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Title: Early History of the Colony of Victoria, Volume I
Author: Francis Peter Labilliere
* A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 1301821h.html
Language: English
Date first posted: April 2013
Date most recently April 2013

Produced by: Ned Overton

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Production Notes:

Some aspects of the punctuation have been modernised; a number of misprints (except names) have been corrected. All quotations are here indented.

Numbering of the original footnotes, superscripted 1-9, has been replaced by 1-3 asterisks: note numbers 1, 4 and 7 coincide with one asterisk, numbers 2, 5 and 8 with two and 3, 6 and 9 with three asterisks. Each note is here placed at the ends of the paragraph in which it occurs.








"Nothing in the history of mankind is like their progress. For my part I never cast an eye upon their flourishing commerce, and their cultivated and commodious life, but they seem to me rather ancient nations grown to perfection through a long series of fortunate events, and a train of successful industry, accumulating wealth in many centuries, than the colonies of yesterday."—BURKE.







[All rights reserved.]





The Memory












First Discovery of Australia uncertain—Cook first sights the coast of Victoria—Captain Hunter's doubts as to Tasmania being a peninsula—Vancouver proposes to ascertain the fact—His despatches to Lord Grenville on the subject—Mungo Park volunteers to explore in Australia—Letter of Sir Joseph Banks communicating the offer to the Government



Two excursions in the Tom Thumb—Famous voyage of Bass in the whale-boat—Governor Hunter's despatch describing it—Bass meets escaped convicts—Wilson's Promontory—Western Port reached—Bass convinced of existence of a Strait—Remarks of Flinders on the whale-boat voyage—His visit to the Furneaux Islands—He and Bass sail round Tasmania in the Norfolk—Fate of Bass



The Lady Nelson—Her departure from England—Adventures of the voyage—Instructions for her proceedings—Stay at and departure from the Cape—Grant's remarks "on coming in with the land of New Holland"—He discovers and names chief points on Victorian coast, west of Port Phillip—Observations in passing Wilson's Promontory—Arrival at Sydney—First ship from England through Bass's Straits—Governor King's account of Grant's and other discoveries in the Straits—Curious conjectures about an Australian Mediterranean



Grant goes to Western Port—Accompanied by Ensign Barrallier to conduct survey—Examination and description of Port and neighbourhood—Dexterity of "the faithful Euranabie"—Excursion of Grant and Barrallier—Birds and timber—Opinion of the harbour—Soil of Victoria first tilled—First "harvest-home"—A historical coal-shovel—Despatch of Governor King about the expedition—Murray takes the Lady Nelson to Western Port—Various incidents of her stay there—Weather very unfavourable—Interview with natives—Lady Nelson a third time in Western Port



Existing accounts of discovery of Port Phillip Bay inaccurate—The forgotten log of the Lady Nelson—Correct dates of first discovery and entry of the Heads—The man who first entered them—Murray in the Lady Nelson leaves Western Port and discovers the new harbour—Steers for Cape Otway and examines King's Island—Returns to Western Port—Entrance to Port Phillip examined—The Lady Nelson anchors in the bay—Entries in her log in extenso



Murray describes features of the country—Interview with natives—Their treachery—Encounter with them—Twenty swans caught—State of boats retards investigations—Various operations—Spring between Arthur's Seat and Heads—Visit to sheet of water on western side—Possession of harbour formally taken—Imperial flag unfurled—Lady Nelson runs out of the Heads—Arrives at Sydney—Murray's exertions—What became of the Lady Nelson



Voyage of the Investigator from England—Calls at King George's Sound—Steers round the Australian Bight—Discovers almost the entire coast of the Colony of South Australia—Meets Baudin—Unjust pretensions of the French—Terre Napoléon—Extracts from letters of Flinders just after meeting Baudin—Investigator sights coast of Victoria—Discovers and enters Port Phillip—Extract from Flinders's log of the date—Description from his "Terra Australis"—Ascent of Station Peak—Flinders's opinion of the port and territory—Proceeds from it to Sydney—Baudin arrives there—Extracts from despatches respecting his visit—Flinders's detention at Mauritius—Date of his death—What became of the Investigator—Sir John Franklin



National vitality and colonization of Australia—Governor King recommends settlement at Port Phillip—Grimes and Robbins walk round harbour—Discover Yarra Yarra—Collins's expedition sent out—His instructions—His despatches, on arrival, to Governor King and Lord Hobart—His unfavourable opinion of place and harbour—Landing and formation of settlement—Report of survey of Port Phillip—Statement of various particulars—Desertion of convicts—Boat sent to Sydney—Governor King's reply to Collins—Letter to Captain Woodriff of the Calcutta—Collins's reply to King stating preparations for removal—Extract from Ocean's log of voyages in removing settlement—"General Orders" printed at Port Phillip—First birth, marriage, and death—List of civil establishment and settlers



Despatch of Collins to Lord Hobart—Contains most detailed account of settlement—Boat voyage to Sydney—Escape of convicts—Removal to the Derwent—Last division of Port Phillip settlement arrives there—Log of the Calcutta—Records voyage to Port Phillip—Surveys and expeditions of officers—Ship at mouth of Yarra—Log records Tuckey's expeditions—His own account of them—Port Phillip's fair friend



Governor King wishes an establishment kept at Port Phillip—Writes to Lord Hobart on the subject—Robbins and Oxley sent to, and report unfavourably of, Western Port—Idea of settlement there or at Port Phillip falls through—Oxley's observations about Bass's Straits—Death of Governor King—Oxley's Macquarie and Lachlan expeditions result in sweeping condemnation of country—Extracts from despatches—Oxley proves to demonstration the non-existence of real facts—Country first officially named Australia—William Wentworth volunteers as an explorer—Letters of Sir Robert Peel and Sir Humphrey Davy—An amusing suggestion—"A comfortable provision for a fast-increasing family"



Question as to point reached—Earliest statements—Hume's letters to Governor Brisbane, Earl Bathurst, and the "Sydney Monitor"—Early chart of expedition—Its evidence as to point reached—What was thought at the time in Sydney—Conflicting statements of the explorers—Hovell sent to Western Port to clear up doubt—Journal of overland expedition—Crossing of the Murrumbidgee described—Sudden sight of Snowy Mountains—The Hume discovered—Crossed with difficulty—The Ovens and Hovell—Mount Disappointment—Coast reached—Return journey



Reasons for making settlement—Correspondence between Governor Darling and Colonial Office—Designs of the French apprehended—Letters of Captains Wetherall and Wright—Their description of Western Port and the settlement—Governor Darling's unfavourable opinion of place—Hovell's explorations and report—Governor Darling assigns latter as reason for recalling expedition—Different view taken at Colonial Office—Settlement abandoned notwithstanding



Sturt's preliminary investigations—Despatch of Governor Darling recording them—Sturt describes discovery of the Darling—Great heat and drought—Governor Darling's despatch announcing Sturt's departure on his famous expedition—His last letter describing his plans and expectations—First intelligence of result of expedition—Description of boat being shot from Murrumbidgee into Murray—Despatches to Colonial Office—Murder of Captain Barker



Mitchell's Darling explorations—His first letter describing journey through Victoria—Account from his book—Route up the Murray—Swan Hill—Mount Hope—The Yarrayne—Barrabungale—The Loddon—The Avoca—Glowing description of country—The Grampians—Ascent of Mount William—Mount Zero—The Wimmera—Mount Arapiles—Twenty-seven lakes—The Glenelg—Row down to sea—The Wannon—Mount Eckersley—Surprise on finding settlement at Portland—Pursuit of a whale—Mount Clay—Ascents of Mount Napier—Mount Abrupt—Mitchell goes forward with part of expedition—The Pyrenees—Mount Cole ascended—Mount Greenock—Mount Byng—Excursion to and ascent of Mount Macedon—View of Port Phillip—Comical mode of getting rid of troublesome natives—The Goulburn—A friendly emu—The Ovens—The Murray crossed—Settled country reached—Arrival of Stapylton's division of expedition—Piper—Tommy-came-First and Tommy-came-Last


LIKE some of the explorers whose deeds are recorded in these pages, I have been enticed far beyond the distance I contemplated reaching on setting out upon my investigations. Having only started to examine a single point in the history of Victoria, I have been led the length of producing a complete and authentic account of the exploration and colonization of that Province.

This work had its origin in a curiosity to ascertain more particulars of the discovery of Port Phillip Bay by Lieut. Murray, than are supplied by the meagre statements respecting that event which have hitherto been published. It occurred to me that the log of the Lady Nelson, Murray's vessel, might contain some interesting details; so, having ascertained that it was in existence in the Public Record Office, I applied for, and was favoured with, permission from the Admiralty to inspect the log, and am thus able to present to my readers all those parts of it which bear upon the subject of this book. Being astonished that a document of such historic importance should have been laid aside and forgotten, I naturally concluded that others relating to the early history of the Colony had shared the same fate. This led me to ask permission to inspect the Colonial Office papers in the Record Office, which was courteously granted; and I set to work upon a regular search through several hundred volumes of despatches and letters of the New South Wales Correspondence—from the foundation of the Colony in 1788, to the colonization of the Port Phillip District—and also through most of the Tasmanian Correspondence to the same period. From these papers, which contain a vast amount of information respecting the early history of Australia, I have been able to bring to light numerous documents which have hitherto remained as if mere ordinary official records.

Among these are all the papers and correspondence relating to the settlements attempted to be founded by Colonel Collins at Port Phillip in 1803-4, and by Captains Wright and Wetherall at Western Port in 1826-27. None of these papers seem ever to have been printed; and I know of no published account of either of those attempts to colonize the territory of Victoria. Whenever mentioned, they are barely noticed by writers who have treated of the early settlement of the Colony.

Some documents, also, now brought to light, seem to set at rest the controversy whether Hume and Hovell, on arriving at the coast, both believed that they were at Port Phillip Bay or at Western Port, and also whether the party of Batman or of Fawkner first selected the site of Melbourne.

I have been disappointed in not discovering two important documents—for which I have sought wherever there seemed a chance of finding them in this country, and have also written out for them to Sydney—namely, Bass's original journal of his whale-boat expedition to Western Port, and the report made by Surveyor-General Grimes of his investigation of Port Phillip Bay, when sent from Sydney to examine that harbour in 1802. The leading facts of the former are doubtless given by Flinders, in his "Terra Australis"; whose chart of the bay is completed from that of Grimes. But, as my desire has been to record the statements of the first explorers themselves, not secondary recitals of them, however complete and accurate, I regret being unable to give the exact words of Bass and Grimes. I, however, rejoice at the fact that the report of the latter has recently been found in Sydney, although unable to set it out in these pages, and hope that some one will also be more fortunate than I have been in discovering Bass's original journal—the only important document now wanting to complete the authentic history of discovery in Victoria.

The facts contained in these pages could have been compressed into much smaller space, by merely giving the substance of the documents set out, with references to where they may be found; but then the work would be without its chief value as an authority,—most of the documents in it having never before been printed.

My desire being to produce an accurate and complete work on my native Colony, I now present this in the form which strikes me as likely to make it most useful as a permanent historical record. Its merit consists, not in my attempt to tell the tale of exploration and colonization in my own language, but in letting the explorers and colonizers speak in theirs. History would be more accurate had those who made it been allowed to state, in their own way, how they did so, instead of other people attempting to tell their story better for them.

Some of my readers, who know how strong my sympathies are with those large ideas which regard the United Empire as one nation—one country—may perhaps be surprised that I should have so much interested myself with the details of the early history of one of its provinces; but I see no reason why the strongest Imperial sentiments should not co-exist with the warmest affection for that particular part of the Empire in which a man has been born and brought up. His devotion to the unity of the Empire need be none the less, because he thinks his own Colony, or division of the British Dominions, the best, and does his utmost to promote its advancement, in friendly and healthy rivalry for progress with the others. The interests of the Empire, and of its component parts, run upon such parallel lines, that it appears impossible that they can ever come into collision. The welfare of the whole is essential to each part, as that of each part is to the whole.

I should be guilty of an unpardonable omission were I not to acknowledge my obligation to the Colonial and Admiralty Departments, in granting me permission to examine their documents, and to use those of them which appear in this book; and I cannot speak too highly of the uniform courtesy and kindness with which I have been aided in my investigations by the gentlemen of each of the departments with whom I have been brought in contact,—particularly those of the Record Office, where most of my investigations have taken place. My thanks are specially due to Mr. Alfred Kingston, for greatly facilitating my researches, for many valuable suggestions, and much kindness, during the long time I have pursued my inquiries in his office.

I am also indebted to Mr. William Henty for valuable information respecting the settlement founded by his family at Portland Bay, and to Mr. Flinders Petrie, for some interesting facts about the explorations of his grandfather, the celebrated navigator. I have to thank Mr. H.B.T. Strangways for some kind assistance, and to acknowledge the helpful interest taken in my work by Messrs. Chesson, William Walker, J.A. Youl, C.M.G., Frederick Young, and by the late Mr. Edward Wilson.

To Mr. Bonwick, Mr. Westgarth, Mr. Rusden, Rev. Dr. Lang, Rev. Julian Woods, and others, great praise is due for their services, in giving to the world such knowledge respecting the history of Victoria, as has been obtainable from Australian sources of information.

The fact that Australia was governed till 1856, according to the Crown Colony system, accounts for most of the important early official documents, relating to the history of the country, having been sent to England.

I at first thought of strictly limiting this history to the exploration and colonization of the territory; but, as it approached completion, it seemed desirable to continue it, on an abbreviated scale, down to the time when the Port Phillip District,—after having been separated from New South Wales, and passing through a short existence as the Crown Colony of Victoria,—was finally invested with all the functions of constitutional self-government. At this period the early history of the Colony clearly ends. From the occupation of the territory downwards, the leading events are, therefore, noticed; but if recorded on the same scale as those of the earlier and less known periods of the colonial history, they would have occupied at least as much space.

What this work does for Victoria might well be done for each of the Australian Colonies. It is time that all the documents bearing upon their history should be printed. Some years ago a literary society in New York sent over to this country and obtained copies of all documents relating to the history of that State, which have since been published. The same has been done for other portions of the American Union. My book must do some service, if it only direct attention to the mine of information respecting colonial history which it has far from exhausted. Not until the forgotten materials for the history of each of the Colonies are collected, as I have endeavoured to collect those of Victoria, can a comprehensive history of Australia be written.

I have only been able to accomplish this undertaking by spreading it over some years—other avocations having prevented me from devoting myself continuously to the work. It has been a labour, but one of love, lightened by the interest which the expectation and realization of new discoveries impart, not merely to the geographical explorer himself, but, in no small degree also, to the historian who seeks to bring to light the forgotten records of his achievements.


          May, 1878.




First Discovery of Australia uncertain—Cook first sights the coast of Victoria—Captain Hunter's doubts as to Tasmania being a peninsula—Vancouver proposes to ascertain the fact—His despatches to Lord Grenville on the subject—Mungo Park volunteers to explore in Australia—Letter of Sir Joseph Banks communicating the offer to the Government.

AUSTRALIA has had no Columbus. It is even doubtful if the first navigators who reached her shores set out with any idea of discovering a great south land. At all events, it would seem, their achievements were so little esteemed by themselves and their countrymen, that no means were taken to preserve their names in connexion with their discoveries. Holland long had the credit of bringing to light the existence of that island-continent, which until recent years was best known by her name.

In 1861, however, Mr. Major, to whom we are indebted for more recent research upon the subject, produced evidence which appeared to demonstrate that the Portuguese had reached the shores of Australia in 1601, five years before the Dutch yacht Duyphen, or Dove,—the earliest vessel whose name has been handed down—sighted, about March, 1606, what is believed to have been the coast near Cape York. Mr. Major, in a learned paper read before the Society of Antiquaries in 1872, indicated the probability that the first discovery was made "in or before the year 1531." The dates of two of the six maps from which Mr. Major derives his information are 1531 and 1542. The latter clearly indicates Australia, which is called Jave la Grande. New Zealand is also marked. The other maps, though without dates, doubtless relate to discoveries made a few years earlier. Mr. Major, in kindly explaining these interesting particulars to the author, also referred to a letter of Andrea Corsali, a Florentine, written in 1515, which leaves little doubt that Europeans had at that date got as far on the way to Australia as Banda, if not New Guinea. In a subsequent paper, in 1873—the original report of the pretented discoverer in 1601 having been found in Brussels—Mr. Major charges this Portuguese navigator, who claimed to have discovered, in 1601, a southern land in the position of Australia, with gross imposture; for he describes the country, which he calls Luça Antara, as containing many populous cities and towns, as abounding in gold, and with inhabitants addicted to cock-fighting.*

[* "Further Facts relating to the Early Discovery of Australia, communicated to the Society of Antiquaries." By Richard Henry Major, Esq., F.S.A.]

Two of the six maps referred to by Mr. Major, as indicating an early discovery of Australia, are probably those mentioned by Captain Flinders in the introduction to his "Terra Australis", where he says,—

"Within these last few years, however, two curious manuscript charts have been brought to light, which have favoured an opinion that Terra Australis had really been visited by Europeans nearly a century before any authentic accounts speak of its discovery. One of these charts is in French, without date; and, from its almost exact similitude, is probably either the original, or a copy of the other which is in English, and bears, with the date 1542, a dedication to the King of England. In it an extensive country is marked to the southward of the Moluccas, under the name of Great Java, which agrees nearer with the position and extent of Terra Australis than with any other land; and the direction given to some parts of the coast approaches too near to the truth for the whole to have been marked from conjecture alone. . . . . It may, at the same time, be admitted that a part of the west and north-west coasts, where the coincidence of form is most striking, might have been seen by the Portuguese themselves, before the year 1540, in their voyages to and from India."

On turning to Admiral Burney's work,** to which Flinders refers for the preceding statement, we find the history of the early discovery of Australia thus summed up:—

[** "Chronological History of Discoveries in the South Sea or Pacific," published 1803.]

"All these circumstances justify and support the opinion that the northern and western coasts of New Holland were known, and were the Great Java of the sixteenth century. There are likewise reasons for supposing that the eastern coast had been seen; but they are not sufficient to authorize the insertion of any part of it in a chart of the discoveries made previous to 1579."

Burney has little doubt that some of the land seen "by Torres to the southward was part of the Great Terra Australis. And what renders this more remarkable is that, in this same year, 1606, a Dutch vessel saw land in 13¾° S., which was supposed to be a continuation of the land of Papua or New Guinea. The furthest seen by the Hollanders was named by them Cape Keer Weer (Cape Turn-Again). Accordingly, there is some reason to believe that the Great Terra Australis was twice seen in the year 1606, but, not being known as such, it cannot be said to have been then discovered."

Further on in the same volume the writer says,—

"Nothing was known with certainty concerning a southern continent previous to the year 1616. The land seen in 1606 by the Duyphen yacht, and named Cape Keer Weer . . . . was believed to be part of New Guinea; and a total ignorance seems to have prevailed in the world concerning the navigation of De Torres between New Guinea and the Great Terra Australis, besides that Torres himself supposed all the land seen by him to the south of New Guinea to be islands.

"In the month of October, 1616, a ship named the Eendracht, commanded by Theodoric Hertoge, being on her passage outward bound from Holland to the East Indies, fell in with land about 25° S., which proved to be part of the western coast of the Great Terra Australis."

Though the date of the first discovery of Australia, and the name of the man who made it, have passed into an oblivion which, most probably, will never be penetrated, no such obscurity exists with regard to the occasion on which civilized men first saw any portion of that Australian territory of which we are going to treat. Unless some unknown navigators have never returned to tell the tale, or that all record of it has been lost, the famous Captain, then Lieutenant, Cook and his comrades were the first to set eyes upon the shores of the present colony of Victoria.

Sailing from Cape Farewell in New Zealand for the coast of what was then supposed to be the peninsula of Van Diemen's Land, the Endeavour, on the morning of Thursday, April 19th, 1770, sighted land near Point Hicks, which was called after the first lieutenant, who first saw it. The position of this headland is a little to the west of Cape Howe, the eastern extremity of the present colony. The great navigator did not stop to make any investigations, or to solve the mystery about Tasmania; but he turned away, and pursued his course along the east coast of Australia, discovering Botany Bay, April 27th, Port Jackson on the 6th, and Moreton Bay on the 16th May, and passing and naming York Cape August 21st. On that day he also took possession of "the whole eastern coast . . . . in right of his Majesty King George the Third, by the name of New South Wales." He then steered towards New Guinea.

A quarter of a century passed before anything was added to the little knowledge of Victoria acquired by Cook's glance at her coast. As, however, the earliest description, even though meagre, of places and persons of interest must, convey first impressions better than any subsequent writer can attempt, either more briefly or fully, to describe them, the following extract from "Cook's Voyage in 1770" should have a place in any complete history of the discoveries which we have to narrate:—

"Wednesday, 18th.—In the morning of the 18th we saw two Port Egmont hens and a pintado bird, which are certain signs of approaching land, and, indeed, by our reckoning, we could not be far from it, for our longitude was now one degree to the westward of the east side of Van Diemen's Land, according to the longitude laid down by Tasman, whom we could not suppose to have erred much in so short a run as from this land to New Zealand; and by our latitude we could not be above fifty or fifty-five leagues from the place where he took his departure. All this day we had frequent squalls and a great swell.

"Thursday 19th.—At one in the morning we brought to and sounded, but had no ground with 130 fathoms. At six we saw land extending from N.E. to W. at the distance of five or six leagues, having eighty fathoms water with a fine sandy bottom.

"We continued standing westward, with the wind at S.S.W. till eight, when we made all the sail we could, and hove away along the shore N.E. for the easternmost land in sight, being at this time in latitude 37° 58' S. and longitude 210° 39' W. The southernmost point of land in sight, which bore from us W. ¼ S., I judged to lie in latitude 38°, longitude 211° 7', and gave it the name of Point Hicks, because Mr. Hicks, the first lieutenant, was the first who discovered it. To the southward of this point no land was to be seen, though it was very clear in that quarter; and by our longitude, compared with that of Tasman, not as it is laid down in the printed charts, but in the extracts from 'Tasman's Journal', published by Rembrantse, the body of Van Diemen's Land ought to have borne due south: and, indeed, from the sudden falling of the sea after the wind abated, I had reason to think it did; yet, as I did not see it, and as I found this coast trend N.E. and S.W., or rather more to the eastward, I cannot determine whether it joins to Van Diemen's Land or not.

"At noon we were in latitude 37° 50', longitude 210° 29' W. The extremes of this land extended from N.W. to E.N.E., and a remarkable point before N. 20 E. at the distance of about four leagues. This point rises in a round hillock, very much resembling the Earn Head at the entrance of Plymouth Sound, and therefore I called it by the same name. The variation by an azimuth taken this morning was 3° 7' E., and what we had now seen of the land appeared low and level; the sea-shore was a white sand, but the country within was green and woody. About one o'clock we saw three waterspouts at once; two were between us and the shore, and the third at some distance upon our larboard quarter. This phenomenon is so well known that it is net necessary to give a particular description of it here.

"At six o'clock in the evening we shortened sail and brought to for the night, having fifty-six fathoms water, and a fine sandy bottom. The northernmost land in sight then bore N.E. by E. ½ E., and a small island lying close to a point on the main bore W., distant two leagues. This point, which I called Cape Howe, may be known by the trending of the coast, which is north on one side and south-west on the other; it may also be known by some round hills upon the main, just within it.

"Friday, 20th.—-We brought to for the night, and at four in the morning made sail along the shore to the northward."

Although nothing was done for so many years to decide whether Tasmania was joined to Victoria—a question respecting which Cook seems scarcely to have raised a doubt—the subject did not wholly escape attention. The peninsula theory was evidently shaken some years before it was finally refuted. The first to question it seems to have been Captain John Hunter, who went out with the colonizing expedition to Botany Bay, as second captain of the Sirius, under Captain Phillip, whom he afterwards succeeded as Governor of New South Wales. Hunter was sent in command of that vessel for supplies to the Cape. He sailed from Port Jackson, October 2nd 1788, and re-entered it May 9th, 1789. On his return voyage he made the following observation:—

"In passing (at a distance from the coast) between the islands of Schooten and Furneaux and Point Hicks—the former being the northernmost of Captain Furneaux's observations here, and the latter the southernmost part which Captain Cook saw when he sailed along the coast—there has been no land seen; and from our having felt an easterly set of current, when the wind was from that quarter (north-west), we had an uncommon large sea; there is reason thence to believe that there is in that space either a deep gulf or a strait which may separate Van Diemen's Land from New Holland. There have no discoveries been made on the western side of this land in the parallel I allude to, between 39° 00' and 42° 00' S., the land there having never been seen." ***

[*** "Historical Journal of the Transactions at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island. By Captain John Hunter," published 1793.]

Captain Vancouver, in a despatch * to Lord Grenville, dated "Discovery, False Bay, Cape of Good Hope, August ye 9th, 1791," proposes to solve this geographical problem. He says,—

[* New South Wales Correspondence, Record Office.]

"Since receiving my instructions at Falmouth for the prosecution of our voyage, I have much regretted not being fortunate enough, in a further interview with your lordship, to have gained your final opinion respecting the examination of that extent of coast of the S.W. side of New Holland which in the present age appears a real blot in geography, particularly when we reflect on the many vessels that in this improved age of navigation have passed the meridians, we have every reason to suppose it occupies not more than 150 leagues to the south of it, without endeavouring to bring home any further information respecting that extensive country . . . ."

After avowing his ambition to acquire "every knowledge of the distant regions" he was going to visit, and stating that Cook's chart of the Sandwich Islands had left him "but a small field to occupy two winters in their further examination," he says,—

"And likewise as when I had the honour of communicating my wishes to prosecute such an examination, your lordship seemed highly to approve of the idea, it is my intention to fall in with the S.W. Cape of New Holland, and should I find the shores capable of being navigated without much hazard, to range its coast and determine whether it and Van Diemen's Land are joined, which, from all information at present extant, appears somewhat doubtful. I should be exceeding sorry to lose this opportunity of throwing some light on the above subject, having sufficient time before me to do it and reach the Sandwich Islands, refresh, &c., &c., prior to proceeding on the American coast, agreeable to my instructions.

"I shall, however, prescribe this design with the utmost caution, and, should I find it attended with intricacy and danger, ever having the object of our voyage in view, abandon it and proceed into the Pacific Ocean."

How far Vancouver carried out his proposed exploration of the Australian coast appears in a letter ** he addressed to Governor Phillip at Sydney, dated "Discovery at sea, 15th of October, 1792," and sent with another, headed "Discovery, Monterrey, 29th December, 1792." In this document the navigator thus briefly gives the first intimation of the existence of what must ultimately become one of the most important harbours and naval stations of the United Empire:—

[** Record Office.]

"On my passage into this ocean I visited a small part of the S.W. coast of New Holland, and there discovered one very excellent port, which I have honoured with the name of King George the Third's Sound. As I think from the situation the fertility of the country . . . . it may be worthy some further attention."

Having made this valuable addition to the geography of Australia, he followed the coast as far as Termination Island in long. 122° 8'; but, there being indications of boisterous weather, which he did not like to encounter on an unexplored coast, he sailed for Tasmania, and, passing to the south of that island as well as of New Zealand, one of his ships, the Chatham, discovered the islands which bear her name.

Before coming to expeditions which were successfully carried out, and some of which stand unsurpassed in the annals of exploration, one great traveller must be mentioned as offering to investigate the unknown regions of Australia. We cannot doubt that he would have achieved great success; and how different might have been his career had his proposal—which for some reason was not acted upon—been carried out! It has been forgotten, if it were ever publicly known, that Mungo Park volunteered to proceed as an explorer to Australia. In the N. S. Wales official correspondence,*** there is a letter to John King, Esq., of the Treasury, dated May 15th, 1798, from Sir Joseph Banks, communicating Park's offer and the very modest terms which he annexed to it. Sir Joseph, after speaking about the introduction of hops into N. S. Wales, and the fitting up of a plant cabin in the Porpoise, which was about to sail for that colony, remarks that, though the country had been possessed "more than ten years, so much has the discovery of the interior been neglected that no one article has hitherto been discovered, by the importation of which the mother country can receive any degree of return for the cost of founding and hitherto maintaining the colony." He then proceeds as follows, with respect to the exploration of the interior, and Mungo Park in connexion with it:—

[*** Record Office.]

"It is impossible to conceive that such a body of land, as large as all Europe, does not produce vast rivers, capable of being navigated into the heart of the interior, or, if properly investigated, that such a country, situate in a most fruitful climate, should not produce some native raw material of importance to a manufacturing country as England is.

"Mr. Mungo Park lately returned from a journey in Africa, where he penetrated further into the inland than any European before has done by several hundred miles, and discovered an immense navigable river running westward, which offers the means of penetrating into the centre of that vast continent, exploring the nations that inhabit it, and monopolizing their trade to our settlement at Senegambia, with a small force, and at an expense which must be deemed inconsiderable when compared with the object to be attained, offers himself as a volunteer to be employed In exploring the interior of New Holland, by its rivers or otherwise, as may in the event be found most expedient.

"His moral character is unblemished, his temper mild, and his patience inexhaustible, as he has proved during his African expedition; he is sufficiently versed in astronomy to make and to calculate observations to determine both latitude and longitude; he knows geography enough to construct a map of the countries he may visit, draws a little, has a complete knowledge of botany and zoology, and has been educated in the medical line.

"He is very moderate in his terms: he will be content with ten shillings a day and his rations, and happy if his pay is settled at twelve shillings. The amount of his outfit for instruments, arms, presents, &c., will not, I think, exceed 100l. He will want a decked vessel of about thirty tons under the command of a lieutenant, with orders to follow his advice in all matters of exploring. Such a vessel may easily be built in the country, if one already there, which is found to have very bad qualities as a sea-boat, cannot be made sufficiently trustworthy; and Lieutenant Flinders, a countryman of mine, a man of activity and information, who is already there, will, I am sure, be happy if he is intrusted with the command, and will enter into the spirit of his orders, and agree perfectly with Park.

"The crew of such a vessel need not, in my opinion, consist of more than ten men—four for boat-keepers, and six to proceed in the country with one or both the commanders, as may happen when inland journeys are to be attempted.

"If either or both these projects are carried into execution, I will readily undertake to draw up instructions for all parties, and to correspond with them during the execution of their plans, under the superintendence of your office, such hopes have I of material discoveries being made, and such zeal do I really feel for the prosperity of a colony in the founding of which I bore a considerable share."

Had Mungo Park gone out to Australia at the time in question, although he would have arrived too late to have anticipated the great exploit of Bass, which we must next proceed to notice, he would assuredly have reaped the laurels which have crowned other discoverers; and there is little doubt that Victoria would have formed an important part of the sphere of his explorations.



Two excursions in the Tom Thumb—Famous voyage of Bass in the whale-boat—Governor Hunter's despatch describing it—Bass meets escaped convicts—Wilson's Promontory—Western Port reached—Bass convinced of existence of a Strait—Remarks of Flinders on the whale-boat voyage—His visit to Furneaux Islands—He and Bass sail round Tasmania in the Norfolk—Fate of Bass.

WE now come to the period when the exploration of the territory of Victoria really commenced. Cook had sighted, and sailed away from, the coast of our future colony. Eighteen years later, Captain Phillip founded the first settlement in Australia, at Port Jackson. He arrived at Botany Bay, January 18th, 1788,—a date which will ever be memorable as the day on which the Anglo-Saxon race was first planted in the Great South Land, and the foundation laid for one of the grandest and most important extensions of the British Empire. For thirteen years after this historic event, nothing was done to solve the problem of the southern coast—the doubt respecting Tasmania still continuing.

At length, in October, 1795, Flinders and Bass first started in the direction in which they subsequently made their great discoveries. Little had been added to the knowledge which Cook had acquired of the coast to the south of Port Jackson, Indeed, even in the near neighbourhood of Botany Bay, the country had not been thoroughly investigated; for to throw further light upon it was the object of the first expedition of Bass and Flinders. Their boat, the Tom Thumb, was but eight feet long; and, besides themselves, it was only manned by a boy. The result of the journey was the tracing of the George River, which runs into Botany Bay, twenty miles further than it had previously been examined. On March 25th, 1796, the same gallant craft and crew started again, and proceeded as far south as Port Hacking, which they investigated, returning to Sydney, April 2nd, after meeting with some hair-breadth escapes. At one time Bass had to keep the sheet of the sail in his hand, whilst Flinders steered with the oar, and the boy bailed out the water which washed in upon them; and on another occasion, the surf, carrying the boat on to the beach, completely drenched them and everything they had.

The expedition, in 1797-98, of Mr. George Bass, surgeon of the Reliance, is one of the most remarkable in the annals of adventurous discovery. The author regrets that he cannot narrate it in the words of the explorer himself; but after seeking in vain in all quarters in this country, where there seemed any chance of Bass's original journal being found, and writing to Sydney about it, he is obliged to give the facts of the expedition second-hand, as stated by Flinders in his "Terra Australis". Mr. Flinders Petrie, grandson of the distinguished navigator, writes to the author in reply to his inquiries,—"As to Bass's journal, I am as much in the dark as you are." That this brave explorer made copious notes of his voyage in the whaleboat, there can be no doubt, judging from the fact that, when he afterwards sailed round Van Diemen's Land with Flinders, he amply recorded his observations. Colonel Collins, in his "Account of the English Colony in New South Wales," published 1802, says that he is able to enter, "with some degree of minuteness, into the particulars" of the cruise round Van Diemen's Land, "being enabled to do this from the accurate and pleasing journal of Mr. Bass, with the perusal and use of which he has been favoured."

The principal hope of Bass's journals being in existence is that, like Grimes's report, they may be disinterred from among the early official papers in Sydney. The one relating to the Western Port expedition would be of much greater value than the other which describes the voyage round Tasmania; for of that we have the account of Flinders, the joint hero with Bass of the enterprise. It does not appear, from the following despatch relating to the former—the whale-boat—expedition, that a copy of Bass's journal describing it was sent to this country by Governor Hunter. That officer's letter to the Duke of Portland, in the Record Office, would, therefore, seem to be the earliest written account of the famous whale-boat voyage now extant in this country, as far as the author has been able to discover. This despatch, which appears never to have been published, runs thus:—

"Sydney, New South Wales,   
"1st March, 1798.       

"MY LORD DUKE,—The tedious repairs which his Majesty's ship Reliance necessarily required, before she could be put in a condition for going again to sea, having given an opportunity to Mr. George Bass, her surgeon—a young man of well-informed mind and an active disposition—to offer himself to be employed in any way in which he could contribute to the benefit of the public service, I inquired of him in what way he was desirous of exerting himself, and he informed me nothing could gratify him more effectually than my allowing him the use of a good boat, and permitting him to man her with volunteers from the King's ships. I accordingly furnished him with an excellent whale-boat, well fitted, victualled, and manned to his wish, for the purpose of examining along the coast to the southward of this port, as far as he could with safety and convenience go. His perseverance against diverse winds, and almost incessant bad weather, led him as far south as the latitude of 40° 00', or a distance from this port, taking the bendings of the coast, more than of 600 miles. He coasted the greater part of the way, and sedulously examined every inlet along the shore, which does not in these parts afford a single harbour fit to admit even a small vessel, except a bay in latitude 35° 06' called Jarvis's Bay, and which was so named by one of the transport ships bound here, who entered it, and is the same called by Captain Cook 'Longnose Bay'; he explored every accessible place until he came as far as the southernmost parts of this coast, seen by Captain Cook, and from thence until he reached the northernmost land, seen by Captain Furneaux, beyond which he went westward about sixty miles, where the coast falls away in a W.N.W. direction. Here he found an open ocean westward, and by the mountainous sea which rolled from that quarter, and no land discoverable in that direction, we have much reason to conclude that there is an open strait through, between the latitude 39° and 40° 12' S., a circumstance which, from many observations made upon tides and currents thereabouts, I had long conjectured.

"It will appear by this discovery that the northernmost land seen by Captain Furneaux is the southernmost extremity of this coast, and lies in latitude 39° 00' S. At the westward extremity of Mr. Bass's coasting voyage he found a very good harbour, but unfortunately the want of provision induced him to return sooner than I wished and intended; and, on passing a small island laying off the coast, he discovered a smoke, and supposed it to have been made by some natives, with whom he wished to have an opportunity of conversing. On approaching the shore, he found the men were white and had some clothing on, and when he came near he observed two of them take to the water and swim off. They proved to be seven of a gang of fourteen who escaped from hence in a boat on the 2nd of October last, mentioned in Letter No. 30, and who had been treacherously left on this desolate island by the other seven, who returned northward. The boat, it seems, was too small for their whole number, and when they arrived at Broken Bay they boarded another boat, the Hawkesbury, with fifty-six bushels of wheat on board, and then went off with her northward, leaving the old boat on shore.

"These poor distressed wretches, who are chiefly Irish, would have endeavoured to travel northward and thrown themselves upon his Majesty's mercy, but were not able to get from this miserable island to the mainland. Mr. Bass's boat was too small to accommodate them with a passage, and as his provision was nearly expended he could only help them to the mainland, where he furnished them with a musket and ammunition and a pocket compass, with lines and fish-hooks. Two of the seven were very ill, and those he took into his boat, and shared his provision with the other five, giving them the best directions in his power how to proceed; the distance being not less than 500 miles, he recommended them to keep along the coast, the better to enable them to get food. Indeed, the difficulties of the country, and the possibility of meeting hostile natives, are considerations which will occasion doubts of their ever being able to reach us. When they parted with Mr. Bass and his crew, who gave them what clothes they could spare, some tears were shed on both sides. The whale-boat arrived in this port after an absence of twelve weeks, and Mr. Bass delivered to me his observations on this adventurous expedition. I find he made several excursions into the interior of the country, wherever he had an opportunity. It will be sufficient to say that he found, in general, a barren, unpromising country, with very few exceptions; and, were it even better, the want of harbours would render it less valuable.

"Whilst this whale-boat was absent, I had occasion to send the colonial schooner to the southward, to take on board the remaining property saved from the wreck of the ship Sydney Cove, and to take the crew from the island she had been cast upon. I sent in the schooner Lieut. Flinders of the Reliance (a young man well qualified), in order to give him an opportunity of making what observations he could among those islands; and the discovery which was made there by him and Mr. Hamilton, the master of the wrecked ship, shall be annexed to those of Mr. Bass in one chart, and forwarded to your grace herewith, by which I presume it will appear that the land called Van Diemen's, and generally supposed to be the southern promontory of this country, is a group of islands separated from its southern coast by a strait, which it is probable may not be of narrow limits, but may perhaps be divided into two or more channels by the islands near that on which the Sydney Cove was wrecked.*

[* The remainder of the letter describes some explorations which had been made in the neighbourhood of Sydney.]

*     *     *     *     *

"I have the honour to be, with very great respect, my lord, your grace's most humble and most obedient servant,


The following particulars respecting the expedition in question are gathered from Flinders's "Terra Australis". In the evening of December 3rd, 1797, Bass set out on his voyage with a crew of six seamen and six weeks' provisions. On the 19th he discovered Twofold Bay, and next day rounded Cape Howe, and thus Victoria was again seen by white men, who were perhaps the very first to set foot upon her soil; for in the evening Bass landed "at the entrance of a lagoon, one mile north of Ram Head." Here a gale detained him for ten days, the time being spent in examining the country, of which he did not favourably report.

Renewing his voyage, December 31st, Bass proceeded beyond Ram Head much more than fifteen leagues—the distance from it at which Point Hicks was marked—but he could recognize "no point of projection which would be distinguishable from a ship." By noon next day he calculated he had run upwards of a hundred miles. A more southerly course was then taken, and the boat reached what the explorer supposed was Furneaux's Land, but which he afterwards became convinced was Wilson's Promontory—so named by Governor Hunter, on the joint recommendation of Flinders and Bass, after Thomas Wilson, Esq., of London, a friend of the former.

Having, on January 3rd, 1798, visited one of the adjacent islands, where he found the convicts who had run off with the boat from Sydney, Bass coasted along the mainland, and, after rounding an open bay, on the 4th reached Western Port, which, according to the boat's run, he considered to be about sixty miles N.W. by W. ½ W. from his supposed Furneaux's Land, and in about latitude 38° 25' S. Here the gallant explorer repaired his noble little craft, and made an examination of the port. Water was found with difficulty, and was brackish everywhere, except in the winding creek on the east side of the port. Only four natives were seen, and but few kangaroo; "black swans went by hundreds in a flight, and ducks—a small but excellent kind—by thousands."

After being detained in Western Port till January 18th—a week over the time for which he had been provisioned—Bass was reluctantly obliged to turn back, otherwise he would doubtless have been the discoverer of Port Phillip Bay, which was within an easy day's reach of him. During the first night of his return journey, he was obliged to shelter behind a cape, afterwards named Liptrap. Next morning, running down to the islands west of Wilson's Promontory, he was again obliged to seek shelter at Cape Liptrap, where a succession of gales detained him for a week. During this delay he salted a quantity of petrels, with which he had at the islands replenished his supply of provisions.

Starting again on the 26th, Bass took five of the seven escaped convicts, whom, on his outward journey, he had found on an island, and, landing them on the mainland, gave them directions how to steer for Sydney. He also assisted them with a few things he could spare. The other two, who were unequal to attempt an overland journey of five hundred miles, he took with him in the boat. These convicts were probably the first white men to see the coast up to this point where Bass found them. On February 3rd, he fell in with the five at the Corner Inlet, but nothing more was ever heard of them.

Wilson's Promontory was rounded on the 26th, and another detention till Feb. 1st took place in Sealer's Cove. The explorer utilized this time by examining the promontory. Flinders remarks, in passing it in the Investigator, on his way out from England in 1802, that the adjacent islands were "laid down upon my chart of 1799, on the authority of Mr. Bass; and when it is considered that this enterprising man saw them from an open boat in very bad weather, their relative position to Wilson's Promontory will be thought surprisingly near the truth. Unfortunately the situation of the promontory itself, owing to some injury done to his quadrant, is considerably in error, being twelve or fourteen miles wrong in latitude."

Speaking of the current which ran at Wilson's Promontory at from two to three miles an hour, Bass in his journal—the words of which are given in inverted commas by Flinders—says,—

"Whenever it shall be decided that the opening between this and Van Diemen's Land is a strait, this rapidity of tide, and the long south-west swell that seems to be continually rolling in upon the coast to the westward, will then be accounted for."

On Feb. 2nd Bass sailed to Corner Inlet, and was again detained until the 9th by those adverse winds which had so much impeded him, and which next day once more stopped his progress—this time with so much severity that he was obliged to retreat to the beach through a heavy surf, in lat. which he made to be 37° 47' S. There the natives, who appeared to have never seen or heard of white men, paid the explorer a friendly visit. At daylight on the 11th the brave boat was again launched, and at four in the afternoon anchored under the Ram Head, where there was another delay till the evening of the 14th, when a favourable breeze suddenly sprung up, and at ten o'clock carried the explorers past Cape Howe, and by noon of the 15th to Twofold Bay. On the night of Feb. 24th, 1798, this wonderful voyage was terminated by the safe arrival of Bass and his crew within the splendid harbour of Sydney.

Captain Flinders speaks in suitable terms of the great exploit of his friend. He remarks that,—"In the three hundred miles of coast from Port Jackson to Ram Head, he added a number of particulars which had escaped Captain Cook." Flinders then sums up the new discoveries made by Bass:—

"Our previous knowledge of the coast scarcely extended beyond Earn Head, and there began the harvest in which Mr. Bass was ambitious to place the first reaping-hook. The new coast was traced 300 miles, and instead of travelling southward to join itself to Van Diemen's Land, as Captain Furneaux had supposed, he found it, beyond a certain point, to take a direction nearly opposite, and to assume the appearance of being exposed to the buffetings of an open sea. Mr. Bass himself entertained no doubt of the existence of a wide strait separating Van Diem en '8 Land from New South Wales; and he yielded with the greatest reluctance to the necessity of returning, before it was so fully ascertained as to admit of no doubt in the mind of others. But he had the satisfaction of placing at the end of his new coast an extensive and useful harbour, surrounded with a country superior to any other known in the southern parts of New South Wales.

"A voyage expressly undertaken for discovery in an open boat, and in which 600 miles of coast, mostly in a boisterous climate, was explored, has not, perhaps, its equal in the annals of maritime history. The public will award to its high-spirited and able conductor—alas! now no more—an honourable place in the list of those whose ardour stands most conspicuous for the promotion of useful knowledge."

The names of Bass's six attendants in the whale-boat ought to be recorded; but that of only one of them seems to have been preserved. Flinders mentions that Mr. Thistle, who with seven others was drowned in the accident to the cutter of the Investigator at Cape Catastrophe, at the entrance to Spencer's Gulf, had made the voyages to Western Port and round Van Diemen's Land.

While Bass was absent, Flinders left Port Jackson, on Feb. 1st, in the Francis, commanded by Captain Hamilton, and of which schooner Mr. Reed was master, to bring away the people and cargo remaining with the wreck of the ship Sydney Cove on Preservation Island, one of the Furneaux Group. On the outward voyage, the coast was sighted about Cape Howe, as well as in other places, and Wilson's Promontory was seen. On Feb. 25th, when setting out to return to Sydney, Flinders says,—

"It was still a matter of doubt whether the land to the south of the islands was or was not a part of Van Diemen's Land, and I therefore requested Mr. Reed to make a stretch that way. At noon our latitude was 40° 44⅔', and the peak of Cape Barren bore N. 13° E. . . .

"We stretched on until the land was seen beyond 40° 50', and then veered to the northward. In this latitude Captain Furneaux says, 'the land trenches away to the westward'; and as he traced the coast from the south end of the country to this port, there could no longer be a doubt that it was joined to the land discovered by Tasman in 1642. The smokes which had constantly been seen rising from it showed that there were inhabitants; and this, combined with the circumstance of there being none upon the islands, seemed to argue the junction of Van Diemen's Land with New South Wales, for it was difficult to suppose that men should have reached the more distant land, and not have attained the islands intermediately situated; nor was it admissible that, having reached them, they had perished for want of food. On the other hand, the great strength of the tides setting westward, past the islands, could only be caused by some exceedingly deep inlet, or by a passage through to the southern Indian Ocean. These contradictory circumstances were very embarrassing; and, the schooner not being placed at my disposal, I was obliged, to my great regret, to leave this important geographical question undecided. At the time we veered to the northward, the coast of Van Diemen's Land was about three miles distant."

When Flinders reached Sydney again in the Francis, March 9th, he found that Bass had been back a fortnight from his famous whale-boat expedition. The former says,—

"He communicated all his notes and observations to be added to my chart. There seemed to want no other proof of the existence of a passage between New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land than that of sailing positively through it."

The demonstration of this fact, being clearly part of the history of the discovery of Victoria, must now be briefly noticed. Flinders gives his own account of the voyage in his "Terra Australis," and Collins in his "Account of the English Colony in N. S. Wales," vol ii., published twelve years earlier, in 1802, enters "with some degree of minuteness into the particulars . . . from the accurate and pleasing journal of Mr. Bass." It appears that on Oct. 7th, 1798, the colonial sloop Norfolk, of twenty-five tons, left Port Jackson on her important voyage of discovery. She is called by Collins "the small-decked boat" and "long-boat". She carried Flinders and Bass, and, to use the words of the former, "an excellent crew of eight volunteers from the king's ships." She was provisioned for twelve weeks. The brig Nautilus sailed in company with her on a sealing expedition to Furneaux Islands. Twofold Bay was visited and examined by Flinders and Bass. Continuing their voyage on the 14th, they reached Kent's Group on the 17th. They were detained by adverse winds for some days at the Furneaux Islands, some of which Bass explored, and, as appears in Collins's work, minutely described, whilst Flinders made soundings.

At length, Nov. 1st, they reached the north coast of Van Diemen's Land, and steered westward along it, at a distance of from two and a half to three miles. Port Dalrymple, where Launceston now exists, was entered on the 3rd and quitted on the 20th; but next day a gale from the west drove the Norfolk back to Furneaux Islands, from whence she was not able to renew her course till Dec. 3rd. On the 6th, Circular Head was passed, and Flinders remarks,—

"From the time of leaving Port Dalrymple no tide had been observed until this morning. It ran with us and continued until three o'clock, at which time low land was seen beyond the three hummocks. This trending of the coast so far to the north made me apprehend that it might be found to join the land near Western Port, and thus disappoint our hopes of discovering an open passage to the westward; the water was also discoloured, as if we were approaching the head of a bay rather than the issue of a strait, and, on sounding, we had seventeen and afterwards fifteen fathoms."

An extraordinary flight of sooty petrels,** which the discoverers observed Dec. 9th, will justify a short digression. Flinders writes,—

[** Or Mutton-birds.]

"There was a stream of from fifty to eighty yards in depth, and of 300 yards or more in breadth; the birds were not scattered, but flying as compactly as a free movement of their wings seemed to allow; and during a full hour and a half this stream of petrels continued to pass without interruption, at a rate little inferior to the swiftness of the pigeon. On the lowest computation I think the number could not have been less than a hundred million."

In a note it is calculated that,—

"Taking the stream to have been fifty yards deep by three hundred in width, and that it moved at the rate of thirty miles an hour, and allowing nine cubic yards of space to each bird, the number would amount to 151,500,000. The burrows required to lodge this quantity of birds would be 75,750,000; and, allowing a square yard to each burrow, they would cover something more than 18½ geographic square miles of ground."

On this day, Dec. 9th, passing between the mainland and Three Hummock Island, one of the group to which the discoverers gave the name of Governor Hunter, Flinders says,—

"A long swell was perceived to come from the south-west, such as we had not been accustomed to for some time. It broke heavily upon a small reef lying a mile and a half from the point, and upon all the western shores; but, although it was likely to prove troublesome and perhaps dangerous, Mr. Bass and myself hailed it with joy and mutual congratulation, as announcing the completion of our long-wished-for discovery of a passage into the Southern Indian Ocean."

Colonel Collins gives in inverted commas a brief extract from Bass's account of this discovery. This, therefore, and the sentence previously given about the currents at Wilson's Promontory, contain the only words descriptive of his remarkable voyages which we can feel certain are the explorer's own. Collins proceeds,—

"Mr. Bass says (with all the feeling and spirit of an explorer) that 'he already began to taste the enjoyment resulting from the completion of this discovery, which had been commenced in the whale-boat under a complication of anxieties, hazard, and fatigue, known only to those who conducted her,' modestly sharing the praises to which he alone was entitled with those who accompanied him.

"It was worthy of remark (Mr. Bass says) that the northern shore of the strait from Wilson's Promontory (seen in the whale-boat) to Western Port resembled the bluff bold shore of an open sea, with a swell rolling in, and a large surf breaking upon it; while the southern shore, or what is the coast of Van Diemen's Land, appeared like the inner shore of a cluster of islands, whose outer parts break off the great weight of the sea. The cause of this is immediately obvious, on recollecting that the swell of the Indian Ocean enters the strait from the southward of west. The greater part of the southern shore is a bight, whose western extreme is Hunter's Isles and the north-west cape of Van Diemen's Land. Now, as the swell comes from the southward as well as westward, it must, after striking the north-west part of the southern shore, evidently run on in a direction somewhat diagonal with the two sides of the strait until it expends itself upon the northern shore, where both swell and surf are found. But to the southward of this diagonal line the swell must quickly take off, and totally disappear, long before it can reach the shore to make a surf. Hence arises the difference.

"That the swell of the Indian Ocean comes, by far the greater part of the way, from the southward of west can hardly be doubted, since it is well known that the prevailing winds are from that quarter."

Thus was solved the problem of the insularity of Van Diemen's Land. On Dec. 9th its N.W. extremity, named by Flinders, from its appearance, Cape Grim, was passed, and, following the trending of the coast, a southern course was taken. The Norfolk anchored at the entrance of the Derwent on the 21st, and next day proceeded up the river for about twelve miles. On January 3rd, 1799, she again put to sea, and, after quitting Van Diemen's Land and its adjacent islands, sighted the Australian coast on the 9th, somewhere near Ram Head. On the evening of the 11th according to Flinders, and the 12th according to Collins, anchor was cast inside Port Jackson, the discoverers having, as the former remarks, "exceeded, by no more than eleven days, the time which had been fixed for our return."

Both Flinders and Collins record that, on the return of the Norfolk, Governor Hunter—who, we have seen, was one of the first to suggest doubts as to the peninsula theory—paid a just "tribute" to the services of Bass by calling the new strait after him.

In July of the same year the Norfolk, which derived her name from the island where she was built, was employed by Flinders in the investigation of Morton Bay.

Having now reached the end of the achievements of Bass as an explorer, it only remains to express regret that the career of a man of so much promise should have been so early closed. His fate is not quite certain; but, having been taken prisoner by the Spaniards in South America, he is believed to have been sent to work in the mines, and there to have died.



The Lady Nelson—Her departure from England—Adventures of the voyage—Instructions for her proceedings—Stay at and departure from the Cape—Grant's remarks "on coming in with the land of New Holland"—He discovers and names chief points on Victorian coast west of Port Phillip—Observations in passing Wilson's Promontory—Arrival at Sydney—First ship from England through Bass's Strait—Governor King's account of Grant's and other discoveries in the Straits—Curious conjectures about an Australian Mediterranean.

THE discoveries of Lieutenant Grant, in command of the Lady Nelson, are next in order of date. An account of them was published in London in 1803.* The particulars contained in this chapter are; derived from that work, except where other sources of information are indicated. Grant begins by dilating upon the advantages of the sliding keels possessed by the Lady Nelson—an invention which he informs us was made in America, during the War of Independence, by his friend Captain John Schank, "of the Royal Navy, formerly one of the Commissioners of the Transport Board." The name of this gentleman is borne by the well-known Cape in Victoria. A very good plate of the Lady Nelson is given in the work; and certainly everything connected with this historical little craft—her achievements and ultimate fate—deserves to be bound up with the history of that important territory of the Empire, so large a portion of the coasts of which were first discovered and made known to the world by her officers and crew.

[* The title of the volume is "The Narrative of a Voyage of Discovery performed in his Majesty's Vessel the Lady Nelson, of Sixty Tons Burden, with Sliding Keels, in the Years 1800, 1801, and 1802, to New South Wales. By James Grant, Lieutenant in the Royal Navy." Published 1803.]

It appears that on the thirteenth day of the present century, "the Lady Nelson hauled out of Deadman's Dock into the river, having her complement of men, stores, and provisions on board," and that the latter "were of the best kind," and "calculated for fifteen men for nine months, and the water for six months." She was also "supplied with abundance of anti-scorbutics." His ship arrived at Gravesend on the 16th, and Grant expresses satisfaction at her working so well, but, he adds, "few who saw us pass that did not say something against so small a vessel destined for a long voyage. The general appellation we got was that of his Majesty's Tinder-box."

The Downs were reached on the 20th, where a very large convoy had been lying at anchor nearly a month, detained by westerly winds. There, on the night of the 23rd, the little vessel gave good promise of her capabilities to encounter the storms she had to meet, by riding out a gale which drove six of her companion ships on shore; on the 26th she rode out another, and then ran into Ramsgate harbour, where she was detained till the evening of February 7th. Spithead was reached on the 8th, and Portsmouth harbour on the 9th. At Gosport she received four "brass carriage guns. . . . from three to four pounders," in addition to the two on board, and was so fully furnished with small-arms, ammunition, provisions, supplies, &c., as to become very deep in the water, "insomuch," says Grant, "that we had only two feet nine inches clear abreast the gangway. Many people who saw the Lady Nelson reckoned her unfit for so long a voyage, which gave me much trouble to keep the crew together." Grant, however, observed to Captain Schank, who visited the ship before her departure, "that a short time at sea, with the consumption of fuel and provisions, would bring us to the proper equilibrium."

Having from this cause, and from the demand for their services, lost some of his crew, Grant left Portsmouth on March 17th, with a convoy under Captain Durham of the Anson, and on 18th they took their departure from Dunnose in the Isle of Wight. On the 20th, the convoy fleet got away from the Lady Nelson, and she was taken in tow by "the Brunswick, East Indiaman, commanded by Captain Grant," but on the 23rd, in consequence of the increase of the wind, the ships were disconnected, the people on board the Brunswick supposing that Grant intended returning to Spithead, "as deeming it impracticable to go on."

There was not much reason to apprehend danger from enemies' ships, as appears from the first of the three following letters ** of instruction. It is dated Whitehall, February 21st, 1800, and addressed to Grant:—

[** In the Record Office.]

"SIR,—I transmit to you, enclosed, the open Instructions which, by his Majesty's commands, I have given to the Governor of New South Wales, and which are to be followed in making the surveys and discoveries for which the Lady Nelson, under your command, has been fitted out and provided. As vessels fitted out for this purpose have always been respected by the nations of Europe, notwithstanding actual hostilities may at the time have existed between them; and as their country has always manifested the greatest attention to other nations on similar occasions, as you will perceive by the letters written in favour of vessels employed in discoveries by France and Spain, copies of which you receive enclosed, I have no apprehension whatever of your suffering any hindrance or molestation from the ships of either of those nations, should you fall in with them; with this view and the better to secure you against all hostility or interruption, the instructions enclosed, as well as this letter, are both left open, and you are to keep them so. You are also, on pain of his Majesty's utmost displeasure, to refrain on your part from making any prize of, or from detaining or molesting the ships of any other nation, although they may be at war with his Majesty.

"I am, &c.,


The Duke's next letter, of February 26th, 1800, to the Governor of New South Wales, is important as directing the movements of the Lady Nelson, not only on her outward voyage, but in her subsequent explorations. The instructions are:—

"SIR,—You will receive this by the sloop, the Lady Nelson, which has been constructed and fitted out for the purpose of prosecuting the discovery and survey of the unknown parts of the coast of New Holland, and of ascertaining, as far as is practicable, the hydrography of that part of the globe.

"The Lady Nelson is provided with a complete set of instruments, and every other article necessary for the attainment of that object, which are consigned to you, and are conformable to the enclosed list.

"You are to take care to furnish the officer employed under you in this service with the necessary instructions, wherein you will particularly take care that he be directed to examine with diligence, and to survey and plan, with as much accuracy as circumstances will permit, all such coasts; and you will order him to take and lay down upon his chart all such soundings as he shall think likely to prove useful for the guidance of those who may navigate along those shores in future, to pay especial regard to the examination and accurate delineation of all such harbours as he shall discover and judge to be commodious for the reception of shipping, and also of such shoals and other dangers as he may from time to time meet with; to fix in all cases, when in his power, the positions, both in latitude and longitude, of remarkable headlands, bays, and harbours by astronomical observations; also to observe the variation of the needle and the right direction and course of the tides and currents, and to record all such observations in his journal with the most minute exactness.

"The survey of the Southern or South-Western coast of the country appears to be of the most immediate importance. The probable benefits of the whale fishery, and the shortening the passage through the Straits, which are discovered to exist between the main and the group of islands known at present by the name of Van Diemen's Land, would be of high importance. The group of islands, themselves affording (as one of them is known to do) an excellent harbour, is worthy of particular attention. When any considerable river is discovered, you are to order him to navigate up the same as far as the Lady Nelson can proceed with safety, carefully planning the course and the banks of it, and noting the soundings as he proceeds, and to land as often as he sees reason to suppose that any considerable variation has taken place either in the productions of the soil or the customs of the inhabitants, and to examine the country as far inland as he shall think it prudent to venture with the small number of persons who can be spared from the charge of the vessel, whenever there appears to him a probability of discovering anything useful to the commerce or manufactories of Great Britain. He will note in his journal, in all places where he shall land, either on the sea coast or the banks of a river, his opinion of the comparative fertility of the soil, which may best be judged of by the size of the trees and the degree of vigour with which trees, shrubs, and plants appear to him to grow; as also such articles of the produce of the soil and the manners of the inhabitants as he shall deem worthy of notice; and in all places which appear to him of any importance to Great Britain, either on account of the shelter for shipping or the probable utility of the produce of the soil, he is to take possession in his Majesty's name, with the consent of the inhabitants, if any, under a discharge of musquetry and artillery, and to record the whole proceedings at length both in his log-book and his journal; and, if uninhabited, to set up some proper inscription as first discoverer and possessor. He is to plant such seeds of fruit-trees and useful vegetables as he shall be supplied with, near to such landing-places as he may discover, in which a safe and commodious anchorage and easy landing render it likely that ships may hereafter frequent, and where the soil appears most fertile and productive; and to collect in all places such seeds of trees, plants, shrubs, and grasses as he shall find in a state of maturity, and judge to be worthy of notice, either from their beauty, their particularity, or their possible utility; and to collect such specimens of vegetables, animals, and minerals as he shall think likely to prove interesting to naturalists at home.

"In case of any person being sent with him to assist him as a collector of natural history, he will confine himself in some degree to the more immediate business of the naval department, and at all times, when he can be usefully employed in the business of surveying, he is to leave the collecting and preparing of seeds and specimens to the care of the collector.

"He is to assist the collector, as much as the nature of the service will permit, by sending him in boats to such places as appear likely to be productive of curiosities, and by sparing men both to assist him in carrying such heavy articles as he may have occasion for on shore, or as he may think proper to bring on board; as also to accompany him for his defence against the natives, and to facilitate, as much as possible, all such researches as tend to procure a knowledge of the natural history of the country, the customs of the inhabitants, and the advantages of the produce to the trade and manufactures of Great Britain. He is, however, to deliver to you on his return the original journals in which his proceedings of all kinds have been minuted, and the plans, charts, drawings, and sketches he has made tending to illustrate the hydrography, geography, or natural history of the country; and also all such seeds of plants, trees, and specimens of animals, vegetables, or minerals, and such articles of the dresses and arms of the natives as you shall think worthy the attention of his Majesty's Ministers or of the Royal Society, to be transmitted by you to his Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department.

"I am, &c.,


But, to notice the leading incidents of the voyage before the Lady Nelson reached the fields of discovery—two days after parting from the Brunswick, she was chased by the Hussar frigate, in charge of a West Indian convoy, on suspicion of being an enemy's cruiser, and next day some of the ships of the convoy, in like manner, mistook the Lady Nelson, and did their best to get out of her way, "One of them," says Grant, "much to his credit, hove to and fired a shot, almost plump on board of us. After hoisting his colours, I showed him ours, when he stood on. Another vessel, the Hope of Liverpool, I could hardly keep clear of; for the more I endeavoured to avoid him, the more he attempted to get near me, insomuch that we were near running on board each other. He asked me very haughtily who I was and where I came from; I replied by hoisting my pendant and colours. Nevertheless, he was not satisfied, and, as he had no force, I believe he intended, if he could, to have run me down."

On April 13th, Grant put into St. Jago, which he left on the 27th. Here two lads of the crew made off with one of the boats, but were captured by the Portuguese authorities and conducted into the town, "both riding on one ass," amidst "the ridicule of the inhabitants". The second mate, who had sown the seeds of disaffection, was delivered to the Governor to be put on board the first British vessel. With the Governor's permission, also, there were "entered on the ship's books two young men, making up the crew to twelve in all." Grant afterwards speaks of his sailors as "young and inexperienced lads," but says "they had become so alert and attentive . . . . as to demand my highest praise." He describes an unsuccessful expedition he made in the island to shoot wild guinea-fowl.

During the progress of the voyage to the Cape, a brig was met, whose captain came on board, and, Grant records, "asked one of my men whether I was not a little mad, for he could not credit the story, I told him of our going on a voyage of discovery." On July 8th, anchor was cast in Table Bay, and on 17th in Simon's Bay. Though upwards of a hundred days out, the Lady Nelson sustained no loss or damage of canvas, spars, or boats, but her sliding-keels were broken off.

Before she left the Cape, a ship called the Wellesley arrived with Government stores. Having parted from her convoy, she was attacked, but with the aid of the passengers beat off a French vessel. Grant mentions that the Wellesley brought directions to him to proceed through Bass's Straits, and they are doubtless those contained in the letter, the date of which, being subsequent to the sailing of the Lady Nelson from England, at first puzzled the author, when he procured this copy of the document at the Record Office:—

"Whitehall, 5th April, 1800.

"SIR,—Having received information from Port Jackson, in New South Wales, that a navigable strait has been discovered between that country and Van Diemen's Land, in latitude 38°, which has been lately passed through by a lieutenant of the Reliance, who afterwards returned round the South Cape, it is his Majesty's pleasure that you should sail through the said strait in your way to Port Jackson, by which means you will not only shorten your voyage, but will have an opportunity of more minutely surveying the said strait, and of applying your instructions, as far as circumstances will admit of it, to this part of your route.

