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Title: Observations on the Coasts of Van Diemen's Land
Author: Matthew Flinders
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Language: English
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Title: Observations on the Coasts of Van Diemen's Land
Author: Matthew Flinders

* * *

and on Part of the Coasts of

London, 1801

* * *

&c. &c. &c. &c.

Sir Joseph,

Your zealous exertions to promote geographical and nautical knowledge,
your encouragement of men employed in the cultivation of the sciences
that tend to their improvement, and the countenance you have been pleased
to show me in particular, embolden me to lay the following observations
before you.

However unworthy of being offered to Sir Joseph Banks, this humble
attempt to increase the utility of the annexed charts may prove, I trust,
that the intention with which it is written will excuse the imperfections
it must contain. Utility was the only object in view; and if it is so
executed as to answer that end, I am sure of its meeting your
approbation. With an anxious hope that you will not be dissatisfied with

I am,
Your grateful and obedient Servant,

* * *


The following observations are extracted from the journals of some
expeditions from Port Jackson, mostly undertaken by order of His
Excellency governor Hunter, for the purpose of exploring the neighbouring
coasts. They are here put together under different heads, for the
convenience of those who may be amongst the first to use this navigation;
and to serve as an explanation to the charts of Van Diemen's Land, Bass's
Strait, and those parts of New South Wales, which have lately been
examined by the officers of His Majesty's ship Reliance.

The charts are not given as perfect, but as containing the form and
situation of what was really seen, as near as could be ascertainted. When
it is considered, that no time-keeper could be procured for these
expeditions, and that the vessel in which most of the work was performed,
was not of twenty-five tons burthen, great accuracy in the longitude will
not be expected; as a proof, however, that every effort was made to avert
errors; it is proper to remark, that from the northeast cape of Van
Diemen's Land, named Cape Portland, by governor Hunter, round by the
west, to the South-west Cape, the sloop was kept close to the shore, and
brought back every morning within sight of the same point it had been
hauled off from on the precedeing evening. By which means the chain of
angles was never wholly broken; and the dead-reckoning from Port
Dalrymple, being corrected by these bearings, placed the South-west Cape
in the same situation as captain Cook, within 5' of longitude. This was
an unexpected agreement, and must not be looked for in the relative
situations of the islands in Bass's Strait; and more especially of those
which are not in sight from Van Diemen's Land.

The rottenness of the deep-sea line, with which the sloop was supplied,
will account for the very few soundings which are marked in the strait;
independently of the small number of the crew, and size of the vessel.

The bearings in the following memoirs are always as given by the compass,
unless it is otherwise particularly expressed.

If the information here brought forward should be thought little, or
imperfect; it ought to be remembered, that that little was gained, under
very disadvantageous circumstances, by the voluntary labours of a few
individuals; whose only stimulus to so hazardous an undertaking, was the
disinterested spirit of discovery.

If seamen find themselves assisted by these observations and the charts
to which they are attached, in conducting ships along new coasts, and
into new harbours, it is hoped, that inaccuracies in language and in
style will be allowed to pass without severe censure.


The south-eastern parts of this island, received the name of VAN DIEMEN'S
LAND, from Abel Janson Tasman, who discovered it more than a century ago.
Since that time, captain Furneaux and others have enlarged our knowledge
of the south and east coasts, at different periods; but, though suspected
of being separated from New Holland, Van Diemen's Land was not known to
be a distinct island, until its circumnavigation was lately accomplished
in a small sloop, called the Norfolk, by the order of governor Hunter. It
is now found to be thirty leagues distant from any known part of New
South Wales. It contains something more than 18,000 square miles of
surface; and as far as could be observed, Van Diemen's Land appears to be
superior in fertility to the same space of ground in any known part of
New South Wales.

A long swell from the south-westward does mostly, if not always, roll in
from the southern Indian Ocean, upon the western shores of Van Diemen's
Land; and as there is no known place of shelter upon this coast, it
becomes extremely dangerous to approach it. The shore in general, is
rocky; and in many places there are reefs lying three or four miles off
it; but there are also patches of sandy beach; more especially from the
black cliffy head, in about 40 54' south, to about 41 36': the
dangerous bight also, the center of which is in 42 4', is mostly beach.
It is more of a low than a bold coast, to the northward of Rocky Point,
but is not uniformly so; for in the latitude of 41 30', the inland
mountains approach within three leagues of the shore; and for ten miles
on each side of 42, irregular high mountains come down almost to the
water side. From Rocky Point to the southward, both the coast and country
put on a different appearance. For the country to the northward is
covered with wood, though generally thinly scattered, but here the barren
mountains come ranging out of the inland to the sea; and from their
colour and nakedness, have the appearance of being covered with snow: it
is but in patches that vegetation is seen from them.

Judging from appearances, the west coast of Van Diemens Land is as
dreary, and as inhospitable a shore, as has yet been discovered; and the
great swell sufficiently announces, that the consequence of coming near
it, between the latitudes of 41 and 43, with a south-westerly gale, and
a dull-sailing vessel, would be to be wrecked upon it.

A point of land on the southern part of this coast, which has two
roundish peaked rocks upon its extremity, is named Point Saint Vincent,
by governor Hunter. Its latitude is 43 16' south. Its longitude may
probably be a few miles to the westward of what it is laid down in the
chart, which is 145 58' east. It is not improbable, but that there may
be an opening round this point; for the mountains appeared to open back
sufficiently for one, and we found a set of above twelve miles to the
southward, during a night of nine hours, when lying becalmed to the
south-westward of the point.

The latitude of the South-west Cape, by a meridional altitude of the sun,
measured from the south, was 43 29'; but as captain Furneaux places it
in 43 39', and captain Cook in 43 37', I conjecture, that from haste to
get the noon bearings before the sloops position was materially altered,
a mistake of 10' must have been made in reading off from the sextant; the
South-west Cape is, therefore, placed in 43 39' in the chart. Its
longitude there is 146 10' east, according to the lunar observations
taken in Port Dalrymple, and the corrected dead reckoning from thence.

The South-west Cape projects about a mile from the high land at its back,
as a steep, narrow, point. When made from the westward, it appears to be
jagged; but when seen from the eastward, it is supposed to bear some
resemblance to Rame Head, near Plymouth.

The want of ports on the west coast, and the bleak winds which seem
generally to beat upon it, appear to have prevented the human race from
inhabiting it, in the numbers that they do the other shores of Van
Diemen's Land. We saw but one certain mark of its being inhabited along
the whole coast, which was near Rocky Point.

The projecting points of the south coast of Van Diemen's Land, are of the
same character with the neighbouring parts of the western coast. They are
very high, steep, and barren. The westernmost of these consist of a
whitish stone, supposed to be quartz; whence it is, that they appear to a
stranger, when at some distance, to be covered with snow. The projections
near Storm-Bay Passage have a dark, basaltic appearance.

Every navigator who has hitherto passed along this coast, as far as my
knowledge extends, has kept without the Mewstone; and they have usually
supposed, that there are several openings between the South-west and
South Capes, where good shelter might be expected; but the spaces between
the intermediate high heads are only shallow bays, which are open to
southerly winds; so that there seems to be no inducement for a ship to
pass within De Witt's Isles.

The De Witt's Isles are moderately high, and are mostly fronted with
black-looking steep shores; but, except those that are mere rocks, have
some vegetation upon them. In passing within them, we looked out under
the expectation of seeing seals; but neither in the water, or on shore,
was one seen. Men either reside upon, or visit these isles from the main;
for the vegetation upon two of them had been lately burnt.

The South-west and South Capes lie nearly east and west, by compass, and
are eleven leagues asunder, by the log; but it is to be observed, that
what is here called the south cape, is not what is so termed by captain
Cook. If we may judge by its relative situation to his Peaked Hill and
the Eddystone, it is the next head to the eastward that is called the
South Cape by him; but this head opened round the South Cape at
east-by-north, the variation being 8 easterly.

The rocks lying off Tasman's Head, called the Friars, consist of three
steep, rocky islets, that have some vegetation upon them; and two black
rocks. They are frequented by many gannets; and people also seem to have
visited the nearest islet, for it had the burnt appearance that was seen
upon two of De Witt's Isles.

From Tasman's Head to Fluted Cape, the course is north-by-east, about ten
miles; and from thence to Cape Frederick Henry, N. 6 or 8 E., about the
same distance. These capes are all more or less basaltic; and in that
part of the south-east coast, which has hitherto been termed Maria's
Islands, we find not only the capes, but the coast between them, to be of
the same substance. The cliffs of Cape Pillar, Cape Basaltes, and of the
island lying off the former, are surmounted by numberless columns;
sometimes single, and sometimes clinging together, like the stacks of

The two capes lie nearly true east and west from each other, and are
distance ten or eleven miles. Of the bight between them, I cannot say,
whether it affords shelter or not.

Round Cape Pillar, the coast opens at true north; and presents the same
bold, steep shore, that fronts the southeast coast.

