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A Voyage to Terra Australis by Matthew Flinders

Part 7 out of 9

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Granite was found to compose the rocks of the shore, and seemed to be the
basis of the island; but it was covered with a crust of calcareous stone,
in some places fifty feet thick. The soil at the top was little better
than sand, but was overspread with shrubs, mostly of one kind, a whitish
velvety plant--(_artriplex reniformis_ of Brown),* nearly similar to what
is called at Port Jackson, Botany Bay greens. Amongst these the petrels
had everywhere undermined; and from the excessive heat of the sun, the
reflection from the sand, and frequently stepping up to the mid-leg in
the burrows, my strength was scarcely equal to reaching the highest hill
near the middle of the island. I had no thermometer, but judged the
temperature could scarcely be less than 120 deg.; and there was not a breath
of air stirring. My fatigue was, however, rewarded by an extensive set of
bearings, and I overlooked the lower and larger island to the eastward,
and saw the water behind it communicating with Smoky Bay. That low land
and the island upon which I stood, being the north-easternmost of this
archipelago, must, I conceive, be the ISLES OF ST. PETER in Nuyts' chart,
notwithstanding their relatively small distance from those of St.
Francis. The bay to the northward, between these islands and the
mainland, I named DENIAL BAY, as well in allusion to St. Peter as to the
deceptive hope we had formed of penetrating by it some distance into the
interior country. The bearings most essential to the survey, taken from
this station were these,

Point Brown, sandy hillocks on it, S. 52 deg. 0' E.
Franklin's Isles, the extremes, S. 49 deg. 15' to 33 45 E.
Evans' Isle, centre, S. 23 0 W.
Isles of St. Francis, southernmost,
the centre S. 34 0 W.
do., the largest extremes, S. 38 0 to 46 20 W.
Lacy's Isle, centre, S. 51 0 W.
Purdie's Isles, the easternmost, N. 83 15 W.
Lound's Isle, centre, N. 76 30 W.
Point Bell, the hill on it, N. 73 0 W.
Point Peter, across Denial Bay, N. 12 45 W.

[* _Prod. flor. Nov. Holl._ p. 406.]

On returning to the shore to complete my observations, a flock of teal
presented themselves, and four were shot. There were also pied shags, and
gulls of three species; and in the island were seen many crows, a green
paroquet, and two smaller birds. A black snake, of the common size, was
killed, but its form did not bespeak it to be venemous. After observing
the sun's altitude at noon, I returned on board with the intention of
getting the ship under way, to examine more closely a bight in the coast
near Point Bell; and then of returning to Petrel Bay in the Isle St.
Francis, in order to obtain better observations for a base to my chart of
this archipelago. At two o'clock, Mr. Brown and his party returned from
the eastern island, bringing four kangaroos, of a different species to
any before seen. Their size was not superior to that of a hare, and they
were miserably thin, and infested with insects. No other than calcareous
rock was seen upon the eastern island. It seemed to afford neither wood
nor water, nor were there any marks of its having been visited by the
natives of the continent; in which respect it resembled the western
island, as it also did in its vegetation, and in being frequented by the
sooty petrel. Mr. Brown's pocket thermometer stood at 125 deg. when placed on
the sand, and 98 deg. in the shade; whilst on board the ship the height was
only 83 deg..

The sun was too high at noon for its altitude to be taken from an
artificial horizon with a sextant; but by laying down upon the beach I
obtained it from the sea horizon tolerably free from the refractive
errors caused by the haze. The _latitude_ of the north side of the
western Isle of St. Peter, thus observed, was 32 deg. 211/4' south, and the
_longitude_ by time-keepers, corrected as usual, 133 deg. 29' east. There was
no set of _tide_ past the ship; but from eight o'clock to noon the water
had risen about a foot by the shore.

The anchor was weighed on the return of the botanists, and we steered
westward past the small island named Lound's, and as far as Purdie's
Isles. when, having seen the whole line of the coast behind them, we
hauled to the southward at six o'clock for Petrel Bay; and at one in the
morning [MONDAY 8 FEBRUARY 1802] came to, in 13 fathoms, near our former

It was here confirmed by satisfactory observations on shore that our
former latitudes and longitudes taken on board the ship were erroneous;
and the consequent necessity of reconstructing my chart of these islands
induced me to remain at anchor the rest of the day. A boat was sent to
fish with hook and line, and had some success; and at dusk a sufficient
number of sooty petrels were taken from the burrows to give nine to every
man, making, with those before caught, more than twelve hundred birds.
These were inferior to the teal shot at the western Isle of St. Peter,
and by most persons would not be thought eatable on account of their
fishy taste, but they made a very acceptable supply to men who had been
many months confined to an allowance of salt meat.

The _latitude_ of our anchorage in Petrel Bay proved to be 32 deg. 33 1/3'
south, and corrected _longitude_, by time-keepers, 133 deg. 151/2' east. The
_variation_ of the compass on the binnacle, with the ship's head
south-eastwardly, but the exact point not noted, was 2 deg. 23' west. Other
azimuths, taken five leagues to the north-westward, with the head
south-half-west, gave 0 deg. 19' east; and six leagues to the eastward, the
head being north half-west, we had 0 deg. 16' east. All these observations,
being corrected, and supposing the ship's head in the first case to have
been south-east-half-east, as is probable, would agree in showing that
the true and magnetic meridians exactly coincided at the Isles of St.
Francis in 1802.

Being about to quit this archipelago, it may be expected that I should
make some general remarks upon it. The basis stone of the islands where
we landed, and that of the others, as also of the projecting parts of the
main, appeared to be similar, was either porphyry or granite; but this
was generally covered with a _stratum_, more or less thick, of calcareous
rock. The and sterility of the two largest islands has been already
mentioned; and yet they appeared superior to any of the smaller isles,
where there was no probability that the small kangaroos could exist in
the dry season. The surface of the continent seemed to be almost equally
destitute of vegetable soil to cover the sand and rock; and from the hot
winds off the land, which we felt in Streaky and Smoky Bays, it would
seem that this aridity prevails to a considerable distance in the
interior. There are, however, some grounds to believe that a lake or run
of fresh water exists not far from Denial Bay: the flock of teal seen
upon the western Isle of St. Peter, and the number of winged, fresh-water
insects skimming the surface of that bay, are the grounds to which I

My examination of this group of islands was tolerably minute to be done
wholly in a ship; but much still remained, which boats would best
accomplish, to make the survey complete, especially in the bays of the
main land. No more than a general examination was prescribed by my
instructions at this time, and I therefore left the minute parts for a
second visit, when the ship would be accompanied by the Lady Nelson

Upon the identity of the particular islands composing this group, as
compared with the chart of Nuyts' discovery, there may possibly be some
difference of opinion, but there can be no doubt that the group generally
is the same with that laid down by the Dutch navigator; and I therefore
distinguish it from others upon this coast by the title of NUYTS'
ARCHIPELAGO. Besides the nine Isles of St. Francis and two of St. Peter,
and several distinct rocks and patches of reef, it contains Sinclair's
four Rocks, Purdie's Isles, Lound's Isle, Lacy's and Evans' Islands,
Franklin's Isles, and Olive's Island; all of which are named after young
officers of the Investigator. The state of navigation in 1627 does not
permit the expectation of any exact coincidence between the islands laid
down by the Dutch and those in my chart; if a few leading features of
resemblance be found, this is all that can be fairly required; and these
I shall endeavour to trace.

The Cape marked A (see the copy of the Dutch chart from _Thevenot_), the
point B, and the western reefs, I conceive to be clearly identified in
Cape Nuyts, Point Fowler, and Nuyts' Reefs, although there be a
difference of near half a degree in latitude. The next leading mark is
the line of islands marked 1, 2, to 5, extending south-south-east from
the furthest extremity of the main land. I found no islands corresponding
to the first three of these; but the main coast there trends south-east,
and there are cliffy projections upon it which might appear like islands
to a ship so far distant as not to raise the intermediate beaches. I
conceive then, that the island marked 3, is the projecting point which I
have named Point Bell; and that 1 and 2 are the two cliffy projections
further northward. The island marked 4 will be the largest of Purdie's
Isles; and in looking on, nearly in the same line, we find 5 in Lacy's
Island. The island 6, or St. Francis, should lie to the west-south-west,
or perhaps south-west, for since the line of the five islands is two
points too much to the right, this bearing may be the same. To the
south-west-by-south the large Isle St. Francis is found, in the centre of
eight smaller isles which Nuyts has not distinguished. The islands 8, 9,
and 10, are to be sought to the east-north-east of 5, or Lacy's Island,
or rather to the north-east, two points to the left; and there we find,
though not very exactly, Evans' Island and the two Isles of St. Peter.
Island 7 should be to the north-west of 8, and in a direction between 4
and 9; and in that position is Lound's small Isle.

This explanation, I am aware, may be disputed, because it leaves
Franklin's Isles unnoticed; and it may be objected, that had Lound's Isle
been seen, the main land north of it would have been seen also. That
Nuyts passed to the southward of all the islands laid down in his chart
seems improbable, since he distinguished only one of the Isles of St.
Francis; but if this be supposed, then 7 and 8 might be Evans' and
Franklin's Isles, and 9 and 10 would be Point Brown and Cape Bauer, which
lie to the south-east, instead of north~east; and in this case the
islands which I suppose to be St. Peter's, and that of Lound, will not
have been seen. The question is, in fact, of no importance, other than
what arises from a desire to do justice to the Dutch navigator; and on
this head, I trust there can be no accusation. My opinion coincides with
the first explanation; and unless an island exist to the south-west of
St. Francis, and I am tolerably certain that none lies within five
leagues, a correspondence more free from objections cannot easily be
pointed out.


Prosecution of the discovery of the unknown coast.
Anxious Bay.
Anchorage at Waldegrave's and at Flinders' Islands.
The Investigator's Group.
Coffin's Bay.
Whidbey's Isles.
Differences in the magnetic needle.
Cape Wiles.
Anchorage at Thistle's Island.
Thorny Passage.
Fatal accident.
Anchorage in Memory Cove.
Cape Catastrophe, and the surrounding country.
Anchorage in Port Lincoln, and refitment of the ship.
Remarks on the country and inhabitants.
Astronomical and nautical observations.



At daybreak in the morning of Feb. 9, when the anchor was weighed from
Petrel Bay to prosecute the examination of the unknown coast, we were
unexpectedly favoured with a refreshing breeze from the westward; and our
course was directed for Cape Bauer. At noon, the latitude from mean of
observations to the north and south, which differed only 1', was 32 deg. 43'
17"; but although our distance from the land could not be more than three
leagues, no part of it was distinguishable; the haze was very thick, but
it was of a different nature, and had none of that extraordinary
refractive power which the atmosphere possessed during the prevalence of
the eastern winds. At one o'clock, Olive's Island was indistinctly
perceived; and at two we came in with Point Westall, and then steered
south-south-eastward along the coast at the distance of four or five
miles. At six, a bold cliffy head, which I named CAPE RADSTOCK, in honour
of Admiral Lord Radstock, bore N. 75 deg. E., six or seven miles; and the
land seemed there to take another direction, for nothing beyond it could
be perceived. The wind was at west-south-west; and we kept on the
starboard tack till eight o'clock, and then stood off for the night.


At five in the morning we steered for the land; and soon afterward Cape
Radstock was in sight, bearing N. 57 deg. E., five leagues. The latitude of
this cape is 33 deg. 12' south, and longitude 134 deg. 15' east. Other cliffy
heads came in sight as we advanced eastward; and at seven, the appearance
of an opening induced me to steer close in; but it proved to be a bight
full of rocks, with low land behind. The line of the projecting parts of
the coast is nearly east from Cape Radstock for four leagues; and at the
end of them is a cliffy point which received the name of _Point Weyland_.
Round this point an opening was seen of so promising an appearance that I
bore away north and north-east for it, although land was in sight as far
as east-south-east. Before noon the greater part of the open space was
found to be occupied by low land; and no more of the opening remained
than a small inlet through the beach, leading, apparently, into a lagoon,
the water of which was distinguished from the mast head. This inlet was
fit only to receive boats; and therefore we hauled the wind to the
southward, when the sandy shore near it was distant two-and-half miles on
one side, and Point Weyland one mile and a half on the other. The
latitude of this point is 33 deg. 14' south, and longitude 134 deg. 32' east. As
the day advanced the wind veered to south-west, and there being a swell
from the same quarter, we could do no more than make a
south-east-by-south course, parallel with the shore. At three o'clock the
mainland was seen to extend out beyond what the ship could fetch; there
were besides two islands lying still further out, and a third was
perceived in the offing, almost directly to windward. The two first
received the name of _Waldegrave's Isles_, and the latter with some rocks
near it were called _Top-gallant Isles_. Our distance from the sandy
shore was then barely a league; and coming into 7 fathoms water soon
afterward, we tacked, hoping to weather Cape Radstock; but finding this
to be impossible, were constrained to pass the night in working to
windward in the bay. The weather was squally with rain, but our situation
made it necessary to carry all possible sail; and we had the
satisfaction, at daylight [THURSDAY 11 FEBRUARY 1802], to find the ship
had gained considerably. It then blew a strong breeze at
south-west-by-south, and we stretched in under Waldegrave's Isles; and
finding the water become smooth, the anchor was let go in 7 fathoms, on a
bottom of calcareous sand, at half a mile from the north-east end of the
inner and largest island. We were here sheltered from the present wind,
but exposed from west-by-south to north-north-west; the master was
therefore immediately sent to sound the opening of one mile wide between
the island and the main, by which alone we could hope to escape, should
the wind shift to the north-westward and blow strong; but the opening
proved to be full of rocks and breakers.

