high mountain
range, and probably the rivulets descending from the range spread over
the flat ground, and form channels by which they reach the sea. Fresh
water can be obtained on either side the river very near the sea. I
tasted fresh water on one side, salt in the middle, and slightly brackish
on the other side, as we crossed over it. Small boats only can enter this
river, on account of the sandbank at the mouth. Its course turned to the
south-west about two miles up. Its banks were sandy and barren, at least
close to the water; on the north side of the river there is a mangrove
swamp, extending some distance up the stream; on the south side the banks
are higher, and are covered with Casuarinas and Acacias, the soil being
sandy and pretty well covered with grass, the land slightly undulating,
for about one and a half or two miles up the river. It being too late to
think of crossing the river to-night, we hobbled our horses, and having
pitched Mr. Kennedy's tent, slept on the sand till morning.

June 7.

As soon as we had breakfasted this morning, we prepared to cross, to
assist us in which undertaking we contrived to construct a sort of punt
by taking the wheels and axletrees off one of the carts. We then placed
the body of the cart on a large tarpaulin, the shafts passing through
holes cut for them, the tarpaulin tightly nailed round them. The
tarpaulin was then turned up all round, and nailed inside the cart; by
this means it was made almost water-tight. We then fastened our
water-bags, filled with air, to the sides of the cart, six on each side,
and a small empty keg to each shaft. We tied our tether ropes together,
and made one end fast on each side of the river, by which means our punt
was easily pulled from one side to the other. By this contrivance we
managed to get most of our things over during the day, and at night a
party slept on either side, without pitching the tents.

June 8.

One party continued employed in getting the remainder of the things
across the river, whilst the others went in search of the horses, which
had rambled to some distance to seek for better grass. The grass had
hitherto continued plentiful in places all the way. The horses were
brought up to the river by eleven A.M., and were with some difficulty got
across; after which they were hobbled, and we camped for the night near
the beach, in good grass.

June 9.

Mr. Kennedy, with Jackey and three others, left the camp this morning for
the purpose of ascertaining the most practicable route for our carts.
During the day a great number of natives came around our camp, but
appeared very friendly; they are a finer race of men than those usually
seen in the southern districts of the colony, but their habits and mode
of life seem very similar. They left us before dark, without making any
attempt at plunder.

June 10.

Mr. Kennedy returned to the camp this evening; he still found the swamps
were impassable, the water and mud lying on them in many parts, from
three to four feet deep; there were patches of dry land here and there
covered with good but coarse grass.

We saw here large flocks of black and white ducks, making a whistling
noise similar to some I have seen near Port Macquarie; Mr. Wall shot
three of them, and they proved very good to eat, but they were not new,
belonging to the genus Dendrocygna eytoni.

June 11.

We started early this morning and proceeded along the beach for three or
four miles, when we came to another river, similar in its character to
the one we crossed on the 8th, with low sandy banks, and dry bushy land
on each side. We unloaded and hobbled our horses, and prepared our punt
as before.

Near to this spot we came to a native encampment, consisting of eighteen
or twenty huts of an oval form, about seven feet long, and four feet
high; and at the southern end of the camp, was one large hut eighteen
feet long, seven feet wide, and fourteen feet high. All of them were
neatly and strongly built with small saplings stuck in the ground, arched
over, and tied together at the top with small shoots of the climbing
palm, which I have already described. They were covered with the bark of
the large Melaleucas which grow in the swamps, fastened to the saplings
with palm shoots. A small opening is left at one end, from the ground to
the top, and the floors were covered with long dried grass.

The natives being absent from the camp, I entered the large gunyah, and
found in it a large shield of solid wood, two feet in diameter, convex on
one side, and flat on the other. The convex side was curiously painted
red, in circular rings and crosses. On the flat side was a handle, cut
out of the solid wood. In the same hut I found four wooden swords, three
and a half feet long, and four inches broad, sharp at both edges, and
thick in the centre, with a slightly curved, round handle, about six
inches long. They were made of very hard wood, and were much too heavy to
wield with one hand. I also found a number of fishing lines, made from
grass, with hooks attached of various sizes, made from mussel shells.

After I had carefully examined all these things, I left them where I
found them. In the centre of the camp were four large ovens, for cooking
their food. These ovens were constructed by digging a hole in the ground,
about three feet in diameter, and two feet deep. The hole is then filled
to within six inches of the top with smooth, hard, loose stones, on which
a fire is kindled, and kept burning till the stones are well heated.
Their food, consisting principally of shell and other fish, is then
placed on the stones and baked.

There were no vessels in the camp in which they could boil anything, and
it is my opinion, from what I afterwards saw of their habits, that their
cookery is confined to roasting and baking. In the camp were several
large shells for holding water, and some calabashes, made by taking out
the inside of a gourd, which grows plentifully near the camp. These
calabashes would hold from one to three pints each.