"I am, &c.,


Grant says that, while at the Cape, he "was often teazed with groundless fears and apprehensions formed by idle people, on account of the seas which so small and singularly constructed a vessel as mine had to encounter in the run from the Cape to New Holland. However, the winter passage we had already made with so much safety, joined to the good opinion the crew entertained of the Lady Nelson, and their determination not to quit me, brought us many visitors and numbers of volunteers from different ships in the bay." He, however, declined all offers, "to the disappointment of many," except of an eccentric Dr. Brandt, whom he received on board, together with his baboon and dog, and also a carpenter, of whom he was in need. To oblige Admiral Sir Roger Curtis, he also consented to convey a Dane, who was sentenced to transportation to New South Wales, but whose emancipation he obtained soon after his arrival—the man having behaved remarkably well during the voyage.

On October 7th, Grant took his departure from the Cape, having "bid adieu to many who came down to see the little vessel depart, most of whom entertained doubts of our ever reaching New South Wales."

November 2nd, the Island of Amsterdam was passed, an ineffectual attempt being made to gain the anchoring ground.

The long. on November 23rd was 130°E., lat. 38° 31' S. They "had now crossed Captain Vancouver's track, which is the farthest eastward of any laid down in this parallel of latitude." In the evening of December 2nd, "one of those long flies, known by the name of horse-stingers, came on board, and," Grant says, "was a stronger proof of land being near than any we had yet seen." At eight next morning it was visible "right ahead, appearing like unconnected islands, being four in number, distant six or seven leagues." Grant calculated the western point of land to lie in 142° E.

The following is a copy of the original report of the discovery of an extensive portion of the coast of Victoria, furnished by Grant to Governor King. Although published by the former in his account of the voyage, it is desirable that it should be reproduced, as the work is old and scarce, and there is some little difference between it and the MS. report. It will be observed that many of the names originally given by Grant are still retained, though some have disappeared from the map of the Colony. A pen and ink chart is attached to the MS., similar to that printed in Grant's book. A blank is left in the coast-line in the vicinity of Port Phillip; the gulf or bight immediately outside it is marked Governor King's Bay, and the gulf from Wilson's Promontory to Western Port is called King George's Sound—a name which Grant, in the account of his subsequent voyage to Western Port, says it scarcely deserved. The gulf extending between Cape Otway and Wilson's Promontory is represented as forming a much deeper indentation of the coast than actually exists.

"Remarks *** on board the Lady Nelson, by Lieutenant James Grant, on coming in with the land of New Holland:—

[*** N. S. Wales Correspondence, Record Office.]

"December 3, 1800.—At daybreak, made all possible sail, judging myself to be in latitude 38° South.* At 8 a.m. saw the land from N. to E.N.E., the part that was right ahead appearing like unconnected islands, being four in number, which, on our nearer approach, turned out to be two capes and two high mountains, a considerable way inshore, one of them being like the Table Hill at the Cape of Good Hope; the other stands further in the country. Both are covered with large trees, as is also the land, which is low and flat as far as the eye can reach. I have called the first of these hills Schanks Mountain, and the second Gambiers Mountain. The cape I call Cape Northumberland. Also another smaller but conspicuous jut of the land, which we plainly saw when abreast of Cape Northumberland, I named Cape Banks. When Cape Northumberland bears N.W. by W., distant eight or nine miles, Schanks Mountain bearing north, and Gambiers N. by E. from you, Schanks Mountain loses its table form and appears like a saddle. There does not appear to be any harbour so far, but there may be shelter under Cape Northumberland from N. and N.N.W. winds, as also between Cape Banks and it from easterly winds. The shore is in general a flat sandy beach, the sea at present making no breach upon it.

[* In margin—"Longitude worked back 141° 20' E."]

"December 4.—As we stood along the shore, steering east, saw the land as far as we could see, bearing S.E.; hauled close up for it. This forming a conspicuous cape, I named it Cape Bridgewater in honour of his Grace the Duke of Bridgewater. At seven, little wind and a heavy sea. The shore is a sandy beach, from where we made the land to this cape, and flat land covered with brushes and large woods inland. Found we could not weather Cape Bridgewater. Tacked occasionally, and got four oars on the lee side, which I kept employed all night; a heavy swell and baffling light winds from S.S.W. to S.E. In the morning, by day-break, weathered the cape six or seven miles, when another cape appeared bearing east by north about fifteen or sixteen miles distant, forming, with Cape Bridgewater, a very deep bay, and to appearance had shelter for anchorage, though much heavy swell. I was anxious to examine whether it was safe to enter in or not; the land appeared beautiful, rising gradually, full of woods. I being in doubt of clearing the shore, made me more anxious. I accordingly out boats and took with me two hands armed; there was then little wind but much sea, with gloomy weather. After getting in-shore about five miles, I found there was no shelter from southerly winds, and very deep water apparently all the way in. The ship had now hove to with a fresh wind at W.S.W., and, being very likely to blow with rain, I put back. The wind did not stand, and presently we plainly saw several fires on the shore. The sea still being very heavy, and no wind, got the launch ahead to tow. At noon it was a great matter of doubt whether I should not be forced to anchor; the bay being very deep, I could hardly clear it with a steady breeze. Our latitude was 38° 21', Cape Bridgewater then bearing N.W. by W. twelve or thirteen miles. I called the other Cape Nelson, after the ship. At one a light breeze, which, with the boat ahead, got us clear of the shore.

"December 5, P.M.—Light airs and a very heavy rolling swell in upon the shore; saw several fires. We being rather too far into the bay, which is very deep, I was for some time very doubtful whether we should not be obliged to trust to our anchors—the boat still ahead, towing. A light breeze springing up, we got our head to the southward and shot out. The western cape of this bay I called Cape Bridgewater, and the eastern cape, Cape Nelson. This is a very deep bay, and, with southerly winds, ought carefully to be avoided. Cape Nelson bears from Cape Bridgewater E.N.E. fifteen or sixteen miles. The country is beautiful; apparently fine soil, plenty of grass, and full of wood. Towards evening, saw many fires a little way inland. A number of seals about, and porpoises. At six in the evening we had a moderate breeze from S.S.E., Cape Bridgewater bearing north by east four leagues, and Cape Nelson E.N.E., distant six leagues. Got in the boats. Tacked occasionally during the night, working to windward. At 5 a.m. saw another cape, which forms not unlike the Dedman in the Channel of England; it runs a considerable way into the sea, and makes its appearance, when to the westward, like a very long barn, as it appears arched on the top with a high bluff end towards the sea, not unlike the gavel of a house or barn. This I called Cape Solicitor.** Off this cape are two small islands; the largest makes like two distinct islands in two hummocks, joined by a neck of low land, which is not seen until pretty close, when a smaller island is seen a little further within the first. These I called Lawrence Islands.***

[** In his "Voyage" Grant says, "I named this land Sir William Grant's Cape."]

[*** In his book he adds, "after Captain Lawrence, one of the Elder Brethren of the Trinity House."]

"As they will be an excellent mark for making this part, and save much trouble to those who have not an opportunity to keep far enough to the northward to make Cape Northumberland, and as they are very remarkable, navigators will know where they are. As you draw abreast of these islands, the largest being to the southward, and which made in two hummocks, you will have its outer end from the shore appear like a square-topped tower, very high, and a particular white spot in the middle of it, which I take to proceed from the birds. The other end also is very high. This island will appear exactly as here described when it bears north or north by west half north, when you have an offing of ten or twelve miles from it. They bear from Cape Solicitor S.E. or S.E. by S. twelve miles distant, and there appears no danger between them and the shore. Cape Solicitor now loses its long form as you get to the eastward, and its particular shape, which was discernible when to the westward, hides itself now in a high bluff point, steep and inaccessible. The land round is moderately high; much wood, and apparently very pleasant; many fires about this cape. From Cape Solicitor the land runs to the northward as far as the eye can reach or discern from the mast-head, and forms a very large and deep bay. I now wished for the wind from the northward, so that I might explore it. There must, I think, be harbours in it, but, having the wind light from S.S.E., varying every quarter of an hour to E.S.E., it would be folly to spend so much time at present as that would require. The bottom of this bay is hardly discernible from the mast-head.

"December 6, P.M.—Light breezes and cloudy weather. Tacked occasionally, keeping the shore on board. At three, made a considerable large island, high and inaccessible on the sides. We had an opportunity of seeing apparently a good soil with grass on it, but no trees. This island bears about E.S.E. from Cape Solicitor. By a good observation at noon following, I made its latitude to be 38° 29' S., longitude by my account (reckoning from Cape Northumberland, which I suppose to be in 142° 30' E. of Greenwich) I make this island lay in 144° 40' E., it bearing from me, when the observation was taken, N.N.W., distant eighteen or twenty miles, my latitude observed being 38° 45' S. This island I named Lady Julian's Island, in honour of Lady Julian Peircy. Observed that we ran faster along the land than our distance from log would give us. I presume there is a considerable drift to the eastward.

"December 7.—By the mean of four azimuths and amplitudes the variation is 2° 50' E. We had now fresh breezes and cloudy weather. I ran under a commanding sail during the night—the wind at S.S.W. and S.W. At daylight we saw the land making in a cape ahead; hauled up to clear it. This cape is due E.S.E. with a moderate offing from Cape Solicitor—distance, per log, 70 miles. As it is the eastern promontory of this deep and extensive bay, I named it Cape Albany Ottway, in honour of my much respected friend, William Albany Ottway, Esq., Captain Royal Navy, one of the Commissioners of the Transport Board. Another very high and considerable cape, bearing E.N.E. from Cape Albany Otway, I named Patten's Cape. This cape is from Albany Otway distant eight or ten miles E.N.E. ½ E. I also distinguished the bay by the name of Portland Bay, in honour of his Grace the Duke of Portland. The land about here is truly picturesque and beautiful, and resembles much the land about Mount Edgcomb, near Plymouth, which faces the Sound, as any I can compare it to.* It abounds in wood, very thick groves, and large trees; it is moderately high, but not mountainous. We saw no fires, most likely from the shore being inaccessible, and much surf breaking on it. From Cape Albany Otway, E.N.E. ten or twelve miles, lays another point of land, which shows, as you round Albany Otway to the eastward, to have a clump of trees regularly planted on its brow. It is rather high land, and I was inclined to think, from its projection, we could find anchorage under it, as we had a commanding breeze now at W.S.W. I bore it pretty close; but, as I approached it, I found several heavy breakers off at least six miles from shore; no rocks are to be seen. I called it Cape Danger and hauled off. In getting to the eastward I found no shelter nor any place where there was any likelihood of anchoring; but from the number of little juts and low points of land further to the northward and eastward, I was determined to try if any such place could be got, for I never saw a finer country, and the valleys appeared to have plenty of fresh water in them, which though not particularly in want of at present, yet it would be very acceptable. Firewood is rather scarce with us, therefore I wished to get some. At 11 a.m., after having read prayers to the people, it being Sunday, I out boats, manned and armed the launch, and went in search of a place to land in, if not to anchor the ship. I got within a cable's length and a half of the shore, and found the surf breaking so heavy that it was not at all prudent to attempt it. The shore was a sandy beach, with small rocks interspersed here and there. Even now I had no soundings with the hand lead-line, so that I verily believe the beach is steep too. I was very much disappointed to be so near, and obliged to go on board without setting my foot on this beautiful spot. It resembles the Isle of Wight as near as possible in appearance from the water, therefore I called this part of the coast, which falls into the bottom of the small bay from Cape Danger to the very low land which is distinguished by a long ridge of breakers off it, Wight Land, in honour of my friend Captain Wight, son-in-law to Commissioner Schank. I now returned on board, got the boats in, and by observation found the latitude to be 38° 52' S., about eight miles from the shore—Cape Danger bearing N.N.W., distant ten or twelve miles.

[* In the margin, beside this sentence is the following in Governor King's handwriting:—"Mr. Black in the Harbinger was close in with this land, and describes it nearly the same as Lieutenant Grant.—P.G.K."]

"December 8.—At half-past 12 p.m., bore away from the land, the wind being W.S.W. At one, having got sufficient offing, hove and got the boats in, and made sail to the eastward. At 8 p.m., Cape Albany Otway bearing west eighteen or twenty miles, we now made a very high and lofty cape, covered with trees down to the water's edge, as all the country round is. From this cape the land breaks short round to the northward, further than we can discern from the mast-head. I had now a fair wind, and might have done a great deal this night; but I had my doubts whether this land, which fell off to the northward, should not have been followed and kept on board, as from a small chart, which was given me by Sir Joseph Banks, which I have on board, I find, from the southernmost point of the Straits as far as they had then been surveyed, the land trained off to the northward in the same form, nearly as it did here from Cape Patten, with this difference, that the cape I allude to on the chart had several islands off from it, neither did the latitude exactly correspond, and the land which it gave, running to the northward, was low and bushy. The land here is high, with large forests of trees, and there are no islands to be seen; I therefore chose the middle road. I made snug sail and ran sixty miles E. I judged that, if it was a bay, I would see the eastern extreme of it. At daylight, however, we could see nothing anywhere but the looming of the land we had left from the mast-head.

"I now bore up and ran N. by W., and at six I saw the land again ahead, forming a very deep bay, which I could not see the bottom of from the mast-head. At eight I saw the land bearing from me E.S.E., extending further to the southward than I could see. I now, being certain of my route, hauled up E.S.E., and named this bay Governor King's Bay. It is one of the longest we have yet met with. Cape Albany Otway forms the westernmost headland, and the South Cape the easternmost headland; the distance of about 120 miles due E.S.E. At noon it fell calm, the sun very sultry. Observed, in 39° S., mercury at 73° and 74°.**

[** The following note is in the margin:—"If such a deep bay as this actually exists, it favours the idea of New South Wales being insulated by a Mediterranean Sea; however, this the Lady Nelson must determine in the voyage she is now gone on.—P.G.K."]

"December 9, P.M.—Light airs, inclinable to calm. At 4 p.m. we could see several islands bearing E.S.E. The mainland seemed to have an opening in it to the northward of these islands, which I stood in for, but found it was another bay with low land. This bay runs into the main nearly east, the northermost cape of which I called Cape Liptrap in honour of my friend John Liptrap, Esq., London. The main now showed extending a considerable way to the southward, with several islands off the cape. I judged this was the point of land I looked for, from the colour of the water. I sounded; had fifty fathoms water, fine sand. South Cape distant nine or ten miles; the land abreast of the ship appearing to be no great distance off, and being stark calm, I got the boats out and sent the launch ahead to tow, while I, thinking I should have the pleasure of setting my foot on this fine country, certainly in such fine weather, set off for the nearest land, with two hands in the gig, ordering the ship to tow in after me, and, when the breeze sprang up, to get the launch in, and stand in for me. At noon, calm, hazy weather. Sounded in forty-one fathoms— sand and shells.

"P.M.—Calm. I pulled in-shore for some islands laying off from the main at the western side of the South Cape, and made for the largest of them, which appeared to be most fertile, having taken some seeds to sow on it, if I should be able to land. I could not have believed the distance was so great as it proved to be—at least twelve miles from where I left the ship, and which, for some time before we had got in with the shore, we had lost sight of. At last we got in with the island, but, although not a breath of wind, we found it impossible to land on that side of it at least, it being steep, and a surf running very heavy on it; therefore, having no more time, as the ship was not insight, and it being two in the afternoon, I judged it prudent to get on board as fast as possible, which we effected by four o'clock. We had now a light breeze from the eastward; the weather was intolerably close and sultry, the mercury standing at 72° and 73°. Got in the boats and made sail to the southward. At seven, the wind at east freshened into a strong gale, and at eight it blew a thunder-storm with much heavy forked lightning; but, it being from a weather shore, I kept close at the wind in order to get to the southward of the islands laying off this cape, when on a sudden the wind shifted due west, very dark with heavy rain and lightning, which continued all night, the wind abating at twelve at night. In the morning it was calm, with hot, sultry weather. Again, at noon, I had a good observation in latitude 39° 30' S., the south part of the main or South Cape bearing N.W. by N., distant twenty miles, and longitude 147° 18' from a good lunar observation taken on the 8th. All round the western side, and even this far south of the cape, there is fifty fathoms, forty-five, and forty: white sand and broken shells. I called that space laying between Cape Liptrap and the South Cape, King George's Sound,*** and I have no doubt but there is a good harbour in the bight to the northward, eastward of the south cape, in the western side of which Cape Liptrap makes the northern head of. The land here is high, and the mountains covered with wood. Cape Liptrap is low and flat, as is the land in this bight, where I judge there is shelter. There is an island bearing from the western part of the South Cape, south, a little easterly about twelve miles from the shore; it is round and inaccessible on all sides, it bearing from me now N.W. by W., distant twenty miles. The above-mentioned island I called Redunder,* from its resemblance to that rock—a set of breakers to the southward and eastward of that rock, on which, though calm, the sea breaks much. Bearing now from me N.N.W. ¼ W., distant six miles. Islands to the eastward of me, there are five in number, the largest of which, from its resemblance to the Lion's Mount at the Cape of Good Hope, I called Sir Roger Curtis Island; it is high and inaccessible on the N.W. side, and is covered with small bushes to the top. The body of the same bearing from me now E.S.E. seven or eight miles, other two forming like hay-cocks, only with higher and more perpendicular, which stand at a considerable distance from each other, the largest of which bearing from me S.E. ¼ S., distant sixteen or seventeen miles. The smallest bearing from me S.E. by E., distant ten miles, and is nearly shut in with the S.E. end of Sir Roger Curtis Island. The fourth is a rock standing a considerable height out of the water, nearly in a position between the two sugar-loaf or haycock islands, bearing from me S.E. ¼ S. The fifth is a high, perpendicular, barren cliff, which is, as you get almost abreast of, formed like two joined at the bottom, rising to a sharp edge, and rugged at the top; it makes like a large tower or castle. I called it the Devil's Tower, it bearing from me E. by N., distant ten or twelve miles. An island in with the shore, bearing N.N.W., distant eighteen miles, which I named Moncur's Island; and another, bearing N. by E., sixteen or seventeen miles. Land, apparently an island, we can just see from the mast-head. It is here to be observed that these bearings were taken at noon, and, it being stark calm, the ship was nearly stationary. By a good observation the latitude was 39° 30', longitude 147° 18' E. of Greenwich, calculated from a lunar observation two days before. But I take the correct longitude to be 147° E. from my making the Ram Head, according to the best charts; therefore the bearings are laid down on my chart from 147° E. Sultry, close weather.**

[*** At the side of this sentence is the following:—"Certainly no sound or opening exists here, as Mr. Bass coasted it close in-shore in a whaleboat and landed.—P.G.K."]

[* "Rodondo" in the book.]

[** This note, like all King's others, is in red ink in margin:—"Mr. Bass, from whose authority Lieutenant Flinders has ascertained the position of Wilson's Promontory, places it in 38° 56' S., Lieutenant Grant in 39° 17', and Mr. Black in 39° 08'. As Mr. Bass's latitude is log computation, from his then in the whale-boat, which might be liable to error, I think a preference may be given to Lieutenant Grant's position, as he had the advantage of a very good sextant.—P.G.K."]

"We now having made the cape, which I presume is that laid down in the chart I have from Sir Joseph Banks, seen by Mr. Flinders, any further observation is unnecessary, as I find the land training along to the northward exactly as it is described by him.

"To his Excellency Governor King, &c. &c. &c., from his obedient servant,

(Signed)           "JAMES GRANT.   

"A true copy.
           "PHILIP GIDLEY KING."

Grant informs us in his book that on the 10th he endeavoured, but unsuccessfully, to land from a boat on an island off Wilson's Promontory, which point is conspicuously marked on his chart "South Cape". One of the islands is described as "an immense rock, on one side perfectly round, with a large hole in the other, in the form of an arch, with a breastwork rising high enough above the level of the sea to preclude the water from getting into it; the hollow appeared as if scooped out by Art instead of by Nature. I gave it the name of the Hole in the Wall; and to the range of islands stretching along the main, Glennie's Islands, after Mr. George Glennie, a particular friend of Captain Schank's, to whom I was under personal obligations. On the summit of all these islands there was a thick bush growing, whereas the land of Cape Liptrap, already mentioned, exhibited a fine level country."

The Lady Nelson, having left England March 18th, entered the heads of Port Jackson at six in the evening of December 16th, after a passage of seventy-one days out from the Cape. She let go her anchors in Sydney Cove at half-past seven.

Grant may well be allowed to express "the satisfaction of" his "being the first vessel that ever pursued the same track across that vast ocean; as we have no traces of its being done, particularly from the Island of Amsterdam, viz., between the degrees of lat. 38° and 39½° S., until the Lady Nelson made the coast of New Holland in lat. 38°, and steering to the eastward along a tract of land nearly four degrees to the westward of any seen by Messrs. Bass and Flinders. . . . I now," continues the hero of the expedition, "reflect with much pleasure that I had conducted my little vessel safely out, which many judged impracticable, both in England and at the Cape, without any damage either in rigging, masts, or spars, besides fulfilling the Duke of Portland's orders to search for a passage through these Straits. Many able officers and seamen at the Cape thought it too hazardous an attempt in running down the land in such a high southern latitude, where, in general, heavy S.W. winds are constantly blowing, and where I might, from the long range of coast, not be able to extricate myself. . . . The peevish and ignorant railed altogether at the attempt in such a vessel to make the voyage to New South Wales, and scrupled not to say we should have a long drift of it, as it was impossible to run or scud, the sea being too heavy for such a purpose. . . . Having, however, conquered all these difficulties of the imagination, I felt thankful to God for the great success we had met with, and the protection He had shown us throughout the whole voyage."

The Lady Nelson, in entering upon her eventful colonial career, certainly did that which alone ought to immortalize her name—she was the first ship that ever sailed parallel to the entire southern coast-line of Australia, passing through Bass's Straits. Grant records the arrival from the Cape of Good Hope, on January 11th, 1801, of the second ship through the Straits, the Harbinger brig, commanded by Mr. Black, and on February 7th, of the brig Margaret from England, commanded by Mr. Byers; the former made land "about Cape Albany Otway and Cape Patton", and the latter "nearly in 38° 20', about Cape Bridgewater." Mr. Black sighted and named King's Island. In a printed sheet of "Observations upon the Chart of Bass's Straits, combined under the direction of Captain G.P. King, Governour of New South Wales, by Ensign Barrallier", in the British Museum,* it is stated that "the South Point and Reefs" of King's Island "were seen by Mr. Reid in 1798."

[*** See add. MS., 11,803 E.]

Governor King, in a paper ** or minute entitled the "Present State of H.M. Settlements in N. S. Wales," and dated March 1st, 1802, reports:—

[* New South Wales Correspondence, Record Office.]

"Much has been done towards exploring the coast to the southward by Captain Flinders and Mr. Bass, but I can observe nothing, in either of their narratives, to conjecture that a more eligible situation exists, on every account, for forming the principal settlement at than Port Jackson, nor can I discover from their observations any other place proper to fix another settlement at to the southward of this, unless in the Straits, either at Port Dalrymple on the south, or Western Port on the north side. Perhaps the former would be the most eligible place, on account of the prevailing winds, which are from the south to west Since the discovery of Bass's Straits and the chart published by Arrowsmith, the following vessels have gone through them, and from their observations the charts that accompany this are formed:—The Lady Nelson passed through, coming from England, in December, 1800. She made the land in latitude 38°, longitude 141°, and kept along the New Holland shore. In January, 1801, a small brig from the Cape of Good Hope, commanded by Mr. Black (a person of good abilities as a surveyor and navigator), passed through, and, keeping more to the southward, made Cape Albany Otway, and, standing across to the southward, made an island lying in the centre of the west entrance of the Straits, which he named King's Island, and afterwards passed through the centre of the Straits. A few days after, a brig from England made King's Island, and, having met with an uncommon easterly wind, was ten days getting through. She worked from the north to the south side, and passed through Banks's Straits. Since then two vessels have been for six months together sealing at different times of the year, and have attempted to get to the westward of Western Port, but could not succeed, owing to the constant west and south-west winds, which blow with scarce any interval, and send a very great sea quite through. As these vessels were extremely well found and persevered greatly, I am led to the belief that a passage to the Cape of Good Hope through these Straits, if not impracticable, would be very unadvisable to attempt; but, for ships coming from the westward, these Straits are certainly most happily situated, as no ship need go higher than 39° 30' S. Every seaman knows the difference there is in the weather in that latitude and in 46°, which ships must necessarily get into to round Van Diemen's Land. It is true that the wind is constantly from the west and south-west until the distance of the south cape, when it invariably comes from the north-east, which causes nine ships out of ten to be from ten to fourteen days getting to Port Jackson, after having rounded the cape, all which is avoided by passing through the Straits, which are sufficiently wide. The distance from Cape Albany Otway to King's Island not being more than sixteen leagues, the parallel of 39° 15' takes a ship clear of all. The latitude and longitude of Wilson's Promontory, from many coinciding observations and by chronometers, is 39° 10' S. and 146° 52' E. The chart that accompanies this is not meant as a conclusive one, as much additional information is expected from the Lady Nelson's present voyage of survey, which she sailed on in November last; nor can a chart be considered as perfect until Captain Flinders has examined the Straits. Still the one now sent may be published as a sufficient guide for any vessels using the common precautions on their way hither. The conjecture of New South Wales being insulated from New Holland still remains undecided. Lieutenant Grant, in the Lady Nelson, saw no land at the bottom of Portland Bay in passing it, but his survey of Wilson's Promontory and Western Port does away the supposed opening between these points, which was presumed might be the south entrance of such a separation, as it lies nearly in the meridian of the Gulf of Carpentaria."

It is difficult to realize that only seventy-six years have elapsed since it was conjectured that Australia might be penetrated, or perhaps intersected, by a Mediterranean Sea.



Grant goes to Western Port—Accompanied by Ensign Barreillier to conduct survey—Examination and description of port and neighbourhood—Dexterity of "the faithful Euranabie"—Excursion of Grant and Barreillier—Birds and timber—Opinion of the harbour—-Soil of Victoria first tilled—First harvest-home—A historical coal-shovel—Despatch of Governor King about the expedition—Murray takes the Lady Nelson to Western Port—Various incidents of her stay there—Weather very unfavourable—Interview with natives—Lady Nelson a third time in Western Port.

THE Lady Nelson was not long unemployed after her remarkable voyage from England. Grant informs us, in his book, that "the original idea of Captain Schank, who was the cause of the Lady Nelson being sent out, was to have discovered all the territory of New South Wales, and to explore far beyond its limits, leaving the same to be surveyed at a future opportunity by those competent to it. All that I aimed at," says Grant, "was the making an eye-sketch of the coast, and laying it down as accurately as I could, with a journal of all occurrences, natural history, soil, with such remarks and observations as I might be able to make." He informs us that, notwithstanding the voyage the Lady Nelson had made, "doubts and hints were thrown out that she was not a safe vessel, and was unfit for the service she was going upon." He also complains that some articles, including four brass carriage guns, were taken out of her, so that, if she were "lost, Government would be less the sufferer."

It was decided that the course of the Lady Nelson should in the first instance be directed towards Bass's Straits, although Grant was of opinion that, as winter was approaching, it would have been better had she been sent north to "have ascertained if the Gulf of Carpentaria had any inlet to Bass's Straits." Their pay having been reduced, only two of the original crew remained, the places of the rest being supplied by convicts, "three parts" of whom "were sea-sick and unable to move" the first day or two they were afloat. Grant also took with him Ensign Francis Barreillier * and four privates of the New South Wales Corps, Mr. Cayley, the botanist, and two Sydney aborigines, Euranabie and his wife Worogan. "The Bee, sloop, or rather decked-boat of fourteen or fifteen tons burthen," accompanied the Lady Nelson; "she was manned by convicts, one of whom commanded her."

[* Sometimes spelt with one r, sometimes Barrallier.]

On March 8th, 1801, the vessels got out of Port Jackson, but the Bee being unequal to the somewhat severe weather, was obliged to put back next day. After a short stay in Jarvis Bay, the Lady Nelson proceeded south, and passed Wilson's Promontory on the 20th. Continuing along the coast, Grant named "Cape Paterson, in compliment to Colonel Paterson of the New South Wales Corps."

He records that—

"At p.m. of the 21st we had sight of the island which forms the south head of Western Port, having the likeness of a snapper's head or horseman's helmet. By eight we were up with it, and, on opening the entrance of the port, I found two small islands situated about three quarters of a mile from the south head, with apparently a good passage between them and the island forming the harbour. From its likeness, as above-mentioned, to a snapper's head, I named it Snapper Island; it falls in a high clay bluff down to the water's edge. The small islands lying off from it were covered with seals, numbers of which, on our approach, precipitated themselves into the sea, covering the passage, while others remained on the rocks, making a very disagreeable noise, somewhat like the grunting of pigs. They were of large size, many of them being nearly equal to that of a bullock. I judged them to be of that species of seal called by the fishermen sea elephants; accordingly, I named these Seal Islands. I sent a boat ahead to sound the passage, and found, between the Seal Islands and the south head, twelve, nine, six, five, and three and a half fathoms water, which last was the shoalest in mid-channel. This passage will shorten the distance when there is a leading wind; but, standing round to the westward of Seal Islands, there will be found sufficient room for any number of vessels to beat in. Mr. Bass, when he visited this place in the whale-boat, entered the port by the eastern passage, which is much the smallest, and coasting the western shore, from whence he made his remarks. It is probable that these islands lying so close to the opposite side of him, they did not show themselves to be detached from the southern side of the entrance, and this I judge because he makes no mention of them. And I am the more inclined to this opinion as no one has ever thought of looking here for seals, notwithstanding they may be found in great numbers, with an excellent harbour, affording good shelter for vessels employed in pursuit of them.

"It had rained constantly and heavily all the night, and by its continuance we could not see any great distance from the vessel; therefore I kept the lead going as she worked up the harbour. . . . .

"At half-past 5 p.m. came to an anchor in six and a half fathoms of water, fine sand, and abreast of a sandy point, bearing west three quarters of a mile, which I named Lady Nelson's Point as a memorial of the vessel, as she was the first decked one that ever entered this port."

Mr. Barreillier and the second mate, Mr. Bowen—of whom more afterwards—went on shore and saw many swans and red-bills.

Grant proceeded on the 22nd in search of the stream described by Bass at the head of the harbour. He notes that, during the progress of this excursion, "pelicans and albatrosses in great numbers" were seen.

The explorer was attracted to land upon what he named Churchill's Island, but did not accomplish the object with which he set out. Next day the second mate also ineffectually attempted to discover the stream; Grant himself "explored the banks of a considerable creek which opened abreast of the vessel." Barreillier and Murray, the first mate, were occupied surveying part of the harbour, whilst Cayley, the botanist, went in search of plants, penetrating "a considerable way in Snapper Island". Numerous water-fowl and land-birds were seen, but all very shy.

Grant says in his book,—

"The 25th and 26th being clear and fine, search was again made for the fresh-water stream; the survey was carried on. . . . I went up the creek already mentioned in the boat, and found it to terminate in a large salt marsh, having the appearance of being at times overflowed to a considerable extent: the trees were not very large, but the underwood was very thick; however, I penetrated through it to a considerable distance, and found here and there spots that appeared as if they had been cleared by manual labour. These spots were covered with good tender grass, and afforded, by their agreeable verdure, great pleasure to the sight. . . .

"The open land, which, as I have mentioned, had the appearance of being frequently overflowed, was clothed with grass which grew everywhere luxuriantly, and seemed like other salt marshes, well adapted for the purposes of fattening cattle. . . . The length of this creek is about two miles and a half, the water is perfectly salt, and it ends in a small run of about twelve feet in breadth."

Bowen at length discovered the stream of fresh water, and captured a couple of cygnets, one of which became tame, and was presented to Governor King. Murray, Barreillier, and Cayley were sent on the 27th to explore the stream, up which they proceeded as far as the boat could go. It wound very much, "to the number of forty-two short reaches," and "the breadth of the entrance was about half a cable's length, and at the farthest part the boat went, not more than eighteen or twenty feet, the passage being there impeded by trees lying across it." The same day Grant, "attended by the faithful Euranabie," made "excursions along the shore to the mouth of the harbour," observing a creek, not as large as that just mentioned, "having its entrance quite filled up with beach, so that the sea could not enter it."

Grant thus describes the dexterity with which his black man, Euranabie, caught a fish:—

"I had no sooner expressed my wish on this matter than, turning about, I missed my companion from behind me: not divining the true cause of his absence, I grew impatient and halloed for him, upon which he instantly presented himself from the wood with a small stick in his hand. Asking me for my knife, he presently sharpened one end to a point, and then, stripping himself, he leaped from one point of the rock to another, until he met with an opportunity of striking a fish, which he did, the stick penetrating quite through it; and in this state he came and presented it to me. During this transaction I could not but admire the keenness of his sight, and his ability to preserve the steadiness of his position, standing as he did upon the rough edge of a sharp rock, the sea washing above his knees, his eyes intent upon the fish, very difficult to strike from the smallness of its size, presented to him in a narrow back. I have before remarked upon the gentle disposition which is so striking a feature in the character of the New Hollander. In the individual of whom I am now speaking it was remarkable; his attention and readiness to oblige on all occasions were very great. Though I pressed him to take the fish several times, he as constantly refused it, but accepted of some tobacco, which he was exceedingly fond of smoking."

On the 29th, Murray and Barreillier were sent to ascertain "certain particulars respecting the entrance of the port, and with regard to Seal Islands", on which they were directed, if possible, to land. In this, however, they failed, the day proving boisterous; but they "brought the boat to anchor off a sandy beach, which appeared to have no surf, when they were suddenly surprised with a heavy swelling sea, which being immediately followed by another of the same, the boat filled and was upset on the beach. Fortunately no lives were lost, though all were immersed in the water, from which Euranabie . . . first escaped to shore." The provisions and ammunition were lost or spoiled. "At the turn of the tide they launched the boat and returned on board." A black swan and four ducks which they had shot were recovered, "and this", says Grant, "afforded them and us, who were on board, the consolation of a savoury meal."

Grant started with Barreillier on March 31st for a somewhat extended expedition up the fresh-water river. They were drenched the first night by a heavy thunder-storm. They "traced a branch of the river on the right, a small distance from the mouth of this stream, as far as the boat could go," and "then followed its course on shore along the bank, and found it fed by the greater river only." "Plots of very rich pasture" were found . . . . "At some considerable distance, however, the land rose to a height, and being covered with large trees, which appeared to be shattered by storms, had for this reason obtained the name of Mount Rugged. We marched pretty far inland, and found the country everywhere free from inundations, interspersed with woods and open plains, and exhibiting a very picturesque appearance."

Among the birds noticed was the Bell Bird, which has "a note not unlike the tinkling of a bell, so that when a number of these birds are collected together, the noise they make is similar to that made by the bells of a team of horses." The author never remembers hearing more than one or two of them at a time. An old colonial friend, the laughing-jackass, is mentioned as the "laughing-bird whose note can only be compared to the 'ha! ha! ha!' of a hearty-laughing companion."

"An extensive and level country, which was entirely clear of timber and underwood," is also described:—

"The grass was so luxuriant here that it was difficult to pass through it, as it reached above our knees. . . . This plain extended further than we could see on one side; on the other it was bounded by hills. We walked over it some distance, and found the soil rich and good: the grass, with which it was everywhere plentifully covered, had the appearance of rye grass, much like that which I had seen in England. And I do not hesitate to pronounce that I saw no land about Sydney or Paramatta which, for richness of soil, appeared better adapted for the purposes of agriculture. In saying this I do not mean to confine the observation to a small spot such as I then viewed, but to the general face of the country, which I had occasion afterwards to go over to the extent of several miles . . . ."

Speaking of the trees, Grant "observed some which had grown to the height of sixty or seventy feet, without any branches except at the top; these were slender and light wood. . . . I had a few of them cut down and brought on board." A species of sassafras was discovered by the second mate, Bowen, of whom Grant speaks in the following high terms:—"I must not omit doing justice to the diligence and talents of the young man . . . . whose use and value I have experienced on many occasions."

Bowen, on April, 21st, discovered, near the mouth of the fresh-water river, part of a canoe with two paddles, and some line used in fishing. The canoe "was framed with timber, and, instead of being tied together at the ends, was left open, the space being afterwards filled with grass worked up with strong clay." It and other specimens collected were deposited with Governor King.

The vessel was moved to the shore opposite to that where she had been lying, "in order to near a small island lying in the opening of the extensive arms described by Mr. Bass, of which this port has two branching out to the northward. I named this island Margaret Island, in honour of Mrs. Schank, to whom I am indebted for several articles, useful on board my little vessel. . . . The tide ebbing very fast, we found ourselves in shoal water . . . the bottom being a soft mud.

*     *     *     *     *

"But to proceed. As I am no friend to vessels being on the ground, unless there be an absolute necessity for it, by carrying a hawser out, I soon hauled her off, and brought her up nearer to Margaret Island, at which we stayed for some time. We found this island to be in general flat, but well covered with wood. Here we deposited some seeds, but did not find the soil equally rich with that of Churchill Island. Mr. Barreillier and I went for a great length of way up this arm." The country is described as level and very fertile, "having many woods of large timber trees, intermixed with open savannahs of the most rich and luxuriant grass." Being in want of water, Grant says,—

"Luckily I heard the bull-frog, which is common to New South Wales, and I made towards the thicket from whence his croaking issued, and there found a present supply. . . .

"This arm, being nearly dry at low water, reminded me of the appearance of Porchester Lake when the tide is out. Indeed, the entire view of Western Port has no small resemblance of Spithead and Portsmouth harbour."

Grant's dates are somewhat confusing, for having recorded what took place on a particular day, he describes something which happened at an earlier date. He continues,—

"On the 17th we got under weigh, and at night brought up in twelve fathoms water, with rather a foul bottom. In the morning we discovered a sand-shoal, whereon the waves were breaking very heavily close to us. This ought to be carefully avoided by keeping the south and east shores on board, as it lays a long distance from the north and west side, and has at all times a surf on it. We availed ourselves of this bottom, and in half an hour caught abundance of large snappers. We shifted our berth and brought up in a small nook or bay, which I named Elizabeth Cove, in honour of Miss Elizabeth King, daughter of Governor King, then at Sydney.

"Great part of the survey of this extensive harbour being completed on the 22nd of April, notwithstanding the delay occasioned by wet and unfavourable weather, and there being yet more to do, I was anxious to be gone. We were, however, detained by the badness of the weather until the 29th, when at break of day I weighed and stood out of Western Port, passing to the westward of Seal Islands, and found a large passage capable of any vessel beating into it; care, however, should be taken to give the westernmost head a wide berth, to avoid some heavy breakers which appear a mile from it even in good weather. . . .

"On entering this harbour the easternmost shore, or right-hand side, giving the Seal Islands a berth of three-quarters of a mile, unless a preference is given to going between Seal and Snapper Islands, which was the passage by which the Lady Nelson entered. The former passage is the principal entrance into the harbour, and with the before-mentioned offing from the islands, and a N.E. ½ E. course by compass, will carry a vessel up to Elizabeth's Cove or Bay. . . . Our course out was S.W. ½ W. by compass, which carried us clear of everything."

Grant sums up the advantages of the place by stating "that Western Port is capable of containing several hundred sail of ships in perfect security from storms, and will admit of being fortified. It is a convenient harbour for going in and coming out at all times, is situated in a country which may easily be improved by cultivation, and in an excellent climate." He says, also, "I had not, from the time of my departure, a sick man among my ship's company, one man only excepted, whose skull had been fractured.'"

The Lady Nelson made a survey of the coast from Western Port to Wilson's Promontory for a distance of seventy miles; but the weather so much impeded her that Grant thought it better to make the best of his way back to Sydney, which he reached May 14th, 1801, having been obliged to shelter for four-and-twenty hours in Botany Bay.

The Hentys at Portland, and Batman and Fawkner at Port Phillip, are usually regarded as the first cultivators of the soil of Victoria; but Grant was the very first. The particulars of the earliest planting and harvest-home, which ever took place in the colony, are well worthy of some space in its history. The first cultivator must therefore be allowed to tell the tale of his husbandry. He describes how, a day or two after his arrival in Western Port, when in search of the stream described by Bass, he came upon a spot so well adapted for the purposes of culture, that he determined to have it prepared for the reception of the seeds which he had brought with him. Grant thus gives his own account:—

"In proceeding along the shore, I fell in with an island, pleasantly situated, and separated from the main by a very narrow channel at low water, but even then sufficient for a boat to pass, though much larger when the tide is in. I passed through it and landed on the island towards the N. and W. It is of gradual ascent, well covered with trees of a considerable height, and much underwood. The situation of it was so pleasant, and the prospects round it so agreeable, that this, together with the richness of the soil and the sheltered position of the spot, made me conceive the idea that it was excellently adapted for a garden. Having determined upon establishing a garden in this place, I thought it incumbent upon me to give the island the name of Churchill, after a generous and public-spirited gentleman, John Churchill, Esq., of Dawlish, in the county of Devon, who, on my leaving England, supplied me with a variety of seeds of useful vegetables, together with the stones of peaches, nectarines, and the pepins or kernels of several sorts of apples, with an injunction to plant them for the future benefit of our fellow-men, be they countrymen, Europeans, or savages. I had, moreover, been furnished with many seeds for the like liberal purpose by my friend Captain Schank; but let me not omit the pepin of an apple, differing from all other fruit of the kind, in having rarely more than one pepin in each apple. I hope the name I gave with it in New Holland will not be forgotten (Lady Elizabeth Percy's Apple), should it happen to prove a common fruit of the country, as it was owing to her ladyship's care and attention in preparing the pepins that I was enabled to introduce it."

The narrative is again taken up,—

"On the 28th March, 1801, not having found any other place fitter for the purpose, I went on shore at Churchill's Island, with the resolution of clearing ground for a garden, as I before mentioned was my intention. The party I took with me burnt a space of about twenty rods; they felled the larger trees. . . . I was pleased to find the soil easy to dig, rich and loose.

"On our return to Churchill's Island," continues Grant, three or four day 8 afterwards, "I found my people had cleared the spot I had laid out for a garden, and that there was nothing wanting but to prepare the ground to receive such seeds as I should choose to plant. And here we were under a difficulty which it was no easy matter to remedy, for we had neither hoe nor spade with us. It is true I had brought out the latter implements for gardening with me from England, by the advice of my friend Captain Schank, who foresaw the occasion we should have for them, and they were delivered, amongst other things, into his Majesty's storehouse, from whence, from whatever principle of economy and good management, it was not easy to draw anything out again.

"However, we were in possession of a coal-shovel, which, though it was thin and much worn, served the purpose, the soil being, as I have already observed, exceedingly light and easy to work; indeed, a spade was much wanted in another respect, which was digging for water—an experiment I was desirous of making, and which I found could not well be made with a coal-shovel."

*     *     *     *     *

This historical coal-shovel should certainly have been reserved for a place of honour in the Museum of the Colony.

"The ground was now prepared, and I sowed my several sorts of seeds, together with wheat, Indian corn and peas, some grains of rice, and some coffee-berries; and I did not forget to plant potatoes. With the trunks of the trees I felled I raised a blockhouse of 24 feet by 12, which will probably remain for some years, the supporters being well fixed in the earth. Indeed, I was anxious to mark my predilection for this spot on account of its beautiful situation, insomuch that I scarcely know a place I should sooner call mine than this little island. Round this skeleton of a mansion-house I planted the stones and kernels of the several fruits I had brought out, not forgetting that of the curious apple before mentioned. I made this plantation rather late in the season, but I am in hopes that some of the crops will flourish, and I wait the pleasure of a good report hereafter. Several of my crew remained on this island for seven or eight days. . . . Birds they found, and particularly parrots in great numbers; but in their search for water they were unsuccessful, though I am strongly of opinion it might be procured by digging. . . . We turned up a few stones, and some interspersed with veins of iron ore,—indeed, so rich of the metal that they had a visible effect on the needle of our compass."

Having given, in Grant's own words, the particulars of the first planting of Victorian soil, which was certainly effected under serious difficulties—considering that the only implement was a coal-shovel—we must now record the first harvest-home which ever took place in the territory. It is described in the log of the Lady Nelson—of which we shall speak in the next chapter. That vessel, in command of Lieutenant Murray, again entered Western Port, December 7th, 1801, and anchored in Elizabeth Cove. Next day she was taken up to Lady Nelson Point.

On the morning of the 9th, Murray records:—

"A.M.—I went in the gig to Churchill Island, and there found everything as we left it—I mean the remains of our fires and huts. The wheat and corn that Lieutenant Grant had sown in April last was in full vigour, six feet high, and almost ripe; the onions also were grown into seed; the potatoes have disappeared. I fancy that the different animals that inhabit the island must have ate them or otherwise destroyed them. I regretted not having time or men to spare to clear a larger spot, and sow the wheat already grown, as the next crop would be large. I never saw finer wheat or corn in my life, the straw being very near as large as young sugar-cane."

The log further states, on the same day, after mentioning the capture of three pair of young swans:—

"At 3 p.m., sent the second mate to Churchill Island to cut down the wheat on purpose to feed the young swans with it. At sun-down they returned on hoard with the wheat, in the whole, perhaps, a bushel in quantity, a good deal mixed with oats and barley, all fine of their kind; some potatoes also were found, and two onions."

Such was the result of the very first cultivation of the soil of Victoria.

But to return for a moment to Grant. He informs us that Governor King was well pleased with what he had done, although the weather had prevented him from carrying out the whole of his instructions. His expectations in New South Wales, however, not having been realized, he sailed from Sydney for England on November 9th, 1801, three days before the Lady Nelson, commanded by Murray, started on the expedition, of which we shall next give the results.

In the New South Wales Correspondence ** is a despatch of July 8th, 1801, in which Governor King acquaints the Duke of Portland with the result of Grant's expedition to Western Port in the following terms:—

[** Record Office.]

"Having in my last informed that the Lady Nelson in coming here passed through Bass's Straits, agreeable to your Grace's directions, and that Lieutenant Grant was sent to survey and examine that passage; but from the inclemency of the weather in that high latitude at this season, his discoveries have extended no further than making a minute survey, and ascertaining Western Port to be a safe and spacious harbour for any number of ships. Lieutenant Grant, and the officers who were on that survey, report the soil about Western Port to be equal in goodness to that of Norfolk Island. The important situation of that port, and its relative connexion with this settlement, point it out as a proper and necessary place to have a settlement at, not only from its convenient situation in the centre of the Straits for ships to stop at, either by reason of adverse winds or any other cause, but also from its advantageous situation for a seal fishery, which will be more particularly explained on the chart sent by the Albion, which has been ably surveyed by Ensign Barrallier of the New South Wales Corps, and who will be a great acquisition in surveying and delineating these hitherto unknown coasts, as, unfortunately, Lieutenant Grant, although a good seaman and a sober, steady, capable officer, yet he has no knowledge of surveying and delineation—this necessary qualification in officers of the navy not being so much attended to as the more active and important duties of their profession. The Lady Nelson returned here the 15th May."

After reporting that she was then absent, the Governor adds:—

"As the Lady Nelson will return here by the 1st August, I intend to despatch her and another colonial vessel in September to survey and examine Bass's Straits and the south-west coast."

We must now give the leading incidents connected with the second visit of the Lady Nelson to Western Port, as related in Lieutenant Murray's log, which, having never yet been published, is quoted at greater length in the following pages than it need otherwise have appeared. The little vessel left Sydney November 12th, 1801, and after Murray had made some observations at Kent's Group, she sighted Sir Roger Curtis's Island and Wilson's Promontory on the evening of December 5th, 1801, and, on that of the 6th, Cape Liptrap and Phillip Island.

It is stated that next morning the island was rounded, and that the ship got close up with Grant's Point. Numerous soundings and "light baffling" winds are recorded, and at length, at 6 p.m. on the 7th, so runs the log:—

"Gained the entrance and passed between Grant's Point and Seal Island, which island seemed as full of seals as when we were last here,—a circumstance that almost makes me conclude that neither the Harrington or Mr. Rushford have been here. Kept standing up the harbour with a S.W. wind; at seven came to anchor in Elizabeth Cove in six fathoms water, with. . . . Lowered down the gig, and I went on shore to observe if any signs of strangers were to be seen. Saw nothing to make me think the cove had been visited since we left it in May last; in short, the only difference was that the land appeared in a higher state of verdure now that it was at that time."

Next day the vessel went up to Lady Nelson Point, and then as near the mouth of the river as possible. On the 9th, the corn which was planted in April was, as we have seen, reaped. At the river, everything seemed the same as when they had been there before, leaving the presumption that no vessel had been up for water. There had evidently been a flood in the river, for a temporary hut built on its banks was partly washed away? These were "in a high state of verdure, and in many places the view truly romantic and wild."

On the 11th, Murray ran to Lady Nelson Point, and "anchored in the mouth of the salt-water lagoon, seven-fathom water." On the 16th he walked along the beach six or seven miles, but saw no signs of strangers having been there; and Bowen, the first mate, with a boat's crew, went to Seal Island, which, he reported, could not have been visited by any one since the previous voyage of the Lady Nelson, as the "seals were as plenty as ever, and several thousand pups lying on shore." Next day, Murray says, "As it continued calm all night, and seeing we could not proceed to sea this day, I again sent" Bowen "to Seal Island to get some of the skins, both as a specimen to Government and for our own uses, as several of the people were without hats or shoes." The previous day, several dozen rock-fish were caught at Grant's Point.

Murray records, on the 18th, a somewhat important discovery:—

"I sent Bond and Messing, two soldiers, to cut down some more wood, doing which they were fortunate enough to discover a spring of water, which, however, at first looked only equal to fill a breaker or two. I went on shore, and found, on clearing it a little with our hands, that at once we got a hundred gallons of very good water, much better than the river water which . . . . in particular rendered myself unfit to attend to duty. This discovery induced our farther search, and in the morning a spring was found that, on being cleared, proved equal to watering, in a few days, a line-of-battle ship. Pleased with this circumstance, took a gang of hands on shore, and made a good road to it. We also cleared the spring of all the dirt, roots and boughs of fallen and decayed trees . . . . and found the bottom to be a rock or very large stones collected together. It is worth observing that in half an hour after it was entirely empty it was again quite full of clear good water. We now filled all our empty casks, and everything on board that would hold water, intending to go to sea when the wind would permit. As in this cove wood is plenty, the water is not above fifty yards from the seaside, and also that a vessel of any size may be wooded and watered in two or three days, and at the same time ride secure from all winds either close in, or farther out, it will not seem absurd in me to observe that it is the best place in the harbour for any vessel to lay in, whether her stay is to be short or long. It may also be noticed that besides this large spring there are several other lesser ones, at one of which . . . we at once filled one hundred gallons of water, and this morning it was again overflowing. I must now remark that the soil of this island as far as we have penetrated is very sandy; no black mould is seen. The trees are very small, and invariably decayed . . . although this cove and island can supply a ship in abundance with what is generally considered the greatest of her wants, yet I fancy it would poorly pay a settler."

Particulars like these, which have hitherto been unpublished, may be of value, as enabling places now well known and inhabited, to be identified as those thus early described; and possibly some of the first colonists of these parts may be able to remember traces of the visits of the Lady Nelson for which they have, perhaps, hitherto been unable to account.

On December 20th Murray "got a large board hung up at the entrance of the road to Fresh Well or Spring, on which was painted in oil colours directions for any stranger how to get to the Watering Place"; the pathway to it he also had levelled, so that water-butts might be rolled along it.

Everything was for some days ready for sea, but the winds, as usual, were unfavourable.

At length Murray is able to record, on December the 24th:—

"At 8 a.m. hove up and made all sail down the harbour; at nine the wind died away, and we towed hack into Elizabeth's Cove again and dropped our small bower, but kept our sails loose, in order to be off the first spurt of wind. . . . At half-past one p.m. again hove up and made all sail down the harbour; but at 3 p.m. it again fell little wind and we came too in half-four fathoms water, about five miles below Elizabeth's Cove."

Here Murray went on shore, and walked down the beach a long way, but saw no signs of the Harrington or Mr. Rushford, of whom he expected to have found traces, or of any other person having been in the place. It again came on to blow, and as the vessel lay quite open to the sea, she had to run back to Elizabeth Cove, where she anchored after dark, and at daylight on Christmas morning was found to be nearly in her old anchorage. A sudden and violent squall came on at noon which caused a strain upon her three anchors. It continued for four hours and settled into a regular gale with thunder and lightning, and "more sea than" Murray "supposed was possible to be in this Cove." At 3 p.m. on the 26th, "the gale continued to increase and a sea got up still higher than it yet had been at any time since the gale commenced."

Murray says it was "the hardest by far I ever yet saw in this country, and as it blew dead on shore outside, nothing less than the greatest Providence could have saved us had we got to sea either of the times I attempted it." The entry in the log states that, "At 7 p.m., the weather looking very bad," they "made a run for Lady Nelson's Point, the gale following as hard as ever," and "at half-past 9 p.m. came to an anchor" there, and "lay easy in smooth Water . . . . right under the Land." On the 28th, however, "a strong wind sprung up at North, and from that veered to N.W. and blew hard. At 8 a.m. the vessel drove, and before the other Bower was gone and had hold, she tail'd in on a Mud Bank, which obliged us to weigh the Best Bower with Long Boat, and lay it out ahead to heave her off," and at flood tide they "ran her to the leaward of Lady Nelson's Point."

Speaking, on the 29th, of how his expedition had been impeded, Murray remarks, "Thus has this kind of weather bound us here this last 12 days, in spite of all our endeavours to proceed to sea." Next day it also blew hard.

On the 31st a number of swans were seen near Churchill's Island. Bowen, the first mate, was sent after them, and he succeeded in capturing six. The same afternoon, the weather having improved, the vessel ran down and anchored at Elizabeth's Cove, where wood and water were taken in. The well was in fine order, and mention is made of the discovery of another spring, "the banks of which where covered with watercresses and wild blackberries. Got some of both on board." On New Year's morning, 1802, "a strong wind coming from W.N.W., threw a sea into the Cove not at all pleasant. I therefore," says Murray, "up anchor and again ran up under Lady Nelson's Point, and at 11 a.m. anchored"; and "the New Year was usher'd in with us by splicing the mainbrace and three cheers, by the weather with a black squall of wind and rain, and this kind of weather continued with little or no variation till noon." During the next few days the weather gradually quieted down.

When the Lady Nelson was first at Western Port, none of the natives, and scarcely any traces of them, were observed, but during this second visit their fires were visible in several directions. At length, on January 4th, the day before the vessel's departure, a meeting with them took place, which is thus recorded in the log:—

"At 2 p.m. the launch returned on board. We have at last got some kind of knowledge of the natives of this part of the country. The following is the substance of the report of Mr. Bowen, first mate. At 7 a.m. left the head of the Fresh Water River, after having in vain looked for some of the crowned birds and having been able to shoot nothing (a few ducks excepted). Having proceeded down the river, and being nearly half way on board, he observed a fire lighted on the beach between Crown Head and the entrance of the river, and, thinking it could be nothing but natives, he immediately put back to prove, knowing I was extremely anxious to have, if possible, a friendly intercourse with them. As the boat approached the beach these blacks were perceived sitting in the same form as those of Sydney, and each of them a bundle of spears in their hands. Our people hollowed to them, which they instantly answered, and did not seem at all alarmed on the nearer approach of the boat. Three boys made their appearance. As between the beach and the boat there lay a bank of mud about 200 yards across, Mr. Bowen could not get quiet so close as he could wish. However, he singly got out and began to walk towards them, which when they perceived they jumped up on their feet, and it now was perceived that one of them was a very old man with a large bushy beard, and the rest of his face besmeared with red oaker; the others were young men. They were all clothed with the skins of Apposums as far as their middle, and this old man seemed to have command over the others. As Mr. Bowen advanced they all pulled off their dress and made signs to the officer, that before he came any nearer he must do the same. This was immediately complied with. They then all sat down again, and Mr. Bowen plucking a root of fern advanced pretty close to them, holding it up. They seemed to understand it as it was meant. When he got within a few yards of this party the old man seemed rather uneasy and began to handle his spears. Mr. Bowen then threw them a tomahawk, and one of the young men picked it up. On Mr. Bowen beckoning them to sit down, doing the same, they again threw him back the tomahawk, and all except the old man sat down. Mr. Bowen then broke a piece of stick, and cut it with the tomahawk and tied a handkerchief to it and again reached it to them. On this one of the young men ventured to reach his hand and take it out of the officer's, but would by no means be so familiar as to shake hands. Mr. Bowen then ate some bread and then gave them some which they did not eat, but carefully laid it by under some fern-roots or leaves. On getting some ducks they took no other notice of them than to examine in what manner they were killed. What their ideas on that head were we know not, as they did not take the least notice of our firearms even when, towards the latter end of the parley, it was found necessary to point one at the breast of the old man, who all along was very suspicious of our designs. All this time they expressed a good deal of wonder at the colour of Mr. Bowen's skin, and one of the young men made very significant signs to him that he must have washed himself very hard. They now made signs to Mr. Bowen to go back to the boat, and pointed down along the beach to Crown Head. Mr. Bowen accordingly went into the boat, and pulled down as they walked. After pulling about 1½ mile they stopped, and beckoned for the boat to come in. Here three women made their first appearance; each with a child at her back. Mr. Bowen went on shore. Here little passed on either side further than when Mr. Bowen asked for fire to warm himself they pointed to the boat and made signs for him to go there and get it. The women sometimes shook their hands to him and the boys laughing and whooping. A few more trifles were here given to them. A little before this all our people got out of the boat stark naked, as was desired, and walked somewhat near the natives, on which the old man sent the boys away to the women, and he, after having in a great passion made signs for us to go to the boat, began to retire with his face to us, and brandishing his spear, so that every one thought he would heave. When our people turned their backs the young men seemed more quiet. As we saw that all hope of further intercourse for the present was at an end, Mr. Bowen ordered Bond to fire his piece over their heads in order to make good his retreat to the boat. This had the desired effect, as they one and all were out of sight in an instant. Before this they must have taken the musket for nothing but a stick. All the weapons they were possessed of was their spears (them of a small size) and a stone tomahawk along with the Wumara they throw with. With respect to their size the young men where much the same as those of Sydney, but the old man was very stout. Their hair was in the same nasty manner as those of Sydney. Their understanding, however, seems to go beyond those of Sydney, or Jarvis's Bay. They were not deficient in making out our signs and we were easy able to understand from their motions what they would be at. From there being but little food for them on the beach here, and their being clothed in the skins of Apposums, I presume they are bush natives. The women, I forgot to mention, appeared to be middling well-shaped and good-looking children. They were, however, always at some distance. Mr. Bowen and the people having joined the boat, came on board. Observed that all the remainder of the day they retired back into the woods, and about 6 p.m. doused their fire at once, although it must have covered near an acre of ground."

Next morning, January 5th, 1802, the Lady Nelson was at length able to run out of Western Port upon the important cruise of which we shall treat in the next chapter. In the midst, however, of her discoveries, she returned to this friendly harbour, remaining in it, on this third visit, from January 31st till February 15th.

Among the chief incidents recorded in the log during this stay, is a walk which Murray took, of seven or eight miles along the beach to Lady Nelson's Point, when he observed a great variety of birds, flights of white cockatoos, and twenty or thirty swans on the Salt Water Lagoon. The birds were all so shy that only a single pigeon could be shot.

Murray remarks that "the trees where all in bloom", and "I am apt to think summer does not begin in this part till January. On penetrating further into this Island the soil was found good as far as we are judges."

Some of the birds coming to drink at the well on the shore, were shot by a man who was placed to sit near it for some hours towards sun-down.

It is recorded on the 5th, that, "as it was calm and no appearance of getting out, at 8 a.m. hove up and towed the vessel to Lady Nelson's Point in order to send the boat up the river for birds, such plenty of them of various kinds being on this Island. At noon dropped our anchor in six fathoms water, Lady Nelson's Point bearing W. b. S. half a mile, and Crown Head N.E. b. E. eight or nine miles, and Margarett Island N.E. half N. seven or eight miles."

On the 9th the vessel sailed down again to Elizabeth's Cove, and completed her supply of water and wood, intending to sail next morning, but the weather again interposed. It was calm on the 9th, with "a constant thick fiery haze, latterly it was so dark as to resemble the approach of night." On the 10th Murray observes that "for these two days past having found a quantity of oysters, mussels, and other shell fish at low water, to-day gave the shore a strict search at low water, and plainly perceived that a company of six or eight men would not run any risk or hazard of being starved here for several months." Some very handsome shells were also found. On the 12th and 13th they prepared to run out, but "it constantly kept falling calm", so that on the latter day the observation is made "that this kind of weather is as destructive to the intent of this cruise as gales at sea." Murray then took "a walk down along the beach far enough to see all the entrance to this port, and by ascending an eminence was confirmed in an opinion that several of those dangerous sand rollers had shifted their births, and by so doing had rendered the channel narrower than hithertofore."

Thus the discoverer passed his time, while waiting for a favourable opportunity of starting upon his most important cruise.



Existing accounts of discovery of Port Phillip Bay inaccurate—The forgotten log of the Lady Nelson—Correct dates of first discovery and entry of the Heads—The man who first entered them—Murray in the Lady Nelson sails from Western Port and discovers the new harbour—Steers for Cape Otway and examines King's Island—Returns to Western Port—Entrance to Port Phillip examined—The Lady Nelson anchors in the bay—Entries in her log in extenso.

IT is surprising that the facts respecting so important a discovery as that of Port Phillip Bay should have remained up to the present time so imperfectly known, that the date should be erroneously stated, and the name of the man who first entered the bay should have been entirely forgotten, or more probably have never been made public. But so it is.

Curiosity has been hitherto content with the statement that Lieutenant Murray, in the Lady Nelson, discovered the bay on February 15th, 1802, that he named it Port King, called a hill on the right of the entrance Arthur's Seat, and compared the shores to Greenwich Park.

For further and more full particulars of the bay, the description of Flinders, who entered it about six weeks after Murray left it, is quoted almost as if he had been the original discoverer, although he spent a much shorter time inside the Heads than Murray, who was almost a month in the bay. In fact Flinders is the only one who has ever done any justice to the man who bore off from him the prize of the discovery, for it is he who has published the few facts which have been recorded of Murray's expedition.

It is a remarkable instance of the small value often attached to important discoveries when first made, that the log of the Lady Nelson, in which Murray so minutely describes every day's proceedings, should have been immediately laid aside, and since it was sent to England have possibly only been read through for the first time by the author, in the Record Office, within the last four or five years. It was with no ordinary interest and pleasure that he perused this document, containing the first writing ever committed to paper within the bay upon which now stands his native city. The reader has already had an introduction to the log in the last chapter.

With a despatch to the Duke of Portland, of May 21st, 1802, Governor King forwards the log and charts, and says that he hopes these documents "will convince your Grace that that highly useful vessel, the Lady Nelson, has not been idle, since under my direction, and although Mr. Murray unfortunately does not possess the qualities of an astronomer and surveyor, yet I trust his efforts and success will, in proportion to his conduct as a seaman and officer, more effectually ensure your Grace's recommending him for his being confirmed as a Lieutenant in the Navy, and in the command of the Lady Nelson, which I hope he will appear deserving of."

Had Murray been as good a penman as many discoverers who have not had half as much to relate, he would have published some account of his proceedings, which would have prevented them from being even temporarily forgotten. It is not to be supposed that the writers on Victorian exploration, who have derived their information from Colonial sources, could have given the particulars now brought to light; for the log of the Lady Nelson, the only written record of Murray's exploration, has been in this country almost from the time of its first existence,—having, as we have seen, been sent from Sydney within less than two months of the date of the return of the vessel to that port, March 24th, 1802. It is time, therefore, that the exact facts of the discovery should be made public, especially when we find a recent writer like Mr. Trollope stating that, Flinders "is the first who has left us any record of his having landed on the country which we now call Victoria."

It need scarcely be added that Mr. Rusden, whom Mr. Trollope mentions as his authority upon the early history of the colony, and who is as accurate as any writer can be who has not consulted the documents in the Record Office, has written nothing from which the statement in question could even be inferentially drawn.

The author being curious to see, if extant, some account by Murray himself, of his great discovery, instead of the meagre, second-hand statements of it which alone are current, inquired at the Record Office, and finding that the log of the Lady Nelson was there, obtained permission from the Admiralty to inspect and copy it.

This valuable document requires that the following important corrections should be made in the statements which have so long been accepted respecting the discovery of Port Phillip Bay. The date of that event is upwards of six weeks earlier than that which is generally assigned to it,—being Tuesday, January 5th, 1802, and not February 15th; and the Heads were first entered on February 1st or 2nd, by Mr. Bowen, first mate of the Lady Nelson, who was sent round from Western Port with five men in the launch of that vessel, to examine the entrance; Murray prudently thinking that, as he had been obliged to turn away after nearly getting into the bay on January 5th, it was advisable that such an investigation should take place before making a second attempt to take in his ship.