The press of sail carried in the night had so much stretched the rigging
that it required to be set up, fore and aft. Whilst this was doing on
board, the naturalists landed upon the island; where I also went to take
bearings with a theodolite, and observations for the latitude and
longitude. The island is about two miles long, and connected by rocks
with the small outer isle; and they extend four or five miles from a
projecting part of the main, in a west direction. These islands form the
southern boundary, as Cape Radstock does the north point of a great open
bay, which, from the night we passed in it, obtained the name of ANXIOUS

I found the island to bear a great resemblance to the western Isle of St.
Peter, in its cliffy shores, granitic basis and _super-stratum_ of
calcareous stone; in its vegetable productions, and in its surface being
much excavated by the burrows of the sooty petrels. It had also been
frequented by geese at some preceding season of the year, and there were
marks of its having been a breeding place for them; but at this time the
vegetation was too much dried up to afford any subsistence. Crows of a
shining black colour were numerous; and in two which I shot the bill was
surrounded at the base with small feathers, extending one-fourth of the
length towards the extremity. There were no appearances of the island
having been before visited either by Europeans or Indians, and a single
rat was the sole quadruped seen; but a few hair seals were killed upon
the shore. Mr. Brown remarked that this was the first island where not a
single novelty in natural history had presented itself to his


From the highest part of the island I saw two patches of breakers, lying
near three miles out from the western island; and beyond the Top-gallant
Isles in the offing, there was a piece of land of more considerable
extent, which the haze did not allow of being well defined. No part of
the main coast was visible from hence, beyond the projection close to
Waldegrave's Isles; but on changing my station to the southward, land
opened from it at the distance of three or four leagues. The principal
bearings taken were as follow:

Point Weyland, distant 7 or 8 leagues, N. 24 deg. 10' W.
Top-gallant Isles, centre of the largest, S. 52 20 W.
Southmost rock, like a ship under sail, S. 48 5 W.
Further land, the east side, S.57 deg. 40' to 69 10 W.
Southern extreme of the coast, S. 49 40 E.

A squall passed over as the sun came to the meridian, and deprived me of
an observation for the latitude; but the centre of Waldegrave's largest
Isle was afterwards found to be in 33 deg. 351/2' south, and the longitude by
my observations on shore for the time keepers, was 131 deg. 44' east.

There were strong squalls during the night, with rain, but the wind being
off the land, the ship rode easy with a whole cable. At daylight [FRIDAY
12 FEBRUARY 1802] the weather was more moderate, and we stretched out for
the distant piece of land in the offing. At noon it was seven miles to
windward, and seen to be an island of about five miles in length; and
being near enough at dusk to observe that it afforded shelter, and that
there were no apparent dangers, we continued to beat up, and got to
anchor at half-past nine, in 7 fathoms, fine sand; the nearest beach
being distant half a mile, and the island extending from S. 85 deg. E. to 67 deg.


In the morning we were surprised to see breaking water about one mile
from the ship, and as much from the shore. It was not far from the place
where the last tack had been made in the evening, and the master found no
more than six feet water close to it; so that we were fortunate in having
escaped. The botanical gentlemen landed early; and I followed them to
make the usual observations for the survey.

From my first station, at the north-east end of the island, the largest
of the Top-gallant Isles bore S. 67 deg. E., four or five miles. It is of
little extent, but high and cliffy; and there are three rocks on its
south side resembling ships under sail, from which circumstance this
small cluster obtained its present name. To the south-west I
distinguished several small islands, of which the northernmost and
largest is remarkable from two high and sharp-pointed peaks upon it,
lying in latitude 33 deg. 57' and longitude 134 deg. 13'. This cluster, as it
appeared to be, received the name of _Pearson's Isles_; but it is
possible that what seemed at a distance to be divided into several may
form two or three larger islands, or even be one connected land. Another
island, about one mile long and of moderate height, was discovered
bearing S. 72 deg. W., about four leagues. It was surrounded with high
breakers, as was a smaller isle near it; and the two were called _Ward's
Isles_. These three small clusters, with Waldegrave's Isles, and this
larger island, which was named Flinders', after the second lieutenant,
form a group distinct from Nuyts' Archipelago; and I gave it the name of

The form of Flinders' Island is nearly a square, of which each side is
from three to five miles in length. Bights are formed in the four sides;
but that to the north seems alone to afford good anchorage. In its
composition this island is nearly the same as that of Waldegrave's
largest isle; but between the granitic basis and the calcareous top there
is a _stratum_ of sand stone, in some places twenty feet thick. The
vegetation differed from that of other islands before visited, in that
the lower lands were covered with large bushes; and there was very little
either of the white, velvety shrub (_atriplex_) or of the tufted, wiry
grass. A small species of kangaroo, not bigger than a cat, was rather
numerous. I shot five of them, and some others were killed by the
botanists and their attendants, and found to be in tolerably good
condition. We were now beginning to want a supply of water, and the
northern part of the island was sought over carefully for it; but the
nearest approach to success was in finding dried-up swamps in which the
growing plants were tinged red, as if the water had been brackish. No
other trees than a few small _casuarinas_, at a distance from the
anchorage, were seen upon the island; but wood for fuel might with some
difficulty be picked out from the larger bushes growing near the shore.
The beaches were frequented by seals of the hair kind. A family of them
consisting of a male, four or five females, and as many cubs was lying
asleep at every two or three hundred yards. Their security was such that
I approached several of these families very closely; and retired without
disturbing their domestic tranquillity or being perceived by them.

The _latitude_ of the north-east sandy cove in Flinders' Island was found
to be 33 deg. 41' south, and _longitude_ 134 deg. 271/2' east. The _variation_ on
board, observed by Mr. Thistle on the binnacle with the ship's head
south-by-east, was 0 deg. 6' east; which, corrected, gives 0 deg. 44' for the
variation to be allowed on the bearings taken on shore, or on board the
ship with the head at north or south. The tide appeared to be as
inconsiderable here as in Nuyts' Archipelago. With the present southern
winds the temperature at this island was very agreeable; the thermometer
stood between 65 deg. and 68 deg., and the barometer at 30.08 inches, and it was



In the morning of the 14th, the wind was at south-south-east. We weighed
the anchor at daylight, and beat to windward the whole day; but without
gaining any thing to the southward. A little before midnight, the wind
having veered more to the east, we passed the Top-gallant Isles, and at
noon next day [MONDAY 15 FEBRUARY 1802] were in the following situation:

Latitude observed, 33 deg. 591/2'
Longitude from bearings, 134 38
Top-gallant Isles, centre of the largest, N. 12 W.
Pearson's Isles, the two northern peaks, N. 83 W.

No part of the main land was visible; but the wind having veered back to
the southward, in the nature of a sea breeze., we were then standing
eastward; and in two hours several smokes were seen, and soon afterward
the land. At six o'clock, a very projecting point of calcareous cliffs,
distant five miles, was the southernmost visible extreme. It was named
_Point Drummond_, in compliment to captain Adam Drummond of the navy; and
lies in 34 deg. 10' south and 135 deg. 13' east.

The coast from Waldegrave's Isles to Point Drummond runs waving in a
south-eastern direction, and forms bights and broad, cliffy heads. It
appeared to be of moderate elevation, and barren; but the further parts
of it could not be well distinguished on account of the haze.

We tacked from the shore at six o'clock, when the following bearings were

Point Drummond, S. 14 deg. E.
A broad cliffy projection, the north end, N. 11 W.
---- south end, distant 4 or 5 miles, N. 26 E.
A rocky islet, distant three leagues, N. 41 W.
This islet lies four miles from the main land, and nothing was seen to
prevent a ship passing between them.

Soon after we had tacked, the wind veered gradually round from the south
to east; and having steered southward under easy sail till midnight, we
then hove to. A heavy dew fell, which had not before been observed upon
this part of the coast.


At daylight, Point Drummond was seven miles distant to the north-by-east.
The shore, after falling back four or five miles from it, trended
northward; but there was other land further out, and we steered for the
opening between them, passing a rocky islet five miles from Point
Drummond and nearly as much from the eastern shore. At eight o'clock we
found ourselves in a bay whose width, from the outer western point of
entrance, named _Point Sir Isaac_, to the shore on the east side, was
near three leagues. It extended also far into the south-south-east but
the depth diminished, in less than half an hour, to 4 fathoms, although
the head of the bay was still six or seven miles distant. We were then
two miles from the eastern shore, with Point Sir Isaac bearing N. 67 deg. W.;
and hoping to find deeper water in that direction, hauled to the
westward; but coming into 3 fathoms, were obliged to tack, and the wind
veering round from the sea, we worked to windward in the entrance of the

The situation of Point Sir Isaac is 34 deg. 27' south, and from observations
of the moon with stars on each side, in 135 deg. 13' east; but by the
time-keepers corrected, which I prefer, the longitude is 135 deg. 10' east.
The basis of the point seemed to be granitic, with an upper _stratum_ of
calcareous rock, much similar to the neighbouring isles of the
Investigator's Group. Its elevation is inconsiderable, and the surface is
sandy and barren, as is all the land near it on the same side. The large
piece of water which it shelters from western winds I named COFFIN'S BAY,
in compliment to the present vice-admiral Sir Isaac Coffin, Bart.; who,
when resident commissioner at Sheerness, had taken so zealous a part in
the outfit of the Investigator. Coffin's Bay extends four or five leagues
to the south-eastward from Point Sir Isaac; but I do not think that any
stream more considerable than perhaps a small rill from the back land
falls into it, since sandy cliffs and beach were seen nearly all round.
On the east side of the entrance the shore rises quickly from the beach
to hills of considerable height, well covered with wood. The highest of
these hills I call _Mount Greenly_; its elevation is between six and
eight hundred feet, and it stands very near the water-side.

Many smokes were seen round Coffin's Bay, and also two parties of
natives, one on each side; these shores were therefore better inhabited
than the more western parts of the South Coast; indeed it has usually
been found in this country that the borders of shallow bays and lagoons,
and at the entrances of rivers, are by far the most numerously peopled.
These natives were black and naked, differing in nothing that we could
perceive from those of King George's Sound before described.

In the evening the wind veered to the southward; and at sunset we passed
Point Sir Isaac at the distance of half a mile. Our course was then
directed to the south-west, towards two high pieces of land which
appeared in the offing, and obtained the name of _Greenly's Isles_. The
ship was hove to at midnight; but on seeing the islands to leeward at two
in the morning [WEDNESDAY 17 FEBRUARY 1802], we filled; and at three,
tacked towards the main land. At daylight a rocky point which lies ten or
eleven miles to the south-south-west of Point Sir Isaac, and is called
_Point Whidbey_, was distant two miles; and the peak upon the
southernmost of Greenly's Isles bore S. 66 deg. W., four or five leagues. At
S. 18 deg. E., seven or eight miles from Point Whidbey, lies an island one
mile in length, the middlemost and largest of seven, which I named
WHIDBEY'S ISLES, after my worthy friend the former master-attendant at
Sheerness. The basis of these isles appeared to be granitic, but the more
elevated are covered with a thick crust of calcareous rock; and in the
middlemost this upper _stratum_ is perforated, admitting the light
through the island.

The two easternmost of Whidbey's Isles are close to a low projection of
the main land which was named _Point Avoid_. It lies eleven or twelve
miles to the east-south-east of Point Whidbey; and the shore between them
forms so deep a bight that the peninsula between it and Coffin's Bay
seems to be there not more than two or three miles broad. At the head of
this bight is a low, rocky island, and there are rocks and breakers on
each side of the entrance; on which account, and from its being exposed
to the dangerous southern winds, I named it AVOID BAY.