The island, in which Oyster Bay is situated, appeared to be two islands,
of moderate height. The north-east point, which is the Mistaken Cape of
Mr. Cox, is steep, and is indented like a cock's comb. The islet which is
marked in the chart as lying off it, was not seen.

* * *

It does not seem to be well determined which is the Frederick Henry or
Hendrick's Bay of Tasman. In the chart, I affix that name to the space
which lies to the northward of, and between Cape Frederick Henry and Cape
Basaltes; and I have extended it to those large pieces of water, on each
side of Green Head, calling them the upper bay.*

[* It appears that this upper bay had been previously visited by the
French admiral D'Entrecasteaux.]

The observations, for ascertaining the latitude of the upper and lower
bays, were two in each. In longitude, they are placed according to the
situation of Penguin Island, ascertained by captain Bligh, in 1788.

In entering this bay, there are no dangers to be feared that are not
sufficiently conspicuous.

Around Betsey's Island, the sea-weed grows up to the surface of the
water; but in passing between the island and the two flat rocks that lie
to the northward of it, there is from five to nine fathoms amongst the

Besides various anchorages in different parts of Frederick Henry Bay, the
eastern part of the upper bay contains more than eight square miles of
anchorage, upon a bottom of mud and sand, in from six to nine fathoms
water: this part of the bay only is, therefore, capable of affording
shelter to a large fleet.

The opening left at the back of Woody Island, had the appearance of being
either the mouth of a river, or a passage going out to the sea.
Circumstances did not permit us to ascertain this important point. The
western part of the upper bay must also be looked upon as unexplored: it
may probably have a stream falling into its north-west corner. The shore
here is low and sandy; but from thence eastward, rocky heads and
alternate sandy beaches become the northern boundary of the upper bay.
The southern shores of the eastern bay are mostly rocky, but not high.

The sides of the entrance, from the lower to the upper bay, are generally
steep, rocky, and moderately high; but these rocky shores are divided
into distinct heads or points, by intermediate sandy beaches: that is
more frequently the ease on the west side of the entrance.

No run of tide was observed in Frederick Henry Bay; but there is some
rise and fall, perhaps two or three feet.

* * *

The wood does not appear to be much calculated for other uses to a ship
than fire wood. It can be procured in every part of the bay.

A small stream of fresh water runs over the rocks, into the arm near Gull
Island; but the shallowness of the arm towards its head, makes it
difficult of access. This is the only fresh water, for ships, that was
seen in Frederick Henry Bay: but the heads of the greater number of the
coves remain yet to be examined.

The country on the eastern side of the bay, is stony; and, wherever we
landed, is wretchedly barren. The islands have a better appearance.
Smooth Island, contains about one hundred acres of ground, that might
answer for a garden: its soil is shallow and sandy. Sloping Island has a
pretty appearance. Betsey's Island is really a fine spot; although so
high and steep, that it is scarcely accessible, except at the north end.
Its top is well covered with timber, and fine grass; and it seems to have
a moderate depth of excellent soil. The length of this island is about
one mile, and the view from its high land is extensive.*

[* Some account of the inhabitants &c, is included in that of the Derwent

The River Derwent appears to have been the discovery of Mr. Hayes,
commander of the ship Duke, about 1793. With the exception of Herdsman's
Cove, the names that are applied in this river and its immediate
neighbourhood, where taken from his chart; but in such parts as the sloop
visited, it was found necessary to make some alterations in the terms:
coves having been called ports and bays, and creeks, rivers. The river
itself, is denominated Fletcher Hayes's Gulph, in the lower part, and
Derwent towards its head; but, as it is certainly nothing more than a
common river, I have dropped the name of gulph, and affixed Der-went
River as the name of the whole.

Herdsman's Cove being unnoticed in Mr. Hayes's chart, has received a name
descriptive of the country that surrounds it; and it is the only name
given by me in this part of Van Diemen's Land: save those in the upper
part of Frederick Henry Bay, and Cape Basaltes, which are also

Three observations were taken for the latitude in different parts of this
river. Mount Direction is in 42 48' south. The mean variation of the
azimuth compass and theodolite, observed on the south side of Risdon
Cove, in December, 1798, was 8 52' east.

The Derwent being almost as free from any, but very: apparent, dangers,
as Frederick Henry Bay, it is thought unnecessary to engrave the
particular chart of these parts: the original plan is upon a scale of
half an inch to a mile.

The entrance of this river, is in depth ten or twelve fathoms, and in
width, two miles and a half; but a small part of this space is occupied
by some rocks, that lie off the point on the east side of the entrance.

When the river is entered, Shoal Point seems to be the only place of
danger. It is necessary to give it a wide berth, by keeping close over to
the echoing cliffs on the opposite side. The width of the river is here
contracted to half a mile.

In sailing up thus far, Mount Direction will be a very conspicuous object
a-head: a gap at its top, divides it into two roundish heads. Below this
mount, is Risdon Cove, which is the highest part to which a ship can
safely go. We could scarcely find so much as two fathoms water abreast of
Mount Direction; but when round the point, there is a channel by the
starboard shore, with not less than four fathoms in it. Below the next
point, on the same side, are some dry mud-bands; and except striking into
the mid-channel to pass these, the deep water continues on the same side
past Herdsman's Cove. The channel than becomes exceedingly narrow, in
proportion to the width of the river; and keeps closer to the starboard
shore, until the south-south-west reach opens: it then rounds over to the
opposite side. The depth of water is from two to three fathoms above
Herdsman's Cove, and continues to be so as far up as our examination

No vessel that draws more than nine feet water should attempt to get
above Risdon Cove. It is for the use of smaller vessels, and of ships
long boats, that the channels so high up are spoken of. A long boat may
also get up the creek that falls into the north corner of Herdsman's
Cove. The greater part of this cove is a dray mud-bank at low water; but
there is a narrow channel, leading round by the starboard shore into the
creek, in which there is nine feet water.

A ship may lie in Risdon Cove, out of the stream of the river, in from
six to three fathoms, muddy bottom; and from thence downwards to Relph's
Bay, both sides of the river afford anchorage in various depths of water,
between three and twelve fathoms, on the same ground.

Relph's Bay appears to be a very spacious harbour, but I cannot speak of
the depth of water in it.

Pruen Cove, in the northern part of Storm-Bay Passage, affords complete
shelter from winds at north-east, and round by the west to south-west;
but at south, there would be a considerable sea thrown into it, and an
easterly wind would make a short disagreeable swell. The water shoals
very suddenly in the head of this cove.

The water moves so slowly in the lower parts of the Derwent, that a good
sailing vessel need pay no attention to the tides. We sometimes found the
water draining down for twelve hours and more together, and at other
times, as long upwards; whilst the rise and fall by the shore, were at
the usual intervals. _A counter current at the bottom appeared to be the
cause of this irregularity_. From Shoal Point upwards, the tides seemed
to run true, and to have some little strength, perhaps half a mile per

I reckoned the time of high water to _precede the moon's passage over the
meridian on any day, about four hours_; which is more than an hour later
than in Adventure Bay.* The rise is between four and five feet in Risdon

[* See captain Cook's third voyage, and lieutenant Bligh's narrative of
the Bounty's voyage to Otaheite.]

Every part of the shores of this river will afford wood for the fire, in
abundance; but fresh water is not so easily procured by shipping. The
river itself is fresh in that part where it takes a south-south-westerly
course; but the larger classes of vessels can only get at it by boats,
from Risdon Cove. A fresh stream falls into the creek, which is in the
north corner of Herdsman's Cove; but the large stones at the head of the
creek, will much impede boats in filling their casks; and the high banks,
by increasing the power and altering the direction of the wind, will make
rafting very tedious.

Risdon Cove was our watering place. The hogsheads were rafted into the
creek at high water, filled at the following low water time, and towed
out as soon as they floated. The late rain had made the water somewhat
muddy; but it was otherwise very good.

The head of the cove, called Slainforth's Bay, by Mr. Hayes, was not

Some rills of excellent water come winding through a rich valley, at the
back of Pruen Cove; and uniting, fall into the head of the cove; but the
shoals, which dry at low water, are a hindrance to watering a ship at
this place. It is probable, however, that Mr. Hayes, or perhaps admiral D
'Entrecasteaux, watered here; for there was a tree lying near the run,
which had been cut, both by a saw and an axe; and they would not have
pitched upon this as a wooding place only, when there were twenty others
about the cove more convenient for the purpose.

From appearances it seems, that the south-east part of Van Diemen's Land
is tolerably well inhabited. Once only, in the upper part of the river,
were we able to over-' come their efforts to avoid us. Two women ran off
screaming, but a man staid to receive Mr. Bass and myself; and accepted a
swan that was presented to him, with great joy. He carried two small
spears in his hand, but seemed to be devoid of fear. Our fire-arms were
neither objects of curiosity or alarm; and the only part of our dress
that attracted his attention, were the red handkerchiefs about our necks.
He was a short, slight made man, of the middle age. His countenance was
more expressive of benignity and intelligence, than of ferocity or
stupidity. His features were less negro-like than is usual in New South
Wales; and his hair was either cut or burnt very close. He understood
none of the dialects spoken in the neighbourhood Port-Jackson, or the
common words of the Otaheitean language.