On failing in the first, Murray steered towards Cape Otway and then down to King's Island, returning to Western Port, January 31st,—the weather having, as usual, been most unpropitious. Bowen was accordingly despatched early next morning, Feb. 1st, and returned to the Lady Nelson in Western Port late in the evening of the 4th, having accomplished his object; so that unless he spent a night in the ocean, or on shore outside the Heads,—which is not stated and seems very improbable—he must have entered the bay on the 1st, and remained inside it during the 2nd and 3rd, returning to the Lady Nelson on the 4th.

The weather—of which Murray says in one entry in his log, "I never experienced such a length of bad weather at any time of year or in any country since I sailed the seas"—again detained the Lady Nelson until Feb. 15th, when she sailed from Western Port, and safely anchored inside Port Phillip Heads—the 15th being the date now universally given as that of the first discovery. This confusion of the day when the Lady Nelson sighted the Heads, with that when she first entered them, ought not to have occurred; for in the printed sheet in the British Museum, entitled "Observations upon the Chart of Bass's Straits Combined", by Ensign Barrallier, and referred to at page 46, it is correctly stated that Murray discovered Port Phillip, January 5th, 1802, and that it was "examined by him from 14th February to 11th March."

Not only is no point on the bay, which he was the first to enter, called after Bowen, but his name is altogether forgotten, even if it were ever publicly mentioned in connexion with the discovery. He at least deserved to have one of the Heads called after him; and the other should have borne the name of Murray, which also has not been attached to any place in the territory in the exploration of which he rendered such valuable services. Surely it can never be too late to make reparation to the memories of deserving men! Bowen, who appears all through the expedition as a most active and efficient officer, and valuable assistant to Murray, must not be confused with his name-sake, who was subsequently engaged in founding the first settlement in Van Diemen's Land, at the Derwent.

Having thus briefly stated the important corrections in the history of the discovery of Port Phillip Bay, it will be desirable to go more into detail respecting Murray's proceedings, and to give some considerable extracts from his long-forgotten log. This document is not written in the most accomplished literary style—the writer almost invariably spelling were "where", and sure "shure." It is, however, full of important particulars; and besides recording the ordinary monotonous facts as to wind and weather, ship's courses and concerns, is very descriptive of the incidents of the voyage.

On Nov. 12, 1801, the Lady Nelson sailed out of Port Jackson upon her memorable expedition, to fill up the few remaining blanks in the map of the coast-line of our present colony, and to more completely examine some points already discovered. Murray was also to extend his investigations to some of the islands in Bass's Strait. He accordingly, in the first instance, proceeded to Kent's Group, which he reached Nov. 20th, and quitted Dec. 5th, anchor being cast at Elizabeth Cove, Western Port, on the 7th.

The log records, as we have seen in the last chapter, the incidents of the ship's stay in that harbour. She was detained for several days after being made ready for sea, sometimes by too light and at others by too strong winds,—being obliged to go back to her safest anchoring-grounds on two or three occasions when she attempted to leave the port. It was fortunate that she did not get out; for such a violent gale came on, that Murray expresses doubts if she could have stood it had she been outside.

At length the famous Tuesday, January 5th, 1802, arrived; and we shall learn, in the words of Murray himself, what happened:—

"At * 4 a.m. a light Wind sprung up at East, got our kedge, hove short loosed sails and hove up; made sail for Elizabeth's Cove. At half-past 6 a.m. came to an Anchor, sent our Empty Casks on Shore and compleated our Water. In Launch. At 9 a.m. hove up and made Sail down the Port. Wind at S.E. and a Stiff breeze with Clear Weather. At noon Cape Shanks bore N.W. distant seven miles, Grant's Point N.E. by E. ten or twelve miles, and Philip's Island East twenty miles.

[* It will be observed that in this log the days begin at noon; so that this first paragraph appears under the head of January 4th.]

"Winds from S.E. to East with Clear Weather. At a Quarter past one p.m. Cape Shank bore N.E. b. N; nine miles. Kept running down along the Land Steering West and West by North in order to train the whole of this Land along. Found it impossible to survey any part of the Coast as yet from the numerous Natives Fires which cover'd this low Shore in one volume of Smoke.** At 3 p.m. we saw a head Land bearing W.N.W., distant about twelve miles, and an opening in the Land that had the appearance of a Harbour N.W. ten or twelve miles. Bore away for this last, it having the appearance of fine Steady Weather although the Wind now Blowing was dead on the whole of this Shore. Yet I knew she would work off in case we were deceiv'd. Accordingly kept standing down for this entrance which every minute, from its appearance, made us shure it was a good Harbour. At 5 p.m. saw a small Island in the entrance, and observed that between it and the main lay a Reef in appearance. On my seeing this we bore away to the Leeward of this Rock, and I had the 1st Mate and Boatswain's Mate *** at the Mast Head looking out. At this time I suppose we were within 1½ mile of the entrance, as we thought, and I perceiv'd that the Sea Broke Short and was withall heavy, hove the Lead and found only ten fathoms Water. Astonished at this I hauled our Wind and called out to them at the Mast Head to know if they saw any danger, but none was at time seen. I bore away again and deep'd into eleven fathoms, when Mr. Bowen called out Rocks Ahead; immediately hauled our Wind and stood off. On closer observation of my own, and going often to the Mast Head, I saw that the Reef did nearly stretch across the whole way, but inside saw a fine Sheet of smooth Water of great extent. From the Wind blowing dead on this Shore and fresh, I was obliged to haul off under a press of Sail to clear the Land, but with a determination to overhaul it by and by, as no doubt it has a Channel into it, and is apparently a fine Harbour of large extent. Kept pressing Sail, and by 8 p.m. the extreams of the Land bore from N.W. to West; distance twenty miles, I fancy. It luckily happen'd that the Wind blow'd about as much as our vessel likes, and I am convinced that, under our circumstance, no vessel would have done more. I wish I could say as much for her in Light Winds. During Night Tack'd off and on every two hours. At day-light the haze over the Land prevented our seeing it, as the Wind blow'd at East and E.N.E. with a heavy Sea on. I did not like to bear down on a Lee Shore, and so kept our Wind. Stretching over for the Westernmost Side of the Bay—it is proper to observe that no part of this Bay as yet has been Survey'd owing to the Sea Wind, and the before-mentioned numerous Fires of the Natives; but as our Courses and distance were all with a free Wind till we haul'd off, and then also we made a Streight Course and little Lee way, there will no great mistake be found in that part of this Bay laid down till 8 p.m. from our run from Western Port; the apparent Soil of all the Land from abreast of Elizabeth's Cove to Cape Shanks is excellent, after you round Cape Shanks and stand down to the Westward the Land is invariably Low and Sandy with little humocks here and there of Grass, and small Bushes till you get down as far as this supposed Harbour. On the opposite side of it the Land gently rises a little for about ten or twelve miles, seemingly good Ground; it then Sweeps away in a long bight of Low Land which we just could perceive at Sun down. Had the Wind moderated or the Sea gone down, I would certainly have run down to that Low Land and train'd it along as well as every other part of this Bay; in the present State of Wind and Sea it would not have been prudent or safe. At Noon saw the distant appearance of Land on our Larboard Beam, and from our Latitude observ'd 38° 48' 04", I take it to be somewhere near about Cape Shanks. Bore away for Cape Albany.* Ends in gloomy Weather and the Scud passing over head from the S.W. Had Altitudes for Time Keeper one Set giving Longitude 144° 35' 00", and the second Longitude 144° 35' 15" East. All this twenty-four hours Sounded Gd. from forty-five to thirty-three fathoms. Sand mix'd with Shells and Brown Specks."

[** This was possibly only that deceptive blue, hazy, atmospheric appearance, which in summer often alarms even experienced bushmen, making them think that bush fires are upon them, whereas the haze is either the result of heat or produced by smoke blown from bush fires at a considerable distance.]

[*** In a subsequent entry Barnes is the name given to the boatswain's mate.]

[* At first named Cape Albany Otway, but since the colonization of the territory known as Cape Otway.]

The entry of January 6th, 1802, is as follows:—

"Fresh Winds from S.E. to N.E. and a very high Sea up owing, 3 fancy, to the late long Gale. Kept running for Cape Albany, and by 7 p.m., having nearly run into its Latitude and Longitude, took one Reef in the Topsail and Main Sail and Stow'd small Sails. Stood off and on during Night. In the Morning it was very hazy, otherwise we would have seen the Land. At 7 a.m." (January 7th) "bore up West and W.N.W., being nearly in its Latitude, and at half-past nine a.m. saw it (Cape Albany) bearing W.N.W., ten or twelve miles distance, and Cape Danger N.W., sixteen or seventeen Miles; both these capes make with a white Sandy Front and Middling high. All the Land between is Sandy hills and long Sandy Beach, as also what part of the Land we saw stretching into Portland Bay. Sounded Ground (all these twenty-four hours) every two hours, and found no difference in the Soundings (which were from thirty-three to thirty-eight to thirty-two), the Ground being invariably Sand mixed with Shells and Brown Specks, sometimes a little gravel till the last time, when we had only twenty-four fathoms fine Sand. At this time Cape Albany bore N.W., twenty-six or twenty-seven Miles. At Noon hauled our Wind for Harminger Rock, but owing to the very heavy Sea and wind we did not make better than a S.E. course, the vessel Labouring and pitching a great deal. The Latitude Observed was 39° 46' 22" South. A.M. had altitude for Time Keeper giving 1st Set 144° 04' 00", and 2nd Set 144° 04' 15" East, and the Latitude at Noon at this time was 39° 20' 00" South.

"Thursday, 7th January, 1802.—From Noon till 5 p.m. Strong Winds at N.N.E. and a confus'd heavy Sea on, the vessel Labouring much. . . . At 5 p.m. we had several Squalls from N.W. to S.W., and so hot as to resemble the Steam of an Oven with a Firey looking Sky; this Weather in half an hour settled into a hard Gale at S.W. Close reef'd the Top Sails and handed them. Close reef'd the Main Sail; sent down the Top Gallant Yards and Masts. Up Fore Sail and Lay too Under close reef'd M. Sail and Storm Stay Sail; by 7 a most tumultuous Sea was up; we laboured much and lurch'd very heavy. At 8 p.m. it moderated a little with Rain, and from that till 4 a.m." (January 8th) "we had partial Squalls. Made some Sail; at 6 a.m. it clear'd up. Set close reef'd Top Sails; at 8 up Top gallant Yards and Masts, and Set the Sails, out all reefs, intending to make Governor King's Island while this clear Weather continued. It will be seen that the unfavourable Winds and Weather have totally prevented me from either tracing the Coast from Cape Shank to Cape Albany, as also after making Cape Albany, from being able to run on Straight Course to Harminger Rock; both of these Points, however, will be attempted afterwards—had Altitd. for Time Keeper 1st Set giving Longd. 145° 08' 15"; 2nd Set 145° 09' 30", which causes me to suspect there must be an Easterly Current running. At Noon fine clear Weather and Smooth Water, a thing rather new to us. Latitude by an Altitude of ☉ Lower Limb 39° 58' 46" South."

Subsequent observations made on the afternoon of the same day, the 8th, Murray says, "confirmed me in an opinion that we must have been driven to the eastward. Accordingly at three p.m., seeing no land from the mast-head with a clear horizon, hauled our wind to the westward." The log records that about six o'clock on the morning of the 10th,—

"Saw the Loom of the Land from the Mast Head, which I take to be Governor King's Island; its Southern most Point bore S.W. Southerly distant sixteen Miles, and its North Wester most Point or Extreams W.N.W., fourteen or fifteen Miles. We only could see it now and then as the Squalls passed over it. At 7 a.m. we had some hard Squalls at W.N.W. and W. b. N., which made us lower our Top Sails to them; they where attended with hard Rain. At 8 it cleared a little, but in a Quarter of an Hour was Black and Squally again. Kept working up to this Land, which I rather think, from its Longde., is part of the same that on the Sixth I saw, and supos'd the Northern most Cape of it to be Cape Danger, and another Cape Albany. I have not, however, seen either of them yet, but will, in making the Circuit, easily know them, both being Sandy Bluffs. Got Altitude for the Chror., giving Longitude, 1st Set 143° 57' 45", and 2nd Set 143° 59' 45". Tacking Occasionally to gain the Land, but made little of it from the Strong Wind and Confused Sea running . . . Latitude observed 39° 53' 07"."

On the 11th the Lady Nelson anchored in Elephant Bay, so called from "a great number of Sea Elephants of an immense size lying asleep on the beach. On Elephant rock, which was about one and half miles in circumference, there might have been 6 or 7000 seals of different sizes." The entry of the 17th, when the ship had returned to that bay, states:—

"We have now overhauled and Surveyed the Island from its N.W. and Westermost Points to its South West Points, being in length about fifty-five or sixty Miles, and although the Westerly Winds that have blown for such a length of time has retarded our Voyage, yet they have enabled us to Strictly Search every part of this Island between the before-mentioned points, and should a N.E. Wind come and remain Steady for a few days we will be able to overhaul the remaining part of ye Island with equal accuracy. Of the advantages to be derived from this fine Island I shall say but little, the plain truth is to be seen in this journal—it contains plenty of Wood and Water; the Woods are full of animals, and excellent of their kind; the Shores are lined with fine Oil (if I may be allow'd the expression), and this part of the Island has two good Bays in it well Sheltered from all the dangerous Winds that I understand blow in this Country. It is a fact that all along this Coast a vessel may anchor (as I did) unless the Wind blows from the East, S.E., N.E., or North Points of the Compass. It is proper to observe that I named this last discovered Bay The Bay of Seals, from the number of those animals on the Shores of it, and the Rocks outside of this Bay Seal Rocks."

Murray afterwards ran as far south as Three Hummock Island, and, returning to King's Island in the forenoon of the 27th, "stood for the Sand Capes or Bluffs", the largest and perpendicular one of which he named Cape Farewell, and "took a departure from it, intending to run to Cape Albany."

At noon the latitude observed was 39° 25' 18". "Until 8 p.m." the log reports,—

"Had variable Winds and hot, sickly Weather, and a dull, fiery sky, and so thick that we could not see above a mile ahead. Kept making our course for Cape Albany as the wind would allow."

At four in the morning of the 28th they were obliged to lie to in a gale with a very high sea. The altitude gave Longitude 143° 30' 40" and the latitude observed was 39° 12' 33". Murray says,—

"This Weather has again rendered abortive my plan of getting the direct line of bearing and distance between Cape Farewell and Cape Albany Oatway. It is useless to animadvert on it. I shall only observe that I never experienced such a length of bad Weather at any time of the year, or in any country since I sailed the seas. . . . At noon wore to the S.W." and did so again to N. at 8 p.m. At the same hour next morning (29th) tacked to the S.W. "A.M. Had Altitude for time-keeper, one set giving longitude 144° 28' 45" east, and [2nd set 144° 25' 00" **] these differ from Dead Reckoning twenty miles; therefore an easterly current must run if the chronometer speaks truth. At noon the gale rather increased, with most surprising heavy squalls, hail, and rain. Latitude observed 39° 16' 48" south. Tacked in a very high sea to the northward. . . . Kept pressing sail in order (if possible) to gain some westing."

[** Words in brackets are struck out in pencil in the log.]

On the 30th,—
"At half-past 5 a.m. saw the Land bearing from W.N.W. to N.E., distant about six or seven leagues. Tacked to the S.W. At 8 a.m.; the body of this Land bore N.W., distant about eight or nine leagues. At half-past 9 a.m. tacked and stood in for the Land; sounding every hour. . . . At noon we chanced to get the sun's Altitude, giving Latitude 38° 49' 00", So. Longitude from time-keeper 144° 05' 00", and Longitude by Dead Reckoning 143° 46' 45"; course N. 37° W., and distance twenty-seven Miles. As the Weather again looked much like a S.W. gale we tacked and stood off from the Land, its North-western cape bearing N.W., distant four leagues, and its North-eastern extreams N.E. b. N. four or five leagues. The North Cape of this Land makes Bold, and no Low Land was to be seen to the northward of it. [It is to be observed that if this is Cape Albany it lies twenty Miles to the Northward of what Lieut. Grant has laid it down in.***] The very bad weather has again prevented me at this time from overhauling this Cape or tracing the adjoining Coast."

[*** Sentence in brackets is struck out in pencil.]

Murray seems at times to have been doubtful as to his position. On the 10th, we have seen, he was uncertain whether the two capes of King's Island were not those which he had previously described as Cape Albany (Otway) and Cape Danger; and he says nothing afterwards to clear up the point. We shall now find him arriving unexpectedly at the next place he reached. There can be no doubt, however, as to Western Port, where he had previously been with Lieutenant Grant in April and May, 1801, of Kent's Group, King's Island or Port Phillip Bay, at all of which he remained some time.

We shall continue in his own words the record of his sail on the 30th and 31st,—

"At 4 p.m.," on the former, "tacked to the N.W. in order to keep hold of the Land till more favourable Weather came. At 8 p.m. again tacked; hazy cloudy weather. At 12 p.m. again tacked, and stood in for the Land all Night. At 6 a.m." (January 31st) "saw it bearing North five or six leagues distant. At half-past 9 a.m. had Altitudes for chronometer, 1st set giving Longitude 144° 12' 15" [and 2nd set 144° 18' 30" *] At this time the Northern point of Land bore North, distance twelve miles, and its North-eastern extreams N.E. b. N. fourteen miles. Made sail in for it with Top-gallant sails, Royals, and all our small sails. At 10 a.m. perceived with surprise it was Cape Shanks and Grant's Point instead of Cape Albany. I now judged it most prudent to get in, and send our boat down to overhaul for a Channell into the Harbor mentioned in the log of the 5th of this month. Accordingly stood in for it, and by noon Cape Shank bore N.W., distant six or seven miles, and Grant's Point N.E. b. E. ten or eleven miles. We had a very heavy Swell, and perceived the Surf about Seal Island Breaking in a fearfull manner. Sounded every hour as pr. colume . . . . Fine Weather and fresh Winds from S.E. to East; latterly it closed in with Wind at S.W. and hazy Weather. At 2 p.m. passed Seal Island and kept standing up the Port. Observed that the long range of Breakers on the Western Side of the Port had, several of them, shifted their berths nearer to Mid-channell, and instead of lying in an East and West direction now lay almost North and South; the whole of them, for several Miles, Broke incessantly and remarkable lofty; we passed within two Miles of them. The Reefs on the Eastern Side also broke much farther out than ever I saw them do before. In short, the Mid-channel up this Port has (by the immense run of bad Weather) apparently been made a great deal narrower than when we left it a month ago. We Sounded all the way up and had from seventeen to four fathoms."

[* Drawn through in pencil.]

And now, in the very next sentence, are recorded the interesting particulars of the prompt despatch of Bowen to investigate the entrance to Port Phillip Bay,—

"By 5 p.m. got to an anchor in Elizabeth's Cove with the Best Bower, and moored with the Kedge; out Boats and got the Launch ready for sailing in the morning to explore the Channel of the Western Harbor before-mentioned. I went on shore in the gig. Found the well as we left it, full of fine clear Water, and our Board of directions hanging at the entrance of the Pathway, which was still in good order and level. At 4 a.m." (Feb. 1st) "I sent the Launch with Mr. Bowen and five men, armed with fourteen days' provision and water, down to the Westward as intended, giving him particular instructions how to act both with respect to the Harbor and the Natives, should he fall in with any; the substance of which was, that on finding a Channell into the Port he would take marks proper for coming in with the vessel and immediately return to me, and at all times to deal friendly with the Natives if they would allow him, but not on the other hand to run any risk or be trifled with. It may now be proper to observe that my intentions are that, if a passage into that Harbor is found, I will take the vessel down into it and Survey it as speedily as circumstances will allow; from that trace the coast to Cape Albany, from Cape Albany run strait to Cape Farewell and Harbinger Rocks; (and if time) after that follow up the remainder of my Orders."

The return of Bowen on Feb. 4th, from his successful examination of the entrance to Port Phillip, is thus recorded in the log of that date—

"At half-past 9 p.m. the Launch returned on board all well. Mr Bowen reported that a good Channel was found into this new Harbor Water from ten fathoms to six, and about a mile and a half broad; and according to his account it is a most noble sheet of Water, larger even than Western Port, with many fine Coves and entrances in it, and the appearance and probability of Rivers. A number of Shells where found on its Beaches; Swans, Pellicans, and Birds of various Sorts where seen in great numbers—the boat's crew lived on Swans all the time they were away. No Water was as yet found, the officer having no time to spare, nor no natives seen, but numbers of their huts. In short, from such a Report as I have received, and of the truth of which I have no doubt (as the attention and care of this officer has always been conspicuous), it would be unpardonable in me not to give this New Harbor a strict overhaul."

At length arrived Monday, Feb. 15th 1802,—a day much to be respected, but which has too long deprived two other worthy days of the honour of the first discovery and entry of Port Phillip Bay. The Log records that on Sunday—

"At 7 p.m. a breeze sprung up at S.E., with drizzling rain; it continued all night, and at 4 a.m." (Monday 15th) "we took up kedge in gig, loosed sails, and hove short. At 5 a.m. weighed and made all sail down the Port. By 8 a.m. Grant's Point bore E. b. N. distant ten or eleven miles, and Cape Shanks N.W. distant seven or eight miles. Kept running down along the Land at about eight or nine miles distant. Wind at S.E., hazy, foggy Weather. At half-past 10 a.m. Cape Shank bore E.S.E. distant fifteen miles, and the South Head of the New Harbour or Port N. b. E. eight or nine miles distant. By noon the Island in the entrance of this Harbour bore north ½ a mile distant. At this time we had a view of part of this Spacious Harbour; its entrance is wide enough to Work any vessel in, but a ten-fathom bar stretches itself a good way across, and with a strong tide out and the Wind in the ripple, is such as to cause a Stranger to suspect Bocks or Shoals ahead. We carried in with us Water from fourteen to six fathoms. Kept standing up the Port with all sail set."

The description is thus continued in the entry headed the 15th, which according to log-keeping begins at noon,—

"Fresh Winds from S.E. to South, and hazy Weather throughout. Working up the Port with a very strong Ebb against us we however gained ground. The Southern Shore of this noble Harbor is bold, high Land in general, and not clothed as all the Land of Western Port is with thick Brush, but with Stout Trees of various kinds, and in some places falls nothing short in Beauty and Appearance from Greenwich Park. Away to the Eastward, at the distance of about twenty miles, the Land is Mountainous; in particular, there is one very high Mountain, which in the meantime I named Arthur's Seat, from its resemblance to a mountain of that name a few miles from Edinburgh. To the N.E. b. N., about five miles from the South Shore, lies a cluster of small Rocky Islands, and all round them a Shoal of Sand. Plenty of Swans and Pelicans were found on them when the Boat was down, from which I named them Swan Isles. To the N.E. b. E. there is an opening, and from our Masthead no Land could be seen in it The Northern shores are low, with a Sandy Beach all along. At half-past 3 p.m. we got to anchor in a Sandy Cove in seven fathoms Water, Bottom fine Sand, Swan Isles bearing N.E. b. N. distant five miles. A Bold rocky point, which I named Point Patterson, E.S.E. 1½ mile; a long Sandy point, named Point Palmer, West 1½ mile; and the nearest point of the Shore S.W. quarter of a mile distant. Handed sails, &c., out boats, and I went on shore and walked through the Woods a couple of miles. The Ground was hard and pleasant to walk on, the Trees are at good distances from each other, and no Brush intercepts you; the soil is good as far as we may be judges. I saw several Native's Huts, and very lately they have burnt off several hundred Acres of Ground. Young Grass we found springing up over all the ground we walked; the only Birds we saw were a few Parrots; we found some Shells on the Beach, and returned on board. I have named this Harbor Port King ** in honor of the Governor, P.G. King, under whose Orders I act. Set a Third watch of People with an officer. In the morning"—of the 16th—"sent the Gig to Swan Isles for Swans, and on board we caught a few Bock Fish. Employed on Sundry jobs about our Rigging. At noon the Gig returned with three live and four dead swans."

[** The pages of the Log of the ship's stay there are headed "H.M.A. Surveying vessel Lady Nelson, on Discovery, Port King."]



Murray describes features of the country—Interview with natives—Their treachery—Encounter with them—Twenty swans caught—State of boats retards investigations—Various operations—Spring between Arthur's Seat and Heads—Visit to sheet of water on western side—Possession of harbour formally taken—Imperial flag unfurled—Lady Nelson runs out of Heads—Arrives at Sydney—Murray's exertions—What became of the Lady Nelson.

THE log of the Lady Nelson having never yet seen the light, the author would not be justified in abridging the entries which it contains respecting the stay of the little vessel in Port Phillip Bay. These are, therefore, given in full in this chapter, from the day she entered the Heads, the log of which is inserted in the last, to that of her departure—Feb. 16th to March 12th inclusive. The reader will be far from disposed to grudge the space to particulars which are interesting in themselves, as well as from the importance attained by the place to which they relate.

"Tuesday, 16th.—Fine weather throughout. Wind N.E. After Dinner I took a Walk through the Woods of this part of the Country, attended by one soldier and our carpenter to examine the Wood. To describe this part I walked through is simply to say that it nearly resembles a Walk on Blackheath and the Park if we set out of Question the Houses and Gardens of the latter: the Hills and Valleys rise and fall with inexpressible elegance. We discovered no water, nor any new Wood of consequence, but it is impossible a great want of Water can be here from the number of Native Huts and Fires we fell in with in our march. From the top of a High Hill I ascended, and casting my eyes to the N.N.E. a large Sheet of Water was seen which I am induced to think is either a Harbour or a large River. We also perceived that this Port trained away up under Cape Shanks. On our return to the Boat Andw. Lusk found a perfect Nautilus shell; he made me a present of it. Indeed it is but common justice to observe that the invariable good, attentive, and decent behaviour of this old man, ever since he joined this vessel renders him a fit object of mercy. This day a few snappers were caught, and some Bock Fish. At sundown a native Fire was seen about a mile in land. In the morning early" (17th) "I sent Mr. Bowen and Bond, armed, to speak them. Neither fell in with them. At 9 a.m. hove up our Bower with a light air at N.E. and dropped a few miles further up the Port. We now saw the same fire just lighted by the Natives and presently perceived several of them come out of the Bush, but the moment they saw the vessel they sprung into the Woods out of Sight. At 11 a.m. we came to an anchor in five fathoms Water, handed Sails, &c. as there was a native Fire Burning a little way in Land, I sent the Launch with Mr. Bowen and four hands, armed, to see if any Natives where here, and before the Boat was half-way on Shore, we had the satisfaction of seeing eighteen or twenty men and boys come out of the Wood, and seat themselves down on a Green Bank waiting the approach of our Boat, with which I had sent some Shirts and other trifles to give them. The Boat accordingly landed in the midst of them, and a friendly intercourse took place with dancing on both sides. In an hour the Boat returned. Mr. Bowen had dressed them in our White Shirts, and invited them on Board. This, however, they declined, but exchanged for all this. Got a Basket of Straw neatly enough made. They where all clothed in the skins of oposums, and each had a Bundle of Spears, a Stone Mogo, and one Basket. They wished much to know what our Arms where, and their use, and did not seem entirely to believe Mr. Bowen that they were only walking-sticks. No women where amongst them. I sent the Boat again with some Bread, Looking-Glasses, Tomahawk, and a Picture, as Presents to induce them to part with some of the Weapons and Dresses, as also to inform us where there was water. Ends in fine Weather, Wind N.E."

The following is in the margin,—

"This day all hands put upon two-thirds allowance of bread."

"Wednesday, 17th.—Light airs inclinable to Calm throughout this twenty-four hours. The Boat (as mentioned in latter part of yesterday's Log)"—forenoon of same date—"proceeded to the Shore and were as before, received in a friendly manner by the natives, all of whom were seated in a circle on a beautiful spot of Grass near a high point of Land. Mr. Bowen and all the crew, consisting of five men and the boy, Mr. Brabyn, went up with their Dinners in their hands and sat down in the midst of them (eighteen in number) and began to eat, showing the Natives how to eat Bread, &c., and gave them anything they chose to ask for. Mr. Bowen gave them all the things I had sent as well as several of his own things, stripping himself almost naked to comply with their wishes, and his example was followed by the whole of the boat's crew. As there was two fine-looking boys amongst them I sent Mr. Brabyn on shore purposely to see and gain their confidence by his attention to their youngsters, both of whom he dressed in his shirts, handkerchiefs, trousers, &c. All matters continued in this state while our people had anything to give, and all we got was two spears, a basket, and a mogo, and even these they again took from the seaman that had them in keeping. This, however, the officer took no offence at, being determined, if at all possible, to keep on friendly terms with them. It was in vain that the officer and crew tried (by signs too significant not to be understood) to gain intelligence where water was to be found or on what Beaches Shells where most Plenty. To all such inquiries they turned a deaf ear, and only seemed intent on getting what our People had—even to the last Shirt. By this time our People had nearly finished their Dinner, and Isaac Moss, having the Boat in charge, got up and was slowly walking down to her. At this time the boy Brabyn happened to turn his head towards the Wood, and saw a man in the very act of throwing a spear at Moss, as well as a large body (not before seen) behind a large fallen Tree, with their spears all in readiness for throwing. The boy immediately cried out to Mr. Bowen (who was at that very time in the act of serving out Bread to all the party he was sitting among) that he would be speared, but before the Words where out of his mouth a Spear of a most dangerous kind was thrown at, and did not escape Moss by a yard, and in an instant the whole of the treacherous Body that Mr. Bowen and four of our people where sitting in the midst of, opened to the right and left and at once left them all open to the party in ambush, who immediately were on their Feet and began to throw Spears. Still such was the forbearance of the officer, that only one piece was fired over their heads, but this was found only to create a small panic, and our party where obliged to teach them by fatal experience the effect of Walking Sticks. The first fire made them run, and one received two Balls between his Shoulders. Still some of them made a stop to heave. The second fire they all set off with astonishing speed, and most likely one received a Mortal Wound. Before another piece was Fired, Mr. Bowen laid hold of one of their number, and held on till three of our people came up and also grappled him. Strange to tell, he made such violent struggles as to get away from them all; nor did the contents of the Officer's piece bring him up, although one Ball passed through his Arm and the other in the Side. He was traced a good distance by his Blood. The remaining pieces where by this time Fired, and our party gave Chase to them all. On Board I kept a strict look-out with the Glass, and as we lay only little more than a quarter of a mile off the point they where seated on, I plainly saw the Natives running through the woods, which was by no means thick. One fellow in particular had been dressed in one of my White Shirts, and the Officer had tyed the Wrists of it with String which hindered his getting it off. Him we plainly saw from the vessel pass the roots of black Trees with such speed as more to resemble a large white Bird flying than a man. To increase their Panic as they passed along I gave them a discharge of our Guns loaded with round and grape, but am almost certain they did them no damage. By this time our people returned from the chase, having found on their way back a number of Spears, Dresses and Baskets, &c. Made the Boats Signal and they came off. Thus did this Treacherous and Unprovoked Attack meet with its just punishment, and at the same time taught us a Useful Lesson to be more Cautious in future. With respect to the size of these Natives they are much the same as at Sydney, their Understandings are better though, for they easily made out all our signs when it answered their purposes or inclination. When it did not they could be dull enough. They were all Cloathed in Oposum Skins, and in each Basket a certain Quantity of Gum was found. Not the least sign of a Canoe has been seen. I conclude they live entirely inland, and, if we may judge from the Numbers of their Fires and other Marks, this part of the Country is not thin of Inhabitants. Their Spears are of various kinds, and all of them much more dangerous than any I have yet seen. The workmanship of their dresses, their Lines and Baskets are far from despicable. Their Mogos or Stone Axes are such as are common at Sydney. In the afternoon the Boat went to Swan Isles and caught three live Swans of large Size, and in the morning" (the 18th) "the Launch went with Mr. Bowen and a party well-armed to sound for a Channel, round which the vessel might sail in order to survey the Port. Usefully employed on board. It is rather odd that the Fish here have as yet invariably taken away our Hooks, to the number of between thirty and forty, and but few are caught. Latitude observed, 38° 20' 00".

"Thursday, 18th.—Pleasant Weather throughout. Employed as necessary. P.M. the Launch returned, having been fortunate enough to discover plenty of Fresh Water, and a Channel all round this part of the Port from ten Feet to fourteen Fathoms. A.M." (the 19th) "I took a long range through the Woods attended with an Armed Party; we discovered nothing new, but found several of the things we gave the Natives, which in their Fright they had dropped. The ground we walked over was open, and, the same as before described, with good soil. The Tide where we lye flows full and change at three Hours in the afternoon, and its perpendicular rise is about six feet up and down.

"Friday, 19th.—Calm. Do. Weather. This Day another Overhaul of the Wood took place, but nothing (not before mentioned) was found. Numbers of Natives' Tracks, Fires, and Huts were seen. As Usual sent the Launch to Swan Isles, and she got three live ones. Observed that to-day the Surf on the Sea Shore broke with great noise, and also for the first time observed a Sand Boiler bearing N.E. b. E. of us, and distant about three Miles; and from the Mast Head to the W.N.W., at eight or nine Miles distance, several Breakers where seen. Employed as necessary. Scoured our Decks and cleaned below. Ends in hot Sultry Weather, but clear. One Native Fire in Sight on Arthur's Seat, distant about ten Miles.

"Saturday, 20th.—Light Airs inclinable to Calm, and fine Weather throughout. Variously Employed. Sent an Armed Party and our Carpenter a long range through the Woods to try the different Kinds of Wood. None, however, was found of Use, the Trees being almost invariably Oak, and other Wood Quiet common at Sydney. A Bed Waistcoat of Mr. Brabyn's was found with some Bread in each Pocket. In this he had dressed one of the Native Boys, who in his fear left it, I fancy, as soon as he found how to get it off, for it was Buttoned on him. A.M." (21st) "sent the Launch for Swans. I have to observe that the Breakers mentioned in Yesterday's Logs disappeared in the Afternoon, as also the roaring of the outside Surf took off about midnight, and this morning about 9 a.m. we were visited by the Tale of a Smoaky S.W. gale, which, however, by noon came to nothing. Querey, if there has not a Gale from the S.W. been blowing a little distance off—ends in Fine Weather.

"Sunday, 21st.—S.W. Winds and Mid good Weather throughout. P.M. the Launch returned on Board with five Swans. P.M. Punished Thos. Smith with two dozen Lashes for being Drunk thirty-six Hours on a Stretch and behaving with insolence to both officers. Bond, the Soldier, also had a Quart and half a pint of Spirits stole from him. Smith must have taken it, but we could not bring it home to him. A.M." (22nd) "Finding we could not move higher up the Port with the Vessel I sent the Launch over to the Western Side to examine the passage into an Harbor or River I saw from the Hill on the 16th Inst. Usefully Employed. Sent the small Boat to Fish. Ends in fresh Breezes at S.W. and Clear Weather.

"Monday, 22nd.—Gloomy Weather and Fresh Winds at S.W. throughout. The small Boat caught a few Rock Fish and returned on Board. At Noon the Launch returned, having found an entrance into the Sheet of Water they were sent to Overhaul, but only at High Water seven or eight Feet on it, consequently no Harbour for Shipping; the Boat proceeded a Mile and an half up, and in running that caught twenty Swans of large size without wasting one charge of Shot (which, by the bye, is now become a scarce article, not above three or four lbs. being in the vessel); however, from the report made of the place, as it may lead to something of more consequence, I shall, after the survey of the Port is completed, give it a good Overhaul. I must mention here that both our Boats are now in such a state of decay, from Age and constant mending and patching, that they both keep a hand constantly bailing when pulling or sailing. This Circumstance, it is needless to mention, in a certain degree retards our proceedings. Employed on Board on our Rigging, &c. Ends in hazy Weather and S.W. Wind.

"Tuesday, 23rd.—Gloomy Weather and moderate Winds at S.W. P.M. I went in the Launch and Sounded a few Miles of the Port up towards the watering place; the Soundings were Nine Feet to Six Fathoms, bottom fine Sand (further out perhaps a deeper Channel may exist; this will of course be ascertained in the proceeding of the Survey); afterwards we walked through the Country some distance; found the soil invariably good, the Ground almost clear, and the ranges of Trees as regular as they are in general in Parks, with fine strong Short Grass under Foot. Employed as necessary. Ends in Light Airs and Close hazy Weather.

"Wednesday, 24th.—First part of this twenty-four Hours we had a great deal of Thunder, Lightening, and hard Bain. Mid and latter parts it Blew a hard gale at S.W., with Squalls at Intervals; it is with satisfaction I can observe we held on (although all ataunto) with the small Bower and one third of a Cable out, a proof of the goodness of the holding Ground. Employed as necessary. Cut a Boat Load of Wood. Expended two decayed Scrubbing Brushes, and one Rudder Iron broke in the Launch.

"Thursday, 25th.—First Part the Gale continued. Mid and latter Fresh Winds at S.E. and clear. Occasionally Employed. Observed several very large Native's Fires at the Foot of Arthur's Seat and on the Western Side of the Port; hauled our Seine several times along the Shores nearest us, but caught no Fish, owing probably to there being Flats of Sand lying of them to the distance of 200 Yards. The Freshness of the Wind hindered our getting a Base line by two Latitudes to-day. Got the distance of the ☉ and ☾ nearest Limbs. Ends in fresh Winds at S.E. and Clear.

"Friday, 26th.—First and Mid parts fresh Winds and clear; latterly Calm pleasant Weather. P.M. Examined the Beach and Land for about eight Miles. A.M." (27th) "Sent our Long Boat on Shore; turned her up and set our Carpenter to work on her, she leaking so much as to keep (even alongside) a hand constantly bailing, and our small Boat is so bad as to render it hazardous to go any distance from the Vessel in her. A.M. got the distance of the ☉ and ☾ nearest Limbs.

"Saturday, 27th.—Fine Weather and moderate Winds throughout Variously Employed; both Boats Employed Sounding and on the Survey of the Harbour. A number of very large Native's Fires on the Hills round the Eastern and Western Shores of the Port have been seen these two days past. A.M." (28th) "Sent Mr. Bowen and Mr. Brabyn in the Gig to get the Latitude of the Northern end of Swan Isles, and at noon I got the Latitude of a point about seven Miles North and South of them, from which a Base line was got for the Survey of the Harbour.

"Sunday, 28th.—Do. Winds and Weather. Employed as needfull. Gave some of the People Liberty on Shore, &c.

"March, 1802.—Monday, 1st.—Fine Weather and moderate Winds. Occasionally Employed. At 5 a.m." (2nd) "took up our Kedgc, hove Short, loosed Sails and Sheeted home the Top sails. Weighed and made Sail up the Port intending to run as high as the Watering Place; the Wind in a little time died away, and the Tide ran so rapid as to Sweep the Vessel on a Shoal of Sand with only five Feet Water on it; as it was perfectly smooth we immediately hove her off without her sustaining the least damage, and dropped back into our old Berth between Point Patterson and Bowen's Point, so named from Mr. Bowen's Skirmish with the Natives on it. Moored with the Kedge. Ends in Calm hot Weather. The Flies are now got so troublesome as to almost hinder a person from sitting a moment in one place.

"Tuesday, 2nd.—Calm Pleasant Weather throughout. Employed getting on Board Stones for Ballast and Stowing Do. away. At 4 a.m." (3rd) "sent the Long Boat for a turn of Water and to Sound that part of the Harbour between the vessel and it; by noon she returned on Board with a turn of Water; it was found that a Bank of Sand lay from Shore to the Distance of a Mile, or a Mile and a Quarter with only four, five, six, seven, and eight Feet on it at low Water, and it extends nearly four Miles along Shore; when you have passed this there is from five to nine Fathoms Water up abreast of the Watering Place. There is, however, little doubt of a deep Channel being outside of this Shoal, and this Point will be ascertained in the course of Tomorrow.

"Wednesday, 3rd.—First part Moderate Winds at S.E. Mid part Calm; latterly a Breeze sprung up at S.W. with Cloudy hazy Weather. Employed on our rigging, &c. At 4 a.m." (4th) "sent the Long Boat for a Load of Water, and also to make a traverse going and coming and sound all the way.

"Thursday, 4th.—Gloomy Weather and Moderate Winds throughout. Employed as necessary. P.M. the Launch returned on Board with a turn of Water, but had not been able to find a Channel fit for vessels of any Draught of Water, although she stood well out from the Shore to at least three miles. This Bank has only from four to eight Feet Water on it, and in many places is not above 100 Yards Broad. Then immediately you fall into seven, eight, and nine Fathoms and carry such Water up Abreast of the Watering place; it is very probable that at a good distance from the Shore there exists a Channel of deeper Water round the Edge of this Sand Bank, and this point shall not be left undetermined. A.M." (5th) "again sent the Long Boat for Water and to Sound. Ends in gloomy Weather and drizling rain.

"Friday, 5th.—First and Mid parts hazy dull Weather, and now and then drizling rain; latterly the Weather cleared up. P.M. the Launch returned with a Load of Water. Employed getting it on Board and Stowing it away. A.M." (6th) "I went in the Launch in search of a Channel by which vessels of larger Draught of Water than ours might get up Abreast of the Watering Place, and was fortunate enough to find one of a Mile at least in Breadth, lying off the Southern Shores of this Port about three or three and a half Miles, and having from ten to sixteen Fathoms Water in at low Water and Neap Tides; and in this Water a Vessel of any Draught may lie secure from all Winds. At about a Mile and a half from the Spring at which to-day I loaded the Boat with Water and examined it, as far as we are judges, it is most excellent Water, as clear as Cristal, lies from the Beach about ten or a dozen Yards, and plenty of it to Water the Grand Fleet of England; it is nearer the Entrance than the Foot of Arthur's Seat by about two Miles, and can easily be found out by the Land, which a few Miles before you come to it is low, whereas all the other Land on both Sides is High with Bold points, if a Boat Stear East or E. b. S. from Point Paterson nine Miles, and puts into the Shore, they will not be far off it. There is plenty of Ducks about it, but so shy that only two have been shot, a circumstance we did not a little regret as they exceed in flavour any I ever eat. We are now compleat in Water, and will soon be Wooded. In the morning, Weather in the way. I intend going over into the Sheet of Water mentioned in the Log of Monday, the 22nd February, in order to see what it contains.

"Saturday, 6th.—Fine Weather throughout. Wind variable to S.W. Employed on Board fitting new Waist Cloths, the others being Quiet decayed, and her sides and Bends being very bare, I gave them a Coat of Red (the only Colour we had on Board) and Blacked the Bends and Upper Works. I went in the Launch over to the Sheet of Water (as intended) with an Armed Boat's Crew, and by noon" (7th) "got to its entrance. This day has been so clear that we were able to see Land all round the Port, and, in many places, very high Head Lands in those low places where we could not be certain of Land by the eye. There were numerous Native's Fires; indeed all round the Port to-day there were Native's Fires, and some of them very large.

"Sunday, 7th.—Fine Weather throughout. Winds from S.W. to N.W. to N.E. Employed as necessary. By 1 p.m. I got into the Sheet of Water and by pulling all round it, found it to be a very extensive Sheet of Water, but in few places more than six Feet Water, and the greatest part of it so Shoal as to Ground the Boat; in the entrance at one place there is a small Channel of about 50 or 60 Feet in Breadth, with from 9 Feet to ½ 2 Fathoms Water in it, but of no use as it Shoals to a couple of Feet before you get in the Soil of the Land. All round this extensive place is good and its appearance exceeds in Beauty even the Southern Shores. The number of large Swans seen almost exceeds belief, but by this time most of them could Fly, we however caught Eleven; Ten of which were large. All of us slept this night on a pleasant little Island with a few handsome Trees on it. Soil good and so clear as to be fit for the Hoe at once. I named it Maria Isle, after a sister I lost some Years past. A.M." (8th) "we had another Chase after Swans, and returned on Board. Ends in pleasant fine Weather.

"Monday, 8th.—First and Mid parts Stiff Gale at S.W., latter more moderate with Clear Weather. Necessarily employed, as we now intended Sailing in a few days. I judged it consistent with His Majesty's Instructions (a copy of which I was furnished with from the Governor, and Commander in Chief of New South Wales) to take possession of this Port in the Form and manner laid down by the said Instructions, and accordingly at 8 o'clock in the morning," (9th) "the United Colours of the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland were hoisted on Board and on Port Patterson and at One o'clock under a discharge of three vollies of small arms and artillery the Port was taken possession of in the name of HIS SACRED MAJESTY GEORGE THE THIRD OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND (KING) &c. &c. &c. Served double allowance of Grog. In the afternoon I went on Shore attended with an armed party and passed the remainder of the Day about and under the Colours flying on Shore; at sun down hauled down the Colours on Board and ashore. Observed the Distance of the Sun and Moons nearest Limbs on Point Patterson.—Note, this Log contains 31 Hours, and ends at ☉ Down."

And now we must for a moment break the thread of Murray's interesting narrative, to do homage to the flag which, on that famous March 9th, 1802, was first unfurled in Port Phillip Bay. Thanks to the progress of colonization, the Union Jack is no longer as Murray describes it, "the United Colours of the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland." in the restricted geographical sense in which he seems to use the words. It is the flag of a United British Empire which embraces Australia, South Africa, and Canada; and every true son and friend of the new territory which we have just seen brought for the first time under the shadow of that flag, as well as of the mother country, and of all our world-wide Colonial dominions, must earnestly hope that that flag may for ever float over them all, as the pledge and symbol of their perpetual unity in the grandest, strongest, most free, and pacific Empire which has ever arisen in the annals of the human race, or can henceforth appear upon the face of this globe.

"Tuesday, 9th.—Hazy Weather and moderate Winds at S.W. throughout. Employed getting ready for sea. Overhauled our Keels Fore and Aft. Cleaned them &c. We have now Expended 19 Weeks and one Days Provisions, out of 24 Weeks we were victualled for, commencing on the 27th of October 1801, and owing to the Quantity of Bread decayed along with what the Swans and other Birds have eat, we are rather short, even what we have left is very bad; therefore it will not be in my power at this time to prosecute the object of our Cruize much further; it is in vain that I regret so little having been done in such a length of time; the Weather and other Circumstances have been rather against us the whole Cruize, however the little that is performed of the Original Orders, is pretty Accurate, and I trust will give the Commander in Chief some satisfaction.

"Wednesday, 10th,—Fresh Winds from S.W. to S.E. and hazy Cold Weather throughout. Occasionally Employed making ready for Sea. Sent a party to Overhaul the Beach and Woods. PM got the Distance of the ☉ and ☾ nearest Limbs. For these last two or three days great numbers of Natives Fires have been seen all round the Port, except between Arthur's Seat and Point Palmer. Draught of Water aft 5 Feet 9 Inches,—Forward 4 Feet 10 Inches.

"Thursday, 11th March, 1802.—First and Mid parts Moderate Winds at S.E. with hazy Weather, latterly a light Breeze at N.E. and from that to E.S.E. Employed securing everything for Sea. At 4 a.m." (12th) "hoisted in the Launch after Picking up our kedge, sent Top gallant yards aloft, hove Short and loos'd Sails. At 7 a.m. Weighed and made Sail down the Port, by 8 a.m. with a strong Tide of Ebb running out we got into the entrance Carrying all the way from 9 to 16 Fathoms Water, we then fell into such a ripple, that we expected every moment it would break on Board, having now from 10 to 7 and 8 Fathoms Water, we however got clear out, and by ½ past 9 a.m. the point of Entrance bore N.E. b. E. distance 3 or 4 Miles, and a remarkable high Nob of Land (if not an Island) W.N.W. 4 or 5 miles. By noon the Entrance bore N.E. b. N. 9 or 10 miles.

"As at the last Change the Tide Flow'd at ½ past One p.m. and on the full at 3 Hours it is probable that the long Shoals that lye from the Shore cause this difference, the Longitude is nearly 145° 00' 00" East. This is by two Lunars and its corresponding situation to Elizabeth's Cove, but there may be an error of 10 or 15 miles in this Calculation. Latitude observed 38° 26' 00" South."

The Lady Nelson experienced very severe weather between Wilson's Promontory and Kent's Group, so much so that on March 18th, the log records that, "by the continual Labouring and Pitching of the vessel, she in many places of the Deck Leaks, as also all round her Bows, and this kind of Weather has caused us to lose Sixteen fine Swans"; and on the 20th there is an entry—"Lost in addition to the others, Six more fine Swans, owing to the incessant labouring of the vessel." On the 22nd she was obliged to lay to in "a most furious squall"; and at length, after her very stormy and eventful cruise, the gallant ship and crew once more safely anchored in the noble harbour of Port Jackson, on Wednesday, March 24th, 1802. The following is the log entry for that day:—

"Fine Weather throughout, inclinable to Calm at ½ past 3 p.m South Head bore S.S.W., the North Do. N.N.W. distant 4 or 5 miles. At 4 p.m. passed Bradley's Head at 6 passed Garden Island and by ½ past 6 p.m came to an anchor in Sydney Cove, with the Best Bower, and Moored with the Kedge. Furled Sails &c. The Commander waited on His Excellency the Governor and Commander in Chief.

(Signed)           "JNO. MURRAY, Actg. Lt.-Commg."   

It may perhaps be thought that, during so long a stay in Port Phillip, a good deal more might have been done in the way of exploring the country, especially when it is remembered what Flinders did in the few days he was in the harbour. There certainly was time enough for Murray to have sent a party on foot to walk round the bay; but the only examination by land of any importance, which he seems to have made, was his ascent of the high hill mentioned in the log of February 16th. This can scarcely have been Arthur's Seat, or he would have said so, having already named that mount. But it must be remembered in Murray's favour, that his boats were unseaworthy, his provisions rapidly failing, and that he and his crew had undergone all the hardships of a long cruise in unusually severe weather; so that they were in no condition to have undertaken any extensive land explorations. The natives too had given them reason to apprehend danger to any, necessarily small, party which could have been spared from the ship. Flinders undoubtedly accomplished more during his much shorter visit; but, when everything is said, Murray and his right-hand man, Bowen, are in all fairness entitled to very high praise for their great achievements, and to full credit for having done their best under the most difficult circumstances in which they were placed.

What subsequently became of these two worthy men, the author has not ascertained. Of the fate of their gallant little ship, this will perhaps be the most convenient place to speak, although we shall hear of her again in connexion with the history of that bay which she discovered. In a despatch of March 16th, 1815, Gov. Macquarrie says,—"The Lady Nelson brig is still very serviceable", she is again mentioned in 1816-17, Oxley in May, 1819, examined Port Macquarrie in her; and a few years subsequently there is something said about her having been supplied with a mast and yard. Capt. Bremer speaks of her in connexion with the formation of a settlement at Melville Island. Her ultimate fate is mentioned in a printed account from the "Sydney Gazette" of the Settlement on the North Coast. This document, which is in the Record Office, is by a Mr. George Miller, who had served in North Australia for four years. He states that the Lady Nelson, in company with three other vessels, left Sydney August 25th, 1824, and anchored in Port Essington, September 20th. Want of water preventing the formation of a settlement there, the expedition established itself on Melville Island. In December or January, "the Lady Nelson was again despatched for live-stock; and the commander of the Stedcombe, having landed a portion of his cargo, tendered his vessel for the conveyance of buffaloes; his tender was accepted, and both vessels sailed for the islands nearly at the same time, but never returned. Some time after, I learned that both vessels had been cut off by the Malays on one of the small islands to the north of us, and all on board massacred." In a printed account of the voyage of Lieutenant Kolff in 1825, through the southern part of the Archipelago of the Malaccas, by Mr. Earl, communicated by the Geographical Society to the Colonial Office, it is mentioned, under date September 8th, that—

"The brig left the Arras, and on the following day arrived at Vordate, the northernmost of the Timorlaut Group. . . . The following day they anchored near Larrat. . . . The year previous to the visit of M. Kolff, an English brig, which had arrived on the south-east part of the island to obtain provisions, was captured by the natives and the crew murdered, with the exception of two youths who were saved by the women. One half of the crew were on shore at the time of the attack, and the two youths who were saved were with them. Some unsuccessful efforts were made by M. Kolff to obtain them. They were on the opposite side of the island."

A note says,—

"This brig was probably the British Colonial vessel, Lady Nelson, which left the settlement at Melville Island to obtain provisions, and was never heard of afterwards."

The name "Amherst" is in print, and "Nelson" in writing, put as a correction in the margin.



Voyage of the Investigator from England—Calls at King George's Sound—Steers round the Australian Bight—Discovers almost the entire coast of the Colony of S. Australia—Meets Baudin—Unjust pretensions of the French—Terre Napoléon—Extracts from letters of Flinders just after meeting Baudin—Investigator sights coast of Victoria—Discovers and enters Port Phillip—Extracts from Flinders's log of the date—Description from his "Terra Australis"—Ascent of Station Peak—Flinders's opinion of the Port and Territory—Proceeds from it to Sydney—Baudin arrives there—Extracts from despatches respecting his visit—Flinders's detention at Mauritius—Date of his death—What became of the Investigator—Sir John Franklin.

ALTHOUGH the name of Captain Matthew Flinders has hitherto occupied greater prominence, in connexion with the discovery of Port Phillip Bay, than that of Lieutenant Murray, there can be little doubt that he would be the last to grudge that officer full credit for the one great achievement which will prevent his name from being ever forgotten. But though Murray carried off the palm for the discovery, the visit of Flinders to the harbour must always rank only second in importance and interest. It was the result of circumstances which the distinguished navigator has himself described in his valuable work.

Flinders informs us, in his "Terra Australis," that, on the return to England of the Reliance at the latter end of 1800, a plan for the investigation of the coasts of Australia was submitted to and approved by the Government. On January 19th, 1801, he was commissioned as lieutenant to command the sloop Investigator, which had previously borne the name of Xenophon. She was a vessel of 334 tons. The equipment was on a liberal scale. The East India Company undertook to contribute 1200l., "the voyage being within the limits of the Company's Charter." Flinders's instructions, which were of considerable length, directed him to proceed st to the coast of New Holland for the purpose of making a complete examination and survey of the said coast." The Investigator carried with her eighty-eight persons.

She sailed from Spithead July 18th, touched at Madeira, reached the Cape October 16th, and left it November 4th. The Australian coast was sighted at Cape Leeuwin December 6th, and King George's Sound entered two days later. Here some time was spent in examining the country in the immediate vicinity, and in preparing the ship for her further voyage.

She took her departure from the Sound January 5th, 1802, and coasted along the Australian Bight, reaching Fowler's Bay, "the extremity of the before-known south coast of Terra Australis," on the 28th. From thence Flinders proceeded with the discovery and examination of the coast to the eastward. Coffin Bay was reached, and named after Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin, February 16th. Port Lincoln was entered on the 26th, and named, says Flinders, "in honour of my native province."

Quitting this place March 6th, the vessel proceeded to examine Spencer's Gulf, and reached, on the 9th, to five leagues beyond Cape Lowly. Next day Flinders proceeded in the cutter to about the same distance higher up, till on the 11th the "oars touched the mud on each side, and it was not possible to proceed further." Having gone up the west side of the gulf, the explorer returned down its eastern shores, which he also thoroughly examined, and arrived at Hardwicke Bay on 19th. Investigator's Strait was next entered, and the north coast of Kangaroo Island and the Gulf of St. Vincent were discovered and subjected to the same searching examination which distinguishes Flinders's expedition. Backstairs Passage was sailed through April 7th.

Next day the meeting with Baudin, the French navigator, took place, and is thus described:—

"Before two in the afternoon we stretched eastward again; and, at four, a white rock was reported from aloft to be seen ahead. On approaching nearer, it proved to be a ship standing towards us; and we cleared for action in case of being attacked. The stranger was a heavy-looking ship, without any top-gallant masts up; and, our colours being hoisted, she showed a French ensign and afterwards an English Jack forward, as we did a white flag. At half-past five, the land being then five miles distant to the north-eastward, I hove to; and learned, as the stranger passed the leeward with a free wind, that it was the French national ship Le Géographe, under the command of Captain Nicolas Baudin. We veered round as Le Géographe was passing, so as to keep our broadside to her, lest the flag of truce should be a deception; and, having come to the wind on the other tack, a boat was hoisted out, and I went on board the French ship, which had also hove to."

Flinders was accompanied by Mr. Brown, the naturalist, who acted as interpreter. Baudin stated that he had examined the south and east of Van Diemen's Land, and had been separated from his companion ship, Le Naturaliste, in a gale on March 21st; but that he had since "explored the south coast from Western Port to the place of our meeting, without finding any river, inlet, or shelter, which afforded anchorage." He had, therefore, passed Port Phillip Bay without noticing the entrance, a few days after Murray had sailed out of it.

On the morning of the 9th, Flinders again went on board the French ship and described his recent discoveries to Baudin. The place of meeting is given as "35° 40' S., and 138° 58' E.," at which Flinders observes, "the discoveries made by Captain Baudin upon the south coast have their termination to the west, as mine in the Investigator have to the eastward."

Notwithstanding this meeting, and the fact of the discoveries made by the Lady Nelson, of which these French navigators must have been aware—having been at Sydney subsequently to their interview with Flinders—M. Peron, the naturalist of the expedition, in his published account of the voyage, coolly ignores the fact of the discoveries made on the south coast by Grant, Murray, and Flinders, and asserts that D'Entrecasteaux, "n'ayant pu lui-même s'avancer au-delà des îsles St. Pierre et St. Francis, qui forment la limite orientale de la terre de Nuyts, et les Anglais n'ayant pas porté vers le Sud leurs recherches plus loin que le Port Western, il en résultait que toute la portion comprise entre ce dernier point et la terre de Nuyts était encore inconnue au moment où nous arrivions sur ces rivages."

After quoting this extract, Flinders generously defends M. Peron by expressing his belief that "what he wrote was from over-ruling authority, and smote him to the heart; he did not live to finish his second volume."

Flinders points out that the portion of the coast to which Baudin was entitled, by right of first discovery, to give the name of Terre Napoléon, was of but limited extent, "between the latitudes 37° 36' and 35° 40' S., and the longitudes 140° 10' and 138° 58' E. . . . making, with the windings, about fifty leagues of coast." As the beginning of this interval of 150 miles "cannot be placed further to the south-east than Cape Buffon", the French had clearly no claim to include any part of the present Colony of Victoria within the limits of Terre Napoléon.

Two letters are to be seen in the Record Office,* in which Flinders gives, probably, the earliest account of his meeting with Baudin. It quite tallies with his statements in his "Voyage," from which we have been quoting.

[* "New South Wales Correspondence," 1802.]

The first is a letter to the Admiralty, of May 11th, 1802, two days after his arrival at Sydney, in which he says,—

"On April 8th, in latitude 35° 42' south, and longitude 139° 10' east, I met with the French national ship Le Géographe, which had come from Bass's Strait, and was proceeding westward in her examination of the south coast of New Holland. Captain Baudin informed me that, after parting with the Naturaliste in the Strait in a heavy gale, he had had fine weather, and had kept the coast close on board from Western Port to the place of meeting with us; but that he had found no bay or place where a vessel could anchor, the coast having but few bights in it, and those affording nothing to interest."

In a letter of May 20th, to Sir Joseph Banks, Flinders says,—

Baudin "expressed some surprise at meeting me, whom he knew by name, and observed that it was unnecessary for him to prosecute his survey, as the coast was now already done, and therefore he should come to Port Jackson when the winter weather set in."

All the coast-line, of which Flinders was the original discoverer, belongs to the present Colony of South Australia—of the entire sea-board of which, with the exception of a short portion to the extreme west, and Baudin's 50 leagues, he was the sole discoverer. It would have been impossible to omit a brief notice of the interesting and important particulars connected with the approach of this great Australian navigator to the shores of our Colony.

The Investigator sighted the coast of Victoria at its extreme western point on April 18th, and proceeded eastward. Flinders recognizes many of the most conspicuous points as having been sighted and named by Lieutenant Grant, who, he informs us, had been promoted to the rank of Captain. On the 23rd, anchor was cast "under the north-east end of King's Island." Next day the vessel stood for the mainland, and the following morning was within ten miles of Cape Otway.

The preceding facts and extracts have been taken from Flinders's book; but, in pursuance of our purpose of recording the very earliest statements made by the explorers of whom we speak, the following extract is given from Captain Flinders's journal, in the possession of his family. It has been kindly copied out and sent to the author by the navigator's grandson, Mr. W. M. Flinders Petrie.

It will be observed that there is a discrepancy, as to the date of the entry of Port Phillip, between the journal and the "Voyage to Terra Australis", arising doubtless from the mode of keeping logs, which is certainly confusing to landsmen. It appears by the journal that the bay was entered April 27th; by the book, the 26th. The real date, therefore, depends upon which of these documents is in accord with civil, and which with nautical time. If the journal, from which the extract immediately appended is taken, gives the civil date, then Flinders's entry into Port Phillip must be put down as having taken place on April 27th, instead of April 26th, as recorded in "Terra Australis", and hitherto accepted as the day of that event. Mr. Flinders Petrie, with whom the author has communicated on the subject, writes:—

"There is an entry, strange to say, on this very subject in the journal, showing that the day was reckoned to begin twelve hours before civil time. At the end of 27th April, 1802, one of the very days in question, it has been entered that that day was continued to thirty-six hours to agree with civil time; this entry was, however, dashed out, and was never acted on, the next entry after the two twelve hours of 27th April being begun as 28th April."

The author is also much indebted to Mr. Flinders Petrie for kindly copying and sending the following extracts from his grandfather's journal:—

"Extract from CAPTAIN FLINDERS'S Log of the Investigator.

"1802, April 26.—Light breezes and cloudy weather. At one, saw land bearing N. 59° E. like an island; hauled more up. At two, hauled close to the wind, seeing low land running out to windward (E.S.E.). At dusk, the island (seemingly) N. 59° E. to 79° E.; but there are spaces to the northward where the land is seen only at intervals. Bent the stream cable. Light airs and fine weather. At eight, tacked from the shore. At two, tacked to the northward, and again at four to the southward.

"At 5.30, tacked towards land supposed to be an island, and which was soon after seen to the north-eastward. As we neared the land we found a low shore running in the front of the higher, supposed island, and the north-westward, joining apparently all round. Before eleven, bore away, rounding the head of the bight; the bluff highest land N. 71 E., and an irregular rocky point N. 9½ W. about six miles. At noon, there was the appearance of an opening round the rocky point, but it seemed to be narrow and to break nearly across from the rocks off the point to the opposite head, which is a low bluff.

"(Remarks accompanying the above day.)

"From the square-topped point of yesterday the land trends to the N.N.E., becoming gradually lower until it is very low land. There is one remarkable hummock, which may be either an island or a hill near the sea-side; it bore N. 5° W. at sunset. The land like an island seems to be high land, more especially at its western end, where it slopes off suddenly, and the land to the northward seems to be further distant; whence I judge that between them may be the Western Port of Mr. Bass, although its distance is not equal to what I supposed of that port. In the morning the joining of low land to the bluff mount prevented us from thinking any further that we were near the Western Port, and until noon no idea was entertained of any opening existing in this bight; but at that time an opening became more and more conspicuous as we ran farther west, and high land at the back appeared to be at a considerable distance; still, however, I entertained but little hopes of finding a passage sufficiently deep for the ship, and the narrowness of the entrance prevented me from thinking it the west entrance into Western Port.

"1802, April 27.—Mod. breezes and fine weather. Soon after noon, hauled up for the opening. At 1½ h., entered the opening; kept away to clear a ridge of rocks running off from the E. point, towards which the ebb set us. At 2.30, tacked on coming upon the edge of a shoal, and afterwards occasionally between it and the south shore, working upwards. At 4½ h., the water shoaled suddenly, and, the flood being made, drifted us upon a mud-bank before the ship came round, where she stuck fast. Lowered down the gig and sounded round the ship, finding it shoal to the eastward. Hoisted out the cutter and carried out a kedge, by which we hove her off, but she struck almost immediately against another bank of ten feet. Sent the cutter to sound, and, getting the ship's head to the deepest water, she went off, and the water soon deepened to four, six, and ten fathoms, upon which we came to with the best bower and furled sails. Light breezes and fine weather. A.M.—Head breezes and fine weather, overcasting at times. Took the cutter up the port in order to ascend the bluff mount to the eastward, and see the general form of the port, and lay off the shoals. Employed on board in drying the sails, which had gotten wet in the sail-room from leaks during the last gale. A large shark caught alongside.