Having a wind at south-east-by-south, we beat up all the morning off the
entrance of this bay, taking bearings of the different islands and
points, and of Mount Greenly which was visible over the peninsula, to fix
their relative positions. At noon, our

Latitude, observed to the N. and S., was 34 deg. 43' 32"
Longitude by time keepers, 135 3 35
Greenly's Isles, the peak, bore N. 74 W.
Whidbey's Isles, three westernmost, S. 36 deg. 60 W.
---- middlemost, north end dist. 2 miles, N. 81 E.
---- two near Point Avoid, N. 81 E.
Mount Greenly, over the peninsula, Not distinct.
Point Whidbey, distant 7 miles, N. 2 E.

At dusk in the evening, having weathered Whidbey's Isles, we tacked near
Point Avoid and stretched off to sea; but on coming in with the land at
daylight of the 18th [THURSDAY 18 FEBRUARY 1802], it appeared that
nothing was gained, our situation being then in the same bight to the
eastward of the point.

The shore of the bight is sandy and low, and trends from Point Avoid
about five miles to the east; after which it takes a more southern
direction and becomes higher, and the projecting parts of the waving
coast line are cliffy. Behind the shore the land rises to a moderate
height, is destitute of vegetation, and of a yellow colour, but whether
from the surface being of bare rock, or of sand, could not be

In stretching off again, with the wind at east-south-east, we passed near
to a small circular reef, lying nine miles from Point Avoid and six from
the nearest shore. Azimuths taken at this time with three compasses on
the binnacle, and the ship's head at south (magnetic), gave the mean
variation 1 deg. 12' east; but with the surveying compass alone it was 1 deg. 39'
east, which is what I allowed in the survey. On the preceding day the two
guns upon the quarter-deck, nearest to the binnacle, had been struck down
into the after-hold, from a persuasion that the differences so often
found in the variations and bearings when on different tacks must arise
from some iron placed too near the compasses. Strict search had been
repeatedly made for sail needles, marline-spikes, or other implements of
iron which might have been left in or about the binnacle, but I could fix
on nothing unless it were the guns; for it is to be observed that,
notwithstanding the constancy of the differences, the idea of any
regularly acting cause to derange the needle had not yet fixed itself in
my mind. The perfection to which naval science had arrived did not allow
me to suppose, that if a constant and unavoidable attraction existed in
ships, it would not have been found out, and its laws ascertained; yet no
longer than three days before, differences had been observed sufficient,
one would think, to have convinced any man that they were produced by
some regular cause. Off Point Drummond, about fifteen leagues to the
north of where the variation 1 deg. 39' east was observed with the ship's
head at south, both azimuths and an amplitude had been taken with the
same compass. The first gave 1 deg. 33' _west_, the head being
south-east-by-east; and after we had tacked, and the head was
south-west-by-west, the amplitude gave 3 deg. 56' _east_! I did not yet see
that as the ship's head was as much on the east side of the magnetic
meridian in one case as it was to the west in the other, so was the
variation as much too far west then as it was too far east afterward.
Differences like this, of 51/2 deg., which had frequently occurred, seemed to
make accuracy in my survey unattainable from not knowing what variation
to allow on the several bearings. The guns were removed in the hope to do
away the differences, but they still continued to exist, nearly in the
same proportion as before; and almost in despair, I at length set about a
close examination of all the circumstances connected with them, in order
to ascertain the cause, and if possible to apply a remedy; but it was
long, and not without an accumulation of facts, before I could arrive at
the conclusions deduced and explained in the Appendix No. II to the
second volume.

We tacked towards the land soon after noon; and being within five miles
of it at three o'clock, stood off again. The furthest extreme of the main
land was a sloping low point, distant about three leagues; but two or
three miles beyond it, to the south, was a small island to which I gave
the name of _Liguanea_. Some of Whidbey's Isles were still to be
distinguished, and the bearings taken just before tacking were as under:

Inner island near Point Avoid, N. 31 deg. W.
Nearest part of the cliffs, E. N. E.
The sloping low point, S. 71 E.
Liguanea Island, highest part, S. 57 E.

At seven in the evening, we came in with the land a little further to
windward, and tacked at a mile and a half from a patch of breakers which
lie N. 72 deg. W. three or four miles from the sloping low point. This point
was still the furthest part of the main land visible, the coast seeming
from thence to take a more eastern direction.


In the afternoon of the 19th when the wind had returned to the south, we
passed to windward of Liguanea Island, and saw it surrounded with many
breakers on its south and west sides. The sloping low point was also
visible; and three miles further eastward there was a steep head, with
two high rocks and one lower near it, of which Mr. Westall made a sketch.
(Atlas Plate XVII. View 7.) This projection I named CAPE WILES, after a
worthy friend at Liguanea, in Jamaica; it lies in latitude 34 deg. 57' south,
and longitude 135 deg. 381/2' east. Before dark we got sight of a hill situate
upon a projecting cape, thirteen miles to the east-south-east of Cape
Wiles, and observed the intermediate coast to form a large bight or bay,
which I proposed to examine in the morning; and for that purpose we stood
off and on during the night, with the wind from the southward.


At daylight of the 20th the hill on the east side of the bight bore N.
68 deg. E. five or six miles, and an island, named _Isle Williams_, was seen
to lie two miles from it to the south-east. We steered north-west soon
afterward, up the bight; but in an hour were able to see the land all
round, and that this place, which, I called SLEAFORD BAY, was dangerous
with the wind at south-east, as it was then blowing. We therefore braced
up, to work out; and at noon, our situation, with that of the surrounding
lands, was as follows:

Latitude, observed to the north and south, 35 deg. 2' 33"
Longitude by time keepers, 135 44
Liguana Isle, the centre nearly, N. 67 W.
Cape Wiles, centre of the cliffs, N. 38 W.
Hill on the east side of Sleaford Bay, N. 77 E.
Isle Williams, E. 2 N.

In the afternoon the wind favoured us by veering to south-by-west, and
the passage between the projection of the hill and Isle Williams, (Atlas
Plate XVII. View 8.) seeming to be clear, we steered through it with good
soundings, the least being 12 fathoms, upon rippling water. Three miles
further the main land formed a point, and took the uncommon direction of
N. 15 deg. W.; but to the eastward, there was a large piece of land, whether
island or main we could not tell, and several small islands lay between.
The opening was four miles wide; and we steered into it, passing through
ripplings of tide with irregular soundings. No land could be seen to the
north-east, but the night was coming on; and as the eastern land
sheltered us from the present wind, we ran within half a mile of the
shore and anchored in 31/2 fathoms. The master was sent to sound about the
ship; and finding we had not a sufficient depth for swinging toward the
shore, the anchor was tripped and let go further out, in 7 fathoms, on a
sandy bottom. No part of the eastern land was visible beyond the bearing
of N. 76 deg. E., distant one mile and a half; and the furthest extreme of
what we could be certain was main land bore N. 17 deg. W.

A tide from the north-eastward, apparently the ebb, ran more than one
mile an hour; which was the more remarkable from no set of tide, worthy
to be noticed, having hitherto been observed upon this coast. No land
could be seen in the direction from whence it came; and these
circumstances, with the trending of the coast to the north, did not fail
to excite many conjectures. Large rivers, deep inlets, inland seas, and
passages into the Gulph of Carpentaria, were terms frequently used in our
conversations of this evening; and the prospect of making an interesting
discovery seemed to have infused new life and vigour into every man in
the ship.


Early in the morning I went on shore to the eastern land, anxious to
ascertain its connexion with or separation from the main. There were
seals upon the beach, and further on, numberless traces of the kangaroo.
Signs of extinguished fire existed everywhere; but they bespoke a
conflagration of the woods, of remote date, rather than the habitual
presence of men, and might have arisen from lightning, or from the
friction of two trees in a strong wind. Upon the whole I satisfied myself
of the insularity of this land; and gave to it, shortly after, the name
of THISTLE'S ISLAND, from the master who accompanied me. In our way up
the hills, to take a commanding station for the survey, a speckled,
yellow snake lay asleep before us. By pressing the butt-end of a musket
upon his neck I kept him down whilst Mr. Thistle, with a sail needle and
twine, sewed up his mouth; and he was taken on board alive for the
naturalist to examine; but two others of the same species had already
been killed, and one of them was seven feet nine inches in length. We
were proceeding onward with our prize when a white eagle, with fierce
aspect and outspread wing, was seen bounding towards us; but stopping
short at twenty yards off, he flew up into a tree. Another bird of the
same kind discovered himself by making a motion to pounce down upon us as
we passed underneath; and it seemed evident that they took us for
kangaroos, having probably never seen an upright animal in the island of
any other species. These birds sit watching in the trees, and should a
kangaroo come out to feed in the day-time, it is seized and torn to
pieces by these voracious creatures. This accounted for why so few
kangaroos were seen, when traces of them were met with at every step; and
for their keeping so much under thick bushes that it was impossible to
shoot them. Their size was superior to any of those found upon the more
western islands, but much inferior to the forest kangaroo of the

From a clear spot upon the north-western head of the island I traced the
main coast to a cape bearing N. 18 deg. W., where it was lost, but reappeared
at a further distance, and extended to N. 21/2 deg. W. More to the right were
three small islands, which I named _Sibsey_, _Stickney_, and _Spilsby
Islands_, but no other land in a north-east, and none in an eastern
direction. On the opposite side, six leagues out at sea, there was a
small cluster of low islands, and some rocks and breakers at a less
distance; these were called _Neptune's Isles_, for they seemed to be
inaccessible to men. In the opening between Thistle's Island and the main
are several small isles; and the two southernmost so much contract the
entrance of the passage that one mile and a half of its breadth, between
the main land and western isle, are alone safe for ships; I gave to this
the name of THORNY PASSAGE. The bearings taken at this station, of most
importance to the survey, were these:

Hill on the east side of Sleaford Bay, S. 70 deg. 50' W.
Point where the coast turns northward, S. 73 30 W.
Hill of a conic form, on the main land, N. 35 50 W.
Sibsey I., centre, over a nearer low rock, N. 12 0 E.
Stickney Island, centre, N. 26 0 E.
Spilsby Island, centre, N. 33 0 E.
Thistle's I., west side, furthest visible part, S. 35 30 E.
Neptune's Isles, the furthest, centre, S. 5 30 E.
---- two nearer, the extremes, S. 1 deg. E to 4 0 W.

Thistle's Island is about twelve miles long, and from one to two or three
in breadth, and in the middle part is high enough to be seen ten or
twelve leagues from a ship's deck. The stone of the north-east end was
found to be calcareous; but at the top of the north-west head, not less
than two hundred feet high, there were many small pieces of granite,
rounded to all appearance by attrition in the water. Some of the cliffs
on the western side are white, as if composed of chalk, and the soil in
general seemed to be sandy; yet the island was pretty well covered with
wood, principally _eucalyptus_ and _casuarina_. No water could be found;
and as the ship's hold was becoming very empty, I returned on board,
after observing the latitude, with the intention of running over to the
main in search of it. But on comparing the longitude observed by
lieutenant Flinders with that resulting from my bearings, a difference
was found which made it necessary to repeat the observation on shore; and
as this would prolong the time too near dusk for moving the ship, Mr.
Thistle was sent over with a cutter to the mainland in search of an
anchoring place where water might be procured.

The _latitude_ of a small beach on the north end of Thistle's Island was
found to be 34 deg. 56'; and _longitude_, by the time-keepers corrected, 136 deg.
31/2', agreeing with thirty sets of lunar observations reduced to a place
connected with this by land bearings. The strongest _tides_ set past the
ship at the rate of two miles an hour, from the north-north-east and
south-south-west; the latter, which appeared to be the flood, ceasing to
run _at the time of the moon's passage_ over the meridian. It rose seven
feet and a half by the lead line in the night of the 20th; and there were
two tides in the twenty-four hours.