June 12.

This morning Taylor endeavoured to cross the river with the rope for
working our punt, but although an expert swimmer, and a very strong man,
he was unable to do so, from the strength of the tide which was running
out. We saw several natives fishing in the river from their canoes, which
are about five feet long and one and a half feet wide, made of bark, with
small saplings tied along the side, and are paddled with small pieces of
bark held in either hand. We made signs to them to come to us, with which
three of them complied. We made them understand that if they would take
our rope across, and make it fast to a dead tree on the other side of the
river, we would give them a tomahawk. They consented to undertake the
task, and after great exertion succeeded in performing it, and received
their reward, with which they seemed quite satisfied and highly pleased.
We succeeded in getting everything across this river by ten o'clock P.M.,
for the moon being up we would not stop till we had finished. Our horses
we took about a quarter of a mile up the river, and they crossed where it
was narrower and not so deep. Several natives, who had not yet seen our
horses, assembled on the banks of the river to see them cross, and when
they came out of the water commenced shouting to frighten them,
continuing their noise for about twenty minutes. Seeing at length,
however, that the beasts submitted to be led quietly along the beach,
they came near the camp, and we made them a present of a few fish-hooks.
They returned to their camp before sunset.

The river we crossed this day was not so deep as either of the former
ones. There is, apparently, a sandbank across all the rivers emptying
themselves into Rockingham Bay, near the mouth, and this one formed no
exception to the rule. The tide runs up very strongly, I should think
from a mile and a half to two miles.

There is a mangrove swamp running up some distance on the northern side
of the river, till it joins the freshwater swamps. There is not so much
fresh water running out of this river as from the last, and fresh water
is only procurable from the south side near the swamp--it being
impossible to penetrate the scrub on the northern side to obtain it. At
low-water the river is very shallow, with a muddy bottom.

June 13.

On our mustering this morning, Carpenter was missed from the camp. It was
discovered that he had absconded during the night, carrying off with him
a damper weighing about eleven pounds, two pounds of tea, and ten pounds
of sugar. We had breakfast as quickly as possible, and Mr. Kennedy sent
four men on horseback to scour the country around in search of him. They
returned from an unsuccessful search, but had received intelligence from
the blacks that he was not far off.

June 14.

A party went out early this morning, in search of Carpenter, and caught
sight of him about two miles from the river, sharing his damper with the
blacks. As soon, however, as he saw the party approaching, he decamped
into the bush, and was again lost sight of. On coming up to the spot
where he was seen, the bags in which he had carried away the tea and
sugar were found; the sugar was nearly consumed, but the tea appeared
untouched. In the evening Carpenter returned, and on begging Mr.
Kennedy's pardon, he was forgiven. Throughout the expedition he was of
very little service, being, in fact, little better than an idiot.

This evening we saw a large alligator, about twenty feet long, rising to
the surface of the water, close to our camp. He appeared to be
attentively watching our sheep, which were feeding by the side of the
river, on the Dolichos and Ipomoeas which were growing on the sand. The
natives here had a great many dogs, which, towards evening, rushed on our
sheep and drove them among the bushes in all directions. We had great
difficulty in getting them together before dark.

June 15.

We proceeded inland two or three miles to the edge of the freshwater
swamps, and camped there. Mr. Kennedy went with a party into the swamps
to ascertain if it were possible to make a road for the carts to pass
through. Wall and myself went out collecting specimens.

I found a beautiful species of Loranthus, growing on acacia trees, and
producing on its long pendulous shoots abundance of beautiful scarlet
flowers; the tube of the corolla was two inches long, with a very short
limb, and the plant has lanceolate, glossy leaves. This most interesting
parasite--covering the acacia trees--when in flower forms a most gorgeous
sight; presenting a beautiful contrast to the dull foliage of the
surrounding trees. I also found a scarlet passionflower,* very beautiful,
with three-lobed glaucous leaves; and a Nymphaea, (waterlily) growing in
the waterholes and small creeks, producing large purple flowers, and
peltate leaves; besides a number of other new and interesting plants. Mr.
Wall succeeded in obtaining a specimen of a beautiful little marsupial
animal, resembling an opossum in form, but not larger than the common
rat, the colour pure white, with very small black spots.

(*Footnote. Disemma coccinea. See Volume 1.)

Mr. Kennedy and party returned in the evening, after having been in the
water up to their knees all day. He reported that it was altogether
impossible to make a road.

June 16.

Mr. Kennedy and party proceeded again this morning to enter the swamps,
but in a different direction, in the hope of finding some spot where a
road might be made, but returned with no better success. This day we
killed the best sheep we had yet slaughtered; it weighed 53 pounds, those
we had previously killed weighed from 40 to 48 pounds; they did not keep
fat, but up to this time we were enabled to fry all the meat, which mode
of cookery was more speedy and convenient for us than boiling or any
other way.