"(Remarks accompanying the above day.)

"From several appearances I at first judged this port to be Western Port, although many others did not answer, for Captain Baudin had met with no harbour along the coast after leaving that; and from his account he had had fine weather and kept the shore close on board to the time of his meeting us. The entrance is about two miles wide, but the deep channel in does not seem to be much more than one mile. After passing the entrance, which may be safely done by keeping the rocks on the eastern hand tolerably close on board, the port opens into a spacious expanse of water, the northern boundary of which is not visible from the mast-head. There is a middle bank, with shoal water round it, about three miles from the entrance, and passages, seemingly, on each side. We took the weathermost, or southern passage, and found the water to run deep close to the southern shore for some little distance. Afterwards, shoal water appeared in places both near the shore and towards the middle shoal, and we grounded as before-mentioned.

"In the expedition to the bluff mount, which I judge to be about seven miles from the ship, the naturalist and landscape painter accompanied me. The view from the mount presented a large expanse of water, the boundary to which was scarcely visible, and for 60° to the northward could not be at a less distance than fifteen miles, and may probably be twice as much; and round the furthest visible point on the western shore the water extended to the south-westward until lost behind the land. No island, the middle dry shoal excepted, or other object appeared in the port to attract attention; but it seemed to be an immense basin of water, most of which may probably be shoal. In going and returning, however, we had tolerably regular soundings from four to seven fathoms, passing a little without the place where the ship grounded. To the eastward, three or four leagues, a considerable space of water appeared which seemed to be shoal, but having communication with the sea; this may probably be Western Port."

Mr. Flinders Petrie adds:—

"The above is copied verbatim from Capt. Flinders's log."

Thinking that Captain Flinders, whilst supposing himself to be the first discoverer of the bay, had either given it a name, or had one in contemplation for it, the author inquired of Mr. Flinders Petrie, who wrote in reply, "Port Phillip is unnamed in the journal, and only called 'No. 16 Port' in one or two cases."

Having quoted from Flinders's description, entered in his journal at the time of the voyage, it will now be desirable to give some extracts from his "Terra Australis" concerning his proceedings at Port Phillip. He says, under date Monday, April 26th, 1802,—

"In the morning we kept close to an E.S.E. wind, steering for the land to the north-eastward, and at nine o'clock Captain Grant's Cape Schanck, the extreme of the preceding evening, was five leagues distant to the N. 88° E., and a rocky point towards the head of the bight bore N. 12° E. On coming within five miles of the shore at eleven o'clock, we found it to be low, and mostly sandy, and that the bluff head, which had been taken for the north end of an island, was part of a ridge of hills rising at Cape Schanck. We then bore away westward, in order to trace the land round the head of the deep bight, and at noon the situation of the ship and principal bearings were as under:—
Latitude observed 38° 22'
Longitude by time-keepers 144° 31½'
Cape Schanck S. 68° E.
The rocky point distant six or seven miles N. 48° E.
Highest of two inland peaks N. 15° W.
A square-topped hill near the shore N. 28° W.
Extr. of the high land towards Cape Otway       S. 56° W.
"On the west side of the rocky point there was a small opening with breaking water across it; however, on advancing a little more westward, the opening assumed a more interesting aspect, and I bore away to have a nearer view. A large extent of water presently became visible within side; and although the entrance seemed to be very narrow, and there were in it strong ripplings like breakers, I was induced to steer in at half-past one: the ship being close upon a wind, and every man ready for tacking at a moment's warning. The soundings were irregular, between six and twelve fathoms, until we got four miles within the entrance, when they shoaled quick to 2¾. We then tacked; and, having a strong tide in our favour, worked to the eastward between the shoal and the rocky point, with twelve fathoms for the deepest water. In making the last stretch from the shoal, the depth diminished from ten fathoms quickly to three; and, before the ship could come round, the flood-tide set her upon a mud-hank, and she stuck fast. A boat was lowered down to sound; and, finding the deep water lie to the north-west, a kedge-anchor was carried out; and, having got the ship's head in that direction, the sails were filled, and she drew off into six and ten fathoms; and, it being then dark, we came to an anchor.

"The extensive harbour we had thus unexpectedly found I supposed must be Western Port, although the narrowness of the entrance did by no means correspond with the width given to it by Mr. Bass. It was the information of Captain Baudin, who had coasted along from thence with fine weather, and had found no inlet of any kind, which induced this supposition; and the very great extent of the place, agreeing with that of Western Port, was in confirmation of it. This, however, was not Western Port, as we found next morning;** and I congratulated myself on having made a new and useful discovery; but here again I was in error. This place, as I afterwards learned at Port Jackson, had been discovered ten weeks before by Lieutenant John Murray, who had succeeded Captain Grant in the command of the Lady Nelson. He had given it the name of Port Phillip, and to the rocky point on the east side of the entrance, that of Point Nepean.

[** In the margin opposite this are the words "Tuesday, 27th."]

"Our situation was found in the morning to be near two miles from the south shore, and the extreme towards Point Nepean bore N. 83° W. two leagues. About three miles to the north-by-west were some dry rocks, with bushes on them, surrounded with mud flats; and they appeared to form a part of the same shoal from which we had three times tacked in 2½ and 3 fathoms. The mud-bank where the ship had grounded is distinct from the middle shoal; but I am not certain that it is so from the south shore, from which it is one mile distant. The Bluff Mount (named Arthur's Seat by Mr. Murray, from a supposed resemblance to the hill of that name near Edinburgh) bore S. 76° E.; but from thence the shore trended northward so far that the land at the head of the port could not be seen, even from aloft. Before proceeding any higher with the ship, I wished to gain some knowledge of the form and extent of this great piece of water; and Arthur's Seat being more than a thousand feet high, and near the water side, presented a favourable station for that purpose.

"After breakfast I went away in a boat, accompanied by Mr. Brown and some other gentlemen, for the Seat. It was seven or eight miles from the ship, and, in steering nearly a straight course for it, we passed over the northern skirt of the shoal where the ship had touched, but afterwards had from seven to five fathoms nearly to the shore. Having observed the latitude there from an artificial horizon, I ascended the hill, and, to my surprise, found the port so extensive that even at this elevation its boundary to the northward could not be distinguished. The western shore extended from the entrance ten or eleven miles in a northern direction, to the extremity of what from its appearance I called Indented Head; beyond it was a wide branch of the port leading to the westward, and I suspected might have a communication with the sea; for it was almost incredible that such a vast piece of water should not have a larger outlet than that through which we had come.

"I took an extensive set of bearings from the clearest place to be found on the north-western bluff part of the hill; and we afterwards walked a little way back upon the ridge. From thence another considerable piece of water was seen at the distance of three or four leagues; it seemed to be mostly shallow, but as it appeared to have a communication with the sea to the south, I had no doubt of its being Mr. Bass's 'Western Port.'"

Flinders says that the soil at Arthur's Seat "was superior to any upon the borders of the salt water which I have had an opportunity of examining in Terra Australis," and that "quantities of fine oysters were lying upon the beaches, between high and low water-marks."

The work proceeds:—

"We returned on board at dusk in the evening; and at daylight" (on the 28th) "the anchor was weighed with the intention of coasting round the port with the ship. The wind was at north-east, but the flood-tide was in our favour; and, having made a stretch toward the middle shoals, we tacked and ran E.S.E. along their south side until past eight; when, the flood having ceased, we came to in seven fathoms. At slack water in the afternoon we again steered eastward, but were obliged to anchor from want of wind; and found that this slow mode of proceeding was not at all suited to the little time for which we had provisions remaining, besides that, there was much probability of getting frequently aground; the plan of examining the port with the ship was therefore abandoned.

"Having left orders with Mr. Fowler, the first-lieutenant, to take the ship back to the entrance, I went in a boat early next morning," (the 29th) "with provisions for three days, in order to explore as much of the port as could be done in that time."

The explorer first proceeded "past the second rocky point above Arthur's Seat. The wind being at north-west, I was obliged," he says, "to land behind some rocks more than two miles short of the third point, but walked to it with my surveying instruments. This was nine miles from the Seat, and the farthest part of the shore seen from thence; further on the shore falls back more eastward, in long sandy beaches, and afterwards curves to the north-west; but it was lost to sight long before joining the land on the west side of the port. After taking angles, and observing for the latitude and longitude, I rowed to the windward for Indented Head, five leagues off. . . . We landed at nine o'clock at night, near the uppermost part which had yet been seen."

On the morning of the 30th, the explorers "proceeded westward along the shore", and had some friendly communication with the natives, whose knowledge of fire-arms Flinders, at the time, attributed to their having seen him shoot when he did not observe them; but, he remarks, "it had probably been learned from Mr. Murray." The entry proceeds:—

"At noon I landed to take an observation of the sun, which gave 38° 7' 6" for the latitude; my position being nearly at the northern extremity of Indented Head . . . . and after a dinner, of which the natives partook, we left them on friendly terms to proceed westward in oar examination. The water became very shallow abreast of a sandy point," probably Point Richards, "whence the shore trends nearly south-west; and there being no appearance of an opening to the sea this way, I steered across the western arm, as well to ascertain its depth as with the intention of ascending the hills lying behind the northern shore. Two of the peaks upon these hills had been set from the ship's deck at sunset of the 25th, at the distance of thirty-seven miles; and, as their elevation must consequently be a thousand feet or more, I expected to obtain from thence such a view of the upper parts of the port as would render the coasting round it unnecessary.

"The width of the western arm was found to be six miles; and the soundings across augmented rapidly to six fathoms in mid-channel, and then decreased in the same way; but there was less than three fathoms at two miles from the northern shore. That side is indeed low and marshy, with mud-banks lying along it; and we had difficulty in finding a dry place to pitch the tent, and still more to procure wood wherewith to cook the ducks I had shot upon the banks.

"Saturday, May 1.—At day-dawn I set off with three of the boat's crew for the highest part of the back hills called Station Peak. Our way was over a low plain, where the water appeared frequently to lodge; it was covered with small-bladed grass, but almost destitute of wood, and the soil was clayey and shallow. One or two miles before arriving at the feet of the hills, we entered a wood where an emu and a kangaroo were seen at a distance; and the top of the peak was reached at ten o'clock. My position was then 21' of latitude from Point Nepean, in the direction of N. 28° 30' W., and I saw the water of the port as far as N. 75° E. at the distance of seven or eight leagues; so that the whole extent of the port, north and south, is at least thirty miles. The extremity of the western arm bore S. 15° 45' W., which makes the extent, east and west, to be thirty-six miles; but there was no communication with the sea on that side, nor did the western arm appear to be navigable beyond seven miles above where I had crossed it. Towards the interior there was a mountain bearing N. 11° E., eleven leagues distant; and so far the country was low, grassy, and very slightly covered with wood, presenting great facility to a traveller desirous of penetrating inland.

"I left the ship's name on a scroll of paper, deposited in a small pile of stones upon the top of the peak; and at three in the afternoon reached the tent, much fatigued, having walked more than twenty miles without finding a drop of water. Mr. Lacy, the midshipman of the boat, had observed the latitude at the tent from an artificial horizon to be 38° 2' 22", and Station Peak bore from thence N. 47° W.

"In the evening we rowed back to Indented Head, and landed there soon after dark."

At this place they passed the night, and next day caught three swans at "what Mr. Murray called Swan Harbour, but which," says Flinders, "I have taken the liberty of converting into Swan Pond," the water having been found so shallow, and full of mud-banks. "At the south side of the entrance, upon the sandy peninsula, or island as it is when the tide is in, I shot some delicate teal, and found fresh water in small ponds."

"The ship was lying about three miles within the mouth of the port, near to the south shore; and, after I had taken bearings at two stations on the sandy peninsula, we steered a straight course for her, sounding all the way. It appeared that there was a passage up the port of a mile wide, between the middle banks and the western shore, with a depth in it from 3 to 4½ fathoms. On the western extremity of the banks I had 2½ fathoms, and afterwards, 5, 7, 4, 7, 8, 9, 9 to the ship.

"Lieutenant Fowler had had a good deal of difficulty in getting back to the entrance of the port; owing in part to the western winds, and partly from the shoals, which do not seem to lie in any regular order. He had touched upon one of these, where there was ten feet on one side of the ship, and, on the other, five fathoms. This seems to have been a more eastern part of the same shoal upon which we had before grounded; but no danger is to be feared from these banks to a flat-floored ship.

"I find it very difficult to speak in general terms of Port Phillip. On the one hand, it is capable of receiving and sheltering a larger fleet of ships than ever yet went to sea; whilst, on the other, the entrance, in its whole width, is scarcely two miles, and nearly half of it is occupied by the rocks lying off Point Nepean, and by shoals on the opposite side. The depth in the remaining part varies from six to twelve fathoms, and this irregularity causes the strong, tides, especially when running against the wind, to make breakers, in which small vessels should be careful of engaging themselves; and when a ship has passed the entrance, the middle shoals are a great obstacle to a free passage up the port. These shoals are met with at four miles directly from the entrance, and extend about ten miles to the E.S.E., parallel with the south shore; they do seem, however, to be one connected mass, for I believe there are two or three deep openings in them, though we had not time to make an examination.

"No runs of fresh water were seen in my excursions; but," Flinders says that Mr. Grimes, Surveyor-General of New South Wales, on being sent "by Governor King, in 1803, to walk round and survey the harbour", "found several, and in particular a small river falling into the northern head of the port."

The Yarra is here evidently referred to, for it is marked on Flinders's chart of the bay, which he states he was able to complete from that of Grimes, otherwise there would have been a possibility of the Werribee being indicated above. It is clear that only from want of knowledge of what was contained in the "Voyage to Terra Australis", could the first discovery of the Yarra have ever been attributed to the expedition either of Batman or of Fawkner.

Of the territory Flinders thus speaks:—

"The country surrounding Port Phillip has a pleasing and in many parts a fertile appearance; and the sides of some of the hills and several of the valleys are fit for agricultural purposes. It is in great measure a grassy country, and capable of supporting much cattle, though better calculated for sheep. To this general description there are probably several exceptions; and the southern peninsula, which is terminated by Point Nepean, forms one, the surface there being mostly sandy, and the vegetation in many places little better than brushwood. Indented Head, at the northern part of the western peninsula, had an appearance particularly agreeable; the grass had been burned not long before, and had sprung up green and tender; the wood was so thinly scattered that one might see to a considerable distance; and the hills rose one over the other to a moderate elevation, but so gently that a plough might everywhere be used. The vegetable soil is a little mixed with sand, but good, though probably not deep, as I judged by the small size of the trees.

"The most common kinds of wood are the casuarina and eucalyptus, to which Mr. Grimes adds the banksia, mimosa, and some others; but the timber is rarely sound, and is not large.

"Were a settlement to be made at Port Phillip, as doubtless there will be some time hereafter, the entrance could be easily defended; and it would not be difficult to establish a friendly intercourse with the natives, for they are acquainted with the effect of fire-arms, and desirous of possessing many of our conveniences. I thought them more muscular than the men of King George's Sound, but, generally speaking, they differ in no essential particular from the other inhabitants of the south and east coasts, except in language, which is dissimilar, if not altogether different, to that of Port Jackson, and seemingly of King George's Sound also. I am not certain whether they have canoes, but none were seen.

"In the woods are the kangaroo, the emu or cassoway, paraquets, and a variety of small birds; the mud-banks are frequented by ducks and some black swans, and the shores by the usual sea-fowl common in New South Wales. The range of the thermometer was between 61° and 67°; and the climate appeared to be as good and as agreeable as could be desired in the month answering to November."

The unsuccessful attempt of Collins to form a settlement is next spoken of. Then it is stated—"Point Nepean is in latitude 38° 18' south. The longitude from twelve sets of distances taken by Lieutenant Flinders"—one of his officers and doubtless a relative—" in the port and six others by me ten days before arriving . . . . is 144° 30½' east; but these observations being mostly on one side of the moon, the corrected longitude of time-keepers, 144° 38' east, is preferred."

Speaking of the rise of the tide, Flinders says, "it appeared to be high water two hours and a half after the moon's passage; but at Point Nepean, the time of high water by the shore is said by Mr. Grimes to be only one hour after the moon.

"On the 3rd of May, at daylight, the anchor was weighed to go out of Port Phillip with the last half of the ebb; and the wind being from the westward, we backed, filled and tacked occasionally, dropping out with the tide. "When the entrance was cleared, and five miles distant, Mr. Westall took a view of it . . . . and at eleven o'clock, when we bore away eastward to pass Cape Schanck, he sketched that cape and the ridge of hills terminating at Arthur's Seat.

"At one o'clock" on Sunday, May 9th, the heads of Port Jackson were gained; "a pilot came on board, and soon after three the Investigator was anchored in Sydney Cove.

"There was not a single individual on board who was not upon deck working the ship into the harbour; and it may be averred that the officers and crew were, generally speaking, in better health than on the day we sailed from Spithead, and not in less good spirits."

Flinders found the French ship Le Naturaliste, in Port Jackson. On the 20th, Baudin arrived in Le Géographie, which a boat of the Investigator assisted in towing up the harbour. The officers and crew were suffering much from scurvy, so much so that many of them were taken into the Colonial hospital; and, although the necessity of increasing the number of cattle in the country had caused the use of fresh meat to be forbidden, "some oxen belonging to the Government were now killed for the distressed strangers."

In Governor King's despatch of May 21st, 1802, in the Record Office, it is stated that, having sailed round Van Diemen's Land, the two French exploring vessels separated, when the Naturaliste "proceeded to Western Port, where they lay some time without seeing the excellent watering-place Acting-Lieutenant Murray found on Phillip Isle, during the Lady Nelson's last voyage, which appears to have been a principal reason for their visit to this place. It does not appear they have any knowledge of Port Phillip or King's Island, not having been to the westward of Western Port. The remainder of the Naturaliste's voyage is a secret.

"Previous to the Naturaliste's sailing from hence, I was highly gratified by the arrival of his Majesty's ship Investigator on the 9th, and was still more pleased to find that Captain Flinders had surveyed the S.W. coast to within six degrees of Bass's Straits before he met the Géographie, which it appears had passed through the Straits after parting company with the Naturaliste."

In a paper entitled "Memorandums of New South Wales," in the Correspondence of 1809, the Governor refers to the object of Baudin's visit, stating that "a naval force is absolutely necessary," among other reasons, "to protect the Colony from an attack by the French from the Mauritius, which would have taken place long ago if the enemy had possessed a naval force equal to the enterprise. There was no doubt but what it was their intention when M. Baudin took correct plans of Port Jackson, &c., purchased a vessel there for the purpose of exploring the passage to the Mauritius through Bass's Straits, where he actually passed to the westward with his division, and arrived at the Isle de France. And had he lived another year, I think it very possible the commodore would most likely have visited the Colony for the purpose of annihilating the settlement."

The detention and treatment of Flinders, on his calling at the Mauritius, were in striking contrast to the hospitality extended to Baudin at Sydney. Our explorer was detained eight years a prisoner of war, his charts and papers were taken from him, and his discoveries attributed to French explorers. The only justification that could be urged for the detention is the technical one, that his passport only held good whilst he was with the particular vessel in which he set out, its terms being, "de laisser passer librement et sans empêchement, ladite corvette Investigator, ses officers, équipage, et effets, pendant la durée de leur voyage."

In the New South Wales Correspondence *** for 1805 is a copy of a letter from Captain Flinders to Governor King, begun on board the Cumberland at Coupang Bay, Timor, November 12th, 1808, describing his voyage up to that time, and concluded at the Mauritius, August 8th, 1804. He reports his detention in the island by the French. This is followed by one, in spirited strains, from King to the Governor of the place, dated Sydney, April 30th, 1805, in which it is urged that the detention of our distinguished explorer was quite unjustifiable, and in striking contrast to the hospitable reception of Baudin at Sydney. King also requests the release of Flinders, and the delivery up to him of his charts and papers.

[*** Record Office.]

It is interesting to know a little of the personal history of eminent men; and for the following facts respecting Captain Flinders and his ship, the author is indebted to Mr. Flinders Petrie. The distinguished navigator was born in 1774, and died July 19th, 1814.

In one of his letters to the author, Mr. Petrie says,—"I wrote to the Admiralty to ask what, became of the Investigator. It seems that after her patching up at Port Jackson she was brought back to Plymouth, November 24th, 1805, and placed in ordinary at that port. In November, 1810, she was sold, probably by auction, to be broken up, considering her rotten state six years before. The later Investigators, therefore, are not the same ship."

It is also an interesting fact that one of the midshipmen of the Investigator, when she visited Port Phillip, afterwards became the famous Sir John Franklin.

Mr. William Henty has related to the author that, when on their voyage to Tasmania in 1886, as fellow-passengers, Sir John, who was proceeding to enter upon the Government of that Colony, mentioned, in conversation with him, as their vessel, the Fairlie, was passing out of the Australian Bight, that in the particular place where they were, the Investigator had incurred such danger of being embayed, that her topsails had to be double-reefed twice in the short space of twenty minutes.



National vitality and colonization of Australia—Governor King recommends settlement at Port Phillip—Grimes and Robbins walk round harbour—Discover Yarra Yarra—Collins's expedition sent out—His instructions—His despatches, on arrival, to Governor King and Lord Hobart—His unfavourable opinion of place and harbour—Landing and formation of settlement—Report of survey of Port Phillip—Statement of various particulars—Desertion of convicts—Boat sent to Sydney—Governor King's reply to Collins—Letter to Captain Woodriff of the Calcutta—Collins's reply to King stating preparations for removal—Extract from Ocean's log of voyages in removing settlement—"General orders" printed at Port Phillip—First birth, marriage, and death—List of Civil establishment and settlers.

SUCH discoveries as those of Grant, Murray, and Flinders did not fail to stimulate the national energies of England to fresh enterprises of colonization, at a time when the vitality of the nation was at the highest pitch of vigour. Nothing has lent greater countenance to unworthy apprehensions, that that vitality is on the wane, than the idea which has for some years too extensively prevailed in this country,—and which, until the Colonial Office was presided over by Lord Carnarvon, had become too much the policy of the Imperial Government,—that the Empire is large enough and ought not to be further extended. What a contrast between the unworthy fear of incurring additional Imperial responsibilities,—whereby the Orange Free State and the Transvaal were allowed to become independent in South Africa, Fiji was too long refused admittance to the Empire, and New Guinea is even still left to create future embarrassments,—and the manly national energy which effected the colonization of Australia at times and under circumstances of so much difficulty and danger! England in those days did not require the outlet for an overcrowded population such as she has since acquired; distances were practically three or four times greater than at present; and, instead of having enjoyed years of peace, Great Britain had not half passed through her great struggle with Napoleon. Still, with an undaunted courage which merited success and certainly achieved it, as splendidly in peace as in war, she persevered in making in Australia a grand extension of her Empire. The brilliant victories of Napoleon gave France an ephemeral European power, which disappeared whilst England was peacefully sowing in the New World the seeds of Empire, only the firstfruits of which she is beginning to reap.

In despatches * to the Duke of Portland, of the same date as that which we have seen accompanied the log of the Lady Nelson, May 21st, 1802, Governor King urged the importance of a settlement being formed at Port Phillip, both on the ground of the advantages of the situation and as a precaution against the designs of the French, of which he was apprehensive.

[* New South Wales Correspondence, Record Office.]

He writes,—

"From the account given by Acting-Lieutenant Murray and Captain Flinders, of the goodness of the soil and natural advantages of Port Phillip in Bass's Straits, I beg leave to suggest the propriety of a settlement being made at that place, as much for the purpose of separating the numbers that will be sent here, when peace is made, as to make an establishment in a place so connected with the settlement. Nor can there be a doubt, from the accounts I have received from those officers, of its being a much more eligible climate for raising wheat than this is. This measure I should immediately adopt, but unfortunately I have no person under me that can be spared or entrusted with such a command; but, when more officers come out, perhaps I may be able to select out one that would answer for that situation, which will require a person of some abilities and perseverance. Unless I find it absolutely necessary I shall not take this step without your Grace's approbation. . . . . I am the more solicitous respecting forming this settlement from the probability of the French having in contemplation to make a settlement on the north-west coast, which I cannot help thinking is a principal object of their researches."

In December, 1802, Governor King sent Surveyor-General Grimes and Lieut. Chas Robbins to thoroughly examine Port Phillip, and they walked round the harbour, discovering the Yarra Yarra. The result appears to have been a decided condemnation of the territory as unfit for settlement. In the papers about Collins's expedition, Record Office, is a copy of Grimes's plan of the bay, similar to "Flinders's chart, with soundings all round the shores and brief remarks about the country. The Yarra is traced past Melbourne. The author has sought in vain for the report, even writing out to Sydney for it. It has, however, quite recently come to light. The following interesting particulars respecting it are to be found in the "Argus" of September 12th, 1877:—

"The ancient rivalries of Batman and Fawkner as to the discovery of the River Yarra and the country adjacent—a dispute which at one time divided into two hitter factions the inhabitants of the little village then called the Doutigalla Settlement, and now known as the City of Melbourne—have been decisively set at rest by the finding in the Colonial Records in Sydney of a very curious and valuable manuscript journal of an exploration sent forth in 1802 by Governor King under the charge of Mr. Charles Grimes, the then Surveyor-General of New South Wales. In gathering local materials for a memoir of Captain Flinders, the illustrious Australian navigator, upon which he has been engaged for some years, Mr. J.J. Shillinglaw, of this city, recently disinterred from an obscurity of three-quarters of a century the survey made by Grimes of what was denominated Port King, until that name was altered by the Governor to Port Phillip, after his predecessor, the first Governor of New South Wales. This proved to be an elaborate and accurate chart, showing soundings all round Port Phillip and Hobson's and Corio bays, and the course of the Saltwater and Yarra rivers—the former nearly as far as Keilor, and the latter up to Dight's Falls in Studley Park. Following up the traces thus obtained, Mr. Shillinglaw has been successful in hunting up the manuscript journal of the exploration alluded to, which contains much interesting detail of the nature of the country passed over, the runs of water met with, and the incidents of the voyage of the Cumberland, in which the party was embarked. The discovery and ascent of the River Yarra was made on Sunday, 30th January, 1803, and the description of the surrounding lands makes it still more difficult to understand why Port Phillip was abandoned by Collins, after a stay, of nearly four months, as 'an unpromising and unproductive country' exactly a twelvemonth afterwards to a day. The little Cumberland, in which Grimes made his survey, lives in history as the vessel in which poor Flinders was made prisoner in the Isle of France when on his way home. The chart and journal, which have been fruitlessly sought by all those writers who have dealt with the early days of the Colonies, clear up many misconceptions, errors, and pretensions, and will, no doubt, be published by the gentleman who has had the good fortune to find them. Nor should we omit to mention that, without the warm interest shown in a matter of literary interest by Sir John Robertson, the Premier of New South Wales, and Mr. Henry Halloran, the Under-Secretary, these interesting documents might possibly never have seen light."

The following correspondence leaves little doubt that a copy of the report was forwarded to this country. Prior to the discovery of this document in Sydney, the only original statement, by one of Grimes's party, which appeared to be extant, is that contained in the report of Lieut. Robbins, enclosed in a despatch of Governor King to Lord Hobart, dated January 16th, 1805. Robbins had been sent in the Integrity, at the end of 1804, to make further investigations in Bass's Straits, with a view to the formation of a settlement in the place of that which, we are about to see, had a brief existence. He says in his lengthy report about Western Port,—"In comparing it with Port Phillip, which I was at the examination of in 1803, in conjunction with Mr. Grimes, I have not seen any part of the Western Port in my opinion so eligible for a settlement as the fresh-water river at the head of that port."

So prompt was the Imperial Government in acting upon Governor King's advice, that an expedition was organized and despatched from this country to colonize Port Phillip, before the unfavourable report of Grimes reached England.

The vessels of the expedition were H.M.S. Calcutta, commanded by Captain Daniel Woodriff, and the chartered transport Ocean. The Lieut.-Governor was Col. David Collins, who went out as Judge-Advocate with Governor Phillip, in the expedition which founded the first settlement at Port Jackson, and who wrote the work about N. S. Wales, to which reference has already been made. He was for many years first Governor of Van Diemen's Land, where he died.

The expedition finally left the shores of England, April 27th, 1803; and, after calling at Rio and the Cape, the Calcutta entered Port Phillip Heads, October 10th, where she found that the Ocean had already arrived. Governor Collins had sent a letter by a whaler from Rio, to Governor King at Sydney, asking that a vessel might be sent to meet him at Port Phillip or in the Straits; and no communication having been received nearly a month after the arrival of the expedition, Mr. Collins, one of the settlers, volunteered to proceed to Port Jackson to inform Governor King of the formation of the settlement. Mr. Collins was accordingly provided with a cutter, in which he conveyed some of the despatches, which we shall presently notice. In seven days he safely arrived within sixty miles of Sydney, when he was overtaken and picked up by the Ocean.

The historical documents in this chapter are among the New South Wales Correspondence in the Record Office. Vol. I., for 1804, contains numerous papers relating to the formation and abandonment of the settlement at Port Phillip, and the volume for 1802-3 and 4 is almost entirely devoted to the subject and to the settlements formed by Lieut. John Bowen in Van Diemen's Land, at the Derwent and at Port Dalrymple; that at the former on September 12th, 1803. Here again the Lady Nelson took an important part in Australian colonization, for she arrived at the Derwent five days before Bowen. This was not the man who first entered Port Phillip.

From the following document it will be seen that considerable freedom of selection was left to Col. Collins:—

"Copy of an Instruction to Lieutenant-Governor Collins, communicated to his Excellency Governor King by the Right Honourable Lord Hobart, one of his Majesty's principal Secretaries of State, dated 7th February, 1803.

"Although Port Phillip has been pointed out as the place judged the most convenient and proper for fixing the first settlement of your establishment in Bass's Straits, nevertheless you are not positively restricted from giving the preference to any other part of the said southern coast of New South Wales, or any of the islands in Bass's Straits which, upon communication with the Governor of New South Wales, and with his concurrence and approbation, you may have well-grounded reasons to consider as more advantageously situated for that purpose."

It is evident that Collins made up his mind, almost immediately upon his arrival at Port Phillip, if not before, that the settlement was to prove a failure.

The following letter from him to Governor King, dated "Head Quarters, Camp at Sullivan's Bay, Port Phillip, 5th November, 1803," describes the voyage out and arrival of the expedition:—

"SIR,—I beg leave to acquaint your Excellency that, having sailed from Spithead in his Majesty's ship Calcutta, on the 24th April last, charged with the establishing a settlement in this harbour, pursuant to a recommendation from you to that effect, I arrived here on the 9th ultimo, having, on my way hither, touched at Teneriff, Rio de Janeiro, and Simon's Bay, at which latter place I purchased a small quantity of stock and seed grain for the intended colony. The Calcutta is commanded by Captain Daniel Woodriff, who, having been once before in New South Wales, was selected by Government as a fit person to be employed in the present expedition; and I feel much pleasure in having it in my power, in this early stage of my communication with your Excellency, to bear my testimony to the propriety of their selection.

"We were accompanied by the Ocean, a store-ship richly freighted—such has been the liberality of Government—with an ample supply of every article that could be suggested as likely to be of advantage to an undertaking, of the success of which Government had entertained the most sanguine hopes. From this ship being a dull sailer, we parted company in some very bad weather a short time before we made the island of Tristan da Cunha, but had the satisfaction of finding that she had anchored here on the 7th of October—only two days before us—by which she had escaped a heavy gale of wind which we met with on the 8th when off King's Island.

"I have brought in with me 299 male convicts, sixteen married women, a few settlers, and a small detachment, as per margin,** from the Royal Marines, under my command; with a complete civil staff, of which the Judge-Advocate alone is absent, but I have my Lord Hobart's assurance he shall be sent out by the first ship that sails after me."

[** "Three subalterns, three sergeants, three corporals, two drummers, thirty-nine privates."]

The following extract from this despatch is embodied in one from Collins to Lord Hobart, of November 14th:—

"From Mr. Mertho, who had been examining some part of the bay, I received the first unfavourable impression of it, which, I am truly concerned to observe, a more minute survey thereof has only tended to strengthen.

"Anxious to discover a place possessing the advantages of fresh water, timber for building, and soil for agricultural purposes, whereon I could land my people, I determined to lose no time in examining the bay. Captain Woodriff and myself accordingly set off on the morning after our arrival, and landed at the watering-place under the high land on the eastern side of the bay. Here we found fresh water, and enough for my purposes, but a soil of sand only; the access to both of which was barred by water so shallow that no loaded boat could approach within half a mile, and with the wind at west not at all. Upon ascending the hill we found sand on its summit, and its sides thinly clad with miserable stunted timber.

"The two following days were spent in an equally unsuccessful examination of the western or lagoon side of the bay. Here we found the soil somewhat better, but entirely destitute of that great essential—fresh water.

"Having received the most positive orders to discharge the store-ship without any delay, I felt myself no longer at liberty to continue my personal researches after a proper place, and on Thursday, 13th (the fourth day from my arrival), I went on shore with Captain Woodriff to a bay on the east side, where very good fresh water had been obtained by sinking casks near the margin of the sea shore. In the bay adjoining this I found a level of about five acres, upon which I instantly determined to land my people, stores, and provisions; and from which I have now the honour of reporting my proceedings to your Excellency.

"That every further information respecting this capacious harbour should forthwith he obtained, Captain Woodriff despatched his first officer, Lieutenant Tuckey, accompanied by Mr. Harris, the Deputy-Surveyor of the settlement, and a Mr. Collins, a settler (formerly a master in the navy), in the Calcutta's launch, attended by a boat belonging to me, on a survey of the harbour. Upon this business they were absent nine days, and I have now the honour to enclose a copy of the report made to me for your Excellency's information, by which I think it will appear that, having before me but a choice of difficulties, I could not be anywhere better placed than I am, and where I shall wait until honoured with your Excellency's commands for my future proceedings.

"The soil from Arthur's Seat to Point Calcutta, at the entrance of the harbour, is light, and mixed considerably with sand; even the few patches of black vegetable mould which here and there have been met with abound therewith. I have nevertheless opened two acres of ground for a garden, and am preparing five acres for Indian corn. Of the success of the latter I do not entertain much hope; but I find in it some employment for my people. These, I am happy to say, conduct themselves most perfectly to my satisfaction, wading the whole day long up to their middles in water, with the utmost cheerfulness, to discharge the boats as they come in.

"The bread, flour, and salt provisions for their support, I have stowed in large piles in the open air, while the bale-goods, wine, spirits, and other articles of the most value, are deposited under the large elaboratory tents, which I have guarded as well as my small military force will allow. From the scantiness of this I have been constrained to request Captain Woodriff to land one non-commissioned officer and ten privates, from the detachment of Royal Marines belonging to his Majesty's ship under his command, to be lent for the duties of this garrison during her stay here; but as the same necessity for this assistance will exist after her departure, I must submit to your Excellency whether it would not be expedient to increase my forces by a small party from the troops under your command at Port Jackson. As this must in a great measure depend upon what may be your determination respecting my future proceedings, I shall add nothing further on the subject, but that, were I to settle in the upper part of the harbour, which is full of natives, I should require four times the force I have now to guard not only the convicts, but perhaps myself, from their attacks.

"I cannot but suppose that all the disadvantages of Port Phillip are as well known to your Excellency as they are to myself at this moment. If they are, you will have anticipated this Report; but it may not have entered into your contemplation that there are at this time between 300 and 400 people sitting down cheerfully, with no other or more certain supply of water than what is filtered daily through the perforated sides of six or eight casks, which are sunk in the sand. The water certainly is good—at least my sick-list does not indicate that it is otherwise. How long the supply may last, or how far it is calculated to meet a continuation of the dry weather which we have hitherto experienced, time alone can determine; at present the casks' regularly fill as they are emptied. I shall sink a well as soon as the hurry of clearing the store-ship is over. That labour has gone on rapidly, and she was discharged from Government employ on the 4th instant. The Calcutta's boats have given considerable assistance in expediting this business, from the nature of which, I fear, they must have suffered considerably; but Captain Woodriff has most obligingly furnished me with all the aid in his power."

At this point in the letter to Governor King, as well as in that to Lord Hobart, comes in the following condemnatory extracts. After a few lines about the convicts, Collins tells the Governor,—

"I shall, however, endeavour to get from them all the labour I possibly can, there being much to be done to get my stores and them under a more durable covering, than the canvas we are at present under before the winter season sets in, if it should appear expedient to your Excellency that I am to remain here until that period. I am well aware that a removal hence must be attended with much difficulty and loss; but, upon every possible view of my situation, I do not see any advantage that could be thereby attained, nor that by staying here I can at all answer the intentions of Government in sending hither a colonial establishment. The bay itself, when viewed in a commercial light, is wholly unfit for any such purpose, being situated in a deep and dangerous bight, between Cape Albany Otway and Point Schank, to enter which must ever require a well-manned and well-found ship, a leading wind, and a certain time of tide, for the ebb runs out at the rapid rate of from five to seven knots an hour, as was experienced by the store-ship. The Calcutta had fortunately a Mr wind, and the tide of flood when she came in, and she experienced a very great indraught, which had brought her daring the night much nearer than she expected. With a gale of wind upon the coast, and well in between the two above-mentioned points, a ship would be in imminent risk and danger."

In the letter of the 14th to Lord Hobart, Collins thus continues:—

"I regret that I have not a better report to make to your lordship of the probable success of an expedition equipped under your lordship's auspices, with a liberality that inspired every one concerned in the undertaking with the most sanguine hopes of success. You may rest assured that what is possible shall be done by me to ensure it, if it should be Governor King's opinion that I am to remain here. I have suggested to that gentleman, in a private letter which I wrote him, that Port Dalrymple, on the northern side of Van Diemen's Land, appears to possess those requisites for a settlement in which this very extensive harbour is so wholly deficient. Every day's experience convinces me that it cannot nor ever will be resorted to by speculative men. The boat that I sent to Port Jackson, was three days lying at the mouth of the harbour before she could get out, owing to a swell occasioned by the wind meeting the strong tide of ebb. A ship would undoubtedly find less difficulty, but she must go out at the top of the tide and with a leading wind, which is not to be met with every day. When all the disadvantages attending this bay are publicly known, it cannot be supposed that commercial people will be very desirous of visiting Port Phillip."

As bad a shot as ever prophet made!

"There is a run of fresh water in the N.E. part of the harbour, where Captain Woodriff is proceeding with the Calcutta to recruit his water. Here I understand the soil is miserably poor and sandy, and the approach to it very shallow, but I shall have the honour of transmitting the survey made by Mr. Harris, the Deputy-Surveyor, by the Calcutta."

The following is the document—

"Copy of Report of Survey made by Mr. Harris, Deputy-Surveyor of Port Phillip.

"The land in general round Port Phillip, at a short distance from the shores, carries a deceitful appearance of a rich country. The soil is, however, for the most part sandy, and very thinly wooded. Some light black mould is found in the heights and in the valleys; but neither in quality or quantity sufficient for cultivation to repay the cares of the husbandman. The best soil is found in the Western Bay, chiefly consisting of marle, covered with a light black mould. Good water is found in many parts on the eastern coast of the harbour, but the western appears a dried-up country, seeming not to possess sufficient moisture for the smallest cultivation. The northern shore is more numerously inhabited than any other parts, from which it is likely that water is to be found there, although no appearance of it was seen daring the survey. Good clay and stone is found in abundance on the eastern shore, fit for all the purposes of building.

(Signed)                        "G.P. HARRIS,            
"Dy. Surveyor."   

The letter to Lord Hobart proceeds:—

"That ship"—the Calcutta—"has nothing in her now belonging to the Government but the ammunition intended for the settlement, for the reception of which I am constructing a magazine, bomb-proof, to be formed of stone, and Captain Woodriff would soon be at liberty to proceed according to his orders to Port Jackson; but, having officially applied to him to remain here until I can hear from Governor King, he has acceded to my wish, and I hope your lordship will not disapprove either of my request or his consent thereto. I shall send copies of the letters which passed on that occasion by the Calcutta.

"I have been much disappointed in my hopes of saving the salt provisions by the issuing of fish and kangaroo occasionally, but of the latter not one has as yet been killed, and of the former but very few taken. I shall, however, construct a boat as speedily as possible to be employed on that service, and all the aid that I can derive therefrom I will avail myself of.

"I am sorry to state that many of the articles of ironmongery are totally unfit for use, owing to the badness of the materials of which they have been made. Specimens of these I shall send to the Transport Board by Captain Woodriff.

"I am getting on with a store-house, but I find great difficulty, not only in procuring a quantity of proper timber sufficient for the purpose, but in bringing in what I do find, owing to the great labour of dragging a heavy timber carriage through a sandy and hilly country. The preservation of my stores is, however, my greatest care, and I shall not omit any exertion that may tend to place them in proper security.

"I am at a loss to know how to dispose of the settlers, this place not holding out any prospect fox their succeeding in agricultural pursuits. Sixteen having signified their wish of remaining here, I have placed them in a valley close to my encampment, where I have allowed them to construct temporary huts, and allowed them small portions of garden ground. I imagine the excellence of our provisions, than which none can be finer, has induced most of them to remain here; but if I am not to remove, I shall look out for situations whereon to place them, and ease Government of the expense which they incur, as speedily as the circumstances in which I shall find myself will admit of. I am sorry to observe that in general they are a necessitous and worthless set of people.

"The ration which I at present issue is to each male convict for seven days, 7 lbs. of beef, or 4 lbs. of pork, 7 lbs. of biscuit, 1 lb. of flour, 6 oz. of sugar. The one pound of flour formed no part of the ration which I received from the Treasury, but it was given to the first convicts who landed at Port Jackson, in addition to 7 lbs. of biscuit, and I thought it would enable my people to make a pudding on Sunday, which is the use to which they put it, and find thereby a grateful addition to their salt meat on one day in the week. When the biscuit is expended, which it soon will be, I shall then issue seven pounds of flour.

"I have issued, since my arrival, a complete suit of clothing to each male convict—a comfort that the majority of them stood much in want of, for the wretched apparel with which they embarked was completely worn out long before we had reached the most trying part of the voyage. During the progress of that, I had made up and issued to them about sixty suits from the materials which were put on board, to be made up on the passage, and these were distributed to the men who were falling ill for want of clothes, and to some who, being allowed to assist in working the ship, were at all times exposed to the vicissitudes of weather and climate.

"The small quantity of stock with which I landed is doing very well, and I hope will soon increase; but three heifers that I purchased at the Cape, though each was two years old, could not bear the cold and wet weather which we met with, and died soon after we sailed. A small cow, which I bought at Rio de Janeiro, will calve in a few days, and I have two fine bulls alive.

"The people, for the three weeks which succeeded of debarkation, continued healthy and well-behaved, but since that time we have never had less than thirty under medical treatment, and a desertion rather alarming has taken place among them, no less than twelve having left the settlement within the last week.

"I had received information that these men were to be followed by five others, who I caused to be seized a short time before the hour at which they proposed quitting the settlement. I have them now chained to each other, with an assurance from me that they shall remain in that state upon two-thirds allowance of provisions, until they will either give me such information as may lead to the apprehension of the others, or that those others return, which I am not without hopes they may be induced to do, when they find themselves disappointed in their expectations of meeting a South Sea man, and their provisions fail them.

"I have employed some people who I think I can depend on to go after these infatuated wretches, and trust that they will succeed, that an example sufficient to deter others may be made of them.

"The cause of this desertion I can no otherwise account for than by the operation of the restless disposition of man, which is ever prone to change, for the convicts are well fed and clothed, and not overwrought. Complaint, I am well convinced, they cannot have, for the hardest labour which we have had has been discharging the store-ships, in doing which the gangs that were employed were rewarded each Saturday night with a proportion of spirits and water, which I thought they merited.

"The Ocean being on the point of sailing for China, I have judged it expedient to give your lordship these few particulars of my situation; but by the Calcutta, which may be the first in England, I shall have the honour of stating every circumstance that has occurred more fully than I do at present; and have the honour to remain, with much respect, my lord,

       "Your lordship's most obedient and very humble servant,


In his letter to Governor King of November 5th, Collins, after requesting that two men who would be of service may be sent him, and also a few thousand bricks, thus continues:—

"As there are many free people at present at Sydney, there may perhaps be some who may be desirous of visiting Port Phillip; but as such could only prove extremely troublesome to me at present, will you forgive my requesting that none may be suffered at any time to come hither but such as I may have occasion to point out?"

Referring to the letter he had sent from Rio, by the whaler on July 5th, Collins proceeds:—

"Nothing having come in since my arrival, now nearly a month, I conclude that Mr. Quested has been delayed upon his voyage, and have therefore, being extremely desirous that you should as speedily as possible be informed thereof, determined to prepare a very fine six-oared cutter belonging to the settlement, and send her forthwith to Port Jackson.

"This letter will (I hope) be delivered to your Excellency by a Mr. Collins, who came to this country on a fishing speculation. He accompanied Captain Woodriff and myself on the examination of the harbour, and was afterwards the associate with Lieut. Tuckey in the more accurate survey which was made by that officer of the whole of the extensive bay. His zeal for the good of his Majesty's service is equal with his abilities to promote it; and having offered his services to convey this information to your Excellency, I am happy in the opportunity of introducing him to your Excellency's notice, convinced that the service which he will have rendered, as well as his own merit, will give him some claim thereto.

"I have had the boat prepared under his direction, and he seems confident of her successfully making this short voyage. I cannot but own that I shall feel no small degree of anxiety until I can be informed of the event of it, which I trust your Excellency will gratify me with as speedily as it may be in your power. The despatches and private letters which I am honoured with the charge of for your Excellency I do not send by this conveyance, which I trust you will deem with me rather too precarious, but they shall be forwarded with many others for various persons under your Government, by the first safe conveyance which may offer.

"In the preparations which have been necessarily made on this occasion, we have been materially assisted by Captain Woodriff, who has most readily furnished me with such articles as the public stores could not supply, and could be spared from the ship."

The letter concludes by stating that Mr. Collins had been provisioned for a month, and had been instructed to act under Governor King's directions with respect to his return; and also that Captain Woodriff had been requested to remain till a reply from Sydney should be received. After being seven days out, Mr. Collins, as we have seen, was picked up by the store-ship Ocean, which overtook him on her way from Port Phillip to Sydney—Tuckey states within sixty miles of the latter.

Governor King replies to Lieutenant-Governor Collins from Sydney, November 26th, 1803:—

"SIR,—I have received yours of the 5th inst., dated from Port Phillip. Mr. Collins, who delivered me your despatch, arrived here the 24th inst. in the Ocean with his people and the cutter.

"On receipt of yours I changed the destination of the Lady Nelson (being the only vessel here), which was on the point of sailing for Norfolk Island. I hope she will be ready to leave this on the 28th inst., and that favourable winds will enable her commander to deliver this despatch in a few days after.

"The enclosures and accompanying survey will inform you that your observations on Port Phillip have been fully anticipated, and I have no doubt but Government is now in possession of that information which went by the Glatton. That ship sailed the 16th May last.

"Not having received my despatches from the Secretary of State (which I think you and Captain Woodriff were very right in not subjecting to be carried to China by the Ocean, or risking them in the open boat), I cannot proceed further than in laying all the information I possess before you, and suggesting the propriety of your consulting with Captain Woodriff on the expediency of the measures it may appear necessary for you to adopt, at the same time giving my opinion.

"It appears, as well by Mr. Grimes's and Mr. Robins's survey as by your report, that Port Phillip is totally unfit in every point of view to remain at, without subjecting the Crown to the certain expensive prospect of the soil not being equal to raise anything for the support of the settlement. Unless you should have made any further observations to encourage your remaining there—perhaps the upper part of the bay at the head of the river may not have escaped your notice, as that is the only part Mr. Grimes and those that were with him speak the least favourably of—from this circumstance I shall presume it will appear to you that removing from thence will be the most advisable for the interest of his Majesty's service.

"You will perceive by the enclosure that my first view respecting forming a settlement at Port Phillip proceeded from the report of its first discoverer, Mr. Murray, and the subsequent account of Captain Flinders, a copy of whose chart I also send. You will observe that it was not my intention to fix that settlement, or any other, until I heard from England; and you will also observe the reasons that determined me on fixing a settlement at the Derwent on Van Diemen's Land. . . . . I shall now state what I consider the advantages and disadvantages of fixing your government at the River Derwent or Port Dalrymple. . . . Having possessed you of these circumstances, it remains with you to determine which of the two places you consider most eligible to remove with your establishment."

*     *     *     *     *

In a letter of the same date (November 26th) to Captain Daniel Woodriff, Governor King says:—

"I am much concerned that the survey I caused to be taken at Port Phillip in December, 1802, which was sent to England by the Glatton in May last, had not arrived in England previous to your departure, in which case I presume, from the information I have given Lieutenant-Governor Collins, no debarkation would have taken place until you heard from me; however, this is one of those events depending on circumstances that cannot be guarded against, but amended as well as possible.

"I have given the Lieutenant-Governor every information I possess, and have suggested to him the propriety of consulting with you on the measures most advisable to be adopted; and, as a removal appears indispensable, I judged that to attempt that service with the Lady Nelson and Francis would be tedious, and ultimately of more expense to the Crown than taking up the Ocean would be; this I have done, and shall endeavour to despatch her and the Lady Nelson on the 28th instant, which is four days after her arrival.

"I have communicated the Charter Party to Lieutenant-Governor Collins; a copy should have been sent you, but that the time is so short. You will please to observe she is taken up for four months certain, in which time (or less) I trust the service will be performed. As he insisted on 18s. a ton a month, I was obliged to comply from the exigency of the occasion. I observe he was taken up by the Transport Board in August, 1801, for six months at 19s. 6d. a ton per month.

*     *     *     *     *

"It now remains for me to request a continuation of your good offices and exertions in directing and assisting to remove the colonists from Port Phillip to Port Dalrymple or Hobart, as may be determined on, submitting the exigencies of the case, and the benefit His Majesty's service will derive thereby, to your consideration and determination. . . ."

Among the very complete set of documents respecting the settlement, in the N. S. Wales Correspondence, is a copy of the Charter Party between Governor King and Mr. John Mertho, master of the Ocean, dated November 25th, 1803. She is stated to be of 481 tons register.

Col. Collins writes, from the Camp, Sullivan Bay, Port Phillip, Dec. 16th, 1803, to Governor King, acknowledging his letter of 26th ult., delivered by Mr. Collins, who returned in the Ocean on the 13th. He expresses surprise at Captain Woodriff's intention to sail with the Calcutta to Port Jackson, but remarks that "the reasons which have operated with him to form this determination are of a nature to preclude any other than expressions of regret thereat." Captain Woodriff's instructions from the Admiralty were "to land the colony at Port Phillip, and proceed to Port Jackson."

Collins goes on to observe,—

"I find myself left to remove the establishment (with the direction of which I have been entrusted) with the assistance of only one ship.

"This circumstance, however, unpleasant as it is, does not discourage me in making the preparations that are necessary for as speedily removing as I should have done, had I received that assistance from the Calcutta which she could have afforded me, and I hope, though I cannot speak positively, that it will be in my power to dismiss the store-ship within the time desired by your Excellency; to accomplish which (as I am perfectly sensible of the expense attending that ship being employed on this service) you may be assured no exertions of mine shall be wanting.

"Mr. Mertho having informed me, on his arrival, that his ship would not be ready to begin receiving stores, &c., for ten days, I shall employ that interval in constructing a temporary wharf over the flat, which I shall carry out about 500 feet, and at which boats may then be loaded without grounding. This and other preparations will sufficiently employ me until the ship is ready, after which, if our weather is favourable, no time will be lost in filling her, and embarking the establishment.

"The embarkation of the whole cannot possibly take place at once; I shall therefore divide the military, civil, and convicts into two detachments, one of which, with a proportion of stores and provisions, can very well be sent away at any time. . . ."

The letter goes on to state that Collins had not made up his mind whether to go to the Derwent or Port Dalrymple, and that, in accordance with his instructions, he would, as soon as he should be at liberty to do so, send, unless his Excellency should disapprove, an establishment to King's Island, although he had been informed that a settlement had already been formed there. This letter was received, on the arrival of the Calcutta at Sydney, on December 26th, and in a reply, dated the 30th, Governor King informed Collins that a settlement at King's Island had not been formed, and that it was undesirable to establish one, as settlers would be likely to drive away the sea elephants for which the place was resorted to by sealers. The letter further says,—

"I think there is a necessity for a small establishment being left at Port Phillip in the most eligible situation, as well for the purpose of advising any ships that may hereafter arrive as for other advantages that will attend that measure. Perhaps a trusty sergeant and superintendent might be sufficient at present until further instructions are received from England."

On January 27th, 1804, Lieutenant-Governor Collins writes to Governor King, from the "Ship Ocean, Port Phillip", stating that Mr. Collins had returned in the Lady Nelson from Port Dalrymple, with a report "on the whole favourable to the establishment of a settlement" there, but that the Derwent had been decided upon "previous both to the receipt of your despatches and Mr. Collins's report." The portion of the letter having most bearing upon our narrative runs thus:—

"During the absence of Mr. Collins, I had caused the proportion of the stores and provisions, which I designed to take with me, to be embarked on board the Ocean, so that, on the arrival of the Lady Nelson, nothing remained to be done but the embarkation of the military and civil officers of the establishment, together with the prisoners.

"This being completed, I embarked myself yesterday evening on board of this ship, and we have now only to wait for an easterly wind to carry us out of the harbour, to the entrance of which we are proceeding and I hope in a short time to have the honour of communicating my arrival and establishment at the Derwent to your Excellency.

"The Lady Nelson has now on board the greater part of the settlers, and I shall dismiss her immediately after their disembarkation in order to give Mr. Bowen, and the other gentlemen of the establishment who are to quit the settlement, an opportunity of proceeding to England by the Calcutta, agreeable to your Excellency's wish on that head.

"I enclose a return of the whole number embarked with me from the colony, and a copy of the directions which I have left with Lieutenant Sladden, the officer next in command to myself."

The following is the extract of the Ocean's log respecting Collins's departure from Port Phillip:—

"Wednesday, January 25th, P.M.—His Honour Lieutenant-Governor Collins embarked on board." On the 27th, "at noon, sprung up a light breeze from the S.W.; weighed and run down to the harbour's mouth, and anchored in ten-fathom water," where the vessel lay till the 30th, and then proceeded to sea. The log for Wednesday, February 15th, records the arrival at the Derwent. At half-past 4 p.m. the vessel entered "the river, and half-past 6 anchored in Risdon Cove in four-fathom water." The log records that, on March 25th, at 1 p.m., the Ocean was "clear of the river" Derwent, on her return voyage to Port Phillip, where, at half-past ten on the morning of April 16th, the harbour was entered, and the ship's arrival reported to Lieutenant Sladden.

An entry of Friday, May 18th, records:—

"A.M., unmoored ship, hoisted in the boats, and showed the booms; bent the mainsail and top-gallant sails; reported the ship ready to proceed to sea to Lieutenant Sladden. . . . . P.M., employed getting off baggage, &c.; Lieutenant Sladden embarked." On May 21st, she cleared the Heads, but did not anchor in the Derwent until June 25th, on which day "the arrival of the ship was reported to Lieutenant-Governor Collins."

Thus, in little more than seven months after the arrival of Collins's expedition, was the settlement hastily abandoned, without any attempt being made to give the territory a fair trial, and its colonization was retarded for thirty years.

That the expeditions, both of Grimes and of Collins, acquired their experience of Port Phillip, during the driest periods of the year, may, to some extent, account for their unfavourable opinion of the country.

In a letter from Sullivan Cove, Derwent River, Van Diemen's Land, February 28th, 1804, Collins informs Governor King that his reasons for preferring the Derwent were that the place was already settled, and chiefly because he had discovered among his military a spirit of discontent at having to attend daily drill, which would, he hoped, be checked by the presence at the Derwent of a detachment of the New South Wales Corps, who also would remove any apprehensions he might have from a large sick-list. The advantages also of the Derwent for commercial purposes, and as a port of shelter, he considered superior to Port Dalrymple. Once more he says, "I found Port Phillip wholly unfit for the settlement."

From Sullivan Cove, Derwent River, Van Diemen's Land, Collins writes to Governor King on February 29th, as follows:—

"I have the honour to acquaint your Excellency of my arrival at this place on the 15th instant, after a long and unpleasant passage of sixteen days from Port Phillip, during which we were vexed by calms and foul winds, accompanied by very bad weather, that considerably retarded our progress, both through the dangerous navigation of the straits, and after we had passed them."

Nothing else in this long letter bears upon our subject but the statement, "I left seven (convicts) in the woods at Port Phillip, who must inevitably perish if they do not find means to return before Lieut. Sladden leaves that harbour."

Among the numerous despatches, letters, returns, invoices, accounts, and documents relating to Collins's expedition, carefully preserved in the volume of New South Wales Correspondence *** for 1802, 3, 4, are forty-eight General Orders, published at Port Phillip. They are all printed; and as one, issued within a week of Collins's arrival, is, doubtless, the very first composition ever put in type in Victoria, its reproduction will be interesting.

[*** Record Office.]

It, like the others, is headed with the Royal Arms.


"The Commissary is directed to issue, until further orders, the following Ration weekly:—

"To Civil, Military, and Free Settlers.

7 Pounds of Beef, or
4 Ditto of Pork,
7 Ditto of Biscuit,
1 Ditto of Flour, and
6 Ounces of Sugar.

"To Women, two-thirds; and Children above five years, half; and Children under five years, one-fourth of the above Ration.

"A Copper will be immediately erected for the convenience of cooking, and persons appointed to dress the provisions, which are to be ready every day at 12 o'clock.

"Half a pint of Spirits is allowed to the Military daily.

"Garrison Orders.

"A Guard, consisting of 1 Serjeant, 1 Corporal, and 12 Privates, will mount daily in front of the Marine Encampment.—Officer for the duty of this day, First Lieut. Johnson; to-morrow, Second Lieut. Lord.

"The Sentinels at the different Posts will be at all times vigilant and careful to preserve peace and order. After the beating of the taptoo, they are not to allow any (the Night Watch, which will be hereafter appointed, excepted) to pass without the Countersign: all prisoners taken during the night are to be sent to the Quarter-Guard. The Sentinels at the Landing Place will not suffer any Spirituous Liquor to be landed at, or near their Post, without a written Permit signed by the Lieutenant-Governor; and they are not to prevent any Military or Civil Officer, or Free Settler, from going into a Boat, or on board of Ships at anchor in the Harbour: but other persons, if employed by an Officer, are to produce a pass signed by the Officer, which is to be given to the Sentinel, and by him delivered to the Serjeant of the Guard.—The greatest attention to be paid to this Order.

"The Morning Parade will be at 9 o'clock; the evening, at sunset. The taptoo will beat at 9 o'clock; the orderly-drum every day at one.

"Sullivan Bay, Port Phillip,                     "DAVID COLLINS,
       "October 16th, 1803."                     "Lieutenant-Governor."

These printed orders, which are in Collins's name, and at first appeared every day or two, extend from October 16th, 1803, to January 25th—the last one announcing that "The Lieutenant-Governor proceeding to Van Diemen's Land with the first Embarkment, the direction of the remaining part of the Civil and Military Establishment is left with the officer next in command, First Lieutenant William Sladden, of the Royal Marines, who is to be observed as such."

Among other interesting documents must be mentioned returns of Births, Marriages, and Deaths, from which it appears that the first white native of Victoria, born November 25th, 1803, was named William James Hobart Thorne, son of a marine; the first couple married on the 28th were Richard Garratt, prisoner, and Hannah Harvey, free; and the first man who died, on October 10th, was John Skilhorne, settler. There were no other births or marriages, but twenty-one deaths.

The following list was furnished to Governor King:—

"Return of the Officers belonging to the Civil Establishment of Port Phillip—
Names. Appointment. Where disposed.
David Collins Lt. Governor At Port Phillip.
Revd. Rd. Knopwood     Chaplain Do.
Benjm. Barbauld Depy. Judge Advocate     In England on leave.
Wm. I'Anson Surgeon At Port Phillip.
Mathw. Bowden 1 Assistant Surgeon Do.
Wm. Hopley 2         do.         do. Do.
Leond. Fosbrook Dy. Commissary Do.
Geo. Pridx. Harris Dy. Surveyor Do.
A.W.H. Humphreys Mineralogist Do.
Thos. Clark Superintendent Do.
Wm. Patterson      Do. Do.
John Ingle Overseer Do.
Wm. Parish      Do. Do.

"Camp at Sullivan Bay, 5th Nov., 1803.   
"DAVID COLLINS, Lieut. Governor."

The names of the free settlers were sent with a letter of April 5th, 1808, from Mr. Sullivan to Lieutenant-Governor Collins:—


     "List of Persons who have obtained Lord Hobart's permission to proceed to Port Phillip:—
Names.      Occupations. Remarks.
Mr. Collins           Seaman
Edwd. Newman           Ship Carpr.
Mr. Hartley           Seaman
Edwd. F. Hamilton
John J. Gravie
Mr. Pownall
A Female Servant
Thos. Collingwood           Carpenter
Duke Charman
John Skilhorne           Cutler
Anty. Fletcher           Mason
T.R. Preston           Pocket-Book Maker."



Despatch of Collins to Lord Hobart—Contains most detailed account of settlement—Boat-voyage to Sydney—Escape of convicts—Removal to the Derwent—Last division of Port Phillip settlement arrives there—Log of the Calcutta—Records voyage to Port Phillip, surveys, and expeditions of officers—Ship at mouth of Yarra—Log records Tuckey's expeditions—His own account of them—Port Phillip's fair friend.

THE most detailed narrative of his proceedings at Port Phillip is given by Collins in the following despatch to Lord Hobart:*—

[* This despatch and Collins's other letters noticed in this Chapter are in the Record Office.]

"Sullivan's Cove, Derwent River, in Van Diemen's Land,   
28th February, 1804.          

"MY LORD,—By my letter of the 14th of November last . . . . your lordship will be acquainted with my arrival at Port Phillip, and subsequent proceedings up to that date.

"In that letter I informed your lordship that, having no other means of communicating with Governor King than by sending thither an open six-oared cutter, and the necessity of making that officer acquainted with my opinion of Port Phillip, and sentiments respecting a speedy removal thence, being too urgent to admit of my waiting for the departure of the Calcutta, I sent thither Mr. Collins (who came out in the Ocean as a settler), he very handsomely offering to undertake the voyage and deliver my letter to the Governor.

"The boat having been prepared under his immediate inspection (her crew consisting, not of seamen belonging to the King's ship, but of seven convicts upon whom I hoped I could depend), he sailed upon this service, in which there certainly was much risk, on the 10th of November, and in seven days was followed by the Ocean, who was pursuing her voyage to China. The master of this ship informing me that, if the wind permitted, he should pass near enough to Port Jackson to deliver a letter, I gave into his charge a duplicate of my despatches to Governor King.

"The people who I had sent after the deserters, mentioned in the latter part of my letter No. 1, returned on the 16th November with five of them, whom they reported to have met with at the distance of sixty miles from the encampment.

"Hitherto I had not caused my commission as the Lieut.-Governor to be read, reserving the publication of His Majesty's pleasure therein until I should be permanently established in whatever place might be adopted for the settlement, with the government of which I had been honoured. Determining to make a public example of these delinquents, I thought it would add to solemnity, which I wished should attend this act of justice, to cause the commission to be read, and gave orders necessary for the occasion.

"According to these orders, all the civil and military, settlers, and prisoners, were assembled on the following day at eleven o'clock on the Public Parade, when His Majesty's commission appointing me to be the Lieut.-Governor of a Settlement to be formed in Bass's Straits, was publicly read by the chaplain, the Rev. Mr. Knopwood, at the conclusion of which the detachment of Marines fired three volleys. I then addressed the convicts in general, and, after pointing out the comforts which they enjoyed, and the ill use which they made of them, I called the five prisoners forward, who I caused to be punished with 100 lashes each by the drummers of my detachment.

"The apprehension of these people was followed in a few days by the voluntary return of three others, who had been longer absent, and whose appearance bore testimony to the hardships they had undergone. These I did not punish; they immediately required medical treatment, and I thought their own tale of their sufferings might operate more effectually to deter others from absconding, than any corporal punishment which I might indict; and with this view I published in the general orders the particulars of the information I had received from them.

"While upon this subject I shall (though not in the regular detail of the transactions of the settlement) report to your lordship the subsequent desertions that took place among these people.