At dusk in the evening the cutter was seen under sail, returning from the
main land; but not arriving in half an hour, and the sight of it having
been lost rather suddenly, a light was shown and lieutenant Fowler went
in a boat, with a lanthorn, to see what might have happened. Two hours
passed without receiving any tidings. A gun was then fired, and Mr.
Fowler returned soon afterward, but alone. Near the situation where the
cutter had been last seen he met with so strong a rippling of tide that
he himself narrowly escaped being upset; and there was reason to fear
that it had actually happened to Mr. Thistle. Had there been daylight, it
is probable that some or all of the people might have been picked up; but
it was too dark to see anything, and no answer could be heard to the
hallooing or to the firing of muskets. The tide was setting to the
southward and ran an hour and a half after the missing boat had been last
seen, so that it would be carried to seaward in the first instance; and
no more than two out of the eight people being at all expert in swimming,
it was much to be feared that most of them would be lost.*

[* This evening, Mr. Fowler told me a circumstance which I thought
extraordinary; and it afterwards proved to be more so. Whilst we were
lying at Spithead, Mr. Thistle was one day waiting on shore, and having
nothing else to do he went to a certain old man, named Pine, to have his
fortune told. The cunning man informed him that he was going out a long
voyage, and that the ship, on arriving at her destination, would be
joined by another vessel. That such was intended, he might have learned
privately; but he added, that Mr. Thistle would be lost before the other
vessel joined. As to the manner of his loss the magician refused to give
any information. My boat's crew, hearing what Mr. Thistle said, went also
to consult the wise man; and after the prefatory information of a long
voyage, were told that they would be shipwrecked, but not in the ship
they were going out in: whether they would escape and return to England,
he was not permitted to reveal.

This tale Mr. Thistle had often told at the mess table; and I remarked
with some pain in a future part of the voyage, that every time my boat's
crew went to embark with me in the Lady Nelson, there was some degree of
apprehension amongst them that the time of the predicted shipwreck was
arrived. I make no comment upon this story, but recommend a commander, if
possible, to prevent any of his crew from consulting fortune tellers.]


At daybreak I got the ship under way and steered across Thorny Passage,
over to the main land, in the direction where the cutter had been seen;
keeping an officer at the masthead, with a glass, to look out for her.
There were many strong ripplings, and some uncommonly smooth places where
a boat, which was sent to sound, had 12 fathoms. We passed to the
northward of all these; and seeing a small cove with a sandy beach,
steered in and anchored in 10 fathoms, sandy bottom; the main land
extending from north-half-west, round by the west and south to
east-south-east, and the open space being partly sheltered by the
northern islands of the passage.


A boat was despatched in search of the lost cutter, and presently
returned towing in the wreck, bottom upward; it was stove in every part,
having to all appearance been dashed against the rocks. One of the oars
was afterwards found, but nothing could be seen of our unfortunate
shipmates. The boat was again sent away in search; and a midshipman was
stationed upon a headland, without-side of the cove, to observe
everything which might drift past with the tide. Mr. Brown and a party
landed to walk along the shore to the northward, whilst I proceeded to
the southern extremity of the mainland, which was now named Cape
Catastrophe. On landing at the head of the cove I found several footmarks
of our people, made on the preceding afternoon when looking for water;
and in my way up the valley I prosecuted the same research, but
ineffectually, although there were many huts and other signs that natives
had resided there lately.

From the heights near the extremity of Cape Catastrophe I examined with a
glass the islands lying off, and all the neighbouring shores, for any
appearance of our people, but in vain; I therefore took a set of angles
for the survey and returned on board; and on comparing notes with the
different parties, it appeared that no further information had been
obtained of our unfortunate companions.


Next morning I went in a boat ten miles along the shore to the northward,
in the double view of continuing the search and carrying on the survey.
All the little sinuosities of the coast were followed, and in one place I
picked up a small keg which had belonged to Mr. Thistle, and also some
broken pieces of the boat but these were all that could be discovered.
After taking angles at three stations on the main land, I crossed over to
the northernmost and largest of the six small islands lying within Thorny
passage. It is a mile and a half long, with a small islet off the north
and another off its south end. These I called _Taylor's Isles_, in memory
of the young gentleman who was in the cutter with Mr. Thistle. They lie
near two miles from the main, and the depth between is from 7 to 10
fathoms, on a sandy bottom. A ship might anchor and be sheltered here,
off a small beach at the north end of the largest island; but I did not
find any fresh water, either there or on the opposite parts of the main

On returning to the ship I learned from some of the gentlemen who had
been at the top of the highest hills at the back of the cove, that they
had seen an inlet, going in westward, a little beyond where my excursion
had terminated. Next day [WEDNESDAY 24 FEBRUARY 1802], I went up with
instruments; and having climbed upon a high lump of granite, saw the
water extending 40 deg. behind the coast, and forming, apparently, an
extensive port. The view taken from near the same spot by Mr. Westall
shows what was visible of this fine piece of water, and the appearance of
the neighbouring land. In addition to this interesting discovery, I
obtained bearings of Cape Wiles, of the furthest extremity of Thistle's
Island, and of a group of four islands and two rocks, five leagues beyond
it to the east-south-east. The largest of these was named _Wedge Island_,
from its shape, and the group GAMBIER'S ISLES, in honour of the worthy
admiral (now lord Gambier) who had a seat at the Admiralty board when the
Investigator was ordered to be fitted.

This morning lieutenant Fowler had been sent to search the southern
islands in Thorny Passage for any remains of our people; but he was not
able to land, nor in rowing round them to see any indication of the
objects of his pursuit. The recovery of their bodies was now the furthest
to which our hopes extended; but the number of sharks seen in the cove
and at the last anchorage rendered even this prospect of melancholy
satisfaction extremely doubtful; and our want of water becoming every day
more pressing, we prepared to depart for the examination of the new
opening to the northward. I caused an inscription to be engraven upon a
sheet of copper, and set up on a stout post at the head of the cove,
which I named _Memory Cove_; and further to commemorate our loss, I gave
to each of the six islands nearest to Cape Catastrophe the name of one of
the seamen: Thistle's and Taylor's Islands have been already mentioned.
Mr. Westall's view from the ship in Memory Cove, represents Thistle's
Island and three of the small isles in front of it.

(Atlas, Plate XVII, View 9.)

The reader will pardon me the observation that Mr. Thistle was truly a
valuable man, as a seaman, an officer, and a good member of society. I
had known him, and we had mostly served together, from the year 1794. He
had been with Mr. Bass in his perilous expedition in the whale-boat, and
with me in the voyage round Van Diemen's Land, and in the succeeding
expedition to Glass-house and Hervey's Bays. From his merit and prudent
conduct he was promoted from before the mast to be a midshipman, and
afterwards a master in his Majesty's service. His zeal for discovery had
induced him to join the Investigator when at Spithead and ready to sail,
although he had returned to England only three weeks before, after an
absence of six years. Besides performing assiduously the duties of his
situation, Mr. Thistle had made himself well acquainted with the practice
of nautical astronomy, and began to be very useful in the surveying
department. His loss was severely felt by me; and he was lamented by all
on board, more especially by his mess-mates, who knew more intimately the
goodness and stability of his disposition.

Mr. William Taylor, the midshipman of the boat, was a young officer who
promised fair to become an ornament to the service, as he was to society
by the amiability of his manners and temper. The six seamen had all
volunteered for the voyage. They were active and useful young men; and in
a small and incomplete ship's company, which had so many duties to
perform, this diminution of our force was heavily felt.

The _latitude_ of our anchorage in Memory Cove was 34 deg. 58' south, and
_longitude_ 135 deg. 561/2' east. The _variation_ observed on the binnacle by
lieutenant Flinders, when the ship's head was S. by W., was 2 deg. 38' east,
or corrected for one point of western deviation from the magnetic
meridian, 2 deg. 0' east. In the bearings taken on the _eastern_ side of the
high land behind the cove, the variation appeared to be 3 deg. 20', but upon
the summit it was 1 deg. 40', being less than on board the ship.

The soil of the land round Memory Cove, and of Cape Catastrophe in
general, is barren; though the vallies and eastern sides of the hills are
covered with brushwood, and in the least barren parts there are small
trees of the genus _eucalyptus_. The basis stone is granite, mostly
covered with calcareous rock, sometimes lying in loose pieces; but the
highest tops of the hills are huge blocks of granite. Four kangaroos, not
larger than those of Thistle's Island, were seen amongst the brushwood;
and traces of natives were found so recent, that although none of the
inhabitants were seen, they must have been there not longer than a day
before. Water does consequently exist somewhere in the neighbourhood, but
all our researches could not discover it.

Before quitting Memory Cove a boat was sent to haul a seine upon the
beach, which was done with such success that every man had two meals of
fish and some to spare for salting. In the morning [THURSDAY 25 FEBRUARY
1802] we sailed for the new discovered inlet, and at two o'clock passed
round the projection which had been set at N. 18 deg. W. from Thistle's
Island. It formed the south side of the entrance to the new opening, and
is named CAPE DONINGTON. Our soundings in passing it were from 7 to 9
fathoms, and in steering south-westward we left an island four miles
long, named _Boston Island_, on the starboard hand, and passed two islets
on the other side, called _Bicker Isles_, which lie off _Surfleet Point_.
On the depth of water diminishing to 5 fathoms we tacked, and presently
came to an anchor on the west side of this point in 41/2 fathoms, soft grey
sand. We were then three miles within the entrance, and the nearest shore
was a beach half a mile distant, lying under a hill which had been seen
from Thistle's Island. This is a ridge of moderately high land about two
miles long, but when seen to the north or south it assumes a conical
form. I named it _Stamford Hill_; and there being a good deal of wood
scattered over it, a hope was given of procuring water by digging at the
foot. A boat was sent to make the experiment this evening, at the back of
the beach; but the water which flowed into the pit was quite salt; and
notwithstanding the many natives huts about, no fresh water could be

Boston Island at the entrance of the port being also woody and of some
elevation, the boat was sent next morning [FRIDAY 26 FEBRUARY 1802] to
search there for water; and in the mean time I landed with the botanists,
and ascended Stamford Hill to ascertain the nature of this inlet and take
angles. The port was seen to terminate seven or eight miles to the
west-south-west; but there was a piece of water beyond it, apparently a
lake or mere, from which we, might hope to obtain a supply, if no more
convenient watering place could be found. Betwixt Cape Donington at the
entrance, and Surfleet Point, was a large cove with a sandy beach at the
head, capable of sheltering a fleet of ships, if the depth should be
sufficient, as it appeared to be, to receive them; this was named
_Spalding Cove_. Wood was not wanting there, but no stream of water could
be distinguished. On the north side of the port, higher up, was a
projecting piece of land, with an island lying off it nearly one mile in
length. This island, which was named _Grantham Island_, contracts the
width of that part to one mile and three-quarters; whereas above and
below it the width is from two to three miles.

The eastern entrance to the port, between Boston Island and Cape
Donington, is one mile and a half wide; the western entrance, betwixt the
island and what was called _Kirton Point_, is larger, and appeared to be
as deep as the first, in which we had from 7 to 9 fathoms. From Kirton
Point, northward, the shore curves back to the west, and makes a
semicircular sweep round the island, forming an outer bay which was named
Boston Bay. It is terminated by _Point Boston_, a low point one mile and
a half from the north end of the island; but whether the water between
them be deep was not ascertained. From Point Boston the shore takes
another sweep to the west and northward, and comes out again three or
four leagues to the north-east, at a low but somewhat cliffy projection,
to which I gave the name of _Point Bolingbroke_. The large bight within
received the appellation of _Louth Bay_; and two low islands in it, of
which the largest is more than a mile in length, were called _Louth
Isles_. At Point Bolingbroke the land appeared to trend north or
westward, and could no further be perceived from Stamford Hill.

Three small isles had been seen from Thistle's Island and their bearings
set, and the discovery of them was now augmented by several others,
forming a cluster to the eastward of Point Bolingbroke. This was called
SIR JOSEPH BANKS' GROUP, in compliment to the Right Honourable president
of the Royal Society, to whose exertion and favour the voyage was so much

Of the numerous bearings taken with a theodolite from the top of Stamford
Hill, those which follow were the most important to the connexion of the

Extreme of the land toward C. Catastrophe, S. 17 deg. 56' E.
Thistle's I., highest part and N. E. extr., S. 40 deg. and 42 50 E.
Sir J. Banks' Group, Stickney I., centre, N. 70 30 E.
---- Sibsey Island, centre, N. 57 10 E.
---- Kirkby Island, centre, N. 45 20 E.
Cape Donington, north-west extremity, N. 37 50 E.
Point Bolingbroke, south end, N. 29 12 E.
Boston Island, highest hill near the centre, N. 5 10 W.
---- the extremes, N. 15 deg. 54' E. to 13 46 W.
A lake behind the head of the port, N. end, S. 74 40 W.