The natives of Frederick Henry Bay, have some mode of conveyance by
water; for they had visited Betsey's Island, the Isle of Caves, Smooth
Island, and Gull Island; and, perhaps, the others. It has been a received
opinion, that the inhabitants of this part of Van Diemen's Land have no
canoes; and, had our observations been confined to the Derwent River, we
should have joined in that opinion.

A few of the grey, and of the smaller red kanguroos, were seen here.

The flocks of swans, in the Derwent, will be the best dependance for
fresh provisions, to those vessels that shall visit it early. In
December, and perhaps at all times, from one-tenth to one-third of these
swans are without their wing feathers; and may be taken by a handy whale
boat, whose only weapon need be a boat hook. By swimming and flapping
along the water, and by their craftiness in gaining the wind, after being
once chased, the swans would sometimes tire our little two-oared boat: a
few shot then generally ended the pursuit.

The long grass that grows upon the shoals of mud, furnishes the swans
with food; and where this food is most plentiful, there they are most
numerous. We did not meet with one in Frederick Henry Bay; but in the
northern part of Storm-Bay Passage, and in the lower parts of the
Derwent, there were a few straggling birds. It is in the shoal part of
the river, from Risdon Cove upwards, where they are found in hundreds.
These swans are black, the wing feathers excepted.

Ducks, black shags, gannets, red-bills, and pelicans, were occasionally
seen; principally in the shoal lagoon, at the back of Relph's Bay.

The only trial that we here made to catch fish, was in the lower part of
the Derwent; and was not without success. Fish are known to very
plentiful in Adventure Bay.

Venomous snakes are found here, which so much resemble burnt sticks, that
it requires a close inspection to detect them. One was taken alive, but
died soon afterwards; apparently in consequence of his own bite.

The banks of the Derwent are not remarkable for their height; but on the
east side, the hills rise suddenly from the water, whilst the west side
ascends gradually up to a large body of mountain; the summit of which is
four or five miles inland. This mountain is the parent of all the streams
that fall into the river on that side; and is sufficiently high to be
seen over the land in almost all parts of Frederick Henry Bay. Mr. Bass
found it covered with large timber, to its very top. In the fresh part of
the river, the hills rise rather suddenly from the water-side; and the
country seems to be hilly, if not mountainous.

The borders of the river are, in general, much better calculated for
pasturage than for agriculture. They are covered with grass, equally
dispersed over a good, but sometimes shallow, soil. The hills descend
with so gradual a slope, that they usually leave a considerable extent of
valley; and the depth and goodness of the soil, in many of these vallies,
seem very fit for the plough.

The stream that falls into Risdon Cove, runs out of an extensive valley,
that in the disposition of the ground, exceeds in beauty every other that
was met with. Round Herdsman's Cove, the country is unusually thin of
timber, and finely rounded into grassy hills. Upon the tops of these
hills, as upon most others, it is usually stony; but in some of the
values, the soil is capable of a profitable cultivation.

The remarkably formed peninsula, that surrounds Relph's Bay, is tolerably
good ground; and about the Shoal Lagoon, there is some of a superior
depth of soil. Was a settlement to be formed in this neighbourhood,
Relph's Bay would deserve particular attention.

The stone about the Derwent is sometimes basaltic, and often contains
iron. From its great weight, it is well calculated for ballast; and in
many places, as in Risdon Cove, may be conveniently taken into a boat.


This cluster is named after His Excellency the governor of New South
Wales. In latitude, the isles are placed according to four meridional
observations of the sun, taken in sight of some of them; and in
longitude, according to the dead reckoning form Port Dalrymple, corrected
by the bearings along the coast.

Albatross Isle is in latitude 40 25' south. Its longitude, by the above
authority, is 145 4' east. No observations were taken to find the
variation of the compass; but in constructing the chart, 8 east were

These isles are in general high; and the south westernmost of them are
surrounded by steep, forbiding cliffs.

Black Rock is a small conic-formed islet, and may be seen more than five
leagues in fine weather.

Albatross Isle is visible at the distance of six leagues. The heavy
south-west swell, which breaks upon the steep shores of this rocky islet,
will seldom allow it to be landed upon, and then only at the
north-eastern end.

The long spit of land between Albatross and Three-hummock Islands, I
judge to be an island also, distinct from the north-west end of Van
Diemen's Land; but this is a matter of some uncertainty. The west side of
this land is low, and there are some beaches upon it. The north point is
low, but rocky. On the east side of this supposed island, the land seems
to rise as it proceeds to the southward, and the shore to become steep.
The internal parts of it are sparingly covered with a kind of
half-starved vegetation.

The three hummocks, on the island which they give name to, lie in the
direction of s. 20 w. by compass, nearly in a line. The southernmost of
them, which is the largest, is sloped somewhat like a sugar loaf; and may
be seen more than seven leagues from almost every direction. Off the east
side of this island, there is anchorage on a sandy bottom, and shelter
from westerly winds. Judging by appearances from the anchorage, the
ascent up to the hummocks is covered with an impenetrable brush; over
which the heads of a few stinted gum trees are seen.

The islands, whose situation is nearest to the northwest part of Van
Diemen's Land, as well as the north-west part itself, must be considered
as yet unexplored; and it is necessary to observe, that the relative
positions of those islands that are more distinctly marked in the chart,
may not be correct to one, two or perhaps three miles; for between the
nouns of the 9th and 10th of December, a long swell, and strong winds and
tides, made a considerable disagreement amongst our angles and bases;
which disagreement will, more or less, affect the whole of the lands in
the neighbourhood of this part of the track.

Upon Three-hummock Island, there were certain marks of its having been
frequented by men; but it is probable, that none of Hunter's Isles have
stationary inhabitants.

The tides run very strong amongst these islands. The flood comes from the
south-westward. It appears to be high water about one hour before the
moon passes over the meridian, and the rise of the tide seems not to be
less than eight feet.

Although not a seal was found upon the east side of Three-hummock Island,
yet several were seen in the water near it; and some of a reddish bad
fur, were knocked down upon Albatross Island.

Sea birds are numerous amongst Hunter's Isles. There were vast numbers of
albatrosses on that isles to which their name is given, which were
tending their young in the beginning of December; and being unacquainted
with the power or disposition of man, did not fear him: we taught them
their first lesson of experience.

Out of the great, and almost unknown, bight, between Three-hummock Island
and Circular Head, such an immense number of gannets, and Mount-Pitt
birds* issued, that there must be one or more islands there, which are
much frequented by them. They came from the southward at day-light in the
morning, and took their way, round the islands, to the westward.

[* A sooty-coloured petterel, of the size of a pigeon. They are commonly
called sheerwaters at sea.]


The north coast of Van Diemen's Land puts on a very different aspect from
that of the west or south coasts. The long swell from the southern Indian
Ocean, which strikes over to the coast of New South Wales from Hunter's
Isles, leaves this side of Bass' Strait in smooth water. From this cause,
and from the most prevailing winds being off the land, the north coast
has more the appearance of being the shore of a harbour, than of one that
is exposed to the sea.

Circular Head is steep, resembling a round twelfth cake in form, and is
high enough to be seen more than eight leagues. The cape, to which it is
connected by a low isthmus, and of which it forms the easternmost part,
is smooth, sloping, and rather low.

The bight between Circular Head and the next projection eastward, is
almost entirely a sandy beach; and there are also sandy beaches half way
from the rocky projection towards Table Cape; but the shore then becomes
rocky and more steep. Both Circular Head and Table Cape, and also the
rocky cape between them, make like islands when first seen from the
eastward. The Table Cape preserves its flat appearance in every direction
from the sea. Its cliffs are steep; and it is high enough to be seen at
the distance of twelve leagues.

Taking that space of coast between Table Cape and Port Dalrymple, we find
a good deal of sandy beach upon it; and although the land is very
mountainous at the back, yet the shores do not appear to be steep, in
general. There is a round hill close down to the water, five leagues to
the eastward of Table Cape; and a few miles beyond this hill, there is a
range of mountains coming from the south-westward, which break off
abruptly at the water side, and form a bluff head; but do not project
beyond the line of the coast.

From hence eastward, we are not so well acquainted with the nature of the
shore; and it is not impossible, but that there may be a small opening in
the bight which lies about five miles west of Port Dalrymple: the small
projecting point in that bight is low, and made like an island.

On each side of Port Dalrymple, ranges of hills from the mountains
inland, approach near to the sea; but from thence eastward, the coast may
be called low; and is, with few exceptions, a sandy beach which continues
round Cape Portland, and as far beyond it as I have seen the coast. The
principal exception, is a stony head lying ten miles to the
north-eastward of Port Dalrympe. This head is not remarkable for height;
but it will easily be known by its being the only stony projection in the
neighbourhood, and from having a small rocky islet lying two-and-half
miles off it, north-west-by-west, by compass.