"There was among the prisoners, who were received from the hulks at Portsmouth, one George Lee, a young man of education and abilities. He had been noticed in the Calcutta in consequence of these advantages, and on his landing I did not employ him at hard labour, but permitted him to construct a small hut, in which he resided. I was concerned to find that he abused the indulgence, and misapplied the leisure which I allowed him, by endeavouring to create dissatisfaction among the prisoners, and throwing some very illiberal reflections upon the officers in general of the settlement.

"I thought it absolutely necessary to have this man's conduct investigated, and for this purpose requested the Rev. Mr. Knopwood to make the proper inquiry. The result of this was so unfavourable to Lee that I determined to disgrace him, and ordered him to be classed to a gang; but he prevented me by withdrawing from the settlement, taking with him another prisoner and a musket, which he obtained by uttering a falsehood, from the people at my garden. This man was held in such estimation by the prisoners in general, that they concluded he must be in possession of some resources unknown to them to enable him to live independent of the public stores; and I was informed that a large party intended to join him.

"Several robberies having been committed in the night preceding Christmas Day, and one of a very daring nature in the commissary's tent, from whence a gun had been stolen, I promised to procure from the Governor-in-Chief a conditional emancipation for any prisoner who should bring forward and prosecute to conviction any person or persons who had been guilty of these outrages. I also appointed a night-watch consisting of five persons, which was afterwards improved into an armed and voluntary association of the civil officers of the settlement, for the protection of the persons, property, and peace of the colony.

"The reward that I offered had the effect which I had rather hoped than expected. A convict (since dead) came to me in a few days with information that the commissary's and other tents had been robbed by two convicts, one of whom had been for some time in the woods; the other went off the night he committed the robbery. He also told me that five others had for some time planned an escape which was to be executed that night, and they were to join the two men who had robbed the commissary. I could immediately have apprehended these people, and prevented them making the attempt, but I judged it more advisable to detect them in the act, and for that purpose sent out some people armed in the course of the day, with orders to post themselves at a place which, according to my informant, they must pass, and endeavour to secure them, but at all events to prevent their escape. I was, moreover, not certain that the information which I had received was correct, but the event proved that it was so.

"At one o'clock in the morning the non-commissioned officers, whom I had sent out, brought me word that two of the party under his direction had fallen in with the deserters, one of whom, not answering on being three times challenged, had been fired at and wounded, his companions making their escape, and leaving him on the beach about three miles from the camp. I immediately despatched one of the surgeons with dressings, a cart, and every assistance which was necessary to bring him. This was accordingly executed, and though the wounded man was immediately pronounced to be in extreme danger (a slug having lodged in the abdomen), yet neither the pain which he suffered, nor the expectation of approaching dissolution, could induce him to utter a syllable that would lead to a discovery of his associates, or of others in the camp who might have assisted them in their escape.

"This happened on the 27th December. Upon the 13th of the following month, one of these wretches surrendered himself at the camp, having accompanied the others, according to his calculation, upwards of 100 miles round the extensive harbour of Port Phillip. He brought in with him the commissary's fowling-piece, and stated that he had subsisted chiefly upon gum and shellfish. His companions intended to proceed to the mountains which are to the westward of Port Jackson; and having no reason, from the result of some researches which I caused to be made after them, to think that they were in my neighbourhood, I forebore harassing the military in any further fruitless pursuit of them.

"Having requested Captain Woodriff (who had nothing on board the Calcutta belonging to the settlement but the gunpowder and ordnance stores) to delay his departure until I should have had a reply to my letter which I had sent by Mr. Collins, he acceded to my request, as well as to a requisition which I made of a non-commissioned officer and ten privates being landed for the duty of the garrison, from the detachment of Royal Marines belonging to his ship. I have now the honour to enclose copies of the letter which I wrote to Captain Woodriff, and his answer upon this occasion.

"While waiting for the return of the boat from Port Jackson, I employed some people in constructing a magazine of stone, cemented with lime, capable of containing the ammunition that was on board the Calcutta, in case any circumstance should occur that might oblige me to land it.

"I have now to acquaint your lordship with the arrival of the Ocean store-ship from Port Jackson, on the 12th of December. I learned that the master of this ship had fortunately met with Mr. Collins in the boat which I had sent to Sydney, on the eve of a heavy gale of wind, which he escaped by being taken into the ship, and in her finishing his voyage to Port Jackson.

"Governor King had anticipated my objections to Port Phillip, and, coinciding with me in the propriety of a removal, pointed out two places to my election—Port Dalrymple, or a settlement which had been commenced under his direction in the Derwent River, in Van Diemen's Land. To enable me to judge of either, he pointed out the advantages and disadvantages of both. He seemed to incline to the former of these places, if it should be ascertained, upon an examination of that harbour, that there was at its entrance a sufficient depth of water for large vessels, for which purposes he sent me down one of the colonial schooners; and in order to facilitate the removal of the establishment, he informed me that he had hired the Ocean for four months, in which service she was to co-operate with his Majesty's ship Calcutta. But I had the mortification to learn from Captain Woodriff that he intended to proceed immediately to Port Jackson, as he did not think it advisable to risk the King's ship in exploring a new harbour.

"I cannot but own that at the first communication of this intention I felt myself very much hurt, for I reflected that I should have to remove in one ship the people, stores, and provisions, which had been sent out by Government in two, and, consequently, should have to divide the small military force which was under my command, as it was not possible the Ocean could take us all at one time. Captain Woodriff's reasons were of such weight with him that I did not oppose them, and immediately set about the arduous undertaking which was before me. I have the honour to enclose the copy of a letter which Captain Woodriff wrote me on this occasion, and of my reply. The Calcutta left me on the 18th of December.

"I forthwith despatched the schooner, having given her some repairs which she much needed, to the examination of Port Dalrymple, sending in her Mr. Collins, who, from his knowledge as a master in the navy, was well qualified to judge of the fitness of the port, Mr. Humphrey, the mineralogist (who volunteered his services on the occasion), and Mr. Clark, the agricultural superintendent, with proper instructions and directions to touch at Kent's Group in their way through the Straits, to look for His Majesty's armed tender, Lady Nelson, which had been for some time missing.

"During the absence of Mr. Collins I loaded the store-ship, putting on board somewhat more than half the provisions and nearly all the stores, to facilitate which I ran out a jetty 380 feet from the beach, which proved of essential service.

"On the 20th of January, one of the colonial vessels arrived with a letter from Governor King, wherein he informed me that a schooner had come in from Port Dalrymple, in the entrance of which the master stated to him to have found only three fathoms of water in a very intricate and narrow channel, and that he had been impeded in procuring fresh water by large bodies of hostile natives. His Excellency therefore imagined that I would give up all idea of going thither, and proceed to establish myself in the Derwent.

"But previous to the receipt of this letter I had determined to proceed to that settlement upon the return of the gentlemen I had sent thither. The motives which led me to this resolution being fully detailed in a letter to the Governor, I have taken the liberty of enclosing a copy of it to your lordship, as well as a copy of another letter to the same officer, which contains a minute account of my transactions from my departure from Port Phillip to my finally establishing myself in this place, where I have every hope that the disappointments which have hitherto accompanied me will cease, and that the anxious wishes which hitherto have been procrastinated of carrying your lordship's intentions into execution, respecting the formation of a settlement in this part of New Holland, will at length be completely realized.

"I should not presume to refer your lordship to copies of my letters to another person, for my transactions under the authority of your instructions, did I not hope that the multiplicity of the business which is at present upon my hands, and the short time I can spare from attending them to write my letters, will plead my excuse. I am extremely solicitous this information of the place where I have fixed the settlement should go to Port Jackson in time to save the Calcutta, which I entertain a hope may have not yet sailed for England. Should I, therefore, have omitted giving your lordship information on any point, which I may hereafter regret not having sent, it must be ascribed to the same cause, and will, I trust, meet the same indulgence from your lordship.

"On the day following the arrival of the sloop with Governor King's last letter, I had the satisfaction of seeing the Lady Nelson enter Port Phillip, having on board Mr. Collins and his companions, who, happily for them, had been directed by me to touch, as before-mentioned, at Kent's Group to look for this vessel. I say happily for them, for, notwithstanding the repairs I had given the schooner (the Francis), she proved so very leaky that she was wholly unfit for proceeding on the service upon which I had sent her. Mr. Collins, therefore, very prudently dismissed her to Port Jackson, and proceeded to the examination of Port Dalrymple in the Lady Nelson.

"I have the honour to remain, with every sentiment of the highest respect, my lord,

"Your lordship's most obedient, very humble servant,          

"The Right Hon. Lord Hobart."

In a letter dated next day, February 29th, 1804, Collins writes to Lord Hobart:—

"The season of the year when I arrived there, as well as the soil of Port Phillip not admitting any of the corn to be sown, I was only able to try some of the garden-seeds, when I was concerned to find that of the eighteen or twenty different sorts which were put into the ground, not one succeeded.

"As they were perfectly dry and sweet when opened, the gardener who I employed imagined that they must have been injured by the heat of the ship's hold, but as some other seeds which I had of my own, that were equally liable to be affected by the same heat, vegetated and produced as plentifully as from such a sandy soil could have been expected, I am rather inclined to think the seed was bad of its kind, and would not have grown anywhere else."

Collins, writing to Lord Hobart from the Derwent, July 31st, 1804, announces the removal of the remainder of the Port Phillip settlement:—

"Should my despatches by His Majesty's ship Calcutta arrive in safety in England, your lordship will have learned the establishment of the greater part of the settlement intended for Port Phillip at this place. I have now the honour . . . . to acquaint your lordship that, after much anxiety and apprehension for her safety, the Ocean anchored in this cove from Port Phillip on the 25th ult., having been thirty-two days in the passage from thence, the which was protracted to that length by her meeting with much tempestuous weather, common, I apprehend, to this season of the year.

"I am truly concerned to state to your lordship that, in consequence of the delay and extreme bad weather on the voyage, a very large portion of the valuable and increasing stock which I had left behind me at Port Phillip has been lost. The season of the year was much against them, but, on my embarkation on board the Ocean in the month of January last, I could not foresee or expect that the month of June would have nearly elapsed before the remainder of the establishment should have joined me. I knew that the distance between Port Phillip and the Derwent might very easily be run in ten or twelve days, and therefore concluded that the removal of the whole establishment might have been effected before the bad weather set in. In this persuasion, and being anxious to get some seed into the ground before the proper season should elapse, I determined on bringing with me the major part of the prisoners and settlers, leaving the stock to follow, which I trusted by this arrangement would (in point of room) be better accommodated."

The return accompanying the letter shows that the loss consisted of eighteen sheep, seventeen hogs, ten ducks, one male goat, and six fowls.

In a letter of April 1st, 1804, from Governor King at Sydney to John Sullivan, Esq., Permanent Under-Secretary for the Colonies, a recapitulation of facts, detailed in despatches sent by the Calcutta to Lord Hobart, is given, "in case any accident may have happened to that ship." The Governor also states that,—

"As the Ocean's coming here was eventual, and not receiving my despatches from his lordship, I could only act from Col. Collins's account, and the report of the survey I transmitted by the Glatton, which convinced me of the necessity of removing the settlement, either to the Derwent or to Port Dalrymple. The Buffalo being absent, and the time it would take to remove the stores, &c., which were landed by the two colonial vessels (Lady Nelson and Francis), I conceived it would be advancing that part of His Majesty's service to take up the Ocean for that purpose . . . . I was the more induced to take this step, not being certain that Captain Woodriff would remain at Port Phillip when he heard of the war, and that a cargo of timber was ready for the Calcutta. The Calcutta sailed from Port Phillip on the receipt of my answer. . . ."

A letter of August 6th, 1804, from Collins to Lord Hobart, contains a statement also interesting when read in the light of present circumstances. Speaking once more of Port Phillip from a commercial and agricultural point of view, the writer says,—

"My letters sent herewith will inform your lordship that I am now placed in a situation most highly favourable to both these purposes.

*     *     *     *     *

"Your lordship will be possessed of my reasons for quitting Port Phillip, which, I hope, will be satisfactory to your lordship, more especially when the very great and superior local advantages of my present situation are considered. His Excellency, Governor King, has done me the honour to coincide with me in the propriety of my removal, and of the spot which I have chosen for the settlement about the middle of an extensive and safe river, flowing into the sea at the extremity of the southern part of Van Diemen's Land—a port, the advantages of which, when once known, will insure its being the general rendezvous of all shipping bound into these seas."

The log of the Calcutta, from which the author was permitted to make the following extracts, at Deptford, is in a clear hand, and signed by Captain D. Woodriff. The author came upon it in turning over some two thousand men-of-war logs, which are kept at the Dockyard. The captain records that at Spithead, March 31st,—

"Received my sailing orders from the Admiralty to take the Ocean transport, on her arrival at Spithead, under my orders, and to proceed to Port Phillip in New South Wales; at the same time received instructions for my proceedings when there . . . . also received an order to receive Lieutenant-Colonel Collins, and such persons of the Civil establishment of the new-intended colony for a passage to Port Phillip, and to victual them the same as my ship's company."

"April 7th.—Came on board a party of marines for New South Wales, viz., three officers, three sergeants, three corporals, two drummers, and thirty-eight privates."

On April 27th, 1803, the departure of the Calcutta, accompanied by the Ocean, from Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, is recorded, and the arrival of the former at Rio, June 30th, and of the latter, July 1st. The departure from this port was on the 20th. Simon's Bay was entered August 13th, and quitted on the 26th. Three cows, two bulls, and twelve sheep for the new colony were taken on board at the Cape.

An entry of October 9th states,—

"At ten, saw the land from the mast-head bearing E. by S. five or six leagues . . . . At noon, the nearest shore of King's Island eight miles," and, on the morning of Monday, the 10th, "at five saw the land about Port Phillip bearing about N. by E. Employed clearing away for anchoring. At eight, set the topsails and made sail, ranged the cables. At nine, standing in for what appeared to be the entrance of Port Phillip. Got soundings seventeen to nineteen fathoms. At 9.30 entered the harbour of Port Phillip, and at ten came to with the best bower in six fathoms water. Found the Ocean transport at anchor, having arrived on Friday last."

She seems to have been last seen August 1st.

"Sent jolly-boat in shore to sound. Mustered by divisions. Light breezes and small rain at times. . . . At four, wore away upon the flood-tide, and moored ship a cable each way, the small bower to the westward. Proceeded on shore abreast of the ship, attended by Governor Collins and the first lieutenant to examine the land, and to find fresh water. The land appeared most composed of sand, and no symptoms of fresh water. At midnight, strong gales with violent squalls and rain from the S.S.W. A.M." (11th) "Bent the sheet cable. At seven proceeded, attended by Lieutenant Houstoun and the Governor, to examine the watering-place and a convenient situation to establish the intended colony. Sent six puncheons on shore and sunk them in the ground to fill with water as wells. Employed clearing and cleaning the decks and other requisite duties. Carpenters fitting the launch.

"Tuesday, 11th.—The first part of the twenty-four hours, moderate breezes and cloudy, with rain at intervals. P.M.—Sent the spare boats on shore, to be hauled up under a guard of a corporal of Marines and four privates. At midnight, moderate and cloudy. Returned from our researches after fresh water to the ship. At 8 a.m." (12th), "moderate breezes and clear weather. Proceeded again, attended by the Governor and first lieutenant, to the western side of the bay, in search of fresh water, and a convenient spot to land the convicts . . . .

"Wednesday, 12th. —. . . . Received one turn of fresh water per small launch from the wells sunk in the ground with casks. The surgeon reported the quality of the water very good, . . . . P.M.—Returned on board from examining the west side of the bay and the lagoon. A.M." (the 13th) "At seven proceeded again, attended by the Governor and Lieutenant Tuckey, to examine and search further up the bay to the northward, &c. . . . At ¼ past 11 p.m., returned on board the ship, not having been able to discover any fresh water or an eligible situation to establish the colony, in consequence of the extensive flats running so far off from the shores . . . . A.M." (14th) "Proceeded again with the Governor to the place where we sunk the cask to procure water, and where the Governor from necessity came to a determination to fix the troops and colony for the present . . . The carpenter returned with the yawl, without finding a piece of timber sufficient to repair the cutwater." He had been in search of it on the eastern side.

"Friday, 14th. . . . At 2.30 returned on board, the Governor having determined to fix the camp, &c., near the spot where I had ordered the casks to be sunk as wells to procure water . . . . A.M." (15th) "Employed landing the cattle and stock, together with the camp equipage. Cleared hawse and directed the master of the Ocean to attend and assist the master of the Calcutta to sound and examine the channel near the spot where the colony was to land, in order to move the ships nearer for landing the stores, &c. The boats returned, having found sufficient water and good anchorage about two miles higher up the eastern side of the bay. Sent some more of the colonial marines and party of working convicts on shore to clear away and erect some tents, &c.

"Saturday, 15th. . . . At 30 past noon, unmoored ship and hove short upon the small bower. At 2.15 weighed and came to sail, as did the Ocean. At 3.30, light airs and very variable to the northward, with rain; the tide of ebb, having made too strong, came to again in thirteen fathoms, the west end of the low island to the northward bearing N.E. by N., and the S.E. end of the entrance of the harbour W. ½ N., distance off shore about 1½ mile . . . . A.M." (16th) "Landed part of the colonial stores that were immediately wanted. At 8.30, hove short on the small bower; loosed sails. At nine, weighed and came to sail to get the ship into an eligible situation as near to the camp as possible . . . .

". . . . Landed a part of the camp equipage at the place intended for the settlement, named by Lieutenant-Colonel Collins Sullivan's Bay. At 3.30, veered away upon the small bower with the ebb-tide, and moored ship a cable each way. The camp bearing S.E. ½ S. The entrance of the harbour west being just open, and Arthur's Seat E. ¼ N. distance from the south shore, 1¼ mile in 5½ fathoms water sandy bottom. Employed fitting the launch to proceed on a survey of the harbour. Gave Mr. J. H. Tuckey an order to proceed in the launch to survey the upper part of the harbour of Port Phillip. At 8.30 a.m." (16th) "the launch proceeded on the survey. At 9.30 began to disembark the convicts and colonial marines: attended with the Governor at the landing of the men, and directed the master of the Ocean to land the settlers and their baggage. At noon, finished the disembarkation of the men, and mustered by divisions.

"Monday, 17th. . . . P.M.—All the boats employed landing the baggage of the colonial marines and convicts. The boats of the Ocean employed landing the settlers and their baggage. A.M." (18th) "Directed the surgeon of the Calcutta to deliver to Governor Collins the remains of hospital stores, &c. Employed landing various articles from the ship, as requested by the Governor. Sent Mr. Purchis, the master, with the jolly-boat to examine and sound the channel leading up the bay. Cut four different specimens of wood when on shore as samples, but the timber in general near the settlement is very small and low, will not square more than nine or ten inches, and the shaft not more than eight or ten feet. . . . At 4 p.m. Mr. Purchis returned, having found a good channel and deep water for four or five miles E.N.E. of the ship. . . . Received six passengers from the Ocean to proceed to Port Jackson. . . ."

On the 21st, the Calcutta was brought closer in; and it is stated, "the captain and master on shore abreast of the ship in search of fresh water, began to sink wells until we came to sandstone rock, under which water appeared."

The same evening "Lieutenant Tuckey", who, we have seen, set out on the 16th, "returned with the launch from surveying the N.W. part of the bay, where he reports, or rather supposes, from the swell from the westward, that an opening must certainly be in that neighbourhood into the ocean on the west side of the land, possibly about Cape Bridgewater, which passage it was intended to have explored, but the swell and a strong current or tide setting from the N.W. drove the boats so far to leeward as to prevent their getting up again." The conjectures of first explorers become curious and amusing when read in the light of known facts. The idea—which is somewhat similar to one which, we have seen, Flinders at first entertained—of a channel connecting their part of the bay with the S.W. extremity of the Colony, must be peculiarly entertaining to the inhabitants of Geelong.

At eight o'clock next morning, the 23rd, "Lieutenant Tuckey proceeded again to survey the reported opening in the N.W. at the head of the harbour"; and on the evening of the 26th he "returned with the two boats", having ascertained that instead of an outlet there was "a long arm of the harbour, in which, on the northern side, they discovered a secure cove, with sufficient water to receive shipping, and sufficiently secure to heave them down if required, but no outlet to the sea."

Grimes was, doubtless, the first white man who ever went up the arm of bay where Geelong stands, and Tuckey the second. It would appear that Murray's boats never got so far from the Heads, and that Flinders only crossed the sheet of water leading up to Geelong somewhere about Point Richards. He must, however, have seen the end of the harbour in that direction, from the top of Station Peak.

The description of Tuckey's investigations is thus continued in the log:—

"The timber throughout very small and short, and latterly very scarce indeed; nor could they find any fresh water. In the head of this arm Lieutenant Turkey fell in with a large party of natives, who were very troublesome, and their numbers increasing from 100 to 200. The lieutenant and party were obliged to fire upon them, which drove them off, but with loss of one of their companions, who was shot."

The same day is recorded the firing by the Calcutta of a royal salute of twenty-one guns, in honour of his Majesty's accession.

On the morning of November 9th, Captain Woodriff, "at five, proceeded in the barge, attended by Lieutenant Turkey, to explore the channel for the ship to approach the watering-place near the head of the harbour, and, if practicable, to approach it with the ship"; and it is recorded that next morning "at 1 a.m. Captain returned from the head of the bay, where fresh water was to be had at tide time."

At six on the morning of the 19th, the Calcutta

"Weighed and came to sail, the launch attending on the north side of the channel leading to Arthur's Seat. At 10, one of the carpenter's crew came off in the punt to demand a supply of ammunition, as the natives were very numerous about their tent, and had been very troublesome. At noon, Lat. observed, 38° 19' S. Sent the necessary assistance to the carpenters on shore until I could get up to the place with the ship. . . . Very squally and unsettled weather with thunder and lightning; wind flying all round the compass. At 2, anchored with the best bower in 6 fms. water, . . . . the camp bearing west by S. ¼ S.; the end of the spit of the Island shoal N.E. ½ N., veered to ⅓ of a cable. Sent all boats ashore to fetch off the carpenter, his party, and the timber they had cut down and prepared. . . . The first Lieut. and Master laying down an additional buoy upon the spit of Island shoal."

In the morning of November 21st—

"At 5, weighed and made sail up the harbour; hauled ranges of cable; the Launch and Yawl sounding ahead and upon each bow. At 5.15 passed the buoy we laid down upon the Island shoal. Steered N.N.E. along shore about 3 miles distance, having from 11 to 10 fm. sandy bottom. At 10, being abreast of the river, came to with the best bower anchor ¼ less 5 fm. Sandy bottom; veer'd away and moor'd ship a cable each way."

Thus was anchor first cast in Hobson's Bay, except perhaps by the Cumberland, which conveyed Grimes and Robbins; but she was only a small vessel, and the Calcutta a man-of-war.

Next morning, the 22nd, the log records—

"Mostly calm; down top-gt. yards. At 4 a.m. sent carpenter and hands on shore to search for and cut down timber. Landed sixty empty butts. An officer and hands on shore filling water at the river, which must only be done upon the Ebb-tide, as the water is salt upon the flood, and frequently so when blowing fresh from the westward. . . . . Received 12 tons of water per launch and rafts. Employed stowing it away. Carpenters and party on shore cutting down timber. . . . Sent on shore more empty casks, but could receive no water in consequence of the violent surf upon the Beach, that the boats could not approach it. . . ."

"Wednesday, 23rd.— . . . . Strong breezes and squally weather with thunder, lightning, and rain, the Launch at Grapnel near the shore among the breakers. Sent the Master and kedge anchor to haul her farther off. At 5, moderate; got off six butts of water per launch, but could not fill any in the river, it being as salt as the water in the Bay, occasioned by the surf on the beach, which penetrates through the sand into the river. A.M." (24th) "Fresh breezes and a large surf upon the beach; filled several butts of water up the river, but was obliged to start them again, being so impregnated with salt. Carpenters on shore falling timber. Lieut. and party attending the watering, and getting the timber down to the Beach. . . . Received a Turn of water per Yawl and small launch from another small run occasioned by the late rains. Received one load, per large launch, of compass timber. . . .

"Friday, 25th. —. . . . Carpenters and parties employed on shore falling and hewing timber and filling water."

The same work is recorded as being done on the four following days, on the 27th, the supply of water being completed, to the amount of fifty-five tons. On that day also they "caught a large quantity of mullet with the seine which was served out to the ship's company. . . . Mustered the ship's company and read articles of war and abstract of Acts of Parliament."

"Tuesday, 29th. —. . . . Struck the carpenter's and watering parties' tents and brought all off."

On the morning of December 1st, 1803, the Calcutta left her mooring at the upper end of the harbour to return to the settlement. The log of that date records that,—

"At 5 cleared hawse and unmoored ship; hove in upon the small bower. At 9, sent a petty officer and 2 seamen to accompany the ship in the launch down the harbour. At 9.30 weighed and came to sail with a fresh breeze at N.N.W. The launch in company. Strong breezes and very squally weather. Hauled ranges of both cables. Course steered sailing down nearly S.S.W. Soundings from 5 to 11 fins, sand and clay. At 11, shortened sail, not seeing the buoy upon the Swan Island shoal; supposed it to be washed away or sunk. At 11.30 very squally; came to with the small bower anchor in 6 fm. clay bottom. Launch came to about ½ mile within us; veered to a whole cable. Strong breezes and heavy squalls with rain, thunder, and lightning; furled sails. A large sea and swell from the N.W."

The following indicates the position of the ship at this time:—

"Eastern side of the entrance of the harbour West:—

The Camp, W.S.W. ½ W.
Yellow Bluff, S.W. b. W.
Arthur's Seat, E.S.E. ½ E.
Off Shore, 1½ mile.

"Monday, Dec. 5th.—At 4.45. p.m. the Calcutta weighed; steered for the Narrows W. ½ N., the buoys being right ahead, distance about 2½ miles. Sounded frequently regular soundings from 6 to 8 fm. Light breezes and fine. At 5.40 shoaled our water to 5 fm. At 5.45 the ship took the ground upon the spit of sand running from the small island called Swan or Cygnet Island."

At 4.40 next morning the ship was afloat again, and—

"At 5.15, weighed and made sail for the Narrows. At 5.30 passed through between the buoys ¼ less 5 fm., not farther distant than 2½ cables' length asunder. Course down W. ½ N. At 7.15 abreast of the Camp, bearing south and in 14 fm. water between the sands. At 8.30 hauled up for the anchorage we left on the 18th ult. Crossed over the Camp spit in 19½ feet water; and at 8.40 came to with the small bower in 7½ fm. water. Veered away and moored ship a cable each way."

On Saturday, December 11th, in the morning, "at 5, Lieutenant Tuckey proceeded overland towards Western Port to examine that harbour. The Captain and Master surveying the entrance of Port Phillip and outer bay,"—a work in which they were also engaged on the following day.

"Tuesday, Dec. 13th.—P.M. . . . At 3 the Ocean entered the harbour, and at 6 anchored near the Calcutta, having been chartered by Governor King to proceed back to this port for the purpose of removing the Colony; for which purpose he had sent the Ocean Transport, as also the Lady Nelson and a small schooner named the Edwin, but neither the Lady Nelson or Edwin has yet appeared. The Ocean also brought back Mr. Collins and the Colonial Cutter that she picked up at sea and carried to Port Jackson. At 7 Lieutenant Tuckey returned from Western Port. . . . A.M (14th) . . . . waited upon the Lieut-Governor to signify as Ocean had arrived to remove the Colony, and other two vessels were daily expected, I should proceed with the Calcutta pursuant to my original instructions."

The arrival of the Francis schooner, ten days from Port Jackson, to assist in the removal of the colony to Van Diemen's Land, is recorded in the log on the 15th.

At 6.30 on Monday morning, December 19th, the Calcutta

"Weighed and came to sail. At 7 it fell a little wind and nearly calm. The tide of ebb running very strong out of the harbour. At 7.50 passed the Narrows in from 7 to 9 fm. water. . . . Standing to the S.E. along the Southern Shore at about 2½ miles from the beach. . . . . Got the stream anchor and hawser clear to stop the ship should the wind continue light and variable. . . . Standing off shore to the westward and southward, the swell setting the ship directly to the shore. At 1.40 tacked to the eastward to endeavour to weather Cape Schank."

The Calcutta anchored in Sydney Cove, December 26th.

It is stated, on November 7th, that the cutter, taking Mr. Collins to Sydney, "attempted to get out of the harbour, but could not." When she did so is not recorded, but the departure of the Ocean is entered on the 17th.

The scanty particulars of Collins's expedition, given in the few accounts respecting the colonization of Victoria hitherto published, have chiefly been derived from Mr. Tuckey, first lieut. of the Calcutta, who was the historian of the expedition. On his return to England he brought out a small volume on the subject,** by far the greater part of which is, however, devoted to the ship's voyage out and back. In the chapter on Port Phillip, having described the landing at "a small bay, eight miles from the harbour's mouth," he speaks briefly of the danger of the approach to the Heads, the beauty of the country, nature of the soil, want of water, the timber, vegetation, birds, insects, fish, minerals, and climate.

[** "An Account of a Voyage to establish a Colony at Port Phillip in Bass's Strait, on the South Coast of New South Wales, in H. Majesty's Ship Calcutta, in the Years 1802-3-4. By J.H. Tuckey, Esq., First Lieut. of the Calcutta." Published in London, 1805.]

He then describes the natives at considerable length, detailing an encounter with them on "the N.W. side of the port", in which one or two of them were killed. Their attack displayed treachery and considerable daring. "Upwards of two hundred natives assembled round the surveying boats." This is evidently the meeting with the natives mentioned in the log of the Calcutta.

Tuckey describes how he "with several other officers, and a party of convicts to carry provisions, proceeded by land to examine Western Port." "After passing the ridge of Arthur's Seat," they continued "due east, nearly parallel to the sea shore," until they reached "a point projecting into the sea," which they "supposed to be Cape or Point Schank". Immediately under this they found "two strong runs of water", falling into the sea. Here they halted for the first night, supposing themselves to be "twenty-five miles distant from the Camp." They started at daylight next morning, "and, keeping at the distance of between three and five miles from the sea, at noon reached Western Port," the examination of which "was unavoidably confined to the space of a few miles on the western side; this was principally owing to the man who carried the whole of our bread," says Tuckey, "having absconded soon after quitting the camp, and to our being deceived in the extent of the Port, as well as the distance to it, which we found much greater than we had any idea of."

They were provisioned only for four days—the party carrying water with them, and trusting to their guns for additional food.

From the entrance of Western Port, for twelve miles along the western shore, they found "but one place of commodious landing for boats", and three good runs of water, with some pools "covered with teal of a beautiful plumage, and, what was of much more importance, of a delicious flavour."

The following is Tuckey's account of the remainder of his journey:—

"As our track to Western Port had never diverged more than five miles from the sea, it was determined, on returning, to endeavour to penetrate through the country in a N.W. direction, which we supposed would bring us to Port Phillip at about twenty miles' distance from the camp. We accordingly set off at daylight of the third day from our night's station, which was about five miles from the entrance of Western Port, and had scarce walked a quarter of a mile when we came to an immense forest of lofty gum-trees. The country here becomes very mountainous; in the valleys, or rather chasms between the mountains, small runs of water trickle through an almost impenetrable jungle of prickly shrubs, bound together by creeping plants. After passing eight of these deep chasms in six miles, which was accomplished with infinite difficulty in four hours, we found the country grow still more impenetrable, vast fields of shrub as prickly as furze arresting our progress every moment. Several of our people who carried water, being unable to bear the fatigue any longer, we were obliged to give up our intention; and, after a short rest, we shaped our course to S.W. in order to approach the sea, where the country becomes open and less hilly. In this direction we found the country well-watered, the soil very rich, and in many places meadows of from fifty to a hundred acres, covered with grass five feet high, and unencumbered with a single tree. At sunset we reached the sea at Cape Schank, and, halting for the night, arrived at the camp in the afternoon of the next day."

They had, according to the log of the Calcutta, set out December 11th, and returned on the 13th, that ship leaving Port Phillip on 19th.

After this examination of the country by Tuckey, there was clearly no justification for the abandonment of Port Phillip, on the ground of want of water and barrenness of the soil. Tuckey records but little further about Port Phillip, which he quitted a few days afterwards in the Calcutta. The first breaking up of the settlement had not then taken place, and its complete removal was not effected for some months after his departure. The only subsequent particulars respecting it, which have been published, seem to be those of the Rev. Mr. Knopwood, the chaplain, from whose diary Mr. Bonwick quotes.

In one sentence of his work, Tuckey has immortalized himself by leaving what must rank with the most remarkable predictions ever rendered famous by non-fulfilment; "indeed," says he, "the Kangaroo seems to reign undisturbed lord of the soil—a dominion which, by the evacuation of Port Phillip, he is likely to retain for ages."

Port Phillip had, however, one fair friend, a "Mrs. Hartley, or rather Hopley," *** who writes to her sister in England the following account, which is given by Mr. Bonwick in his "Port Phillip:"—"We arrived in October, 1803. My pen is not able to describe half the beauties of that delightful spot; we were four months there. Much to my mortification as well as loss, we were obliged to abandon the settlement, through the whim and caprice of the Lieut.-Governor. Additional expense to Government, and additional loss to individuals, were incurred by removing to Van Diemen's Land, which can never be made to answer. Port Phillip is my favourite, and has my warmest wishes. During the time we were there, I never felt one ache or pain, and I parted with it with more regret than I did my native land."

[*** There is, as we have seen in the list of the settlers, a Mr. Hartley, who afterwards applied for compensation on account of the removal of the settlement; and in that of the Civil Establishment, a Mr. Hopley, assistant-surgeon. Mr. Bonwick ought, therefore, perhaps not to incline to the latter name.]

It was fortunate, however, that this first attempt to form a settlement on Victorian soil did not succeed, for thus the Colony escaped the evils as well as the stigma of a criminal origin. Ours, as other Colonies might have done, came into existence and prosperity without the aid of transportation, which, however beneficial it may at one time have appeared, instead of accelerating, undoubtedly retarded the growth of Australia.



Governor King wishes an establishment kept at Port Phillip—Writes to Lord Hobart on the subject—Robbins and Oxley sent to, and report unfavourably of, Western Port—Idea of settlement there or at Port Phillip falls through—Oxley's observations about Bass's Strait—Death of Governor King—Oxley's Macquarie and Lachlan expeditions result in a sweeping condemnation of country—Extracts from despatches—Oxley proves to demonstration the non-existence of real facts—Country first officially named Australia—William Wentworth volunteers as an explorer—Letters of Sir Robert Peel and Sir Humphrey Davy—An amusing suggestion—"A comfortable provision for a fast-increasing family."

[* It will be convenient to state, once for all, that the documents quoted in this Chapter are to be found in the N. S. Wales Correspondence in the Record Office.]

BESIDES expeditions, yet to be recorded, made to the territory of Victoria, prior to its final colonization, a few things were said and done respecting the country, during the years it lay under the hasty and unjust condemnation of Collins and his party, which cannot be omitted from any historical account professing to be accurate and complete.

We have seen that Governor King, in writing to Collins, Dec. 30th, 1803, says that he thought it necessary that a small establishment should be left at Port Phillip in the the most eligible situation, and suggests that a trusty Serjeant and superintendent might be sufficient, until further instructions should be received from England. But, although the remainder of the expedition under Lieutenant Sladden did not leave until May 18th, 1804, for some reason, no notice appears to have been taken of Governor King's desire. At the very time when the place was being abandoned, his Excellency was considering the expediency of its occupation, for on May 15th, only three days before Sladden left Port Phillip, King thus writes to Lord Hobart:—

"Having in my despatch by the Calcutta possessed your lordship of the reasons which induced Lieut. Collins to fix his colony at the River Derwent, on the south coast of Van Diemen's Land, . . . . and considering that this event could not have entered into your lordship's contemplation at the time your despatch of June 24th last was wrote, I deemed it most advisable to require the opinion and advice of the two principal officers in this Colony, viz., Lieut.-Colonel Paterson and Brevet-Major George Johnson, on the points contained in the enclosed statement, and have in consequence thereof determined on despatching Lieut.-Colonel Paterson, as soon as possible, in the colonial vessel to examine Port Dalrymple, and from thence proceed to Port Phillip and Western Port on the south coast of New Holland, and on the north side of Bass's Straits, to fix on the best situation for a settlement at one of those places; he will then return to this place and inform me of his proceedings and observations, when I shall send him with his own company and a proportion of convicts and settlers, and every other assistance our stores can afford. I shall also, on receiving Col. Paterson's report, send as trusty a person as I can select to fix a post either at Port Phillip or Western Port, as may be deemed most expedient."

The opinion of the officers above referred to was elicited in reply to several queries submitted on May 18th, 1804, of which the following are two:—

"On a perusal of Governor King's letter to the Right Hon. Lord Hobart, dated 23rd November, 1802, and his instructions enclosed with that despatch to Mr. Robbins, does it appear that Storm Bay and Port Phillip, or King's Island, are recommended for settlements being made to counteract any intention of the French intruding a claim to the prescribed limits of any part of this territory?

"Ans.—It appears so to us.

"Reverting to the circumstance of Governor Collins being settled on the south coast of Van Diemen's Land, and Lieut.-Colonel Paterson being intended to establish Port Dalrymple, situate on the north side of Van Diemen's Land and on the south side of Bass's Straits, in conformity to his lordship's commands, Does it not appear that his lordship's views, contained in the despatch of June 24th, 1803, requires that either Port Phillip or Western Port, on the south coast of New Holland and on the north side of Bass's Straits, should be occupied by a post being established at one of those ports?

"Ans.—Port Dalrymple will be occupied by Lieut.-Colonel Paterson in conformity to his lordship's commands; it is also our opinion that his lordship's reasons for giving these commands result from Governor King's despatch of November 23rd, 1802, which his lordship states to be rendered peculiarly necessary in a political point of view. We are therefore of opinion that one of the two ports on the south side of New Holland and on the north side of Bass's Straits ought to be occupied, and a post established in the most eligible port of the two."

In a postscript of the 16th May, 1804, to a letter dated the 15th to Mr. Sullivan, Governor King says,—

"Since closing this letter I have received his lordship's commands respecting settling Port Dalrymple; and anticipating his lordship's further commands, viewing existing circumstances, I shall also direct a post to be occupied either at Port Phillip or Western Port, as may be deemed most eligible by Lieut.-Col. Paterson, who sails in the Integrity cutter in four days with a party to examine Port Dalrymple (where he will leave a sufficient guard and some convicts), Port Phillip, and Western Port; and on that officer's return, which I expect in about four months, every other arrangement pointed out by his lordship will be made."

In a letter from King to Lord Hobart of August 14th, it is stated that the "Integrity sailed the 7th June and proceeded to the southward of Cape Howe, when she returned here the 21st, having met with much bad weather and foul winds."

In Governor King's instructions, dated June 1st, 1804, to Lieutenant-Governor Paterson, appears the following:—

"You are also to examine how far you consider Port Phillip or Western Port the most eligible for forming a post at, not so much with a view to its being considered a present agricultural settlement as a post of occupancy; although your observations respecting the former advantages of Port Dalrymple, Port Phillip, and Western Port, ought not to be totally disregarded."

On January 16th, 1805, Governor King writes to Lord Hobart,—

"Acting-Lieut. Robbins having arrived before the Lady Barlow's departure enables me to communicate the result of that officer's researches, by which your lordship will observe that there is no port within the Straits than those already known, viz., Port Dalrymple on the south side, and Port Phillip and Western Port on the north side; and that Western Port is, in a great measure, unfit for an agricultural settlement, however well adapted its situation may hereafter be found for the establishment of a post.

"Exclusive of ascertaining these objects—the exact situation of Cape Albany Otway, the North Cape of the west entrance of the Straits is now ascertained, which has hitherto been doubtful, and is very necessary for vessels coming here through Bass's Straits to be acquainted with.

"In addition to the chart of Acting-Lieut. Robbins's examination of the N.W. point of Van Diemen's Land and Cape Albany Otway, I have taken the liberty of sending an open despatch, containing a letter from me to the Secretary of the Admiralty, enclosing Acting-Lieut. Robbins's log, and a printed chart with the above corrections, which I respectfully submit may be sent to the Admiralty Board for the inspection of the hydrographer, Mr. Dalrymple."

Having now done with a man whose memory must always be associated with honour in connexion with the early history of Victoria, this will be the best place to mention what became of him. In a letter of Lord Castlereagh of April, 1809, to the Lords of the Treasury, the widow of Governor King, of New South Wales, is recommended a pension of 200l. a year, on the ground of her husband's "unremitting zeal and integrity" during "more than twenty years' service", "in forming subordinate settlements in that remote quarter of the globe or in conducting the government of the whole." He is stated to have died September 3rd, 1808.

The written description by Robbins of Western Port exists in the Record Office.** It principally consists of directions for vessels visiting the harbour. The entrance is spoken of as st wide and safe for a ship of any draft of water either to sail or work in." Robbins says of the spring "found by the Lady Nelson in 1802". "I cannot recommend it, for we found it brackish." The following short extracts are given, as they may be of some use in identifying certain localities elsewhere referred to. Western Island is the name by which French Island seems to have been called.

[** It is entitled, "Remarks, &c., on the Western Port, in His Majesty's Armed Colonial Vessel Integrity. By Acting-Lieut. Charles Robbins, of His Majesty's Ship Buffalo."]

"Observing that off the west point of Western Island angles off a muddy flat shoal, leaving a channel between it and the N.E. point of Phillip Island about 2 miles; it runs flat a good way off this point; having brought this point to bear south about 1½ miles at half-tide, the flat shoal of Western Island will show itself to the northward of you, and as you run up the channel widens, and a red bluff point of the main will open with the S.E. point of Elizabeth Island; but this island, lying so close in, makes a projecting point of Western Island, those two points being only open; a little islet, or rather shoal, will then show itself—this shoal is covered with bushes; you may then steer directly for it, and will have from 7 to 15 fms. in the channel. The best anchorage appears to be to bring this little islet to bear about N.E. ½ E. 1¾ miles, and the S.E. of Elizabeth Island S.W.; there you may anchor in 8 or 10 fms. muddy bottom, and is by far the best part of the harbour. I worked the Integrity down to the Nelson's watering-place from this anchorage.

*     *     *     *     *

"This Port may rather be called a spacious than a good harbour for shipping, as from Elizabeth Island up it becomes intricate, abounding with numerous shoals. The shores of the main, as well as the Western Island, are bound with extensive flat, muddy beaches. . . . Nor have I seen any place where fresh water could be procured without the greatest difficulty; a creek which was found at the N.W. part of the head of the port is the only place where a quantity could be procured.

"The passage up the port to the northward, between the main and the west point of the Western Island, abounds with shoals; however, a channel all round the Western Island exists, I have no doubt, for a ship of any draft of water, were the situation of the various shoals well ascertained. The East or S.E. side of the port, therefore, at present is the only place a ship could attempt with safety. . . . The North-East part of the head of the port is all a fresh-water Tea Tree Swamp; on the hills a few small gums, soil of very sandy nature; here is a small salt creek; the fresh swamp is close at the back of it. The North-West part of the head of the port, for five or six miles in extent from east to west, and as far as I walked for 7 or 8 miles to the northward, and apparently as far back as the mountains that border on Port Phillip, is a fine meadow or pasture land, clothed with fine grass and thinly with small gum and swamp oak trees. . . . Here is a small creek of fresh water where a boat might come in at half-tide. . . . At the western extreme of this pasture-land commences, and runs all the way down to the sandy point abreast of the west point of the Western Island, a miserable low and swampy country for three or four miles in. . . .

"The soil on some of the points of the Western Island is pretty good, but for the most part it is of a very sandy nature. . . .

"Having carefully examined the face of the country in the vicinity of this port, I am of opinion that it possesses no great advantages to render it an eligible place for a settlement. It is badly watered; the greatest part of the land about it is low and swampy, and very few trees of any size were seen."

Lieutenant Robbins concludes with the extract previously quoted, in which he expresses the opinion that the river at the head of Port Phillip Bay would be a better site for a settlement than any at Western Port. He makes the latitude of the southern part of Phillip Island 38° 33'.

There are also two MSS. in the Record Office by Lieutenant J. Oxley, R.N.*** which contain some statements bearing upon our subject. In the second of these the writer states,—"I was in Western Port in 1804-5, having been sent by Captain Kent of the Buffalo to accompany Lieutenant Robbins in the Integrity cutter to ascertain whether it afforded any site for forming a settlement, should Government have any intention to occupy a port on the north side of the Straits. Port Phillip having been previously examined by the Calcutta and found ineligible for that purpose." He says that he was never in Port Phillip, but that "the chart of it by Captain Flinders is esteemed the best—there is another published by Lieutenant Murray, the discoverer, which will serve well enough to run in by."

[*** One dated 1810, on the "Country and Settlements formed in Van Diemen's Land"; the other immediately following it, "Remarks and Observations on the Coast of New South Wales, including the Passage from the Cape of Good Hope, through Bass's Straits, and round the South Cape to Port Jackson."]

Oxley describes Western Port in very similar terms to those used by Robbins—in fact, in some places his words are the same; but he conveys some information not given by his companion. He states that Western Port "is the port to which M. Peron directs the attention of the French Government in the event of forming any establishment, and remarks that he hopes in this place to see 'another Pondicherry arise.'" Oxley condemns it in more decided terms than Robbins, observing, "If Port Phillip was found bad, this port is certainly much worse, and can never in any point of view be considered as a fit place for a settlement, if at any future time it should be judged advisable to have possession of a port on the north side of Bass's Straits. In 1802-3 the French carefully examined this Port and King's Island, but I rather suspect they found nothing in either so very inviting as to induce them to visit them again." This extract is from the document bearing date 1810.

Thus, condemnation upon condemnation having been heaped upon the territory of Port Phillip, the idea of forming a small settlement or post of occupation, at either of its principal harbours, appears to have been completely given up. The visit of Robbins and Oxley to Western Port seems to have caused such a project to have been finally laid aside for some years.

Before concluding with Oxley's documents, however, two or three interesting facts which they contain must be noticed. Speaking of Furneaux's and Cape Baron Islands, he remarks that "Wilson's Promontory. . . is formed precisely of the same materials as those islands, as are all primitive mountains in Van Diemen's Land; there are regular soundings all over the Straits from one side to the other, and it is not improbable but those islands and other high rocks in the Straits are the summits of lofty mountains, whilst either some great convulsion of nature, or the agitation of the ocean, has sunk their base below the level of the adjacent shores."

Oxley gives some directions respecting "the route to Port Jackson through Bass's Straits", which, he says, "has now become common, and affords, in the opinion of many, a much shorter passage than round the South Cape." Sailors are told, "after they have got as far to the Eastward as 130°, "to keep in the parallel of 39° 11'"; and that "Cape Albany Otway is the best land to make."

King's Island is spoken of as "very extensive, but affords only one tolerable anchorage, viz. Elephant Bay. . . . In all the charts of those straits which I have seen, this island is placed considerably too far to the eastward; the latitude of Elephant Bay, as ascertained by Lieutenant Murray in the Lady Nelson, may be relied on"—viz. 39° 51' 17".

"Between Cape Albany Otway and Wilson's Promontory the coast falls almost directly back to the Northward—between those two capes are two ports, viz., Port Phillip and Western Port, neither of them good ones."

Describing Wilson's Promontory, Oxley says, "About ten miles directly south of" it "is a remarkable high round island called Rock Donda—between this island and the main are several rocks and small islands, there is, however, a safe passage between them, the usual passage for ships is to take Bock Donda on the larboard hand."

Allusion is made to Port Phillip in a despatch to Lord Castlereagh from Colonel Paterson, Lieutenant-Governor and founder of the settlement at Port Dalrymple, Launceston, who, writing from Yorkton August 12th, 1806, says,—

"I have always considered this settlement of serious moment, solely from its relative situation, which becomes in the extreme more interesting from the circumstance of neither Port Phillip or Western Port on the north side of the Straits and on the south of the continent, being settled from the considerable obstacles they present, which thus renders this the only port in those Straits, the discovery of which must ultimately have the desirable effect of doing away the necessity of sailing round the South Cape, thereby saving a boisterous passage of ten degrees. And although I have ever conceived that the particular advantages of the local situation of this harbour as of sufficient importance to alone render its establishment positively necessary, yet it has, combined to these, an immense tract of one of the most beautiful countries in the world."

We have not yet done with Oxley's reports involving condemnations of the Victorian territory. On April 18th,

1816, according to a despatch of Governor Macquarie to Earl Bathurst, written on that day, Surveyor-General Oxley left Sydney, for the purpose, in the words of another despatch of May 16th, "of prosecuting the discoveries to the westward, as far as the ocean." In this document Governor Macquarie announces the arrival of Oxley's party on the River Lachlan, "with provisions and necessaries of every description, fully sufficient for five months, in which time there is no doubt they will be able to return to Bathurst, after executing the service they are sent on, and tracing the Lachlan River to the sea, in case it extends so far."

Governor Macquarie, in a despatch of September 5th, 1817, communicates the result of Oxley's journey down the Lachlan, stating that it "is matter of great disappointment and mortification to me, having entertained, as I conceived, the best grounded hopes that" the "Lachlan would have emptied itself by the accession of many waters in a copious river into the sea on the S.W. coast of this continent, and have marked the situation of a future settlement."

Macquarie was more correct in his first judgment, when he anticipated that a large river, fed by a number of streams, would reach the southern coast of Australia.

He gives still more decided expression to his disappointment at the result of Oxley's subsequent expedition down the Macquarie, declaring in a despatch to Earl Bathurst of March 1st, 1819:—

"If, my lord, I felt disappointment and regret at the unexpected termination of the River Lachlan, . . . . it is altogether impossible to state how much more I have felt mortified by the sanguine expectations formed of the Macquarie, having proved even more abortive than on the former occasion. . . . Thus impressed with the futility of sending any further expedition with a view to inspect all the boundaries of that vast Savanna where Mr. Oxley abandoned his survey in hopeless disappointment, I shall not take any further measures therein, unless under instructions from your lordship."

These expeditions had an undoubted bearing upon the discovery of the territory of our Colony, being projected for the purpose of determining the direction of the inland watershed of Australia, which leads towards Victoria. The whole of that portion of the island-continent was also included in the sweeping condemnation which Oxley affixed to a vast region, when he found that his Lachlan expedition had not realized his expectations.

In his letter of August 30th, 1817, to Governor Macquarie, enclosed in a despatch to Lord Bathurst of September 5th, Oxley says, "I proceeded down the Lachlan in company with the boats until the 12th May", and then, having described how he lost the river among marshes, he proceeds:—

"I determined, . . . . divesting ourselves of everything that could possibly be spared, to proceed with the horses loaded with the additional provisions from the boats, on such a course towards the coast as would intersect any stream that might arise from the divided waters of the Lachlan.

"In pursuance of this plan I quitted the river on the 17th May, taking a S.W. course towards Cape Northumberland as the best one to answer my intended purpose. I will not here detail the difficulties and privations we experienced in passing through a barren and desolate country, without water, but such rain-water as was found remaining in holes and the crevices of rocks. I continued this course till the 9th June, when, having lost two horses through fatigue and want, and the others in a deplorable condition,"

he changed his course "along a range of lofty hills" until June 23rd, when he fell in with a stream which was with difficulty recognized as the Lachlan. The course down it is thus described:—

"I continued along the stream until 8th July, it having taken, during this period, a westerly direction, and passing through a perfectly level country, barren in the extreme, and being evidently at periods entirely under water. To this point it had been gradually diminishing and spreading its waters over stagnant lagoons and morasses, without receiving any stream that we knew of during the whole extent of its course. The banks were not more than three feet high, and the marks of floods on the shrubs and bushes showed that at times it rose between two and three feet higher, causing the whole country to become a marsh, and altogether uninhabitable.

"Further progress westward, had it been possible, was now useless, as there was neither hill or rising ground of any kind within the compass of our view, which was only bounded by the horizon in every quarter, entirely devoid of timber, except a few diminutive gums on the very edge of the stream might be so termed. The water in the bed of the Lagoon, as it might now properly be denominated, was stagnant, its breadth about 20 feet, and the heads of grass growing in it showed it to be about 3 feet deep.

"This originally unlooked-for and truly singular termination of a river which we had anxiously hoped, and reasonably expected, would have led to a far different conclusion, filled us with most painful sensations. We were full 600 miles west of Sydney, and nearly in its latitude; and it had taken us ten weeks of unremitted exertion to proceed so far. The nearest part of the coast about Cape Bernouilli, had it been accessible, was distant about 150 miles. We had demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that no river whatever could fall into the sea between Cape Otway and Spencer's Gulph; at least none deriving their waters from the Eastern Coast, and that the country south of the parallel of 34°, and west of the meridian of 147° 30' East was uninhabitable and useless for all the purposes of civilized man."

Oxley's demonstration, beyond the shadow of a doubt, is certainly only surpassed by Tuckey's wonderful prediction. It is singular that the limits within which, it was thus demonstrated, no river could possibly fall into the sea, should be precisely those in which was to be discovered the mouth of the greatest river of Australia, the Murray, which receives the waters of so many streams, including the Lachlan and Macquarie. The whole of Victoria, the principal portion of South Australia, as well as a large extent of valuable country in N. S. Wales itself, were thus proclaimed uninhabitable in Oxley's wholesale excommunication of territory from the pale of civilization.

Notwithstanding all the signal instances of erroneous judgment on record with regard to Victoria, subsequent explorers have not been sufficiently cautious in entering the regions of prophecy and condemnation. Other parts of Australia have since been declared worthless, on grounds not more substantial than those upon which the conclusions of Tuckey and Oxley were based. For instance, Sturt's progress in Central Australia in 1844, having been checked by a stony, waterless tract of country, the popular notion of a vast inland desert sprung up and existed for some years, till exploded by the heroic but ill-fated explorers, Burke and Wills.

One or two incidents, bearing on the exploration of Australia generally, may now be introduced. In a despatch to Lord Bathurst, of April 4th, 1817, Governor Macquarie acknowledges the receipt of Captain Flinders's charts of "Australia," and the journal of his voyage. This is the first time that the name of Australia appears to have been officially employed. The Governor underlines the word. He states it was in pursuance of his lordship's despatch of April 18th, 1816, that the expedition "for prosecuting the discoveries recently made to the westward of the Blue Mountains" had been fitted out; and, in a private letter to Mr. Secretary Goulbourn, M.P., of December 21st, 1817, says, speaking of the expedition which had sailed that very morning for the West Coast of Australia,—"Lieutenant King expects to be absent from Port Jackson between eight and nine months; and, I trust, in that time will be able to make very important additions to the geographical knowledge already acquired of the Continent of Australia, which, I hope, will be the name given to this country in future, instead of the very erroneous and misapplied name hitherto given it of 'New Holland', which, properly speaking, only applies to a part of this immense Continent."

In a letter of February 4th, 1817, to Lieutenant King, Mr. T.W. Croker speaks of "the unexplored parts of the Continent of New South Wales."

There is also a long letter to Lord Bathurst, dated April 22nd, 1817, from Mr. William Wentworth, in which he volunteers, with much youthful ardour, to proceed to Australia for the purpose of "exploring this fifth Continent, even from its eastern extremity to its western,"—an enterprise which he declares he is prepared to undertake, with the conviction that he "must perfect the object or perish in the effort." The reply directed to be given was, that the Governor had been instructed to send out an expedition to the west of the Blue Mountains, which, it is hoped, may have started before any fresh directions from this country could reach him.

The names of the writers would be a temptation to stretch a point, to bring in the two following letters upon an interesting scientific subject, even if it had no direct bearing upon the general geography and exploration of Australia. The first is a private letter from the famous Sir Robert Peel, whose request was complied with:—

"Whitehall, Oct. 20th, 1823.   

"DEAR LORD BATHURST,—I have had an interview with Sir Humphrey Davy, who is very anxious that authority should be given to Sir Thomas Brisbane to measure an arc of the meridian in New South Wales. I think every question which one would naturally put before a proceeding of this kind shall be sanctioned by the Government can be in this case satisfactorily answered. Sir Humphrey Davy and his colleagues at the Board of Longitude consider the interests of science will be greatly promoted by the measurement.

"They have entire confidence in the scientific persons whom Sir Thomas Brisbane has on the spot, particularly Mr. Runcker. The necessary instructions are already provided and in New South Wales.

"Sir Humphrey does not consider that the expense can be considerable. I asked him to name the maximum, and he answered one thousand pounds. Under these circumstances may I encourage Sir H. Davy to hope that you will sanction and direct the measurement proposed, which, if it be considered also, will serve as a base line for any future interior survey of the Colony?

"Ever most truly yours,           

The following is from Sir Humphrey Davy:—

"Apartments, Royal Society,   
. 21st, 1823.           

"MY LORD,—The Right Honourable his Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department having done me the honour to inform me that your lordship was favourably disposed to an undertaking which the Council of the Royal Society consider as important to the interests of science, namely, the admeasurement of an arc of the meridian of New South Wales, I take the liberty, at their request, of transmitting this to your lordship.

"Several arcs have been measured in the Northern Hemisphere; but one only, and that at a time when instruments were very imperfect, in the Southern.

"The present moment appears peculiarly favourable for such a work to the Council, as there are persons at Paramatta who are able astronomers and who are in possession of the necessary instruments, with the exception only of a Zenith Sector.

"The measurement of an arc in New South Wales would not only be of importance to astronomy in affording data for determining correctly the figure of the earth—a matter of great interest to navigation—but would likewise be useful in laying a foundation for a correct survey of our Colonies in that great and unexplored country.

"Your lordship's liberal and enlightened mind will, I am sure, require no apology for this communication, which, as President of the Royal Society, the interests of science call upon me to make.

"I have the honour to be, my lord,
          "With the greatest respect,
                   "Your lordship's obdt. humble servt.,


A Mr. William Leckie writes to Earl Bathurst from Old Broad Street, on November 23rd, 1822, urging that, instead of the suggested penal settlements at Morton Bay, Port Curtis, and Port Bowen, it would be better to have the coast between Cape Otway and Spencer's Gulf explored, with a view to the establishment of a settlement there, in a more suitable climate, and to which the length of voyage and expense of sending convicts would be considerably less. Mr. Leckie makes one of those suggestions which are amusing when read in the light of full information respecting the regions to which they refer. He contends that as Oxley had observed that the Lachlan was lost in marshes, and had then reappeared to be again lost in others, these latter "must extend to no great distance from the sea-coast; or, the country being flat, a canal could easily be cut by the convicts, which would render the whole country, to the westward of the Blue Mountains, available for exportable produce."

The next we hear of Port Phillip is in a letter to Mr. Secretary Wilmot Horton, Colonial Office, dated December 13th, 1824, from Mr. Thomas Rixon Williams, of Whilwell, near Tenby, who aspired to make no less ample provision for his family than the possession of the principal portion of the territory of Victoria. He commences by saying that he was "anxious to make a comfortable provision for a fast increasing family, and honestly to benefit my latest posterity"; and, after expressing a desire to promote emigration and colonization, asks the Government "to confer upon me, my heirs and assigns for ever, a free grant of land . . together with all rights and privileges inherent in or arising from or belonging to the same." He then describes several tracts on the mainland and Van Diemen's Land, one or more of which he asks to be permitted to choose, among others,—

"5th. All that tract of waste uninhabited land lying around Port Phillip and Western Port, and bounded on the west by a real or imaginary or natural line drawn or running northward from the ocean in Long. 143° 0' East to Lat. 36° South; on the East by a real or imaginary or natural line drawn or running northwardly from the ocean in Long. 146° East to the Lat. of 36° South—on the South by the ocean—on the North by the line of Lat. of 36° South, together with all lands, waters, islands, islets, reefs, sandbanks, &c. contained within the aforesaid degrees or lines of Longitudes and Latitudes, and down to the degree of Lat. of 39° South."



Question as to point reached—Earliest statements—Hume's letters to Governor Brisbane, Earl Bathurst, and the "Sydney Monitor"—Early Chart of Expedition—Its evidence as to point reached—What was thought at the time in Sydney—Conflicting statements of the Explorers—Hovell sent to Western Port to clear up doubt—Journal, Overland Expedition—Crossing of the Murrumbidgee described—Sudden sight of Snowy Mountains—The Hume discovered—Crossed with difficulty—The Ovens and Hovell—Mount Disappointment—Coast reached—Return journey.

AS yet all the explorations of Victoria had been confined to the coast, there being no record of any one having penetrated more than a very few miles inland. The expedition next in order of date came from a different direction, and completely intersected the territory. Its results were perhaps more important, as they certainly were more satisfactory, than those of any previous expedition. The one in question was that of Messrs. Hume and Hovell. The first-named explorer, Mr. Hamilton Hume, was a native of N. S. Wales, and Captain Hovell had been in the Colony since 1813. It is to be regretted that these two gentlemen did not agree very well; in fact, on more than one occasion during the journey, their differences were so serious that Hovell and his attendants separated from Hume, but soon, however, rejoined him again, he being the better bush-man.

The point which the expedition reached was a subject of dispute between Hume and Hovell—the latter being of opinion that it was Western Port, the former that it was Port Phillip. Some writers assert that this difference of opinion arose as soon as the coast was reached; but, although there was afterwards a decided disagreement on the subject between the leaders of the expedition, the following letter, which the author has discovered, would seem clearly to prove that, even after his return to Sydney, Hume was under the impression that he had reached the shores of Western Port.

If the question had, from the first, been a matter of dispute between him and Hovell, Hume would doubtless have taken the earliest opportunity of asserting his belief on the subject, and would have at once communicated it to Governor Brisbane. The chart, to which we shall subsequently refer, clearly indicates Port Phillip; but, as far as the coast is delineated, it must have been from information other than that acquired during the journey. The name of Port Phillip is not once mentioned in Hume's two earliest letters * on the subject of his journey—the one which immediately follows and another, that of April 20th, 1826. The former, to Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane, transmitted to Earl Bathurst, with a despatch from Governor Darling, dated October 10th, 1826, gives the explorer's impression fresh, the day after his return, and before he had had time to modify his opinions. He thus writes:—

[* In the Record Office.]

"Appin, January 24th, 1825.   

"SIR,—I have the honour to acquaint your Excellency that last evening I arrived safe home in company with Mr. Hovell, who accompanied me in the expedition your Excellency was pleased to entrust to my care for the purpose of exploring a passage through the interior to Western Port.

"I feel much pleasure in informing your Excellency that we have discovered, adjoining to that extensive harbour, one of the finest parts or tracts of country yet known in Australia—immense downs and forests partially wooded, the whole of which is easy of access and well-watered by the different streams that run into the Tweed—I have so taken the liberty to name the river that falls into Western Port; and I think I may venture to say that there is, around and adjoining the Tweed, from 80 to 100 miles of a square country that is fit for any purpose of agriculture or grazing. The downs extend from E.N.E. to W.S.W. full 80 miles, and they are upwards of 40 miles in breadth in S.E. and N.W. directions.

"The soil over the whole of these immense plains is good, but of different qualities—samples of which I have brought that were procured about ten miles distant from one another, together with different kinds of stones, which I will forward for your Excellency's inspection.

"On Tuesday, 16th November, when in Lat. 36° 20', Long. 147° 25', we came on an extensive river, running at about 3 miles an hour to the westward; it was upwards of two fathoms in depth, nearly 100 yards in width, and, for want of a boat, it was not in our power to cross, and we proceeded down along its banks in hopes of finding a ford where we might cross; but, after travelling upwards of 20 miles down the river in a westerly direction, the river became much wider and deeper than when we first fell in with it, and not the least likelihood of there being any shoal or ford that was possible for us to cross at. We then determined on returning up the river to the Eastward, until we could get above some of the streams that fell in from the Southward, and on Saturday, 20th of November, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, when we had got above the second junction, we succeeded in crossing the major branch with a temporary boat made of tarpauling, which answered the purpose of taking our provisions across, and such of the men as could not swim.

"The river where we returned from on the 17th was then running W.S.S. and was about the size of the Hawkesbury River at Windsor; on the 24th November and 3rd December we fell in with and crossed two more considerable streams, the former of which is in Lat. 36° 24', Long. 147° 10', and the latter, the last stream we crossed before we arrived at Western Port, is in Lat. 37° 22', Long. 146° 25',they run to the westward at 1½ mile per hour, and take their rise to the eastward among the Snowy Mountains. We came in sight of those snowy ranges on the 8th November, the East End of them then bore from us due South. Their general course is N.E. and S.W., which obliged us to keep considerably to the westward to avoid them.

"I beg leave to recommend to your Excellency's notice and favourable consideration, the men who accompanied us on the expedition, as they have undergone a great deal of fatigue, and have been very attentive to all orders given to them.