The port which formed the most interesting part of these discoveries I
named PORT LINCOLN, in honour of my native province; and having gained a
general knowledge of it and finished the bearings, we descended the hill
and got on board at ten o'clock. The boat had returned from Boston
Island, unsuccessful in her search for water; and we therefore proceeded
upward, steering different courses to find the greatest depth. Soon after
one o'clock we anchored in 4 fathoms, soft bottom, one mile from the
beach at the furthest head of the port, and something less from the
southern shore.

Fresh water being at this time the most pressing of our wants, I set off
the same afternoon, with a party, to examine the lake or mere discovered
from Stamford Hill. The way to it was over low land covered with loose
pieces of calcareous rock; the soil was moist in some places, and, though
generally barren, was overspread with grass and shrubs, interspersed with
a few clumps of small trees. After walking two miles we reached the lake,
but to our mortification the water was brackish and not drinkable; the
distance, besides, from Port Lincoln was too great to roll casks over a
stony road. This piece of water was named _Sleaford Mere_. It is one mile
broad, and appeared to be three or four in length. The shore was a
whitish, hardened clay, covered at this time with a thin crust, in which
salt was a component part. The sun being too near the horizon to admit of
going round the mere, our way was bent towards the ship; and finding a
moist place within a hundred yards of the head of the port, I caused a
hole to be dug there. A _stratum_ of whitish clay was found at three feet
below the surface, and on penetrating this, water drained in, which was
perfectly sweet though discoloured; and we had the satisfaction to return
on board with the certainty of being able to procure water, although it
would probably require some time to fill all our empty casks.


Early in the morning a party of men was sent with spades to dig pits; and
the time-keepers and astronomical instruments, with two tents, followed
under the charge of Mr. Flinders. I went to attend the digging, leaving
orders with Mr. Fowler to moor the ship and send on shore empty casks.
The water flowed in pretty freely, and though of a whitish colour, and at
first somewhat thick, it was well tasted. Before the evening the
observations for the rates of the time-keepers were commenced; and the
gunner was installed in the command of a watering party, and furnished
with axes to cut wood at such times as the pits might require to be left
for replenishing.

The necessary duties being all set forward under the superintendance of
proper officers, I employed the following days in surveying and sounding.
The direction of the port was too remote from the meridian to obtain a
base line from differences of latitude, which, when observed in an
artificial horizon, and at stations wide apart, I consider to be the
best; nor was there any convenient beach or open place where a base line
could be measured. It was therefore attempted in the following manner:
Having left orders on board the ship to fire three guns at given times, I
went to the south-east end of Boston Island with a pendulum made to swing
half-seconds. It was a musket ball slung with twine, and measured 9.8
inches from the fixed end of the twine to the centre of the ball. From
the instant that the flash of the first gun was perceived to the time of
hearing the report I counted eighty-five vibrations of the pendulum, and
the same with two succeeding guns; whence the length of the base was
deduced to be 8.01 geographic miles.* A principal station in the survey
of Port Lincoln was a hill on the north side called _Northside Hill_,
which afforded a view extending to Sleaford Mere and Bay and as far as
Cape Wiles on one side, and to the hills at the beak of Coffin's Bay on
the other. A great part of the bearings taken from hence crossed those
from Stamford Hill very advantageously.

[* This length was founded on the supposition, that sound travels at the
rate of 1142 feet in a second of time, and that 6060 feet make a
geographic mile. A base of 15' 24" of latitude was afterwards obtained
from observations in an artificial horizon, and of 25' 17" of longitude
from the time keepers with new rates, both correct, as I believe, to a
few seconds. From this long base and theodolite bearings, the first base
appeared to be somewhat too short; for they gave it 8.22 instead of 8.01
miles. The length of the pendulum in the first measurement was such as to
swing half seconds in England; and I had not thought it, in this case,
worth attention, that by the laws of gravity and the oblate spheroid, the
pendulum would not swing so quick in the latitude of 35 deg.. I must leave it
to better mathematicians to determine from the _data_ and the true length
of a geographic mile in this latitude, whether the base ought to have
been 8.22 as given by the observations and bearings: it was proved to be
sufficiently near for all the purposes of a common nautical survey.]

Amongst the various excursions made by the scientific gentlemen, one was
directed to Sleaford Mere, of which they made the circuit. The two
southern branches were found to terminate within a hundred yards of the
head of Sleaford Bay, with which the mere had been suspected to have a
communication from its water being not quite fresh; but they are
separated by a stony bank too high for the surf ever to pass over it. At
the head of the bay a boat's sail and yard were seen floating, and no
doubt had belonged to our unfortunate cutter: after being set out to sea
by the tide, it had been driven up there by the late south-east winds.


The refitment of the ship being nearly completed on the 3rd of March,
lieutenant Fowler was sent round to Memory Cove in a boat, to make a
final search along the shores and round the islands in Thorny Passage for
the bodies of our late shipmates, which the sea might have thrown up. On
the 4th [THURSDAY 4 MARCH 1802] the last turn of water was received, and
completed our stock up to sixty tons; and the removal of our
establishment from the shore waited only for the observation of a solar
eclipse, announced in the nautical ephemeris for this day. The morning
was cloudy, with rain; but towards noon the weather cleared up, and I had
the satisfaction to observe the eclipse with a refracting telescope of
forty-six inches focus, and a power of about two hundred. The beginning
took place at 1h 12' 37.8" of apparent time, and the end at 3h 36' 11.8".
So soon as the observation was concluded, the tents and astronomical
instruments were carried on board, the launch was hoisted in, and
everything prepared for going down the port on the following morning.

Many straggling bark huts, similar to those on other parts of the coast
were seen upon the shores of Port Lincoln, and the paths near our tents
had been long and deeply trodden; but neither in my excursions nor in
those of the botanists had any of the natives been discovered. This
morning, however, three or four were heard calling to a boat, as was
supposed, which had just landed; but they presently walked away, or
perhaps retired into the wood to observe our movements. No attempt was
made to follow them, for I had always found the natives of this country
to avoid those who seemed anxious for communication; whereas, when left
entirely alone, they would usually come down after having watched us for
a few days. Nor does this conduct seem to be unnatural; for what, in such
case, would be the conduct of any people, ourselves for instance, were we
living in a state of nature, frequently at war with our neighbours, and
ignorant of the existence of any other nation? On the arrival of
strangers, so different in complexion and appearance to ourselves, having
power to transport themselves over, and even living upon an element which
to us was impassable, the first sensation would probably be terror, and
the first movement flight. We should watch these extraordinary people
from our retreats in the woods and rocks, and if we found ourselves
sought and pursued by them, should conclude their designs to be inimical;
but if, on the contrary, we saw them quietly employed in occupations
which had no reference to us, curiosity would get the better of fear; and
after observing them more closely, we should ourselves seek a
communication. Such seemed to have been the conduct of these Australians;
and I am persuaded that their appearance on the morning when the tents
were struck was a prelude to their coming down, and that had we remained
a few days longer, a friendly communication would have ensued. The way
was, however, prepared for the next ship which may enter this port, as it
was to us in King George's Sound by captain Vancouver and the ship
Elligood, to whose previous visits and peaceable conduct we were most
probably indebted for our early intercourse with the inhabitants of that
place. So far as could be perceived with a glass, the natives of this
port were the same in personal appearance as those of King George's Sound
and Port Jackson. In the hope of conciliating their good will to
succeeding visitors, some hatchets and various other articles were left
in their paths, or fastened to stumps of the trees which had been cut
down near our watering pits.

In expressing an opinion that these people have no means of passing the
water, it must be understood to be a deduction from our having met with
no canoe, or the remains of any about the port; nor with any tree in the
woods from which a sufficient size of bark had been taken to make one.
Upon Boston Island, however, there were abundant marks of fire; but they
had the appearance, as at Thistle's Island, of having been caused by some
conflagration of the woods several years before, rather than of being the
small fire-places of the natives.

There are kangaroos on the main land but none were caught; our efforts,
both in hunting and fishing, were indeed very confined, and almost wholly
unsuccessful. What has been said of the neck of land between the head of
the port and Sleaford Mere may be taken as a description of the country
in general; it is rocky and barren, but has a sufficient covering of
grass, bushes, and small trees not to look desolate. The basis stone is
granitic, with a _super-stratum_ of calcareous rock, generally in loose
pieces; but in some parts, as at Boston Island, the granite is found at
the surface or immediately under the soil. Behind the beach, near our
watering pits, the calcareous stone was so imperfectly formed that small
shells and bits of coral might be picked out of it. This fact, with the
saltness of Sleaford Mere and of a small lake on the south side of the
port, accords with the coral found upon Bald Head and various other
indications before mentioned to show that this part, at least, of Terra
Australis cannot have emerged very many centuries from the sea, the salt
imbibed by the rocks having not yet been all washed away by the rains. In
the mountains behind Port Jackson, on the East Coast, at a vastly
superior elevation, salt is formed in some places by the exhalation of
the water which drips from the grit-stone cliffs.

Port Lincoln is certainly a fine harbour; and it is much to be regretted
that it possesses no constant run of fresh water, unless it should be in
Spalding Cove, which we did not examine. Our pits at the head of the port
will, however, supply ships at all times; and though discoloured by
whitish clay, the water has no pernicious quality, nor is it ill tasted.
This and wood, which was easily procured, were all that we found of use
to ships; and for the establishment of a colony, which the excellence of
the port might seem to invite, the little fertility of the soil offers no
inducement. The wood consists principally of the _eucalyptus_ and

Of the climate we had no reason to speak but in praise; nor were we
incommoded by noxious insects. The range of the thermometer on board the
ship was from 66 deg. to 78 deg. and that of the barometer from 29.4 to 30.20
inches. The weather was generally clouded, the winds light, coming from
the eastward in the mornings and southward after noon. On shore the
average height of the thermometer at noon was 76 deg..

The _latitude_ of our tents at the head of Port Lincoln, from the mean of
four meridian observations of the sun taken from an artificial horizon,
34 deg. 48' 25" S.

The _longitude_, from thirty sets of distances of the sun and stars from
the moon (see Table IV. of the Appendix to this volume), was
135 44 51" E.

These observations, being reduced to Cape Donington at the entrance of
the port, will place it in latitude 34 deg. 44' south,
longitude 135 561/2' east.

No corresponding observation of the solar eclipse appears to have been
made under any known meridian, and from the nature of circumstances, the
error of the moon's place could not be observed at Greenwich; the
distances would therefore seem most worthy of confidence, and are
adopted; but the longitude deduced from the eclipse, as recalculated by
Mr. Crosley from _Delambre's_ solar tables of 1806, and the new lunar
tables of _Burckhardt_ of 1812, differs but very little from them: it is
135 deg. 46' 8" east.

The rates of the time keepers, deduced from equal altitudes on, and
between Feb. 27 and March 4, and their errors from mean Greenwich time,
at noon there on the last day of observation, were found to be as under:

Earnshaw's No.543 slow Oh 30' 30.54" and losing 8.43" per day.
520 slow 1h 9' 7.72" and losing 18.82" per day.

Arnold's No. 176 altered its rate prodigiously on March 1st, and on the
2nd it stopped. His watch, No. 1736, varied in its rate from 7.81" to
1.90", so that it continued to be used only as an assistant.

The longitude given by the time keepers with the King-George's-Sound
rates, on Feb. 27, the first day of observation at the tents, was by

No. 543, 136 deg. 15' 9.0" east.
520, 135 58 53.55
176, 136 1 23.95.

But by allowing a rate accelerating in arithmetic progression, from those
at King George's Sound to what were obtained at this place, the mean
longitude by the two first time keepers would be 135" 52' 16", or 7' 25"
to the east of the lunar observations; which quantity, if the positions
of the Sound and of Port Lincoln be correct, is the accumulation of their
irregularity during fifty-seven days. In laying down the coasts and
islands from the Sound up to Cape Wiles, the longitudes are taken from
the time keepers according to the accelerated rates, corrected by an
equal proportion of the error 7' 25" in fifty-seven days. From Cape Wiles
to the head of Port Lincoln the survey is made from theodolite bearings
and observed latitudes, without the aid of the time keepers.

The _Dip_ of the south end of the needle, taken at the tents, was nearly
the same as in K. George's Sound, being 64 deg. 27'
Variation of the theodolite at the same place, 1 39 E.
And the bearings from different stations in the port were conformable to
this variation, except at Cape Donington, where, at a station on the
north-western part, it appeared to be as much as 41/2 deg. east.