June 17.

We proceeded this evening along the edge of the swamps, crossing several
small creeks. In many places the wheels of the carts sank to the
axletrees in consequence of the rottenness of the ground near the creeks.
At length we camped, after travelling about five miles.

June 18.

This day was Sunday, and at eleven o'clock Mr. Kennedy assembled the
whole party under the shade of some large trees and read prayers. This
was a practice always persevered in when practicable, and unless for some
very pressing reason, we uniformly set apart the Sabbath as a day of
rest, such an interval from our toils being in fact absolutely necessary.

June 19.

Again Mr. Kennedy started this morning, accompanied by five men, into the
swamps, determined, if possible, to find a road by which we might cross
them, and get to the foot of the mountain ranges on the south. He
remained out during this and the two following days. The natives appear
to be very numerous in the neighbourhood of Rockingham Bay. There was an
old camping-place with twelve or fourteen old huts near our camp, but it
was not visited by the natives during our stay there. They generally came
to look at us every day, but always kept at a distance; on some days we
saw as many as from eighty to a hundred. The women and children always
kept farther from us than the men; I think more from fear of our dogs and
horses than of ourselves. The weather was cool, with showers occasionally
during the day, and at night steady rain set in.

June 20.

The rain continued throughout the day.

June 21 and 22.

The rain still continued. Two of our horses were found bogged in a creek
near the camp, but were soon released without injury; they had strayed
into the creek to eat the aquatic grass, which is plentiful on almost all
the creeks between the swamps and the sea. The soil here was rather
stiffer than we had found it before, being a light sandy loam, and in
places clayey. There were not so many shells to be seen, and what there
were, were principally bivalves.

Mr. Kennedy returned this evening, and having again found it impossible
to cross the swamps, we were obliged to return to the beach, where the
travelling was far better than among the trees. While travelling inland a
man was always obliged to walk before the carts, to cut down small trees.

At this time we had only two meals per day; breakfast at daylight, and
dinner when we had completed our day's work, and camped. The time for
dinner was therefore irregular, depending on the nature of the country
over which we travelled. Some days we dined at one o'clock, on others not
till dark. Whenever any birds were shot, they were boiled for supper; but
as yet we had killed very few.

Mr. Kennedy appeared to be, in every respect, admirably fitted for the
leader of an expedition of this character. Although he had innumerable
difficulties and hardships to contend with, he always appeared cheerful,
and in good spirits. Travelling through such a country as we were in,
such a disposition was essential to the success of the expedition. He was
always diverting the minds of his followers from the obstacles we daily
encountered, and encouraging them to hope for better success; careful in
all his observations and calculations, as to the position of his camp,
and cautious not to plunge into difficulties, without personal
observation of the country, to enable him to take the safest path. But
having decided, he pursued his deliberate determination with steady
perseverance, sharing in the labour of cutting through the scrub, and all
the harassment attendant on travelling through such a wilderness, with as
much (or greater) alacrity and zeal as any of his followers. It was often
grievous to me to hear some of the party observe, after we had passed
over some difficult tract, that a better road might have been found, a
little to the right or to the left. Such observations were the most
unjust and vexatious, as in all matters of difficulty and of opinion, he
would invariably listen to the advice of all, and if he thought it
prudent, take it. For my own part, I can safely say, that I was always
ready to obey his orders, and conform to his directions, confident as I
then was of his abilities to lead us to the place of our destination as
speedily as possible.

June 23.

We started early this morning, and proceeded along the beach till we came
to a small river, which was narrow and shallow, but the bottom being
muddy, and it being low-water, we diverged towards the sea, where the
sand was firmer, and there crossed it with little difficulty, without
unloading the packhorses or carts. The tide runs but a short distance up
this river, and as far as the tide goes it is fringed with a belt of
mangroves. The banks are muddy, and so soft that a man sinks up to his
knees in walking along them. A little above the mangroves the river
divides into several small creeks, in swampy ground, covered with small
melaleucas so thickly, that although they are not at all bushy below, but
have straight trunks of from three to five inches in diameter, and from
ten to twenty feet high, a man can scarcely walk between them.

After crossing this river we again turned inland for a short distance,
and camped by the side of a small river south of the last; with steep
grassy banks on the north side, overhung by Tristanias and arborescent
Callistemons. On the south side grew mangroves, and the large
blue-flowered Ruellia seen at our first camp. The tide ran up to our
camp, the fresh water coming from the north-west. There were plenty of
waterholes in the valley, between the river and the higher sandy ground.
The grass here consisted principally of Agrostis, near the river, where
the land is occasionally inundated, and of Uniola, a little further back,
growing in tufts. On the sandy ridges, however, there was little else
than Xanthorrhoea, Xerotes, and Restio (rope grass). Here we saw a great
many native companions (Grus antigone), and swamp pheasants (Centropus

June 24.