"I will do myself the honour of waiting on your Excellency in a few days, and trust I shall be able to render a satisfactory account of our journey to Bass's Straits.

"I have the honour,            
(Signed)      "HAMILTON HUME."   

In a private letter, also in the Record Office, from Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane, apparently to Mr. Sec. Wilmot Horton, dated March 24th, 1825, Hume and Hovell's great discoveries are thus referred to:—

"I have also to announce to you the discovery of a new and valuable country of great extent, extending from Lake George towards Western Port, in Bass's Straits, by two young men, Messrs. Hovell and Hume, the latter colonial; they were directed by me to try and reach Spencer's Gulf in the hope of intercepting any rivers that might run South of that parallel of Longitude, and discharge themselves into these Straits. They were absent near 3 months, but only got to the former place. It is my intention, as soon as I have the means, to send a colonial vessel to Western Port, to have that explored, as it seems to have escaped Flinders and others. The other persons seem to have performed their duty well."

Governor Brisbane seems to have been unacquainted with the investigations of Western Port by Grant, Murray, Robbins and Oxley—so far and so soon had the early history of Colonial discovery been forgotten.

In another letter,** upwards of a year after the first, Hume speaks of Western Port, and is still silent about Port Phillip.

[** In Record Office.]

"Copy sent to Governor in Mr. King's letter, 22 Oct., 1826.
"2676 New South Wales.
"Received                                              "Sydney, New South Wales,
"October 19, 1826. "20th April, 1826.
"The Right Honourable Earl BATHURST, His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, &c., &c., &c.

"MY LORD,—The prompt attention of your lordship to the claims any individual may have the necessity of submitting to your lordship, and the impartial disposition which so much characterize your public conduct, emboldens me at this time to intrude thus on your lordship's notice.

"The increased emigration and population of this territory, in the year 1824, arose to such an extent, and the then known boundaries of eligible land thus being much circumscribed, the established Colonists' means of extending their pursuits were, of course, proportionately confined, and, in many instances, the late emigrants were quite unable to select land, either for agriculture or that of depasturing stock, &c., in the vicinity of any accessible safe harbour for shipping.

"These circumstances loudly called for the services of some person or persons who were qualified to explore those hitherto unexplored regions, which, from their geographical situation, were best calculated to remedy the evil, and give present facility to the Colonist; and Sir Thomas Brisbane, ever anxious to promote the interest and welfare of this extensive and interesting Colony, expressed a wish for some person to undertake a tour of four or five hundred miles into the interior.

"Presuming myself (although an Australian) capable from experience of undertaking such an expedition, I represented my willingness to do so to his Excellency, who promised his sanction and protection; and under this impression, I, in company with Captain Hovell, prepared and purchased at our own private expense, such convenience and necessaries as were suitable for an undertaking of the kind.

"Accordingly, in the month of October, 1824, we took our departure from the most remote southern point of the County Argyle, then known; and explored all that tract of country lying between our point of departure (Lake George) and Western Port, Bass's Straits, with more success than exceeded our most sanguine expectations, an account of which I presume has before now been honoured by your lordship's notice.

"As a remuneration for those services, I have received a grant of twelve hundred acres of Land; a quantity which the late Governor, Sir Thomas Brisbane, did not feel justified in exceeding, but promised to recommend me to your lordship's consideration.

"I respectfully beg leave to impress on your lordship's mind the great expense attending and fitting out such an expedition, the losses, hardships, dangers, and privations attending so perilous a pursuit for the period of seventeen weeks, and the incalculable benefit that must arise at a future period to the public as the discovery of so good and extensive a tract of land adjoining Western Port; which promises to be a real and invaluable acquisition to this and the mother country; inasmuch as its advantages for shipping, agriculture, or the depasturing of stock, &c., are much superior to any discoveries yet known in New South Wales.

"Should there at some future period be a settlement established at Western Port, I hope your lordship will be pleased to take my services into your lordship's kind consideration, and extend the grant already made by an additional grant at Western Port.

"I have the honour to be,
            "My lord,
        "Your lordship's most obedient

"Humble servant,    

The following letter appears in the "Sydney Monitor", December 15th, 1826; but Hume says nothing in it to indicate any change of opinion as to which of the two ports his expedition had reached.

"To the Editor of the 'Monitor.'

"SIR,—On perusing one of the numbers of the 'Monitor' a few days ago, I noticed the comments of 'An English Emigrant', respecting Hume River, the Gulf of St. Vincent, and several other bays and harbours on the coast I now beg leave, Mr. Editor, to say that, in my opinion, I have performed journeys enough. It is true some persons have profited by my excursions into the interior; but in general terms, I cannot say that I have. In the year 1814, in company with my brother, I discovered that tract of country now called Argyle. I was also there in the years 1815 and 1816, and in the year 1817 I accompanied Mr. Thorsley and the late Mr. Meehan; Mr. Meehan and myself discovered that beautiful lake, now called 'Lake Bathurst', and 'Goulburn Downs.' Some time afterwards I conducted Mr. Thorsby and Mr. William M'Arthur to the same part of the country. In 1819, I was with Mr. Meehan on a tour along the coast from the Five Islands, and from thence across the Bong Bong; and, in 1821, I went in the Government cutter Snapper, in company with Mr. Berry and Mr. Johnstone, on a survey along the coast as far as Mount Dromedary. It was my intention to have set out on a tour last summer for the purpose of tracing either Goulburn or Hume River, being of opinion those rivers certainly must have an outlet on some part of the western coast; but the expense of fitting out those expeditions are more than my circumstances will allow, and on that account I relinquished the idea.

"I am still strongly of opinion that those streams, at some future period, will prove to be the source of some occidental rivers yet known; it was also the opinion of our late Governor, Sir Thomas Brisbane, that some of the streams crossed by Mr. Hovell and myself, on our journey in 1824 to Bass's Straits, emptied themselves into the Gulf of St. Vincent's or thereabouts; and the last time I had the honour of seeing Sir Thomas, he expressed a wish that some person would endeavour to ascertain what really became of the waters running westward beyond the Murrumbidjee, and between that river and Bass's Straits. Hume River is in latitude 36° 20' and is distant from the eastern coast (Barmouth Creek) in a due east and west line 150 miles. There is probably four times the quantity of water running in the Hume that there is in the Murrumbidjee or Lachlan rivers.

"Goulburn River is in latitude 37° 15', and distant from Wilson's Promontory in a northerly direction about 100 miles; its course is north-west. The distance from the Goulburn to Port Phillip does not exceed eighty or ninety miles. Persons going across by land from Bass's Straits would find these rivers much easier crossed by keeping on the eastern side of the Snowy or White Mountains, but the country in this direction is much higher and more broken than it is on the western side.               I am, Sir,

"Your most obedient servant,          

"Appin, November 26th, 1826."

Two maps, bound up with Governor Arthur's despatch—hereafter given—on the subject of Batman's expedition to Port Phillip, and each having inscribed upon it the words, "In Col. Arthur's No. 53 of 4 July, 1835", are of considerable importance, from the light they throw upon facts connected with early discoveries at Port Phillip. The one immediately concerning us purports to be the chart of the route of Hume and Hovell's expedition; and, if it were made at the time of their arrival at the coast, would quite decide the question whether the explorers were then certain they had reached Port Phillip or Western Port,—the two harbours being distinctly though roughly sketched, and the line of route being clearly drawn to the former. Hume's letter of January 24th, 1825, can only be reconciled with this chart upon the assumption that the coast was delineated on it at a subsequent time. The whole country inland, except in the immediate vicinity of the sea, must have been marked from observations made during the expedition; for no other explorers had been across the territory from the date when Hume and Hovell traversed it to the time of Col. Arthur's despatch. The coast-line of the map was, therefore, most probably completed, or corrected, on the return of the party to Sydney, where documents and individuals with the best information on the subject could be consulted, or on subsequent knowledge, making it certain that Port Phillip was the harbour reached.

It has been suggested to the author that when Hume speaks in his first letters of his journey overland to Western Port, he applies the name to the surrounding country, in the same way as the present Colony was afterwards called Port Phillip. Such an explanation, however, will not stand consideration; for had the idea in Hume's mind, when he wrote the letter of January 24th, 1825, been that he had reached the shores of Port Phillip Bay in the Western Port District, he would not have omitted all mention of the name of the harbour to which he believed he had been. That name was as well known as that of the other port, and was just as likely to be attached to the district, as it afterwards was. Besides, when Hume speaks of a stream which he calls the Tweed, as "the river that falls into Western Port", there seems little room for doubt that he had the harbour itself in his mind, not a tract of country. The name of the Tweed neither appears in the map of the route to which we have referred, nor in the journal of the expedition which we shall presently notice; so that it evidently was a name only temporarily applied, which disappeared when Hume revised the map and description of his journal, on being convinced that the bay at which his expedition had arrived must have been Port Phillip. The Tweed was probably the Werribee, or perhaps the Saltwater River.

Following the route on the map backwards from the coast,—we find Western Port with its islands, the outer one distinctly marked, and the nearer one not clearly shown to be either an island or peninsula. This is some evidence that the chart was made before the expedition of Captain Wright had completely investigated the locality. The words "Port Phillip called by the natives 'Jillong'," are written upon the bay, the shores of which, from about the position of Brighton to Williamstown, are not defined. Close to where Geelong now stands, the line of route terminates at what is marked as a long narrow arm of the bay, like the mouth of a river. At, and a little before, the termination of the route are three marks, thus explained in a note on the chart:—"The red crosses (* *) note the situation of trees marked thus (H H), and the spot where peach-stones and clover-seed were planted."

The coast appears to have been first struck a little to the S.E. of some hills called "Three Brothers", which may be taken for the Anakies, but that there are no others in the place of Station Peak, unless these most conspicuous of hills are intended to be indicated, a little to the east, by two or three faintly-marked and unnamed elevations. Between two of them Arndell's River runs. Just to the west of one of these latter hills, and shortly after the river is crossed, the words "Saw the harbour" are written on the route; which then turns a little north-east, when the stream called Arndell's River is crossed by it, and a short distance further on the Exe. The former rather corresponds with the position of the Werribee, and the latter of the Saltwater River. To the north of the "Three Brothers", "Brisbane's Range" is given, fronted by two peaks called Arndell's Crown and Mount Moina. The Exe is described as having "high rocky banks". Further inland, the outward route indicates the entanglement of the explorers among the ranges of Mount Disappointment, beyond which we find "Twisden River sixty yards wide," then "King's River, very fine country," a little further, "Ovens R., ten yards wide," and then the two branches of the Hume are crossed by the expedition. On the north bank of the latter, the line of route runs down some distance to a point where "100 yards wide" is marked. The red line of the outward track is continued across the Medway, and the Murrumbidgee, which is marked "forty or fifty yards wide". It then runs over Yass Plain past Hume's station, on a branch of the Lachlan, and terminates on the shores of Lake George.

"Brisbane's Range" is about due west of Mount Disappointment; further north between the two is Mount Byron; to the N.W. are Mounts Romulus and Remus, N.E. of which is Meehan's Peak. To the east of the route is Mount Bon View, south of Mount Disappointment, then Dampier's Range, between the Twisden and King's Rivers, and in the distance the "Australian Alps, covered with snow". Other ranges are marked, but without names.

Upon one corner of the chart the following is written:—

"Mr. Hume's sketch of a tour performed by Mr. W.H. Hovell and himself from Lake George to Port Phillip, Bass's Straits (at their own expense), in the years 1824 and 1825, through the request of Sir Thos. Brisbane.

"The Hume was the largest river met with; it is from 80 to 100 yards wide, and generally deep; its waters run from two to three miles an hour. The banks are low and subject to inundation for a considerable distance, and the land is of the best quality. There are numerous lagoons extending back from the river one or 2 miles. These, as also the river, abound with fish of 2 kinds, the cod of the Lachlan and the fish resembling the tench. The black swan and most kinds of water fowl are plentiful. It is difficult to approach the river a little below the point at which the party first made it, in consequence of the backwater. The timber in the neighbourhood is in general eucalyptus, skirted with box and stringy bark.

"It is remarkable that no eels or perch were seen (and after passing Goldburn Plains) in any of the waters until we reached the River Exe south of Mount Disappointment. The country, the whole of the way from Lake George to Bass's Straits, is well covered with grass."

In another part of the map is this observation:—"The tourists found in their way back that most of the high lands east of the Twisden, so far as the Hume, terminate abruptly in a flat country. To the north and north-west the horizon is unbroken." On an area of country east of the Exe is inscribed—"Extensive and undulating downs of alternate wood and plain, called by the natives Iramoo."

The longitude marked at Port Phillip Heads is 144° 37' E., and the latitude 38° 20' S.

We are not without valuable independent evidence that, for some time after their return, both explorers believed they had struck the coast at Western Port, and that it was only on the account of their journey being compared with other descriptions of the southern coast, either of them, or more probably some critics at Sydney, first suggested, that it was Port Phillip at which they had arrived. Had Hume been of that opinion at the time referred to, the fact would have been too remarkable to have escaped mention in the following letter written to Mr. Sec. Hay by Lieut. Stirling, who seems to have recently arrived from New South Wales. It bears date Pirbright Lodge, near Guildford, December 30th, 1826:—

"MY DEAR SIR,—I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 26th inst. to-day, and have now the honour to reply to it.

"The circumstances of the expedition to which you therein allude were, to the best of my recollection, as follows:—About the month of June of last year, two respectable settlers (Mr. Hovell, formerly the commander of a merchant ship, and Mr. Hume, lately settled in the Colony) waited upon Sir Thomas Brisbane to announce their intention of exploring their way from the county of Argyle in a direction S.S.W., so as at 4-500 miles to intersect the southern coast of New South Wales; and that they were willing to take all expenses upon themselves. Having received the Governor's sanction, they set out, taking with them provisions for six weeks, pack-horses, and servants. In the course of their march they appear to have met few adventures except the difficulties they encountered in crossing some high ridges of mountains and difficult streams of water, one of which so much bore the appearance of a large river that they determined to follow its course in a southerly direction. After some days' journey this brought them to the coast, where the river debouched into a small bay. Captain Ho veil, having kept an accurate journal of each day's course and distance, connected by occasional observations for the latitude, found this bay to agree with the Western Port as marked on the chart.

"On their return home another route was taken to verify their preceding remarks on the nature of the soil and productions, the general aspect of which resembled much the country to the westward of the Blue Mountains in the neighbourhood of Bathurst, being intersected with beautiful streams of water, and a soil admirably adapted to the purposes of grazing, with occasional patches rich enough for any cultivation. The mean temperature appeared to them below the average of the latitude; this not only on account of the general elevation of the country they traversed, but seemed to be affected by a chain of mountains which ran parallel to their course, which they describe as covered with snow. This last fact is rather questioned, as quartz mountains assume that white brilliant appearance when reflected by the sun,—a matter that may seem trifling to those who live in colder climates, but of great importance to those who are likely to become residents there. Another doubt has arisen to their statement, which is, that as Western Port was surveyed as far back as Governor King's time, and reported to have no river falling into it from the interior, that the part of the coast they describe does not agree with the former accounts. Their story, in all other respects, seems to be perfectly consistent and satisfactory.

"The benefits resulting from the discovery must be obvious in holding out the prospect that many millions of acres extend in that direction of New Holland, communicating with the sea by a river supposed to be navigable and situated in a climate most congenial to the European constitution.

"Till lately it was always deemed conclusive that the whole of the south coast of New South Wales could never be appropriated to colonization, and every succeeding survey of that coast, since the time of Captain Flinders, has tended to strengthen that opinion, which supposition has been removed by the journeys of Messrs Hovell and Hume.

"I beg to add that I intend to be in town shortly, when I shall have the pleasure of waiting upon you and affording any further information on this subject you may think fit to require; in the meantime,

"I have the honour to be,
"My dear sir,
                     "Very faithfully yours,

(Signed)            "R. STIRLING."   

In 1855 Hume published in Sydney, "A Brief Statement of Facts",*** in which are recorded the circumstances connected with the inception of the expedition. The Governor wished Hume and party to be landed near Cape Howe or Wilson's Promontory, and to travel overland; but, on the explorer refusing to take this route, it was arranged that the journey should be altogether performed by land. Three of the men, Thomas Boyd, William Bollard, and Thomas Smith, were Hovell's servants, and Claude Bossawa, Henry Angel, and James Fitzpatrick, Hume's. Boyd was the man who swam the Murrumbidgee with him, when they carried the line across in their teeth. The pamphlet is, for the most part, devoted to the unhappy differences between the leaders of the expedition; but, as these affect the main facts of the journey only in one particular, it is better that they should be allowed to slumber.

[*** The full title is "A Brief Statement of Facts in Connexion with an Overland Expedition from Lake George to Port Phillip in 1824. By Hamilton Hume. Edited by the Rev. Wm. Ross, Goulburn."]

On the question whether the explorers believed, at the time, that they had reached Port Phillip or Western Port, Hume says,—

"On the 16th December, at four o'clock in the afternoon, we made Port Phillip, ten or twelve miles to the eastward of Geelong. We camped that night near the beach without water.

"On 17th December we reached the spot where the flourishing town of Geelong now stands, encamping on the left bank of Kennedy's Creek."

Further on Hume says,—

"On our making the coast, Mr. Hovell's decided impression was that we had reached Western Port, while my conviction was that we had made Port Phillip, for during our journey out, on the 14th December, when we sighted Willaumanater, bearing forty or fifty miles S.W., I then made direct for it, believing it to be, as it afterwards proved, the 'Station Peak' of Flinders.

"This singular mountain, as also 'Arthur's Seat', at Western Port, had often been described to me by Mr. Surveyor Meehan, who had been along that coast with Surveyor-General Grimes many years before. He also told me that there were islands in Western Port, but none in Port Phillip. I drew my inferences from this information, and it proved correct."

Quoting Dr. Lang's "Phillip Land," where it is stated that the explorers "reached the western arm of Port Phillip, which they mistook for Western Port," Hume appends the note, "I did not."

The author must confess his inability to reconcile these statements with Hume's letter of January 24th, 1825, to Governor Brisbane.

In the same year, 1855, Hovell published a "Reply to a Brief Statement of Facts," &c., in which he sets out a letter to the Governor, dated July 28th, 1824, respecting the preparations for the expedition. He urges the fact that to this document his signature is appended first, and Hume's second, in support of the contention that the latter had acquiesced in his precedence.

Hovell also says,—

"The only authentic narrative of the expedition of Mr. Hume and myself, was first published in January, 1831, and a second edition, with alterations and amendments, was published in 1837. This narrative was compiled by Dr. Bland, almost exclusively from my field-book, which was kept by me regularly day by day, and in which is noted down every occurrence worthy of mention which befell us in our expedition."

He further contends that, the Government having given so little aid to the expedition, it was really a private enterprise to which he contributed equally with Hume, and was therefore entitled to, and as a matter of fact occupied, a position of equality in its leadership. Four of the men—Boyd, Bossawa, Angel, and Fitzpatrick—are stated, however, to have been Hume's, Ho veil only claiming Samuel Bollard and Benjamin Smith as his own. He says, "Mr. Hume had two horses, cart, and one bullock, while I had four bullocks, cart, and one horse. Each of us supplied an equal stock of provisions, and the men had slop suits allotted to them by the Government." He alleges that it was he, not his comrade, who named the River Hume,

Hovell further states that—

"On the 16th December we made the place, where Mr. Hume says the town of Geelong now stands. This is not the case, it was what is called the Bird Rock Point, some 10 or 12 miles from Geelong."

As to the bay reached, Hovell says,—

"When we made the sea coast we both believed we had arrived at the district of Western Port. We had been travelling for that purpose, and whether we were right or wrong in our conception of the true geography of our location, is a matter of no importance; in fact we neither of us could know whether it was Western Port or Port Phillip, and that Mr. Hume ever intimated in any way that we were in Port Phillip is a fiction of his own fancy."

Hovell, although he seems to have clung for some time longer than Hume to the opinion that they had been to Western Port, appears to have adopted the more correct conclusion on visiting that place with the expedition sent to establish a settlement there at the close of 1826. In a letter to Mr. Hay of July 9th, 1833, Governor Darling states that the object of attaching Hovell to the party was "to ascertain whether on the expedition Mr. Hume and himself had come on the coast at Port Phillip or at Western Port"; and in a long report to Governor Darling, dated Western Port, March 27th, 1827, Hovell says, having "kept along the shore and crossed Snapper River . . . . I set forward with my party N.W. by W. for Port Phillip, where we arrived on the second day. Continued along the sea coast till near the head of the Bay, and having ascertained the spot which terminated the journey of Mr. Hume and myself, returned, keeping a course about the centre of the ridge which separates Western Port from Port Phillip."

This is by no means clear; but it seems most improbable that Hovell should have gone as far as the Yarra without mentioning that stream in his report, in which he describes the principal features of the country. He must, therefore, have either been in error in supposing he had ascertained the point reached by Hume and himself, or, what seems impossible, they must have crossed the Yarra some distance above Melbourne, and struck the coast not far from where Brighton now stands.

In a memorial for an additional grant of land, forwarded by Governor Darling in a despatch of April 24th, 1829, Hovell speaks of the expedition in 1824-5 as "a journey undertaken under the sanction of his Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane, across a tract of country deemed impracticable, to Port Phillip," Governor Darling says that Hume "was considered the principal in the expedition" of 1825. In a subsequent memorial on the same subject, dated January 31st, 1833, Hovell states that he and Hume "bent their course to Western Port, in Bass's Straits, the place where the late Governor Darling made a settlement since abandoned. That an account of their journey to Port Phillip which adjoins Western Port and back again. . . . is contained in a small printed pamphlet," a copy of which he refers to as forwarded with the memorial. The publication is not to be found among the documents in the Record Office, nor at the British Museum.

In a later memorial of February 1st, 1837, Hovell pledges his "reputation as an old settler and traveller, that the Port Phillip country, when put up to sale by public competition, will add to the Colonial revenue at least one million sterling."

The following extracts are taken from a second edition of a pamphlet published in Sydney in 1837,* and kindly lent to the author by Mr. Michie, Agent-General for Victoria. The description of the coast reached is of course made as correct as possible, and, like the map previously referred to, leaves no doubt that the locality was Port Phillip, although the explorers may, on arriving at it, have taken it for Western Port.

[* Entitled "Journey of Discovery to Port Phillip, New South Wales, in 1824 and 25. By W. H, Hovell and H. Hume, Esquires."]

The "Journey" is in the form of a diary of the explorers, edited by Dr. Bland. The narrative is given in the third person. It thus begins:—

"Saturday, October 2, 1824.—Messrs. Hovell and Hume, having met, as it lay in their route, at Mr. Hume's, commenced their journey from Appin, in the County of Cumberland, accompanied by six men, a couple of carts, containing their supplies, drawn by four bullocks—and two horses together, with one spare horse and a spare bullock; each of the men, as well as themselves, was provided either with a musket or fowling-piece.** At seven they stop for the night, opposite to a point of land called Bird's-eye Corner, on the Cowpasture, or Nepean, river.

[** In the appendix an inventory of equipment is given. "The supplies were as follows:—Seven pack-saddles, one riding-saddle, eight stand of arms, six pounds of gunpowder, sixty rounds of hall cartridge, six suits of slops and six blankets for the men, two tarpaulins, one tent, made of coarse Colonial woollen cloth, twelve hundred pounds of flour, three hundred and fifty pounds of pork, one hundred and seventy pounds of sugar, thirty-eight pounds of tea and coffee, eight pounds of tobacco for the men, sixteen pounds of soap, twenty pounds of salt, cooking utensils, one false horizon, one sextant, three pocket compasses, and one perambulator; exclusive of Messrs. Hume and Hovell's own personal clothes and bedding, the latter consisting, like that of the men, of a blanket only. Six of the pack-saddles, the slops and blankets for the men, with six of the muskets and the ball cartridges, tent, and tarpaulin, were liberally furnished by the Government; and of which the muskets only, the other articles having become destroyed or worn out in the course of the journey, were returned."]

*     *     *     *     *

"Wednesday, October 13.—Arrive at Mr. Hume's station. Distance from Bird's-eye Corner one hundred and twenty-three miles and a half, W.S.W." On the 14th they visit Lake George, "to ascertain the bearings and distance of the lake from Mr. Hume's station: the latitude of which is, by account, 34° 48' S., and by double altitude, 34° 51'. The Longitude by account 149° 21' E." The lake was "distant from Mr. Hume's station about twelve miles."

Their final start into the unknown regions is thus recorded:—

"Sunday, October 17th.—Leave Mr. Hume's station (the last which is occupied by the Colonists) without a guide; travel twelve miles, S. 60' W."

On the 18th they proceed towards Yass, over a range, one of the elevations of which they name Mount Lookout, and ford the Gondorroo branch of the Murrumbidgee. Next day they pass ten miles to the south of Mount Brisbane, which they named the day before, and crossing "Yarrh, Yass, or M'Dougall's Plains," at three, reach the Murrumbidgee, which "is so swollen by the late rains, that it appears utterly impassable, and it is evidently rising." It "is from thirty to forty yards in breadth, the water in most places level with the top of the banks. The rate of the current at the place where they are to cross, between five and six miles an hour."

Having halted during the 20th and 21st, the journal records:—

"Friday, October 22.—No reduction of the waters, nor apparent probability of any for the present. It is determined, therefore, to make the attempt without further delay—and whatever the risk of crossing the river: an operation which is literally no sooner determined on than effected. The body of a cart being substituted for a punt or boat and the end of the tow-rope having been conveyed across the river, in the course of four or five hours the whole of the supplies, including the second cart, is landed, without loss or injury, on the left bank of the Murrumbidgee. The horses and bullocks are now conducted separately across the stream, though not without considerable risk, by means of the tow-rope, and by five o'clock. The weather during the early part of the day, showery; towards evening, squalls, with heavy rain, at intervals."

In a note to the above entry the details of the crossing are more fully described. The green timber not being sufficiently buoyant, and it not being the season of the year at which bark could be peeled off the trees, a raft or boat could not be made. One was, however, improvised out of one of the carts which was stripped of its axle, wheels and shafts and covered with a tarpaulin. "The next step," to give the words of the graphic description, "was to convey the end of a stout rope to the opposite bank, for the purpose of plying their boat backwards and forwards across the stream; to effect which object, Mr. Hume with one of the men, undertook the dangerous enterprise of swimming across the river, taking with them a small line, of about six feet long, which they carried between their teeth; and to the bite or middle of which was attached a line of a similar description, but of sufficient length to reach across the stream. This was not done without great difficulty and some danger, both from the rapidity of the torrent, and the great pressure of the water on a length of line so considerable; the weight of the latter not only retarding the progress of the swimmers, but at times dragging them almost under the water, so that they were swept down the river a considerable distance ere they could reach the opposite bank. One of the ends of their intended tow-rope was now conveyed across the river by means of the line, and by ten o'clock, everything being in readiness, and the boat, carrying not less than six or seven cwt., made its first trip. The bullocks and horses were then conducted across separately, some of the bullocks being in a state of almost complete submersion during the operation, and one of them becoming turned upon its back and continuing in this position a considerable part of the passage. These difficulties were attributable partly to the cattle not being accustomed to swimming, and partly to the dangerous rapidity of the stream; which, with the roughness of the weather, and the unusual coldness of the water, contributed to render this undertaking, to the swimmers at least, not less unpleasant than it was evidently hazardous."

After crossing the river their route for some time lay through very mountainous country, so much so that on the 26th they were obliged to leave the carts behind, and experienced considerable difficulty in getting their cattle along.

November 3rd they cross a river, which they call the Medway, after searching for a suitable ford, which is found at a place where the stream is 150 feet wide. The explorers highly commend the superiority of bullocks over horses in travelling over this mountainous country.

On November 8th "their progress on the banks" of the stream they were following "is arrested by the mountainous range forming the southern barrier of the valley, and which, on each side of it, rises precipitously out of the stream. Messrs Hovell and Hume, having ascended close to the stream with some difficulty, about half the height of this range, in order to be the better enabled to decide as to their future operations, were suddenly surprised by a sight to the utmost degree magnificent Mountains, of a conoidal form, and of an apparently immense height, and some of them covered about one-fourth of their height, with snow, were now seen extending semicircularly from the S.E. to S.S.W. at the supposed distance of about twenty miles. The sun was bright (it was about ten or eleven in the forenoon), and gave them an appearance the most brilliant. The mountains which they had hitherto seen, compared with these stupendous elevations, were no more than hillocks, from which, also their form, as well as their other general characters rendered them not dissimilar. The men had no sooner heard of this unexpected and interesting scene than, catching the enthusiasm, they ran to the spot where the travellers were standing, and were not less than themselves surprised and delighted at this pre-eminently grand and beautiful spectacle." In a note it is said that these are evidently part of the "mountains that were seen by Major Ovens and Captain Currie R.N. in their expedition to Menéroo in 1823." They are called the South Australian Alps, "in contradistinction", as a note explains, "to the Australian Alps, some mountains discovered about this period, in the vicinity of Moreton Bay." The character of country between them and these mountains leads the explorers to proceed fifty or sixty miles to the west.

November 13th "they come into sight of a mount, bearing S. by W. half W. distant about four miles, which, from its very peculiar appearance, they name Battery Mount."

"Tuesday, November 16th.—Soon after sunrise they recommenced their journey, and having proceeded three miles and a half S. (the land gradually sloping as they advanced), arrive suddenly on the banks of a fine river. This was named 'The Hume.'" A note says, "Mr. Hume having first discovered it"; and the explorers "had anticipated the early appearance of a river in this direction, from the opinion that the large bodies of water of late continually met with, though all pursuing a southerly, or even easterly course, would, from the apparently impenetrable barrier presented towards the east by the South Australian Alps, ere long revert to the westward, and thus become distributed to the interior." "The beautiful stream", so proceeds the description, "is found to be not less than eighty yards in breadth, apparently of considerable depth; the current about three miles an hour; the water for so considerable a current clear.

"The river itself is serpentine, the banks clothed with verdure to the water's edge; their general heights various, but seldom either more or less than eight or nine feet; inclined or precipitous as they happen, by the bendings of the stream, to be more or less exposed to the action of the current. On each side of the river is a perpetual succession of lagoons, extending generally in length from one to two miles, and about a quarter of a mile in breadth. These, which are situate alternately on each side of the river, within those elbows and projections which are formed by its windings, often for miles together, preclude any approach to its banks." Thus was the Murray first seen and described.

"Unable to devise any means of crossing the river, and in hope of discovering some practicable ford, they now commence their progress (west) down the stream"; but without success. Next day, 17th, Hovell and Hume with two men proceed seven miles further down, but are only able twice to approach the river for the lagoons. They return to their starting-point, and on the 18th proceed seven miles up the stream, to the point where they first discovered it, beyond which they go about three miles. On the 19th "they resume their route up the river (E.)", and proceed through a very good country. "About six miles from the place of their starting this morning, they observe a small ait or islet of rock, lying nearly in the middle of the river; this is composed of a coarse granite, and lies in perpendicular ridges, N.E. and S.W. Four miles east from this spot, at the foot of a high forest range, the stream suddenly narrows, and is in some places reduced to the breadth of little more than forty yards. This was attributed to their probable advance beyond the junction of some important branch, that might have been passed unnoticed, considering the distance from the river at which they were frequently compelled to travel. Here, having determined on making the attempt to cross at this spot, they halt for the night.

"Saturday, November 20.—Weather fine; this morning they cross the river: this they effect by means of a temporary boat, hastily constructed (of wicker, covered with tarpauling) for the occasion, and by four in the afternoon, everything, including the cattle, had been landed on the opposite bank."

Thus was the Murray first crossed, and Victoria once more trodden by the feet of white men.

On Sunday, November 21, they start at an unusually early hour, "when, having travelled one mile and a half (four from the last stream) among the usual series of lagoon and swamp and creek, they arrive on the banks of a sixth river. The breadth of this, at the water's edge, was one hundred and ten feet, and the current as strong as that of the former stream, but not so deep—the cattle, therefore, crossed with little difficulty, though it was necessary to construct a boat for the supplies. By noon, they had passed the river, when, after extricating themselves from the usual series of creek, lagoon, and swamp, they resume their route." Four or five miles further on they arrive at the banks of another river "similar in size and other respects to the former." On the 22nd they cross it, "availing themselves of an immense tree that lay extended from bank to bank, and which, with a rope stretched along it as a hand-rope, formed a tolerably good bridge. . . . By half-past eight they had completed the passage of the river."

On Wednesday, November 24th, "they arrive at the north or right bank of another (the eighth) river "which they name "the 'Ovens', after the deceased Major Ovens, the late Governor, Sir Thomas Brisbane's Private Secretary." It is crossed without difficulty. On the same day, they observe one of the snow-capped Alpine mountains about twenty miles S.E., and call a singularly-formed mountain near to them, from its shape, Mount Buffalo. On the 26th they cross Oxley's Creek. From a high hill, which they name Mount Bellevue, they observe an extensive plain bearing N. 10° W., which they call "after Mr. Alexander Berry of Sydney, one of the most zealous advisers of the journey, 'Berry's Plains.'"

On December 3rd they reach a river which they name "the Hovell". A note explains, "Originally the Goulburn, after the late Colonial Secretary. But as there was, though unknown at the time to Messrs. Hume and Hovell, another stream named after that gentleman, to prevent confusion this river was subsequently named by Mr. Hume as above." Its banks were "at least twelve feet in height, and perpendicular," and it "has appended to it the usual series of creeks and lagoons." They complete the passage of the Hovell on the 4th, having had to swim the cattle across. They name two hills near the crossing-place Mount Thorsby and Mount Meehan. Seven miles from the Hovell, they discover the "Muddy Creek," and report that "a finer country for sheep cannot exist than that in the vicinity of the Hovell."

The King-Parrot Creek is discovered December 7th, and they soon get into the mountainous and wooded country, which compelled them to alter their course after endeavouring to penetrate it. On the 9th they ascend Mount Disappointment. The country from Muddy Creek up to Mount Disappointment they name after the "late Attorney-General, Bannister's Forest." They direct their course on the 12th towards "a very remarkable forest hill", which they call Mount Piper, and stop for the night on the banks of Sunday Creek.

Next day they follow it up for seven miles, "when meeting a practical ford they cross it." One range traversed they call the Jullian; it appeared to divide the waters running north towards the Hovell from those taking a southward direction towards the sea. From Bland's Mount, "a high insulated hill, a view is obtained of several extensive plains, reaching from west to south-east, separated from each other by patches of forest land." "Wherever the land in these plains rises a little above the general level, it is stony," and "thinly scattered over with honeysuckle". They ascend a hill which they call Mount Hodomoter, because at it their perambulator was broken to pieces. Here "alternate plains and forests are seen extending to the utmost verge of the horizon, and from N.N.E. to S.E. part of the Alpine Chain; while towards the South the land gradually dips. Nothing could surpass the beauty of this view." They experience want of water till halting in the evening at Relief Creek. On the 15th they discover two or three creeks, one called Broughton Creek, after which "they travel about twenty miles along a continued plain (on which there was scarcely a tree) when they arrive on the banks of another creek or river, considerably larger than even the first."

Next morning, December 16th, Thursday, they cross the river or creek without difficulty, Hume naming it "the Arndell, after the late Dr. Arndell, the father of Mrs. Hovell. They now proceed S.W. by S. through the plains about six miles, when they are struck with an appearance, respecting which they cannot decide whether it is that of burning grass or of distant water. They now therefore having altered their course to south, at four o'clock, have the gratification satisfactorily to determine, that the appearance which has just created so much doubt, is that of the latter object; and which, leaving the river a short distance, and directing their march from S.W. to S.S.W., they soon ascertain to be part of the sea—the so long and ardently desired bourn of their labours. They now again alter their course to south-west, and travel six miles in that direction along the shore, over excellent land, but clear of timber." "Several flocks of emus and wild turkeys" were seen, but seldom kangaroo; "the water near the shore was covered with wild fowl", from which they "procured an ample supply of black swans and ducks. They stopped for the night at seven o'clock in a small wood about a mile from the beach, but where there was no fresh water, having travelled to-day, they supposed, upwards of twenty miles."

On the 17th, "they proceed this morning from the beach, in a direction about N.N.W. three or four miles in quest of water, when they arrive on the banks of a creek, where they had the good fortune to find abundance, both of good water and of grass." A note says of the creek, "Or at present a chain of ponds, commencing at Mount Woolstonecroft; and terminating after a course of seven or eight miles in the sea. This they name 'Kennedy's Creek.'"

The following note is given further on to illustrate native names—Mount Woolstonecroft is identified with Vilaminarter or Station Peak—"The name of the bay Geelong: Mount Wollstoncroft, Woolloomanata; the Downs extending to the Beach Iraumoo" &c. During the day they met with some of the natives, who, showing themselves disposed to be aggressive, Messrs. Hume and Hovell abandoned their intention of leaving their party to ride over the country to the westward.

"The harbour, or bay, consists of an immense sheet of water, its greatest length extending east and west, with land which had the appearance of an island, to the southward, lying across its mouth, but which, in fact, is a peninsula with a very low isthmus connecting it to the western shore."

As to the peculiar features of the country,—the explorers make some remarks respecting the deficiency of timber for building, and the ridges of stones on the plains.

"Saturday, December 18.—This morning they commence their return, keeping between two and three miles to the south-east of their outward route; at four, having travelled about fifteen miles, they halt on the banks of a large creek taking its rise in Mount Wollstonecroft."

A note informs us that, before starting, they "took down the following bearings, from the extremity of a low neck of land extending a considerable distance into the bay, on the left side of the entrance into the creek, viz., a low isthmus south by east, distant about fifteen miles. A bold bluff bank, part of the peninsula, forming the southern border of Port Phillip, distant about ten or twelve miles South East. High land, distant between twenty and thirty miles S. 45' W., 'Mount M'Intosh', named after our late barrack-master, N. 76' E.; and 'Mount Campbell', after the late Mr. W, Campbell, of Harrington Park, N. 85' E., distant between thirty and forty miles; 'Mount Wollstonecroft', named after the late Mr. E. Wollstonecroft, of Sydney, N. 25' W. seven miles; 'Mount Berry', named after Mr. Alexander Berry, north-west fifteen miles; and finally, the Jullian Range, extending in the form of a crescent, from north-east to north-west, distant at its nearest point, about seventeen miles."

On the 19th "they re-cross the Arndell a short distance below the spot at which they first met with it"; and on the 20th cross Broughton's Creek, the banks of which "are in general, steep and lofty, in some places from 50 to 150 feet high"; next day cross Bland's Plains. On 22nd, "they re-cross the Jullian Range by the same pass by which they had entered the downs on the 13th." A note describes it as "Hume's Pass. This lies between two remarkable hills Mount Disappointment to the eastward, and another, named 'Mount Wentworth', after the late Mr. Wentworth, of Sydney, to the westward, about equadistant (ten or twelve miles) from each. The whole of their route, from Port Phillip thus far, has been over fine land, consisting of plains and downs, fit for every purpose of grazing and agriculture."

The 24th and Christmas Day are "spent on the banks of the Hovell, in order that they might avail themselves of the fine fish which abound in its waters, as well as refresh the cattle. . . . They obtained from a hill a fine view of the river, flowing from the north-east through a gap in a mountain range, distant about eight or ten miles, when, after making a considerable curve to the west, it eventually turned to the north-west."

On the last day of 1824, "just before sunset they cross the Ovens," and January 2nd, 1825, "that branch of the Hume which they had first passed on the 22nd of November"; on the 3rd "that branch of this river which they first met with on the 21st November. The Hume, as well as this tributary stream, was now so low that they were both easily fordable—their waters not exceeding, at their respective fords, three or four feet in depth."

They now hastened forward as rapidly as the exhausted condition of their beasts, and the reduced quantity of their supplies would permit. On New Year's Day it is stated, in a note, that "except a couple of kangaroos and a few chance fish, animal food of any description they had not tasted since the 25th of last month."

On the 16th January "Hume and Hovell with two men hurry onwards to the carts which they had left with part of their supplies on the 26th October," which they found precisely as they had left them.

January 18th, 1825, "they arrive in safety at Mr. Hume's station, near Lake George, from which they had taken their departure on their outward journey, the 17th October," having performed their journey "within the short period of sixteen weeks.

"From this place they despatch the necessary supplies for the men whom they left behind them on the 16th, and on the 24th each of them arrives at his respective home."



Reason for making settlement—Correspondence between Governor Darling and Colonial Office—Designs of the French apprehended—Letters of Captains Wetherall and Wright—Their description of Western Port and the settlement—Governor Darling's unfavourable opinion of place—Hovell's explorations and report—Governor Darling assigns latter as reason for recalling expedition—Different view taken at Colonial Office—Settlement abandoned notwithstanding.

IN December, 1826, a second attempt was made to found a settlement on the soil of Victoria, at the same time that the expedition was despatched from Sydney to establish one at King George's Sound; and for the same reason. It was thought that the French entertained designs of colonizing Western Port and the West Coast of Australia; and the British Government, with a vigilance which history will commend, determined if possible to prevent Australia from being divided among different races, and the security of the British communities planted in that country from being impaired by the presence of neighbours who might prove undesirable. Had such a wise policy been more recently followed, some positions of importance to the Empire would not have been allowed to slip out of our hands, and others would not now remain open for foreign nations to occupy. It must for ever be remembered to the credit of Lord John—now Earl—Russell, that he was the minister who finally asserted the British claim to the whole of Australia; for, on being asked by the French Government what portions of the Island-Continent Great Britain claimed, his answer was—the whole.

It was through the desire of the Colonial Office to adopt wise precautions against foreign intrusion, that the short-lived settlement of 1826-27 had its origin at Western Port.*

[* All the documents quoted in this Chapter exist in the Record Office.]

In a letter to Lord Bathurst, of October 10th, 1826, Governor Darling, referring to his lordship's despatches, "dated in March last, with respect to establishing settlements at Western Port and Shark's Bay, or King George's Sound," says,—

"I shall not fail to carry into effect, with the least possible delay, the instructions which your lordship has been pleased to honour me with.

"Conceiving Western Point as first claiming attention, I applied to Mr. Oxley, the Surveyor-General, for any information, it might be in his power to furnish with respect to it and your lordship will perceive by the accompanying statement, that as far as he can depend upon his recollection, Western Port does not hold out any of those advantages which under ordinary circumstances would induce a settlement at that place. I have also seen Messrs. Hume and Hovell, the persons who explored the country from hence to Western Port, alluded to in your lordship's despatch No. 16; and I do myself the honour of enclosing for your lordship's information, a copy of a letter which Mr. Hume addressed to Sir Thomas Brisbane on his return. It does not however appear that any information was afforded, respecting the Port or its eligibility as a settlement. I shall notwithstanding, send a small expedition under Captain Wright of the Buffs, an officer who appears to be well qualified for a service of this nature; and as Captain Wetherall, of His Majesty's Ship Fly, has very readily offered to proceed with his ship and give every assistance which he can afford in establishing the settlement."

After explaining why Mr. Oxley does not accompany the expedition, the letter proceeds,—

"But I have accepted the offer of Mr. Hovell's services, who is sanguine in the realization of the expectations which he has formed of Western Port.

"I have only further to state to your lordship, that I propose equipping the Government Brig Amity, to convey the stores and persons to be employed, and that I calculate on the Expedition being ready to proceed in the course of a fortnight or three weeks at the utmost.

"Unfavourable as the prospect is, as to Western Port being likely to become of importance as a place of trade, an idea which is very generally entertained, and which, as is extremely desirable, the projected expedition will confirm or correct, I am very apprehensive King George's Sound will be found totally unfit for the purposes even of a Penal Settlement."

*     *     *     *     *

The copy of Oxley's statement, sent with the despatch of October 10th, 1826, is called "Substance of a Report delivered to the late Governor King in January 1805 on Western Port," and corresponds with that referred to in a previous chapter. It begins by mentioning that Western Port was discovered by Bass in 1798, examined and surveyed by Captain Grant and Mr. Barrallier in 1801, and that the northern shore was examined by Captain Tuckey in 1804. Oxley concludes by remarking that this imperfect account was, to the best of his recollection, the substance of the previous one given by him to Governor King. He observes that he had not since "had any opportunity to correct or verify the impressions made on my mind by the observation I was then enabled to make, and which as respecting the eligibility of Western Port for a settlement might in some slight degree be influenced by the situation of the parent Colony at the period, which did not admit of the establishment of distant settlements, unless the natural advantages they presented more than counterbalanced any consideration of the expense attendant on the first formation of our uninterrupted intercourse with head-quarters.

"(Signed)         J. Oxley, S. General.   

"Sydney, October 9th, 1826."

On October 9th, 1826, Governor Darling wrote thus to Mr. R.W. Hay:—

"In acknowledging Earl Bathurst's private letter of the 1st March, on the subject of the New Settlements to be established, as connected with the expected arrival of the French discovery ships, I beg yon will assure his lordship, that every attention shall be paid to the suggestions contained in his letter, in any communication which may take place with the officers in command, respecting the supposed object of their voyage. I take the liberty at the same time to observe, that so long as my Commission limits the western boundary of this government to the 129° of East Longitude, it will not be easy to satisfy the French, if they are desirous of establishing themselves here, that there is any valid objection to their doing so on the Western Coast; and I therefore beg to suggest, that this difficulty would be removed by substituting a Commission for that which I at present hold, describing the whole Territory, as within the government. If this should be adopted, it will be desirable that the Commission should be forwarded without loss of time. . . ."

A despatch of November 24th, 1826, from Governor Darling to Earl Bathurst, states that—

"His Majesty's Ship Fly, with the Colonial Brigs Amity and Dragon, sailed on the 9th of last month for Western Port and King George's Sound.

"The expedition for each of these places, consisted of two officers and 18 rank and file, with 20 convicts who have been sent for the purpose of assisting in establishing the settlements. Six months' provisions for the use of the troops and prisoners, after their landing, were embarked, with a proportion of other necessary stores and supplies."

The letter is accompanied by copies of the instructions to Major Lockyer, of the King George's Sound expedition, and Captain Wright of that to Western Port. These are both dated November 4th; so that it would appear that the statement of the despatch, that the parties had sailed "the 9th of last month," is an obvious error, as will also be seen by the Governor's letter of December 4th, in which he speaks to Mr. Hay of the departure having taken place "on the 9th of last month—" clearly November. The instructions are of the ordinary kind, as to the selection of sites for settlements, taking formal possession, provisions, natives, communication with head-quarters, &c. Other instructions of the same date were given to the chiefs of both expeditions. Those to Captain Wright are as follows:—

"As the French discovery ships which are understood to have been preparing for these seas, may possibly have in view the establishing a settlement on some part of the Coast of this Territory, which has not yet been colonized by us, I think it necessary to apprize you confidentially of what may possibly be their object; and I am to desire, in the event of their touching at Western Point, that you will be careful to regulate your language and communications with the officers, so as to avoid any expression of doubt of the whole of New Holland, being considered within this Government, any division of it, which may be supposed to exist, under the designation of New South Wales, being merely ideal, and intended only with a view of distinguishing the more settled part of the country.

"Should this explanation not prove satisfactory, it will be proper in that case, to refer them to this Government, for any further information they may require. But should it so happen, that the French have already arrived, you will, notwithstanding, land the troops, agreeably to your instructions, and signify, that their continuance with any view to establishing themselves or colonization would be considered an unjustifiable intrusion on His Britannic Majesty's Possessions, and you will warn them immediately to desist from any such attempt, as their perseverance must be attended with unpleasant consequences and might interrupt that harmony which it is so desirable should be preserved inviolate between the two countries.

"You will of course, in either of the events pointed out, inform me immediately of the result of your communications."

In his despatch of November 24th, transmitting the above to Earl Bathurst, the Governor says,—

"Your lordship will observe the explanation which I directed might be given, should any information be necessary with respect to the Western Boundary of this Government; though, the published maps are marked through the centre from the North to the South, and my commission adopts that line as the Western Boundary, it would be difficult to contend or to satisfy any nation desirous of making a settlement on the Western Coast, that we have an indisputable right to the sovereignty of the whole Territory.

"I therefore beg to repeat the suggestions contained in my private letter to Mr. Hay, dated the 9th October, that I may receive a Commission, describing the whole territory as within this Government.

"If generally known that we had actually assumed the sovereignty and were proceeding to settle the Western Coast, it might possibly tend to prevent the interference of any Foreign Power and might set the matter at rest."

In a despatch of December 4th, 1826, to Mr. Hay, Governor Darling says,—

"The expeditions for Western Port and King George's Sound sailed hence the 9th last month, and the French Corvette, L'Astrolabe, discovery ship, arrived here on the 2nd inst. I find she touched on her way out, both at King George's Sound and Western Port, having remained six days at the latter; but Captain D'Urville would lead me to believe that the object of his Expedition is solely for the purposes of science. He has applied to me for Stores, which will be supplied, and for assistance in refitting his ship. He has intimated his intention, as soon as this is accomplished, of proceeding to New Zealand; and I should not be surprised to find that the French have some intention of establishing themselves there, from the wish he affected to express, that we had, or surprise that we had not, made a settlement at those Islands. It is perhaps a fortunate event, that he has found His Majesty's ships Warspite, Success and Volage lying here, knowing at the same time that the Fly has sailed with the Expedition to the Southward, as he may in consequence, be more circumspect in his proceedings, than he otherwise would have been."

In the "Sydney Monitor" of December 15th, 1826, is the following:—

"The description of Western Port and its localities, given by some men who have been brought from thence by the Corvette L'Astrolabe, is extremely interesting. These men had been left there by a sealing vessel about ten months since, for the purpose of prosecuting the ostensible object of their voyage, but the master of the vessel never returned for them,—destitute of provisions other than what Nature in her wildest state afforded them, they were on terms of friendly intimacy with the natives, whom they represent to have been amiable in their dispositions, and their outward appearance prepossessing; as are the natives of the interior generally and for the most part much stouter than those about Sydney, Liverpool &c. In height they do not differ greatly, but are on the whole a fine muscular and well proportioned race of men, itinerant in their habits as usual, and dependant solely on uncultivated nature. The soil is represented as good; the timber was not so thick as in these parts, and a gentle undulation of hill and dale extends for several miles from the coast. A fine and capacious Harbour, with abundant springs, are the leading features which it should appear characterize the site of the intended Settlement."

Governor Darling writes to Lord Bathurst, February 4th, 1827, informing him of the return of H.M.'s ship Fly, and the brig Dragon from Western Port, where a settlement was established on the 12th December, two miles to the eastward of Red Point, which is situated on the eastern shore of the port. With the despatch the Governor transmits copies of the reports "received from Captain Wetherall of the Fly and Captain Wright of the Buffs, containing details of their respective proceedings and observations with sketches of Western Port as referred to in their respective reports."

The following copy of Captain Wetherall's despatch to Governor Darling accompanies that of the latter to the Secretary of State. It is headed "His Majesty's Ship Fly Western Port (Bass's Straits) December 27th, 1826."

"SIR,—The Dragon being on the point of sailing for Sydney, I do myself the honor of reporting, for your Excellency's information, my arrival at this Port, which, in consequence of adverse winds and tempestuous weather, did not take place till the 24th of November.

"We parted company with the Amity off Kent's Group on the 19th during a heavy gale of wind from the westward; and I fear her passage to King George's Sound will be tedious as we have had the wind from that quarter, with little variation, ever since our arrival.

"The Dragon in consequence of her bad sailing, parted company two days after our leaving Sydney, and took shelter in Twofold Bay, and under Wilson's Promontory, during the westerly gales, by which means the horses and Government stock suffered little and were landed here in good condition.

"I found here a party of sealers from Port Dalrymple, whose names with that of the Boat in their possession I have the honor to enclose. They have been living on Phillip Island near the entrance of the harbour and have two acres of wheat and some maize growing and looking well. They state that Coal is found in great abundance on the Southern Coast of the island, but from the general information given by them proving incorrect, I have doubts on this important point; but your Excellency may rest assured that no exertion on my part shall be wanting to ascertain the fact.

"I have the satisfaction of stating that the harbour is easy of access and has no hidden danger and no less than 7 fathoms of water in mid-channel to the anchorage which is safe and commodious with good holding ground, well sheltered from the wind and capable of containing any number of ships in the most perfect security. The tides are rapid and rise from 8 to 11 feet being influenced by the prevailing winds in the straits.

"It is my intention to erect a flagstaff on the flat topt rock off Point Grant marked A in the accompanying Chart (which I have sent that your Excellency may clearly understand the points referred to) to mark the entrance.

"Deeming the situation of the anchorage of great importance, I have cleared about four acres of the most commanding spot marked B, erected a flagstaff, landed two six-pounders from the ship, and took formal possession on the 3rd instant, by hoisting the Union Jack, and firing a Royal Salute from the Battery, which I have named Fort Dumaresq.

"Wood is in abundance, and water can be obtained from a tide-well in its vicinity, but not in sufficient quantities for the supply of shipping.

"The soil surrounding the fort is of the best description. I am cutting a road across the Island and digging wells as I proceed in the hope of finding water, or arriving on that point of the coast where the coal is said to be found.

"The Eastern entrance is narrow and intricate—a reef of rocks extending nearly half way across from Phillip Island and the opposite shore lined with heavy breakers. It is well adapted for a fishing station (should that part of commerce offer inducements for settlers of that description) and with the prevailing westerly winds, would afford egress to small vessels bound to the Eastward; but under any other circumstances would not be safe to attempt. There is abundance of fresh water on this part of the Island.

"The Mainland from hence to Bass's river is hilly, of moderate elevation, thinly timbered, soil rich, and well clothed with luxuriant grass, but from the broken nature of the ground fit only for grazing.

"Bass's River cannot be approached even by Boats at low water; owing to the extensive mud banks, which surround its entrance. It is extremely winding in its course, and salt for 5 or 6 miles up where it is joined by a fresh water rivulet, taking its rise from an adjoining swamp.

"The land on the right hand appears to be a salt water swamp interspersed with a few elevated patches of rich meadow and occasional rows of Tea tree. Salt water ponds are also numerous in this space which appears to extend to the foot of the range of hills running from the point of the mainland forming the Eastern entrance a distance of three or four miles. About three miles from the entrance on the left the land rises gradually and assumes the most beautiful appearance. The trees are dispersed in clamps over an extensive plain of rich meadows and I have every reason to think from the report of some of my officers who have made excursions in the direction of the settlement, that this fine tract of country extends to that point, occupying a space of at least 10,000 acres.

"The idea of forming the settlement here was abandoned in consequence of our finding no secure anchorage nearer than that marked B, the intervening space being occupied by extensive mud flats many of which are dry at low water; and although deep channels are found between them and the possibility of getting ships within a mile and a half of the entrance, would be attended with little danger, the situation would be insecure from being exposed in a westerly direction to an open space of sea for 18 miles; from which quarter the heavy gales of wind are experienced.

"The anchorage marked E near the settlement, where the Dragon remained during her stay here, is well sheltered and has good holding ground, the guns sent in her are mounted on the point C ** commanding its entrance, where a flagstaff is also erected. Nothing can surpass the beauty of the situation or fertility of the soil on which the settlement is formed. Water is plentiful, and by the judicious arrangements of Captain Wright the provisions and stores are all landed and housed. Tents and temporary huts are erected for the men and the more permanent ones in a state of forwardness. An excellent garden is made, and the seeds sown are above ground and looking well but I have no doubt Captain Wright will fully report to your Excellency on this subject.

[** Nearest projecting point to French Island.]

"As I shall do myself the honor on my return to Sydney of submitting to your Excellency a more minute description of this Port it is unnecessary at present to describe the Coast from the point marked D to Sandy Point on the Western Shore,*** further than to state, that it has been most minutely examined and offers no inducement for the formation of a Settlement, no safe anchorage being found, and all the Northern Coast consisting of a continued swamp from which four small rivers, with deep channels running with considerable velocity empty themselves into the harbour, but are rendered inaccessible except to Boats at ½ flood by the extensive shoals at their entrance. The situations I have marked in the Chart.

[*** That is the centre coast-line of the mainland round French Island.]

"A range of very high mountains appear to terminate in a northerly direction; these are what Messrs. Hume and Hovell call the Australian Alps, but from a very careful examination of the Northern Shores of this Harbour and the character of the country differing so materially from the account given by these gentlemen, I feel confident, that the expedition undertaken by them never could have reached Western Port.

"The Timber consists of the Gum, Apple, Mimosa, Tea tree and Honeysuckle, and excepting the latter is generally of an inferior quality, but Mr. Hovell states that at a short distance from the sea it is remarkably fine. He also mentions having discovered coal of the best description near Cape Paterson, which is situated a few miles to the Eastward, but no doubt your Excellency will receive a communication from that gentleman on the subject.

"Of the climate I have every reason to speak in terms of praise, not having had a man on the sick list since my arrival. The range of the Thermometer on board the ship has been from 64° to 82° attaining the latter height only during the hot northerly winds which we have twice experienced, and have in both cases been succeeded by strong Southerly squalls accompanied by severe thunder, lightning and rain. When the Thermometer has fallen to 67° the average height at Noon has been 75° and the Barometer 30.22 inches.

"The natives appear numerous but we have not been able to obtain an interview, as they desert their camp and run into the woods on our approach and watch our movements until we depart.

"As I am aware it is your Excellency's wish to conciliate them as much as possible I have not allowed them to be pursued or molested in any way.

"Kangaroos are in great abundance, herding together like deer. Black swans, ducks, and teal are also numerous. Fish are not abundant owing to the number of sharks, Dog fish, and stingray. The sorts generally caught are mullet, whiting, sword fish, and in one instance a large snapper. Gulls, Pelicans, Cranes and the other varieties of sea fowl frequent the shores and lagoons.

"We have killed a few brown snakes which are numerous. One of the soldiers was bitten by one, but from having the part immediately removed, he felt no inconvenience from it and has quite recovered.

"As my provisions will be nearly exhausted by the 20th of January, I hope to be at Sydney by that time bringing your Excellency such further information as my limited stay here, will enable me to obtain.

"I have the honor to remain
      "Your Excellency's

"Obedient humble servt.               
(Signed)         "F.A. WETHERALL."   

On January 24th, 1827, Captain Wetherall writes to the Governor from the Fly, Port Jackson, enclosing a report respecting Western Port, of which he says, "The information it contains is collected from the reports of the officers employed in that service and as I personally examined every part of its extensive shores, your Excellency may rest assured that no object, however trifling, has escaped observation."

The report is most minute; its extent, thirty-eight large, closely-written pages, precludes its insertion at length. Western Port has certainly had more investigations and reports bestowed upon it than any other part of the Colony. The principal facts, which this report treats more in detail, are, however, given in the letters of Wetherall and Wright. Referring to the landmarks of Western Port, it is observed that there "is a probability of mistaking Port Phillip for Western Port, which Captain Flinders actually did, and the consequences might be serious, as many sunken rocks lie at the entrance to the former. Our observations gave the latitude of the mid channel"—Eastern passage—"nearer the French account than the English, but as the altitude of the sun was too great for an artificial horizon with the sextant, there may possibly be some error arising from the estimation of the dip. We consider it as lying in 38° 35' South, and the Longitude to be 145° 8' East according to our Chronometer, which does not differ materially from the position assigned to it by Captain Flinders especially in Longitude the most essential."

The following extract from the report cannot, however, be omitted:—

"Having now concluded the remarks on the country and harbour, I shall advert to the primary object of the expedition, and its probable result, together with the principles which regulated my conduct, as far as the naval department was concerned.

"In locating a colony, there evidently requires some foresight and attention, in selecting the first site, as this must be considered the nucleus, from which improvement and civilization spread, and will remain for a time the centre of its trade and resources. Any subsequent removal, after the first difficulties are overcome, will give a severe shock to the whole, whatever prospective advantages it may hold forth, and press most heavily on those, who endured the hardships inseparable from a new settlement. Impressed with these ideas, every part of the harbour was twice most accurately examined, before a place was pitched upon for landing the settlers &c., and every contingent advantage weighed as far as it was left optional, which I regret to say was less frequent, than we expected. Four essential particulars appear to me required to coincide in an undertaking of this kind, where commerce is not the sole object in view, viz.—A soil capable of maintaining the inhabitants, on a place having free and open communication—with such, a safe and convenient anchorage,—water sufficient for the supply of the settlers, and their stock—and lastly, though subordinate to these in the present case, a position capable of military defence, when succour is so remote, and the chance of having sometime to contend with an enemy, by no means improbable. Applying these data to Western Port, it will be seen, from the foregoing description, that there is scarcely a part of it, to which some of them may not be urged as objections. The Islands, though the scarcity of water might be overcome, and their situation in many respects is by no means bad, yet, from the interruptions of land carriage between them and the surrounding country, must be at once set aside. The land near the Eastern passage is unavailable in a commercial point of view, from the intricacy of the harbour, and from thence to Red Point, the beach is not only shoal, but exposed to a heavy sea in gales from the westward owing to the great distance between it and Sandy Point. The west branch offers nothing like shelter for large vessels and as to laying in the open stream, it is totally out of the question; for the swell which rises there when the wind blows stormy from the Northward or Southward, is such as few ships could ride to, and no boat live in. The defect is more sensibly felt here, because there seemed to be a prospect of rendering Port Philip, in some degree tributary to the establishment, from the narrowness of Peninsula and the difficulty of entering that harbour. Notwithstanding this powerful inducement it was soon evident that the idea of settling there, must be abandoned. Of the North Coast above French Island it is almost unnecessary to say anything. It is very evident, that it is not the country described by Messrs. Hume and Hovell, and that they could never have been there as their accounts, are not applicable to a single point, either of it, or the anchorage.

"Under these untoward circumstances, we had nowhere but the East branch of the harbour left to choose upon, and accordingly the stores and live stock were disembarked, on the South side of the small bay, before mentioned, and operations commenced for clearing the land, and hutting the people. It has already been stated, that the coast here is skirted by mud banks, dry at low tide. This is indeed the sole drawback, and one, which I hope the hand of industry will in part overcome, by means of the two inlets, which nearly reach the shore. In every other respect, the situation is unexceptionable, as the soil is good, easily cleared, and has sufficient water in the driest season. The narrow entrance at Bed Point renders it difficult to attack by sea, nor would it be an easy matter to effect a landing, in the face of opposition, anywhere between Bass's River, and the head of the harbour.

"While Captain Wright was employed in getting his people, and the stores &c. under cover, I directed a part of our men to clear a piece of ground on Philip Island, with a view of establishing a post for the protection of the roadstead, which was named Port Dumaresq. A path was also cleared for upwards of three miles towards the sea, but we had not leisure to finish it, as I thought it necessary to cut and erect a flagstaff on the fort, another on the small islet lying off Point Grant and a third on Red Point, where we had also to get up the guns sent by the Colonial Government. I wish, much it had been in my power to erect a beacon on the shoal between Thistle and French Island, and would strongly recommend this to be carried into effect, as soon as possible. The west end of it is best fitted for this purpose, but one at each extremity would be preferable.

"As to the ulterior prospects of the Colony, I do not look upon them in so unfavourable light, as the description would seem to imply. There is abundance of good land to the Eastward, if we may credit Mr. Hovell's last report; and I have not the slightest doubt, that if the ridge across the settlement, stretches across the low ground, a valuable tract will be found by following it, between the swamp on the north side, and the mountains. I would therefore suggest the propriety of ascertaining this important point, which seems to rest upon a very natural inference. Besides these, however, there are some other resources within its sphere. The port itself will be an inducement to vessels coming through the straits to call there or take refuge in bad weather. The Eastern passage seems convenient as a fishing station, if the neighbouring seas afford sufficient encouragement for that branch of industry, and there are many places on the west side of the harbour, well calculated for sheep pasture, though they did not answer the purpose for which we examined them. Even the morasses produce abundance of hay, where the underwood has been burned, and might perhaps be brought to raise flax or hemp; as these plants thrive in a wet soil. The good land I would recommend to be apportioned out in small farms, as it is capable of raising grain, crops and vegetables, for the immediate supply of the inhabitants.

"The natural productions of Western Port are nearly the same as those about Sydney. The forest trees are species of the Eucalyptus, Casuarina, Banksea, and Mimosa tribes; at least we met with none else deserving notice. No specimen of the Huora pine was found, nor is it probable from their limited station on the other side of the straits, that they extend here; neither did we observe the Cedars of New South Wales, as the temperature is perhaps too severe.