The great similarity that one island or piece of land, has to some other
in its neighbourhood, is often remarked; and this is exemplified in the
likeness between Isle Waterhouse and the islet that lies three or four
miles to the westward of it. They are both moderately high, and level at
the top. The shores of the islet are rocky; but the inner point of Isle
Waterhouse is sandy, and seems to run off shoal. We passed between this
isle and the main, our shallowest soundings being four fathoms, and the
bottom sandy; but I would not recommend it to any ship to follow our
example, unless from necessity. I think it still less safe for a ship to
attempt passing between Cape Portland and the isles that lie off it. The
northernmost of these isles is divided into two parts, nearly equal in
size, whence it may be called double isle. From this double isle, and the
sands near it, there appeared to be shoal water connecting them with the
Swan Isles. The rippling water, which is marked in the chart as a curving
line from the double isle, is about two cables lengths broad. Upon that
part of the ripple over which we passed, there was nine fathoms; and the
water appeared to be as much agitated there as in other parts.

The latitude of the largest Swan Isle is 40 43' south, and its
longitude, reduced back from the observations in Port Dalrymple, 148 13'
east. On the south side of this isle, there are two small sandy bays. Our
anchorage in the eastern bay, was a short quarter of a mile from the
shore, in four fathoms: the points of the island bearing, by compass, N
66. E. and s. 22. w.; and the easternmost part of Van Diemen's Land s.
49. E.; the bay is, therefore, open to easterly winds.

On this part of the north coast the tides run strong; and on the west
side of Cape Portland, the ebb takes so northerly a direction, that we
expected to have found a considerable opening in the bight; but from Isle
Water-' house, where the flood comes from the eastward, to Circular Head
where it appears to come from the west, there seems to be very little
tide running. A line drawn from Isle Waterhouse to the head, will
probably be a boundary, to the southward of which, no tide will be
perceptible on this coast.

In speaking of the more interior part of the north coast of Van Diemen's
Land, it will be convenient to divide it into three portions. That part
of the country from' Table Cape westward, has almost as sterile an aspect
as the west coast, or as Hunter's Isles. It is for the most part rocky,
and is in many places bare rock. This was the appearance of the country
from the sea.

In height, this part of the coast rises as it proceeds to the eastward.
It may be called a low and level country in its western parts; but, as
before observed, is high enough at Table Cape to be visible more than
twelve leagues.

The second portion of the coast, from Table Cape to Port Dalrymple, is
mountainous inland; but almost everywhere has a fertile appearance, being
well covered with timber down to the water side.

About four, or perhaps more, leagues inland, there is a remarkable hill,
which opens round Table Cape at S. 16 E. by compass, as a sharp-pointed
sugar loaf; but when it bears to the westward of south, it becomes
flat-topped. From the shape and height of this peak, it might be thought
to have once been a volcano.

Stretching from hence, round the head of Port Dalrymple, the inland
presents nothing but mountains; the back ridges topping over those that
are nearer to the sea. The head which forms the west side of the entrance
into the port, is of considerable height; and the ridge of back
mountains, which it partly hides, is of great singularity. This ridge is
formed into peaks, hummocks, and knobs, of uncouth shape, in its more
western parts; and loses itself behind the head in a kind of table land.
These peaks and knobs are generally bare of vegetation, and from the
brilliancy with which they reflected the sun's rays, on his appearance
after rain, I judged them to consist of quartz, like the mountains of
Furneaux's Islands.

The same kind of mountains are seen reaching to the eastward, from the
upper part of Port Dalrymple; and they also extend so far to the
northward, as to be visible from Cape Portland.

In the third portion of the north coast, from Port Dalrymple, eastward,
the hills form a gradual descent from the inland mountains towards the
low land near the sea coast. These descending hills are well covered with
wood; and though the soil seems to be sandy, yet it appeared to be above
mediocrity. There are are also some grassy tracts of open ground, that
are prettily varied by clumps of wood and large single trees standing
here and there: these open tracts were principally seen on the east side
of Cape Portland.

There is usually a space of from one to five miles, between the feet of
these green hills and the sea; which space, in the whole of this portion
of the coast, seems to partake of the same sandy nature as the shore.
Some hillocks on the pitch of Cape Portland, and on the projection
opposite to Isle Waterhouse, are exceptions to its being universally low

The smokes which ascended from various part of this coast, gave us to
understand that it was inhabited. These smokes were most numerous between
Port Dalrymple and Isle Waterhouse.

Several overgrown hair seals and some flocks of birds, which were sitting
upon the rocky islet that lies between Isle Waterhouse and the main,
were an indication, that men do not often, if ever, visit the islet; and
consequently, not the more distant isle. On the largest Swan Isle, we
found no marks of men; but there were wild geese, penguins, and
Mount-Pitt birds, upon it; and according to the information of a man who
had crossed over from the wreck at Preservation Island, it abounds with
swans at sometimes. Upon this man's authority, I called this small
cluster the Swan Isles, in February 1798; but on visiting it in the
November following, we found no indications of its deserving so
respectable a name.

On passing the rocky islet, which lies two-and-half miles from the stony
head near Port Dalrymple, a few seals were seen sitting on the top of it.

* * *

Port Dalrymple is the only harbour that the north' coast of Van Diemen's
Land is at present known to afford. It was so named by His Excellency
governor Hunter, as a small token of respect to Alexander Dalrymple Esq.

Low Head is a projection of sloping land on the east side of the entrance
into the port; its latitude by six observations taken near it, is 41 3'

The observations for ascertaining its longitude were taken with
Troughton's sextant, No. 251, of nine inches' radius, and with a five
inch sextant made by Adams. They were taken in different parts of the
port; and when reduced to Low Head by the survey, will be as follows:

Two sets of * Aldebaran }east of the moon 146 35' 6" E. do. 146 5' 36" E
and two of the sun,     }
Two sets of * Altair and}west of the moon 147  39 35     do. 147 36  28
two of the sun . . .    }
                                          ------------       -------------
Longitude                                 147   7 20 E.      147 14  32 E.
                                                             147  7  20
                                          Mean longitude     147 10  56 E.

The variation of our azimuth compass,} in November, 1798         7 33' E.
by four sets of observations, was    }
By one set for a Troughton's theodolite, it was                  8  30
                                                  Mean variation 8   1 E.

The entrance of this port is by no means conspicuous; and it is difficult
to find good marks whereby it may be found. It has been observed, that
ridges or chains of hills from the mountains inland, approach nearer to
the sea on each side of Port Dalrymple, than they usually do in its
neighbourhood. When the entrance bears to the southeast, that chain which
comes to the back of Low Head appears as a cluster of irregular hills,
with the blue tops of the higher mountains peeping over them; and the
ridge which comes down to the sea on the west side of the port, puts on
nearly the same appearance. Again, the stony head which has been
mentioned as having a small rocky islet lying two-and-half miles to the
north-west-by-west, is the only projection on the east side of the port
that is not sandy; and on the west side, is the very singular range of
mountains, before mentioned, which is formed into uncouth shapes and
peaks. These marks, taken together, are the best that I can give for
knowing the entrance of the port by, in addition to its latitude and
longitude, and the trending of the coast on each side of it, as laid down
in the chart.

It will sufficiently appear by the chart, that this port is difficult of
access. In addition to the particular chart, I would observe to a vessel
going in, that the greatest part of the shoals are covered at half tide;
it is therefore by much the best time to enter the port with the first of
the flood, or even a litle before that.

A line drawn from about two cables lengths off Low Head, for the middle
of the harbour, will, with a little deviation, carry a vessel almost up
to Green Island. There are two passages into this fair way. That nearest
to Low Head lies amongst the patches of weed. This weed does not grow up
to the surface of the water, but the patches are sufficiently
distinguishable from the mast head or fore yard; and with a free wind, a
vessel that answered her helm quick might avoid running over them, by
yawing to one side and the other. On coming into this port the last time,
we ran through them before a gale of wind at west-north-west, and saw no
breaking upon any but the outer patch; which, in the chart, is marked as
a rock; I therefore conclude, that there cannot be less than three
fathoms upon them. At a much less distance than two cables lengths from
Low Head, this inner passage may probably be clear of weed: it appeared
to be so when inspecting it from the head.

The outermost shoal from Low Head lies about midway to the opposite
shore. It is, I believe, dry at all times of tide, and is frequented by
shags and other birds. The outer passage into the fair way, is, to run to
within about a quarter of a mile of this shoal, where nine fathoms is
marked, and then to steer for the lagoon beach till arrived in the fair
way; which must be judged of, by having deep water, by having the
entrance fairly open, and by comparing the chart with the land.