The observations for the variation on board the ship, at anchor in the
lower part of the port, gave 2 deg. 23' _west_, when the ship's head was
eastward, and 0 deg. 53' east, at south-south-east. According to the first,
which were taken by lieutenant Flinders whilst the ship lay under
Stamford Hill, the true variation should be 0 deg. 51' east; but by the
second, observed by myself near Cape Donington, 2 deg. 7' east, or nearly the
same as was found in Memory Cove. Were the mean taken, it would be 1 deg.
29', or 10' less than at the head of the port.

From Mr. Flinders` remarks upon the _Tide_, it appeared that the rise did
not exceed three-and-half feet; and that, like Princess Royal Harbour,
there was only one high water in twenty-four hours, which took place at
night, about _eleven hours after_ the moon's passage over the meridian,
or one hour before it came to the lower meridian; yet at Thorny Passage,
which is but a few leagues distant, there were two sets of tide in the
day. This difference, in so short a space, appears extraordinary; but it
may perhaps be accounted for by the direction of the entrance to the
port, which is open to the north-east, from whence the ebb comes.


On the 5th of March in the morning we ran down the harbour, and anchored
under Cape Donington at the entrance of Spalding Cove in 7 fathoms, soft
mud; the north-western extremity of the point bearing N. 16 deg. E., one
mile, and partly hiding Point Bolingbroke. In the evening, lieutenant
Fowler returned from his search. He had rowed and walked along the shore
as far as Memory Cove, revisited Thistle's Island, and examined the
shores of the isles in Thorny Passage, but could find neither any traces
of our lost people nor fragments of the wreck. He had killed two or three
kangaroos upon Thistle's Island.


On the following morning I landed at Cape Donington to take some further
bearings, and Mr. Evans, the acting master, was sent to sound across the
entrance of Spalding Cove, and between Bicker Isles and Surfleet Point,
where a small ship-passage was found. The boat was afterwards hoisted up;
and our operations in Port Lincoln being completed, we prepared to follow
the unknown coast to the northward, or as it might be found to trend.


Departure from Port Lincoln.
Sir Joseph Banks' Group.
Examination of the coast, northward.
The ship found to be in a gulph.
Anchorage near the head of the gulph.
Boat expedition.
Excursion to Mount Brown.
Nautical observations.
Departure from the head, and examination of the east side of the gulph.
Extensive shoal.
Point Pearce.
Hardwicke Bay.
Verification of the time keepers.
General remarks on the gulph.
Cape Spencer and the Althorpe Isles.
New land discovered: Anchorage there.
General remarks on Kangaroo Island.
Nautical observations.



At ten in the morning of March 6 we sailed out of Port Lincoln, and
skirted along the east side of Boston Island and the entrance of Louth
Bay. In the afternoon we passed within two miles of Point Bolingbroke,
and at six in the evening came to an anchor in 10 fathoms, off the north
side of Kirkby Island, which is the nearest to the point of any of Sir
Joseph Banks' Group, and had been seen from Stamford Hill. A boat was
lowered down to sound about the ship, and I went on shore to take
bearings of the different islands; but they proved to be so numerous that
the whole could not be completed before dark.


I landed again in the morning with the botanical gentlemen, taking
Arnold's watch and the necessary instruments for ascertaining the
latitude and longitude. Twelve other isles of the group were counted, and
three rocks above water; and it is possible that some others may exist to
the eastward, beyond the boundary of my horizon, for it was not
extensive. The largest island seen is four or five miles long, and is low
and sandy, except at the north-east and south ends; it was called
_Reevesby Island_, and names were applied in the chart to each of the
other isles composing this group. The main coast extended northward from
Point Bolingbroke, but the furthest part visible from the top of Kirkby
Island was not more than four or five leagues distant; its bearing and
those of the objects most important to the connection of the survey were

Main coast, furthest extreme, N. 13 deg. 40' E.
Point Bolingbroke, N. 86 50 W.
Stamford Hill, station on the north end, S. 45 17 W.
Thistle's Island, centre of the high land, S. 5 37 W.
Sibsey Island, extremes, S. 16 deg. 27' to 13 2 W.
Stickney Island, S. 18 30 to 22 40 E.
Spilsby Island, S. 39 30 to 48 25 E.

Granite forms the basis of Kirkby Island, as it does of the neighbouring
parts of the continent before examined; and it is in the same manner
covered with a _stratum_ of calcareous rock. The island was destitute of
wood, and almost of shrubs; and although there were marks of its having
been frequented by geese, none of the birds were seen, nor any other
species of animal except a few hair seals upon the shore. This
description, unfavourable as it is, seemed applicable to all the group,
with the exception of Reevesby and Spilsby Islands, which are higher and
of greater extent, and probably somewhat more productive.

The _latitude_ of the north side of Kirkby Island, observed from an
artificial horizon, was 34 deg. 33' 1" south, and _longitude_ by timekeepers,
136 deg. 10' 8" east. The _variation _from azimuths taken on board the ship
at anchor, with the head south-by-west (magnetic as usual), was 2 deg. 40'
east; which corrected to the meridian would be 2 deg. 2' east, the same
nearly as was observed in Memory Cove and at the entrance of Port
Lincoln; but an amplitude taken on shore with the surveying theodolite
gave 3 deg. 57' east. This seemed extraordinary when, except at Cape
Donington, no local attraction of importance had been found in the shores
of Port Lincoln, where the stone is the same. It was, however,
corroborated by the bearings; for that of Stamford Hill, with 3 deg. 57'
allowed, differed only 2' from the back bearing with the allowance of 1 deg.
39'; which is a nearer coincidence than I have generally been able to

At two in the afternoon the anchor was weighed, and leaving most of Sir
Joseph Banks' Group to the right, we steered northward, following the
direction of the main land. The coast is very low and commonly sandy,
from Boston Bay to the furthest extreme seen from Kirkby Island; but a
ridge of hills, commencing at North-side Hill in Port Lincoln, runs a few
miles behind it. In latitude 34 deg. 20' this ridge approaches the water
side, and in its course northward keeps nearly parallel at the distance
of two or three miles. It is moderately elevated, level, destitute of
vegetation, and appeared to be granitic. At half-past six, when we hauled
off for the night, the shore was five or six miles distant; the furthest
part bore N. N. E. 1/2 E., and a bluff inland mountain was set at N. 71 deg.
W., over the top of the front ridge.

The wind was moderate from the south-eastward; and at seven on the
following morning [MONDAY 8 MARCH 1802], when the bluff inland mountain
was bearing W. 2 deg. N., we resumed our north-eastern course along the
shore; which was distant seven miles, and had not changed its appearance.
Towards noon the water shoaled to 6 fathoms at three miles from a sandy
beach; a lagoon was visible from the mast head, over the beach, and a
small inlet, apparently connected with it, was perceived soon afterward.
A few miles short of this the ridge of hills turns suddenly from the
shore, and sweeps round at the back of the lagoon, into which the waters
running off the ridge appeared to be received. The corner hill, where the
direction of the ridge is changed, was called _Elbow Hill_; and since
losing sight of the bluff inland mount, it was the first distinguishable
mark which had presented itself for the survey; it lies in latitude 33 deg.
43' and longitude 136 deg. 42'. The coast there trends nearly east-by-north,
and obliged us to haul close to the wind, in soundings of 7 to 9 fathoms.

We had then advanced more than twenty-five leagues to the
north-north-east from Cape Catastrope; but although nothing had been seen
to destroy the hopes formed from the tides and direction of the coast
near that cape, they were yet considerably damped by the want of boldness
in the shores and the shallowness of the water; neither of which seemed
to belong to a channel capable of leading us into the Gulph of
Carpentaria, nor yet to any very great distance inland.

At two o'clock the shore again took a northern direction, but it was
still very low in front, and the depth did not materially increase. Land
was presently distinguished on the starbord bow and beam; and before
four, an elevated part, called _Barn Hill_ from the form of its top, bore
E. 4 deg. N. We continued to follow the line of the western shore, steering
north-north-east and north; and the wind being at south, we hauled
north-westward at six o'clock, intending to anchor under the shelter of
the land. From 7 fathoms the depth diminished to 5, and quickly to
seventeen feet; upon which we veered round, ran back into 5 fathoms, and
came to an anchor three or four miles off the shore on a sandy bottom.
The wind blew fresh, with rainy squalls; but a whole cable being veered
out, we rode smoothly all night. The furthest land visible to the
northward consisted of detached hummocks of which the highest was called
_Mount Young_ in honour of the admiral. Abreast of the ship the land rose
gradually from the beach to the ridge of hills which still continued to
run behind it; but at this place some back hills were visible over the
ridge; and the highest of several hummocks upon the top, which served as
a mark in the survey, was named _Middle Mount_. Observations for the
time keepers were taken in the morning [TUESDAY 9 MARCH 1802] before
getting under way, and the situation of the anchorage was found to be in

Longitude, 137 deg. 271/2'
Mount Young bore, N. 11 E.
Middle Mount, N. 621/2 W.
Low western shore, extreme, S. 21 W.
High eastern land, about the middle, N. 71 E.

Having obtained the observations, we steered for the outermost of the
northern hummocks, with soundings gradually increasing to 12 fathoms; but
shoaling on a sudden to 7, upon coral, we hauled to the wind and tacked
instantly; finding, however, that the depth did not further decrease, I
let the ship go entirely round, and continued the former north-eastern
course, with soundings from 7 to 9 fathoms.

At noon, the furthest hummock seen from the anchorage was distant four or
five miles; it stands on a projection of low sandy land, and beyond it
was another similar projection to which I gave the name of _Point Lowly_.
This was the furthest visible part of the western shore; but the eastern
land there approached within seven or eight miles, and extended
northward, past it, in a chain of rugged mountains, at the further end of
which was a remarkable peak. Our situation and bearings at this time were
as follow:

Latitude, observed to the north and south, 33 deg. 5' 14"
Longitude by time keepers, 137 41 1/3
Middle Mount, S. 75 W.
Mount Young, S. 87 W.
Point Lowly, the extreme, N. 43 E.
High peak on the eastern land, N. 25 E.

Our prospect of a channel or strait, cutting off some considerable
portion of Terra Australis, was lost, for it now appeared that the ship
was entered into a gulph; but the width of the opening round Point Lowly
left us a consolatory hope that it would terminate in a river of some
importance. In steering for the point we came into 4 fathoms, but on
hauling to the eastward found 8, although a dry sand-bank was seen in
that direction. The depth afterwards diminished to 6, on which the course
for Point Lowly was resumed; and we passed it at the distance of a mile
and a half, in 9 fathoms water. Here the gulph was found to take a
river-like form, but the eastern half of it was occupied by a dry, sandy
spit and shoal water. We continued to steer upwards, before the wind; but
as the width contracted rapidly, and there was much shoal water, it was
under very easy sail, and with an anchor ready to be let go. At four
o'clock, in attempting to steer close over to the western side, we came
suddenly into 21/2 fathoms; the ship was instantly veered to the eastward,
and on the water deepening to 7, we let go the anchor and veered out a
whole cable; for the wind blew a fresh gale right up the gulph, and
between S. 4 deg. W. and 30 deg. E. there was no shelter from the land. At sunset
a second anchor was dropped under foot.

We had reached near five leagues above Point Lowly, at the entrance of
the narrow part of the gulph; but the shores were low on both sides, and
abreast of the ship not so much as four miles asunder. At the back of the
eastern shore was the ridge of mountains before mentioned, of which Mr.
Westall made the sketch given in the Atlas (Plate XVII. View 10.); and
the highest peak toward their northern extremity, afterwards called
_Mount Brown_, bore N. 32 deg. E. On the western side, upwards, there was
moderately high, flat-topped land, whose eastern bluff bore N. 36 deg. W.,
about three leagues, and there the head of the gulph had the appearance
of terminating; but as the tide ran one mile an hour past the ship, we
still flattered ourselves with the prospect of a longer course, and that
it would end in a fresh-water river.


Early on the following morning, Messrs. Brown, Bauer and Westall, with
attendants, set off upon an excursion to the eastern mountains,
intending, if possible, to ascend to the top of Mount Brown; and I went
away in a cutter, accompanied by the surgeon, to explore the head of the
gulph, taking with me Arnold's pocket time-keeper. After crossing the
middle shoal, upon which we had 21/2 fathoms in the ship, the water
deepened to 10, but afterwards diminished to 2, on approaching the
mangroves of the western side. Keeping then upwards, I had from 7 to 10
fathoms in the mid-channel, but found shoal water extending a mile, and
sometimes more, from the shore and no possibility of landing until we
came near the broad, flat-topped hill. From the eastern bluff of this
hill, Mount Brown bore N. 62 deg. 20' E., and _Mount Arden_, a peak nearly at
the furthest extreme of the ridge, N. 18 deg. 40' E.; and the inlet was seen
to run in a serpentine form to the northward, between low banks covered
with mangroves. After taking the bearings we returned to the boat and
pursued our course upward along the western shore, having from 4 to 7
fathoms past the bluff; but the inlet was there less than two miles wide,
and a league further on it was contracted to one mile, half of which,
besides, was occupied by mud flats. These banks were frequented by ducks
and other water fowl; and some time being occupied in chasing them, our
distance above the ship was not so much as five leagues in a straight
line, when the setting sun reminded us of looking out for a place of
rest. A landing was effected with some difficulty amongst the mangroves
on the eastern shore; and from a small eminence of red earth I set the
ship's mast heads at S. 14 deg. E., and Mount Brown N. 85 deg. E.