"The geological structure of the country is very simple. Cape Wollamai is composed of a close grained red granite, with very little mica, which appears to be of a durable nature. A bed of old red sandstone rests upon it, from which we had a specimen of fibrous brown coal sent us, and were informed there was a considerable quantity in a place on the sea coast, which we had not an opportunity of seeing. Above the sandstone there is generally a stratum of loose black flinty slatestone and upon it rests another of brown clay iron ore, of different degrees of metallic value, but seldom exceeding a foot in thickness. We next come to a bed of clay, sometimes blue sometimes whitish or variously tinctured with iron, and having seams of brown ore often traversing N.

"Above this is the alluvial soil, from one to two feet and a half deep, partaking of course of a clay nature, but occasionally mixed with a large proportion of sand.

"Of the climate too much cannot be said in favour; it certainly appeared to us equal, either in point of temperature or salubrity, to the finest we ever met with. It is less variable than at Sydney, less desiccating, and the difference between night and day not usually so remarkable. A number of our officers and men slept in tents, on the newly cleared ground, and often on the banks of rivers during our excursions, yet not a single case of sickness occurred, beyond the usual casualties of a ship. What is rather singular we had not one instance of intermittent fever;—a result which could not have been anticipated in England, or any of the southern parts of Europe, as seamen are peculiarly susceptible of an impure atmosphere. The extreme range of the Thermometer was from 61° to 82° the average temperature of the midday 76° (at 2 p.m.) and at the night 68° The finest weather came with a South East wind, and the stormiest from the westward. The North and N.W brought us the only two hot land winds we expe- rienced, and the South and S.W were generally gloomy, accompanied with rain.

"We had an opportunity of establishing a friendly intercourse with the natives, whom we accidentally met with near the first river. They seem to be a timid inoffensive people, strongly impressed with a sense of the superiority of our weapons, which they appeared to have only known by report before they saw us; and by no means deficient in intellect, we parted on good terms and obtained a promise from them to visit the Settlement.

"It is high water, full and change, at 12 hours—and rises from 8 to 11 feet. Variation of the Compass taken on shore 8° 30' E. Latitude of the flagstaff on the rock off Point Grant, 38° 35' S—Long. 145° 8' E."

The next letter conveys the account of Captain Wright to Alexander MacLeay, Esq., Colonial Secretary:—


"Sydney Barrack          
"26 January 1827   

"SIR,—Agreeably to the instructions of His Excellency the Governor in Chief dated 4th November, 1826, I beg to report for his information, that I embarked on board the Brig Dragon, and sailed in company with His Majesty's ship Fly, Captain Wetherall, from Sydney Cove on the morning of the 9th for Western Port, where we arrived on the 24th of that month.

"A sketch of the shore of Western Port, with the immediate surrounding country, I have the honor herewith to transmit for the purpose of rendering more intelligible the following detail of my proceedings—

"The Dragon remaining at anchor for three days off the north shore of Philip Island, I several times landed on it during that period and as far as I could observe the whole island appeared overrun with thick Brush and small Timber, the soil rather barren and sandy with the exception of a few acres on the top of a small hill, which commands the anchorage, and in which Captain Wetherall has since established a Battery—Fort Dumaresq.

"On the 28th November the Dragon proceeded to a small well sheltered bay on the Eastern side of French Island, and anchored in five fathoms water.

"From this date I commenced my examination of the shores of the Port, for the purpose of selecting an eligible side for a Settlement as pointed out in my instructions—the route I pursued is traced on the map in red ink. *

[* Not in copy annexed to the despatches.]

"Commencing at the 'Eastern Passage', a chain of hills runs in a North East direction nearly parallel with Bass river, and at a distance of about three miles from it. This chain for six miles from the coast is thinly wooded, and well clothed with grass—it then assumes a rugged and broken character with thick impenetrable scrub—The country between the foot of this range and Bass's River, is low and marshy, with the exception of a few small spots of meadow land.

"The entrance to Bass River is obstructed by a mud flat, dry at low water, it is therefore navigable for boats only at half tide, when it may be ascended about four miles; at a short distance beyond this point, the stream is fresh but very inconsiderable.

"The northern Bank of the river down to within one mile of its mouth is fine open meadow land, with patches of Tea tree swamps—it bears however evident marks of being subject to inundation.

"The coast from the entrance of Bass River north is low and marshy for two miles—the land then becomes elevated, with a gentle declination to the East—Good forest land stretches along the shore for four miles to a large fresh water lagoon, from hence to 'Red Point' the Coast is bold and the soil of poorer quality.

"At 'Red Point' the coast takes an easterly direction, the soil is of a superior description to any yet seen, lightly wooded and grass luxuriant Two miles from Red Point there is a small stream of fresh water, passing through rich meadows. Forest land is again found for a mile further to the western head of 'Shoal Bay', in the South East angle of this branch of the port.

"The country to the East and North is covered with thick impenetrable Brush nearly to the water's edge—a range of low scrubby hills runs a short distance inland. Mud flats and sand banks dry at low water, extend along the South and East Coast, varying in breadth from one to three miles.

"In consequence of the high and close Brush on shore, I was occasionally under the necessity of continuing my examination by boat at high water with a much better view of the interior.

"About six miles in a northerly direction along the coast there are several small lagoons. A mile further the land gently rises to 'Red Head,' the western front of this hill is bold to the coast—on its eastern side there are about three hundred acres, of good forest land. Round a small bay to 'Tea Tree Point' the shore is low and the interior which could be seen to a great distance, is level and apparently marshy.

"As the great mud flat which lies between the north shore and French Island commences here I was induced to postpone the examination of the north coast, as no eligible spot for a settlement could be expected to be found on it.

"In the examination of the Coast from 'Eastern Passage' to 'Tea Tree Point' I was engaged from the 28th November, to the 5th of December.

"On the 7th December I proceeded by the south shore of French Island across the Bay and landed on Sandy Point. Mud flats which are dry at low water stretch along the Coast from this point to the great mud bank on the North shore of French Island, rendering the whole of this extent inaccessible except at high water.

"Proceeded to the Northward to a bay in which is a small island, and landed on the main, a salt water creek penetrates about a mile into the country through swamps and Brush land. We dug a pit for water, but the small quantity obtained was so strongly impregnated with alum as to be unfit for use.

"On the 8th December continued my examination of the Coast to the entrance of a large salt lagoon at the northern extremity of this branch of the Port, where I landed. The shore here is barren and swampy. At flood tide proceeded to the eastward and entered on the great mud flat—the main land on the north shore is perfectly level with a trifling elevation above high water mark to the base of a range of high mountains about twenty miles distant.

"Entered a salt creek on the north shore which penetrates about two miles into the interior—the whole country here presents an appearance of impassable swampy Brush with the exception of a few acres of marshy meadow on its western Bank.

"On the 9th of December I continued my course Eastward along a low marshy mangrove shore for six miles to a fresh water stream supplied from the immediate swamps, and from thence to 'Tea Tree Point' without observing any improved feature in the country.

"Having completed the whole line of 'Eastern Passage' to 'Sandy Point' and having also circumnavigated French Island (which at all points of view presents a surface studded with irregular hills covered with small Timber and thick Brush) I returned to the Brig.

"On the 11th I accompanied Captain Wetherall to the stream of fresh water I had observed two miles to the east of Red Point, which we decided upon as the site of the Settlement, being the only spot in. Western Port possessing the natural advantages requisite, I took possession with the usual formalities on the 12th and immediately after commenced landing the stores.

"As Red Point commands the anchorage off this settlement two guns were mounted on it.

"The landing of the stores being completed on the 26th December, I dispatched the Brig Dragon to the anchorage of His Majesty's ship Fly to await the order of Captain Wetherall for returning to Sydney.

"Every necessary provision having been made at the settlement for the comfort of the men, and the security of the stores, I was prepared to proceed to explore the neighbouring country to examine the nature and quality of the soil, its fertility and the purposes to which it might appear more immediately applicable with reference to the views of settlers as directed by my instructions.

"From the nature of the North and East shores and the view of the country within, which I had obtained to a considerable distance, they offered no point by which it was possible to penetrate, my only hope therefore was by tracing up Bass's River, and thereby gaining a higher level, endeavoured to find a passage to the interior.

"For this purpose I proceeded on the morning of the third of January in conjunction with Mr. Hovell to Bass's River, through low meadows with Tea tree swamps. About three miles from the Settlement we crossed a tract of marshy open country, and from thence to Bass's River through meadows similar to those we had already passed.

"At daybreak on the 4th, we proceeded up the Northern Bank of Bass's River (the Southern side being thick Scrub and Brush) for two miles through rich meadows. As we advanced the meadow land became marshy with numerous reedy swamps for a mile, when the open country abruptly terminated. We however succeeded with extreme difficulty in forcing our way for nearly three miles through an almost impenetrable scrub—barren and swampy ground—and had not the season been particularly dry, at which it was attempted, it could not have been effected.

"On reaching a small clump of stunted trees, we climbed the highest of them, which commanded an extensive view—the whole country to the East of a line passing from Shoal Bay to the chain of mountains, on the South of Bass's River is of a similar description to that we had already passed through with so much difficulty as is also that to the North East for about fifteen miles—the point by which I had hoped to penetrate into the interior. I was thus reluctantly obliged to abandon the attempt.

"The very small quantity of good land in the neighbourhood of the settlement that I have been able to discover, and the sterile, swampy and impenetrable nature of the country surrounding Western Port, to a great extent, lead me to believe that it does not possess sufficient capabilities for colonization on a large scale.

"Having thus fulfilled as far as was practicable, the intentions of the government, I considered my continuance at the settlement altogether unnecessary,—I therefore delivered up my charge agreeably to my instructions to my successor.

"I have the honor to be Sir               
"Your obedient servant          
"C. WRIGHT.     
"Captain Buffs."   

Governor Darling, in his despatch of February 4th, enclosing copies of the preceding documents to Lord Bathurst, says, "It will be seen by Captain Wright's report, who was more immediately charged with ascertaining the nature and capability of the country, with a view to its fitness for colonization, as also by Captain Wetherall's, that the local circumstances of Western Port do not hold out any inducements to settlers. Extensive mud flats prevent an approach to the shore except at high water—and an impervious swampy Brush, or Scrub as it is termed, appears to preclude all access to the interior of the country."

The last paragraph of Captain Wright's letter, speaking of the limited capabilities of the country for colonization, is embodied in the despatch, which then proceeds:—

"It only remains for me to state, that Mr. Hovell having been left at the Settlement, with the horses and establishment attached to him for the purpose of exploring the country should it be found practicable, it will not be in my power to form any opinion as to the advantage of retaining it, until I am informed of the result of his proceedings. I beg to be honored with your Lordship's commands whether in the event of his not being able to open a passage to the interior of the country, it is your Lordship's wish that the Settlement at Western Port should be continued? The situation is not favourable for a penal settlement."

The despatch, which was received June 22nd, 1827, concludes with high testimony to Captain Wetherall, who appeared to have lost an opportunity of promotion while on this service.

The statement that "the local circumstances of Western Port do not hold out any inducements to settlers" is, certainly, not borne out by a perusal of the accounts of Wetherall and Wright, cited in support of it.

The following is Captain Hovell's report to Governor Darling, upon which the maintenance of the settlement was said to have been depending. It will be seen whether it justified its abandonment. The report is marked "Received October 2, 1827"—of course in England.

"Western Port                        
"27th March 1827   

"SIR,—I beg to be permitted to report to your Excellency that having ascertained by two short journeys adjoining the settlement, that the nature of the country was such as to render the horses useless in the purpose for which they were sent—I commenced with a party of men appointed for the purpose of protection to examine the country, by first making a journey to Shallow Lagoon in the direction of Cape Liptrap—this occupied 8 days, and a subsequent journey of 4 days commencing at the East entrance which connects the two journeys. I am induced to believe that about 15 to 20,000 acres of tolerable fair land could be chosen, but that the scarcity of water is great at times (excepting that which is aluminous or brackish) that it was with difficulty we could get as much as was required for our use. It is true there is abundance of good water but it lies (excepting in one place) between Wright's River and Shallow Lagoon in a tract of very bad land, consequently can be of very little use to settlers. At Cape Paterson I found great quantities of very fine coal, a sample of which has been sent to your Excellency—and on the S.E. side of McLeay's Range there is abundance of very excellent timber fit for all purposes. The second journey commenced at Snapper River, the Westmost of 5 on the north shore, for the purpose of visiting the country lying between this river, the mountains 20 miles to the north and Port Philip to the west; but bad weather having set in I was precluded from carrying the latter part of my object into effect, and after an absence of twelve days I returned to the Settlement but on my way visited the other rivers alluded to. The country passed through on this journey is evidently the best in the vicinity of Western Port consisting of good open forest land and very large plains both of which are well supplied with fine grass and good water. The third journey commenced at the Red Bluff (7 miles north of the Settlement) the principal object of beginning here, was, as the nature of the country between the Settlement and Red Bluff was such as to render the communication between them almost impracticable, until a road is cleared for that purpose, I was induced to believe from what I had observed on a previous journey, that an easy route could be found between Bed Bluff and Snapper River, in this I was, however, mistaken, for at the distance of about ten miles North of the Bluff we were nearly incircled in a close and I may say impenetrable brush. I was therefore obliged to alter my plan of getting to the Mountains to the North, and take a direction W.S.W. through a part of the brush not quite so heavy as the other, where I have no doubt in wet seasons it is quite swampy and at the distance of about four miles, or five and a half hours, we got through and arrived at Burchell River the same evening. About three miles east of the river till it joins a brush of the same description are tracts of rich meadow land, very thinly timbered, and covered with a fine coat of grass. As I could not find a passage round this brush by going north, I returned towards the shore in hopes of finding one at the heads of Wetherall's three rivers, but here the ground was so rotten and swampy that it would not bear the tread of a man, and the close brush coming a short distance below the heads of the streams, obliged us in preference to cross the rivers themselves, rather than encounter the same difficulty we had done in crossing the first; when this was done I kept along the shore and crossed Snapper River the 4th day. Having sent the boat back with directions to meet us at Sandy Point (West Shore) opposite Tortoise Head Eight days, I set forward with my party N.W. by W. for Port Philip, where we arrived on the second day. Continued along the sea coast till near the head of the Bay, and having ascertained the spot which terminated the journey of Mr. Hume and myself, returned, keeping a course about the centre of the range which separates Western Port from Port Phillip till we arrived at the place appointed for the boat to meet us, and returned to the Settlement on the evening of the 12th day. The land passed through the first two days were very large plains (Dumaresq's) heath about the centre or midway between the two bays, and a very extensive fresh water marsh (from twelve to fifteen miles long and one and a half to six broad) and only separated from the latter place (Port Phillip) by a narrow ridge or bank of sand, not more than from two hundred to three hundred yards wide. The water in the marsh is excellent. The land lying north of the marsh in the vicinity of the bay generally speaking is good forest land well covered with grass, but a great scarcity of good water. But the land between this and the route of my last journey till within three miles or four miles of the marsh is heathy, some parts quite clear of timber—others again have abundance of stringy bark. There appears to be but little good land excepting in one place after a few miles south of the marsh, until we arrive at a Creek which comes out at Sandy Point, Western Port, from that Southwardly in the direction of Cape Schanck is good open forest land, grass thick, and a good quality. I am not able to judge what quantity of land fit for location Western Port contains, but I think unless the influx of free settlers is much greater than it has been, that there is sufficient for some years to come, without calculating upon the inexhaustible tract of fine country lying north of this, and to which there is an easy communication from Snapper River. I had several interviews with the natives; they appear to be friendly inclined but great thieves, their manners and customs are the same as those near Sydney, but their language quite different they look strong and healthy and live well by means of very fine Kangaroo dogs, for which they have plenty of employment, which not only provide them with food but raiment also. In many parts of the Bay very fine fish are plentiful, principally snappers and the greatest number of aquatic birds I ever saw in any part of the Colony.

"Excepting the difficulty of communicating between the settlement and Snapper River, but which ere long by a better acquaintance with the country, will be overcome—I think the site chosen for the township is the most eligible of any I have seen, the scarcity of good water which now exists in consequence of the dryness of the season, will, I have every reason to believe by the precautions which the Commandant is using, be obviated before the commencement of another summer. The distance which it was at first believed ships would have to lie from the settlement to discharge or receive cargoes is now lessened to about a quarter of a mile, two channels of sufficient depth of water having lately been found where ships can lie in perfect safety. In one of these the Brig Phillip Dundas discharged her cargo, and by means of a jetty of 800 feet long boats could communicate with the settlement at all times of the tide. On a reference to the meteorological table it will be found that the climate is agreeable and, if we may judge in so short a period (about five months) of trial, it is healthy also. I was myself seriously indisposed, and two of the men were taken very ill in my last journey, but these three instances of indisposition were the effects of extreme fatigue, and of an exposure to a burning sun while, during a whole day, we were almost continually immersed in water, sometimes up to the neck, and seldom lower than the waist in crossing marshes and rivers.

"The scope of country examined by me it will be found includes the whole of the country in the circumference of Western Port of which if I may be permitted to recapitulate I would say that the space to the Southward of Western Port extending from Shallow Lagoon to Wright's River (a distance of about fifteen miles), consisting of poor land, covered with heath, undulating, bad to travel, without water excepting on the Coast (at about 100 or 150 yards from the beach) at the back of the sand hill. At Cape Paterson there is excellent coal. Shallow Lagoon is salt water. In Wright's River the water is fresh and very fine within a mile and a half of the sea. There was very little timber in this extent of country. From Wright's River to Bass's River, (a distance of fifteen miles) the land is all of it good, and in some places excellent, hilly and divided in the direction N.E. and S.W. by the Southern extremity of McLeay's Range. The country well covered with fine timber on the S.E. side of this range; but on the N.W. side of the same open and affording abundance of good pasturage. In Bass's River the water is fine within about four miles of its mouth. From this to the Settlement (in a space containing about 7000 acres of land) the land is excellent generally open, the timber in this fine tract of country is neither plentiful nor good (but in the poorer land in the vicinity of that fine spot there is abundance of excellent timber) This land appears fit for every kind of cultivation.

"From the settlement to Red Bluff a distance of about fifteen miles by land, the land is hilly, swampy, covered alternately with heath and tea tree bush, and in general utterly impassable for horses. The land immediately about Red Bluff is fine but ill supplied with water. From Red Bluff to within two or three miles of Burchell River (for about four miles) the country is a dead flat the land unsound and covered with an almost impenetrable scrub or tea tree bush. From this line to Burchell River the country is level and consists of fine rich meadow land scantily wooded. In Burchell river the water was found to be fresh and extremely good, at low water down to the very entrance. From Burchell's river to the eastermost of Wetherall's rivers (in a distance of four miles) the country is extremely fine and similar in every respect to that just described. The three streams named Wetherall's Rivers are generally not more than half a mile distant from each other. They were traced to there source in a level impenetrable tea tree swamp, about a mile and a half from the beach. At high water they are brackish but at low ebb the water is fresh though some what turbid. Between the westermost of Wetherall's Rivers and Snapper River (in a distance of about five miles) the country is also level, but covered with stunted trees (seemingly a species of gum) and brush-wood—difficult to travel, excepting very near shore, where the soil is hard and covered with a coarse grass. The water in Snapper River, about three miles from its mouth was salt. When met with about twenty miles from the entrance it was a shallow but fine stream proceeding apparently from the South Western extremity of the Alpine Chain. From Snapper River to Hovell's Marsh Port Phillip the country is fine, consisting of plains and hill and dale alternately thinly timbered covered with excellent pasturage well watered generally by means of chains of ponds, or creeks of good water. From this line to the Southward the country is all of it of the same description, and to the westward (and here is the direct opening into the interior of the Country) the same. But in the Peninsula to the Southward as far as I was enabled to examine, the land is more hilly and is heathy, and sterile, but badly supplied with water.

"Captain Tuckey, however, speaks favorably of some of the country which he examined situate between Port Phillip and Cape Schank and a portion of this line of coast which I myself examined was fully equal to what he has reported of it. McLeay's range which is about thirty miles in length appears to be the South Western termination of the South Australian Alps. This range, which in some places particularly about the centre of its length is high and forms the eastern barrier of the country about Western Port. There is another range which is also connected with the Alpine Chain, and which runs parallel with McLeay's range, distant from it about three miles, but this is neither so lofty nor does it extend so far to the southward as the former. Bass's River runs between these two ranges.

"I beg to be now permitted to express my hope that my humble endeavours will meet with the indulgent attention of your Excellency and more particularly so when the difficulties that were to be encountered are considered especially the character of the country in the immediate vicinity to the Northward of the Settlement, and which precluded me entirely from availing myself of the use of the horses for carrying of my supplies.

"The few following general remarks I deem it proper to submit in closing this report, and first that, as it will appear from the above account, all the information which has been hitherto given relative to Western Port, has been in a very extraordinary degree either scanty, or erroneous. It was supposed that it had no good anchorage anywhere but at a great distance from the shore;** it is now found that vessels of 200 tons can approach the spot selected for the settlement within ¼ of a mile—and the largest vessels can approach within the distance of a mile. It was confidently reported that there were no rivers. We now find that, exclusive of Bass's River, there are five rivers. It was imagined that the land near the beach was a dry flat and that any one might walk round Western Port dry-shod. It is found, on the contrary, to consist of a series of country of a most opposite description.

[** The following note in pencil, apparently in Mr. Secretary Hay's hand, is in margin:—"Qy. How far this may be permanently the case on account of shifting sands?"]

"Lieut. Grant in his published account mentions a river flowing into Western Port, which consists of not less than 40 reaches, and up which he proceeded with a boat. No such stream is found to exist. The late fugitive descriptions published by various individuals in the newspapers relative to this place, are all of them replete with error, and the French Charts are scarcely less subject to this general remark.

"Nor can I conclude without expressing my regret, poor as the fruits of my endeavours may be, that similar excursions had not been made on the occasion of the settling of Port Phillip, in which event I do not doubt that the establishment of a settlement at that place would never have been abandoned.

"To the Commandants at the recently formed settlement, Captain Wright and Lieut. Burchell, of the Buffs, I have been successively much obliged for their kind attention and ready co-operation in everything conducive to the advancement of my endeavours.

"With deepest sense of respectful gratitude for the abundant means which your Excellency was so good as to order to be placed at my disposal for the prosecution of my late journeys—

"I have the honor to be &c.

"W.H. HOVELL."   

In a despatch of April 6th, 1827,*** forwarding to Lord Bathurst the preceding copy of Hovell's report, Governor Darling says,—

[*** Marked "Recvd. Oct. 2, 1827."]

"I have forwarded this report rather with a view of patting your Lordship in possession of the whole of the information I have collected respecting Western Port, than from any idea of the importance of the information. The scarcity of water throughout the country, renders the land unavailable to any extent for the purposes either of grazing or agriculture; and the difficulty of access to the shore from the mud flats which appear to extend round the margin of the Port, must prevent its ever becoming a place of trade, though if the interior of the country were open, it might be used as a means of facilitating the communication between this Colony and Van Diemen's Land. It would in fact appear from the reports which have been received that the statement of Mr. Oxley which accompanied my despatch No. 77, of last year, though drawn up from recollection, after a lapse of twenty years, was substantially correct, and that Western Port does not possess the necessary requisites for a Settlement. I have not found any disposition on the part of the inhabitants to settle that part of the country, which, should your Lordship consider that the object of taking formal possession of it, has been answered, might be a sufficient reason for withdrawing the persons sent to establish the settlement."

The observations following this despatch are most probably by Mr. Secretary Hay, though the initials of the Parliamentary Secretary, Mr. Horton, happened to be the same.

"In consequence of the French having equipped an expedition for the purpose of surveying the Coast of New Holland, it was deemed advisable to anticipate their proceedings (should they have any idea of establishing settlements there) by prior occupancy of all the places to which it was probable their attention would be directed.

"The enclosed two despatches and private letter contain the reports &c. of the officers who were detached on this service to King George's Sound and Western Port—and it will now be necessary to decide whether the settlements which have been established at these places should be continued there or be withdrawn. Possession having been formally taken of them, the object so far as relates to keeping out the French will be answered whether our establishments be continued there or not.

"Instructions have been sent out to abandon the settlement at Western Port unless Mr. Hovell's report should be more favourable than those which were made by Captain Wetherall and Captain Wright who were sent in charge of the expedition by which the settlement was established.

"In my opinion (although I presume it is not that of General Darling) Mr. Hovell's report is infinitely more favourable than these of his predecessors, and I think that the situation of Western Port is so important with reference to Van Diemen's Land that I should be inclined to recommend that a further trial should be made of the newly established settlement.

"If it were surmised at Sydney that it was to be broken up no settlers would be inclined to go there—but it does not follow that under other circumstances this spot might not be a popular place of resort.

"9 Nov."


"Papers relating to the settlements at New South Wales, with letter from the Admiralty reporting proceedings for forming establishments at Croker's Inlet.

"26 Jan.—It will be necessary to send out instructions for the guidance of General Darling in regard to the different settlements on the Coast of New Holland to which the attention of the Government at home has been specially directed and of these Swan Peel requires the earliest notice. It is clear that this point is too distant from Sydney to be colonized from thence and so the Governor should be informed. The East India Company should be apprized of the circumstances attending the discovery of that river, in case they should think it desirable to make any settlement there.

"Western Port ought not to be given up, and if the last despatches have intimated to the Governor that a doubt was felt at home as to the propriety of retaining an establishment there General Darling should be directed not to withdraw from it.

"The idea of establishing a penal settlement at King George's Sound does not seem to be borne out by the experiment which has been made, and it can scarcely be necessary to keep up a settlement there, but upon this point I should recommend that the circumstances of the soil &c. should be fully examined before any orders are sent out.


"Mr. Huskisson's minute which accompanies these papers must not be lost sight of."

In a letter from Mr. Barrow, of the Admiralty, to Mr. Secretary Horton, of October 15th, 1827, the advantages of Swan River, Melville Island, and Western Port, are considered, the first-named being highly spoken of, except as to accessibility:—

"It must," says Mr. Barrow, "be looked at therefore solely in the light of a new Colony, almost as much separated from that of N. S. Wales as it would be from England; for so difficult and uncertain is the passage through Bass's Strait that in the most favorable season (of three months in the year) it requires a passage of three months for a coasting vessel; and they frequently cannot make it at all. . . . No other motive I conceive than the political one of preventing other nations (as the French or Americans) from possessing themselves of the S. Wn. Corner of New Holland should induce us to anticipate them; and even in the event of its falling into the hands of the one or the other of these powers, would be a long series of years, before they could give our other Colonies much annoyance.

"Western Port, I conceive to be very differently situated in all its circumstances. It overlooks and watches and would be in immediate communication with one of the principal rivers and establishments on Van Diemen's Land; it would also in a very few years be in immediate communication and form a connecting link with the territory south of Sydney and already occupied, and though in the immediate neighbourhood of the Bay, the whole of the surrounding country may not possess so rich a soil as might be desired, yet it is evident that the further from the shore, the richer it becomes; and indeed it is known that at the distance of 30 or 40 miles, the country is as fine as any part now occupied. I think therefore that, on every consideration Western Port ought not to be abandoned." *

[* These words are underlined in pencil, and this note written in the same:—"The Governor has been directed to withdraw the Settlement if Mr. Hovell's report of the interior of the country is not more favourable than Captain Wetherall's of the coast."]

Writing to Mr. Hay, May 23rd, 1828, Mr. Barrow remarks, after expressing approval of the transfer of the settlement from Melville Island to Raffles' Bay,—

"I read the report of Captain Stirling on Swan River; the distance is certainly great between it and Sydney; but it is obviously a fine country, and if Western Port and King George's Sound be retained they form two stepping-stones towards it; and with these three settlements on the South and west and Raffles' Bay on the North I think we may consider ourselves in unmolested possession of the great Continent of N. S. Wales."

In the following letter to the Secretary of State, Viscount Goderich, dated Sydney, December 24th, 1827, Governor Darling arrives at a conclusion the reverse of that borne out by the facts detailed in the preceding documents. He had not then had time to be informed of Mr. Hay's views.

"MY LORD,—I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Lordship's despatch No 32 of the 19th of July last, authorising me to withdraw the troops and persons employed to establish a Settlement at Western Port, in the event of Mr. Hovell's report not proving more favorable than that which Captain Wetherall had made.

"Your Lordship will have perceived by my despatch of 6th April last marked Separate, that nothing could have been less satisfactory, than the information obtained from Mr. Hovell; and as I am satisfied that no useful purpose would be answered, while inconvenience and expense would be occasioned by continuing that settlement, it is my intention, in pursuance of your Lordship's instructions to take steps for immediately abandoning it.

"It appears to me that Western Port, which, from its local situation, appears to have been very incorrectly named, being on the South Coast, and several degrees nearer the Eastern than the Western boundary of New Holland (can only be useful when the settlement of the Colony is so far extended to the Southward) which cannot be the case for a very considerable period of time) as to render it desirable to have a Port for the introduction of supplies for the settlers in that neighbourhood and the exportation of their produce, instead of being subjected to the necessity of forwarding them overland to Sydney.

"While on this subject, I avail myself of the opportunity of stating, that King George's Sound, is still more inconveniently situated, with reference to the seat of government, than Western Port. The communication which is always tedious, is often difficult and uncertain; and the place itself a barren waste, totally unavailable for any purpose of agriculture—retaining it, is therefore entirely a question of policy and your Lordship can alone determine, whether the object of preventing the occupation of it by any other Power, is of sufficient importance to induce its being continued on such a contingency. I have the honor to be &c.


It will be seen that some people in England, intending to proceed to Australia, had their attention at this time directed to Western Port and its vicinity.

In a letter to Lord Bathurst, of January 4th, 1827, a Mr. Michael Phillips, writing from London, states his intention of proceeding to N. S. Wales, to be followed by his wife and six children. He says,—

"Hitherto the Southern parts of the Colony have not been located, and for the furtherance of my object in the cultivation of grain and grazing in general, I have fixed upon that part of the Colony called Western Port as the most desirable; the soil is congenial for the production of grain, to which I shall most direct my attention and by having most respectable connections in the Brazils, I look forward with a prospect of ultimate success in establishing there the consumption of N. S. Wales wheat as it has already a preference to the American flour."

He goes on to ask for a grant of four thousand acres at Western Port, and the privilege of purchasing a similar quantity at that place, and proposes to employ thirty convicts upon the land. The memorandum of reply on the letter is, that the Governor will be directed to give every encouragement to the project, but that the grant of land must depend on the applicant's capital.

In the same year, a Captain Roberts, of the 48th Regiment, also applied to Mr. Secretary Hay for a grant of land at Port Phillip.

Among the documents relating to Batman's expedition, in the Van Diemen's Land Correspondence of 1885, is the following short epitome of the circumstances connected with the formation and abandonment of this Western Port settlement:—

"14th Dec. /35


"In the year 1826, instructions were sent to Lieutenant-General Darling to establish a settlement at Western Port. (Lord Bathurst No. 16. 1st March /26). That measure appears to have been suggested not so much by considerations of any peculiar fitness which that spot might possess for colonization (although that was made the ostensible ground of forming the settlement) as by an apprehension which existed at the time, that the French, who had some survey ships in those seas, might effect a settlement on that part of the Coast. (Lord Bathurst, 1 Mar. /26) Lieutenant-General Darling accordingly established a settlement there on the 9th Oct. 1826.

"The early reports which were received from Western Port (Lieut.-Gen. Darling 4th Feb. 1827) were so unfavourable that Mr. Huskisson (probably considering that the real object in view had been accomplished) directed the withdrawal of the establishment, unless the Governor should, in the meantime, have received a more favorable report as to the capabilities; and General Darling thereupon announced his intention of taking immediate measures for breaking up the settlement (Lieut-General Darling 24th Oct. 1827).

"It, however, happened, soon after Mr. Huskisson had sent out his instructions for abandoning Western Port, a further report was received, (Lieut-General Darling 6 April 1827.) which created a very different impression as to the fitness of the place for colonization, and Mr. Huskisson was induced to recal his former instructions: (Mr. Huskisson 20th Jan. 1828) but that recal seems to have reached N. S. Wales too late to be of any avail."

Instead of acting upon the more correct conclusions of the Government in England, with regard to the maintenance of the settlement at Western Port, Governor Darling withdrew it. He did not give that effect to Captain Hovell's report which, before the facts recorded in it were ascertained, he stated it should have, in determining whether the settlement should be abandoned or maintained. He declared that report to be unfavourable, although there is no doubt that, to use Mr. Secretary Hay's words, it was "infinitely more favorable than that of his" (Hovell's) "predecessors". Governor Darling was clearly not a colonizing Governor; at all events, like Collins in the case of Port Phillip, he seems to have determined that the Western Port settlement should not succeed. It is surprising how he could, after reading Hovell's report, have treated it as a condemnation, instead of a commendation of the country. In numerous places the description of the land proclaimed it to be fit for colonization. This was even so at the settlement itself, which Hovell intimates was well chosen. But the one extract next given ought to have been decisive, unless the Governor had determined to place no reliance upon the report. "I am not able," says Hovell, "to judge what quantity of land fit for location Western Port contains, but I think unless the influx of settlers is much greater than it has been, that there is sufficient for some years to come, without calculating upon the inexhaustible tract of fine country lying north of this, and to which there is an easy communication from Snapper River."

In a despatch, however, of April 24th, 1829, in forwarding a memorial from Hovell for an additional grant of land, Governor Darling says that his services at Western Port were of very little value.

The statements of Captains Wetherall and Wright, even if not favourable enough to justify the formation of a new settlement, certainly do not excuse the abandonment, after so short a trial, of one which had already been established.



Sturt's preliminary investigations—Despatch of Governor Darling recording them—Sturt describes discovery of the Darling—Great heat and drought—Governor Darling's despatch announcing Sturt's departure on his famous expedition—His last letter describing his plans and expectations—First intelligence of result of expedition—Description of boat being shot from Murrumbidgee into Murray—Despatches to Colonial Office—Murder of Captain Barker.

PERHAPS at first sight it might be thought that the expeditions of Captain Sturt scarcely belong to the history of Victoria, seeing that the most important of them only traced a portion of the stream which forms part of the boundaries of the Colony; still the discovery of that great river, which is the chief outlet of the inland waters of Australia, is as much part of the history of Victoria, and even of Queensland, as of New South Wales and South Australia. The fact, also, that the stream, followed down to the ocean by Sturt and Macleay, was the same which Hume had discovered nearer its source, and called by his own name, links the explorations of the later expeditions with those which have been already recorded.

On January 14th, 1830, Sturt reached the Murray; the boat bearing the gallant explorers being suddenly shot into it from the Murrumbidgee, at two o'clock in the day. The great river did not damp their ardour, and, far from satisfying, only stimulated their thirst for further discovery; so they resolved to be borne by the stream wherever it went. Accordingly, following its course, they discovered the mouth of the Darling on the 23rd. On February 8th, Lake Alexandrina was entered, and, on the afternoon of the 10th, Captain Sturt and Mr. Macleay, whilst their men were pitching the tents, walked to the sea shore at Encounter Bay. The return journey—performed by rowing against the stream—was most exhausting; but the party succeeded in reaching their depôt on March 23rd, just as their provisions and strength were completely spent.

The record of an expedition of so much interest and importance must always occupy a prominent place in the history of Australian discovery; but the previous investigations of Captain Sturt, leading up to this great and successful effort, must also be noticed in connexion with it. Although the famous explorer has himself given to the world, in two volumes,* the narrative of these expeditions, the following despatches, copied from those in the Record Office, should be read with interest, as the very first written accounts of the journeys. The author, acting upon the principle of going back to the very first statements of discovery, therefore offers them to his readers.

[* "Two Expeditions into the Interior of Southern Australia," &c., published 1833.]

In a despatch to Sir George Murray, from Governor Darling, dated Parramatta, November 19th, 1828, are the following particulars bearing upon Captain Sturt's exploration of the Murray:—

"I have just despatched Captain Sturt of the 39th Regiment on an expedition, the object of which is to ascertain the coarse and fate of the River Macquarie. He is to commence at the marsh where the expedition under the late Mr. Oxley terminated in the year 1818, which was in lat 29.30 south and long. 147.10 east. It has appeared to me as Mr. Oxley was unable to proceed in consequence of the extensive swamp or marsh, in which the Macquarie appeared to terminate and as the state of the weather at that time, the rains having been incessant may have occasioned the country being flooded, that the present season owing to the unexampled draught which has been experienced, scarcely any rain having fallen for the last two years presents an opportunity peculiarly favorable for following up the object of Mr. Oxley's expedition.

"Should the waters which prevented Mr. Oxley's progress, not impede Captain Sturt's, he will proceed as far as circumstances will permit, in pursuit of the object pointed out and I have taken care to have supplies in readiness to be placed in depôt that his stock may be recruited without the necessity of his returning to Wellington Valley, our extreme settlement on the Macquarie. Should he find that the waters which opposed Mr. Oxley still exist, they must at all events from their nature be considerably diminished in consequence of the long drought; and in this case I have instructed Captain Sturt to skirt them, with a view of ascertaining their extent, and the description of the surrounding country, so as to enable His Majesty's government to judge of the means which the interior affords for more extensive settlements.

"Captain Sturt has been provided with a light boat constructed for the occasion, and I have furnished the expedition in a manner, though at a very trifling expense, which will be likely to prevent its failure from the want of adequate means. Captain Sturt from his scientific knowledge, appears to be fully competent to the undertaking and being ardently devoted to it, there is every chance of his success. Though now some time in the country, he has had however but little opportunity of being practically acquainted with its character. In order therefore to afford him the assistance of an experienced traveller, J have attached Mr. Hume to the expedition, who made an excursion to the Southward in the neighbourhood of Western Port, during Sir Thomas Brisbane's administration. He is an enterprising man whose knowledge of the country generally and experience in conducting an establishment of the nature now employed cannot fail to promote the success of the expedition."

With a despatch of January 10th, 1829, Governor Darling encloses a copy of Captain Sturt's letter, dated Western Marshes, December 25th, 1828, reporting the progress of the Macquarie expedition, and also an extract of the explorer's journal, dated Mount Foster, December 21st, 1828—from Monday, December 8th, to Saturday the 20th, inclusive. It is stated, among other things, that the party suffered from intense heat, which produced inflammation of the eyes. On the 13th the thermometer "stood 139° in the sun and 122° in the shade at 3 p.m., and at 98° at half past seven."

In a despatch from the Governor, of April 24th, 1829, the result of the expedition is given, accompanied by a copy of Sturt's letter to the Colonial Secretary of N. S. Wales, dated Mount Harris, March 4th. The journey revealed the fact that the Macquarie terminated in marshes, and, more important still, the existence of the Darling. This, we shall see, subsequently led on to Sturt's explorations more immediately connected with Victoria. He thus describes his first meeting with the Darling:—

"I have placed Oxley's Table Land in Lat. 29° 57' 30"—Long. 15°" (sic) "43' 30". Finding impracticable to move westward from the hill I again descended on the Creek, whose general course was to the North west, in which direction we at length struck upon a river whose appearance raised our most sanguine expectations. It flowed round an angle from the N.E. to the N.W. and extended in longitude five reaches as far as we could see. At that place it was about 60 yards broad with banks of from 30 to 40 feet high, and it had numerous wild fowl and many pelicans upon its bosom, and seemed to be full of fish, while the paths of the natives on both sides like well trodden roads, showed how numerous they were about it. On tasting its waters, however, we found them perfectly salt and useless to us and as our animals had been without water the night before, this circumstance distressed us much; our first days journey led us past 60 and 70 huts in one place, and on our second we fell in with a numerous tribe of natives, having previously seen some between two creeks before we made the New Year's Range. At some places the water proving less salt than at others, our animals drank of it sparingly. We found two fresh water boles, which served us as we passed. After tracing the River for a considerable distance, when we came on brine springs in the bed of it, the banks having been encrusted with salt from the first and as the difficulty of getting fresh water was so great, I here foresaw an end to our wanderings, and as I was resolved not to involve my party in greater distress, I halted it, on overtaking the animals, and the next morning turned back to the nearest fresh water at a distance of 18 miles from us. Unwilling however to give up our pursuit, Mr. Hume and I started with two men on horseback, to trace the river as far as we could and to ascertain what course it took, in the hopes also that we should fall on some creek, or get a more certain supply of drinkable water. We went a distance to which the bullocks could not have been brought and then got on a red sandy soil, which at once destroyed our hopes and on tasting the river water, we found it salter than ever, our supply being diminished to two pints. Our animals being weak and purged and having proceeded at least 40 miles from the Camp I thought it best to yield to circumstances and to return, though I trust I shall be believed when I add it was with extreme reluctance I did so, and had I followed the wishes of my party I should still have continued onwards.

"Making a part of the river where we had slept, we staid to refresh and in consequence of the heat of the weather, were obliged to drink the water in it which made us sick. While here a tribe of blacks came to us and behaved remarkably well. At night we slept on a plain without water, and the next day we regained the camp, which had been visited by the natives during our absence.

"We found the river held a South west course, and appeared to be making for the central space between a high land, which I called Dunlop's Range at Mr. Hume's request, and a lofty range to the westward. It still continued its important appearance, having gained in breadth, and in the height of its banks, while there were hundreds of pelicans and wild fowl on it. Flowing through a level country with such a channel it may be presumed that this river ultimately assumes either a greater character or that it adds considerably to the importance of some other stream. It has a clay bottom generally speaking semi-indurated and fast forming into sandstone, while there was a kind of shale running in veins through the soil which composed the bank. This river differs from most in the Colony, in having a belt of narrow sand of from a quarter of a mile to two miles in breadth in its immediate neighbourhood, and which is subject to overflow. There is magnificent blue gum on both sides the river, but the right bank is evidently the most fertile, and I am mistaken greatly if there is not a most beautiful country to the north of it."

With the sagacity of a true explorer, Captain Sturt remarks—and it would have been well if others who have first seen new country under more favourable circumstances had not been more hasty in condemning it,—

"Of the country over which we passed it is impossible for me to have formed a correct opinion under its present melancholy circumstances. It has shown appearance of barrenness, where in even moderate rain, it might have shown very differently; though no doubt we passed over much of both good and bad land; our animals on the whole have thriven on the food they have had, which would argue favorably for the herbage—generally speaking, I fear the timber is bad—the rough may gum be useful for fences and such purposes and we may have seen wood for the wheelwright and cabinet maker, specimens of which I have procured but none for general or household purposes.

"The creeks we have traced are different in character from those in the settled districts; inasmuch that like the river they have a belt of barren land near them and but little grass—they have been all of them numerously frequented by the natives as appeared from the number of muscle shells on their banks, but now have scarcely any water in them, the fish have either been taken, or are dead and the tribes gone elsewhere for food, while the badness of the river water has introduced a cutaneous disease among the natives of that district, which is fast carrying them off. Our intercourse with these people was incessant from the time we first met them, and on all occasions they behaved remarkably well, nor could we have seen less than two hundred and fifty of them. Our return is to be attributable to want of water alone, and it is impossible for me to describe the effects of the drought on animal as well as vegetable nature. The natives are wandering in the desert and it is melancholy to reflect on the necessity which obliges them to drink the stinking and loathsome water they do—birds sit gasping in the trees and are quite thin—the wild dog prowls about in the daytime unable to avoid us, and is as lean as he can be in a living state, while minor vegetation is dead, and the very trees are drooping. I have noticed all these things in my journal, I shall have the honour of submitting through you for the Governor's perusal and information on my return. Finally, I fear our expedition will not prove the way to any ultimate benefit, although it has been the means by which two very doubtful questions, the course of the Macquarie and the nature of our interior, have been solved; for it is beyond doubt that the interior for 250 miles beyond its former known limits to the W.N.W, so far from being a shoal sea, has been ascertained not only to have considerable elevations upon it, but is in itself a table land to all intents and purposes and has scarcely water on its surface to support its inhabitants."

The letter concludes with the following high testimony to Hume's services:—

"I beg you will inform His Excellency the Governor, that I have on all occasions received the most ready and valuable assistance from Mr. Hume. His intimate acquaintance with the manners and customs of the natives, enabled him to enter into intercourse with them, and chiefly contributed to the peaceable manner in which we have journeyed, while his previous experience put it in his power to be of real use to me. I cannot but say he has done an essential service to future travellers, and to the Colony at large, by his conduct on all occasions since he has been with me, nor should I be doing him justice if I did not avail myself of the first opportunity of laying my sentiments before the Governor through you. I am happy to add that every individual of the party deserves my warmest approbation, and that they have one and all borne their distresses, trifling certainly, but still unusual with cheerfulness and that they have at all times been attentive to their duty and obedient to their orders. The whole are in good health and eager again to start."

Governor Darling in his despatch, with which the above was sent, speaks highly of Hume, whom, he says, he "selected to accompany Captain Sturt". He also expresses warm appreciation of that gallant officer's high qualities, which his subsequent explorations so conspicuously brought out.

In a letter of March 5th, the day after that on which the preceding one was written, Captain Sturt tells the Colonial Secretary:—

"It having appeared to me that after discovering such a river as the one I have described in my letter of yesterday, His Excellency the Governor would approve of my endeavouring to regain it, there being a probability that it ultimately joins the Southern waters, I thought of turning of my steps to the Southward and westward, with a view to learn the nature of the country. I despatched Mr. Hume in that direction on Saturday last. He returned in three days after having gone about forty miles from the river and states that he crossed two creeks, the one about twenty five miles, the other about thirty two distance evidently the heads of the creeks we passed westward of the Marshes of the Macquarie. He adds, that, to the second creek the land was excellent but that on crossing it, he got on a red soil on which he travelled some miles further, until he saw a range of land, bearing from him S.W. by W., when knowing from the nature of the country around him and from the experience of our late journey that he could not hope to find a regular supply of fresh water in advance and that in the present dry state of the low lands, a movement such as I had contemplated would be impracticable, he returned."

The letter goes on to state the explorer's intention to proceed towards the Castlereagh. He also reports that the Macquarie had ceased to flow, and that the water is fast diminishing; also that the blacks had in one instance been troublesome.

In a letter from Wellington Valley, dated April 6th, 1829, to the Colonial Secretary at Sydney, Sturt says,—

"I am to add that having made the 'Castlereagh' three days after our departure from Mount Harris we traced that stream to its junction with the 'Darling', about one hundred miles to the Northward of the mount. It was however with extreme difficulty that we proceeded so far, in consequence of the dry state of the low lands. The Castlereagh was without water for a distance of thirty miles at a stretch, and we were obliged to search the country round for a supply. The creeks falling into the river from the Northward and eastward were dry and deserted by the native tribes, as far as we traced them up, and the country in those directions, was an unbroken level of alluvial soil, and stunted timber. On reaching the Darling we found the waters to be salter than below."

With Hume, Sturt crossed the river, and proceeded in a N.W. direction for some distance, through a "perfectly-level" country, which from the highest tree, which a man ascended, presented the appearance of a "boundless flat".

The explorer relates, "It was impracticable for us in turning homewards to retrace our steps up the Castlereagh. I therefore determined on running up a Central Creek which appeared to be directly below the Marshes of the Macquarie, as both Mr. Hume and myself were anxious to determine from whence it originated. We found in tracing it that it served to carry off the superfluous waters of that river in high floods, and was formed by the union of many channels from the reeds." It is further stated that "the superfluous waters of the Macquarie fall into a creek, (Morisset's Ponds of Mr. Oxley) striking nearly at right angles about eight miles above where the latter falls into the Castlereagh, which river forms a junction with the Darling about 12 miles below to the W.N.W. at which it was perfectly dry."

The letter terminates with a description of the great drought of the period, and a commendation of Hume and all the party.

November 21st, 1829, Governor Darling writes to Sir George Murray, informing him of Sturt's departure upon his great journey, which threw so much light on the geography of Australia. It is remarkable how some of the conjectures indicated by the Governor were established as facts by the expedition. The following is the despatch given in full:—

"SIR,—I have the honour to acquaint yon, that Captain Sturt, has proceeded on another expedition, directing his course to the River Mirambidgee, which lays to the southward, in order to ascertain whether that river joins the Darling, which he discovered on his late expedition, as he is induced to believe, or if it empties itself into the sea on the Southern Coast of the Colony. As the Mirambidgee is a river of some magnitude it will be satisfactory to be assured of its course and termination, as well as of the nature of the country through which it runs. Should it unite with the Darling and proceed to any part of the Southern Coast, within a reasonable distance, it might, in the event of the land being of a good quality, prove an inducement to the settlement of that part of the country, as from the junction of two such considerable Rivers, there can be little doubt that the issue of these rivers would be navigable—a circumstance which alone would be important to settlers and might be the means of opening a direct and perhaps, an easy communication between Sydney and that part of the Colony.

"I received information some time since, that there is a large lagoon in the neighbourhood of Gulf St. Vincent, and from the direction of the Darling, when Captain Sturt was obliged to discontinue tracing that river, it is not improbable that it falls into the lagoon or some part of the Gulf, with which I understand, the lagoon communicates. The result of the Expedition may be important to the Colony and as the expense of the equipment is trifling, I have not hesitated to avail myself of Captain Sturt's services, which have been cheerfully tendered on this occasion.

"It may be proper to add, that the first object of the present expedition is to trace the Mirambidgee—Should it not unite with the Darling, but terminate in a marsh as the Lachlan, which is not improbable, or as the Macquarie was supposed to do, until Captain Sturt's former expedition proved the contrary, I have in that case directed him to endeavour to regain the Darling and pursue it as far as circumstances may render desirable.

"I have the honor to be &c.


We hear of Sturt's progress, in a letter from him to the Colonial Secretary at Sydney, of January 4th, 1831,—the date evidently wrongly copied for 1830,—from "Depot Morambidge, Long. 143° 45' 7" E., Lat. 34° 15 S." The explorer states,—"I arrived at this position on the 27th ult., after a long and in some respects a fatiguing journey of thirty-two days, since that on which I made the Morambidgee." Of this river—at first spelt variously—he says,—

"If it did not in the first instance meet my expectations, its appearance has been such during the subsequent stages as to encourage a hope that it will eventually be found to discharge itself into some larger stream or basin, since I cannot for a moment imagine that it meets the fate of the more northern streams. At our depot it is from two to two hundred and fifty feet broad with a depth that varies from twelve to twenty. Its banks are about nine feet high, and its current is at about a mile and a quarter per hour. Indeed, excepting under the firmest impression on my mind that it carries an uninterrupted channel below the marshes in front of us, which I previously examined, I should not have ordered the large boat to be built. I am not under any apprehension that our progress down the river will speedily terminate.

"I shall order the party with the drays to remain at the depot for ten days after my departure, before the expiration of which time it is probable, I shall have some fresh communication to make in which case I shall detach the small boat with such additional intelligence as I shall have it in my power to give. Should you not however hear further from me, you will conclude that I passed the line of communication without any check, and that I am making the best of my way to the coast, or down such other channel as I shall have found.

"I cannot write in too high terms of the Upper Branches of the Morambidgee. With beautiful scenery they combine richness of soil, a sufficiency of water and excellent grazing tracts. Alluvial flats continue for more than one hundred and forty miles below Kudjiong—the station of Mr. O'Brien and to that distance there is an abundance of pasture behind them. Below the flats however, the plains take up the character of the more northern Interior. Their depressed situation causes those droughts under the effects of which vegetation has perished upon them. The only favorable point in which that part of the country can be viewed, is that the river gets a deeper bed, and becomes more navigable in flowing through it. The soil of this remote Interior is of the first description and is certainly preferable to that which intervenes between it and the upper Districts, but it is to the issue of this journey only that we must look for the importance that is to be attached to any local advantages on the Morambidge, which unfrequented and unimproved is still a noble feature in the country.

"I beg you will inform His Excellency that I passed on the best terms with the natives and that I expect every facility will be afforded by them to the party about to return. I observe that they suffer extremely from cold and that the country does not afford them means of procuring skins there being few animals in it; if therefore it were possible to distribute a few Blankets among them, I am sure they would be most welcome presents for well meant services to me.

"It is my intention to proceed down the river with a party of eight collectively and I am happy to state that on the reduced allowance, I shall have twelve weeks supply of flour and meat, after giving the men about to return, provisions for six weeks. I fear our sugar will soon be exhausted, but I do not think any other part of our stock will fail.

"Should we make the Coast, I have little doubt it will be in less than a month, but should we take another course, it is probable we shall not return to the Depot till our provisions are entirely exhausted. Under existing circumstances therefore it may be as well to forward such further supplies as it may be considered we shall require, without loss of time from Sydney, and I should think the small dray with the pack animals will be sufficient for their conveyance. I shall leave instructions with Robert Harris as to the place at which I may be expected, beyond which it will not be necesary for him to advance.

"I fear it will be too late to send a vessel round to Encounter Bay our most probable place of exit in the event of our succeeding in gaining the Coast, but I am led to think that His Excellency's foresight has ensured that assistance to us, in the event of our requiring it."

Sturt, who had the art of getting on well with everybody—blacks as well as whites—concludes by speaking in the highest terms of all his men, asking for the remission of the sentences of two of them who were prisoners. The carpenter, he states, "put the large boat together, in the best manner, in four days, she being 25 feet in length by 5½ across the beam, and built a second of 13 feet in length from the forest within a week."

The following letter, to the Chief Secretary of N. S. Wales, gives the very first report of the important discoveries of the expedition:—

"Banks of the Murrumbidgee   
"20th April 1830.          

"SIR,—The departure of Mr. M'Leay for Sydney who is anxious to proceed homewards as speedily as possible affords me an earlier opportunity than would otherwise have presented itself by which to make you acquainted with the circumstance of my return under Divine protection, to the located Districts; and I do myself the honor of annexing a brief account of my proceedings, since the last communication for the information of His Excellency the Governor, until such time as I shall have it in my power to give in a more detailed report.

"On the 7th of January agreeably to the arrangements which had been made I proceeded down the Murrumbidgee in the whaleboat, with a complement of six hands independent of Mr. M'Leay and myself, holding the skiff in tow. The river for several days kept a general W.S.W. course; it altered little in appearance, nor did any material change take place in the country upon its banks. The alluvial flats had occasionally an increased breadth on either side of it, but the line of reeds was nowhere so extensive, as from previous appearances I had been led to expect. About twelve miles from the Depot, we passed a large creek junction from the N.E. which from its locality, and from the circumstance of my having been upon it in the direction of them, I cannot but conclude originates in the marshes of the Lachlan.

"On the 11th the Murrumbidgee became much encumbered with fallen timber, and its current was at times so rapid that I was under considerable apprehension for the safety of the boats. The skiff had been upset on the 8th, and although I could not anticipate such an accident to the large boat, I feared she would receive some more serious and irremediable injury. On the 14th these difficulties increased upon us—The channel of the river became more contracted, and its current more impetuous. We had no sooner cleared one reach, than fresh and apparently insurmountable dangers presented themselves to us in the next. I really feared that every precaution would have proved unavailing against such multiplied embarrassments and that ere night we should have possessed only the wrecks of the expedition. From this state of anxiety however we were unexpectedly relieved by our arrival at 2 p.m. at the termination of the Murrumbidgee, from which we were launched into a broad and noble river, flowing from East to West at the rate of two knots and a half per hour, over a clear sandy bed of a medium width of from three to four hundred feet.

"During the first stages of our journey upon this new river, which evidently had its rise in the mountains of the S.E. we made rapid progress to the W.N.W. through an unbroken and uninteresting country of equal sameness of feature and vegetation. On the 23rd, as the boats were proceeding down it, several hundreds of natives made their appearance upon the right bank, having assembled with premeditated purposes of violence. I was more surprised at this show of hostility, because we had passed on generally friendly terms not only with those on the Murrumbidgee but of the new river. Now however emboldened by numbers they seemed determined on making the first attack, and soon worked themselves into a state of frenzy by loud and vehement shouting, as I observed that the water was shoaling fast, I kept in the middle of the stream and under the impression that it would be impossible for me to avoid a conflict, prepared for an obstinate resistance, but at the very moment when having arrived opposite to a large sand bank, on which they had collected, the foremost of the blacks had already advanced into the water, and I only awaited their nearer approach to fire upon them, their impetuosity was restrained by the most unlooked for and unexpected interference. They held back of a sudden and allowed us to pass unmolested—The boat however almost immediately grounded on a shoal that stretched across the river, over which she was with some difficulty hauled into deeper water, when we found ourselves opposite to a large junction from the eastward, little inferior to the river itself. Had I been aware of this circumstance, I should have been more anxious with regard to my rupture with the natives, and I was now happy to find that most of them had laid aside their weapons and had crossed the junction, it appearing that they had previously been on a tongue of land by the junction of the two streams—I therefore landed among them, to satisfy their curiosity, and to distribute a few presents before I proceeded up it; we were obliged to use the four oars to stem the current against us, but as soon as we had passed the mouth, got into deeper water and found easier pulling. The parallel in which we struck it and the direction from which it came, combined to assure me that this could be no other than the Darling. To the distance of two miles it retained a breadth of one hundred yards and a depth of twelve feet. Its banks were covered with verdure, and the trees overhanging them were of finer and larger growth than those on the new river by which we had approached it. The waters had a shade of green and were more turbid than those of its neighbour but they were perfectly sweet to taste.

"Having satisfied myself on those points on which I was anxious, we returned to the junction to examine it more closely.

"The angle formed by the Darling with the new river is so acute that neither can be said to be tributary to the other, but more important circumstances upon which it is impossible for me to dwell at the present moment, mark them as distinct Rivers which have been formed by nature for the same purposes in remote and opposite parts of the island. Not having as yet given a name to the latter, I availed myself of the opportunity of complying with the known wish of His Excellency the Governor, and at the same time in accordance with my own feelings as a soldier and distinguished it by that of 'Murray'.

"It had been my object to ascertain the decline of the vast plain through which the Murray flows, that I might judge of the probable fall of the waters of the interior but by the most attentive observation I could not satisfy myself upon this point. The course of the Darling now confirmed my previous impression that it was to the South, which direction it was evident the Murray also struggled to preserve in the subsequent stages of our journey down it, from which it was thrown by a range of minor elevations into a more westerly one. We were carried as far as 139° 40' 00" of longitude without descending below 34° 00' 00" in point of latitude in consequence of which I expected that the river would ultimately discharge itself, either into St. Vincent's Gulf or that of Spencer, more specially as lofty ranges were visible in the direction of them, from the summit of the hills behind our camp on the 2nd of February, which I laid down as the Coast line bounding them.

"A few days prior to the 2nd of February we had passed under some cliffs of partial volcanic origin and had immediately afterwards entered a limestone country of the most singular formation. The river although we had passed occasional rapids of the most dangerous kind had maintained a sandy character from our first acquaintance with it to the limestone division. It now forced itself through a glen of that rock of half a mile in width frequently striking precipices of more than 20 feet perpendicular elevation, in which coral and fossil remains were beautifully embedded. On the 3rd of February it made away to the Eastward of South in reaches from two to four miles in length. It gradually lost its sandy bed and became deep, still and turbid; the glen expanded into a valley, and the alluvial flats which had hitherto been of inconsiderable size became proportionately extensive. The Murray increased in breadth to more than four hundred yards, with a depth of twenty feet of water close into the shore and in fact formed itself into a safe and navigable stream for any vessels of the minor class. On the 6th the cliffs partially ceased and on the 7th they gave place to undulating and picturesque hills, beneath which thousands of acres of the richest flats extended, covered however with reeds and apparently subject to overflow at any unusual rise of the river.

"It is remarkable that the view from the hills was always confined, we were apparently running parallel to a continuation of the ranges we had seen on the 2nd but they were seldom visible. The country generally seemed darkly wooded, and had occasionally swells upon it, but it was one of no promise; the timber chiefly box and pine, being of a poor growth and its vegetation languid. On the 8th the hills upon the left wore a black appearance, and the few trees upon them were cut down as if by the prevailing winds. At noon we could not observe any land at the extremity of a reach we had just entered; some gentle hills still continued to form the left bank of the river, but the right was hid from us by high reeds. I consequently landed to survey the country from the nearest eminence and found that we were just about to enter an extensive lake which stretched away to the S.W. the line of water meeting the horizon in that direction. Some tolerably lofty ranges were visible to the westward at the distance of forty miles, beneath which that shore was lost in haze, a hill which I prejudged to be Mount Lofty bearing by compass S. 141 W. More to the Northward the country was low and unbacked by any elevations. A bold promontory which projected into the lake at the distance of seven leagues ended the view to the South along the Eastern shore, between which and the river the land also declined. The prospect altogether was extremely gratifying and the lake appeared to be a fitting reservoir for the noble stream which had led us to it.

"In the evening we passed the entrance but a strong southerly wind heading us, we did not gain more than nine miles. In the morning it shifted to the N.E. when we stood out for the promontory on a S.S.W. course. At noon we were abreast of it where a line of sand hummocks was a head scarcely visible in consequence of the great refraction about them, but an open sea behind us from the N.N.W. to the N.N.E. points of the compass. A meridian altitude observed here placed us in 35° 25' 15" S. latitude. At one I changed our course a little to the westward, and at 4 p.m. entered an arm of the lake leading W.S.W. On the point at the entrance some natives had assembled, but I could not communicate with them. They were both painted and armed and evidently intended to resist our landing. Wishing, however, to gain some information from them I proceeded a short distance below their haunt and landed for the night in hopes that being peaceably disposed, they would have approached the tents, but as they kept aloof, we continued our journey in the morning. The water which had risen ten inches during the night had fallen again in the same proportion and we were stopped by shoals shortly after starting. In hopes that the return of the tide would have enabled us to float over them we waited for it very patiently but were ultimately obliged to drag the boat across the mud flat of more than a quarter of a mile into deeper water; but after a run of about twenty minutes were again checked by sand banks. My endeavours to push beyond a certain point were unsuccessful, and I was at length under the necessity of landing upon the south shore for the night. Some small hummocks were behind us on the other side of which I had seen the ocean from our morning's position; and whilst the men were pitching the tents walked over them with Mr. M'Leay to the sea-shore, having struck the Coast at Encounter Bay, Cape Jervoise bearing by compass S. 81 W. distant three and four leagues and Kangaroo Island S.E. extremity S. 60° W. distant from nine to ten.

"Thirty-two days had elapsed since we had left the depot and I regretted in this stage of our journey that I could not with prudence remain an hour longer on the Coast than was necessary for me to determine the exit of the lake. From the angle of the channel in which we were a bright sand hill was visible at about nine miles distant to the E.S.E. which it struck me was the eastern side of the passage communicating with the ocean. Having failed in our attempt to proceed further in the boat and the appearance of the shoals at low water having convinced me of the impracticability of it, I determined on an excursion along the sea shore to the southward and eastward, in anxious hopes that it would be a short one, for as we had had a series of winds from S.W. which had now changed to the opposite quarter, I feared we should have to pull across the lake in our way homewards. I left the camp therefore at an early hour in company with Mr. M'Leay and Fraser, and at daybreak arrived opposite the sand bank I have mentioned. Between us and it the entrance into the back water ran. The passage is at all periods of the tide rather more than a quarter of a mile in width, and is of sufficient depth for a boat to enter especially on the offside; but a line of dangerous breakers in the bay will always prevent an approach to it from the sea except in the calmest weather, whilst the bay itself will always be a hazardous place for any vessel to enter under any circumstances; so that it is to be regretted this discovery can never be of practical utility.

"Having however satisfactorily concluded our pursuit we retraced our steps to the camp and again took the following bearings as we left the beach, the strand trending E.S.E. ½ E.:—
Kangaroo Island, S.E angle S 60° W
Low Rocky Point of Cape Jervoise       S   81°   W  
Round Hill in centre of Range S  161° W
Camp, distant one mile S 171° W
Mount Lofty distant 40 miles S E

"Before setting sail, a bottle was deposited between four and five feet deep in a mound of soft earth and shells, close to the spot on which the tent had stood, which contained a paper of the names of the party, together with a simple detail of our arrival and departure.

"It appeared that the good fortune, which had hitherto attended us was still to continue for the wind which had been contrary chopped round to the S.W. and ere sun set we were again in the mouth of the river, having run from fifty to sixty miles under as much canvas as the boat would bear, and with a heavy swell daring the greater part of the day.

"The lake which has thus terminated our journey is from fifty to sixty miles in length and from thirty to forty in width. With such an expanse of water I am correct in stating its medium depth at four feet. There is a large bite on it to the S.E. and a beautiful and extensive bay to the N.W. At about seven miles from the mouth of the river its waters are brackish and at twenty one miles they are quite salt whilst seals frequent the lower parts. Considering this lake to be of sufficient importance and in anticipation that its shores will during her reign, if not at an earlier period be peopled by some portion of her subjects, I have called it in well meant loyalty 'The Lake Alexandrina'.

"It is remarkable that the Murray has few tributaries below the Darling. It receives one however of considerable importance from the S.E. to which I have given the name of the 'Lindesay' as a mark of respect to my commanding officer and in remembrance of the many acts of kindness I have received at his hands.