Having gained the fair way, the middle of the harbour I' will be
conspicuous; and the Middle Head also, if thee weather is not thick. Keep
a straight course for these, for' one mile and a half, looking out
sharply upon the great shoal upon the starboard hand, from the mast head.
At the same time, it is best to keep to that side withal; and to edge
more to port if the water should shoal to five or six fathoms.

The northernmost of the hills, on the east shore, is also the nearest
hill to the water side. At the top of this hill there is a gap in the
trees; and when this gap bears eastby-north, by compass, a vessel will be
in the worst part of the channel, and abreast of a rock which lies a
quarter of a mile from the larboard shore. This rock is covered before
half tide, and, is not steep to; and it is more particularly dangerous,
as the ebb tide seems to set a good deal upon it. Its place will often be
denoted by a strong rippling in the water, but perhaps not always.

On account of this rock it is principally, that I recommend keeping
rather over towards the shoal on the starboard hand. This shoal being a
mixture of shells, sand, and mud, upon a rocky foundation, will shew
itself to a man at the mast-head in almost all kinds of weather; and if
the vessel comes in before the tide is much risen, the greater part of it
will be dry. Therefore, having passed the dangerous rock, keep inclining
towards the starboard shore, but paying attention to the lead, till you
approach Green Island. This island will at first appear like a point, and
the direct channel into the port will seem to be on the starboard or west
side of it; but with the knowledge that the channel winds round on the
east side of the island, it will be sufficiently conspicuous.

The principal thing to be attended to, when passing round Green Island,
is to look out for the Middle Rock. This rock is covered at half tide,
like most of the others. It lies at equal distances from Green Island,
and from the two points of Outer Cove; and is, consequently, right in the
middle of the channel. The water is deep to within twenty yards of the
rock, and the passage is clear on either side of it; but if the rock
should be covered, the safest way is to keep the island close on board.
This is more particularly necessary on the ebb tide, as it sets over the
rock on the first half of the ebb, and close past it when it becomes

After passing Green Island, there can scarcely be said to be any danger
in getting into the basin; for the points are all steep to, and the Shag
Rock is not covered till the top of high water. A vessel may safely push
in to the westward, between the Shag Rock and the point; taking care that
she borrows near enough to the point, if the flood tide is running; and
that she does not go too near the shoal water in the entrance of the
western arm, before she anchors.

Upon the whole, although the entrance is certainly a dangerous one, I
confidently hope, that by attending to the chart, and the preceding
remarks, and by keeping a vigilant look out, a ship of any size, under
snug sail, may get in safely. On first entering this port in the Norfolk
sloop, we got up as high as Green Island, almost without percieving any
danger; this circumstance, however, has often surprised me.

To run up the river, for I consider it to be a river above Middle Island,
there seems to be no direction necessary, but to consult the chart,
particularly about Brush Island. After passing the Norfolk's uppermost
anchorage, a boat or two should be kept a-head of the ship.

The tides run so strong in Port Dalrymple, that a vessel will hardly get
in or out against them; but by their assistance, may get against any
wind; if she can carry sail. In the sea reach more particularly, that is,
from Green Island downwards, the tides occasion strong ripplings and
whirlpools. Upon many of these we have found deep water; but it must by
no means be inferred, that a vessel need be under no apprehension of
them. The names Point Round-a-bout, Point Rapid, and Whirlpool Reach, are
descriptive of the effect of the tides in the neighbourhood of these

I calculate the time of high water in Port Dalrymple, to be about a
quarter of an hour before the moon passes over the meridian on any day;
and the rise of the tide to be from six to eight feet. The ebb runs out
near seven hours.

Outer Cove will afford anchorage for at least one vessel, on a sandy
bottom. Ships that have good boats, may lie in any part of the basin
where there is deep water; but for small craft, the anchorage on the west
side of Shag Rock is well calculated. A vessel of even fifty tons should
not attempt to go up the Western Arm without a previous examination by
boats; and a ship that attempts the passage towards the Middle Arm,
without following the same step, would probably find some difficulty in
hitting the channel; although the line of direction in the chart, from
the south head of Deceitful Cove to Inspection Head, should be found

Above Green Island, the bottom is universally muddy.

Fire wood can be had in every part of Port Dalrymple, in as great plenty,
and as conveniently, as can be wished. Our hasty examination did not
bring us to the knowledge of any timber well fitted for better uses: the
growing trees are very heavy, and full of gummy sap.

Although the country appears to be well stored with fresh-water for all
the domestic purposes that inhabitants might require, yet it is but
indifferently supplied for the convenience of shipping, in the lower
parts of the port. The fresh-water lagoon, at the back of the beach near
Low Head, is the most convenient place we met with; but the water was
inferior to some that was procured in a shoal cove on the eastern shore,
two or three miles above Middle Island. In this latter place, hogsheads
could only be rafted off at high water; and our time and strength being
ill adapted to such a mode of proceeding, we preferred the standing water
of the lagoon.

For a vessel that wanted much water, or to refit, I should think it most
advisable to run up into the freshwater river at once. It was almost
drinkable at low water, at the Norfolk's uppermost anchorage; from whence
we concluded, that if circumstances had permitted us to have gone have
five or six miles further up, the water would have proved fresh.

If we may form any judgment from the traces of inhabitants that were
found upon its shores, Port Dalrymple is peopled in almost the same
proportion as the ports of New South Wales. Seven or eight huts were
sometimes found standing together, like a little encampment; but the
owners of them were always absent. Some natives once made fires abreast
of where the sloop was lying; but as soon as the boat came near the
shore, they ran off into the woods; and this was the nearest
communication that their shyness would permit.

Concurring circumstances seem to point out, that the men of this place
have no canoes. Middle Island excepted, the isles in this port have no
appearance of having been visited; and no tree was ever met with in the
woods, whose bark had been taken off so as to be fit for making a canoe.
The sum of our observations upon these people, and their mode of
existing, was, that they have less ingenuity, and are more destitute of
comforts and conveniences, than even the inhabitants of New South Wales.

Kanguroos are tolerably numerous in the neighbourhood of Port Darlymple,
and according to Mr. Bass's opinion, they are larger than those found
near Port Jackson. The kanguroo is only to be procured by hunting with
stout greyhounds, or by shooting.

Marks of the emu, or cassuary, were met with, but the bird itself was not

The swans that inhabit this port, will be a source of food to its
visitors for some time. Similar to those in the Derwent, a considerable
portion of these swans were without the wing feathers. In the short
intervals of time that our little two-oared boat could be spared from
more important employment, we caught thirty-five; and as one swan will
serve three or four people for a day, they constituted the greatest part
of our food. The Middle and Western Arms, and the heads of the coves up
the river, are frequented by the swans; but they were most numerous in
'the shoal bight above Swan Point, three hundred of them having been
counted swimming there, in the space of a quarter of a mile square. They
will probably be found to be more numerous in the fresh water.

Owing to the ease and certainty with which we supplied ourselves with
fresh food by swan hunting, we did not follow after the large flocks of
ducks that where met with in different parts of the port; these birds are
shy, even here.

The small, white-bellied, shag, and the larger black one, inhabit here.
Pelicans, and the black, and pied red-bills, are also found. Green Island
is a breeding place for gulls; and eggs were also found upon Egg Island.
Crows, and parrots of dull plumage, are met with in the woods.

Of the fish, I can only say, that our wants and leisure, whilst in this
port, were never sufficient to induce a trial to catch any.

Muscles are numerous upon the rocks that are overflowed by the tide; and
the natives appear to get oysters by diving; the shells being found in
many places.

Amongst other reptiles, are poisonous snakes, and some brown iguanas.

The Islands in Port Dalrymple would be found very convenient to a vessel
for landing sheep upon, or other live stock, during her stay. Green
Island is secure, but the grass upon it is neither very good or abundant.
Middle Island is a beautiful place, containing about forty acres of good
pasturage; but the natives sometimes cross over to it: at low water. Was
a ship to lie at anchor near it, or were' two men to be left on shore
with the stock, it is probable, that the natives would not come near it.
Egg Island is very small, but it is secure; and the grass upon it good.

This port is situated between two ridges of mountains; which, from the
sea coast, stretch inland to the east-southeast, with an increasing
elevation; and approaching nearer to each other, seem to unite in a
point; which point is, probably, the source of the river. The high peaks
which skew themselves above the ridges of mountains, from the uppermost
part of the river now visited, may perhaps be this point; and if so, the
river is marked in the chart to but one half of its real extent: this is
corroborated by the strength of tide and depth of water at the uppermost

Hills strike off in various directions from the ridges of mountains that
bound the river on each side; in some places, permitting its banks to
open out to a considerable extent, and in other parts, contracting it to
a small channel. The river is in one place nearly two-and-half miles, and
in another a short quarter of a mile in width, and these nearly close

The fertile appearance of the points in sailing up Port Dalrymple, with
which an eye accustomed to the rocky banks of Port Jackson is so much
delighted, is no falacious specimen of the soil in general. A good
covering of herbage, equally dispersed, clothes the rising grounds; and
the wallies are overspread with a stronger grass, which is more
particularly adapted to the bite of large cattle.