Mr. Kennedy and a party of five men again proceeded to examine the
swamps, but returned without finding any practicable way of crossing.

June 25.

We started early this morning, proceeding towards the beach in a
southerly direction, the river turning again south by west, and camped
after travelling over five or six miles of rotten and rather sandy

June 26.

We proceeded along the beach till we came to a small river, most probably
the same we left yesterday, which we attempted to cross in the same
manner as we had done the one on the 23rd, but unfortunately the horses
and carts sank so deeply into the mud that they were completely set fast.
We were now obliged to unload, and carry the goods ashore. Some of the
flour-bags fell into the water, but were quickly taken out--very little
damaged. We had great difficulty in getting the carts out of the mud.

A number of natives had accompanied us all day, and pointed out to us the
best place to cross the river. Some of them also assisted us in carrying
our things across, while one or two attempted petty thefts. I caught one
with two straps belonging to a saddle, and a pair of Mr. Kennedy's spurs
in his basket, which I took from him and sent him away. Many of these
natives were painted all over with a sort of red earth, but none of them
had visited us armed with spears for several days past. Some of them had
learned to address several of our party by name, and seemed pleased when
they received an answer. We frequently made them small presents, and
endeavoured to impress upon them the anxiety we felt to remain on
friendly terms with them.

After having crossed the river we turned inland; cutting our way through
a belt of mangrove scrub, about half a mile wide; we got the carts
through with comparative ease, the ground being harder than usual. We
camped on a rising ground, with good grass around us, by the side of a
small creek running here almost parallel with the beach, and coming from
the westward. At this camp I obtained seeds of a dwarf spreading tree,
with alternate, exstipulate, pinnate leaves, and axillary racemes of a
round flattened fruit, similar in size and shape to the small blue fig
cultivated in gardens, of a dark purple colour, and possessing a flavour
similar to an Orleans plum when hardly ripe, with a hard rough stone

June 27.

We proceeded about five miles in a westerly direction, passing over two
small creeks running to the south-east. The country here appeared to be
gradually rising, and the land to be growing drier; and we now hoped to
be enabled to prosecute our journey without any great obstruction from
the swamps.

June 28.

Proceeding on the same course as on the previous day, we crossed two
small creeks, running rapidly to the eastward. The bottoms of these
creeks were covered with granite pebbles, of various sizes. The first
creek we crossed at the entrance, and the other near the middle of a
thick scrub, extending nearly three miles, and through which we had to
cut a road. The various plants of which this scrub was composed
corresponded with those described as forming the scrub near our first
camp in the Bay. The greatest obstacles to our progress through these
scrubs were the long shoots of the Flagellaria, and climbing palm. We
camped in an open patch of forest land, covered with grass, and the trees
consisted principally of Moreton Bay ash, (a species of eucalyptus),
Casuarina, and a rather large-growing Acacia, with broad, rhomboidal,
sericeous phyllodia, and very broad, flat legumes.

Luff and Douglas were this day taken very ill with the ague.

June 29.

We found that some of our horses had strayed into the scrub, and we did
not succeed in finding them until nearly twelve o'clock, and Luff and
Douglas being no better, Mr. Kennedy with three others proceeded to
examine the country in advance of us.

June 30.

This morning Luff was a little better, but Douglas was able to eat but
little. In the scrub near our camp I found a species of Musa, with leaves
as large, and the plants as high, as the common banana (M. paradisiaca)
with blossoms and fruit, but the fruit was not eatable. I also found a
beautiful tree belonging to the natural order Myrtaceae, producing on the
trunk and large branches only abundance of white, sweet-scented flowers,
larger than those of the common rose-apple (Jambosa vulgaris), with long
stamens, a very short style, slightly two-cleft stigma, five very small
semi-orbicular petals, alternate with the thick fleshy segments of the
calyx, broad lanceolate leaves, the fruit four to six inches in
circumference, consisting of a white fleshy, slightly acid substance,
with one large round seed (perhaps sometimes more), the foot-stalk about
one inch long. This is a most beautiful and curious tree. Some specimens
which I saw measured five feet in circumference, and were sixty feet
high, the straight trunks rising twenty or thirty feet from the ground to
the branches, being covered with blossoms, with which not a leaf mingled.
There were ripe and unripe fruit mingled with the blossoms, the scent of
the latter being delightful, spreading perfume over a great distance
around; I had frequently noticed the fragrance of these blossoms while
passing through the scrub, but could not before make out from whence it
arose. It resembles the scent of a ripe pineapple, but is much more
powerful. There are not many of these trees to be found, and those only
in the scrub, in a stiff loamy soil. The small animals eat the fruit, and
I tasted some, but it was not so good as the rose-apple; we called it the
white-apple. It is a species of Eugenia.

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