Next morning we continued the examination upwards, carrying 4, 3, and 2
fathoms in mid-channel; but at ten o'clock our oars touched the mud on
each side, and it was not possible to proceed further. I then landed and
took observations in an artificial horizon for the time-keeper, which
gave 4' 34" of longitude to the west of the ship, or only two seconds
more than was deduced from the bearings. Mount Brown bore S. 72 deg. E.,
Mount Arden N. 26 deg. E., and my last station on the eminence of red earth
S. 6 deg. E. The inlet wholly terminated at one mile and a half to the N. 16 deg.

It seemed remarkable, and was very mortifying, to find the water at the
head of the gulph as salt nearly as at the ship; nevertheless it was
evident that much fresh water was thrown into it in wet seasons,
especially from the eastern mountains. The summits of the ridge lie from
three to four leagues back from the water-side, but the greater part of
that space seemed to be low, marshy land. To the northward no hill was
visible, and to the westward but one small elevation of flat-topped land;
all else in those directions was mangroves and salt swamps, and they
seemed to be very extensive.

Two miles below the place where the observations for the time-keeper were
taken was a small cliff of reddish clay on the western shore; and being
near it on our return, when the sun was approaching the meridian, I
landed to observe the latitude. It was 32 deg. 27' 56" south, so that the
termination of the gulph may be called in 32 deg. 241/2' without making a
greater error than half a mile. Mount Brown bore from thence S. 801/2 deg. E.,
and its latitude will therefore be 32 deg. 301/4' south; the longitude deduced
from bearings and the time-keepers on board is 138 deg. 03/4' east.

Our return to the ship was a good deal retarded by going after the black
swans and ducks amongst the flats. The swans were all able to fly, and
would not allow themselves to be approached; but some ducks of two or
three different species were shot, and also several sea pies or red
bills. Another set of bearings was taken on the western shore, and at ten
in the evening we reached the ship, where Mr. Brown and his party had not
been long arrived. The ascent of Mount Brown had proved to be very
difficult, besides having to walk fifteen miles on a winding course
before reaching the foot; by perseverance, however, they gained the top
at five on the first evening, but were reduced to passing the night
without water; nor was any found until they had descended some distance
on the following day. The view from the top of Mount Brown was very
extensive, its elevation being not less than three thousand feet; but
neither rivers nor lakes could be perceived, nor anything of the sea to
the south-eastward. In almost every direction the eye traversed over an
uninterruptedly flat, woody country; the sole exceptions being the ridge
of mountains extending north and south, and the water of the gulph to the

Mr. Brown found the stone of this ridge of craggy mountains to be
argillaceous, similar to that of the flat-topped land where I had taken
bearings on the west side of the inlet. It is reddish, smooth,
close-grained, and rather heavy. Bushes and some small trees grown in the
hollows of the rising hills; and between their feet and the mangrove
swamps near the water there was some tolerably good though shallow soil.

We had seen fires upon the eastern shore opposite to Point Lowly on first
entering the head of the gulph, and wherever I had landed there were
traces of natives; Mr. Brown found them even to a considerable height up
the side of the mountain; and it should therefore seem that the country
here is as well inhabited as most parts of Terra Australis, but we had
not the good fortune to meet with any of the people.

The observations taken by lieutenant Flinders fixed the position of the
ship in _latitude_ 32 deg. 44' 41" south, and _longitude_ by the time keepers
137 deg. 49' 56" east. Twelve sets of distances of the sun and moon gave 137 deg.
50' 9"; but these being all on one side, the time keepers are preferred.
Azimuths observed from the binnacle, when the ship's head was between S.
by E. and S. S. E., gave 0 deg. 42' east, or 1 deg. 37' east, nearly, for the
true _variation_; and there was no particular attraction upon the
theodolite at any of my stations on shore.

We had two flood _tides_ in the day setting past the ship, and they ran
at the strongest one mile and a half per hour; the rise appeared to be
from six to eight feet, and high water to take place at _two hours and a
half after_ the moon passed the meridian. Except in the time of high
water, which is considerably later than at Thorny Passage, the tides at
the head have a near affinity to those at the entrance of the gulph;
whence the great differences at Port Lincoln, intermediately situate,
become so much the more extraordinary.


Nothing of particular interest having presented itself to detain us at
the head of the gulph, we got under way in the morning of the 13th,
having a light breeze from the north-westward. The western shore had been
followed in going up, and for that reason I proposed to keep close to the
east side in returning; but before eight o'clock the water shoaled
suddenly from 4 to 2 fathoms, and the ship hung upon a mud bank covered
with grass, two or three miles from the shore. A kedge anchor was carried
out astern; and in half an hour we again made sail downward, in soundings
from 5 to 10 fathoms near the edge of the shoal.

At noon, latitude observed to the N. and S. 32 deg. 57' 6"
Mount Brown bore N. 9 30 E.
Pt. Lowly south extreme dist. 7 miles, S. 79 0 W.

The depth was then 7 fathoms; but there were banks ahead, extending to a
great distance from the eastern shore, and in steering westward to pass
round them, we had 31/2 fathoms for the least water. It afterwards deepened
to 7, and we again steered southward, but were not able to get near the
land; on the contrary, the shallow water forced us further off as we
proceeded. The wind was at west-southwest in the evening; and this not
permitting us to lie along the edge of the bank, we came to an anchor in
7 fathoms, soft bottom; being then above four leagues from the eastern
low shore, although there was only 31/2 fathoms at less than a mile nearer

Mount Brown bore N. 21 deg. E.
Barn Hill, S. 43 E.
Mount Young, N. 66 W.


In the morning we followed the line of the great eastern shoal, and its
direction permitted us to approach nearer to the land, with soundings
between 8 and 4 fathoms. A little before noon, after running half an hour
in less than 4 fathoms and getting within about six miles of the land, we
were obliged to tack and stretch off, the wind having veered to the
south-west. Our situation twenty minutes afterward, was in

Latitude, observed to the north and south, 33 deg. 23' 49"
Longitude by time keepers, 137 47
Mount Young bore N. 38 W.
Middle Mount, west side of the gulph, N. 66 W.
Barn Hill, on the east side, S. 60 E.

We beat to windward all the afternoon, and at sunset anchored in 31/2
fathoms near the edge of the great bank and seven or eight miles from the
land. The shore was low and sandy, but there was a ridge of hills behind
it nearly similar to that on the west side of the gulph. Barn Hill lies
at the back of this ridge and about twelve miles from the water; and
towards the southern end of the ridge was another hill, also some
distance inland, of which I shall have occasion to speak hereafter. A
middle mount on the west side of the gulph, higher and further back than
the one before set, was in sight from this anchorage; and the bearings
taken were these:

Middle back mount, N. 61 deg. W.
Barn Hill on the east side, S. 74 E.
A more southern hill, S. 38 E.

Mount Br own was no longer visible; but it had been seen this afternoon
at the distance of fifty-eight miles, and was sufficiently above the
horizon to have been distinguished some miles further from a ship's deck
in a perfectly clear day.


On the morning of the 15th the wind had shifted to south-east; and the
great bank then trending south-westward, we followed it with variable
soundings between 3 and 10 fathoms. At ten o'clock the water had deepened
to 15; and being then nearer to the west than to the east side of the
gulph, and the wind having come more ahead, we tacked to the
east-south-east; but in fifty minutes were obliged to steer westward
again, having fallen into 3 fathoms on the edge of the bank. This is the
narrowest part of the gulph below Point Lowly, the two shores being
scarcely more than twenty miles asunder; and of this space, the great
eastern bank, if the part where we last had 3 fathoms be connected with
it, occupies about eleven, and the shallow water of the west side one or
two miles. The soundings we had in stretching westward across the deep
channel were, from the shoal, 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 12, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 7,
6, 5 fathoms, at nearly equal distances asunder, and the last at six
miles from the western land.

After sounding across the channel we stood back, lying up south-east, and
reached within five miles of the eastern shore, where the anchor was
dropped in 41/2 fathoms; Barn Hill bearing N. 69 deg. E., and a cliffy
projection, named _Point Riley_ after the gentleman of that name in the
Admiralty, S. 14 deg. W., two or three leagues. This point was the furthest
visible part of the eastern shore; and so low and uniform had the coast
been from the head of the gulph, that this was the first mark I had found
upon it for the survey. The great eastern bank, which we had already
followed about sixty miles, seemed to terminate at Point Riley; and from
thence southward the gulph greatly enlarges its breadth. The situation of
the point is about 33 deg. 53' south and 137 deg. 30' E.


We got under way at six in the morning, and the wind being from the
south-eastward made a good stretch along the coast until noon. A patch of
breakers then lay five miles to the south-east; but the land was ten
miles distant, and some white sandy cliffs, four or five leagues from
Point Riley, bore S. 52 deg. E. The intermediate coast, as also that which
extends several leagues to the north of the point, is low and sandy; but
at a few miles back it rises to a level land of moderate elevation, and
is not ill clothed with small trees. In the afternoon we had to beat
against a southern wind; and the coast in that part being too open for
anchorage, this was continued all night and the next morning [WEDNESDAY
17 MARCH 1802]; but with so little profit that the same land was still in
sight at noon, and our situation found to be as follows

Latitude, observed to the north and south, 34 deg. 15' 24"
Longitude by time keepers, 137 241/2
North extreme near the sandy cliffs, dist. 6 miles, N. 19 E.
Low red cliffs, south end dist. 6 or 7 miles, S. 54 E.

At six in the evening, the reddish cliffs were brought to bear N. 44 deg. E.,
and a long point, or an island lying off a point, bore S. 43 deg. W. two
leagues. Our distance from a cliffy islet, close under the shore, was two
or three miles, but the breakers from it were only half a mile off, and
the depth was 4 fathoms.


On the 18th, in the morning, we fetched to windward of the island-like
point, to which I gave the name of _Point Pearce_, in compliment to Mr.
Pearce of the Admiralty. Its latitude is 34 deg. 281/2' south and longitude
137 deg. 21' east. On the south side of this point or island, for I could not
fully ascertain its connection, the shore falls back seven or eight miles
to the east, and then trends southward. It is low and very sandy, but
rises gradually to a level country of the same description as that near
Point Riley. At sunset the land was seen as far as south-west-by-south;
and the wind favouring us a little, we made a stretch for it. A fire upon
the shore served as a mark to steer by; and on approaching it at ten
o'clock, the anchor was let go in 6 fathoms, upon a bottom of coarse sand
and small stones, the weather being fine, and wind moderate off the land.

The howling of dogs was heard during the night, and at daylight [FRIDAY
19 MARCH 1802] the shore was found to be distant two or three miles, and
was woody, rising land, but not of much elevation. A remarkable point,
which I named _Corny Point_, bearing S 73 deg. W. three miles, was the
furthest land visible to the westward; its latitude, from meridian
observations of Jupiter and the moon, is 34 deg. 52' South, and longitude
from the time-keepers 137 deg. 61/2' east. Between this point and Point Pearce,
twenty-eight miles to the north-north-east, is a large bay, well
sheltered from all southern winds, and none others seem to blow with much
strength here. The land trends eastward about seven leagues, from Corny
Point to the head of the bay; but what the depth of water may be there,
or whether any fresh stream fall into it, I am not able to state; the
land, however, was better wooded, and had a more fertile appearance than
any before seen in the neighbourhood. I called this HARDWICKE BAY, in
honour of the noble earl of that title.