The hills are generally found to be stony near their tops; and the steep
banks of the river, as in Whirlpool Reach, are stony also.


The eastern points of these islands were the discovery of captain
Furneaux, of His Majesty's ship Adventure, whose name has been given to

Various observations have been taken for the latitude, upon, and in sight
of, Furneaux's Islands; but they cannot well be reduced to any one
particular place.

According to captain Furneaux, the longitude of Cape Barren is 148 8'
east; but as it is here placed 25' more to the east, it is necessary to
explain the reason for so doing.

Four sets of lunar distances taken in sight of Cape Barren, with Adams's
five-inch sextant, place the cape as follows.

Two sets of the sun east of the moon gives its longitude 148 48' 14" E.
Ditto           sun west of the moon                     147  51  29
                                                    Mean 148  19  51  E.
The beginning and end of a lunar eclipse, observed
at the east end of Preservation Island, place it in      148  56  59  E.
Three sets of lunar observations, taken in Kent's Bay,
by Mr. R. Simpson, of the snow Nautilus, give it         148  35  51  E.

The before-given observations in Port Dalrymple, being
reduced by the running survey to the Swan Isles,
from whence the peak of Cape Barren is in sight,
place the cape in                                        148  33  00  E.

On comparing these longitudes together, I determined to place Cape Barren
according to the observations in Port Dalrymple, in which I put most

No good observations have been taken amongst these islands for the
variation of the compass; I consider it to have been 8 east in 1798.

The western sides of Furneaux's Islands usually present a rocky shore to
the prevailing winds and seas, and as far as we know, are tolerably steep
to; but their eastern sides are almost universally a sandy beach, and
shelve off gradually. There are soundings to a considerable distance from
the islands, and perhaps they run across this part of Bass's Strait.
Except some few spots that may be rocky, there seems to be every where a
sandy bottom.

The southernmost of these islands, of which a particular chart is
engraved, are by far the best known amongst this large cluster.
Preservation Island is one of these, and has its name from having saved
the crew of the ship Sidney Cove, in 1797. She was run aground between
this island and Rum Island, and part of the cargo saved. The remains are
scattered about the neighbouring shores; and have been seen as far as
Wilson's Promontory and Port Darymple.

When coming from the westward to Preservation Island, the island is hid
under the higher land of Clarke's Island. Lumps of white rock first
appear upon it, and upon Night Island. The rocks that lie between these
isles must be left on the starboard hand, and the south side of
Preservation Island kept as close on board as the state of the wind may
make prudent. A reef that lies a short quarter of a mile off Rum Island,
will make it necessary not to haul up too close for Hamilton's Road. The
anchorage is off the sandy beach at the east end of Preservation Island,
in from three to five fathoms. This road has hitherto been the place of
rendezvous for all vessels that visit these parts, being exceedingly well
sheltered against the most prevalent winds; and is tolerably secure
against easterly winds, with good ground tackling. The wind at south, or
south-south-east, is the only quarter whence it can do much injury.

Not having sounded all the way between Preservation and Cape-Barren
Islands, I cannot be certain that Hamilton's Road is approachable from
the northward; but I have no doubt that there is a sufficient channel of
eight or more fathoms between these islands.

Cape-Barren Island is, in many parts, high land. The peak, through which
the lines of latitude and longitude pass, in the particular chart, may be
seen ten leagues; and the mountainous ridge that extends from it almost
to the pitch of the cape, is of nearly equal height. A round mountain
which stands on the north-western part of this island seems to be still
higher than the peak.

There are various places between this island and those south of it, where
a vessel might anchor securely when the wind inclined either to the
northward or southward of west; but Dent's Bay seems to be the best
anchorage attached to Cape-Barren Island. To go from Hamilton's Road
towards this bay, no better directions can be given than to keep a good
look out for the shoal water, and to compare the chart with the land as
you proceed. A vessel may pass very near to Battery Isle, in nine
fathoms; and if she has a westerly wind, it will be necessary to haul
close around Sloping Point, and keep in with that shore till abreast of
the rocks, at the back of which is the anchorage. My information upon
this place is from Mr. Simpson; according to whose survey and
surroundings, a ship may be safe here from every wind, and the least
depth, at low water, is four fathoms.

The Passage Islands are low; and at a distance, will be judged to be but
one island. A little sandy bay in the western island, is well adapted for
small vessels to ride in. It is sheltered from all winds, except those
between south-south-east and east-south-east.

Between the Passage Islands there is a sufficient channel for any ship;
and I have no doubt, but that there is a still deeper one between Inner
Rocky Point and the eastern island; although nothing larger than a rowing
boat has yet passed through it.

Upon one of a small cluster of low islands, subordinate to Furneaux's
Islands, is a mountain, conspicuous for being the only considerable
eminence upon them, and remarkable for its uniform roundness. It received
the name of Mount Chappelle, in February 1798, and the name is since
extended to the isles which lie in its immediate neighbourhood. The
passage amongst these isles, through which the track is marked in the the
chart, is safe for any ship with a leading wind; being two miles in
width, and having more than ten fathoms in it.

The water is very light coloured, both amongst these isles and several
miles to the westward of them, the bottom being a white sand.

The largest of Furneaux's Islands seems to be superior in many respects
to those that have been mentioned, but our knowledge of it is very
confined. Mr. Bishop, commander of the snow Nautilus, passed through the
strait between it and Cape-Barren Island, in a boat; and from him we
learn that there are many rocks and isles in it, whose exact situation
and form are not ascertained; but it appears, that there is a safe
passage through the strait, and some well-sheltered anchoring places in

The great body of the large island is high; but neither on the
north-western part or on the east side, does the high land come close to
the water side. Sandy beaches, almost uninterrupted, skirt these parts of
this large island. The west coast is exceedingly high; and overtopped
with peaks and knobs of more varied shape and more bare of vegetation,
than even the interior mountains to the west of Port Dalrymple. It was
our fortune also, to see the effect of the gleaming sunshine amongst
these mountains, after they had been bathed in rain. The spectacle was
magnificent. At the moment, we could not blame the sterility that
produced so beautiful a scene.

The strait that divides this large island from that of Cape-Barren, was
hastily examined by Mr. Bishop, commander of the snow Nautilus. From him
we learn, that there are many rocks and isles in it, whose exact
situation and form are not ascertained; but that it also contains a
navigable passage, and many well-sheltered anchoring places: one of these
anchorages is in a bay on the south end of the large island.

The three-peaked hills on the east side of this island, called the
Patriarchs, are not unlike each other, when seen to the north-west; but
when seem from the northward, they appear as two pyramids; and the island
lying off them makes something like the Lion's Head and Rump, when
sailing into Table Bay.

The largest of the isles that lie off the west side of the large island,
is hummocky, and moderately high: and three principal hills upon it all
slope towards the south. The other patches of land to the north-eastward
of these hummocks are low.

The Sisters were very well named by captain Furneaux, being much alike:
they may be seen eight or ten leagues. When the Francis scooner was
steering to pass between them and the large island, rippling water
suddenly made its appearance under the bows. A strong tide might have
occasioned this, but lest it should not be so, and to caution others, a
reef is marked in the chart.

The tides run strong in the passages amongst the southernmost of these
islands. The flood comes from the eastward, between the Passage Islands
and the Inner Rocky Point, and continues its course along the south side
of Cape-Barren Island. In the deep channel, and particularly off the
projecting points, the tide runs with rapidity.

It is high water here, about an hour before the moon comes to the
meridian. The rise of the tide appears to be from three to six feet.

The tides are represented as running strong, between Cape-Barren and the
large island.

The lower parts of the southernmost islands are very thickly covered with
brush-wood; and in a few places, as in the head of Kent's Bay, there is
small timber amongst it. The south end of the largest island is said to
afford timber of a fair growth; and also a run of fresh water: but the
more southern isles are very ill supplied with this last necessary
article; the runs into the head of Kent's Bay yield it more abundantly
than elsewhere.

Under the high land of Cape-Barren, there are some swamps and lagoons;
but the water which drains into them from above, becomes so tinged in its
way, as not to be drinkable. Some of these look like ponds of blood.

After continued rains, there is a swampy pond of tolerably good water at
the east end of Preservation Island; but a small rill that drains from
the higher land, on the south side of this island, was thought to have a
deleterious quality, from the deaths that happened amongst the Sidney
Cove's crew. Sand, with a mixture of tin and copper, is found on one of
the beaches.

No inhabitants have ever been seen, or any marks of them, upon any of
these islands.

Kanguroos are found upon Preservation, Clarke's, and Cape-Barren Islands,
of the smaller, red kind; and the large grey kanguroos have been seen in
considerable numbers upon the southern part of the largest island.