"Having dwelt particularly on the nature of the country through which the expedition has passed in the pages of my journal it may be unnecessary for me to enter into any description of it in this place further than to observe that we carried the lime stone down to the very coast and that although the country in the neighbourhood of the Lake Alexandrina must from local circumstances be rich in point of soil, the timber upon it is of stunted size and that it appears to have suffered from drought, though not to the same extent with the eastern coast. It is evident however that its vicinity to high lands does not altogether exempt it from such periodical visitations; still I have no doubt that my observations upon it will convince His Excellency the Governor that it is well worthy of a closer and more attentive examination than I had it in my power to make.

"In a geographical point of view I am happy to believe that the result of this expedition has been conclusive and that combined with the late one it has thrown much light upon the nature of the interior of the vast island; that the decline of waters as far as the parallel of 139° E. is to the South and that the Darling is to the N.E. as the Murray is to the S.E. angle of the coast, the main channel by which the waters of the central ranges are thrown or discharged into one great reservoir.

"Our journey homewards was only remarkable for its labour; in conclusion therefore it remains for me to add that we reached the depot on the 23rd of March.

"Our sugar failed us on the 18th of February, and our salt provisions in consequence of the accident which happened to the skiff on the 8th March; so that from the above period we were living on a reduced ration of flour, and as we took few fish and were generally unsuccessful with our guns the men had seldom more than their bread to eat. I regretted to observe that they were daily falling off and that although unremitting in their exertions, they were well nigh exhausted ere we reached the Murrumbidgee.

"We were from sunrise to five o'clock on the water, and from the day that we left the depot to that of our return we never rested upon our oars. We were thirty nine days gaining the depôt from the coast against a strong current in both rivers, being seven more than it took us to go down. From the depot to this station we had seventeen days hard pull making a total of eighty eight, during which time we could not have travelled over less than two thousand miles. I was under the necessity of stopping short on the 10th inst., and of detaching two men for the drays, which happily arrived on the 17th, on which day our stock of flour failed us. Had I not adopted this plan, the men would have become too weak to have pulled up to Pondebodgerry, and we should no doubt have suffered some privations.

"This detail I am sure, will speak more in favour of the men composing the party than anything I can say. I would most respectfully recommend them all to His Excellency's notice, and I beg to assure him that during the whole of this arduous journey, they were cheerful zealous and obedient. They had many harassing duties to perform, and their patience and temper were often put to severe trials by the natives of whom we could not have seen fewer than four thousand on the Murray alone.

"I am to refer His Excellency the Governor to Mr. M'Leay for any more immediate information he may require—to whom I stand indebted on many points—and not less in the anxiety he evinced for the success of the undertaking than in the promptitude with which he assisted in the labours attendant on our return and his uniform kindness to the men.

         "I have the honour to subscribe myself sir

"Your most obdt. humble servant         
"CHARLES STURT, Capt, of the 39th Regt.   

"The Hon. the Col. Sec."

Sturt, in his book,** graphically describes the discovery of the Murray. After detailing the difficulties and dangers the party had experienced in their course down the Murrumbidgee, he says,—

[** "Two Expeditions into the Interior of Southern Australia," vol. ii.]

"The men looked anxiously out ahead; for the singular change in the river had impressed on them an idea, that we were approaching its termination, or near some adventure. On a sudden the river took a general southern direction, but in its tortuous course, swept round to every point of the compass with the greatest irregularity. We were carried at a fearful rate down its gloomy and contracted banks, and in such a moment of excitement, had little time to pay attention to the country through which we were passing. It was, however, observed, that calybeate-springs were numerous close to the water's edge. At 3 p.m. Hopkinson called out that we were approaching a junction, and in less than a minute afterwards, we were hurried into a broad and noble river.

"It is impossible for me to describe the effect of so instantaneous a change of circumstances upon us. The boats were allowed to drift along at pleasure, and such was the force with which we had been shot out of the Morumbidgee, that we were carried nearly to the bank opposite its embouchure, whilst we continued to gaze in silent astonishment on the capacious channel we had entered; and when we looked for that by which we had been led into it, we could hardly believe that the insignificant gap that presented itself to us was, indeed, the termination of the beautiful and noble stream, whose course we had thus successfully followed. I can only compare the relief we experienced to that which the seaman feels on weathering the rock upon which he expected his vessel would be struck—to the calm which succeeds moments of feverish anxiety, when the dread of danger is succeeded by the certainty of escape."

It is well that the rapids did not lead to a Niagara at the junction of the rivers.

"With a despatch to Viscount Goderich, dated April 10th, 1831, Governor Darling sends Sturt's letter—which had been published as a Government Order in Sydney, on May 10th, 1830—explaining that the delay in sending it was occasioned by the absence of Captain Sturt, in Norfolk Island, by whom he had hoped it would have been revised and corrected. The Governor speaks in high terms of the services of the gallant explorer, and the importance of his discoveries, and recommends that the payment of the expenses of the equipment should be authorized:—" The value of stores supplied to the first expedition, 204l. 15s. 9d. Second ditto, 265l 19s. 4¾d."

In writing to Sir George Murray, March 28th, 1831, Governor Darling refers to the displeasure of the Surveyor-General, Major Mitchell, at not having been sent out to explore, and intimates that the other duties of his office must have been neglected had he been employed on such a service. The despatch proceeds:—

"I thought at the time, that I had myself rendered some service, in inducing Captain Sturt and Mr. Cunningham, to undertake their first expeditions; they certainly, had performed a most important one in making known two considerable tracts of country hitherto unexplored and which, in Captain Sturt's case in particular, was only accomplished by the most persevering determination to effect his object; and in which he suffered the severest privations to the great injury of his health. I do not hesitate to say, that Major Mitchell could not have performed these services in a more complete or advantageous manner, and I shall leave you to judge of my disappointment by the despatch acknowledging the receipt of Captain Sturt's and Mr. Cunningham's reports, that I was not authorised to express on the part of His Majesty's Government one word in commendation of the important services they had rendered.

"Previous to the receipt of your despatches above alluded to, Captain Sturt again proceeded as soon as his health permitted, on a second expedition to the Southward, where his discoveries were of a very important nature. There still remains much to be done in that quarter and feeling, as I do, a very warm interest in the success of the Colony, I would earnestly recommend the subject to your immediate attention, hoping that such arrangements may be made for this service, as the importance of it appears to merit . . . .

"The last discovery of Captain Sturt is beyond all comparison, the most important that has ever been made in this Colony, a water communication having been discovered from the settled districts to Encounter Bay on the South Coast . . . ."

In a letter, written on his return to London, Sturt thanks Lord Goderich for approbation of his services, which he had received in an extract of a despatch sent him by Governor Bourke.

In a letter to Mr. Hay, February 17th, 1831, Governor Darling says,—

"You will excuse me for observing in reference to the last paragraph of your letter, that you appear to have been misinformed; precise boundaries being established, beyond which settlers are not allowed to receive grants or to lease land; but it is impossible to prevent their sending their cattle to graze beyond those limits.

"You will be satisfied of my disposition to encourage settlers to establish themselves to the Southward, when you are informed, that an expedition was sent more than twelve months ago, in order to ascertain the possibility of opening a communication in that direction—the result was most satisfactory, but Captain Sturt, the officer charged with this service, having immediately after his return been sent to Norfolk Island, I have not yet been enabled to transmit a complete report of his proceedings. If interested in this matter, you will find a sketch of his operations in a Government Order, in the enclosed Gazette, and I shall be glad to find that the result is satisfactory to you."

The next intelligence from Lake Alexandrina, after Sturt visited it, is of a melancholy character—namely, the murder by the natives of Captain Barker of the 39th Regiment, who had been sent to complete the examination of the mouth of the Murray. The occurrence is described in a printed Government Order of May 23rd, 1831, forwarded to Lord Goderich by Governor Darling, in a despatch of June 4th, 1831. The Governor had intended sending the unfortunate officer as Government Resident to New Zealand. The Order, like the letter, speaks highly of his services, and, after stating that Captain Barker had shown himself well qualified for his duties by his conduct at Baffles Bay, goes on to say that the settlement at King George's Sound, of which he had been in command,—

"Having been lately placed under the government of Western Australia, Captain Barker was requested, when returning to Sydney, to ascertain whether there was any communication between the Lake ('Alexandrina') lately discovered by Captain Sturt, and Gulf St. Vincent . . . .

"Having ascertained that there was no passage from the Lake into the Gulf, Captain Barker became anxious to discover whether there was not a more practicable communication with the sea on the Southern Coast than the outlet to Encounter Bay, found by Captain Sturt; and being desirous of examining the shore to the eastward of the outlet for this purpose, he proposed to some of the party, being himself unwell at the time, to swim to the opposite side, which being declined, as they could not take any arms with them, he secured his compass on his head and swam across. He was observed after this until he gained the summit of a sand hill, which he descended, and was not afterwards seen."

The party did not cross over, but, after waiting for twenty-four hours at a rendezvous appointed by Captain Barker, returned to their vessel, and proceeded to Cape Jervis. Some of them, on coming back to the outlet, were informed "by some natives whom they met at that place that Captain Barker had been watched on his landing, and followed, without being perceived, by three natives, who treacherously put him to death, with their spears, and then threw the body into the sea."

The Rev. Richard Greaves, Vicar of Deddington, Oxfordshire, and a Mr. James Dixon, jun., write respectively on January 4th and 7th, 1831, to the Secretary of State, recommending the formation of a settlement at Lake Alexandrina, for the transportation of the machine breakers.

When very unwell in London, Sturt writes, January 8th, 1833, to the Colonial Office, saying,—

"Under the impression that I shall never be enabled to complete it, and in hopes that it may some time or other be of use I forward to yon an unfinished plan of the River Murray. It is laid down as I accurately traced it by compass, without reference to daily observations and was only intended as a guide for a more perfect map. It is, however, a faithful copy of my field sheets, nor is there a single bend of that tortuous river, a rock or tributary a creek or a cliff omitted. It may serve as an office record at least, and I have deeply to regret that I may never perhaps assist in tracing another."

For interest, adventure, peril, and difficulties manfully overcome, the expedition down the Murray could not be easily excelled. Among the number of explorations which have since taken place, in Australia and other parts of the globe, it is, however, comparatively forgotten; but the remaining survivor of the party, now Sir George Macleay, is entitled to be regarded as one of the most remarkable living heroes of exploration. Considering how completely the vast regions which he and his comrades were the first to traverse, have become colonized, it seems an age since the great feat, in which he bore such a leading part, was accomplished, and almost incredible that one who took part in it should still be a hale, active man. His leader, Captain Sturt, one of the finest of explorers, died on June 16th, 1869, at Cheltenham, certainly without having received the full reward of his merits.



Mitchell's Darling Explorations—His first letter describing journey through Victoria—Account from his book—Route up the Murray—Swan Hill—Mount Hope—The Yarrayne—Barrabungale—The Loddon—The Avoca—Glowing description of country—The Grampians—Ascent of Mount William—Mount Zero—The Wimmera—Mount Arapiles—Twenty-seven lakes—The Glenelg—Row down to sea—The Wannon—Mount Eckersley—Surprise on finding settlement at Portland—Pursuit of a whale—Mount Clay—Ascents of Mount Napier—Mount Abrupt—Mitchell goes forward with part of expedition—The Pyrenees—Mount Cole ascended—Mount Greenock—Mount Byng—Excursion to and ascent of Mount Macedon—View of Port Phillip—Comical mode of getting rid of troublesome natives—The Goulburn—A friendly emu—The Ovens—The Murray crossed—Settled country reached—Arrival of Stapylton's division of Expedition—Piper—Tommy-came-First and Tommy-came-Last.

CARRYING out the design of giving the very earliest particulars extant respecting the different explorations of Victoria, the despatches, deposited in the Record Office, in which Major, afterwards Sir Thomas Mitchell's discoveries were first announced, must now be introduced to the reader. It is desirable that this should first be done, although Mitchell, like Sturt, has recorded his explorations in two interesting Volumes, from which we shall afterwards extract some additional facts and important descriptions.

Mitchell's investigations leading up to the great expedition, in which he so completely traversed Victoria, are contained in the few following extracts which precede his letter narrating its chief incidents.

In a despatch to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Earl of Aberdeen, dated July 19th, 1835, Governor Sir Richard Bourke states that, "in compliance with the suggestions contained in Lord Goderich's despatch of 18th March, 1832, the Surveyor-General (Major Mitchell) accompanied by the Colonial Botanist, an assistant-surveyor, and twenty-one men, has proceeded on an expedition into the interior of the Colony for the purpose of ascertaining the course of the River Darling," that "the expense of the equipment may be taken at 944l. 1s. 5½d." and that "the party was last heard of on the borders of the located part of Colony beyond Bathurst, on the 8th May last."

A copy of Major Mitchell's letter of instructions accompanies the despatch. From this it appears that Mr. James Larmer was second in command, that the party was ordered to be provisioned for five months, and to be supplied "with seven horses, fifty oxen, four drays, two carts, three tents, and two boats." The object of the expedition was to trace the Darling; and should it turn out that the stream, the junction of which with the Murray Sturt discovered, was not that river, Mitchell was also directed to follow it up. These instructions being carried out, the party was to return to Sydney by the most convenient route.

In a despatch of October 12th, 1835, Sir Richard Bourke informs Lord Glenelg of the return of Major Mitchell's expedition to trace the Darling. The Governor states that, "It seems probable that the River Darling flows into the Murray at the point indicated by Captain Sturt, but the fact has not been determined when Major Mitchell found it necessary to retrace his steps towards the Colony. It is my intention therefore to employ another exploring Party to complete what has been left undone." In a reply of March, 1836, the Secretary of State expresses approval of this intention, and regret at the loss of Mr. Richard Cunningham, the Government Botanist, who had wandered from Mitchell's party and been murdered by the blacks. Enclosed with the despatch of October 12th, Governor Bourke sent the Supplement to the "Government Gazette" of September 19th, 1835, containing a printed copy of Mitchell's report, dated September 4th. The explorer endeavoured to proceed down the river in boats, but found it too shallow. He surveyed the river in the vicinity of Fort Bourke; and Mr. Larmer, the second in command, discovered the outlet of the waters of the Macquarie into the Darling.

On March 15th, 1836, Sir R. Bourke informs Lord Glenelg that he has carried out his intention, declared in the despatch of October 12th, of sending another party to complete the exploration which had been commenced, and that,—

"The Surveyor-General has accordingly just left Sydney for the interior. He is instructed to finish the tracing of the Darling and upon reaching the Murray into which there is little doubt the Darling falls, to return by the Murray to the located parts of the Colony. Sturt, it will be remembered entered the Murray from the Morrumbidge, and no part of the former river above that junction has been traced, unless it should have happened that Messrs. Hume and Hovell crossed upon it in 1824. If the instructions with which the Surveyor-General is furnished (a copy is transmitted) be successfully executed, a considerable addition will be made to the geography of the Colony in the direction which it is most useful to explore. There is reason to believe that the country on both banks of the Murray and generally between the Australian Alps and the Morrumbidgee contains fine pastoral tracts well watered by streams issuing from those mountains whose summits in one part are usually covered with snow. The Eastern side of these mountains is already celebrated as an admirable grazing country. The downs near Port Phillip have lately become well known for the excellent pasture they afford to sheep. The course pursued by Hovell and Hume in 1824 discovered a great extent of rich land. The general feature and character of the vast extent of country contained within the course of the Morrumbidgee and the sea from Lake Alexandrina by Wilson's Promontory and Cape Howe to the 35th parallel of latitude on the Eastern Coast of New Holland may be in a great measure finally determined by this expedition. In like manner the geographical knowledge of a large portion of the country to the northward of the Morrumbidgee will have been completed by tracing the Bogan into the Darling and the Darling into the Murray.

"In the despatch before referred to I stated that a map and copy of the Surveyor-General's Journal would be immediately forwarded to your Lordship according to Instructions. I regret to say that I have not been able to procure a copy from that officer, who has pleaded other business as the cause of his Journal not being copied or made out from the notes he took whilst in the field."

In a despatch of November 15th, 1836, Governor Bourke encloses the "New South Wales Government Gazette", published at Sydney November 5th, which contains the following letter to the Colonial Secretary from Major Mitchell. Sir Richard says, "Major Mitchell has established the correctness of the surmise of Captain Sturt that the River Darling ran into the Murray, and he has traced upwards some part of the latter river from where it is joined by the Murrumbidgee. He has also gone over and will be able to lay down and describe a very rich and well watered country, deserving as he thinks the name of 'Australia Felix'."

"Camp on the River Murrumbidgee, in Lat.      
"35° 7' 11" S., Long. 47°[sic] 27' 40" E.      
"24th October, 1836.   

"SIR,—Having proceeded into the interior for the purpose of exploring the further course of the River Darling to its supposed junction with the River Murray, and the course of the Murray upwards, according to the instructions I received in March last; I have now the honor to report the result of the expedition for the information of His Excellency the Governor, having this day reached this River with a portion of my party after a successful and highly interesting journey.

"When I arrived at Buree (the point whence the last expedition also left the settled districts) the channels of streams in which we had then found water, in a season of unusual drought, were quite dry, and I was informed that below a certain point there were no ponds, even in the bed of the River Lachlan. My intended route was the same as that which I wished to have followed last year, namely:—to pursue the River as far as Mount Granard and then travel westward, as the nature of the country permitted, towards the River Darling.

"When I reached Mount Granard I found less of a mountain range extending westward than I had expected, and although we procured abundance of water on its summit (where I passed a night), and that numerous hills as promising as it was, in this respect, appeared to the westward, the season was so extremely dry, that I considered it safer, with such a party in charge, to rely on the ponds in the Lachlan, at least some way further; especially as I had observed from the hills, a branch of that River, as it seemed, leading in a very favorable direction over the lower country.

"After we had descended along the bank of the Lachlan about sixty miles further, water became very scarce; the natives having a name for each hole or 'quawy'. I was then induced to quit its banks, on the assurance of an old native that he could find me water in the direction in which I wished to proceed to the Darling.

"At the end of the first day's journey on quitting the Lachlan, we reached the Northern Channel, but found it dry; and although the old man procured a few quarts, some miles beyond, we passed the night without finding any for the cattle; and next morning the chiefs of a Tribe, then among the hills beyond, came forward to assure me that all there was dried up. My guide, however persisted, and was desirous we should go on; but although I was satisfied that in common seasons I might have found water there, I thought it might be in too parched a state then after two seasons of drought.

"In so precarious an enterprise, as our further progress thus appeared to be, merely on account of water, I adopted what I considered the alternative by which we should incur least risk, namely:—that of pursuing the course of the Lachlan to the Murrumbidgee, and that of this River to the Murray, and thence to survey the Darling upwards with a light party.

"I must here mention that before I determined on this plan, I had ascertained from the natives the identity of the River explored by me last year, with that which joins the Murray from the Northward. I was consequently desirous to get through the survey of that barren and unpromising country as soon as possible, in hopes that in proceeding up the Murray, we might make discoveries more equal to the expectations raised by such an expedition.

"On descending the Lachlan, we frequently travelled along its banks all day without seeing any water in its bed, passing the night without any; and, near the place where Mr. Oxley buried a bottle, I travelled three days, and passed two nights, without finding any, during a ride of one hundred and twenty miles with a party on horseback. There the Lachlan spreads into several branches, but these unite a short way below, where we found the channel as deep and well defined as it was above; and near the junction of this river with the Murrumbidgee, the water-holes in its bed were deep and numerous.

"Relying on Arrowsmith's map (to which I am referred by the instructions), I passed the junction of the Murrumbidgee with the Murray without being aware of it. But a branch of the former River presented so favorable a position for a depot Camp, in which I wished to leave Mr. Stapylton with the heavy part of our equipment, that I immediately took it up, leaving there the drays, boats, and most of the cattle and provisions in that officer's charge, with eight men, while I proceeded forward with a lighter party in order to complete the survey of the Darling.

"By this arrangement, my party was in better trim to deal with the savage natives whom we were likely to meet; while the cattle left at the depôt, and which were already exhausted by a long journey, were refreshed for continuing it into the Southern country on my return from the Darling.

"During my first day's journey from the depot, I made the bank of the Murray, below the junction of the branch of the Murrumbidgee, and we subsequently encamped, where the breadth of this river was 165 yards. On the following day we were compelled to make a detour by an ana-branch of this River, and thus came upon a fine Lake full sixteen miles in circumference."

A portion of the letter at this point, relating to an Encounter with the blacks, which was subsequently the subject of an inquiry before the Executive Council at Sydney, is omitted from the copy first published. The extract as well as the proceedings, which have no bearing upon our history, appear in the "New South Wales Government Gazette" of January 21st, 1837.

"I found the River Darling of considerable width, at, and for six miles above its junction with the Murray, from which the backwater extended fifteen miles up. But, above that point, the channel seemed scarcely so wide as it was where I had explored it above. It contained so little water, that at my last camp I stepped across its bed dry shod; a little water only dropping over the smooth bottom, seemed the effect of the rain fallen just before. This River exactly resembled the Lachlan in its woods, course, and in the character of its banks—the latter being peculiar to these two Rivers only. The sole difference is, that the Darling is on a rather larger scale. The Country, on both banks was of the same barren description as that I have seen above, or if possible, worse, for the arid red sands and thick scrubs approached the Banks of the River leaving little room for grass. As soon, therefore, as I recognized the points of a range previously intersected, and thus ascertained the identity of the Upper and Lower Darling, I hastened to rejoin Mr. Stapylton at the depôt. From the natives we learnt that other Lakes similar to Lake Benanee existed in the country northward from the Murray, especially a large one named 'Coniowra';—and that the Darling tribe came across the country from that River to the Benanee Lake, without passing along the Bank of the Darling.

"As I made the junction of the Rivers Darling and Murray, in longitude 142° 3' 36" east, or upwards of a degree more to the eastward, than it appears to be in Arrowsmith's map published in 1832, my movement from the depôt point will appear less of a detour on my map, than by that map might be supposed. And the longitude of the junction of the Murrumbidgee near my depôt being also more to the eastward than it is in that map; (being 143° 20' 36" east) I had less reason to regret the season of drought, which had compelled me to pursue a route which a previous knowledge of the localities was alone wanting, to have proved the most eligible for the accomplishment of both objects of the expedition.

"I found that Mr. Stapylton and party had remained during the whole period of my absence unmolested. The waters of the Murrumbidgee had risen, and the branch on which I had fixed the depôt was full and flowing—so that it was necessary, in order to rejoin that party, to swim our horses across.

"From the Depôt Camp to the junction of the Murrumbidgee and Murray, the distance was eight miles over firm ground; and at two miles below the junction (by the River) I moved the whole party across the Murray, with a view to proceed up that River, according to the second part of my instructions.

"We had not proceeded far up this River before the country on its banks appeared much better than any we had seen lower down. Grassy plains extended some way from the river, but were limited by sand hills, covered with cypress trees and scrub. We crossed various broad Lagoons apparently the beds of ana-branches of the River in seasons of high flood. After several days' travelling (nearly southward) reeds appeared in extensive flats along the River; and in longitude 143° 40 E., the course of the River being from the S.E., the reeds extended eastward to the horizon. The mean distance of the bergs of sand hills covered with pine which limited the reedy flat, was there about eight miles across.

"We soon passed the region of reeds, which gradually disappearing as we ascended, were replaced by grassy plains.

"We reached the junction of a River which I took to be that of the Twisden (or Goulburn) of Mr. Hume, in latitude 35° 19' 43" south, longitude 143° 41' 15" east. A clear grassy hill which I named Swan Hill, marks this junction, which takes place close under it. The banks of this River were so soft and steep, and wood was so scarce there, that the cattle could not be watered without danger, nor could firewood be procured; on one frosty night in particular when the river unexpectedly brought us to a stop, when we had nearly reached the larger one beyond, whose whole course was distinguished by lines of lofty trees, as on most Rivers. These, so distinctly different, flowed for many miles very near each other, each River preserving the same character throughout.

"In this vicinity, we came upon a very singular formation, consisting of numerous Lakes of salt or brackish water, and which were enclosed by semi-circular ridges on their eastern shores. The largest of these Lakes was named 'Boga', and was six miles in circumference. The River floods having reached this by a small channel, the water in it was sweet, and it was peopled by a very savage tribe, who refused to give us any information, throwing spears at Piper, who shot one of them.

"Beyond 'Boga' Lake we crossed some very fine plains, but the main channel of the River we were endeavouring to explore, was no longer accessible nor even visible, from the numerous branches, and still reaches which intersected the alluvial margin which appeared to be very broad.

"Following the general course of the River, we next entered on a tract remarkable for extensive forests of box, with occasional intervals of open grassey plain. It was watered by chains of ponds in deep channels, whose meandering course, through a perfectly level country, seemed to pursue no particular direction. From what I afterwards observed on higher plains, I conclude that these waters are derived from the floods of the river, and that these, spreading into branches of minor depth, thus water the level country.

"Turning more towards the river, we passed alternately over grassy plains, through belts of lofty Gum trees—the beds of broad lagoons. Nearer the river deep reaches of still water cut off all access to it, so that we could only trace its general course. The highest point at which we found it accessible before turning south, being in latitude 35° 55' 35", longitude 144° 35' 38" east.

"The extreme western point of a range then appearing in the Southern horizon, I proceeded towards it anxious to know more of the country back from the River. The view I obtained from that summit induced me to direct our course southward, with the intention of returning across the heads of the Murray further to the Eastward where I hoped the hills might afford me the means of extending the survey across the adjacent country; I perceived from the height a distant line of lofty trees, which seemed to mark the course of another River; beyond were the summits of very distant hills, verdant plains variegated with clumps, and lines of trees extending westward to the horizon; the whole seeming good pasture land.

"At about thirty miles from the hill, and on the 144th degree of longitude, we reached a deep but narrow stream, flowing between high and grassy banks, to the westward, at the rate of one mile and a half per hour. The aboriginal name of this River is the 'Yarrayne'; the plains beyond it were five miles in breadth and of the best description. Forests of Black-butted Gum, and Casuarina, then extended back to the mountains and forest hills; in these forests, instead of novelty, we found the Blue Mountain Parrot, and other birds common near Sydney, many of the plants also which grow in Cumberland.

"'Barrabungale', a lofty mountain of granite, was the chief point of the range, but on ascending it, the weather was unfavorable for my observations; a group of open forest hills were connected with Barrabungale, they enclosed vallies richly covered with grass and all well watered. We passed over many fine tracts sheltered by open forest hills, and crossed various fine streams, all flowing westward. At length, on the 11th of July, I discovered the summit of a noble mountain range of broken and picturesque outline, and by subsequent survey I found that this was the predominant feature of that vast territory lying between the River Murray and the Southern Coast, giving birth to numerous streams of convenient width and constant current, by which the surrounding country is watered abundantly. These Grampians of the South are situated between 36° 52' and 37° 38' of south latitude, and between 142° 25' and 142° 47' of east longitude the latter being the longitude of Mount William, the highest and most eastern summit, and on which I passed a night, vainly hoping that the clouds would rise above it.

"Situated thus centrically, this lofty mass, so essential to water the lower country, presents no impediment like the coast ranges of the settled district to the formation of roads, and the progress of colonization.

"The principal river flowing under the north side of these mountains is the 'Wimmera', which has no steep banks, and appears to be a very constant stream. I explored its course to the 142° of longitude, when it turned to the north-west, leaving me in a country covered with circular lakes, in all of which the water was salt or brackish. These had semicircular ridges on the eastern side, as in those of Boga, on the Murray, and the land about them was in general very good and grassy, its mean elevation above the sea being about 580 feet.

"From the continued rainy weather the earth was in a very soft state, and this at length became a most serious impediment to the progress of the expedition, the party being unable, even with the greatest exertion, to proceed through the mud, above three miles a day. But for this, I might have returned at least two months ago.

"When we gained the head of a small ravine falling towards the principal river rising in the Grampians, we found firmer ground, and our progress was much better, although still occasionally impeded by the soft and boggy state of the earth.

"The river, which I named the 'Glenelg', flows first westward, and then southward, entering the sea at the deepest part of the bay between Cape Northumberland and Cape Bridgewater. I explored the last fifty miles of its course in the boats, having left Mr. Stapylton with a depôt, for I had good reason to hope that it led to some important estuary; the average width was 100 yards, the mean depth 4 fathoms. In this hope I was, however, disappointed, for the river terminated in a shallow basin within the sand hummocks of the coast, the outlet being between two low rocky heads, but choked up with the sands of the beach.

"In the higher part of the Glenelg the rock over which it flows is granite, but after it passes through a ridge of primitive sandstone covered with forests of iron-bark (and which forms there a kind of coast range) the banks consist wholly of a secondary limestone. The soft state of the earth had rendered our progress by land almost hopeless when I launched the boats on the Glenelg, but on quitting that river with the party, I succeeded in recrossing the Iron-bark range with the drays, by following up a tributary flowing to the Glenelg from the eastward. The difficulty of this movement was much increased, by numerous swampy creeks and swamps which we had to cross. The eastern part of the range is highest, and on the higher parts, where the basis of the soil is trap-rock, the enormous growth and thickness of the trees presented a new impediment to the progress of our drays, the fallen timber covering so much of the surface. The trees, consisting of Stringy-bark and Blue-gum, were many of them six feet, and some as much as eight feet in diameter.

"Beyond this range, which terminates in Cape Bridgewater, I expected to have found some considerable river entering the sea at Portland Bay: I found only, however, three small rivers, which I named the 'Surry', the 'Fitzroy', and the 'Shaw', entering the bay at different points east of the anchorage.

"On approaching this hay, situated on what I considered an unexplored coast, the unwonted sight of houses drew my attention, and a vessel at anchor. I soon ascertained that Messrs. Henty, from Swan River, had formed a whaling and farming establishment there. These gentlemen accommodated me with a small supply of flour, although the supply for their own establishment was nearly exhausted.

"Portland Bay appears to be a good anchorage in all winds, save those from the S.S.E. It is much better sheltered from the prevailing winds by the lofty promontory of Capes Bridgewater and Nelson, than any part of Port Phillip is (which harbour I reconnoitred from Mount Macedon on the 1st instant), and the position of two reefs seem favourable for the formation of a small harbour.

"I still entertained hopes of finding a good port on that coast, and should have thoroughly examined it, for an object so desirable to the valuable and extensive territory I had explored, but the almost impassable state of the ground, and our very limited stock of provisions, confined me to the direct line homewards from Portland Bay, by which I travelled completely round the Grampians, crossed all the rivers, and determined the position of the principal heights. I wished much to have examined 'Cadong', which, according to the natives, is a large piece of water on the coast, westward of Cape Otway. This receives, as they said, several small rivers which I saw flowing southward, over the plains from the Australian Pyrenees, a group of very fine forest hills of considerable height, eastward of the Grampians. From one of these I observed the eastern shore of a piece of water, in the direction indicated by the natives.

"The country on that coast generally, is low, and almost swampy, but the soil is rich, and the climate being sufficiently moist and water abundant, it appears better adapted for agriculture on an extensive scale than any other part of New South Wales. The soil consists chiefly of decomposed trap or limestone, these being the rocks immediately below. The whole of the coast country eastward of Cape Nelson is of volcanic formation, as many interesting geological phenomena attest; amongst others an extinct volcano (which I named 'Mount Napier') is not the least remarkable, having an open crater, and being surrounded with ashes and scoriae to a distance of two miles around its base. From the fresh appearance of the lava at the summit, I thought it might have been in activity within the memory of man, but I could not find any allusion to fire in the aboriginal name (Murròwan).

"We encountered much soft ground near Mount Napier, and by the time the party attained the southern extremity of the Grampians most of the cattle were exhausted, and one poor animal died in the shafts. Some weeks of repose were absolutely necessary, and this, our stock of provisions did not admit of; on the contrary, I could only hope that they would last to the end of the journey, by allowing the men a very reduced ration.

"Having some spare cattle, I decided on proceeding in advance with a light party, and a month's provisions, leaving the rest to refresh for two weeks, with a part under Mr. Stapylton, whom I provided with two months' provisions, that he might at the end of two weeks follow my track at leisure, through Australia Felix. I hoped thus, by proceeding faster, to survey and reconnoitre the country with more freedom; and also to reach the Colony in time to send back a supply of provisions to meet Mr. Stapylton on the banks of the Hume.

"My route homeward from the vicinity of the Australian Pyrenees passed through a country of the most varied and fascinating description. At intervals of fifty or sixty miles, we crossed ranges of granite, through all of which I found passes for the carts across the very lowest parts, by reconnoitring the ranges as far as possible in advance. The districts between the different ranges consisted of excellent land, thickly covered with the Danthonia grass, and well watered.

"I hoped to have met with some advanced station before we reached the Murrumbidgee, but although we did not, we were fortunate in finding a way for the carts to this point, unobstructed by mountains or swamps. It is near the station of Mr. Tompson, a gentleman who has accommodated me with a supply of provisions, to be sent back to the other party to-morrow. We reached this station on the third day after our supply had been exhausted.

"I have succeeded in working a continual chain of triangles along the heights between Cape Nelson and the banks of this river, thereby connecting my work on that coast with the survey of the Colony.

"I trust that the results of this expedition will prove satisfactory to his Majesty's Government, considering the various difficulties surmounted, and the elements with which I have had to contend. Besides establishing the fact of the identity of the Upper and Lower Darling, it has been in my power, under the protection of Providence, to explore the vast natural resources of a region more extensive than Great Britain, equally rich in point of soil, and which now lies ready for the plough in many parts, as if specially prepared by the Creator for the industrious hands of Englishmen.

"I have much pleasure in stating that I have had reason to be well satisfied with the zeal and perseverance of Mr. Stapylton on all occasions. It will be seen by this report, and more fully by my journal, how well I could rely upon both.

"All the men of the party have behaved well, and are returning in safety, with one exception, James Taylor, who was unfortunately drowned in endeavouring to swim a horse across a swampy river on the 13th instant.

"I beg leave to bring also under his Excellency the Governor's notice, 'Piper', an aboriginal native of Bathurst, who has accompanied me throughout this eventful journey, and has proved a valuable auxiliary, as will appear in almost every page of my journal.

"I have the honour to be, sir,

"Your most obedient servt.,                  

"To the Hon.
       The Colonial Secretary."

We shall now give some of the leading particulars from the explorer's work,* in which are mentioned the names of places on the route and the dates when they were reached, which, for the most part, are omitted from the first letter describing the results of the expedition.

[* Mitchell's Eastern Australia, vol. ii. Published in London in 1838.]

It was on June 13th, 1836, that the Murray was crossed just below its junction with the Murrumbidgee, the position of which had been ascertained the day before by Mr. Stapylton. The course of the expedition was next directed up the Victorian banks of the Murray, the camp on the evening of the 20th being pitched at Swan Hall,—so named on account of the party having been disturbed at night by the noise of these wild fowl in a lagoon half a mile distant. Next day Lake Boga was discovered. The party felt the cold of some frosty winter nights, when they could get no fuel, the thermometer being on one occasion as low as 29°. Mitchell ascended Mount Hope on the 28th, and next day passed it on the left, taking a new route towards the inviting region he had seen from the summit of the mount. On the 30th he ascended Pyramid Hill, which he thus graphically describes:—

"Its apex consisted of a single block of granite, and from this the view over the surrounding plains was exceedingly beautiful as they shone fresh and green in the light of a fine morning. The scene was different from anything I had ever before witnessed, either in New South Wales or elsewhere, a land so inviting and still without inhabitants! As I stood, the first intruder on the sublime solitude of these verdant plains as yet untouched by flocks or herds, I felt conscious of being the harbinger of mighty changes there; for our steps would soon be followed by the men and animals for which it seemed to have been prepared."

The Yarrayne, named from the Yarra trees which grew by its brink, was discovered July 1st, and a temporary bridge constructed over it, which on the morning of the 3rd, was covered with four feet of water by an unexpected flood, erroneously supposed by the explorers to have been caused by snow melting at the sources of the stream. On the 5th Mitchell's Diary records:—"I proceeded with several of the men mounted, towards the lofty hill to the eastward of our route, the highest of those I had intersected from Mount Hope and the Pyramid Hill, its aboriginal name (as I afterwards learnt) being Barrabungale," but clouds obstructed the view before the summit was reached. On the 8th the party encamped on the banks of a stream which Mitchell named the Loddon, "in latitude 36° 36' 49" S., longitude 143° 35' 30" E."

Next day he speaks of the country a little further on in the following glowing language, "we descended on one of the most beautiful spots I ever saw,—The turf, the woods, and the banks of the little stream which murmured through the vale, had so much the appearance of a well-kept park, that I felt loth to break it by the passage of our cart wheels." Having crossed and named the Avoca, he camped on the 12th on a stream which he called the Doscasas, and begins the entry in his journal of next day with another high commendation of the country:—

"We had at length," says he, "discovered a country ready for the immediate reception of civilized man, and fit to become eventually one of the great nations of the earth. Unencumbered with too much wood, yet possessing enough for all purposes; with an exuberant soil under a temperate climate; bounded by the sea-coast and mighty rivers, and watered abundantly by streams from lofty mountains: this highly interesting region lay before me with all its features new and untouched as they fell from the hand of the Creator! Of this Eden it seemed that I was only the Adam; and it was indeed a sort of paradise to me, permitted thus to be the first to explore its mountains and streams—to behold its scenery—to investigate its geological character—and, finally, by my survey, to develope those natural advantages all still unknown to the civilized world, but yet certain to become, at no distant date, of vast importance to a new people."

Having thus written, Mitchell proceeds to describe an excursion he made from his camp with six of his men on horseback, to the mountains which he first sighted on the 11th, and named the Grampians. Soon after starting the Richardson Creek was crossed. It derived its name from the involuntary bath which one of the party had in its waters, shortly after setting out on the cold frosty morning of the 13th. Of the country it is said, "We entered . . . . upon one of the finest tracts of grassy forest-land we had ever seen. The whole country recently crossed was good, but this was very fine"; and next morning, 14th, he speaks in equally high terms. "The scenery . . . . the excellent quality of the soil, the abundance of water, &c., contrasted strangely with the circumstances of their lying waste and unoccupied. It was evident that the reign of solitude in these beautiful vales was near a close; a reflection which in my mind often sweetened the toils and inconvenience of travelling through such houseless regions."

The summit of Mount William, named after the King, was reached after some difficult climbing, and a severe night was passed upon it. The party had taken only a small supply of food, and were unable to keep themselves warm around their fire, some of the sticks of which were frozen at the outer ends. The hardships of the night were not repaid with the view of the country which the explorers waited in hope of obtaining in the morning, the weather proving cloudy. The thermometer stood as low as 27°. The discoverer of this mountain only makes its greatest height 4500 feet, but it has since been ascertained to be about 1000 feet higher.

Early on the 16th, they returned to the camp, and next day the expedition directed its course towards Mount Zero, on the 18th, discovering the Wimmera, five branches of which were crossed on the 19th. Next day the leader of the expedition made some observations with his theodolite from the top of Mount Zero. On the 22nd Mount Arapiles was reached, and on the 23rd its highest summit was ascended, from which Mitchell counted twenty-seven lakes.

A river, called by the natives Nangeela, was discovered July 31st, and named after the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Glenelg. It was crossed in the boats; and Mitchell, taking a fortnight's provisions, proceeded next morning with the two boats down the stream. The first night the party camped on its banks, and on the following day pursued their course along the Glenelg by land,—the country being "the finest imaginable, either for sheep and cattle or for cultivation." August 11th, the junction of the Wannon was reached. Mr. Stapylton having been left in charge of a camp at Fort O'Hare,—called after Mitchell's commanding officer, who was killed at the storming of Badajoz,—the boats were again launched on the Glenelg, August 18th, and being provided with supplies for ten days for seventeen men, proceeded without obstruction down the stream which was now sixty yards wide. After a row of sixteen miles, the party camped for the night on the left bank, as they did also on the following evening, at a point where the river was 101 yards wide. On the 20th, the boats reached its mouth, with which Mitchell, who expected to discover a good harbour, was much disappointed,—two shallow basins and a sandy bar rendering it impossible for any but small craft to enter. The return journey up the Glenelg was begun at two o'clock on the same day, and the depôt camp at Fort O'Hare reached about that hour on the 22nd.

August 23rd was spent reconnoitring for a favourable route to the east for the carts,—the wet and soft condition of the soil proving at this, as in earlier and subsequent stages of the journey, a great obstacle to the progress of the expedition. Timber was found of "an enormous size on the ranges." "Some of the trees . . . . were 13 feet, and one as much as 14½ feet in circumference, and 80 feet no uncommon height. The fallen timber was of such magnitude as to present a new impediment to our progress, for we had not previously met with such an obstruction on any journey."

The expedition moved east from Fort O'Hare on the 24th, taking the line of the Crawford. On the 26th Piper, Mitchell's faithful black-fellow, climbing to the top of one of the large trees, by which progress across the ranges was impeded, perceived near at hand 'some fine green hills to the south-east', as well as the sea beyond them. The explorer states that he now with reluctance altered his course, which had been "until then to the eastward", but it soon turned out that it was very fortunate he had been induced to make a detour to the coast. Mount Eckersley was ascended and named on the 28th; and within the extensive view commanded from it was "recognized a very conspicuous flat-topped hill to the northward, which had been previously included in a series of angles observed on the 12th instant from the valley of the Wannon, and which" Mitchell "now named Mount Napier. Portland Bay was distant about fifteen miles."

In its direction the explorer and some of his party now pursued their course on horseback, leaving, during their absence, the heavy carts to be extricated from the mud, and the cattle to enjoy a rest.

The country travelled over became firmer, and a stream named the Fitzroy was crossed. The explorers were, however, not fortunate in the locality where they were obliged to halt for the night.

We shall leave Mitchell himself to describe the events of the following day, August 29th.—"Proceeding along the skirts of the woody ridge on the left in order to avoid swamps, we at length saw through the trees the blue waters of the sea, and heard the roar of the waves. My intended way towards the deepest part of the bay and the hills beyond it, did not lead directly to the shore, and I continued to pursue a course through the woods, leaving the shore on our left." A "deep and rapid little river" was then met, a short distance up which was found placed "a sort of trellis-work of bushes by the natives for the purpose, no doubt, of catching fish." The party "continuing through a thick wood, came out at length on the shore of Portland Bay, at about four miles beyond the little river. Straight before lay Laurence's Island, or rather islands," and to the eastward "one of 'Lady Julia Percy's Isles.'"

And now comes the chief incident of the day, and perhaps the most interesting of the expedition:—

"On reaching the sea shore at this beach, I turned to observe the face of 'Tommy-Came-last', one of my party, who being a native from the interior had never before seen the sea. I could not discover in the face of this young savage, even on his first view of the ocean, any expression of surprise; on the contrary, the placid and comprehensive gaze he cast over it seemed fully to embrace the grand expanse then tor the first time opened to him. I was much more astonished, when he soon after came to tell me of the fresh tracks of cattle that he had found on the shore, and the shoe marks of a white man. He also brought me portions of tobacco-pipes, and a glass bottle without a neck. That whaling vessels occasionally touched there, I was aware, as was indeed obvious from the carcasses and bones of whales on the beach, but how cattle could have been brought there, I did not understand. Proceeding round the bay with the intention of examining the head of an inlet and continuing along the shore as far as Cape Bridgewater, I was struck with the resemblance to houses that some supposed grey rocks under the grassy cliffs presented; and while I directed my glass toward them, my servant Brown said he saw a brig at anchor; a fact of which I was soon convinced, and also that the grey rocks were in reality wooden houses. The most northern part of the shore of this bay was comparatively low, but the western shore consisted of bold cliffs rising to the height of 180 feet.

"We ascended these cliffs near the wooden houses which proved to be some deserted sheds of the whalers. One shot was heard as we drew near these sheds, and another on oar ascending the rocks. I then became somewhat apprehensive that the parties might either be or suppose us to be, bushrangers, and to prevent if possible some such awkward mistake, I ordered the men to fire a gun and sound the bugle; but on reaching the higher ground we discovered not only a beaten path, but the track of two carts, and while we were following the latter, a man came towards us from the face of the cliffs. He informed me in answer to my questions that the vessel at anchor was the 'Elizabeth of Launceston'; and that just round the point there was a considerable farming establishment belonging to Messrs. Henty, who were then at the house. It now occurred to me that I might there procure a small additional supply of provisions, especially of flour, as my men were then on very reduced rations. I therefore approached the house and was kindly received and entertained by the Messrs. Henty, who as I then learnt had been established there during upwards of two years. It was very obvious indeed from the magnitude and extent of the buildings, and the substantial fencing erected, that both time and labour had been expended in their construction. A good garden stocked with abundance of vegetables already smiled on Portland Bay: the soil was very rich on the overhanging cliffs, and the potatoes and turnips produced here, surpassed in magnitude and quality any I had ever seen elsewhere. I learnt that the bay was much resorted to by vessels engaged in the whale fishery, and that upwards of 700 tons of oil had been shipped there that season. I was likewise informed that only a few days before my arrival five vessels lay at anchor together there and that the communication was regularly kept up with Van Diemen's Land by means of vessels from Launceston. Messrs. Henty were importing sheep and cattle as fast as vessels could bring them over, and the numerous whalers touching at or fishing there were found to be good customers for farm produce and whatever else could be spared from the establishment."

Next day, August 30th, Mitchell proceeded with the theodolite to a height near Cape Nelson, where he made some observations, and recognized the high hill previously seen from the westward, forming the most elevated part of the Rifle range. He now named this hill Mount Kincaid, after his "old and esteemed friend of Peninsular recollections." The explorer thus goes on:—

"Returning to the party at Portland Bay . . . . I was here accommodated with a small supply of flour by Messrs. Henty, who having been themselves on short allowance, were awaiting the arrival of a vessel then due two weeks. They also supplied us with as many vegetables as the men could carry away on their horses. Just as I was about to leave the place 'a whale' was announced, and instantly three boats well manned were seen cutting through the water, a harpooneer standing up at the stern of each with oar in hand, and assisting the rowers by a forward movement at each stroke. It was not the least interesting scene in these my Australian travels, thus to witness from a verandah on a beautiful afternoon at Portland Bay the humours of the whale fishery, and all those wondrous perils of harpooneers and whale boats of which I had delighted to read as scenes of 'the stormy north'. The object of the present pursuit was 'a hunchback', and being likely to occupy the boats for some time I proceeded homewards."

Mitchell understood that whales sometimes escaped from their pursuers and ran ashore, when it was too tedious to procure anything but part of the head. The natives, however, had "taken to eating the cast-away whales," though they never approached the whalers, "nor had they ever shown themselves to the white people of Portland Bay." It had, however, become "their custom to send up a column of smoke when a whale appears in the bay, and the whale-fishers happen to understand the signal. This affords an instance of the sagacity of the natives, for they must have reflected that by thus giving timely notice a greater number will be competitors for the whale, and that consequently there will be a better chance that the whale may run ashore, in which case a considerable share must fall finally to them."

The explorer remarks that the whale fishers whom he saw were "fine able fellows", and that "their boats set up on stanchions on the beach, looked well with oars and in perfect readiness to dash at a moment's notice into the 'angry surge'." He also says, "I saw on the shore the wreck of a fine boat which had been cut in two by a single stroke of the tail of a whale. The men were about to cast their net into the sea to procure a supply of fish for us when the whale suddenly engaged all hands."

Different anecdotes have been told in the Colony respecting the arrival of Major Mitchell at the settlement of the Messrs. Henty. There is little doubt that the surprise to the explorers, occasioned by the traces of white men on the shores of Portland Bay, was similar to that attributed to Robinson Crusoe, when he beheld human footprints on his desolate island, save that it inspired no such terror as was experienced by the lonely cast-away. One story is that the settlers, at first not knowing what invasion the exploring expedition might be, made ready for action an old ship's-cannon, of which the infant settlement was able to boast.

However that may have been, the following is from one who, though not at Portland when Major Mitchell arrived, doubtless speaks from the best information. Mr. William Henty, in a speech on the Progress of Victoria at the Royal Colonial Institute, April 25th, 1876, said that Mitchell, "hearing from one of the farming men the name of Henty," rode "up to the blacksmith's shop, where my brother Edward happened to be engaged mending some bullock chains; he addressed him, 'My man, can you tell me where I can find Mr. Henty?' 'Yes', said my brother, 'I can; he is in the blacksmith's shop mending bullock-chains.'"

Returning towards the rest of their party, on the afternoon of August 30th, Mitchell and his attendants recrossed, at its mouth, the little river which he now called the Surry, and encamped for the night just beyond it. On the morning of the 31st, Mount Clay was ascended and named, and the Fitzroy recrossed. The water having risen, Mitchell says, "we were obliged to carry the flour across on the heads of men wading up to the neck." Mount Eckersley was also again ascended. The camp was reached about sunset.

Mitchell found that Piper had killed abundance of kangaroo—a fact, says the explorer, at "which I now rejoiced . . . . on account of the aboriginal portion of our party, for whose stomachs, being of a savage capacity, quantity was a more important consideration than quality in the article of food, and we were then living on very reduced scale of rations. On my return from such excursions Piper was usually the first to meet me and assure me of the safety of the party, as if he had taken care of it during my absence, and I encouraged this sense of responsibility by giving him credit for the security they had enjoyed."

September 2nd, 1836, Mitchell's party camped sixteen miles S.W. of Mount Napier. Two days later the larger of the two boats was abandoned, as it prevented the boat-carriage from keeping up with the carts, and besides had sustained considerable injury during the overland journey of nearly 3000 miles. While the boat-carriage was being altered, Mitchell ascended Mount Napier, where he discovered the perfect crater of an extinct volcano. Near the foot of the mountain a river was crossed and named the Shaw. The party camped some distance further on without being able to procure water, although their progress hitherto had been much impeded by the damp condition of the country.

On the 7th, the whole expedition again moved forward, the largest boat being left behind, "keel upwards, at the swamp which had occasioned so much delay." The swamp is described as "the channel and recipient of the Shaw."

On the 9th, the previous night and the morning having been clear, Mitchell again ascended Mount Napier, but rain clouds gathered before timber, which obstructed observations through the theodolite, could be removed. A view was, however, obtained of Mounts Abrupt and Rouse, and of Lake Linlithgow. A fourth ascent of Mount Napier, made next day, was rewarded with "a clear and extensive view in all directions." September 11th, a "lively little stream" was reached, which Mitchell concluded was the principal head of the Wannon, and called it the Grange. He also named Mount Bainbrigge on the north of it, and Mount Pierrepoint on the south. The night of the 13th was passed near the extreme southern point of the Grampians, which was named Mount Sturgeon. On 14th Mitchell ascended Mount Abrupt, and was delighted with the view which he obtained.

Finding the cattle much fatigued by the heavy ground through which they had passed, and that his supply of provisions would not admit of the delay required to give the weak animals sufficient rest, Mitchell resolved to go forward himself with a light party provisioned only for one month, and to leave sufficient supplies for two months with the remainder of expedition, which he placed under the command of Mr. Stapylton. It was, therefore, arranged that those of the cattle which were unfit to travel should, before resuming their journey, have a fortnight to recover their condition in the fine pastures of Western Victoria—now for the first time grazed by any stock, save kangaroo. Mitchell therefore, on September 19th, went "forward with some of the freshest of the cattle drawing the light carts and boat." Some miles eastward of where he fixed his encampment for the first night of his journey, he rode to and ascended a hill, which he called Mount Staveley. East of it ran a river, to which he gave the classic name of Hopkins—after which of the immortal family he does not mention.

September 21st the party travelled "over a country quite open," in the direction of "the southern extremity of a distant range named Mammala by the natives." The mountains proved to be what Mitchell afterwards named the Pyrenees, and the particular peak, Mount Cole. He speaks in the highest terms of the country. "To the westward the noble outline of the Grampians terminated a view extending over vast open plains fringed with forests and embellished with lakes. . . . Certainly a land more favourable for colonization could not be found. Flocks might be turned out upon its hills, or the plough at once set a-going in the plains. No primeval forests required to be first rooted out here, although there was enough wood for all purposes of utility and adorning the country just as much as even a painter could wish."

On the 23rd, they "perceived the fresh tracts of several bullocks, a very extraordinary circumstance in that situation." This day the Pyrenees were reached and Mount Cole ascended by the explorer. On the 26th Mount Greenock was named, Mitchell making observations from its summit. He gave the name of the Mameloid Hills to those with which it was connected, and describes their formation as peculiar. From Mount Greenock he says, "I enjoyed such a charming view eastward as can seldom fall to the lot of the explorers of new countries."

On the 28th, Mitchell says, "We were fast approaching those summits which had guided me in my route from Mount Cole, a height then more than fifty miles behind us. . . . I could ride with ease to the summit of the friendly hill that I had seen from afar, and found it but thinly wooded on the summit, so that I could take my angles round the horizon without difficulty. Again reminded by the aspect of this region, of the Lower Pyrenees and the pass of Orbaicetta, I named this summit Mount Byng." It is one of the few places which have not retained the names given them by Major Mitchell, having afterwards received that of Alexander, in order that a list, containing a Philip and a Macedon should not be incomplete. Next day as the party were proceeding through Expedition Pass a bolt of the boat-carriage broke. The accident having to be repaired, the explorer utilized the delay by making, September 30th, "an excursion to the lofty mountain mass, which appeared about thirty miles to the southward, in order," he informs us, "to connect my survey with Port Phillip."

During the ride some streams and a fine country were passed. "Emus were very numerous on the open downs, and their curiosity brought them to stare," says Mitchell, "at our horses, apparently unconscious of the presence of the biped on their backs, whom both birds and beasts seem instinctively to avoid. In one flock I counted twenty-nine emus, and so near did these birds come to us on that occasion, that having no rifle with me, I was tempted to discharge even my pistol at one, although without effect. Kangaroo were equally numerous." The singular effect of some hurricane, which must have recently passed over the trees at the foot of Mount Macedon, is described: "under every tree of this forest the earth being covered with broken branches," but "no whole trees had been blown down."

Mitchell thus describes Mount Macedon:—

"I ascended without having been obliged to quit my horse's back, and I found that the summit was very spacious, being covered towards the south with the tree-fern, and the musk plant growing in great luxuriance. I saw also besides these many other plants found at the Illawara on the eastern coast of the Colony of New South Wales. The summit was full of wambat holes, and, unlike the side of the mountain by which I had ascended, was covered with the dead trunks of enormous trees in all stages of decay. I had two important objects in view in ascending this hill; one being to determine its position trigonometrically, as a point likely to be seen from the country to which I was going, where it might be useful to me in fixing other points; the other being to obtain a view of Port Phillip, and thus to connect my survey with that harbour. But the tree-fern, musk-plant brush, and lofty timber, together shut us up for a long time from any prospect of the low country to the southward, and it was not until I had nearly exhausted a fine sunny afternoon in wandering round the broad summit, that I could distinguish and recognize some of the hills to the westward; and when I at length obtained a glimpse of the country towards the coast, the features of the earth could scarcely be distinguished from the sky or sea, although one dark point looked more like a cape than a cloud, and seemed to remain steady. With my glass I perceived that water lay inside of that cape, and that low plains extended northward from the water. I next discovered a hilly point of land outside of the cape or towards the sea; and on descending the hill to where the trees grew less thickly, I obtained an uninterrupted view of the whole piece of water. As the sun went down, the distant horizon became clearer towards the coast, and I intersected at length two capes; also one at the head of the bay, and several detached hills. I perceived distinctly the course of the Exe and Arundell rivers, and a line of mangrove-trees along the low shore. In short, I at length recognized Port Phillip and the intervening country around it, at a distance afterwards ascertained to be upwards of fifty miles from Indented Head, which proved to be the first cape I had seen; that outside being Point Nepean, on the east of the entrance to this bay. At that vast distance I could trace no signs of life about this harbour. No stockyards, cattle, nor even smoke, although at the highest northern point of the bay, I saw a mass of white objects which might have been either tents or vessels."

It is strange that Mitchell does not mention, and still more so if he were not aware of, the existence of the settlements at Port Phillip. That of Batman had been established fifteen months before the Major's ascent of Mount Macedon; and if he knew nothing about it on leaving Sydney, in March, 1836, it is extraordinary that he should not have heard from the Messrs. Henty, who were in constant communication with Launceston, of the proceedings of Batman and Fawkner, and of vessels being employed importing sheep to Port Phillip. Mr. William Henty suggests to the author that this was because no one then looked on the parties at Port Phillip "as permanent settlers", but "at the most as prospectors merely; and the impression would still remain, in people's minds that it was a barren place . . . . which had been abandoned by the Government party" in Collins' time.

But to proceed with the passage from which we have digressed:—

"I perceived a white speck which I took for breakers or white sand on the projecting point of the north-eastern shore. On that day nine years exactly, I first beheld the heads of Port Jackson, a rather singular coincidence. Thus the mountain on which I stood became an important point in my survey, and I gave it the name of Mount Macedon, with reference to Port Phillip.** It had been long dark before I reached the base of this mountain and picked out a dry bit of turf on which to lie down for the night."

[** In a note is the following:—"Geboor is the native name of this hill, as since ascertained by my friend Captain King, and is a much better one."]

The morning of October 1st being cloudy, Mitchell was prevented from reascending, to extend his observations. On returning to the camp, he found the boat-carriage repaired. Next day, Sunday, being wet, the party did not move; but on the 3rd continued their homeward journey. A stream running northward was passed, named the Barnard, which Mitchell had no doubt was one he had crossed on his excursion to Mount Macedon. A fine fall of upwards of sixty feet was discovered in it and named the Cobaw. On the 5th the Campaspe was with some difficulty crossed. Next day they reached the summit of the range near Mount Campbell, which had partly bounded the view eastward from Mount Byng. The entire journey of October 7th was along a valley watered by a creek named Déegay by the natives. Mitchell describes the amusing method he adopted that night of getting rid of some of these people, who were evidently lingering near his camp with murderous intent. He says,—

"I really was not sorry then to find that they still continued, for I had made arrangements for having a little amusement in that case, although their object in lingering there was nothing less than to kill us when asleep. Accordingly, at a given signal Burnett suddenly sallied forth, wearing a gilt mask, and holding in his hand a blue light with which he fired a rocket. Two men concealed behind the boat-carriage bellowed hideously through speaking trumpets at the same time, while all the others shouted and discharged their carbines in the air. Burnett marched solemnly towards the astonished natives who were seen through the gloom but for an instant, as they made their escape and disappeared for ever, but leaving behind them rough-shaped heavy clubs, which they had made there in the dark with the new tomahawks we had given them, and which clubs were doubtless made for the sole purpose of beating out our brains as soon as we fell asleep. Thus their savage thirst for our blood only afforded us some hearty laughing. . . ."

October 8th, the explorer saw what he thought might be Mount Disappointment, and the same day "made the bank of the Goulburn or Hovell, a fine river, somewhat larger than the Murrumbidgee. Its banks and bed were firm; the breadth sixty yards." Mitchell remarks:—"This river has been unfortunate in obtaining a variety of names, and therefore less objection can be made to my preference of the aboriginal, which I ascertained through Piper to be 'Bayùnga'. We already have a river Goulburn in New South Wales." The cattle were made to swim the stream, the party and its baggage being conveyed across in the boat. The following incident illustrates the tameness of indigenous creatures on first coming in contact with white men, and the unpleasant necessities sometimes imposed upon the latter by failing provisions. On October 11th, Mitchell records:—

"On our way an emu ran boldly up to us, apparently desirous of becoming acquainted with our horses; when close to us it stood still and began quietly to feed like a domestic fowl, so that I was at first unwilling to take a shot at the social and friendly bird. The state of our flour, however, and the recollection of our one remaining sheep already doomed to die, at length overcame my scruples, and I fired my carbine but missed. The bird ran only a little distance however, and soon returned at a rapid rate again to feed beside us when, fortunately perhaps for the emu, I had no more time to spare for such sport then and we proceeded."

It is evident that the explorer had not the heart to take correct aim, or to fire a second shot at this confiding bird.

On the 13th one of the men, James Taylor, was drowned in trying to cross a swampy stream on horseback. Piper dived and brought up the body, but life could not be restored and the remains were interred amidst the sincere grief of the party.

On the 14th they camped about a mile and a half beyond a pass in what the explorer named Futter's Range.

The Ovens were reached on the 15th, "just below the junction of a rather smaller stream", which Mitchell took to be King's River. Wangaratta now stands in this locality. Conveying the party over in the boat and swimming the cattle and horses across, the camp was established that night on the east bank of the Ovens. That river was forty-seven yards wide, the King, at the junction, being nearly as much.

Whilst the camp was being formed on the 16th the leader rode forward to a hill from which he had a commanding view, observing that the W. and N.W. "horizon was broken by one remarkable hill, which, as he afterwards learnt, was named Dingée." He recognized in the S. and S.E. some of the snowy peaks, naming "the most lofty mass Mount Aberdeen." He says that, "in the two rivers we had recently passed," the map of Hovell and Hume "seemed wonderfully correct."

The Murray was reached October 17th; but the same difficulty which Hume and Hovell had experienced in approaching the main stream, in consequence of the number of lagoons which surrounded it, impeded the crossing of Mitchell's expedition. The explorer ascended "a low but remarkable hill", near where he struck the river; it was "probably the lowest hill of granite on the Murray." He named it Mount Ochtertyre.

The 18th was spent in discovering a favourable crossing-place, and swimming the cattle over the stream. The process was tedious, but was effected with the loss of only one beast. Mitchell and most of his party spent the night on the Sydney side of the river; and the remainder, with the horses and carts, crossed on the following morning, the landing-place being at the base of a red cliff. The Murray was here eighty yards wide. On the Sydney side, "the wheels of a gig, drawn by one horse, and accompanied by others, were found by Piper, but they were some months old." Mitchell was "convinced that no station existed then in the immediate neighbourhood."

On the 19th, it is recorded, "We left the boat-carriage on the left bank, and sunk the boat in a deep lagoon on the right bank, to remain there until this party should return to the spot with a stock of provisions for that under Mr. Stapylton." After the whole party had crossed Archibald McKane, a carpenter, volunteered to return with any two white men and Tommy Came-last, to meet Mr. Stapylton on the Goulburn, and to construct rafts of casks to enable his party to cross that river and the Ovens. Mitchell gladly accepted the offer, and despatched McKane, Tommy, and two others fully rationed. The explorer himself and the rest of his party pushed on towards the Murrumbidgee; the want of provisions becoming daily more severely felt. At length, on the 23rd, he says,—

"The welcome sight of cattle themselves delighted our longing eyes, not to mention our stomachs, which were then in the best possible state to assist our perceptions of the beauty of a foreground of fat cattle. We were soon surrounded by a staring herd consisting of at least 800 head of wild animals, and I took a shot at one; but my ball only made him jump, upon which the whole body, apparently very wild, made off to the mountains. Symptoms of famine now began to show themselves in the sullenness of some of the men, and I most reluctantly consented to kill one of our poor working animals."

Next day, however, October 24th, they reached a habitation on the banks of the Murrumbidgee, from which "an old man came to the door beating the ashes from a loaf nearly two feet in diameter"—a goodly damper. He at once supplied the party with two days' provisions, till they could send across the river, where several drays had just arrived "from which Mr. Tompson, the owner, accommodated" Mitchell "with enough to send back to meet Mr. Stapylton on the banks of the Murray." Having pitched his tent for two days' rest, the explorer then says, "I wrote a brief account of our proceedings to the Government," doubtless that in the letter of October 24th, 1836, given at the beginning of this chapter.

November 11th, Mr. Stapylton addressed a letter to Major Mitchell, announcing the arrival of his party on the Murrumbidgee. He had quitted Lake Repose October 3rd, and reached the Goulburn on the 17th; McKane, and the men sent back to him, arrived at his camp on the left bank of that river on the 23rd. The Murray was reached November 4th, and crossed on the 5th. Burnett and the party sent back with the provisions, arrived "at the moment the first boat-load . . . reached the opposite bank of the Murray."

The whole expedition in due time came to Sydney. Piper's portrait was taken in the Major's red coat and in a cocked hat and feather. He afterwards returned to "his own country" near Bathurst, decorated with that which Australian blackfellows regard as the grandest badge of distinction—"a brass plate, on which he was styled, not as usual, 'king', for he said there were 'too many kings already', but 'Conqueror of the Interior.'" Tommy Came-first, and Tommy Came-last both wanted to accompany Mitchell to England, but after intending to take one of them, he found himself unable to do so, so at length the two youths departed to their own country; and "both", says Mitchell, "shed tears when they left my house."




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