Several observations for the variation of the compass had been taken
whilst beating in the neighbourhood of Point Pearce. On its north side,
eight miles from the shore, an amplitude with the ship's head S. W. by S.
gave 4 deg. 38' east; at E. by N., when fourteen miles off, another gave 1 deg.
13' east; but azimuths three or four miles nearer in, 0 deg. 10' _west_; and
at S. E., when six miles off, 0 deg. 35' _west_. On the south side of Point
Pearce, the head being S. S. W., and the land distant thirteen miles, an
amplitude gave 3 deg. 15' east. These different observations, which were all
taken with the surveying compass, being corrected upon the principles and
by the proportion explained in the Appendix No. II. to the second volume,
will be respectively, 2 deg. 51', 4 deg. 21' furthest from the land, 2 deg. 58', 1 deg.
41' nearest the land, and 2 deg. 1' east. The mean is 2 deg. 46' east; which may
be taken for the true variation at three or four leagues off Point Pearce
in 1802; but close in with the shore, I suspect it was less by 1 deg., or
perhaps 2 deg..

Having remained at anchor until the sun was high enough to admit of
observations for the time keepers, we got under way at half past seven
o'clock; and the coast round Corny Point being found to trend S. 27 deg. W.,
nearly in the wind's eye, I stretched westward across the gulph towards
Thistle's Island, in order to compare the time keepers with the
longitudes of places before settled. Our latitude at noon, observed on
both sides, was 34 deg. 50' 10"; Spilsby Island, the south-eastern most of
Sir Joseph Banks' Group, was seen bearing N. 56 deg. W., and the eastern
bluff of Wedge Island, the central and largest of Gambier's Isles, bore
S. 161/2 deg. W. Gambier's Isles, four in number besides two peaked rocks, had
been first seen from the high land behind Memory Cove. They lie nearly in
the centre of the entrance to the gulph; and the latitude of Wedge Island
is 35 deg.11' south, and longitude 136 deg. 29' east. Soon after four in the
afternoon, I had the following bearings:

Wedge Island, highest part, S. 211/2 deg. E.
Thistle's Island, highest part, S. 29 W.
C. Catastrophe, former station on the S. E. point, S. 531/2 W.
Stamford Hill, former station at the top, N. 86 W.
Sibsey Island, centre, N. 33 W.
Stickney Island, N. 11 W.
Spilsby Island, N. 171/2 E.

The longitude deduced from these bearings was 30 deg. 22" east, from the head
of Port Lincoln, and that resulting from observations for the time
keepers taken in the same place, was 30 deg. 53"; showing a difference of no
more than 0' 31" to the east, since quitting the port. This quantity in a
sea observation is so small and uncertain, that I considered the time
keepers to have gone correctly from March 4, when the last observations
in Port Lincoln had been made, up to this time; and that the lunar
observations taken in the interval might be reduced back to the head of
the port by their means, and used to fix its longitude without any
further correction.

Besides the bearings above given, there was a rocky islet four miles
distant in the S. 78 deg. W.; part of a ledge of low rocks which extended
towards the north end of Thistle's Island, and may possibly be connected
with the rock set from thence. This ledge is marked _dangerous_, in the
particular chart.

Having satisfactorily ascertained the going of the time keepers, we
tacked and stretched back for the coast on the east side of the gulph;
but did not get sight of it before dark. At six on the following morning

Corny Point, dist. 5 or 6 leagues, bore N. 631/2 deg. E.
A cliffy head, distant 10 miles, S. 85 E.
Furthest extreme, a cliffy point, S. 21 E.
Wedge Island, eastern bluff, S. 49 W.
Thistle's Island, highest part, West.

An amplitude taken when the ship's head was south-by-east, gave variation
1 deg. 25' east, and azimuths at south-south-east, 1 deg. 10': the mean, reduced
to the meridian, is 2 deg. 13' east, or a few minutes more than had been
found on the west side of the gulph, and half a degree less than off
Point Pearce.

The tide appeared to set us along the shore to the southward, although,
from what was observed at Thistle's Island, it should have been the time
of flood. With its assistance, and the wind having become less
unfavourable, we were enabled to make a course for the furthest land.
This proved to be a cape, composed of three cliffy points, near the
northern part of which lay a cluster of black rocks. The southernmost
cliff bore at noon E. 41/2 deg. S. six or seven miles, and beyond it there was
no main coast visible; but three small islands, with several rocks and a
reef, were seen to lie as far as five miles to the southward, out from
the cape.

Although the continuation of the main coast was not to be distinguished
beyond the cape, yet there was land in sight at the distance of seven or
eight leagues, from about south to S. 181/2 deg. W. Whether this land were an
island or a part of the continent, and the wide opening to the eastward a
strait or a new inlet, was uncertain; but in either case, the
investigation of the gulph was terminated; and in honour of the
respectable nobleman who presided at the Board of Admiralty when the
voyage was planned and ship put into commission, I named it SPENCER'S
GULPH. The cliffy-pointed cape which forms the east side of the entrance,
and lies in 35 deg. 18' south and 136 deg. 55' east, was named CAPE SPENCER; and
the three isles lying off it, with their rocks, _Althorp Isles_.

A line drawn from the nearest part of Cape Catastrophe to Cape Spencer
will be forty-eight miles long, and so much is the entrance of the gulph
in width. Gambier's Isles lie not far from the middle of the line; and if
we measure upward from them, the gulph will be found, without regard to
the small windings, to extend one hundred and eighty-five miles into the
interior of the country. For the general exactness of its form in the
chart I can answer with tolerable confidence, having seen all that is
laid down, and, as usual, taken every angle which enters into the
construction. Throughout the whole extent of the shores the water line
was almost every where distinguished; the only exceptions being small
portions at the head of Hardwicke and Louth Bays, of a bight near Point
Lowly, and of the low land at the back of the great Eastern Shoal.

At noon, when off Cape Spencer, the wind became variable and light, with
very hazy, cloudy weather; and the mercury in my marine barometer had
fallen two-tenths of an inch. At six in the evening a breeze sprung up at
west-north-west; and as I expected a gale would come on, and that as
usual it would veer to the south-west, we ceased to follow the coast
beyond Cape Spencer, and steered for the land seen in the southern
quarter. The Althorp Isles were passed at eight o'clock, at the distance
of eight or nine miles; and the wind being fresh at west, we made short
trips during the night between the two lands, not knowing what might be
in the space to leeward. At daylight [SUNDAY 21 MARCH 1802] the ship was
nearly in mid-channel, between the southern land and Cape Spencer, and
nothing was seen to the eastward. It then blew a fresh gale at
south-west, with much sea running; we stretched south-west under
close-reefed top-sails, to get under the lee of the southern land; and at
eight o'clock, when the largest Althorp Isle bore N. 32 deg. W., it was
distant six or seven miles to the south, and extended from S. 61 deg. W. to
79 deg. E. as far as the eye could reach. It was rather high and cliffy; but
there was nothing by which to judge of its connection with the main.

At ten o'clock we were close under the land; and finding the water
tolerably smooth, had shortened sail with the intention of anchoring near
a small, sandy beach; but the situation proving to be too much exposed,
we steered eastward along the shore under two close-reefed topsails and
fore-sail, the wind blowing strong in squalls from the south-west. The
furthest land seen ahead at noon was a projecting point, lower than the
other cliffs; it bore E. 7 deg. S., four leagues, and and lies in 35 deg. 33'
south and 137 deg. 41' east. It was named _Point Marsden_, in compliment to
the second secretary of the Admiralty; and beyond it the coast was found
to trend southward into a large bay containing three coves, any one of
which promised good shelter from the gale. This was called NEPEAN BAY. in
compliment to the first secretary (now Sir Evan Nepean, Bart.), and we
hauled up for it; but the strength of the wind was such that a headland
forming the east side of the bay was fetched with difficulty. At six in
the evening we came to anchor in 9 fathoms, sandy bottom, within a mile
of the shore; the east extreme bearing S. 76 deg. E., and the land near Point
Marsden, on the west side of Nepean Bay, N. 61 deg. W., six leagues. A piece
of high land, seemingly unconnected, bore from N. 45 deg. to 78 deg. E.; but no
land could be distinguished to the northward.

Neither smokes nor other marks of inhabitants had as yet been perceived
upon the southern land, although we had passed along seventy miles of its
coast. It was too late to go on shore this evening; but every glass in
the ship was pointed there, to see what could be discovered. Several
black lumps, like rocks, were pretended to have been seen in motion by
some of the young gentlemen, which caused the force of their imaginations
to be much admired; next morning [MONDAY 22 MARCH 1802], however, on
going toward the shore, a number of dark-brown kangaroos were seen
feeding upon a grass-plat by the side of the wood and our landing gave
them no disturbance. I had with me a double-barrelled gun, fitted with a
bayonet, and the gentlemen my companions had muskets. It would be
difficult to guess how many kangaroos were seen; but I killed ten, and
the rest of the party made up the number to thirty-one, taken on board in
the course of the day; the least of them weighing sixty-nine, and the
largest one hundred and twenty-five pounds. These kangaroos had much
resemblance to the large species found in the forest lands of New South
Wales, except that their colour was darker, and they were not wholly
destitute of fat.

After this butchery, for the poor animals suffered themselves to be shot
in the eyes with small shot, and in some cases to be knocked on the head
with sticks, I scrambled with difficulty through the brushwood, and over
fallen trees, to reach the higher land with the surveying instruments;
but the thickness and height of the wood prevented anything else from
being distinguished. There was little doubt, however, that this extensive
piece of land was separated from the continent; for the extraordinary
tameness of the kangaroos and the presence of seals upon the shore
concurred with the absence of all traces of men to show that it was not


The whole ship's company was employed this afternoon in skinning and
cleaning the kangaroos; and a delightful regale they afforded, after four
months' privation from almost any fresh provisions. Half a hundred weight
of heads, forequarters and tails were stewed down into soup for dinner on
this and the succeeding days; and as much steaks given, moreover, to both
officers and men as they could consume by day and by night. In gratitude
for so seasonable a supply I named this southern land KANGAROO ISLAND.


Next day was employed in shifting the topmasts on account of some rents
found in the heels. The scientific gentlemen landed again to examine the
natural productions of the island, and in the evening eleven more
kangaroos were brought on board; but most of these were smaller, and
seemed to be of a different species to those of the preceding day. Some
of the party saw several large running birds; which, according to their
description, seemed to have been the emu or cassowary.

Not being able to obtain a distinct view from any elevated situation, I
took a set of angles from a small projection near the ship, named
_Kangaroo Head_; but nothing could be seen to the north, and the sole
bearing of importance, more than had been taken on board, was that of a
high hill at the extremity of the apparently unconnected land to the
eastward: it bore N. 39 deg. 10' E., and was named _Mount Lofty_. The nearest
part of that land was a low point bearing N. 60 deg. E. nine or ten miles;
but the land immediately at the back was high, and its northern and
southern extremes were cliffy. I named it CAPE JERVIS, and it was
afterwards sketched by Mr. Westall. (Atlas Plate XVII. View 12.)

All the cliffs of Kangaroo Island seen to the west of the anchorage had
the appearance of being calcareous, and the loose stones scattered over
the surface of Kangaroo Head and the vicinity were of that substance; but
the basis in this part seemed to be a brown slate, lying in _strata_
nearly horizontal, and _laminae_ of quartz were sometimes seen in the
interstices. In some places the slate was split into pieces of a foot
long, or more, like iron bars, and had a shining, ore-like appearance;
and the _strata_ were then further from the horizontal line than I
observed them to be elsewhere.

A thick wood covered almost all that part of the island visible from the
ship; but the trees in a vegetating state were not equal in size to the
generality of those lying on the ground, nor to the dead trees standing
upright. Those on the ground were so abundant that in ascending the
higher land a considerable part of the walk was made upon them. They lay
in all directions, and were nearly of the same size and in the same
progress towards decay; from whence it would seem that they had not
fallen from age, nor yet been thrown down in a gale of wind. Some general
conflagration, and there were marks apparently of fire on many of them,
is perhaps the sole cause which can be reasonably assigned; but whence
came the woods on fire? That there were no inhabitants upon the island,
and that the natives of the continent did not visit it, was demonstrated,
if not by the want of all signs of such visit, yet by the tameness of the
kangaroo, an animal which, on the continent, resembles the wild deer in
timidity. Perhaps lightning might have been the cause, or possibly the
friction of two dead trees in a strong wind; but it would be somewhat
extraordinary that the same thing should have happened at Thistle's
Island, Boston Island and at this place, and apparently about the same
time. Can this part of Terra Australis have been visited before, unknown
to the world? The French navigator, La Perouse, was ordered to explore
it, but there seems little probability that he ever passed Torres'

Some judgment may be formed of the epoch when these conflagrations
happened from the magnitude of the growing trees; for they must have
sprung up since that period. They were a species of _eucalyptus_, and
being less than the fallen trees, had most probably not arrived at

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