The new animal, called Womat, by the natives at the back of Port Jackson,
is found in no inconsiderable numbers upon Cape-Barren Island, and
probably inhabits several other of these islands. This animal has the
appearance of a little bear. It eats grass and other vegetable
substances, and its flesh resembles tough mutton. The animal is about the
size of a turnspit dog; but there is not too much meat upon it for three
or four people to eat in a day.

A few straggling swans have been seen about Preservation Island, and the
lagoons of Cape-Barren Island. In the sandy bay at the south end of the
large island, they are represented as being numerous.

A kind of brent goose frequents all the islands that have yet been
visited. About the southern islands they are shy, having been frequently
disturbed; but on the first visit they usually allow themselves to be
knocked down with sticks. These birds are tolerable numerous, and are
excellent food.

The sooty petterel, called Mount-Pitt bird, is amongst these islands in
great numbers. Wherever the tufts of wiry grass are seen, these birds
will usually be found. They burrow in the ground under these tufts, but
the length of a man's arm is sufficient to reach them. The Mount-Pitt
birds, can be taken in any numbers during the summer months, at
Preservation Island, the Passage Isles, and many other places. They come
in from sea in the evening, in numbers that surprise a person
unaccustomed to them.

Where Mount-Pitt birds are found, penguins will generally be met with.
There holes, however, are not in the same places; the penguin chusing
ground to burrow in which is covered with a different vegetation. They
are of a small, blue and white kind, and are very indifferent eating.

Gannets, shags, gulls, and red-bills, are found amongst these islands;
but whilst the swans, geese, and Mount-Pitt birds are in numbers, the
former will not be much molested.

Seals inhabit most of the rock points and isles. They are both of the
hair and fur kind. Some of the latter are of a good fur, but there seems
to be every graduation. The seals were most numerous upon the
south-eastern points of Cape-Barren Island, but they are now mostly

Rock fish are caught at the west end of Preservation Island; but from the
various kind of fresh provisions which these islands produce, few
attempts were made to catch fish.

The stone, of which the base of Furneaux's Islands is composed, appears
to be of a quartzy nature; and it is only in small pieces that any other
kind of stone has been met with.

As far as my particular knowledge of these islands extends, there surface
is bare rock, in part; or sand which is covered with brush wood; or
swamps, in which small trees grow. The brush is very often impenetrable;
sometimes growing to a considerable height, and sometimes creeping a long
the ground: the tall brush-wood is found in the inner and eastern parts
of the islands, and the scrub on the western outskirts: a proof of the
strength and prevalence of westerly winds.

The southern part of Furneaux's largest island is, it seems, of a
different description. Large timber trees are produced there, and the
soil is said to be of sufficient depth and quality to grow corn.

In the remarks of my fellow-traveller, Mr. Bass, upon Cape-Barren Island,
is the following paragraph:

"In point of animated life, nature seems to have acted so oddly with this
and the neighbouring islands, that if their rich stores were thoroughly
ransacked, I doubt not, but the departments of natural history would
be enlarged by more new and valuable specimens, than they ever before
acquired from any land of many times their extent."


This cluster was so named by His Excellency governor Hunter. In latitude,
it is laid down in the chart according to the mean of three observations
taken in sight of it; but there is no other authority for its longitude,
than what a dead-reckoning run to Furneaux's Islands afforded.

The isles that compose this small group, are rocky and barren; and their
shores are in general very steep. They are sufficiently high to be seen
eight or ten leagues distant.

The passage through which the Norfolk's track runs in the chart, is safe
for any ship. Its width is about three quarters of a mile; and on
sounding with seventeen fathoms, no bottom was found.

In sailing through this channel, it is necessary to be careful in
carrying sail, especially with a side wind. Whilst a calm prevails under
the steep cliffs, strong flurries of wind will rush down the gullies that
intersect the high land, and endanger a vessel that is passing them, if
unprepared. The Norfolk sloop was nearly overset, when sailing through,
under these circumstances.

Two small coves in the channel, which have sandy beaches at their head,
afford shelter from all easterly or westerly winds.

A few straggling seals may be killed upon the rocks. The largest of the
islets which lie three leagues to the westward of Kent's Group, is steep,
and tolerable high.

One of the rocks obtained a distinguishing name, from the similitude of
its form to a judgment seat.

An extreme degree of sterility seems to prevail through the whole of this
small cluster of isles; and they seem to be shunned by almost every kind
of animated beings. Some creeping brush-wood grows on different part of
these isles.


Wilson's Promontory, with its neighbouring isles, and the coast from
thence westward, are laid down in the chart from the eye-sketch of Mr. G.
Bass, surgeon of His' Majesty's ship Reliance; and to him it is, that we
are entirely indebted for our knowledge of these parts. I have also to
acknowledge the assistance which this gentleman's observations have
afforded, in various other parts of this memoir, particularly in the
additional remarks.

Between Western Port and Wilson's Promontory, a bold, rocky, shore, and
sandy beaches, seem to have almost equal divisions in the coast. In the
bights, both the shore and the back land are low and sandy; but every
rocky projection is a commencement of a ridge of hills, which extends to
the north-east till it is lost in the country.

One observation, taken at the mouth of Sealers Cove, is the authority by
which Wilson's Promontory is fixed in latitude. Its longitude is
according to the supposed relative position of Kent's Group; the
Promontory having been seen at night, in the Francis schooner, and Kent's
Group in the morning.

The latitude of this promontory being so near to 39, has raised
conjectuers, that it is the land seen by captain Furneaux; but unless the
longitude of the promontory is more erroneous than I take it to be, the
situation of the land, which is nearly true north from the Sisters, will
destroy the possibility of its being Wilson's Promontory. We were two or
three times deceived with the appearance of land, when off this coast;
and possibly, the same circumstance might have happened to captain

Wilson's Promontory is a great body of the same kind of stone, of which
Furneaux's Islands are composed; and it is somewhat remarkable, that this
promontory should be the only part of New South Wales in which this
quartzy substance has been seen. In general, we meet with a softish grit,
or an iron stone.

Although the height of this land is not such as would, by seamen, be
reckoned remarkable; yet it appears strikingly so, by being contrasted
with the low, sandy neck at its back, and other land of the same kind in
its neighbourhood.

About Sealers Cove, the high land appears as if cut in two, when made
from the north-eastward, and the parts to have been moved asunder.

The isles that lie of Wilson's Promontory, are some of them tolerable
high, and some low. The largest of them, which is placed ten miles to the
south-eastward, is of the former class. These isles are laid down by
single bearings and guessed distances; therefore, their relative
situations to the promontory and to each other, may probably be

The northern boundary of Bass's Strait, from Wilson's Promontory,
eastward, is fronted by a sandy beach of immense length. Some rocky
points near the Ram Head, and from thence at intervals to Cape Howe, are
all that break its continuity.

A ridge of hills rise at the distance of twelve or fourteen miles to
northward of Corner Inlet, and curving to the eastward, they continue in
a direction nearly parallel to the shore, but keep gradually
approximately to it, till they join the hils between the Ram Head and
Cape Howe. A considerable part of the low space between the back of the
long beach, and the foot of the hills, is supposed to be occupied by
lagoons. Some of these lagoons may preserve a constant opening into the
sea, and some others may never have any; but the greater number will be
sometimes open and sometimes shut. Lagoons of this last kind are common
upon the east coast of New South Wales.

The flood tide comes from the north-eastward, in the direction of the
long beach; and leaving Corner Inlet, makes a straight course for the
southern part of Wilson's Promontory. It then runs to the west, neither
curving round the promontory, nor yet preserving its original direction,
but taking a course between them.

On the ebb, the east side of the promontory and the long beach also, are
left out of the stream. This tide sets past the promontory to the east,
and appears to preserve the same direction afterwards.

The difference between the times of high water in Sealers Cove and Corner
inlet, is accounted for by the latter being left in an eddy upon both

We are but little acquainted with the inhabitants of this coast. At one
place upon the long beach, some natives came down to the whale boat's
party, with very little hesitation. It appeared by their manner, that
they had never seen white people before; but they behaved in a friendly
manner. Wilson's Promontory does not appear to be inhabited; but upon the
low neck by which it is connected with the main, large smokes were seen,
as well as in various places at the hack of the long beach.

Seals, and most kinds of sea birds, will be found upon the isles that lie
off the promontory, in greater or less numbers; and in the open lagoons,
fish of the ray kind may be taken.

Every information that has let been gained of this A portion of New South
Wales, inclines us to pronounce it a barren coast. To the westward of the
promontory, the high land seems rocky, and the low, sandy; to the
eastward, it is almost universally sandy. The promontory itself, is an
immense lump of rocky, barren, mountain. A few small gum trees, and other
more diminutive vegetation, do, however, often give it a deceitful
appearance of fertility to a distant observer.

* * *

This port received its present name from its relative situation to every
other known harbour on this coast.

The smokes which arose from the north side of the port, prevented any
good observations being taken for its latitude; but it will be found to
be somewhere about 38 35' south. In longitude, it is laid down in the
chart by the whale boat's run from Wilson's Promontory. Its real
situation may probably be 20' of longitude more to the west.

The eastern entrance of this place has so conspicuous an appearance, by
the gap it makes in the land, that it cannot fail to be known by any one
coming from the eastward. The point of the island is a high, and rather
steep cape, resembling a snapper's head. Vessels whose draught of water
was more than nine feet, should not enter by this passage; but after
sounding for themselves, ships of a larger size' might probably go out by
it. The deep channel is winding and narrow; but mostly lies on the island
side. The sea breaks at times upon the large shoal on the opposite side.

In the present imperfectly known state of the port, the western entrance
is the preferable one. A gale of wind form the north-west would not allow
us to examine it; but from an eminence, whence any broken water must have
been visible, at a time that a heavy surf was rolling in upon the shores,
no other breakers could be observed, than those that are marked in the

The general rise of the tide in Western Port is from ten to fourteen
feet. It flows till about half an hour after the moon passes the
meridian. The tides set strong up and down the large arms, and also
through the eastern entrance.

The soundings are frequently irregular, which is perhaps occasioned by
the cross setting of the ebb, out of the two arms into the two outlets,
and from the softness of the muddy bottom. Mud abounds so much, that the
greater part of the points are not approachable, except at high water;
and then it is at the risk of having the boat left till next tide; for
the mud runs out far and flat, and is too soft to bear walking upon.

Fire wood is plentiful upon every part of the main land, but no wood of
any size appears to grow upon the inland.

The whale boat's crew met with great difficulty in finding fresh water;
but there was every appearance of an unusual draught in the country, at
that time. The head of the winding was the only place where it could then
be procured free from a brackish taste. At half-tide, there is water
enough for the largest boat to enter the creek; and within it there is at
all times a sufficient depth.

Only four natives were seen about this port, and that at a distance.
Paths and other marks of them were common, but none very recent. No
canoes, or signs of any, were met with.

A few of the smaller kind of kanguroos were seen.

Swans are seen by hundreds, and ducks of a small, but excellent kind, fly
in thousands. Most kinds of wild fowl abound in this port.

The land round the borders of Western Port is, in general, low and level;
but the hills soon rise, and increasing in height as they recede back,
the country has a pleasant appearance. In the different places that were
examined, the soil was uniformly found to be a light, brown, mould, free
from sand; and in the lowest grounds, a kind of peaty earth. The country
is but thinly timbered; but the grass and fearns grow luxuriantly. The
island must be called barren.

* * *

Sealers Cove, on the east side of Wilson's Promontory, affords room for a
small vessel to swing in, and water enough for any ship to ride in
safety. It is shut from all winds but those from east-south-east to
east-north-east; and it was observed that these throw no great sea into

It is high water here nearly two hours before the moon comes to the
meridian; and the tide rises ten or eleven feet.

There is plenty of fresh water to be got in Sealers Cove, and wood enough
at hand to boil down any quantity of seal's blubber that might be
procured from the islands.

* * *

Round the northernmost part of the high land of Wilson's Promontory, lies
Corner Inlet; so named by Mr. Bass, from its situation.

Its latitude and longitude are upon the same authority as that of the

Off the mouth of the inlet, lies a long breaking shoal. The deepest
channel is between this shoal and the promontory; the shore of the
latter, on the larboard hand, must be kept close on board, right into the
anchoring place. There is no where more than two fathoms, or
two-and-a-half, at low water; except in holes where the tide sets strong.
A vessel that could lie in this draught of water may be completely

This inlet can be called little else than a large flat, for the greatest
part of it dries at low water: the shoals and bottom are mostly of sand.

Wood may be gotten conveniently enough in this inlet; and there are two
or three runs of excellent water from the high land near the anchorage.

There are inhabitants in the neighbourhood of the inlet, but we had no
communication with them.

A few seals and Mount-Pitt birds may be found upon the islets.


The extensive passage which separates Van Die-men's Land from New
Holland, was named Bass's Strait by governor Hunter. Mr. Bass had visited
the north side of it in an open whale boat, from Port Jackson, in
January, 1797; and the magnitude of the swell which he found rolling in
from the south-westward, strongly indicated its origin to be from the
southern Indian Ocean; and came so strong in confirmation of the former
suppositions of an existing strait, that His Excellency the governor
thought proper to order me in a vessel to ascertain its certainty, by
sailing through it. It was with pleasure that I was able to associate Mr.
Bass in the expedition; but much more so, that our success enabled the
governor to pay a just tribute to his personal exertions and correct

In giving some caution to those who may first sail through Bass's Strait,
it is necessary to observe, that as several unknown isles and rocks may
probably lie to the westward of Hunter's Isles; a ship should be
cautious in running down the last two or three degrees of longitude,
before she makes the isles.

The latitude of 40 20' is a proper parallel with a leading wind. After
seeing Albatross Island, Three-hummock Island will immediately appear,
and leave no doubt as to what land it is.

The land of considerable extent which is marked in the chart as
uncertainly known, is represented to be low land. It was seen by Mr.
Reed, in the schooner Martha; but its longitude is very uncertain. The
latitude of its south end may have some little reliance put in it.

With the wind to the northward of west, it would be as well to go to
windward of Kent's Group; but after that, not to steer a more northerly
course than north-east-by-east, until certain of being to the eastward of
Cape Howe. In all cases, the long beach is to be avoided, even if it
should be a weather shore at the time.

A ship bound to Port Jackson, and meeting with a foul wind, would find
Hamilton's Road a convenient place to anchor in for a few days.

It may be necessary to observe to some, that I can by no means answer for
there being no rocks or islands in the middle of the strait; or indeed in
any of the blank places, except a few miles on each side of the day
track. Islands and rocks must be expected to be fallen in with in other
places; it therefore behoves every man who has the charge of a ship here,
to run with caution in the day; and if he does run during a moonlight
night, it should be under working sail, and with the best look-out. But
with every advantage, it would be to hazardous to run before the wind in
the night.


It was intended to have continued the description of the coast of New
South wales, as far as the representation of it is given in the three
charts; but circumstances' having now rendered this inconvenient, that
small part of the east coast only is spoken of, which appears necessary
to a ship passing through Bass's Strait.

Cape Howe is a low point of rocks and sand, but hills rise immediately at
its back. A good observation taken about two leagues from it, gave for
its latitude 37 30' south.

Green Cape is so named from its appearance. The land slopes from the
hills, with a smooth surface, to the extremity of the point. Cape Howe
and Green Cape lie north and south, by compass, of each other.

* * *

Twofold Bay, so named by Mr. Bass, from its form, is laid down in
latitude from a meridional observation taken on the beach of Snug Cove,
with an artificial horizon. Two sets of lunar observations of the sun on
the west side, gave the longitude 150 12' 43"; but it is placed in the
chart according to captain Cook. The variation by mean of the theodolite
and azimuth compass, was 10 19' east, in October, 1798.

The land at the back of Twofold Bay, lies much more in hummocks than on
any part of the coast near it; and a roundish mount, which lies about
three leagues inland, to the south-west, is distinguishable above the
neighbouring hills to some distance. The outer north and south points of
the bay, have dry rocks lying close to them.

The shores of Twofold Bay are far from being high. They consist of rocky
points, steep heads, and sandy beaches.

The best anchorage is at the back of the steep, stony head, on the north
side of the bay, in Snug cove; where a vessel may be landlocked in five
fathoms, on a sandy bottom. There is room for two, or perhaps three ships
in Snug Cove, and small vessels would go closer in; but the water shoals
rather suddenly towards the head of the cove.

At the anchorage on the south side, a vessel cannot be landlocked in more
than three fathoms. In deeper water she would be open to north-by-east

Large boats may enter the lagoon at the east end of the great south
beach, at half flood.

It is high water here about three hours before the moon passes over the
meridian; and the tide rises six or seven feet.

Wood is in abundance all round this bay. The only fresh water that we met
with, was in swamps, near the anchoring places.

The inhabitants of this bay much resemble those at Port Jackson in their
persons. They were friendly in the little intercourse we had with them.
Canoes are in use amongst them, and seem to be much prized.

Both quadrupeds and birds seem to be scarce in the woods. Very few marks
of the kanguroo were seen.

There are a few ducks, teal, herons and red-bills on the lagoons, and
some small flights of curlews and plover.

If the quantity of fish in the bay bears any proportion to the fitness of
the beaches for hauling the sein, great numbers might be caught by it.
The success that was met with by the hook and line, spoke rather
favourably of Twofold Bay in this respect.

This bay will probably be of service to whalers; who, when fishing of the
coast, might be glad to get shelter from a gale of wind, in a place
whence it would take them so little time to work out, and it is not
unlikely, but that they might find some right fish here: we saw the
remains of one that had been thrown on shore upon the rocky spit.

The land round the bay is, speaking generally, much more barren than
productive. The values and flats contain several patches of good, and
some few of excellent ground; but by the far greater part is fit only for
pasturage. The hills are universalllyy stony.


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